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Four Key Vatican Financial Reforms

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Pope Francis recently announced plans to revamp the Vatican’s financial system, consolidating management and increasing transparency. The papacy issued a press release Monday outlining the restructuring process, which included four notable reforms.

1. Creation of a new Council for the Economy composed of 8 cardinals or bishops and 7 “lay experts of different nationalities with strong professional financial experience.”
2. Establishment of a new “Secretariat for the Economy” department headed by a cardinal prefect, which will report to the Council for the Economy.
3. Appointment of an auditor-general with the power “to conduct audits of any agency of the Holy See and Vatican City State at any time.”
4. The Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), the Vatican’s current real estate management arm, will become the Central Bank of the Vatican with “all the obligations and responsibilities of similar institutions around the world.”

The Secretariat of the Economy will preside over “all economic and administrative activities within the Holy See and the Vatican City State,” including human resources, financial planning, preparing an annual budget, and procurement. Pope Francis named Cardinal George Pell, the current Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, to the position of Prefect.

The Council for the Economy will convene regularly to discuss policies and practices to be implemented by the Secretariat. It will also prepare and analyze reports on the Holy See’s economic and administrative undertakings.

The pope’s announcement came after the conclusion of an extensive examination by the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic- Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA). COSEA recommended, among other things, “the adoption of accounting standards and generally accepted financial management and reporting practices as well as enhanced internal controls, transparency and governance.” Pope Francis’ governance advisory council (8 cardinals) and the Holy See’s financial affairs committee (15 cardinals) endorsed COSEA’s recommendations.

“The changes will enable more formal involvement of senior and experienced experts in financial administration, planning and reporting and will ensure better use of resources, improving the support available for various programs, particularly our works with the poor and marginalized,” the Vatican said in the press release.

GIC Supports CapitaLand Shanghai Investment on Haimen Road

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GIC Private Limited, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, has entered into a 50:50 joint venture with Raffles City China Investment Partners III (RCCIP III), a fund controlled by CapitaLand. The joint venture is acquiring Shanghai’s tallest twin towers for an aggregate consideration of RMB 12.8 billion (US$ 1.84 billion). The property is located in Shanghai’s core Central Business District.

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Wells Fargo Could be Slimming Down, Possible Retirement Unit Sale

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Wells Fargo (WFC) is looking to exit the retirement plan servicing market, for a potential sale price of US$ 1 billion. The unit is involved in record-keeping, custody, trust details and various other retirement plan services for corporations. It is housed under the Wealth and Investment Management unit. The retirement plan servicing market is not particularly compelling for the bank, especially in light of the U.S. Department of Labor’s newer regulations to force managers to disclose compensation arrangements and fees to plan fiduciaries. Wells Fargo has been lauded for its loyal consumer base and high revenue, and doesn’t require the business, though recent scandals have been a drag on the company’s profitability and public image. This news has pre-empted some advisors to jump ship. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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Mubadala Petroleum Signs Deal to Buy Interest in Nour North Sinai Offshore Area Concession

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Mubadala Petroleum, a division of Mubadala Investment Company, signed a deal to acquire a 20% percent participating interest in Egypt’s Nour North Sinai Offshore Area concession. The seller of the interest is a subsidiary of the Italian energy giant Eni. Eni holds an 85% stake in the partnership with Tharwa Petroleum Company, which holds a 15 percent interest. Formed in 2004, Tharwa Petroleum Company is 100% owned by the Egyptian government through a variety of state-owned entities such as the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) at 20% and Egyptian National Gas Holding Company (EGAS) at 20%.

The sales transaction is subject to conditions, such as approval from government authorities in Egypt.

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