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A truly refreshing investment alternative

Posted by admin on October 23, 2008
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As economic uncertainty prevails into 2011 investors are looking to be even more creative with their portfolios. Fine wine is a proven and robust investment option, but first you must get your market strategy right…

The Liv-ex 100 Fine Wine Index soared by 27 per cent in 2010 consolidating fine wine’s position as an highly attractive investment option. Furthermore the index representing the 100 most sought after fine wines is also up a massive 47 per cent from the end of 2008. Fine wine is securing its position as a viable asset class. Durable to market fluctuations and recession, it offers numerous options for investors looking to diversify their portfolio in this testing economic climate. But for those new to the market there are a number of decisions to be made before you can consider yourself up and running. This is where the experts come in. The New Europe spoke to European Fine Wines about the nature of wine investment and why guidance should be sought.

The New Europe: Describe the characteristics that make fine wine such a unique investment…

European Fine Wines: Fine wine is a luxury product that is highly desired by both old money and new, and ownership is considered to be a mark of sophistication and status. Supply is naturally limited because the appellation imposes the strictest limits on production. Demand is set to grow enormously because of the development of a huge and largely untapped market in China and Russia. These factors all combine to attract a premium price.

TNE: Wine is often described as a ‘safe haven’ for investors. Is this its place in the market? Or is there more to fine wine than that?

EFW: The secret to successful investing is diversity. For this reason alone, fine wine should be part of every balanced investment portfolio. In addition, no other investment has quite the same prestige. And no other investment has the depth of interest that can be obtained from collecting wine as a hobby. There is far more to the subject than just tasting; the wine connoisseur also has a deeper understanding. The expert knows that a great wine is a result of the interaction of the terroir [the wine’s geographic identity] together with the weather conditions, the choice of grape varieties, fermentation process and production techniques.

TNE: There are a lot of vineyards out there producing a lot of wine. Where do I buy?

EFW: Selecting investment grade wine is not a job for the novice buyer. You must be guided by a merchant who understands the market; the most desirable châteaux, the great vintage years, the wines that have peaked and the wines with potential. And most importantly, a merchant who can share this knowledge with you and develop your appreciation of wine.

TNE: Describe your ideal wine portfolio?

EFW: My ideal portfolio would be a collection of wines that has representatives of all the great châteaux, and all the great vintages. It should read like a history of Bordeaux wine production.

TNE: What are the classic pitfalls to avoid as a novice wine investor?

EFW: Don’t buy too cheap. It is better to have one case of the highest quality vintage than ten cases of a low grade wine with no potential.

TNE: If you purchase lots of fine wine as an investment, what do you drink while you wait for it all to increase in value?

EFW: There are many wines that are comparable in quality to investment grade, but due to the appellation system will never attract the same prices. There are many wines that deserve to be great but have been trapped by their geography – they might even be produced next door to one of the renowned châteaux, but are not part of the original designation. The discriminating buyer has the opportunity to achieve real value in their drinking wine.

Land of the rising sun

Posted by admin on August 20, 2008
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Jàvea has long been called Amanecer de España (Dawn of Spain), because it occupies the most eastern tip of land overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The region is a jewel officially recognised for its healthy climate and hours of sunlight. So why not pay a visit?

Jàvea primarily consists of three main areas, the Arenal with its sandy beach and vibrant nightlife of clubs and restaurants, the working port, with a more sophisticated and sedate atmosphere plus the historical Pueblo (Old Town) containing the ancient San Bartolomé Church supposedly containing the soul of the village. One of its inner walls dates from 1244 when King Jaime El Conquistador defeated the Moors, while the outside wall is pockmarked by fusillades of the Spanish civil war seven centuries later. In addition, there are a number of beautiful coves from which to explore its crystalline blue waters such as Barraca with its island of Portichol, Granadella (just voted the most beautiful beach in Spain) and the Cumbre del Sol.

It is too simplistic to say of Jàvea that the World Health Organisation named it as one of the healthiest climates in the world and that there are more recorded hours of sunshine per year on this little point of land than in any other place in Spain. That is important for those who suffer the northern European climate but Jàvea is much more. There is a sense of contentment, which wells up and exists just under the surface here. This is partly because Jàvea continues to be a working port and not just a tourist mecca; but also because it is a place where people from many parts of northern Europe come to live permanently or for just a few weeks a year.

Health is wealth
Then there are the wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables, the wine of all qualities and prices, the incredible almond blossom in the early spring, the outside markets, the endless fields of orange trees, literally hundreds of restaurants and the eternally crisp clean air.

Halfway between Alicante and Valencia airports, less than an hour from each via a modern Autopista (but far enough away to never see an aeroplane) Jàvea is easily accessible by the independent traveller. Of course there are the tourists, but unlike most of the resorts on the Spanish Costas, the vacationers here prefer to rent a villa with a private pool, or an apartment with a communal pool. There are very few hotels in Jàvea, and those that are here do not cater for package holidays.

And standing guard over Jàvea is the beloved Montgó mountain, protecting the port from the north east winds and providing its unique subclimate whilst offering numerous opportunities to explore the national park and enjoy the breathtaking views to the bay of Jàvea.

We simply ask you to come and visit Jàvea yourselves, to find that this article only just scratches the surface of this little jewel in this vibrant country that is Spain.

Technology drives business in Northern Ireland

Posted by admin on October 03, 2007
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With Northern Ireland’s long history of engineering dating back to the early 19th century, it is hardly surprising that technology is a powerful driving force behind the success of business in the region today…

Northern Ireland’s pedigree, coupled with a talent pool of young, well-educated people and a superb infrastructure has been key to attracting hundreds of overseas investors hungry for high tech expertise.

One recent arrival is Citi – one of the world’s largest banking corporations – which set up its first office in Belfast in 2004. Attracted by Northern Ireland’s strong reputation in software and financial services technology, it has since opened a second facility and now employs 900 staff to provide technology and other services to its international offices and clients. That headcount is to be increased by a further 500 people following a further expansion announced in late 2010.

Typifying the calibre of high tech skills that Citi can draw is the neighbouring Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology. Established by Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) to exploit its longstanding excellence in ICT and electronics, the world-ranked centre is also home to the £25m Centre for Secure Information Technologies – the UK’s lead centre for developing technology to counter malicious ‘cyber-attacks’. QUB – along with the University of Ulster – works closely with a large number of local and international companies. In 2010, Seagate – the world leader in hard disk drives and digital storage – announced two major R&D investments totalling almost £60 million. The SAP and Intel Collaboratory at the SAP Research Centre in Belfast marks another important milestone in the strong collaboration between SAP, Europe’s largest software organisation and Intel, the world’s largest processor company.

In other recent developments, Northern Ireland has been chosen as the location for an R&D facility as part of what has been described as one of the world’s most complex telecoms developments.

Intune Networks, a Dublin-based firm has developed technology that could soon boost the efficiency of the world’s optical fibre networks from just a few per cent to more than 80.

Intune CEO Tim Fritzley says the company chose Belfast in preference to California’s Silicon Valley for the project, primarily because of the city’s strong R&D capabilities produced by companies such as Nortel and Flextronics.

“We wanted to move forward with commercialisation which is incredibly expensive and complex because big carriers have very specific requirements,” he says. “In Dublin there isn’t a culture of developing this type of equipment but we found it in Belfast.”

Eurozone ponders merits of bond buybacks

Posted by admin on November 19, 2006
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In a plan supported by Portugal, eurozone ministers are considering a bond buyback plan; one that involves changes to rescue fund rules. Jan Strupczewski & Stephen Brown report.

Eurozone ministers are considering whether the bloc’s rescue fund could buy back the bonds of troubled member states, a source recently revealed, with debt-ridden Portugal saying it supported the proposal.

Berlin and Athens insisted Greece, the first country to succumb in the currency bloc’s ongoing debt crisis, needed no help with debt repayments.

Under the proposal being discussed, the European Financial Stability Facility – set up after Greece was bailed out last year – would be able to conduct buy-back operations of bonds of a distressed country, which could help stabilise its debt market, one eurozone source told Reuters.

The changes would be part of a wider package of new measures the eurozone is expected to announce by mid-March as it tries to draw a line under the sovereign debt crisis, which has forced Greece and Ireland to seek EU and IMF financial help.

“It was one of the options more seriously considered. Some people were quite pushing this,” said the source (who had apparent knowledge of a recent eurozone finance ministers’ meeting).

Portuguese Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos backed widening the remit of the 440 billion euros EFSF to include potential purchases of government bonds and said its size should be increased. The plan tallies with late January reports in two German publications. The Financial Times Deutschland said eurozone finance ministers had discussed a plan for the fund to buy bonds specifically from Greece or Ireland or give favourable loans for repurchasing debt.

The eurozone source said no “specific country” was discussed regarding the scheme, which would involve buying bonds in the secondary market with the EFSF doing so direct.

It was not certain whether bondholders would be paid the face value of the debt or not, leaving open the crucial question of whether investors faced a “haircut”.

But the source said the EFSF could pay a small premium over market prices to encourage bondholders to sell.

With Ireland already tapping the fund, and Portugal and Spain potentially needing it, Europe is discussing how to beef it up without raising the headline sum, which would be difficult to sell to the German parliament and public.

A Barclays Capital research note said it was “very likely that euro area governments will decide to upsize the EFSF to its statutory lending limit of 440 billion euros”.

Its real lending capacity is currently much lower because of its complex guarantee system.

Hurdles to jump
It is far from certain that European parliaments would accept rule changes for the 440 billion euros fund to allow it to buy bonds.

One economist with influence on the German government, Hans-Werner Sinn who heads the Ifo Institute, told Reuters he did not believe Greece would be able to service its debt.

“The sooner that is recognised the better it will be for all parties involved,” said Sinn, whose Ifo Institute forecasts feed into official German government policy.

But Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives looked set to oppose any attempt to use the EFSF to buy up debt, which would have to be approved by national parliaments first, a senior lawmaker from her Christian Democratic Union said.

“I do not see a quick willingness for a purchase of state debt by the EFSF,” Hans Michelbach told Reuters.

Barclays Capital said changing the EFSF rules to permit buying bonds outright was unlikely because parliaments would have to vote on it. But EFSF loans to governments to buy back bonds were “more likely to gather support”, including from the European Central Bank which would be relieved of such a role.

The Greek and German governments have repeatedly denied that plans are afoot to prepare for a Greek rescheduling or restructuring of debt. Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert denied it outright and Deputy Finance Minister Steffen Kampeter told Reuters that such talk was a “fantasy based on rumours and not facts”.

Voter popularity
Analysts believe Germany’s denial is rooted in domestic political considerations, with Merkel facing seven state elections this year.

“The key danger for the market is internal German politics where Merkel faces a key state election in Baden-Württemberg just days after the EU summit (in late March) and given the resistance of the population to bailouts this could lead to procrastination,” wrote RBS in a research note.

Merkel’s conservatives risk losing the state after 60 years while her Free Democrat (FDP) coalition partners are faring so badly in polls that their leader, Deputy Chancellor and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, faces calls to step down.

But Merkel’s government is being warned by at least some of its select group of “wise men” economic advisors to prepare for the worst, such as a Greek debt rescheduling.

Economist Peter Bofinger, a left-leaning member of this group of five, told daily German newspaper Handelsblatt the European Union should create a “Marshall Plan” for the most indebted euro countries. Lars Feld, who takes up a “wise man” post in March, told the paper he did “not believe Greece will manage without a cut in its debt” and Germany should take measure so that the guarantees it will provide do not violate a new “debt brake” fiscal law.

Why businesses are still spending their green on green

Posted by admin on October 31, 2006
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There are questions over whether corporate environmental action will become a casualty of the economic downturn. Robert Clark, executive director of Epson Europe, believes investment will continue and explains the drivers behind business’ increasingly strong commitment to environmental programmes

Government and business commitments to environmental initiatives have increased year on year in recent times. However, there has been understandable concern that depleted budgets and changing priorities could make the environment the greatest casualty of the economic downturn. In my time at Epson Europe, a firm that has integrated environmental awareness deep into its culture, I have taken an interest in the fast-unfolding trend of corporate environmental action – and I believe the pessimistic predictions are wrong. In fact, today’s financial situation could drive even greater efforts to tackle climate change, not less.

With stimulus plans, governments have poured hundreds of billions into affected companies and economies. Bundled within these budgets can be found genuinely ambitious environmental commitments. And there is a growing recognition that green issues should be taken seriously by said governments.

Consequently some companies, Epson included, have redoubled efforts to minimise their environmental impact. One of the many successes derived from our ongoing efforts on this front is around product lifecycle – from design through to recycling – and has resulted in up to a 90 per cent improvement in the monthly energy efficiency of our printers when compared to previous models (AcuLaser C1100 versus the more recent B-500DN).

Paradigm shift
While it is true that investment in a new generation of ‘green IT’ products leads to the dual benefits of energy efficiency and reduced usage costs, this focus on environmental responsibility is not driven primarily by the need to realise cost savings. So why, at a time of continuing economic challenges, is so much effort still being invested in environmental concerns?

At a macro economic level, action is being taken to avoid even greater costs associated with environmental inaction. And there are also some very real drivers at micro-economic level. It is likely that in the future ‘carbon footprint’ will become a key demand criterion for any product or brand. According to research by LEK consulting, 44 per cent of consumers would change buying behaviour if reliable information regarding the carbon footprint of a product was available.

Businesses too will drive demand for consideration of environmental impact: over one third of IT departments are likely to have one or more such factors in their top six buying criteria in 2010 (according to Gartner Consulting). To succeed long-term companies need to meet this demand – and preparation should already be underway, financial climate notwithstanding.

Environmental Vision 2050
At Epson, this is very much the case. We committed to reduce our carbon footprint by 90 per cent globally by 2050, and invited other companies to partner in our Environmental Vision 2050. We believe a great deal can be achieved through a solid commitment to change.

At a philosophical level, the dual challenge of the financial crisis and climate change has turned the kaleidoscope through which we see the world. The new pattern is that businesses, the public and policymakers are increasingly attuned to addressing climate change and inappropriate wastage of resources before it is too late. The driver pushing green action to the fore for businesses stems from an understanding of the forces at work in society shaping future demand, and therefore future profit, while repositioning business values. These forces will turn ongoing commitments from business and governments into long-term environmental action.

East brings luxury west

Posted by admin on July 21, 2006
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Meritus Hotels & Resorts, Singapore’s pioneering luxury hospitality brand, marks its foray into international markets with the commencement of a global brand campaign to complement its exciting expansion pipeline slated to take shape from 2011.

The campaign invigorates Meritus’ longstanding presence as Singapore’s icon of world-class hospitality and centres around its signature ‘Asian grace, warmth, and care’ as the essence of the Meritus service culture that the brand hopes to bring to other parts of the world.

“Our service philosophy is inspired by the virtue and richness of our Asian heritage,” says Michael Sengol, Chief Executive Officer of Meritus Hotels & Resorts.

“Over thousands of years, Asians have perfected the art of making guests feel right at home. It is this heritage that our brand uniquely embraces as we expand globally and move ahead with the times. Therein lies the difference – at Meritus, we give our guests the opportunity to enjoy the long-renowned tradition of Asian hospitality, today.”

Meritus is expected to open the doors of its flagship property in Europe in 2011.

When two leaders join forces

Posted by admin on December 26, 2005
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In July 2010 U.S.-based Deltek acquired the Danish IT company Maconomy. Both companies provide enterprise solutions to project-focused companies. So, was this a hostile takeover of a small Scandinavian company by a bigger competitor from ‘over there’? No, quite the opposite. In both companies, we truly believe it’s a great match.

By Hugo Dorph Executive VP and General Manager, Deltek, Inc.

In the spring of 2009 I get a call from Kevin Parker, CEO & president of our main competitor in the U.S. Deltek. They want to acquire Maconomy. Of course, my first question as CEO of Maconomy is “why?” Then again, we both know it makes perfect sense. We both serve project-focused businesses and both companies boast deep knowledge of our clients’ industries. It’s the core reason behind our product success. This kicks off a year of intense negotiations involving very few people. And on July 9, 2010, Deltek successfully acquires Maconomy. Why did Maconomy’s leadership and our shareholders support the acquisition? The reasons are manifold and I will attempt to describe them below.

Join forces: Create a leading market position
Based in the United States and Denmark, respectively, Deltek and Maconomy were quite familiar with each other prior to this year’s merger. Both companies regularly popped up on the same shortlists when project-focused organisations went looking for a new business solution. Deltek and Maconomy were aware of each other’s strengths and there was a deep mutual respect between the two companies. And for good reason. There is an astonishing scarcity of end-to-end suppliers of project-focused enterprise solutions in the global market, and Deltek and Maconomy were among the world leaders in their own right. By joining forces, the two companies could create a truly global vendor and the unrivaled leader in this market.

Growth, not consolidation
Deltek did not acquire Maconomy as a defensive move to consolidate their position in the project-focused enterprise solutions space. On the contrary, this is a growth case for Deltek for a number of strategic reasons. Acquiring Maconomy made great sense for Deltek due to Maconomy’s strong market position in Europe. Deltek could have gone head-to-head with Maconomy and other competitors away from its home turf, but the complexity of penetrating new markets in the enterprise applications industry should not be underestimated. Conversely, Maconomy had been extremely successful in its main European markets (Scandinavia, UK, Benelux) but had trouble matching that position in the United States. Another reason why Deltek and Maconomy constituted a special match is its largely complementary customer bases. Deltek knew Maconomy was strong in key project-focused verticals like agencies, consulting, and accounting, to complement Deltek’s own stronghold verticals such as government contracting, architecture and engineering. Furthermore, Maconomy has managed to capture and retain a number of exclusive customers through the years, including three of the top four global agency networks and three of the top five global audit companies.

Unique sweet spot
By joining forces, Deltek and Maconomy are able to dramatically accelerate the growth both companies have attained in recent years. We have both invested heavily in new product development and consulting competence to stay abreast of customer demands. The two companies operate in the same unique sweet spot in the market for enterprise applications software to project-focused companies. With our niche focus we offer much deeper specialisation and client business acumen than large, generic vendors like Oracle, SAP and Microsoft. At the same time, we offer a more comprehensive, end-to-end business solution and worldwide delivery capability than smaller, local vendors. That’s how both companies remain highly competitive.

The integration process has begun
The very day that Maconomy de-listed from NASDAQ OMX Copenhagen in July, we went to work on integrating the two companies.

Despite differences in size and the fact that Deltek had acquired Maconomy, Deltek management displayed tremendous openness and interest in pursuing the best practices from both companies. There was good chemistry between the two sides as well as a deep understanding and team spirit from the very first handshake. It was like catching up with a long lost relative, as Kevin Parker put it.

It’s not just about the products
Deltek’s focus on growth was apparent from the outset. The very first initiatives were about growing Maconomy product sales in North America and Deltek product sales in Europe. That was reassuring to clients and employees on both sides, addressing the natural concerns that arise from big change. Actions speak so much louder than words in those circumstances, not least during acquisitions and organisational integration.

Deltek also embraced Maconomy’s vision and leadership style as important contributions to driving and integrating a global and culturally diverse business. One clear indication of this is that the merged company will rely on two ‘centers of gravity’ going forward – one in Herndon, Virginia, and one in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Playing bigger
For Maconomy as well as Deltek, there was another key benefit in bulking up as a combined company. Both companies are quite accustomed to going head-to-head with much larger and more powerful competitors with well-established global brands when project-focused companies need to select a new business solution. Customers naturally seek out the safe choice when making ERP investments – simply because of the magnitude of that investment. It’s easy to opt for the largest and most well-known vendor, but many customers have paid a high price for learning that picking a large unfocused vendor involves greater risk than selecting a small specialised vendor. The most critical risks are associated with the vendor’s lack of understanding of the customer’s business. Nevertheless, we can all agree that the safest choice is a financially robust, highly skilled global specialist. That’s exactly what the combination of Deltek and Maconomy is all about. We aim to become the unmatched enterprise solution vendor to project-focused companies. Additionally, our sheer size (1,500 people and counting) allows us to take on much bigger jobs for our clients. We’ve already got a global organisation in place, and now we’re investing in our sales and consulting units all over the world to take full advantage of our global product portfolio and be where our increasingly globally operating customers need us to be.

Because it makes perfect sense
Even if Deltek and Maconomy have been treated as two separate entities for the purposes of this article, make no mistake. Our combined company is now called Deltek and we’ve already come a long way in gearing up for our future as one company. The ties between the former Maconomy and Deltek organisations are growing closer day by day. As a result of the recent merger, we aim at creating the undisputed leader in the market for enterprise applications software to project-focused companies. We think this move makes great sense for us as well as for our clients, and we are eager to share the news with the world. We have a long journey ahead of us, but I strongly feel that the right mix of openness, leadership, synergy, and customer insight will allow us to realise the full potential of our combined company. So I dare say that the ‘why?’ generated from Kevin Parker’s offer to acquire Maconomy that summer day in 2009 can still be answered: ‘Because it makes perfect sense’.

The new world order in FX

Posted by admin on July 12, 2004
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The hangover from the financial crisis is proving to be prolonged and more painful than many may have thought. The great deleveraging of the west is weighing on growth to the extent where some central banks, most notably the Federal Reserve, are expected to announce further shots of monetary policy to boost their flagging economies Kathleen Brooks, Research Director, FOREX.com UK, analyses the global implications

This theme is being played out in foreign exchange markets too. After acting like a safe haven during the peak of the financial crisis, investors have ditched the dollar as the reality of sluggish growth requiring ultra-low interest rates for the foreseeable future combined with more monetary stimulus from the Fed, erodes the value of the greenback.

And the U.S. isn’t alone. The UK is poised to embark on a deficit reduction plan to reduce its debt pile, which currently stands at 11.5 per cent. Meanwhile, although public finances look fairly healthy in Europe, this is only in the aggregate. The eurozone budget deficit stands at 6.3 per cent, but the financial position of some of the peripheral economies is astonishingly bad. It took a good seven years to spend all of this money; it will take at least the same amount of time to pay it back. The big repayment won’t be half as fun as spending it, as consumers reassess their priorities and leave the credit cards at home.

Since currencies tend to appreciate in countries where the growth outlook is good and interest rates are rising relative to elsewhere, we are seeing the beginning of what may be a new world order in FX. Investment flows into fast-growing economies (read those not crippled with high household and public debt levels) are rising rapidly. For example, net capital flows into emerging markets in Asia are forecast to reach more than $270bn in 2010 and a similarly large sum in 2011, according to the Institute of International Finance.

Global shift
This new order in FX is split along regional lines and we are witnessing a huge shift of capital from the sluggish west to the advancing economies in the east. Asian FX has been a main beneficiary of these new capital flows, and currencies like the Singapore dollar have strengthened rapidly against the greenback since the start of this year.

But it is also benefiting countries with proximity to the east. Australia is the perfect economy for many investors right now. It is benefiting from the mining boom fuelled by strong growth in China, and it is a capitalist, English-speaking economy making it accessible to many investors in the west. Australia is an attractive destination for money managers who are reallocating their portfolios out of the west and into the east, meaning that western retirees may soon be living off of the profits from their eastern pension funds.

These huge flows of money were in place before the financial crisis; however, the harsh shock it has caused to some of the major economies has accelerated the flow.

Commentators now fear that further quantitative easing in the west may also ride on this liquidity wave to the east.

While this shift is a fact of the new world order, it will suffer teething problems. We have already seen some Asian economies including South Korea and Thailand impose capital regulation to try and limit speculative money flows into their economies. The Brazilian finance minister went as far as to call it the new “currency war”.

But that is missing the point. The new world order is in its infancy, and Asian and emerging world currencies will need to grow into their role as the ‘strong ones’.

Singapore has taken the lead on this front by announcing it would widen its trading band versus the U.S. dollar, therefore allowing the Singapore dollar to appreciate. It will be interesting to see if other emerging Asian nations follow suit.

Prime locations, great lifestyle, totally Cape Town

Posted by admin on December 14, 2003
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Leisure Group are property specialists in Cape Town with commercial, residential and retail properties throughout this beautiful city. With Table Mountain as a backdrop and the ocean at your doorstep it is real estate at its very best…

With over 40 years’ experience in property development in Cape Town, South Africa, Leisure Development have redefined the skyline of the tree lined streets of Wynberg and the Cape Town central business district.

Sound investment
Grand Central Wynberg is a 414 unit development and allows entry-level investors to be able to afford their own home or investment property in the heart of the bustling southern suburbs. With easy access to transport networks, shops, schools and the cultural hub of Maynardville Park, this development presented a perfect way to address the ever increasing shortage of housing in Cape Town.

The South African population is growing at a rapid pace and now you can take advantage of this economic growth and high rental demand within the country. ‘Six’ and the Fountains Hotel Suites provide investors with central business district locations and excellent rental returns. Investors can use their own units for holiday stays or rent them out as short or long-term rentals. In the Six and Grand Central developments investors can benefit from a 24-month guaranteed tenant with a return of between seven per cent and nine per cent; The Leisure Group will manage the tenant for you during this period. On the street levels, there are commercial spaces while the main tenant at Grand Central is a Zone Fitness Gym who have extremely affordable monthly membership fees. The residential sections of the blocks have views of the mountains all around, outdoor-cooking areas (braai or barbecue as they are known), laundries, 100 visitor parking bays and 24 hour security. Levies and rates in this blocks are low compared to the surrounding areas.

Prestigious properties
The Wynberg Chelsea area near Grand Central, has houses that are currently selling for R2.5 million, and these houses are six streets away from Grand Central. The development is close to schools such as Wynberg Girls and Boys and Springfield Girls (private school). Maynardville Park is a popular place for families to have picnics and for cultural events like Shakespeare in the Park, held in the outdoor amphitheatre during warm Cape Town summer evenings.

The prestigious Six development is five minutes away from the Cape Town Convention Centre and the Cape Town Waterfront. Boasting views of the harbour, castle and Table Mountain, they are only ten minutes’ drive from Camps Bay beach and are affordably positioned for a holiday apartment in the bustle of Cape Town tourist area. While viewing the current property market, you will notice that South African property prices are on the rise again, so now is the perfect opportunity to start your property portfolio while prices are still low. If you invest in the cheapest Grand Central Studio at R430,000 Vat Inclusive, with a rental guarantee of R3500 per month you will only need to contribute around R1000 (± £100) per month towards your bond and your tenant will be paying the rest. You can then sit back, relax and watch your capital value grow while the property market prices climb…

GE ENERGY– AER: Regional energy developments with global impact

Posted by admin on September 17, 2002
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After only 18 months in existence, the unique partnership between the AER and GE has become an undeniable force in the support and promotion of the importance of the development of sustainable energy policies at regional levels

Established in May 2009, the cooperation between the Assembly of European Regions (AER) and GE Energy was the result of a shared ideology that to find solutions to Europe’s energy challenges and succeed in the battle against climate change, Europe’s regions must play a central role in establishing and implementing their respective energy policies. The partnership brings together the AER’s work of boosting the involvement of regional authorities and the knowledge and expertise that GE Energy has at its disposal to provide support and to facilitate the EU’s energy targets in a more practical and achievable manner.

Led by Michèle Sabban, President of the AER, and Ricardo Cordoba, President of GE Energy for Western Europe and North Africa, this coalition of public and private sector strives to promote the value of the role of regions and federal states, and the impact they can and will have on sustainability, securing energy supplies and respect for the environment. Together, the two entities are a perfect match thanks to GE Energy’s wealth of experience and the AER’s reach and relationship with its extensive network of regional authorities, who, so far, have organised many activities and initiatives to advance their cause.

Local actions with global impact
The underlying characteristic of any action taken by this joint venture is that every activity is designed to involve both regional decision makers and energy experts from all over Europe so that decisions made are more informed and complement the region that they will affect.

The first event to put this objective into practice was the AER’s 2009 Annual General Assembly where they made energy the main focus. Hosted by GE Energy at its European headquarters in Belfort, the 3 day event gave 600 regional decision makers the opportunity to take control of their territories’ energy futures and develop joint solutions in collaboration with GE’s energy experts. Under the topic Energising Europe Responsibily, the European regions presented the challenges they face in terms of changing energy requirements, through a series of meetings presentations, interactive forums and discussions.

The success of the convention was closely followed up by the announcement of the AER’s commitment to the R20 declaration during the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December 2009. Officially launched in November 2010, the initiative, as instigated by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in conjunction with his ‘Global Summit on Climate Change’, mirrors the appeals made by the partnership in that it will support willing developing regions to design and implement their own individual Climate Change and Energy Regional Package (CCERP). Representing a host of different and distinct climates, the R20 declaration aims to ensure that developing and emerging nations are equipped with the necessary scientific, institutional and financial capacities to ensure their contribution to the offsetting of their carbon emissions.

AER President Michèle Sabban commented, “In an energy landscape in constant evolution and more decentralised than ever before, European regions play a crucial role in coming up with energy solutions for their territories. By partnering with the R20 group, we officially affirm our commitment to the goals and principles of the Global Climate Solutions Declaration. We are happy and proud to officially support the R20 group and to tackle climate change together”. The R20 group was created in order to aid the execution of the results of the Copenhagen Summit and urge the respective governments of the 20 participating regions to take firm action in the fight against climate change.

European Regions Energy Day
In keeping with the momentum and impact of the AER-GE partnership, another high-profile joint initiative was devised. April 2010 saw the inaugural European Regions Energy Day, an event which is set to become an annual occasion to mark the culmination of the year’s close collaboration between the two partners. Attended by 300 regional decision makers and European energy experts over the course of two days, this year’s meeting focused on providing recommendations on three main areas: energy efficiency, security of supply and carbon dioxide emissions reduction.

One of the highlights of this year’s event was the presentation of the AER’s White Paper; a detailed report into the group’s energy and climate change activities in relation to the European regions in the establishment of mitigation and adaptation measures. More importantly, the European Regions Energy Day served as a dynamic platform from which to release the results of the AER’s exclusive survey. Completed by 67 European regions out of 270 regions from 33 countries, the survey sought to assess their needs and expectations in regards to sustainable policies. The study found that the local authorities who boasted broader competences and enjoyed more financial incentives were more heavily involved in developing solutions to energy challenges through the harnessing of local resources than their fellow counterparts.

The value of regional energy Renewable energy and energy efficiency are topics that are continuously on the agenda. Even in times of recession the search to find feasible, adequate solutions has not abated with the green energy sector bucking the trend and continuing to grow. The reason is that developing and delivering smarter, cleaner and more efficient energy is not only environmentally friendly but, in the long run, economically friendly. Renewable energy technologies are not only a worthwhile environmental investment; they can also facilitate large savings and generate significant job creation – an important factor for countries trying to break free from the shackles of the recession.

The development of green energy at regional level is critical. Not only does it shorten the decision making time by avoiding the institutional red tape of government authorities but it ensures that the operation, decision making and implementation of policies that affect the people of the region will be made by their own local authorities. Regions are cutting out the middleman and taking their future into their own hands, with 77 per cent of the 67 regions survey already employing their own environmental strategies.

As the development of energy initiatives moves further towards decentralised, smaller power-generation projects, the support that the GE-AER partnership provides can never be under estimated. With GE Energy’s access to teams of technical experts and the AER’s regional strength in local on-the-ground engagement, regions will continue reap the benefits of this innovative and unprecedented marriage.