Philips Pension Fund sells Symphony offices in Amsterdam

first_imgPhilips Pension Fund has agreed to sell Symphony Offices at the Gustav Mahlerlaan, Amsterdam, to Deka Immobilien for around €215.1m.The price tag makes the deal the biggest real estate transaction in the Netherlands last year.The prime office building at Amsterdam South Axis, the core business district in the Netherlands, boasts a high-rise tower of 27 floors and an integrated, adjoining low-rise podium of six floors.Symphony Offices offers a total of 34,500 sqm office space and 466 parking spaces in its underground parking garage. The office space is almost fully let to high-profile tenants such as APG, Prologis, Tata Consultancy, Arcadis and Holland Financial Centre.Symphony Offices is one of the last landmark office towers to be built at the Amsterdam South Axis.The Symphony Office Tower is complemented by the adjacent residential tower (Symphony Residence) and Crowne Plaza Hotel, which were part of the same original Symphony development project.The office and residential buildings were designed by the Dutch architect Pi de Bruijn, Architecten Cie and are considered to be the most prominent developments and eye-catching buildings of the entire Amsterdam South Axis.CBRE, Houthoff Buruma, PwC and IPMMC acted on behalf of Philips Pension Fund during the sale process, while Arcadis and Baker & McKenzie supported Deka Immobilien.Erik Langens, senior director of capital markets at CBRE, said: “Deka Immobilien has purchased one of the best office buildings in the Netherlands. It is a very high-quality property located in the core business district in the Netherlands, multi-tenant and almost fully let to professional corporates with long-term lease covenants.”last_img read more

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UK watchdog’s consultation on DB regulation ‘too prescriptive’ [updated]

first_imgIt also offered nine basic principles that should be evident at DB schemes, which, if they make their way into the final code of practice, must be legally implemented by trustees.The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) said it is essential TPR’s approach to DB funding was communicated to trustees precisely.Joanne Segars, chief executive of the lobby group, said the documentation needed to be clear and concise. “We recommend the documents contain a summary of the key messages and best practice principles,” she said.”This will help trustees to adopt the essence of the new funding regime and [ensure] crucial points are not inadvertently overlooked.”Aon Hewitt, Mercer and Towers Watson, the global consultancies, said TPR’s approach was not appropriate for the code, and aspects would be better suited as guidance.Deborah Cooper, partner at Mercer, said the code was pushing the boundaries of TPR’s legislative requirement, and focused on quantity over quality.“A code of practice is about behaviours TPR wants to see from trustees,” she said. “If they want, they can give further details as guidance.“For some trustees, this prescription is not appropriate, but they may feel obliged to prescriptively follow the ‘guidance’ if it is set out in the code of practice.”In its response, Aon Hewitt said that while the guidance on risk management was helpful, aspects of the code were not relevant to the Pensions Act 2004, the national law that created TPR and its objectives.“We would caution against adding to the guidance to any extent,” Aon Hewitt said. “And we question whether it should be set out in separate guidance.”The Society of Pension Consultants (SPC) also raised this point with the regulator.In its response, secretary John Mortimer wrote that TPR should identify which parts of the code were meant for the regulator to meets its statutory requirements, and which were not.“In particular, the code contains much guidance on investment,” he said. “It is difficult to see how this falls within the requirements of the Pensions Act 2004.“It would also be helpful to provide trustees with a summary of the key points of the documents.”Towers Watson supported this. Senior consultant at the firm, Graham Everness, said that, while the underlying message was supported, the code was too long and difficult to unravel.“The detail could wash right over trustees,” he said. “It needs to be significantly pruned down with guidance provided on top.” The UK’s regulator for pensions has been warned by the industry over excessive prescription, after the body moved to update its legal framework for defined benefit (DB) schemes.The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is currently in the process of updating its DB Code of Practice for schemes, while incorporating new objectives laid down by the central government.While consultants, pension funds, and representative bodies have considered the regulator’s proposal, with many supporting the updating of guidance and the underlying requirements, issues have been raised over the level of prescriptive detail within the documents.In its new code, TPR has proposed dropping its old funding triggers and length of recovery plan approach to a more holistic risk-based one.last_img read more

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Pension industry, EU governments warn over ‘inferior’ FTT proposals

first_imgATP, which suggested the Commission evaluate all regulation against five criteria – transparency, liquidity, externality, diversity and financial stability – said the tax would impact four of the five areas negatively, only leading to increased transparency.It said the tax would lead to reduced liquidity and see investors taking on more risks to balance out the costs associated with the FTT.The Dutch Pensions Federation shared ATP’s concerns over risk and continued to resist the introduction of the tax.The industry body argued in its submission that recent financial market regulation focused on risk management, while using instruments such as derivatives to reduce risks.“A potential FTT – i.e. a tax on derivatives – would discourage their use for risk management by pension funds,” it said. “If left unaddressed, effective risk management by end-users of financial markets will be more difficult.”Contradicting the Capital Markets UnionEumedion, the Dutch corporate governance forum, and the Spanish pension fund association (INVERCO) warned that the introduction of the FTT was at odds with the intent of the Capital Markets Union (CMU) to reduce barriers to capital flow, a point previously raised in a report commissioned for the French government. Eumedion suggested that, even with the FTT’s more limited scope, agreed by participating countries in early December, the levy could still discourage investors from holdings stakes in companies based in participating countries.INVERCO said the FTT would amount to an “indiscriminate tax on savings” and that it risked increasing the cost of fund investments, meaning capital would either be channelled through insurance contracts, deposits or funds based outside the FTT’s catchment area.The Federation of Finnish Financial Services (FKI) echoed the Czech Republic’s concern that the tax could lead to impaired financial markets, while it raised the possibility that trades would simply move to countries outside the FTT zone.It warned of the “direct” impact for Finland’s pension sector, by lowering returns across the industry.“Costs of the tax would have to be covered either by raising pension contributions or by lowering pension benefits,” the FKI predicted.Until late 2015, 11 EU member states were pursuing the FTT.Estonia eventually withdrew its support, leaving the governments of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain as supporters. The design of the financial transaction tax (FTT) is inferior, and risks leading to more risky behaviour by discouraging trades, the European Commission has been told.Pension funds, industry bodies and EU governments rallied against the FTT, which is being pursued by a minority of 10 EU member states under the enhanced cooperation procedure.The comments come as the European Commission gathers opinions on how it should improve financial regulation introduced since the 2008 financial crisis, and saw the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Finance warn that the tax poses an “existential danger” to efficient capital markets.Denmark’s largest pension fund, ATP, said the tax was of “inferior” design and that its application would have an unpredictable effect unless the number of transactions it covered were scaled back significantly.last_img read more

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Moody’s: Goldman Sachs takes ETF price war to smart beta

first_imgTraditional active managers looking to smart beta as a product salvation might want to think again after Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM) introduced an exchange-traded fund (ETF) priced below 10 basis points, credit rating agency Moody’s has argued.On Monday GSAM announced plans for a new smart beta ETF with a 9bps management fee. This is well below the management fees for other smart beta ETFs, aside from those sponsored by Vanguard, Moody’s said.“Much of the hope and investment traditional managers placed into smart beta as a product salvation may be at risk”To date, most smart beta products had been priced between 24-39bps, or roughly half of the price of the traditional actively managed equity mutual fund of 63bp. In becoming the first major market participant to signal pricing of less than 10bps for smart beta products, GSAM had expanded the ETF “price war” beyond standard index tracker ETFs into smart beta strategies, according to Moody’s.This implied the industry had misguided assumptions about smart beta products attracting higher pricing. The rating agency suggested this could spell trouble for traditional active managers who have been investing resources in smart beta products in the hope that these would allow the managers to grow assets without eating too much into revenue.Stephen Tu, vice president, senior analyst at Moody’s, said smart beta products would continue to grow and attract assets at a fast pace, but the vast majority may not be able to command a meaningful premium over vanilla index products.“As a result, much of the hope and investment traditional managers placed into smart beta as a product salvation may be at risk,” he said.In Moody’s eyes, this was negative for the creditworthiness of traditional active managers entering the smart beta market, such as Legg Mason, Franklin Resources and Janus Capital Group, but also for existing smart beta managers such as Invesco, BlackRock and State Street.The latter were likely to respond to GSAM’s move by lowering prices of their existing products, said Moody’s.last_img read more

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Ilmarinen finds new post-merger leader at OP Financial Group

first_img“Pölönen has a track record of strategic management in a regulated business environment and the ability to lead change, which is of particular importance due to the merger of Ilmarinen and Etera,” he said. Jouko Pölönen, incoming CEO of IlmarinenHelander said that under Pölönen’s leadership, Ilmarinen would “continue to evolve into an agile and customer-oriented service company making efficient use of the opportunities offered by digitalisation”.Ritakallio is to become the new president and group executive chairman of OP Financial Group, replacing Reijo Karhinen who is retiring this month.Pölönen is currently executive vice president, banking and member of the executive board at OP Financial Group, CEO of OP Corporate Bank and CEO of the Helsinki Area Cooperative Bank.He has previously worked as CEO of Pohjola Insurance and worked at Pohjola Bank as well as having been an auditor at PwC.Pölönen said of his new appointment: “I am thrilled to take on my new position at a very interesting stage, with Ilmarinen becoming Finland’s leading earnings-related pension company.”Having merged with Etera, Ilmarinen — which is retaining the same name for the larger company — is likely to be slightly smaller than the country’s biggest pensions insurer Varma in terms of assets under management, but has more pension scheme members. The newly-enlarged Finnish pensions insurer Ilmarinen has found a successor to its current president and CEO, who is due to leave the company in March.Ilmarinen, which officially merged with smaller rival Etera on 1 January, has appointed Jouko Pölönen to replace outgoing president and CEO Timo Ritakallio.Pölönen, who is set to start work in the top job in June at the latest, is coming to Ilmarinen from Finland’s OP Financial Group — the company that managed to lure Ritakallio away from the helm of Ilmarinen, as announced in September .Mikko Helander, chairman of Ilmarinen’s board of directors, said in the company announcement released just before Christmas: “Our selection was based on Jouko Pölönen’s strong expertise in the fields of finance and investments, economy and insurance.last_img read more

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UK regulator demands improvement on ‘misleading’ fee disclosure

first_imgThe FCA said it could only conclude that asset managers may be communicating with their customers in a manner that is “unfair, unclear or misleading and as such, investors can be confused and misled as to how much they are being charged”.“Based on our sample, where consumers attempt to undertake research themselves, the information they are currently given does not give a fair and clear account of how much they will pay when they invest in financial products,” the FCA said.The regulator accepted that there were several different regulations to which companies must adhere, but it found that many were either using the fee calculation tools incorrectly or outsourcing to third parties and failing to check standards were being met.Asset managers hit back The UK’s financial regulator has slammed the asset management industry for failing to clearly disclose a wide range of fees, and set out how it expects the sector to improve or face further investigation.In a statement this week, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) laid out the various ways it had found fund managers to have either misunderstood how to interpret rules around disclosure of fees, or were wilfully disregarding them.It said a recent review of the sector had shown that, while most asset managers calculated transaction costs in accordance with the relevant rules, it found problems with the way some measured transaction costs and how prominently and clearly they disclosed them.“This review also found that asset managers generally do not disclose all associated costs and charges and these are therefore not sufficiently clear to the end investor,” the FCA said. “Where full cost disclosures are made, there are inconsistencies between different documents and websites, and customers can therefore find the information difficult to understand.” “We are committed to working with the regulator to ensure that we can move to a solution that ensures we are able to provide customers with reliable, clear and meaningful information”Chris Cummings, CEO, the Investment AssociationChris Cummings, chief executive of the asset management trade body the Investment Association, defended the sector. He highlighted that the FCA had found “no evidence to support the claims that firms are deliberately not complying with the regulations”.Cummings said the industry was committed to implementing new regulations that were bringing transparency to the market, alongside the new Cost Transparency Initiative , of which the IA is a founding partner.“Where problems exist, especially in relation to the methodologies, we are committed to working with the regulator to ensure that we can move to a solution that ensures we are able to provide customers with reliable, clear and meaningful information,” said Cummings.However, the FCA was clear in its demands for the asset management industry to clean up its act, adding that it could take “further action in this area” including “more detailed investigations into specific firms, individuals or practices”.It acknowledged there were various new regulations to manage, but they should be addressed in way that would complement each other on fee disclosures, rather than confuse or mislead clients.“In our view, the costs and charges disclosures for the products in our sample often failed to do this,” it said.last_img read more

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€75bn Australian pension mega-merger kicks off consolidation drive

first_imgFirst State Super manages AUD98bn in retirement savings for nurses, firemen, policemen and teachers in New South Wales, while VicSuper covers the same employees in the state of Victoria.Speaking to the media following signing of the agreements, Deanne Stewart, First State Super’s CEO, said the business case for the merger had confirmed there was strong alignment between the two funds.The two parties, she said, were confident that the merger could generate significant benefits for its combined membership of more than 1.1m.VicSuper CEO Michael Dundon said the merged fund would open up investment options not previously available to VicSuper, which has AUD22bn in assets under management.  Australia’s two largest not-for-profit pension funds – First State Super and VicSuper – have agreed to merge to create a AUD120bn (€75.4bn) superannuation fund.It will become the second-largest “super” fund in Australia, behind the AUD160bn AustralianSuper.First State Super and VicSuper are carrying out due diligence work ahead of a final merger decision due by the end of this year. Kenneth Hayne led the Royal Commission investigation into Australia’s financial services sectorThe proposed merger follows the conclusion last year of the Hayne Royal Commission into Australian banks, financial institutions and super funds.In its findings, the commission echoed the views of government agencies such as the Productivity Commission in calling for consolidation of the AUD2.8trn super industry.More mergers to comeCommissioner Kenneth Hayne urged smaller industry funds to consider mergers to improve their performance and reduce costs, and a number of funds are now pursuing possible consolidation deals.MTAA Super, a Melbourne-based fund with close to AUD9.1bn in assets, and Tasplan Super, a AUD9.5bn multi-industry fund based in Tasmania, have entered a binding memorandum of understanding to merge. The two funds said an enlarged size would give them increased scale and deliver efficiencies.Melbourne-based Hostplus has revealed that it is in talks with the smaller Queensland-based hospitality industry fund Club Super. If the merger completes, it will bring Hostplus’ assets to AUD34.3bn.Equipsuper and Catholic Super, with a combined membership of 150,000, are working on a merger of their operations in a AUD26bn deal expected to be completed next year.Sunsuper recently completed a merger with the rural fund, AustSafe Super, lifting its total assets to AUD66bn.However, while the Commission’s findings and economics might dictate the need to merge, industry players have admitted that there are many issues to resolve – not least cultural issues between funds and who is to lead the merged entity.last_img read more

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​Nearly half of Nordic institutional investors now invest in impact

first_imgImpact investment is now a widespread strategy among institutional investors in the Nordic region, according to a new survey that shows 43% of the entities currently invest using this environmental, social and governance (ESG) approach.A study commissioned by NN Investment Partners (NN IP), which is part of the Dutch NN Group, and conducted by Copenhagen-based consultancy Kirstein among Nordic institutional investors also revealed that nine out of 10 investors were interested in impact investing, and 22% had plans to invest in impact strategies.However, NN IP also said allocations to impact investing – using capital to bring about positive changes rather than simply avoiding harm – were still limited to 5% of portfolios.Some 19% of respondents said they had no plans to invest in impact strategies and 16% were undecided, in the poll carried out between July and September last year. Edith Siermann, head of fixed income and responsible investing at NN IP, said: “Nordic institutions, especially those in Sweden, are leaders in the field of ESG integration, but investors across Europe and globally display a clear desire to improve.”She said impact investing was seen as an approach with “a wide range of untapped opportunities to create sustainable, long-term investments.”“There are hurdles to be overcome, including the limited size of the investable universe, fee models that are out of sync with the going rate for impact strategies and the complexity of allocating to SDGs,” she said.While the last decade had been about exclusion, Siermann predicted the focus in the next 10 years would be on how to measure and increase impact.Most respondents in the survey indicated that they expected impact strategies to either perform in line with markets, or to outperform – regardless of whether they were already investing.Of those institutional investors that already had money in impact investment, 75% said they expected returns to be in line with market performance, with 12% expecting limited or strong outperformance and 13% foreseeing limited underperformance from the strategy.Strangely, limited outperformance was the result expected by 43% of respondents that did not invest in impact strategies and had no plans to do so, with another 43% segment of this group expecting market-like performance.The report’s authors said it was interesting, and even counterintuitive, that 43% of those not expecting to invest still thought impact investing could lead to some outperformance.“The explanation for this could be that they are restricted in their investments, for example, by internal guidelines, which does not alter their perception of impact,” they wrote.The study took in quantitative data from 37 institutional investors based in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, constituting a representative sample of the full Nordic institutional market in terms of number, size and segment, NN IP said.Their combined assets were €925bn, about two thirds of total Nordic institutional assets, the firm said.last_img read more

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Design is on the ball for the former Fancutts Tennis Centre

first_imgRetireAustralia has unveiled plans for an innovative vertical retirement village set on the iconic Fancutts Tennis Centre site in Brisbane’s inner-north.RetireAustralia has unveiled plans for an innovative vertical retirement village set on the iconic Fancutts Tennis Centre site in Brisbane’s inner-north. An artist’s impression of a communcal zone.Marchese Partners principal Frank Ehrenberg said the design aimed to create an age-appropriate and enabling environment.“From the stunning arrival experience across the Fancutts forecourt to the entry to the diverse range of community spaces and the light-filled apartments, this is an extraordinary project that represents retirement living at its best.”Mrs Quinn said RetireAustralia’s new care offering would become standard across all the company’s new development projects and would provide a diverse range of services, including private and government-funded care delivered by highly qualified staff.“Fancutts Retirement Living is the flagship for RetireAustralia’s new projects across Australia and will pave the way for our new care offering to be introduced across all retirement villages,” she said.With 2500sq m, or more than a football field of space devoted to community areas and facilities, the design provides multiple opportunities for residents to socialise as well as spaces to enjoy the expansive views on the upper levels. MORE: “RetireAustralia owns and manages five existing retirement villages in Queensland, which the company acquired, as well as a further 22 retirement villages across New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia,” Ms Quinn said. RetireAustralia CEO Alison Quinn said this was the company’s first new development in Brisbane, with more projects coming soon, including at Burleigh Golf Club on the Gold Coast. Over-50s resort with Caribbean theme She said Fancutts Retirement Living would be an eight-storey village at Lutwyche featuring 183 contemporary independent living apartments and 35 care apartments for those requiring a higher level of support.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus16 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market16 hours ago“Every aspect of Fancutts has been designed for seniors living, drawing on world-leading research from the University of Stirling to deliver a state-of-the-art village that will ensure residents enjoy a quality lifestyle as they age,” she said. An artist’s impression of the living zones at the new community. >>FOLLOW EMILY BLACK ON FACEBOOK<< Inside Brisbane’s newest multi-million dollar aged care community The apartments are within walking distance of Lutwyche City shopping centre, which is currently undergoing redevelopment, and close to medical and allied services, dining and entertainment, and public transport. An artist’s impression of a bedroom.“Age-appropriate features include flooring that caters to ageing eyes to prevent falls, luminance contrast, correct light levels and acoustics in apartments and age-appropriate handles and tapware.“The extensive community facilities encourage residents to lead more physically and socially active lives to improve happiness and wellbeing, while our unique care offering enables ageing in place.”Designed by leading seniors living architects Marchese Partners, in collaboration with the University of Stirling, Mrs Quinn said much of Australian research around dementia design was focused on aged care facilities, whereas Fancutts was designed to be a community for residents at various ages and stages of life.“Our collaboration with the University of Stirling has resulted in practical design solutions, underpinned by research and analysis from leading academics, that will improve the quality of life for residents at Fancutts Retirement Living.” The Fancutts Retirement Village will be RetireAustralia’s first major new development project in Queensland.last_img read more

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Revealed: Brisbane’s most sought after suburbs

first_imgThis house at 70 Vale St, Wilston, recently sold for just over $1.9m. Brisbane’s most in demand suburbs for houses. Source: Realestate.com.auWhen it comes to apartments, the north side of Brisbane also wins, although Holland Park is the most in-demand suburb overall.Red Hill, Camp Hill, New Farm, Paddington, Ashgrove and Enoggera also make the top 10. MORE: Why real estate often resists economic downturns Erin McNaught and Example recently paid $2.8m for this home in Paddington.Star couple, model Erin McNaught and her rapper husband, Example, recently bought a luxury home in Paddington for $2.8 million.“High prices often reduce the desirability of suburbs,” Ms Conisbee said.Wilston is not far behind, having also recently joined the million dollar club with a median house price of $1m neat.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus13 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market13 hours agoA five-bedroom Queenslander in the suburb recently sold for just over $1.9 million. Realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee.Ms Conisbee said offshore property seekers were increasing across Brisbane — not just from Asia, but also from New Zealand and the UK. “Brisbane is a beneficiary of Brexit, seeing the largest increase in property seekers from the UK we’ve ever seen in Australia.”Rebecca and Daniel Richardson are hoping to sell their new, five-bedroom family home at 11 Gristock St, Coorparoo, at auction this afternoon.Mrs Richardson said she was not surprised Coorparoo was considered one of Brisbane’s most popular suburbs because of its location.“It’s very convenient to all the motorways and the city, yet it’s quite green and leafy and walking distance to little cafes and the school,” she said. Rebecca Richardson with her two boys, Xavier, 5, and Owen, 2. Rebecca is selling her house in Coorparoo, which has been named one of Brisbane’s most in-demand suburbs by Realestate.com.au. Photographer: Liam Kidston.WILSTON has knocked trendy Paddington off its perch to become the most sought after suburb in Brisbane.The city’s northside continues to be the most in demand when it comes to buying a house, according to new figures out today from online property portal realestate.com.au.Windsor, Indooroopilly, Toowong and Ashgrove are also among the most searched suburbs for house listings. RELATED: Affordable suburbs set to spike Wilston is the most in demand suburb in Brisbane, according to realestate.com.au.On the southside, the suburbs of Highgate Hill, Tennyson, Coorparoo and Wishart made the top 10 list of most popular suburbs.Realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee said it was likely that Paddington had lost its top ranking because houses were becoming too expensive.The suburb’s median house price is now $1.167 million, according to property researcher CoreLogic.center_img Brisbane’s most in demand suburbs for apartments. Source: Realestate.com.auMs Conisbee said the Brisbane housing market had been resilient in the face of the current national housing downturn, considering the city was facing the same lending challenges as the rest of Australia.“Brisbane was meant to be ground zero for apartment oversupply, however concerns about this were overstated and in the end, Brisbane has weathered the downturn well,” Ms Conisbee.“The fundamentals of property demand continue to hold up the Brisbane market — jobs are being created and this is supporting population growth.” Paddington is one of Brisbane’s most popular suburbs for houses and apartments. Image: AAP/Darren England. Erin McNaught and Example have bought a house in Paddington. This house at 11 Gristock St, Coorparoo, is scheduled to go to auction this Saturday.Marketing agent Annabelle O’Hare of Place – Bulimba said the architecturally designed home had attracted large numbers of interested buyers during the sales campaign.Ms O’Hare said Coorparoo was an appealing suburb because it was family-friendly, had good schools, was not too congested and still contained houses on larger blocks despite its inner city location.last_img read more

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