Here’s a quick roundup of stories you may have missed today and over the weekend. 2014 Tonys Win at Directors Guild Awards The 2014 Tony Awards picked up its own trophy this weekend! Glenn Weiss and the directing team of the 68th Annual Tony Awards have been honored with a Directors Guild Award in the category of Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Variety/Talk/News/Sports-Specials. Congrats to all. First Trailer of Bloodline, Starring Norbert Leo Butz We’ve been waiting for this! Check out below the first trailer of new Netflix thriller series Bloodline. The show’s stars include Broadway faves Norbert Leo Butz, Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini and Sissy Spacek. We can’t wait to begin binge-watching on March 20! Michael Gambon Retires From the Stage Dumbeldore is apparating stage left—theatrical legend Sir Michael Gambon has had to retire from treading the boards. The Harry Potter star revealed to The Sunday Times that he was having issues remembering his lines. “It’s a horrible thing to admit, but I can’t do it. It breaks my heart. It’s when the script’s in front of me and it takes forever to learn. It’s frightening.” Aged 74, he has won three Oliviers and appeared on Broadway in the 1996 production of Skylight. Although the news is incredibly sad, we can take heart from the fact that Gambon won’t be disappearing from our screens. Indeed, his latest performance in another of J.K. Rowling’s works, The Casual Vacancy, will air on HBO in April. View Comments Simon Shepherd & More Tapped for Hay Fever Summer fun if you’re in London. Simon Shepherd (Peak Practice), Michael Simkins (Yes, Prime Minister) and Sara Stewart (Enron) will join the previously reported Felicity Kendal in the upcoming West End production of Hay Fever. Directed by Lindsay Posner, the show will play a limited run April 29 through August 1 at the Duke of York’s Theatre. Sienna Miller Chats Cabaret Something tells us that Sienna Miller is going to be perfectly marvelous in her return to Broadway! For as she explains to David Letterman in the most adorable way during a recent appearance on The Late Show, she was “born for Cabaret.” Check out the interview below and then the American Sniper star (and her Elphaba fingernails) at Studio 54 from February 17.
A report published by KPMG shows that 2014 was a volatile year for pension schemes, with long-dated interest rates falling sharply and feeding through into an increase in the value of pension liabilities.The KPMG study looked at 270 companies reporting variously under International Financial Reporting Standards, UK GAAP and US GAAP.The report’s author, Katy Edwards, told IPE: “Persistent low interest rates have meant corporate bond yields were at historic lows at year-end.“This was generally bad news for pension schemes – despite equity market rallies and strong fixed income asset performance over the year.” Edwards added that this low real-yield environment served to pushed up year-end pension scheme liabilities by as much as a 10% in Q4 2014 alone.“Pension disclosures are likely to continue to attract scrutiny from shareholders and analysts as the pensions exposure increases relative to the overall balance sheet,” she warned.Naz Peralta, a director in KPMG’s London office, added: “Accounting deficits among FTSE 100 companies have generally deteriorated, but many schemes have hedging strategies in place on the asset side.”This means, allowing for deficit contributions, many corporates are showing only modestly worse positions, he said. Around the major pensions-accounting assumptions, the KPMG number-crunchers reported a continuation of a trend evident last year, with companies clustering ever more closely around the median in many cases.For example, some 76% of companies used an inflation assumption within 0.1% of the median, while 76% of companies were within 0.1% of the median discount rate assumption.In terms of the hard numbers, the median discount rate assumption has fallen from 4.5% last year to 3.6% this year.KPMG said the dramatic reduction in bond yields led many sponsors to review their discount rate assumption with a view to mitigating some of the impact of falling yields on the balance sheet.Changes to IAS 19 in place since 2013 mean companies should provide a narrative disclosure around key assumptions such as the discount rate.In line with global economic picture, median RPI assumptions have also fallen from 3.4% to 3.1%.Mortality assumptions have remained broadly unchanged over 2013, with a current pensioner aged 65 expected to survive a further 22.6 years on average.A future pensioner currently aged 45 is expected to live for a further 24.2 years from the age of 65.The current low-inflation environment has also put downward pressure on both pension and salary increases.The most common pension increase reported by the KPMG study is inflation capped at 5% per annum, while the median salary increase remains at 0.50% above RPI inflation.Looking ahead, Peralta said the challenging economic and investment landscape added up to tough negotiations with trustees for those schemes about to embark on a valuation review.“I would say the primary concern for public companies against this backdrop of low yields is not so much the accounting but rather the negotiation of triennial funding arrangements with trustees,” he said. “Although assets and liabilities might be tracking each other, the scheme may have grown relative to the size of the balance sheet, or the sponsor may be in a sector that is under pressure in the current economic environment.“This may put pressure on the sponsor covenant and cash contributions, though sponsors will increasingly look to non-cash solutions such as additional security to provide comfort to trustees.”Looking forward, the KPMG experts believe the IAS 19 guidance on the asset ceiling and surplus recognition, IFRIC 14, will continue to weigh on preparers working under international standards.Peralta said: “To the extent that corporates have IFRIC 14 restrictions, which may be 10-20% of reporters, tougher funding negotiations may lead to greater balance sheet restrictions.“If a sponsor commits more cash on a present-value basis to the trustees than they did during their last funding round, it might be that they have to provide for this on the balance sheet because of IFRIC 14.”He added that preparers should be mindful of possible changes to IFRIC 14, with the IASB poised to issue an exposure draft detailing changes to the guidance.Those changes address a defined benefit plan sponsor’s ability to access a refund of contributions where the plan structure features an independent trustee body.“If the IFRIC 14 changes come in, inevitably this issue will impact some companies adversely,” Peralta said.“Our recommendation is for scheme sponsors to think about the potential impact.”In addition, KPMG also note that DB sponsors in the UK could also be affected by the way so-called pensions freedoms could feed through into their liability assessment.Finally, sponsors in the EU could also be affected by the recent European court PPG decision dealing with an employer’s entitlement to deduct VAT in respect of pension fund management services.
FRR has previously indicated that it would allocate around €900m to private equity, and has launched separate tenders for “innovation” and growth capital mandates, for up to €200m and €500m, respectively. It has already awarded €600m of private debt mandates.Pension fund regulatory framework coming together Regulations governing a new type of occupational pension funding vehicle in France have been published.The new entities – Fonds de retraite professionelle supplémentaire (FRPS) – were provided for by legislation known as Sapin II in late 2016. They will qualify as Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORPs) under EU law and are due to be subject to the revised IORP Directive when this is transposed in France.Regulations were released on 19 July that set out rules for how the new entities were to be established and authorised, and how their governance, and financial and prudential management should be organised.This comes after the French government in early April published an “ordinance” that set out the rules formalising the creation of the FRPS. The law ratifying this is going through parliament.Another implementing regulation is awaited, which will set out how to carry out stress tests assessing coverage of solvency requirements over a 10-year period.The FRPS will be subject to a bespoke regulatory regime based on quantitative measures similar to those of Solvency I regulation for insurers, with the addition of the aforementioned stress test, and governance measures similar to those provided for by Solvency II.The intention is for insurance companies and mutual and provident institutions to be able to move certain types of occupational pension business out from under Solvency II regulation and into a regime that better reflects the long-term nature of pension provision. This involves being freed from Solvency II capital requirements, which are seen as penalising certain asset classes, such as equities. A recent Financial Stability Board “peer review” of France said the creation of French-style pension funds was intended to redirect €10bn-€20bn into financing the domestic economy.Natixis AM to appeal overcharging fine Natixis Asset Management “strongly disputes” the decision of the enforcement committee of the French financial markets regulator concerning its “formula-based” funds activity, it has said.The Autorité des marches financiers (AMF) last week announced that it had issued a warning to Natixis and fined it €35m because it considered the asset manager had breached its professional obligations in the management of some of its formula funds between 2012-2015.Natixis said it intends to appeal the decision. It noted that the enforcement committee did not follow the AMF board’s recommendation in making its decision.It said it believes that the decision is “unwarranted and disproportionate and firmly denies failing to fulil its professional obligations”. The AMF said its enforcement committee identified four regulatory breaches in relation to the redemption fees for some of the funds it inspected and in relation to the structuring margin of some funds. The €35m fine is the largest the French regulator has imposed. Natixis Asset Management said investors in its formula funds “were in no way adversely affected and were fully informed in accordance with applicable regulations”. Formula funds are a type of structured product that offer a guarantee of invested capital based on a pre-determined formula. France’s €36bn pension reserve fund has awarded three private equity fund-of-fund mandates for a total of between €100m and €400m. The mandates have gone to Ardian France, LGT Capital Partners, and Swen Capital Partners. A spokesperson for the Fonds de réserve pour les retraites (FRR) said the distribution of the capital between the three managers could not be specified at this stage.The managers will be responsible for creating and running portfolios of funds allocating at least 80% of their assets to the equity or quasi-equity of unlisted French companies.The mandates are for 12 years, and form part of the implementation of around €2.1bn of new allocations to unlisted French assets.
The 20-year-old was one of the stars of United’s fabled youth system but was limited to just three first-team outings for the Red Devils as his life off of the field began to overshadow his undoubted talent on it. A thirst for first-team involvement saw Morrison move to Upton Park and, after a season on loan at Birmingham last year, the precocious talent has started to show through in the Barclays Premier League. West Ham boss Sam Allardyce believes he signed a boy in former Manchester United teenager Ravel Morrison but that the midfielder will return to Old Trafford on Saturday as a man. Morrison is West Ham’s top goalscorer this season with five and Allardyce feels the player has developed so much over a short period of time that he will be completely different when he lines up against United for the first time on Saturday. “Sir Alex (Ferguson) let Ravel go for his own benefit,” he said. “He (Ferguson) said that if he comes down to you hopefully he will find a new life and a new way of living. “His ability will then start to come through because all he asks and all he wants in his life is to play first-team football, that was all he said he wanted to do and why he wanted to leave. “In actual fact he struggled to look like he was capable of playing football in the first team with us. That’s why we sent him on loan to Birmingham and I thought since that year he’s grown up. “Somewhere along the line the lad has woken up and I think he’s changed himself and delivered.” Allardyce admitted it was Ferguson’s expectation of the player Morrison could become that was the simple deciding factor on his striking a deal to take the player to east London. “Fergie told me about his talent and that was it,” he said. “That’s enough for me. (Ferguson said) “If you can sort this lad out, Sam, you’ll have one of the best players you’ve ever had”. I don’t need anything more than that do I?” Morrison has been a shining light in an underwhelming season so far for West Ham, who will be hoping Wednesday’s 2-1 Capital One Cup quarter-final success at Tottenham can kick-start their league campaign. But even Morrison has off days and Allardyce is keen to keep him focused and unlock the match-winning potential as often as possible, with a warning that he should not try and steal the show against his former club. “The expectation becomes “will it come every single week” and that can’t really happen at such a young age,” Allardyce added. “It’s nice if it does. We’ve got to manage the situation and just try and keep encouraging him. “I think from our point of view, if he gets selected for Old Trafford on Saturday, that the real message from me to him would be to try and get a result as a team and play one of your top performances in a team situation when you would help to get us that result by using your abilities in a team performance. “When you’ve got his ability there is going to be the temptation to go out and show “look at me” I think and I have to try and guard and avoid that situation.” Morrison is likely to feature after starting on the bench against Spurs and, with captain Kevin Nolan still suspended – and a host of other first-team players sidelined or working back to full fitness – Allardyce is limited in terms of options. Press Association