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Suomi offloads Pohjola shares

FINLAND - Suomi Mutual Life and Ilmarinen Mutual Pension Insurance have completed the sale of their stake in the Pohjola Group to OKO Bank.

The deal – comprising a 58% in Pohjola – was worth around €1.2bn. Suomi says it was a very profitable deal for itself and its policyholders.

It also makes Suomi a major shareholder in OKO Bank, with the right to nominate one member of the OKO Bank board of directors.

The sale represents a streamlining of Suomi’s business, in line with a new business strategy adopted two years ago. The company no longer underwrites new business.

Suomi says that it offloaded the Pohjola shares because they made up around one-sixth of Suomi’s €6.5bn-worth of assets, and that this was considered to be too big a concentration of risk.

The company says “We came to the conclusion that it was best to try and solve this problem before market conditions turned around.”

OKO Bank’s purchase of the Pohjola Group represents a further expansion into the non-life insurance sector. Currently with the second-biggest market share, its target is to become the biggest non-life insurer in Finland.

In other news, former Opstock Ltd managing director Dr Risto Murto has started as chief investment officer at Varma Mutual Insurance Company.

Murto, 42, was at Opstock – which forms part of the OKO Bank Group and includes Opstock Asset Management - for eight years. He was managing director for five of these.

He replaces Jorma Leinonen, who is retiring in the summer. However, there is a handover period between Murto and Leinonen.

"I am seeking something new after eight years in Opstock and over ten years in the financial services industry," Murto told IPE.

Based in Helsinki, he commands a team of 80 people and reports to Varma president Matti Vuoria.

Murto’s old position at Opstock has been split between Jorma Alanne and Mikko Koskimies.

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