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AP funds largely holding fire despite poor performance

Sweden’s AP buffer funds have suffered one of the worst years on record, but in spite of this further redundancies look unlikely.

Not a single AP fund reported a positive result in 2008, with losses ranging from around 20-40%.

However, despite the significant losses there appears to be little indication that many of the funds will drastically alter strategy or make redundancies to cut costs.

The €5.49bn AP7 fund was one of the hardest hit, with its Premium Choice Fund falling 42.8%. Its executive vice president Richard Grottheim explained the organisation was comfortable with its staffing levels and he did not see a need to cut staff. AP7 currently employs 15 people, the smallest number of workers at an AP fund.

He says: “We’re a lean organisation and don’t feel we need to expand or cut back, so on that front it is unchanged.”

It was a similar story at the €4.03bn AP3 fund, which lost close to 20% on its investments in 2008.

Christina Hillesoy, communications manager at the fund, said that there had been no redundancies this year and there were in the pipeline. She did, however point out that headcount has remained has remained more or less the same over the last five years at around 50 people.

She says: “There has been no reduction in staff. We think our organisation runs efficiently as it is.”

However, she did add that the fund was not necessarily closing its doors and that there were always possibilities for the right candidate.

Unfortunately, the staffing situation at the €15.8bn AP1 is not as rosy. The fund lost more than 20% on its investments last year and was forced to make job cuts as makes adjustments to its asset management structure.

The fund is set to cut 20 positions and says it will focus more heavily on its strategic asset allocation.

Johan Magnusson, managing director at AP1, said this would reduce its operating expenses by as much as 25% per year.

He said: “We deeply regret having to lose skilled and competent people, but the fund has an explicit responsibility to manage the Swedish people’s pension assets as efficiently as possible.”

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