The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) has been urged to create concrete differences in its proposal to the European Commission on pensions transfers across the EU.Reponses from PensionsEurope and the Actuarial Association of Europe (AAE) said they welcomed EIOPA’s engagement with the industry on the matter, with the actuaries generally supporting the supervisor’s work.In January, EIOPA launched a consultation on good practices on individual transfer of supplementary occupational pension rights after being prompted by the Commission to deliver advice.The Commission is looking to extend transferable rights across the EU with savers taking occupation pension pots with them as they move across member states. EIOPA identified eight main issues with cross-border transfers and set out 14 ‘good practices’ to over come them.These included allowing transfers to remain at the discretion of schemes, with stakeholders agreeing on a framework to cover as much second-pillar savings as possible.Also included were harmonised requirements for domestic and cross-border transfers, set timeframes, limited member involvement and objective criteria for rejecting transfers.However, PensionsEurope said the consultation’s use of the word ‘supplementary’ was misleading and covered both workplace and personal pensions.“We would like to emphasise the importance of not mixing these two different systems,” the organisation said.“Transfers between workplace pension schemes and personal pension schemes are often, even domestically, not possible due to the different tax arrangements and the different setup of a scheme.”It also called for the word ‘rights’ to be replaced by capital given one scheme may not be able to provide the same outcome with a matching capital value.PensionsEurope also said EIOPA’s and the Commision’s work should first focus on ensuring domestic transfers could take place, before tackling the complex cross-border space.Also, it called for workplace pension set-ups to consider the overall risk when considering whether to allow a transfer.This would matters such as the scheme’s the funding level, interest rates and biometric aspects, PensionsEurope said.It also urged caution on transfers taking into account transfer values and taxation.“Good practices on the calculation of transfer value and taxation have not been proposed in this consultation, but are still important – and even fundamental – obstacles to the practice of transfers.“That there are no good practices on these issues shows how complex it is to tackle these obstacles,” it said.The AAE said while many of the good practices identified by EIOPA existed within some member states, it did indentify areas to make transfers more efficient.Chairman of AAE’s pensions committee, Falco Valkenburg, said it was positive EIOPA treated the transfers as a choice, and a not a requirement for members.The AAE would not support a recommendation that small DC accounts should be forced to transfer, he said.He also noted the Commission’s proposals would work well with its separate EU-wide pensions tracking initiative, TTYPE.
The growth of Europe’s repo market is stalling despite the “extraordinary” level of excess liquidity triggered by quantitative easing (QE) programmes, according to a survey by the International Capital Markets Association (ICMA).The ICMA estimated the European repo market’s overall size to be more than €5.6trn, as at 10 June – a “very small” 2% increase from the €5.5trn reported in December 2014.But Godfried De Vidts, chairman of the ICMA’s European Repo Council, said this figure failed to “tell the whole story”, and that the European market was not growing in line with underlying conditions.He added: “Increased bond issuance, extraordinary excess liquidity from [the European Central Bank’s long-term refinancing operation] and QE, and increasing demand for collateral driven by regulation might reasonably have been expected to produce an increase in repo trading.” He said upcoming research would provide a better understanding of the “profound” changes underlying the aggregate figures, which show increases and declines of around 2% on a six-monthly basis over the last year.According to the ICMA, the trend in European repo activity is “still essentially sideways”.The ICMA’s 29th European repo market survey also noted a decline in EU fixed income being used as collateral, down 4.5 percentage points to 77%.The association attributed the reduction to an increased use of non-government bonds, as well as equity, as collateral.It added: “It may reflect a focus – albeit temporary – on higher-margin business and is likely to be related to the drop in the share of electronic trading.”
Pramerica Investment Management – Michael Samaha has been appointed managing director of Pramerica’s Global Institutional Relationship Group. He joins from PIMCO, where he was responsible for the Middle East and Africa. At Pramerica, he will focus on expanding relationships in the Middle East and Europe, as part of the global coverage effort for Pramerica Investment Management.Aegon Netherlands – Rutger Zomer has been appointed CFO, effective 1 October. Zomer has been a member of the management of Aegon’s pensions operations since 2007 and became a member of the company’s financial management team in 2011. He is also director of Aegon’s PPI defined contribution pensions vehicle. Zomer is to succeed Edgar Koning, who will continue at Aegon Netherlands as CIO.AXA Investment Managers – Rob Barrett has been appointed head of institutional sales for the UK. He joins from Invesco Perpetual, where he spent the past three years in their UK and Ireland institutional sales team. He has also served as head of UK institutional business at Swisscanto and head of UK sales at HSBC Global Asset Management.TISA Retirement Policy Council – Jamie Jenkins, head of pensions strategy at Standard Life, has been appointed chair of TISA’s Retirement Policy Council. He will succeed Natanje Holt, managing director at Dunstan Thomas, who has now completed her term of office.Neuberger Berman – Jonathan Geoghegan has joined the UK Financial Institutions and Intermediaries client group. He joins from HSBC Global Asset Management, where he was a senior relationship manager. Before then, he worked at Architas Multi Managers, Invesco Perpetual and Schroders.International Financial Data Services – The provider of outsourced administration and technology solutions to the fund platform, collective investment, retirement and insurance markets has appointed Stephen Mohan as COO of its Platform Solutions business. Mohan joins from Allfunds Bank, Europe’s largest fund platform, where he was head of the UK and Ireland. Patrizia Immobilien – Philipp Schaper has been appointed group head of transactions. Schaper will take up the role next month, reporting to COO Klaus Schmitt. Current group head of transactions, Peter Forster, will focus on the role of group head of asset management. Schaper was previously managing director at IVG Immobilien. He has also worked for Fortress Investment Group and LaSalle Investment Management.Aspect Capital – Hobson Barnes has been appointed director of European sales. He joins from Chenavari Investment Managers, where he was managing director. He has also worked at Credit Suisse and Lehman Brothers.Deloitte – Will Aitken has been appointed leader of Deloitte’s national defined contribution and employee benefits business. He will be responsible for expanding the company’s pensions and reward business in London.Genesta – Karin Koks-Van der Sluijs has been named a non-executive board member in the Nordic Capital Fund Management arm. Koks-Van der Sluijs has worked for MN and Aberdeen Asset Management. National Association of Pension Funds, CERN Pension Fund, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, Nomura Asset Management, Pramerica Investment Management, PIMCO, Aegon Netherlands, AXA Investment Managers, Invesco Perpetual, TISA Retirement Policy Council, Neuberger Berman, HSBC Global Asset Management, International Financial Data Services, Patrizia Immobilien, Aspect Capital, Chenavari Investment Managers, Deloitte, Genesta, MNUK National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) – Frank Johnson and Richard Butcher have been announced as the chairmen of the NAPF’s defined benefit and defined contribution councils, respectively. Johnson oversaw the investment business streams of RPMI and RPMI Railpen between 2009 and 2015. Butcher is managing director at PTL. Both will assume their responsibilities after the AGM in October for a three-year term.CERN Pension Fund – Matthew Eyton-Jones has been appointed chief executive, nearly a year after Theodore Economou announced his departure from the CHF4bn (€3.6bn) scheme. Eyton-Jones has previously worked in the area of pensions at UK retailer John Lewis Partnership, as well as for consultancy Mercer, prior to joining the nuclear research facility’s pension fund in July. He has also worked for Goldman Sachs and Bank of America.Columbia Threadneedle Investments – Jonathan Dadswell has been appointed head of UK institutional sales. He joins from Nomura Asset Management, where he was business development director. Prior to that, he was head of institutional sales at Kames Capital. He has held similar roles at Credit Suisse Asset Management and Henderson Global Investors in the past.
“Pensionskassen should build know-how or start by paying specialists in one segment to better be able to judge asset managers,” he said.It was easier for large players to get better fee structures because of economies of scale, Meier added.He said he was particularly worried about the trend for Swiss Pensionskassen to invest in assets such as insurance-linked securities or private debt solely for return reasons.“Many pension funds do not fully understand the risks and in Switzerland we lack historic experience with the investments,” he explained.High exposure to corporate bonds was a “possible ticking time bomb”, Meier warned, as the “additional credit risk is often underestimated”.Meier has been researching alternative investments for many years, and up until the summer he taught this subject at the ZHAW.The debate on costs in Swiss pension portfolios has been fuelled by the low interest rate environment as well as the obligation for Pensionskassen to fully disclose total expense ratios.In some cases cautious strategies have led to Swiss pension funds cutting out alternative investments entirely.However, recent research by consultancy Siglo showed competition and demand had already brought down fees in some alternative segments such as senior secured loans. Additionally, the most recent risk study by consultancy Complementa revealed higher cost strategies outperformed last year. The trend to diversify as much as possible into alternative investments is based on a “misunderstanding”, according to a Swiss economist.Peter Meier, economist and former professor at the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, voiced concerns over the trend towards alternatives to delegates at the Institutional Retirement and Investor Summit organised by Barbara Bertolini in Vienna this week.“Swiss Pensionskassen are often invested in too many different strategies and are paying too much money for them,” he said.He urged medium-sized and smaller pension funds to instead specialise and get familiar with one or two strategies.
Over the course of 2017, on average sovereign investors posted returns of 9% – with development funds achieving 12% due to “their exposure to private markets assets”, the report said.Invesco canvassed 126 organisations around the world that held a total of $17trn (€14.6trn).Across the board, Invesco reported that allocations to equities had also risen, to the extent that they now form a larger part than fixed income holdings in the average portfolio.Despite this overall rise, the funds remained concerned about whether equities were becoming overvalued, combined with a further concern about whether there might be a “significant equity market correction” in 2018.Millar said sovereign investors had displayed a certain amount of prescience, raising concerns about a possible trade war when the survey was conducted in January and February.“They are very clear sighted about some of these factors,” Millar added.He also noted that the lack of correlation between alternatives and the mainstream asset classes meant that the move into assets such as property could also be seen as a form of inflation protection.“The sovereigns are not only going to get a good return stream from alternatives over the long term, but they realise that [these assets] bring other attributes to the table as well,” Millar said.Liquidity for sovereign investors was one of the main issues, he added, with investing in alternatives on any meaningful scale often seen as problematic. However, many were keeping a “watching brief” on developments in the cryptocurrency markets.“Crypto-currencies were not dismissed out of hand as we might have thought they could have been,” he said. “Clearly sovereigns aren’t investing in Bitcoin, but they are looking at [the market] more broadly, largely through venture capital exposure.” Sovereign wealth funds, state pension plans and central banks have doubled their exposure to alternative assets such as real estate and private equity over the past six years, a survey has revealed.According to the latest annual Invesco Global Sovereign Asset Management survey, some of the world’s largest investors have moved to bolster their alternatives holdings to diversify their portfolios away from mainstream assets.Alternatives now form 20% of the average portfolio of sovereign investors – up from 10% just six years ago.“Clearly equities had a very good year in 2017 – but perhaps less positive in the previous few years,” said Alex Millar, head of EMEA sovereigns at Invesco. “Now they’re looking for other sources of returns other than equities.”
24 Ephraim Pde, Ephraim Island. 24 Ephraim Pde, Ephraim Island. 24 Ephraim Pde, Ephraim Island. 24 Ephraim Pde, Ephraim Island.“We lived at Sovereign Island before and we always went past it (the house) when we came by on the boat and I would look across and I’d think, ‘wow those people that live in there are so lucky’. More from news02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa15 hours ago02:37Gold Coast property: Sovereign Islands mega mansion hits market with $16m price tag2 days ago“There are only three beach houses (at Ephraim) that are actually on the beach, so when it came up for sale that was it, we thought, ‘we are doing this’. We bought it in a week. It’s just so unique you literally go out of your back steps and you step down onto the beach and into the water.’’ UNIT BIGGER THAN MOST HOUSE BLOCKS WANT A FREE OVERSEAS HOLIDAY? With their daughters now no longer living in the area, Mrs Feenstra said they had realised that the house was just too big for the two of them. They have decided to downsize and give a larger family an opportunity to live in the home. “We are sort of empty nesting in a very large nest, ‘’ she said.“It has been a very big struggle to get to this point, to reach this decision (to sell) because you think where else do we get this (sort of home). It is just a stunning position. “If the house was half the size it was, we’d probably stay here for ever. 24 Ephraim Pde, Ephraim Island.Mrs Feenstra said as well as the unbeatable location it had multiple beautiful areas inside.“It has been all fully renovated, so the kitchen is really stunning. I really like this aspect. When you walk into the entrance and the doors are open you have this massive breathtaking view of the water and as you go up the stairs, the stairs are glass too, so you actually all the time wherever you are, you are looking out at the water. ’’Mrs Feenstra often heard guests’ sudden intake of break when they entered the home for the first time and saw the incredible view. But she said the house deserved to be used to its full potential and would appeal to a larger family. It is so spacious, all the bedrooms are double rooms with ensuites.The custom-built Paul Clout designed beach house has uninterrupted views of the Broadwater and South Stradbroke Island. There are separate living areas throughout as well as two separate dining areas, all of these open onto terraces and decks and there is a heated swimming pool. 24 Ephraim Pde, Ephraim Island. 24 Ephraim Pde, Ephraim Island. 24 Ephraim Pde, Ephraim Island.WHEN Sue Feenstra steps out the back door of her home at Ephraim Island, she is straight on the beach.It was this amazing waterfront access which first attracted Mrs Feenstra and her husband to the property when they bought it just a year ago. They had admired it for a long time and when it came on the market were quick to snap it up.
For illustration only (Image courtesy of Singapore LNG)Singapore LNG, the operator of the country’s first liquefied natural gas import terminal, has completed its first small-scale reload at its facility on Jurong Island.The gas-up/cool-down and reload operation was carried out from 18-20 June for Shell’s newly built LNG bunkering vessel Cardissa, Singapore LNG said in a statement.As previously reported by LNG World News, the 6,500-cbm Cardissa left STX Offshore & Shipbuilding’s yard in South Korea earlier this month and it is on its way to the port of Rotterdam where it is expected to start operations this summer.The Cardissa is one of Europe’s first LNG bunkering ships with Shell claiming it is the biggest seagoing vessel of its kind.The fueling operation of the bunkering vessel was conducted at Singapore LNG terminal’s secondary jetty, which is originally designed to accommodate LNG vessels from 60,000 cbm to 265,000 cbm in size.Singapore LNG said in its statement that compatibility studies were carried out in advance to ensure that the vessel could safely call at the jetty.Prior to this, the smallest LNG carrier that had called at the Jurong LNG terminal for unloading or reloading was about 65,000 cbm in size.“The successful completion of our first small scale LNG reload operation is significant as it demonstrates the SLNG terminal’s ability to play the role of LNG supply hub for the region,” said John Ng, Chief Executive of Singapore LNG.The terminal is able to break LNG cargoes into smaller parcels and facilitate deliveries of small volumes of LNG to other terminals in the region, or as bunker fuel to ships in Singapore LNG’s port.“We are already looking ahead to further enhance our capabilities in this area, by exploring possible modifications to our secondary jetty to accommodate LNG vessels as small as 2,000 cbm. This is expected to come onstream in 2019,” said John Ng.
Photo: Marjorie Weisskohl, BOEMThe Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has announced final regulations that define the process used by its Marine Minerals Program for issuing negotiated, noncompetitive agreements for sand, gravel, and shell resources on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).The rule describes who may qualify for a negotiated agreement, the application process for qualifying projects, and codifies new and existing procedures for using federal sand, gravel, and shell resources for shore protection, beach restoration or coastal wetland restoration projects undertaken by federal, state and local governments. It also addresses the use of OCS resources for construction projects authorized or funded by the federal government.The rule does not materially change existing requirements for negotiated agreements to use these minerals in coastal restoration and construction projects, and should not impose additional compliance obligations or costs upon the regulated entities. The rule does not apply to competitive leasing of minerals, such as sand for private or commercial use or commodity minerals such as gold, BOEM said.The rule details the requirements for requesting a negotiated agreement for qualifying projects, including technical information on the potential sand borrow site and environmental evaluations and consultations with federal agencies, such as the National Marine Fisheries Service, on potential impacts from the project. The rule also addresses BOEM’s review procedures for processing requests, the process and timelines for requesting lease modifications, and defines commonly used terms.BOEM’s Marine Minerals Program is critical to the long-term success and cost-effectiveness of many shore protection, beach nourishment, and coastal habitat restoration projects along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts.“Coastal erosion, especially in the wake of massive storms, such as Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey, is a serious challenge affecting energy, defense, and public infrastructure, as well as tourism, which is important to state and local economies,” said Acting BOEM Director Walter Cruickshank. “Adding crucial sand, gravel, or shell resources to existing beaches and dunes help to combat future storm and long-term erosion.”To date, BOEM has executed 53 negotiated agreements to provide OCS sand resources for coastal restoration projects in eight states (New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi), conveying more than 143 million cubic yards of material to restore more than 307 miles of coastline.
The UK wave energy sector’s failure to reach market can in part be attributed to premature emphasis on commercialization and lack of knowledge exchange, the new report by University of Strathclyde and Imperial College London has found.The report examined the extent to which the failure to deliver a commercially viable wave energy device can be attributed to weaknesses in both government and industry’s support for wave energy innovation in the UK.Some of the key factors highlighted in the report behind the failure of wave power technology to mature over the past 15 years come down to poor understanding of the scale of the wave energy innovation challenge, and premature emphasis on array-scale commercialization from both government and industry.Also, the paper cites fast changing, complex and poorly coordinated energy innovation policy landscape, lack of lesson sharing between technology developers, and lack of test facilities to enable part-scale prototype testing as other reasons preventing the sector to become commercially viable.The researchers have made 10 policy recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the UK’s future support for wave energy innovation.Recommendations include retaining access to EU research and development funding post-Brexit, developing a long-term wave energy strategy, especially for Scotland, and mproving coordination of research and development support within and across government.In addition, avoiding competition for subsidies with more established technologies, such as offshore wind and tidal stream has also been advised.Jim Skea, Chair in Sustainable Energy in the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London, said: “The report points towards two weakness in wave innovation that can be remedied: first the lack of convergence on a dominant design that has been the key to success for other renewable technologies and, second, fragmentation of support across many overlapping schemes.”Matthew Hannon, Chancellor’s Fellow of Technology and Innovation in the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at Strathclyde Business School, added: “The report’s findings are aimed primarily at government and industry in a bid to help improve the effectiveness of future wave energy innovation support in the UK and accelerate the technology’s journey towards commercialization.”The report was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Strathclyde Business School and the International Public Policy Institute. Illustration/Oyster 800 wave energy device (Photo: Aquamarine Power/Archive)
Baker Hughes’ international rig count for October 2017 was 951, up 20 from the 931 counted in September 2017, and up 31 from the 920 counted in October 2016. The international offshore rig count for October 2017 was 204, up 14 from the 190 counted in September 2017, and up 4 from the 200 counted in October 2016.Asia Pacific region had the most active offshore rigs in October – 89 – an increase from last October’s 84.Middle East followed with 45, Europe had 30, Latin America 26, U.S. 21, Africa 14, and Canada 2 active offshore rigs in October.The average US rig count for October 2017 was 922, down 18 from the 940 counted in September 2017, and up 378 from the 544 counted in October 2016.The average Canadian rig count for October 2017 was 204, down 6 from the 210 counted in September 2017, and up 48 from the 156 counted in October 2016.The worldwide rig count for October 2017 was 2,077, down 4 from the 2,081 counted in September 2017, and up 457 from the 1,620 counted in October 2016.Offshore Energy Today Staff