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Should Pension Giants Still Back Low-Vol Strategies?

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As occidental central banks cautiously signal a retreat from loose monetary policy, will there be greater bouts of volatility in the near future? The low-volatility trade has worked like magic – post the global financial crisis.

The early February sell-off rankled the feathers of U.S. pension trustees, sending plausible-sounding studies in low-vol strategies to the toilet. CBOE’s Volatility Index, or VIX, closed high during the period of market mayhem. For CIOs, should the selling of volatility continue, or should the trade be nixed?

Selling risk or volatility has been profitable for a cadre of U.S. pensions as they sought yield in a low interest rate world of quantitative easing. The falling of interest rates to near zero, zero and even negative in some countries, forced asset owners to rethink yield strategies to help pay for liabilities such as pensions, insurance claims or college expenditures. Public pension funds in the United States and even in Europe have augmented investment proportions in real estate, credit and private equity at the expense of lower-yielding bond instruments over the past 20 years. Investment giants like CPPIB and the Abu Dhabi Investment Council have participated in selling off risk via investments in the reinsurance industry, while smaller pensions have utilized option strategies.

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JPMorgan Edges Out Hamilton Lane on Florida SBA In-State Mandate

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The Florida State Board of Administration (SBA) manages a plethora of Florida state funds, including the state’s defined benefit plans. Florida’s SBA awarded a private equity portfolio mandate which targets high-technology businesses in Florida to J.P. Morgan Asset Management. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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BlackRock and Microsoft Eye Opportunities in Retirement Space

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By getting closer to the consumer via mobile apps, New York-based BlackRock Inc. is keen on gaining market share in the U.S. retail retirement market space. BlackRock had acquired FutureAdvisor, a technology platform, while making a large investment in Envestnet. BlackRock is now partnering with Microsoft Corporation to explore creating a retirement platform.

This partnership could be developing a new platform to analyze savings and investing habits – then offering app services as lead-generation services. According to a corporate news release, BlackRock plans to offer on the platform its “investment products that it will design and manage.”

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Ireland Strategic Investment Fund Involved in Urbeo Platform

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Dublin-based Urbeo Residential was founded in 20217 by Bill Nowlan, the founder of Hibernia REIT. Starwood Capital Group is an investment firm headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut. Starwood Capital formed a €1 billion Irish build-to-rent (BTR) platform with Urbeo Residential and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF). Starwood Capital is investing capital, through Starwood Global Opportunity Fund XI, into Urbeo – the name of the BTR platform. This platform will acquire rental units in Dublin and other major Irish cities.

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