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Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Gambles on Irish National Lottery

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Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) made further inroads into the international lottery sector after finalizing a licensing agreement to operate the Irish National Lottery. The Toronto-based pension fund announced February 27 it paid the Irish government €405 million (US$ 554 million) to have OTPP-led consortium Premier Lotteries Ireland Ltd (PLI) manage the lottery for 20 years.

“Teachers’ is an experienced investor in lottery operators and we look forward to working with our partners in Ireland to grow the National Lottery through innovation and technology investments that grow sales,” said Lee Sienna, OTPP’s Vice-President of Long-Term Equities and chairman of PLI, in the press release. “The Irish license is a significant milestone in our strategy of building a leadership position in the international lottery sector.”

In March 2010, OTPP acquired UK National Lottery operator Camelot Group for €389 million. Camelot Global Services, a subsidiary, will provide consulting services to the Irish National Lottery’s current management.

The Irish National Lottery is expected to transition to PLI leadership by the end of the year. Dublin-based An Post, which provides postal, communication, retail and financial services, and An Post pension funds hold minority stakes in PLI. An Post currently operates the Irish National Lottery through a subsidiary.

OTPP is the largest single profession pension plan in Canada with C$ 129.5 billion in net assets as of December 31, 2012.

Cryptocurrencies Creep into the Middle East

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Banking behemoth J.P. Morgan Chase disclosed its own digital currency called JPM Coin. The digital token will be used to settle payments between clients. JPM Coin will be backed by physical U.S. dollars and be based off Quorum. Quorum is J.P. Morgan’s private Ethereum-based chain. JPM Coin plans to compete with Ripple, which created XRP, another digital currency that is used for settlements. Ripple’s main target market is cross-border payments and remittances.

The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority have unveiled their plans for Aber, an interbank digital currency. Both banks have indicated that Aber will be limited to financial settlements using distributed ledger technologies. It will be rolled out on a probational basis, and used by select banks within the two countries. A date for rollout has not yet been declared. A joint statement hinted at a broader application of the currency in the days ahead. If “no technical obstacles are encountered, economic and legal requirements for future uses will be considered.”‏ Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers technologies will be employed. The plan is for ‘Proof-of-Concept’ testing, which involves studying and fully comprehending the ways modern technologies can achieve practical applications. The digital currency has the potential to become a reserve system for central payments.

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CPPIB Inks Partnership Vehicle with La Française and its Shareholder CMNE

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La Française and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) formed a strategic partnership for the launch of a real estate investment and development vehicle: Société Foncière et Immobilière du Grand Paris. The joint venture between CPPIB (80%) and Caisse Fédérale du Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe (CMNE) (20%), La Française’s shareholder, will invest in major real estate projects linked to the Grand Paris infrastructure in the Greater Paris area. The parties will initially allocate €387.5 million in equity to the venture. The partnership will target regeneration and infrastructure-led investments.[ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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Norges Bank Governor Voices Opinion on Relaxing SWF Withdrawals over Specific Uses

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Øystein Olsen, the Governor of Norges Bank, which oversees the Norway Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), voiced his opinion on the Norwegian government’s plans to alter the rules that regulates the country’s SWF withdrawal rules in certain circumstances. The coalition government led by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg wants to relax the limits on SWF withdrawals in specific cases. Norway’s government seeks to raid the fund to pay for the replacement of four major state buildings impacted by a terrorist attack and a crashed Royal Norwegian Navy frigate (KNM Helge Ingstad).

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