Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Pension Holiday?

I've decided to take a solid break from blogging to spend time with family and friends. Those of you who want to track pension and investment news can do so by following the links below:

1) Google: pension

2) Google: private equity

3) Google: commercial real estate

4) Google: hedge funds

5) Pension Tsunami

6) Benefits in the News

7) Financial Iceberg (blog from my friend, Jean-Pierre Desloges)

In addition, there are many links to other sites on the top right hand side of this blog under the Pension News section.

There are a couple of articles worth noting. The National Post reports that insurance giant Sun Life Financial Inc. has signed a “game-changing” $150-million annuity policy with the Canadian Wheat Board that transfers investment and longevity risk from the wheat board’s pension plan to the insurer.

Pension risk transfers are booming and more deals are on their way. Insurers like Sun Life and Prudential will benefit from this trend. De-risking corporate pension plans makes perfect sense for companies and insurers, less so for plan members because they lose the security of their defined-benefit plan.

Another article, from the Globe and Mail, also caught my attention. It states that Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. is investing $244-million to become the largest shareholder of one of Greece’s top real estate companies:
The Toronto-based insurer and investment manager is increasing its position in Eurobank Properties S.A. – a subsidiary of one of Greece’s top lenders, Eurobank Ergasias SA – which is focused on commercial real estate and privatizations in the country and its surrounding region.

Fairfax’s stake in the property company will increase to 42 per cent, from 19 per cent, marking one of the larger foreign investments in a Greek public company since the Great Recession shook the European nation about five years ago.

Fairfax’s investment is a show of confidence from chief executive and noted market bear Prem Watsa, not only for Southern Europe’s commercial real estate market, but also for the ongoing Greek economic recovery.

“We believe that Greece has taken significant steps towards addressing many of the key areas of its economy, thus encouraging foreign investment and creating a positive momentum that will foster increased employment and development in the country,” Mr. Watsa said in a statement following the release early on Wednesday morning.
Mr. Watsa isn't the only one betting on a Greek recovery. Notable hedge funds have been playing this theme too but the nature of this deal is more long-term, as is PSP Investment's new stake in Athens airport. It’s risky but I agree with Mr. Watsa, Greece has taken the right steps to foster foreign investment and growth.

Let me end by thanking all of you who regularly read my blog and those of you who have supported my efforts with your generous contributions and valuable insights. Blogging is demanding and very lonely. Your support and encouragement allowed me to continue through good and difficult times.

Those of you who want to donate can still do so on the top right hand side, under the blog's banner, and click on the ads on this blog. I also welcome annual institutional subscriptions and would appreciate help/ ideas in monetizing my efforts.

Finally, I ask the pension powers in Montreal to please keep me in mind as I would welcome the opportunity to contribute once again to the success of your organizations.

We all confront obstacles in life, some more serious than others. What I’ve learned is that it’s the way we react to serious obstacles that makes all the difference but sometimes these obstacles are truly daunting and we shouldn’t be ashamed to ask for help.

Therefore, as I prepare to take a much needed break, I’m asking for the help and consideration of those who know me best and are willing to help me. If there are any projects I can work on upon my return, please let me know. Thank you.

Below,  the beautiful view from Santorini Caldera. Have a great summer and enjoy your time off.