Investment experts at a meeting organised by the European Association of Paritarian Institutions (AEIP) in Brussels have criticised the EU’s so-called Juncker plan, which they said would be of less use to pension funds than originally hoped.Speakers at the event – entitled ‘Long-term Investment and the Juncker Plan: Which Roles for Pension Funds, Social Insurers & Other Institutional Investors?’ – pointed to the shortage of suitable projects in EU president Jean-Claude Juncker’s €315bn investment plan.Dominique de Crayencour, secretary-general of the European Long-Term Investors Association, said there was plenty of money available for investment but not enough outlets. On the much-vaunted cross-border infrastructure development theme, he argued that “difficulties” were not fund-related but rather down the fact different countries too often failed to agree on a particular need. And negotiations, he added, could take years.What could help institutional investors, he suggested, was the establishment of a “pipeline” of suitable projects.This could, for example, include small-scale energy-efficiency projects.De Crayencour said this could make these projects more attractive for investors, as local authorities “do not have a clue” about the financial packaging of such deals.Meanwhile, Michael Smyth, a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), said the European Commission – which “can’t afford a failure at the present stage” – was taking a big risk with the Juncker plan.Smyth drew a parallel with the the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), going back a decade or so.“Does anyone remember [that]?” he asked.The EESC recently published a draft “opinion” on the EU Investment Plan, as well as on the European Fund for Strategic Investments.While the opinion welcomed the Plan as “as step into the right direction”, it also questioned whether a “pipeline of projects can be developed that offer returns that attract institutional investors”.On the topic of shortage of good projects, Bruno Gabellieri, the AEIP’s secretary-general and chair for the meeting, argued that the European Commission’s approach had been “top down” and that a more “bottom-up” approach was needed. Further criticism of the EU policy came from James Watson, director of Business Europe, who raised the question of “additionality” related to the Juncker plan.His point was that projects earmarked in the plan could well have attained the funding required anyway.Not all speakers, however, took the critical line. Renato Guerriero, vice-president at the AEIP, listed points in favour of pension funds investing in infrastructure projects, citing employment and growth.He also pointed to growing pressure for more of this type of investment, in line with Northern Europe, Canada and Australia.Guerriero suggested that, where large infrastructure projects were concerned, small funds could join together in order to get involved.
He will take over from Hyldahl, who has been covering the equities role during the recruitment process.Hyldahl himself took over the top job at the subsidiary in April following the departure of his predecessor Alan Pollack, who left to become chief executive of pension provider PFA.As the new equity CIO, Lovett will be joining Nordea Asset Management’s senior executive management.He will be in charge of its five equity boutiques, private equity and responsible investments, Nordea said.His most recent job was head of equities and deputy chief investment officer at Ignis Asset Management in the UK, a firm which was bought by Standard Life last year. Before that he was at Allianz Global Investors as co-CIO for European equities and a member of the European management group responsible for the firm’s equity platform.Hyldahl said Lovett would help the business develop its single boutiques as well as the cooperation between boutiques, in order to produce strong investment performance over the long-term, he said.Nordea said Lovett’s role was created in January, when the investment organisation was split into four units.Nordea Asset Management is the biggest asset manager in the Nordics with €191bn under management at the end of June 2015.At group level, Nordea Bank today announced it’s chief executive Christian Clausen is stepping down after more than eight years in the role.He will be replaced by Casper von Koskull, who will become the group’s new president and group chief executive.Torsten Hagen Jørgensen has been appointed as the new group COO and deputy group chief executive.The changes come into effect on 1 November, with Clausen continuing in an advisory role until the end of 2016, when he will retire, Nordea said. Nordea Asset Management has hired Briton Mark Lovett as its equity CIO, a role that will see him head one of four new units it set up in January.Lovett will relocate to Copenhagen and take up the job no later than 17 August, according to Nordea, the Nordic and Baltic banking group of which Nordea Asset Management is a part.A spokesman said Lovett’s job will involve much travelling around the Nordic countries.Christian Hyldahl, head of Nordea Asset Management, said: “I am glad that we have been able to recruit Mark who has extensive experience within equities and the European asset management industry as well as cross-border management experience.”
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