AP6 CEO Katarina Staaf (left) and PEI EMEA conferences director Nicholas Lockley

Katarina Staaf, managing director of the Sixth Swedish National Pension Fund (AP6), thinks comparing the financial performance of impact funds and generalist funds in its portfolio is not a fruitful exercise.

“I think it’s not quite fair to compare impact funds,” Staaf told New Private Markets this week, speaking specifically about the returns generated by AP6’s private equity fund investments. “They’re quite new to the market, and what they’re compared to are funds that have been in the market for 20 years. It’s an unfair comparison.”

Staaf was speaking after a keynote interview at affiliate publication Responsible Investor’s Europe summit in London this week. Asked by Nicholas Lockley, PEI Media’s EMEA conferences director, if AP6 would accept concessionary returns for its impact investments, Staaf said: “Absolutely not. We believe that in the end, that will generate a higher return over our investment horizon.”

AP6 invests exclusively in private equity and reported a 49.1 percent return in 2021. Its portfolio is valued at SKr67 billion ($6.6 billion; €6.3 billion). It makes generalist, thematic and impact fund investments in venture capital, growth equity and buyouts, making around 10 fund investments a year, Staaf said.

Impact is just one of the themes AP6 invests in, “and in our portfolio, [that theme] is too young to compare” to the rest of the portfolio, Staaf told New Private Markets. “It’s more about sustainability over everything. Our approach [with all fund managers] is: ‘Do what you do, but do it in a sustainable way.’”

AP6’s private equity strategy “is about transforming industries and transforming business models,” Staaf said onstage.