BlackRock handed £1.5bn LDI mandateThe Serco pension scheme has appointed BlackRock to run its liability-driven investment (LDI) strategy.The scheme – which caters for employees of Serco, a service provider for the public sector – previously employed three LDI managers. This approach was reviewed with a view to reaching fully funded status within 10 years, according to a statement from BlackRock released yesterday.Guy Leach, chairman of the Serco Pension and Life Assurance Scheme, said: “The scheme is in a strong position, but we recognised that efficiencies could be made by transitioning our LDI portfolios into one mandate. Having the ability to onboard and transition the funds seamlessly was a key requirement when choosing an investment manager. The team at BlackRock showed real strength and expertise in LDI, and we were confident that they were best placed to handle the transitions of the three existing portfolios and manage the risks that came with this.”Graham Jung, managing director in BlackRock’s UK institutional business, added that the group’s scale and access to markets helped complete the “complex” transition. Meanwhile, accounts for two other unfunded public sector schemes showed a similar significant increase in liabilities.The pension scheme for the UK’s judiciary service recorded a 22% increase in liabilities, also primarily caused by a reduction in the discount rate. It contributed to the scheme’s obligations rising by £682m. Liabilities were £3.8bn at the end of March.The UK Atomic Energy Authority’s pension scheme recorded a 23% rise in its liabilities, from £6.7bn to £8.3bn at the end of March.LGPS pool names two non-execs to board The liabilities of the UK’s Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) ballooned by 27.8% in the 12 months to 31 March 2017, according to the scheme’s annual report and accounts.Liabilities reached £347.2bn (€402.7bn), up from £271.7bn a year earlier. The increase was driven primarily by a reduction in the discount rate, which was cut from 3.6% to 2.8%.TPS is an unfunded scheme, meaning annual benefit payments are paid direct from government contingency funds. It covers more than 2m current and former teachers and other education sector staff.In addition, the scheme has had to set aside £35m to compensate pensioners who were underpaid between April 2011 and April 2015. LGPS Central, one of eight local government pension scheme (LGPS) asset pools, has named two non-executive directors to its board.John Nestor and Eithne McManus join Joanne Segars (chair) and Andrew Warwick-Thompson (CEO) on the leadership team for LGPS Central’s asset management company.The company was set up to consolidate £40bn of assets from nine LGPS funds based in the Midlands.Nestor has worked in asset management for more than 30 years, including in UK chief executive roles at UBS Global Asset Management and Citigroup Asset Management. He has also worked as institutional marketing director at Henderson Global Investors. He is currently chair of Prudential’s corporate pension fund trustee board, and an independent member of the company’s independent governance committee.McManus currently sits on the boards of insurance companies Countrywide Assured and UIA. She was previously a director at Countrywide and worked as chief financial officer and later CEO of City of Westminster Assurance.McManus will chair the audit, risk and compliance committee at LGPS Central, while Nestor will chair the remuneration committee.
ExxonMobil has begun an offshore exploration drilling program in the Gippsland Basin to search for new sources of gas.Ocean Monarch; Source: Quadrant EnergyExxonMobil said on Monday that it was drilling two exploration wells, known as Baldfish and Hairtail, on the VIC/P70 block as part of its investment program to find and bring online new gas supplies.Exxon’s Australian subsidiary Esso Deepwater Gippsland holds a 100 percent interest in the VIC/P70 block, which is approximately 90 kilometers off the East Gippsland Victorian coast.The wells are being drilled by Diamond Offshore’s Ocean Monarch semi-submersible drilling rig, and the operations are expected to take several months.Chairman Richard Owen said: “The two wells will be drilled in water depths ranging from 350 to 700 meters, amongst the deepest water depths drilled in the Gippsland Basin.Targeting gas“These wells are targeting gas prospects, with the objective of proving up resources for timely development and contribution to the Australian domestic gas market.”The AUD$120 million ($88.25 M) investment in drilling by Esso Deepwater Gippsland is in addition to the recent investments by ExxonMobil Australia in Victoria, including the AUD$4.5 billion Kipper Tuna Turrum offshore project, the AUD$1 billion Longford Gas Conditioning Plant and the future development of the West Barracouta gas field.“This $120 million exploration drilling program demonstrates our commitment to bringing new gas supplies to the domestic market.“ExxonMobil Australia is also actively considering a potential LNG import project to bring additional supply to the east coast gas market,” Owen added.Since ExxonMobil drilled the first well in 1965 in Australia’s Bass Strait, approximately four billion barrels of crude oil and eight trillion cubic feet of natural gas have been produced.VIC/P70 location; Source: ExxonMobil
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