Sweden’s largest pension fund Alecta is looking for a new head of real assets after the departure of Axel Brändström a week ago.

Brändström, who was head of real assets at the SEK1.2trn (€106bn) pension fund since 2020, and chair of its real estate subsidiary Alecta Fastigheter, left suddenly on 1 December, a spokesman confirmed.

The Alecta spokesman told IPE: “Alecta has concluded that we need someone with a different profile, background and experience to lead the work with real assets going forward.

“In connection with this, CEO Peder Hasslev and Axel Brändström have agreed that Axel will leave Alecta,” he said.

Recruitment of a new manager for the real assets group had begun, he said.

“Klas Åkerbäck will be the interim manager of the real assets group, while we are waiting for a new manager to be put in place,” the spokesman said adding that Åkerbäck was currently a senior portfolio manager in that group.

Brändström is the latest in a line of top employees to have left Alecta since a crisis erupted in March, following the revelation that large investments in the US niche banks had gone bad.

The impact on the reputation of Sweden’s largest pension fund from those losses was soon compounded by trouble for the occupational pension provider with its SEK50bn investment in Swedish residential property firm Heimstaden Bostad.

Late last month, William McKechnie, Alecta’s general counsel and head of legal, purchasing and sustainability left after he “agreed with the chief executive officer to leave”, according to the company.

Meanwhile, on the board of Heimstaden Bostad – the cash-strapped residential firm in which Alecta holds a large minority stake – Brändström has been replaced by Daniel Kristiansson, the property company announced on Friday.

Kristiansson is stewardship and corporate governance specialist at Alecta, having previously been investment director at the Swedish Ministry of Finance, focusing on state-owned enterprises.