Strong equity markets helped Finland’s Keva return 7.5% over the course of the first quarter, as assets rose above €45bn for the first time.

Keva, the local authority pension provider, said its equity portfolio returned nearly 16%, with CIO Ari Huotaro describing the market development as “very lucrative”.

Jukka Männistön, the fund’s chief executive, also struck a positive note on the first three months of the year, calling results “exceptionally good”.

On back of the 15.8% return from equities, which accounted for 40.1% of Keva’s portfolio, assets under management rose by €3.1bn to €45.2bn.

Fixed income holdings, which accounted for just over 41% of all assets, saw significantly lower returns of 2.7%, while direct property and real estate funds returned 1.4%.

Outside of real estate, alternative assets outperformed bond holdings, with private equity returning 4.8% and hedge funds 3%.

Keva’s returns were broadly in line with those of other Finnish pension investors, with many previously enjoying strong equity returns on the back of the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing programme.

However, Keva’s results are so far the best of the larger pension providers and mutuals, with only Ilmarinen coming close to its results with a return of 7.1%, largely down to a strong equity performance close to 18%.