CEE roundup: Russia, Lithuania, Latvia

first_imgIn the context of ongoing government discussions about making the system voluntary, the Bank of Russia pointed out that membership of the existing voluntary private system had fallen by 400,000 to fewer than 6.4m, citing waning confidence in the system and negative returns.It said it doubted whether employers, faced with declining economic growth, would be in a hurry to establish corporate pension schemes.The NSPFs are set to receive the frozen contributions from the second half of 2013 once they convert to joint-stock status, meet minimum capital requirements and join the guarantee system, as stipulated by the law that came into effect this year.While the funds providing compulsory pension insurance have until the beginning of 2016 to fulfil the new obligations or leave the market, the major ones have not wasted any time.As of the beginning of October, NSPFs accounting for 91% of total assets had converted their status to companies, while those in the new guarantee system accounted for more than 85%.In other news, Lithuania’s voluntary second-pillar funds posted further healthy results in the third quarter of 2014.According to the Bank of Lithuania, the sector regulator, as of the end of September 2014, year-to-date returns averaged 6.04%, some 2.5 times higher than a year earlier.The five funds with the highest equity exposure generated the best returns, with those investing up to 100% in shares generating 6.88%.The nine funds with up to 70% equity exposure returned 6.4%, while the four funds with a low exposure of up to 30% produced 6.21%.In contrast, the eight bond-only conservative funds generated returns of only 3.15%.Over the nine-month period, assets under management grew by 14.3% to LTL6.2bn (€1.8bn).In the case of the third pillar, assets grew by 13.9% to LTL148m.Returns averaged 5.8%, with the balanced funds generating the highest average return, of 6.58%, followed by high equity-weighted funds at 6.51%, while the bond-orientated funds generated 2.57%.In neighbouring Latvia, year-to-date returns for the mandatory second-pillar funds were somewhat lower, averaging 4.21% for their 1.2m members, according to the Association of Commercial Banks of Latvia.Balanced and higher-risk funds returned 4.36% and 4.35%, respectively, while the conservative funds generated 3.79%.Assets grew by 14.5% to €1.9bn.For the much smaller third-pillar system, with €259.7m of assets and 229,318 members, returns average 4.19%. Russia looks set to extend the 2014 moratorium on contributions to the mandatory pension fund system for a further year.In October, the bill passed its first reading in the Duma (lower house) by an overwhelming majority, with 242 deputies voting in favour, and only five against.The Bank of Russia, the central bank, estimated in its October Financial Stability Review that the non-state pension funds (NSPFs) would forgo some RUB243bn (€4.5bn) as a result of the 2014 moratorium, and a further RUB280bn the following year if the bill passes its subsequent readings and is signed off by president Vladimir Putin.The central bank expressed concerns that the moratoria might hamper long-term investment growth, exacerbate the downturn in economic growth and raise the cost of internal funding.last_img read more

Lakers’ announcer Stu Lantz reminisces about Chick Hearn

first_img“He did a remarkable job of letting me be me,” said Lantz, who enters his 30th year as the Lakers’ analyst, 15 of which were with Hearn. “We butted heads every once in a while. But that’s a part of everything. You don’t always have to agree with somebody. But you can at least respect their opinion. That’s how it turned out with Chick. He didn’t always agree with me. I didn’t always agree with him. But boy did we respect each other’s opinions. I owe quite a bit to Chick.”As for the Lakers, they expressed their gratitude to Hearn in numerous ways. Lakers fans at Sunday’s game received a “Chick Hearn” key chain that featured his name and a microphone. The Lakers awarded the annual “Chick Hearn college scholarship” at halftime while also playing a video tribute. And the Lakers held a school supply drive to help the L.A. Unified School District’s Homeless Education program.“He’s one of the all-time greats. He’s part of what makes this organization so famous and so loved by fans,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “Growing up, my dad used to tell me all the time he grew up listening to Chick. People of his generation all did, which was part of the reason the Lakers were so famous back then. I know he means a lot to a lot of people here in L.A. and in the organization.”That includes Lantz, who still keeps Hearn’s press pass with him at all times.“Today is always very sentimental to me,” Lantz said of Hearn’s birthday. “This is the day other people think about him a little bit more. But I think about him every day.” LOS ANGELES >> The calls became so memorable. The catch phrases soon morphed into part of the sport’s lexicon. The streak has remained unbeaten.Hence, it only seemed natural the late Lakers announcer Chick Hearn was honored on Sunday in what would have marked his 100th birthday. If not for Hearn’s passing on Aug. 5, 2002, his longtime broadcasting partner believes he would have been at the Lakers-Hawks game at Staples Center to accept the honor in between calling the action.“Somebody would have had to literally take the mic away from him,” said Stu Lantz, the Lakers’ longtime television color analyst. “Somebody would have had to lock the door and put a gate up so he couldn’t drive down the ramp to get to the games. He loved what he did so much. That’s what helped keep him as vibrant as he was.”Hearn stayed so vibrant through his 42-year stint with the Lakers that he called 3,338 consecutive games from Nov. 21, 1965 to Dec. 16, 2001, a number that Lantz called “mind-boggling.” Hearn provided countless “Chickisms,” including Lantz’s favorite, “he faked him into the popcorn machine” because his alma mater (University of Nebraska) actually had one near the court. And Hearn offered descriptive commentary both with his play-by-play and his opinions. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more