The mutual funds arm of Sweden’s Länsförsäkringar is bringing almost one-quarter of its assets in house and has poached two senior portfolio managers from Nordic asset manager Alfred Berg to take charge of the new task.The insurance alliance, which also provides pensions and is owned by 23 independent insurers in Sweden, announced its unit LF Mutual Fund Company (Länsförsäkringar fondförvaltning) would start managing all SEK23bn (€2.5bn) of its investments in Swedish equities this autumn, in its first move to take asset management in house.The mutual funds unit had SKE109bn in assets under management (AUM) at the end of 2015.Eva Gottfridsdotter-Nilsson, president of the LF Mutual Fund Company, said: “In recent years, corporate governance work has become increasingly integrated in our management, and, in this way, we will become clearer and more effective in our corporate governance of Swedish equity funds.” She said that since the firm’s customers had a large part of their fund investors in Swedish equities, it felt natural to concentrate its in-sourcing task in this area.“The change will also contribute to higher efficiency and create synergies,” she said.As things stand, around 98% of total AUM in the LF Mutual Funds Company is managed by external portfolio managers, with the unit just managing five funds-of-funds itself.The unit’s funds are used by Länsförsäkringar’s clients in unit-linked pension saving.Gottfridsdotter-Nilsson said Länsförsäkringar’s mutual funds that invested in other asset classes and abroad would continue to be managed externally.She said customers’ savings should be managed by those who had the best prerequisites for the job and the highest level of skills.“Today, we are so large in Swedish equities we ourselves can recruit the best managers in the market,” she said, adding that the firm had now succeeded in doing just that.Länsförsäkringar has hired Peter Norhammar and Petter Löfqvist to manage Swedish equities at its mutual funds arm from this autumn.Both men will step into newly created roles at the Swedish insurance group’s subsidiary, and will have the title of portfolio manager.Norhammar is currently head of Swedish equities and senior portfolio manager for Sweden at Alfred Berg.He heads the Swedish equities team there and is lead portfolio manager for Nordic listed real estate equities including the fund Alfred Berg Fastighetsfond Norden.Meanwhile, Löfqvist is senior portfolio manager for Sweden at Alfred Berg.He is the lead portfolio manager of Nordic and Swedish small caps and takes charge of the Luxembourg-domiciled fund Parvest Equity Nordic Small Cap.Norhammar and Löfqvist joined Alfred Berg in 2014.Matching the latest experience of the two new hires, Länsförsäkringar said the first step of its work to bring domestic equities management in house would be taken in the management of the Länsförsäkringar Real Estate fund and Länsförsäkringar Small Cap Sweden fund.The firm said the SEK23bn it has in domestic equities is spread across three active Swedish equity funds.
Two Greek shipping companies have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from several discharges of oil into the waters of Texas ports by the oil tanker M/T Nicos I.V., according to the U.S. Department of Justice.Namely, Avin International Ltd and Nicos I.V. Special Maritime Enterprises, the operator and owner of the Greek-flagged vessel, pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of an agency proceeding, as well as one count of failure to report discharge of oil under the Clean Water Act, and three counts of negligent discharge of oil under the Clean Water Act.Under the plea agreement, the companies will pay a USD 4 million criminal fine and serve a four-year term of probation, during which vessels operated by the companies will be required to implement an environmental compliance plan, including inspections by an independent auditor.The Master of the tanker, Rafail-Thomas Tsoumakos, and the vessel’s Chief Officer, Alexios Thomopoulos, also pleaded guilty each to one count of making a material false statement to members of the United States Coast Guard during the investigation into the discharges and face up to five years in prison when sentenced. A sentencing date has not been set.According to documents filed in court, the Nicos I.V. was equipped with a segregated ballast system, a connected series of tanks used to control the trim and list of the vessel by taking on or discharging water, the latter involving an operation called deballasting. At some point prior to July 6, 2017, the ballast system of the Nicos I.V. became contaminated with oil and that oil was discharged twice from the vessel into the Port of Houston on July 6 and July 7, 2017, during deballasting operations.After leaving the Port of Houston, en route to Port Arthur, Texas, the deck crew was instructed to open the ballast tanks, and oil was observed in several of the tanks. After arriving in Port Arthur, additional oil began bubbling up next to the vessel, causing a report to the U.S. Coast Guard.