EUROPE - Lantmännan, one of the largest Nordic companies within the food, energy, machinery and agricultural sectors, has decided to take its pension liabilities off its balance sheet by creating a pension foundation to be called Grodden (the sprout).

The decision, taken in September, will encompass all Swedish white-collar workers - or some 7,400 professionals - within the organisation, with assets of more than SEK1.65bn (€181m).

Assets will be invested in real estate, stocks and bonds.

The foundation will be funded through the transfer of several properties from the group to the foundation, giving the foundation a long-term, stable income through the rental income.

The foundation will be fully operational by the end of the year, with an investment committee.

Olof Wogén will serve as chairman of the foundation, which will not have any separate staff from Lantmännen.

The Lantmännen group is owned by 36,000 Swedish farmers. It operates in 18 countries, has more than 10,000 employees and a turnover of SEK36bn.

In other news, AP6, one of Sweden's national buffer funds, aims to focus on more mature or later-stage companies, where it has historically made the highest returns.

The new strategy includes both direct and fund investments.

Direct investments will be narrower and focus on the more mature companies, but the fund will continue to invest in a broader spectrum via funds throughout the Nordic region.

AP6 will continue to be a long-term investor in unlisted companies, and by combining funds with direct investments, it will enable it to take advantage of the business opportunities, competitive advantages and flexibility, it said. 

Investments in newly established companies will in the future be done through venture capital funds.

The review of the portfolio resulted in a write-down of almost SEK1.5bn earlier in the year - the reason behind the latest change in strategy.

The fund also hired a new chief executive, Marianne Dicander Alexandersson, as well as a new board, which undertook the review.

The strategy change will not have any immediate effect on current holdings.

Since AP6 was launched in 1996, the portfolio has increased from SEK10.4bn to SEK19.9bn.

It invests in 350 companies, out of which 50 are direct investments.

Meanwhile, Vacse, a Swedish group created by seven pension foundations, has bought the district courthouse of Attunda from Skanska for SEK320m.

The consortium is made up of the pension foundations of Volvo, Apoteksbolaget, Atlas Copcos, Sandvik, Skanska, Stora Enso and Ericsson.

The courthouse is 9,100 square meters, with a secretariat and 12 courtrooms. The judicial administration moved into the building in 2010 with a 20-year rental contract.

Jonas Granholm, head of Skanska's pension foundations globally, said this was another step in developing Vacse's real estate portfolio, as the courthouse purchase is in line with the earlier acquisitions with stable tenants with long contracts.

Vacse also owns the jail building adjacent to the courthouse in Attunda, in the northern suburbs of Stockholm.