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Italian laws to spur pension fund investment in infrastructure, says S&P

first_imgItalian laws brought in last year to promote the development of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and give them access to the capital markets should encourage institutional investors into Italian infrastructure via project finance, according to ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P).Manuel Dusina, credit analyst at the company, said: “The new laws introduce a more innovative and benign legal and fiscal regulatory regime, one that could support the development of a project bond market.”This should enable Italy to tap into the increasing demand among European and worldwide institutional investors for infrastructure assets that has been seen in other European markets, he said.The new set of laws should also help to cut some of the costs of infrastructure investments, S&P said. Before the First Growth and Development Decree was approved in August 2012, for example, S&P said, unlisted issuers, such as project finance special-purpose vehicles, issuing bonds with a debt-to-equity ratio of more than 2:1 had to pay a withholding tax on interest payable.This prevented the tax deduction of interest payable and made it hard to access the capital markets.S&P said the decree also identified international and national financial institutions that could give project guarantees, such as CDP and the Italian export credit agency Servizi Assicurativi del Commercio Estero (SACE).S&P said: “Such guarantees should in our view further support infrastructure investments funded through the capital markets because they address investors’ reluctance to invest directly in projects that are pre-completion, commonly known as greenfield projects.”But any shift to bond financing from bank loans was likely to be gradual, it said.Not only have investors been reluctant to invest in infrastructure projects up to now because of the lack of data and their inexperience, but the Italian project bond market also remains untested, S&P explained.“Market participants will take some time to get acquainted with the new legislation,” it said.Fabio Ortolani, president at Fonchim, the pension fund for the chemicals industry in Italy, pointed out that the legislative change to allow project bond issuance has not happened yet, although it is on the way.“What is new is that pension funds have started to invest in Italian industry in another way,” he told IPE.In Italy, a law has been passed allowing for the issuance of mini-bonds, through which investors can invest in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).This stratum of Italian industry has found it hard to borrow as banks have reined in their lending activities in the wake of the European banking crisis.The new mini-bonds are unlisted loans, which can be packaged into funds.In July, for example, Mediobanca announced it would launch the first mini-bond fund, to be run by Duemme SGR, part owned by the banking group.But, having just completed an overhaul of its investment mandates, including a heavy weighting in traditional government bonds, Fonchim is unlikely to make big changes to its asset allocation in the near future, Ortolani said.Potentially, the fund could direct some of its investment towards mini-bonds and infrastructure via the new project bonds if the market takes off, he said.“In five to six years, we will see,” he said.“The main reason for investing in infrastructure and mini-bonds would be asset diversification, but also mini-bonds have the potential to help good companies.”last_img read more

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Family office tenders €200m Spanish real estate mandate using IPE-Quest

first_imgThe family office is looking for a strategic asset management partner in Spain using a growth style and an active process.It prefers references about the management quality, investment track record and case studies about the asset management expertise.There are no minimum requirements for the manager’s assets under management, but the absolute minimum track record is two years, with a preferred minimum of five years.Respondents should state performance to 30 September, net of fees.The closing date for responses is 10 January 2014.Meanwhile, the search is on for an investment manager to run a $500m (€366m) US real estate portfolio on behalf of a family office.According to search QN1370, the portfolio will be made up of office, retail and residential in WashingtonDC, San Francisco, Houston, Boston, Seattle and Austin.The family office is looking for a strategic partner using a core style and an active process.The mandate will cover investment, asset management, property management, accounting and reporting services.The search is being conducted by a family office in Germany.There are no minimum requirements for the manager’s assets under management, but the absolute minimum track record is three years, with a preferred minimum of five years.Respondents should state performance to 30 September, net of fees.The closing date for responses is 10 January 2014.The IPE.com news team is unable to answer any further questions   about IPE Quest tender notices to protect the interests of clients   conducting the search. To obtain information direct from IPE Quest, please contact Jayna Vishram on +44 (0) 20 7261 4630 or email jayna.vishram@ipe-quest.com A family office is looking for an investment manager to run a €200m Spanish real estate portfolio, using IPE-Quest.The portfolio will be made up of office and high street retail in Barcelona and Madrid.According to IPE-Quest search QN1371, the mandate will cover investment, asset management, property management, accounting and reporting services.The search is being conducted by a family office in Germany.last_img read more

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Partners Group teams up with Mizuho on private equity, infrastructure

first_imgSwiss investment manager Partners Group is teaming up with Japan’s Mizuho Financial Group to offer private equity and infrastructure products to the pensions market in Japan.Citing growing demand from Japanese pension funds for access to private market investments, Partners Group said it signed the agreement with the Japanese financial holding group on 9 January.Steffen Meister, partner and executive member of the firm’s board of directors, said: “We are very excited to partner with Mizuho Financial Group, one of Japan’s most respected and best-known financial institutions, to meet the growing demand for private equity and infrastructure investment opportunities seen from the country’s pension funds.”The two businesses formed a strong team together, he said, and would set up a successful range of private markets products. Partners Group said the deal was a business alliance agreement with Mizuho Financial Group and its subsidiary Mizuho Trust & Banking.Mizuho Trust provides pension trust and asset management.Under the terms of the pact, Mizuho Trust and Partners Group will jointly develop and distribute certain global private equity and infrastructure products within Japan’s pension market, the Swiss firm said.It said this would be the first time Mizuho offered global, private market investment products to its Japanese pension fund client base.The agreement gives MFG and Mizuho Trust select distribution rights for Partners Group’s global private equity and infrastructure funds, the firm said.In addition to the stated product marketing, Mizuho Trust and Partners Group also intend to look at new opportunities to work together and develop products for Japanese institutional investors within global private market investment.last_img read more

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Wednesday people roundup

first_imgDexion Capital – Magnus Spence has been appointed head of asset management, responsible for expanding the range of real asset and alternative credit fund offerings. Spence has held a number of leading roles at Mercury Asset Management/Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, and in 2002, he co-founded Dalton Strategic Partnership.Sprenkels & Verschuren – Edward Snieder has joined pensions adviser Sprenkels & Verschuren as partner. Snieder is adviser for several players in the Dutch pensions and asset management market. Since 2009, he has been a partner at KPMG, where he started in 1997 as an adviser.Stamford Associates – Alexandra Haggard has been appointed to the newly created position of chief executive. She joins from Russell Investments, where she was managing director of product and marketing for the EMEA region.Société Générale Securities Services – Christophe Baurand has been appointed global head of commercial, marketing and liquidity management. Based in Paris, Baurand replaces Massimo Cotella, who has left the company.BlueBay Asset Management – Katherine Wentrup-Estupinan has been appointed sales director to support BlueBay’s alternatives business. She joins from Strategic Investments Group, a boutique alternative investments advisory firm, where she led the business development and investor relations effort within Southern Europe.Syntrus Achmea Real Estate – Erik van der Struijs has been appointed team leader for communications and marketing at Syntrus Achmea Real Estate & Finance in Amsterdam. He has been spokesman for pensions and asset management at Syntrus Achmea since 2010. Marco Simmers has been appointed as his successor.Caceis Investor Services – Ronald Borst has started as senior business development manager at Caceis Investor Services. Over the last two years, Borst was institutional services sales director at custodian Kas Bank. Since 1996, he has held several positions at Kas Bank.Mirabaud Asset Management – Patrick Huber has been appointed senior portfolio manager, responsible for Swiss large-cap companies. He joins from Lombard Odier Investment Managers, where he had been responsible for the Swiss equities team. APG, TKP Pensioen, ING Investment Management, Dexion Capital, Sprenkels & Verschuren, Stamford Associates, Société Générale Securities Services, BlueBay Asset Management, Syntrus Achmea Real Estate, Caceis Investor Services, Mirabaud Asset ManagementAPG – Jan Bonenkamp has been appointed strategist for asset-liability management at the €396bn Dutch asset manager APG. Previously, Bonenkamp was scientific researcher at the Dutch Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB).TKP Pensioen – Aart-Jan Baaijens has started as a senior account manager at pensions provider TKP Pensioen as of 1 January. Until recently, Baaijens was director of Pensioenfonds Campagne, which has liquidated itself and joined PGB, the €18bn industry-wide scheme for the Dutch printing industry.ING Investment Management – The asset manager – soon to become NN Investment Partners – has appointed Hiroshi Kimura as chief executive of ING IM Japan, succeeding Douglas Hymas. He joins from AllianceBernstein, where he was managing director of client relations and communications and a member of the board. He has also held several leadership positions at Credit Suisse Asset Management, Rothschild Asset Management and Taiheiyo Asset Management in Japan.last_img read more

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Icelandic funds ‘optimistic’ about relaxation of capital controls by 2016

first_imgThe ISK2.9trn (€18.9bn) Icelandic pension fund industry is optimistic capital controls in place on foreign investment will be lifted by the end of 2015, with a parliamentary process expected to start this week.Capital controls on Icelandic investors have been in place since the 2008 financial crisis which saw the near collapse, and bailing out, of the country’s banking system and a significant economic downturn.Thorey Thordardottir, chief executive of the Icelandic Pension Fund Association, said the organisation was hopeful the lifting of restrictions would begin soon, despite expectations of such simmering for some time.Finance minister, Bjarni Benediktsson, of the coalition government’s Independence Party, is expected to place a bill before Parliament this week, after taking legal advice last July on devising a plan to lift controls. A year earlier, the then-new coalition government began setting out its plans on lifting controls but little movement was seen after.“We are very optimistic it will happen this week and allow pension funds to start gradually investing abroad again,” Thordardottir said.“It will still be limited, perhaps with a quota for the industry, but it will allow the pension funds to diversify their allocation and remove the concentration in Iceland.“Our pension funds need to allocate globally and not just domestically.”Icelandic pension funds had around 30% of assets invested abroad pre-crisis. The allocation has fallen to 24% since, with holdings of ISK685bn in international securities, as investors were only able to re-invest capital already outside the country.The association previously said it considered the ideal proportion of assets invested abroad to be 40-50%.However, Thordardottir said it was still unknown how quickly and how far pension funds would be able to shift capital out of the country, as she expected limitations to still be in place from the finance ministry and central bank.“We have not heard any figures or how this [lifting of controls] will be implemented, but after discussions [with the Central Bank] we are optimistic about this going ahead and starting later this year,” she added.Icelandic pension funds delivered a 7.2% investment return in 2014, up from 5.3% a year earlier, with assets roughly 150% of Iceland’s GDP.By last year, the investors had acquired a third of the country’s listed shares with around half of their assets underwritten by the Icelandic government, up from 25% pre-crisis.“There will still be some limitation,” Thordardottir said, “but we think this will be a right step for the pension fund system and the Icelandic economy.”Speaking with IPE in November 2014, several Icelandic pension fund managers said given the lack of movement on lifting controls, it would take years to revert to pre-crisis levels with a free movement of capital.last_img read more

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Swedish government drops AP fund reform following backlash

first_imgThe announcement comes after a meeting of Pensionsgruppen – the cross-party body, with representatives of the two government and four opposition parties, tasked with reaching a consensus on pension reform – failed to reach a joint position on the reform’s future.The move follows several months of criticism from the opposition Liberal People’s Party (FP), which had signed off on the reform before proposals were unveiled this summer, and was in government in 2011 when the closure of two of the funds was first considered.Within weeks of the proposals’ publication in June, FP leader Jan Björklund questioned whether his party could continue supporting them.The idea of reforming the current system, comprising buffer funds AP1-4 and private equity fund AP6, was subject to an inquiry that, in 2012, recommended the government consider establishing a single buffer fund rather than retaining three. Sweden’s government has cancelled its reforms of the AP Fund system, following resistance from opposition parties.A spokeswoman for Per Bolund, the country’s financial markets minister, confirmed to IPE that the closure of two of the SEK1.2trn (€126bn) system’s buffer funds had been “cancelled”, after the government and opposition parties failed to come to an agreement on the future of the reforms.The reforms, which would have seen the closure of AP6 and a second, as yet-undecided buffer fund, have been criticised for risking “political micromanagement” of the system’s assets.They drew scorn from both the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise – which said they would be “seriously detrimental” to the stability of the system – and Sweden’s central bank, which said they would make long-term investment “difficult if not impossible”.last_img read more

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Friday people roundup

first_imgAPG – Gerard van Olphen has been appointed chief executive of the €410bn Dutch asset manager and pensions provider. He will relieve Angelien Kemna, the company’s CFRO, of her responsibilities as interim chief executive since the departure of the former chief executive Dick Sluimers at the end of last year. Van Olphen starts in mid-March, having most recently served as chief executive at VIVAT Insurance. He was previously chief executive at SNS Reaal, in charge of the restructuring of the nationalised bancassurer.  Keva – Timo Kietäväistä has been appointed managing director of the €44.2bn Finnish local authority pension provider, taking over from Tapani Hellstén in mid-February. Hellstén has been acting managing director, with former Keva managing director Jukka Männistö having suddenly resigned last October. Kietäväistä joins from the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.Norges Bank Investment Management – Christian Ringnes and Petter Fredrik Neslein have been named external members of the five-strong real estate investment board, advising on investments by the Government Pension Fund Global. Ringnes is principal shareholder and chief executive of the real estate companies Eiendomsspar and Victoria Eiendom. Neslein is the owner and chief executive of real estate company Pecunia, which manages and develops commercial and residential properties in central Oslo.ACD – Cristiano Carraroli has been appointed chief executive at ACD, an Italian company dedicated to supporting foreign asset managers’ business in the Italian market. He has worked at several investment companies in Italy, Luxembourg and Malta, including GDP Asset Management Sim. Carraroli will be supported by Chiara Verderio, head of research and fund analysis at ACD.Zurich Corporate Services – Andy Seed is joining the UK defined contribution (DC) services provider as corporate distribution manager of strategic partnerships. Seed joins from JP Morgan Asset Management, where he was an executive director leading UK DC sales. Schroders, European Securities and Markets Authority, Finanssivalvonta, EIOPA, APG, VIVAT Insurance, Keva, Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, Norges Bank Investment Management, ACD, Zurich Corporate Services, JP Morgan Asset ManagementSchroders – The asset manager has created a fiduciary management team headed by Mark Humphreys, previously head of UK strategic solutions at Schroders. The position, like the team, is new. Hannah Simons, Jonathan Smith and Rosalind Mann have been appointed as fiduciary managers, having been analysts in Schroders’s UK strategic solutions group. They take their previous responsibilities with them. European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) – Anneli Tuominen has been appointed vice-chair of the EU supervisory body. She is director general of Finanssivalvonta, the Finnish financial supervisory authority, and already a long-standing member of the ESMA board of supervisors. Tuominen is also on the supervisory board of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), the European Banking Authority (EBA), the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) and the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB). She replaces Carlos Tavares, former chairman of the Portuguese securities markets commission (CMVM), who has completed his term.EIOPA – Fausto Parente has been elected executive director, joining from the Italian insurance regulator, Istituto di Vigilanza sulle Assicurazioni (IVASS). Peter Braumüller, managing director of the Austrian Financial Market Authority, has been re-elected EIOPA’s alternate chair.last_img read more

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ESG roundup: G20 green finance, sustainable stock exchanges, Exxon

first_imgG20 leaders have acknowledged the need for green finance to be scaled up to “support environmentally sustainable growth globally”, identifying challenges facing the development of green finance and possible remedies.It is said to be the first time leaders of the 20 largest world economies have referenced the importance of green finance in a communiqué following a summit, which this year was held in Hangzhou, China, on 4-5 September.In their communiqué, the leaders said: “We believe efforts could be made to provide clear strategic policy signals and frameworks, promote voluntary principles for green finance, expand learning networks for capacity building, support the development of local green bond markets, promote international collaboration to facilitate cross-border investment in green bonds, encourage and facilitate knowledge sharing on environmental and financial risks, and improve the measurement of green finance activities and their impacts.”The G20 leaders also welcomed a report submitted by the Green Finance Study Group (GFSG), the first such group established by the G20, which outlined options for mobilising private capital for green investment. Research by the UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative has found that, although stock exchanges have increasingly been taking steps that help integrate sustainable development in capital markets, “more action is needed”.Out of 82 stock exchanges, 58 – representing more than 70% of listed equity markets – have made a public commitment to advancing sustainability in their market, according to a biennial report from the SSE initiative.Twelve exchanges incorporate reporting on environmental, social and governance (ESG) information into their listing rules, and 15 provide formal guidance to issuers.The SEE said ESG indices remained the most popular sustainability instrument among exchanges, with 38 of 82 providing them.On a policy level, government action is skewed toward encouraging corporate disclosure of ESG factors, while “involvement on the investment side is less developed”.Eight of the 50 countries covered by the SSE initiative’s research implement an investor stewardship code that addresses ESG factors.In other news, the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) has published a report comparing how investors voted on a climate change shareholder resolution at Exxon.The resolution was defeated, with 38% voting in favour, a marked difference with the support for similar resolutions at BP and Shell AGMs in 2015, which the AODP said were passed by the same shareholders.The boards of BP and Shell supported the shareholder resolutions, while Exxon’s did not.The AODP cited a “new and significant split amongst the giant fund managers, with leading funds BlackRock and Vanguard voting against [the shareholder resolution] and State Street voting most of its stock in favour”.The AODP said its analysis showed that “many investors [were] ignoring responsible investment commitments they have made”.Edward Mason, head of responsible investment at the UK’s £6.7bn (€8.4bn) Church Commissioners, has previously said the difference between the voting at the Exxon and the BP and Shell AGMs highlighted the need for “a cultural shift”. BlackRock Investment Institute, which supports BlackRock asset management, has said that “investors can no longer ignore climate change”. It published a report today, 6 September, on how investors can adapt portfolios to address climate-related market risks. These include technological advances in power production, storage and consumption that undermine existing business models, and regulatory efforts to limit carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency.last_img read more

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US election: Trump win raises questions about low-carbon momentum

first_imgThe election of Donald Trump as the next US president should not signal the death knell for investor action on climate change, according to the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), although it and others said it raised questions about the implications for other countries’ political commitment to tackling climate change.Responding to the US presidential election result, Stephanie Pfeifer, chief executive at the IIGCC, said: “Investors are predictably concerned the extraordinary result of the US election risks uncertainty around the political agenda on climate.“However, the urgency implied by the latest science and the economic imperative for action will continue to inform growing efforts by investors to manage climate risk assertively and to seize the opportunities presented by the need to secure a swift and smooth transition to a low-carbon economy.”This transition is already underway, with a “remarkable and irreversible” pace and scale of change, she said, and the IIGCC will continue to press the G20 economies “to double global investment in clean energy, tighten climate disclosure mandates, develop carbon pricing and phase out fossil-fuel subsidies”. Trump campaigned with policies focused on promoting fossil fuels and nuclear energy and said he would “cancel” the Paris Agreement on climate change that was brokered by the UN at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in December last year.It has been noted that the Paris Agreement has sufficient backing to remain legally binding even without the US, as more than 100 countries accounting for more than 55% of global emissions have ratified the accord; it entered into force last Friday, 4 November.The implications of Trump’s election for energy sources did not feature highly in much of initial asset management reaction to the vote, but some did address the topic, from a macro and/or industry sector impact perspective.Geir Lode, head of global equities at Hermes Investment Management, said Trump’s election raised questions about a possible weakening of other countries’ commitment to mitigating climate warming.“COP21 in Paris last year marked a change in the fight against global warming as governments across the world boldly pledged to slow carbon emissions in their respective economies,” he said.“A reversal of the US’s commitment to reduce emissions could lead to other governments reneging on their promises.”Caveats about needing to wait for more clarity about Trump’s policy priorities peppered much of first reactions from asset managers to the election result, but Léon Cornelissen, chief economist at the €276bn asset manager Robeco, said “[it’s] clear that beating global warming won’t be one of his priorities”.He expects Trump will seek an extensive deregulation of the oil, gas and coal sectors.“This will further increase the current surplus and is the reason why oil prices are dropping,” he said.Others noted that fossil-fuel sectors could benefit from a Trump presidency, although his talk about wanting to increase infrastructure spending could be positive for companies with a green business offering.Matthew Beesley, head of global equities at Henderson Global Investors, said: “Trump’s disdain for the environment has been much discussed; we can expect to see energy stocks to rally.”Erik Weisman, chief economist at MFS Investment Management, said fossil fuels could be advantaged, noting that “Trump repeatedly promoted US energy independence during the campaign, calling for leasing federal land for energy exploration, repealing some regulations on coal and reviving the Keystone XL pipeline project”.But, according to Charlie Thomas, manager of the Jupiter Global Ecology Growth SICAV fund, renewable energy companies need not necessarily suffer in the medium to longer term under a Trump presidency, and green business could stand to benefit from “common ground” between Democrats and Republic on the need for US infrastructure investment.“This bodes relatively well for companies providing environmental solutions – particularly in water, smart energy and rail transport infrastructure,” he said.last_img read more

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KBC pension fund’s Meysmans to step down after 20 years

first_imgEdwin Meysmans, managing director of Pensioenfonds KBC, one of Belgium’s largest pension funds, will leave his role in early July to enter into retirement.He doesn’t like to call it that, however.“I think the English word ‘retirement’ is a horrible word,” he said. “Don’t you think so? It means that you’re stepping out of a society and you retire – it’s a terrible word.”Meysmans will mark 20 years as head of the pension fund in a few days. He joined the financial group’s pension fund when KBC was still Kredietbank, having previously worked for the bank’s legal department and then its credit department. During those two decades it has grown from €500m in assets to €2bn as of 1 January this year, according to Meysmans.“That’s quite a growth,” he told IPE. “Looking at return figures over the last 20 years we got to an annual average return of 6.96%, so very close to 7%. After inflation it’s more than 5%, so I think we’ve done – not just me but with the team – a good job.”Some governance changes are due to take place in connection with Meysmans’ retirement, such as creating separate roles for liabilities and assets. These have yet to be decided.Meysmans has been an active member of the Belgian pension fund association – now known as PensioPlus – throughout his career, as a member of the board, the management committee, and as vice-president. He will relinquish his long-held role as vice president at the association when he leaves KBC.He will remain an independent trustee of the Euroclear Pension Fund and the Willis Towers Watson Lifesight OFP, and has been asked to act as independent trustee and chair of a new pan-European pension fund that is due to be launched soon. The fund, Pensions OFP, was approved by the Belgian regulator in February. Meysmans said it is a pension fund “with a Danish background” but will set up shop in Belgium to run a pan-European defined contribution plan, offered first in Denmark but then opening to other European countries.Meysmans is also a lay judge in Belgium’s commercial courts, and said he would spend more time on this activity.last_img read more