Swedish pensions and insurance group Folksam has appointed a new head of real estate, as its CIO eyes opportunities to add to its property portfolio.

The SEK784bn (€67.5bn) the Stockholm-based firm has hired Jonas Bjuggren, replacing Lars Johnsson, who was due to leave at the end of September.

Earlier this year, when it announced Johnsson was leaving, Folksam said the firm had reached its target property allocation and would gradually shift its focus away from expansion of the portfolio to the management of existing assets. Folksam CIO Marcus Blomberg said this change in strategy was expected to have implications for the recruitment of Johnsson’s successor.

But today, Blomberg said: “The real estate industry is currently facing challenges in terms of cost increases for operations, higher interest rates and a weaker economy.

“At the same time, we see good opportunities for good acquisitions, as we see that in the long term real estate has a natural role in a well balanced portfolio.

“Our financial strength and the ongoing inflows into Folksam Group’s products give us good conditions to be able to act long-term even in more challenging times.”

Bjuggren has been working as a consultant since March, with an assignment as property director at Swedish state-owned research institute RISE.

Before that, he was director of administration at state-owned educational property manager Akademiska Hus, having previously worked for many years at real estate company Vasakronan, which is owned by four Swedish national pensions buffer funds.

Bjuggren said the real estate industry was facing major challenges given the state of the economy, but that he also saw opportunities ahead.

“Given the work done by the real estate team at Folksam over a number of years, we have a strong starting point for developing the business and the portfolio further, both in terms of new acquisitions and development of existing stock,” said Bjuggren, who will take up the new job on 15 January 2024.

At the end of 2022, Folksam’s property portfolio consisted of 140 properties worth a total of SEK61.4bn.

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