LONDON - Century Life PLC appointed Midland Securities Services as sole global custodian for more than 1.1 billion ($1.7 billion) in assets.
Abtrust Fund Managers, the insurer's external fund manager, previously had provided custody for about 900 million of Century Life's assets, said Liz Sexton, account program manager. The remainder of the assets were custodied in-house, she said.
Ms. Sexton said Century Life had sought a flexible custody service to help integrate the firm's investment systems and aid a move to fully automated processes.
Pacific Basin universe
EDINBURGH - The WM Co. has launched a Pacific Basin universe for Dutch institutional investors, reflecting growing interest by Dutch pension funds in specialist international equity portfolios.
The universe is the first of its kind for the Dutch market; the WM Co. plans to introduce additional specialist universes for Dutch funds.
So far, the Pacific Basin universe contains only seven portfolios, managed by six money managers, explained Colin Kay, global director.
But as Dutch pension funds continue to increase their domestic and international equity exposures, demand for such specialist universes is expected to grow, he said. Dutch funds have increased their average total equity exposure to 29% at the end of last year, from 20% five years earlier.
Pacific Basin stocks comprise nearly one-fifth of equity exposure.
In guilder terms, Pacific Basin (ex-Japan) stocks have provided the second-best returns during the past five years, coming only behind Dutch stocks. The average return from these smaller Far Eastern markets was 17.8% on a compound-annualized basis, compared with 18.4% for Dutch equities.
Mandated labor costs
highest in Europe
CROYDON, England - Hidden labor costs from social security and other mandated benefits are up to three times higher in Europe than in the United States, Japan and the emerging Southeast Asian economies, according to a new guide from Sedgwick Noble Lowndes Ltd., Croydon.
On average, employers in the European Union have to pay 30% of gross pay in compulsory contributions for benefits. That compares with 9% in the United States, 13% in Japan and an average of 11% in Southeast Asia.
"Furthermore, Europe has a persistently higher rate of unemployment, relatively little new job creation and an aging population," said David Formosa, global research manager.
"The reality of this is that a reduced work force now has the burden of providing benefits for an increasing number of people in retirement. Inevitably the choices are limited. Benefits must be reduced or taxes and contributions increased - or both," Mr. Formosa added.
Within the European Union, Denmark has the lowest mandated charges, at 4% of gross pay, while the United Kingdom ranks second at 8%. Italy has the highest charges at 50% of gross pay.
first EAFE fund
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. - Collins Associates, a manager of managers, launched its first broad international EAFE fund. Nine money managers were hired, but Richard T. Deary, corporate relations manager, wouldn't disclose their names. Eight are located in the regions in which they manage money, he said.