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IPE special report May 2018

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Sweden: pensions low on agenda post-election

SWEDEN - The election victory for the centre right alliance under Fredrik Reinfeldt will have no immediate implications for pension funds, say analysts and pension fund representatives.

Even the issue of venture capital funds, in the news recently, seems to have slipped down the agenda.

Buffer fund AP3 told IPE that it was not clear whether a talk between the government and the AP funds, scheduled by outgoing Prime Minister Göran Persson for Thursday, was going to take place.

The Social Democrats wanted to discuss investment regulations for the state pension funds, especially in respect to venture capital funds such as Cevian and the AP funds' holdings in Volvo.

Persson had argued that the AP funds should take a more long-term approach to their shareholdings. Reinfeldt agreed with him in principle but stressed the AP funds' aim to make high returns.

"I think they are not going to change the mandate when it comes to the AP funds - even less now than it would have been under the Social Democrats," said market analyst Mikael Nyman.

Any changes to the AP funds' mandate would require a five-party agreement anyway, as AP3 spokeswoman Christina Kusoffsky Hillesöy explains. "Because of this five-party agreement it is a very stable ruling", she told IPE.

Mattias Ledunger from the Swedish pension fund association does not see any changes coming up for pension funds either. The only thing that might indirectly influence the pension industry is Reinfeldt's privatisation policy which would have an impact on interest rates.

"The major overhaul has already been done a few years ago. They say all over the world that this is a prime example of how it should be done and there was a broad consensus," he says.

"The problem has been taken care of as far as the parliamentarians are concerned. We have a new pension system and its working and I think we're all very happy about that."

Nyman agrees, though he says the pensions issue will come up shortly with a negative final ruling awaited from the European Court of Justice on pensions taxation.

"When this happens we'll have to react very fast in this country," Nyman said.

"Otherwise the money is going to flood to other countries within the EU and Sweden is not going to be able to tax it the way they taxed it before.

"Because we have the cold country syndrome here where people leave the country and they will go and live in Spain when they are 75 years old and tax their pension there.

"And it will be very hard for Sweden to get back the tax deduction because they have been deducted all their lives and they have been saving on tax deductable schemes and the money is going to be taxed in Spain, or Italy or somewhere else," Nyman fears.

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