Nordea’s life and pensions business saw operating profit fall in the fourth quarter of last year to €69m, down €7m from the quarter before, hit by effects of Polish pensions reform.In its fourth quarter report, the Nordic and Baltic banking group said its underlying profit in the life and pensions division continued to rise, driven by the all-time high level of assets under management in market-return products and strong risk results. “However, in the fourth quarter, the effect of this was offset by a write-down of deferred acquisition costs in the Polish pension fund operation amounting to €11m, related to the pension reform in Poland,” the banking group said.Compared with the fourth quarter of 2012, operating profit for the fourth quarter of last year was down by €56m, Nordea reported. However this fall was due to the fact fee income for the traditional portfolio, relating to previous periods, was accounted for at the end of 2012, it said.For the full 2013 year, operating profit fell 3% to €272m from €280m.The Nordea group announced in June 2012 that it would divest its Polish operations. Chief executive Christian Clausen said the financial industry in Poland was changing, due to new regulatory requirements, as well as structural development in the market.While part of Nordea’s life insurance business in Poland is included in the divestment, its Polish pension fund company will be unaffected by the transaction, the group said in its fourth quarter report.Nordea said the shift into market return products and away from traditional with-profits products had continued in the fourth quarter.While €900m flowed into market return products, €600m flowed out of traditional products, and assets in market return products accounted for 50% of total assets under management in the division at the end of the fourth quarter, Nordea said.Premium income rose 21% in the fourth quarter year-on-year to €1.87bn for the division.Meanwhile, Danish engineers’ pension fund DIP reported a return of 7.8% on its investments in 2013, helped by returns on equities and alternatives.The return is down from 2012 results, when the fund generated an 11.4% overall return.Shares made a 19.6% profit last year, and alternative investments produced 11.8%.Meanwhile, stable bonds, which make up 35.3% of the portfolio, returned 1.1%, and volatile bonds — with a 15.8% allocation — produced 0.7%.Property generated a 5.8% profit on investments.In other results from Danish pension funds, Bankpension reported returns of between 0.5% and 8.4% for 2013, depending on the risk profile of the product.It blamed the weak result on its high level of exposure to emerging markets.The labour-market fund said the result could be seen as unsatisfactory compared with equity market developments in the US, Japan and Europe.“The relatively weak result is exclusively because of Bankpension’s relatively large investment in emerging markets,” the fund said.This investment prioritisation produced a significant excess return for many years, but the returns in emerging market are marked by bigger swings than those seen in developed countries, the fund said.“In the long term, an actively controlled allocation to emerging markets will produce outperformance for our members,” it said.
MICHAEL Phelps won a record 19th Olympic gold medal as the United States clinched the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay title in Rio.The 31-year-old came to Brazil as the most decorated Olympian in history and has now won 23 medals at five Games.He swam the second leg for the USA, who won in a time of three minutes 9.92 seconds, with France second in 3:10.53 and Australia third in 3:11.37.Phelps came out of retirement in 2014, having quit after London 2012.He has won twice as many Olympic gold medals as the athlete second on the list, former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina.“On the block, I thought my heart was going to explode,” said the record-breaking American. “I was so hyped, so excited.” (BBC Sport) read more
After shooting poorly earlier in the week against Virginia, Wisconsin found a way to right the ship at home Sunday afternoon.Behind a 51.7 percent shooting effort from the field and a 14-0 run in the first half, Wisconsin (5-3) gave California (6-1) its first loss of the year, stomping the Golden Bears 81-56 in front of an announced crowd of 16,596 fans at the Kohl Center.Leading the Badgers in an all-around effort was the solid play of Ben Brust, as the junior guard led all UW players in scoring with a team-high 22 points. Brust showed a little bit of everything against the Bears with his high-energy play, connecting on three of his six attempts from three-point range while also making a few circus layups.Rounding out the offensive effort for the Badgers were the double-figure scoring efforts of Jared Berggren (18), Ryan Evans (13) and Sam Dekker (10).It was a redeeming game on the boards for Wisconsin, which dropped a disappointing game at home to the Virginia Cavaliers Wednesday after shooting just 38 percent from the floor.“There were a lot of the same looks; it’s just a matter of stepping up to the plate, being a man and finishing the play,” Brust said of the difference between the two games. “It was good that the looks were there again; we just have to finish throughout the year.”Brust’s 9-for-13 shooting performance from the field exemplified the guard’s strong shot selection on clean, open looks – save for one circus layup and a three-pointer from three steps past half-court.“I watched him as a junior and senior in high school trying to recruit him,” California head coach Mike Montgomery said. “Ben’s a deep shooter; we talked about the fact that you could not let him stand and shoot it deep on the catch and we obviously did not heed that.”Wisconsin’s defense did a solid job containing Cal, outrebounding its adversary 36-30 and forcing 23 turnovers. The Badgers scored 25 points off the turnovers, the final difference between the two teams on the scoreboard.But even though the margin of victory was large, the play of Wisconsin remained far from perfect.The team struggled to keep 2012 first team all-Pac-12 guard Allen Crabbe from scoring as he pleased. Crabbe – who entered the game leading the Pac-12 in scoring at 22 per game – dropped 25 on the Badgers behind an 8-for-15 shooting performance.The Badgers did manage to hold the Pac-12’s second leading scorer, junior guard Justin Cobbs, to just 11 points, well below his season average of 20.Two areas where the program has excelled under head coach Bo Ryan, free throws and turnovers, were both lacking in Sunday’s game as well.The team shot just 14-for-25 from the charity stripe, a measly 56 percent, with freshman sensation Dekker going 1-for-4 and Evans 3-for-6.“In a game like this we had more free throws,” Ryan said. “There are certain guys you want on the free throw line more than others. On the turnovers … you have to live with it because (the game’s) already been played. But, can you do that night in and night out against teams that don’t extend out that much? No, you can’t end up with that many.”Finding major minutes for Wisconsin off the bench again was freshman guard Zak Showalter. Showalter, whose father played for Ryan at UW-Platteville, continued to show tough-nosed play on defense Sunday, registering five points, three assists and a steal.With Ryan still shuffling his starting lineup at the point guard position between George Marshall and Traevon Jackson, Showalter once again provided critical depth off the bench for Wisconsin.“He plays the game with a passion,” Ryan said. “Like it matters to him, he cares, he wants to make something good happen. And he’s a spark plug, especially defensively at times. He’s a guy that has to give us good minutes.”The Bears kept it close for just five minutes, holding a one-point lead until a layup by sophomore big man Frank Kaminsky made the score 7-6, as the Badgers orchestrated a 14-0 run that lasted more than four minutes.Although Cal’s defensive pressure helped bring the deficit down to just 11 points in the opening minute of the second half, three-straight points from Evans and a three-pointer from Berggren provided the water to extinguish any proverbial fire the Bears tried to start.“I know Bo Ryan’s teams well enough to know what you’re going to get when you come here,” Montgomery said. “When Virginia came in here and beat them we were going to get them at their best in terms of their effort and physicality. … I’m disappointed we lost our poise and didn’t compete.”Follow Nick on Twitter read more
16 July 2013 South Africa’s tourism industry has plans to increase its share of online travel bookings, as well as drive this growth through the use of mobile, and will explore how best to do this at the E-Tourism Africa Summit in Cape Town in September. The sixth annual summit, with South African Tourism as a title sponsor, will bring together online tourism experts from Facebook, Twitter and TripAdvisor to offer local and international solutions to improve the sector on 9 and 10 September. “Online travel bookings continue to grow globally, with bookings expected to reach over US$400-billion this year, while 40% of total travel spending will now be online,” E-Tourism Frontiers chief executive officer, Damian Cook, said in a statement. E-Tourism Frontiers is an online tourism conferencing and training initiative for emerging markets in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America. “We are delighted to be the title sponsors of the summit, we want to continue to show the tourism sector that shifting their business online is absolutely crucial,” said South African Tourism e-marketing global manager, William Price. “We also plan to unveil a digital academy at the summit that will be specially designed for our travel trade. “We want to make moving online accessible and practical and the summit will be a great opportunity for everyone to learn what works online and the new trends and innovations that will help build our business for the future,” Price said. Online travel growth is predicted to boom in emerging markets, particularly Africa through its growth in mobile. “The great news for emerging markets such as Africa is that online travel and tourism is poised to experience solid growth over the next five years, with the Middle East and Africa leading the way in percentage terms, according to Euromonitor,” Cook said. “With mobile penetration across Africa expected to reach 80% later this year and smartphone ownership currently around 17% to 19% on the continent, according to the 2012 African Mobile Factbook, online mobile travel sales will be very important for domestic and regional travel bookings.” SAinfo reporter read more
Kevin Friedman finds the beauty in the ordinary, then embellishes it with the sparkle of diamonds, to the coveted acclaim of the luxury goods market and his fellow artists.His jewellery has been worn by actress Charlize Theron, and has been showcased on the international market at $16-million. This global South African trained as a fine artist, and now describes himself as a “jewellery artist”. For him if an item “has beauty it deserves to exist”. So, if it’s a tin can which he covers in beads, or a diamond, it has aesthetic and equal value, he says. read more