Abu Dhabi’s sovereign fund buys 21% stake in UK pension insurer

first_imgIn the past 12 months PIC has backed pension fund buy-ins and buyouts worth more than £2.3bn. Competition within the sector has increased markedly in recent years, though, as companies seek to de-risk their existing DB pension schemes.Earlier this month, the trustees of the Littlewoods Pensions Scheme agreed an £880m (€1bn) pensioner buy-in deal with Scottish Widows and, in the first quarter, Rothesay Life acquired a £12bn portion of Prudential’s annuity book. According to JLT Employee Benefits, more than £19bn of bulk annuity transfer deals, longevity swaps, buy-ins, and buyouts have been struck in 2018 so far – close to the £21bn agreed in 2017.Tracy Blackwell, CEO at PIC, said: “We are confident that… they will continue to build on the valuable support provided by JC Flowers over the past 12 years, and ensure that PIC is ideally placed to meet the increased demand from pension fund trustees.”PIC has more than £25bn of assets, representing the benefits of over 150,000 individuals.Estimates put ADIA’s overall portfolio holdings at between $800bn (€692bn) and $875bn. The PIC purchase is the latest in a long line of investments by ADIA designed to build up its private equity arm across a range of sectors, including financial services, healthcare and technology.In recent years, ADIA has acquired stakes in KKR India Financial Services – a wing of the US private equity giant KKR – and US firm Hyatt Hotels, as well as holdings in the UK’s Gatwick Airport and Thames Water. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, is to acquire up to 21.4% of the Pension Insurance Corporation Group (PICG) for an undisclosed amount from private investment firm JC Flowers.PICG is the parent company of Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC), the specialist insurer that provides bulk annuities to UK corporate pension schemes in what has become an increasingly buoyant market in recent years.“This investment is a further demonstration of our ongoing strategy to seek out principal investments in market-leading businesses with strong management teams,” said Hamad Shahwan Aldhaheri, executive director of the private equities department at ADIA. “PIC has proven its ability to respond to the growing trend for UK companies to de-risk their defined benefit [DB] pension obligations and, as such, has strengthened its position as the industry’s leading pension insurance provider.”last_img read more

USC professor’s work inspires debated ESPN channel

first_imgThe coverage of women’s sports in the mainstream media is about to get a huge boost, thanks to USC professor of sociology and gender studies Michael Messner.Katrina MacGregor | Daily Trojan In June, Messner co-authored a study for the Center for Feminist Research at USC that revealed how media giants, especially ESPN, were starving women’s sports coverage. As a result, ESPN is launching a brand-new channel, called espnW, that is marketed specifically toward women. The channel will launch online this fall, with the possibility of becoming a television channel in the spring.“They’ve made the commitment,” former professional tennis star Billie Jean King told The New York Times. “I don’t think there’s ever been this much planning, research and commitment before.”Messner’s study found that ESPN’s flagship program SportsCenter devoted only 1.4 percent of its coverage to women’s sports last year, as opposed to 2.1 percent in 2004. It also found 96.3 percent of the lead stories on SportsCenter and on KNBC’s, KCBS’ and KABC’s sports news segments came from men’s sports.Though adding espnW seems like a step in the right direction, Messner isn’t so sure.“Yes, it’s going to give women’s sports fans a place to go,” he told The New York Times. “But it might ultimately ghettoize women’s sports and kind of take ESPN off the hook in terms of actually covering them on its main broadcast.”Messner’s argument is met with mixed reaction in the female community. Although espnW will initially start out with a blog, online streaming video content and even a platform for mobile phones, it puts women on a different level, and some women see it as condescending.“For those of us that have worked really hard to keep up with the boys, that’s kind of tough to hear,” said Julie DiCaro, the author of a Cubs fan blog, A League of Her Own, to The New York Times. “It seems like this is the broadcasting equivalent of making something pink and putting sparkles on it.”The vice president of espnW, Laura Gentile, said the logo will not have pink in it and will cover mainstream sports as well as women’s sports. According to research done by each separate league, women make up a vast number of professional sports fans: 44 perfect for the NFL fans, 36 percent for the NBA and 45 percent for the MLB.EspnW will cater to this population as well, and large companies see promise in the network — as Gatorade and Nike are founding sponsors. Gentile hopes that this network can become a staple in young women’s lives.“The idea is potentially cultivating this fan base of women’s sports fans, where 10 years from now, girls are growing up truly feeling like ESPN is made for them and ESPN is truly their brand,” she told The New York Times.If that is the case, Messner and USC have something to be proud of.last_img read more