SWEDEN – AP1 returned 16.5% in 2003, taking its capital to 139.3 billion crowns (15.2 billion euros) as at the end of December.

The fund grew by 19.6 billion crowns, compared to a fall of 18.7 billion crowns in 2002, when it returned -13.8%.

It said the growth was “mainly attributable to a continued high proportion of equities, rising share prices and falling interest rates”.

“In view of the dramatic stock market plunge in 2002, which led to a sizeable loss for Första AP-fonden, it is highly satisfying to report a result that exceeds the entire drop in value from 2002,” said managing director William af Sandeberg.

Return on AP1’s listed assets was 17.1%, down on the 17.3% return of the fund’s strategic benchmark.

It said its active foreign exchange management and asset allocation made a positive contribution to total return. Management costs rose to 190 million crowns from 166 million crowns. This corresponds to 0.15% of capital, up from 0.13%.

The tendering of active small-cap US stocks would be completed in the spring of 2004.

In December last year the fund said it had signed a general agreement with Mercer Investment Consulting and ORTEC/Towers Perrin for consulting