Government officials are reconsidering requests by The Travelers Group to contribute stock options to its 401(k) plan, sources say.
The IRS might revoke an earlier private letter ruling to Travelers. In addition, the Department of Labor has delayed approving Travelers' application for a prohibited transaction exemption, a spokesman said. Earlier, the same Labor Department official had said he expected the approval to be ``fairly routine'' and to be completed by the end of March.
Travelers spokesman Gordon Andrew said: ``Everything is still pending. ... We are still awaiting resolution of this matter from both agencies.''
Exxon Corp. plans to lift the equity exposure for its Japanese pension funds to around two-thirds of assets because of new Japanese rules that eased investment restrictions, said James E. Bayne, Exxon manager-benefits finance and investment, in Irving, Texas. He said a substantial portion would go into both foreign and Japanese equities.
The company has more than $300 million in pension assets in Japan. No information was available on how much is now in equities.
Avatar Associates plans to launch an emerging markets TAA product later this year, said President Edward S. Babbit Jr. The product will be similar to Avatar's global TAA product, which uses passive vehicles and emphasizes country selection and weightings, but it will allocate only between equity and cash because of the shortage of fixed-income vehicles, he said. Markets will include some of the more developed Asian and Latin American countries, as well as some of the minor European markets.
Micro Modeling Associates and Derivative Associates formed a joint venture, the Measurisk Group, to prepare global risk measurement systems for financial institutions that trade complex securities and their customers, including pension funds and mutual fund managers. Initial projects include customizing existing risk measurement tools to include specific asset classes, and developing proprietary methodologies.
Total market capitalization of developed markets outside the U.S. grew 3.9% in local currency terms in the first quarter, bringing the total universe to about $184 billion, Birinyi Associates found. The stock of Novartis accounted for 8% of the total rise in market capitalization for that universe - the single largest percentage contributor. The five stocks with the largest negative impact on world market capitalization were Japanese. The stock of Bank of Tokyo ranked last, with a -4.5% contribution to the market capitalization.