Archive for June 7th, 2010

Alternative investments transforming, say accountants

| 07/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A new report by the Cayman office of KPMG reveals a shift in the balance of power in the alternative investment industry. The accountants say that in today’s market institutional investors now have the upper hand. “Transformation: The Future of Alternative Investments” found their demands for institutional grade controls, increased transparency, liquidity and flexible product strategies are driving fundamental changes in the very fibre of the industry. Managers are no longer calling the shots, KPMG said, and investors might want more transparency but not necessarily more regulation.

Anthony Cowell, Partner at KPMG in the Cayman Islands and principal author of the report, noted some of the fundamental changes in the report. “Historically, anyone considering an investment in alternatives had to invest on the manager’s terms. Today, the picture of the industry has been turned on its head; it’s now one in which investors are firmly in the driving seat and, fundamentally, investors want to see managers’ interests more closely aligned with their own.”
 
Over 50 percent of institutional investors surveyed said they intend to increase their allocations to alternatives in the next three years; some anticipate an allocation of over 10 percent of total assets. And managers, for their part, are not blind to this change in dynamic with 70 percent attesting that client service is their top priority after performance.
 
While regulation has been widely promoted as a way to protect investors, the report finds that the majority are against it. Reasons cited include the belief that regulation will not produce any tangible benefits, it will add costs and bureaucratic burden, it will stall the industry’s engine of creativity and it will limit choice. In addition, and of particular note, 81 percent of institutional investors indicated that domiciliation makes little difference with regard to allocation decisions.
 
“There’s an interesting distinction here and an important observation for the Cayman Islands,” said Wanda Mellaneo, Director, KPMG in the Cayman Islands and Chair of the Editorial Team. “While investors are clearly looking for products with increased transparency and liquidity, they do not seem to be demanding regulated products. Nor are they particularly concerned with the question of domicile, which runs counter to how much attention the onshore/offshore debate has attracted lately.
 
Andy Stepaniuk, Head of Alternative Investments, KPMG in the Cayman Islands and co-author of the report notes that there is also an emergence of a new breed of manager. “Recently, we’ve seen the rise of the entrepreneurial-institutional (EI) manager; one that’s more formalised and offers clients multiple products (including complementary services like financing, private placements and proprietary trading, for example) through multiple distribution channels. Despite their size, though, they seem to have managed the balance between the needs of a creative environment and the rigidity of the institutional infrastructure that investors are demanding,” he stated.
 
Investor allocation decisions are also shaping the alternatives landscape. Fund of funds did not have a good market crisis, say their investors. As a result, larger institutional investors are moving to an allocation model with a clear trend in favour of direct investment and managed account platforms, the latter for reasons of security, liquidity and transparency. At the same time, allocations to fund of funds are falling. Larger fund of funds managers with the resources to expand into managed accounts, diversify their offerings in other ways, and use their brand name to attract investment will survive. Many smaller players, however, are unlikely to be able to compete and the result may be a wave of M&A activity.
 
Nor are administrators immune from investor influence as demands for reporting transparency and liquidity requirements rise and force greater standardisation. Data demands from fund managers and regulators are also expected to swell exponentially, so administrators will need robust and flexible technology platforms that are capable of high-volume transaction processing and customized ‘real-time’ reporting. In this environment, the challenge of capacity comes to the fore. The research shows that nearly three in four administrators are currently operating at between 71-100 percent. If alternative inflows develop as forecast, or anywhere near to it, administrators will face serious infrastructural issues.
 
Cowell added, “Led by demands from institutional investors, the alternatives sector is going through a period of transformational adjustment and while the industry is no stranger to change, this time around it will be profound.”
 
To download a full copy of “Transformation: The Future of Alternative Investments” go to www.kpmg.com.

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Hope pinned on shipwreck

| 07/06/2010 | 54 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island headline news, Kittiwake shipwreck(CNS): The tourism sector is pinning its hopes that a shipwreck could boost the flagging industry’s fortunes. The long awaited sinking of the USS Kittiwake to create an artificial reef is now set to take place next month, the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) has said. The tourism body stated that although the project has been a long time coming – seven years — given the current slump in the tourism sector the sinking of the ship could not come at a better time. The event is expected to attract much needed international attention, which CITA anticipates will convert into an increase in visitors to the islands.

The project, which promises to enhance the local dive experience, has been some seven years and many challenges in the making. Finally, however, subject to weather and other unforeseeable circumstances, the former US Naval Submarine Rescue Ship will be sunk in Cayman waters on Tuesday, 27 July.
 
The 2,290-ton 251-foot ship will be sunk off the cost of the West Bay Public Beach, creating the Kittiwake Shipwreck Park. It will cost snorkelers $5 and divers $10 per day to enter, which will be used for maintenance, safety equipment and management of the attraction. A portion of the visitor fee will also be paid to an Environmental Contingency Fund.
 
The sinking of the Kittiwake should have a positive economic impact as a new tourism attraction, CITA said, noting that it was also important in the preservation of a ship that protected its nation for decades, which fits in well with Cayman’s own long maritime history and motto, “He hath founded it upon the seas”. 
 
The ship was commissioned in 1945, and underwater it will last for many, many decades, prolonging her life rather than condemning her to a ship’s scrap yard. The new Kittiwake shipwreck will also create another habitat for marine life in the Cayman Islands.
 
“The Kittiwake shipwreck attraction may assist in diversifying the product offering in order to reduce the environmental impact on Stingray City and other frequented reefs by cruise ship traffic and stay-over guests for dive and snorkeling,” said Nancy Easterbrook, CITA Project Manager and past CITA Board Member. 
 
The seven-plus year project has had many obstacles with ‘goal lines’ constantly evolving as new laws and regulations relating to artificial reefing came into play. CITA said it has ensured that all precautions have been strictly followed to ensure hazardous materials, paint, lubricants, oils and fuels will be removed prior to sinking to protect Cayman’s  marine life.
 
The project was spearheaded by CITA and supported and funded by the Cayman Islands Ministry of Tourism, Finance, Investment and Commerce.  The Kittiwake is scheduled to arrive in Cayman on 20 July, which will trigger a week of celebrations to mark the sinking event, including a gala dinner with a live and silent auction for one-of-a-kind artifacts from the ship and memorable experiences, such as the first dive or snorkel on the wreck. Kittiwake ex-crew members and their families will also be visiting the island during the celebrations.
 
A public viewing of the ship is also scheduled to take place on the Monday before the sinking (26 July) including a special dedication ceremony. The sinking itself is planned for Tuesday between 10am and 1pm, when spectators will be able to view from a distance.
 
On Wednesday safety inspections and final preparations will take place before the first dive, snorkel and semi-sub trips take place the following day.
 
For more details visit www.KittiwakeCayman.com

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The beginning of the end for the plastic bag

| 07/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Efforts to rid Cayman of the environmental scourge of plastic bags begins in earnest on Wednesday (9 June) when Grand Cayman’s three major supermarkets begin charging 5 cents per plastic bag and start encouraging their customers to carry reusablebags with them to their stores. Cayman BECOME spearheaded a campaign at the beginning of April to encourage shoppers to become plastic bag free. To help the transition to the upcoming implementation of this charge, supermarket cashiers and baggers have received training on the new programme to help them answer customers questions on why plastic bag reduction is important for the Cayman Islands.

The Cayman BECOME education and training committee passed on information about the campaign and how cashiers and baggers can pass the information to customers. This included a presentation and role play, and gave the cashiers a chance to have their own questions answered.
“We are aiming to adapt the interaction between cashier and customer for when the charge is introduced. Cashiers are now being urged to ask customers directly if they have their own bags with them and if not they will ask whether the customer needs a bag and wishes to purchase a reusable bag, or purchase plastic bags” said Joni Kirkconnell, Sr. Sustainable Development Officer at the Department of Environment – one of the trainers for the program and part of the Cayman BECOME education and training committee.
“This should not only make people think about bringing their own bags in the future, but it will also make cashiers more aware of how many plastic bags they are providing, and customers more aware of how many plastic bags they are using. We expect people will not want to pay for more plastic bags than they have to.”
The Cayman BECOME program will present a major change in the supermarket shopping experience on Grand Cayman so supermarket cashiers need to be ready.
“We are trying to ease the transition as far as possible – the cashiers are really on the front line of the campaign, as they will have the most contact with customers, who will no doubt have a lot of questions once the charge is introduced,” said Daphine Watson, trainer with the Department of Tourism’s PRIDE program, who managed the Cayman BECOME training and developed the training presentation.
“We want to prepare them as much as we can so that this change is manageable for all concerned. The Department of Tourism is very pleased to be able to sponsor this effort, through utilising the training skills and experience we have developed in the PRIDE program to assist in this important element of the campaign.”
The training was well received by the cashiers. “Cashiers were very enthusiastic about the training as customers have been very curious, having heard about the changes,” said Raquel Solomon, Training Manager at Fosters Food Fair. “The Cayman BECOME campaign was widely accepted by all the cashiers because of the obvious benefits to the environment that we all enjoy. Many cashiers feel much better now that they know some facts about the program and why it is being done.”
Feedback from cashiers reveals that many customers appreciate the initiative and have already begun to use reusable bags instead of plastic.
“The customers who are most concerned about the planned changes are those that do not seem to be aware of the benefits of the Cayman BECOME campaign. We encourage customers who have questions to just ask, so that we can all do our bit to truly go plastic free,” said Solomon.

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West Bayers call for more eyes on crime

| 07/06/2010 | 7 Comments

(CNS): West Bay residents say they do not have enough neighbourhood watch programmes in their districts but would welcome a more widespread use of the crime fighting initiative along with the use of CCTV. A survey conducted among residents in West Bay by CODAC in March found that the majority of people who took part would like to see more proactive community measures to tackle crime in their neighbourhood. They also said they would like to see the pictures of criminals published in the media.

 
Following a meeting held by the premier McKeeva Bush in West Bay as a result of a surge on shootings in the district in March, the West Bay Action Committee also conducted a survey asking people who lived in the area what measures they wanted to see introduced to tackle the crime in the community.
 
A total of 112 people took part in the independent and anonymous survey but 14 papers were spoilt. From the remaining 98 the committee learned West Bayers wanted to see more Neighbourhood Watch schemes only 11 people said they lived in a street with the scheme but 88 said they would like to have one in their neighbourhood. Almost all the respondents (94) said they encouraged the use of Official CCTV Cameras at roadsides and in Hot Zones throughout the district and 84 people said they would go as far as supporting a permanent 8:00pm curfew for unaccompanied minors (16 and younger).
 
Nearly all the respondents also said they would encourage the publishing of mug shots of anyone charged with a capital crime such as murder, rape or armed, robbery  and wanted to be advised when inmates who have committed those types of offences are being released from prison,
 
West Bayers also offered overwhelming support for a mandatory National ID for all residents as well as the fingerprinting and DNS samples of all work permit holders.
 
Those who took part also expressed a desire to see higher police visibility, including foot and canine patrols throughout the district and in particular the know crime hotspots.

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Ship runs aground in George Town Harbour

| 07/06/2010 | 9 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island local news(CNS): Tug boats came to the rescue of Seaboard Venture this weekend when the container ship got stuck on the sand. The Port Authority explained that the ship was executing a manoeuvre to berth stern in, but during the process the vessel drifted too far north and over a shallow bar that is only 14 feet deep and the centre of the ship got stuck. After pumping ballast and receiving assistance from two tugs, the ship was eventually pushed off the shallow bar and was able to berth.  Its cargo of over 60 vehicles and 25 containers was unloaded without further incident and the ship departed as planned on Saturday. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

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Gambling vote to go ahead

| 07/06/2010 | 100 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island headline news(CNS): As the gambling debate continues, the premier says he plans to hold a vote on the subject in November of this year. McKeeva Bush has said that the matter needs to be settled and the people will get a chance to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  Although no details about how the vote will be conducted have yet been revealed, it is very unlikely that anyone other than those on the electoral register will be able to participate. If the premier opts for a constitutional referendum, only the 15,000 or so registered voters will be entitled to cast their ballot. Although the debate has heated up over the last few days, with those in favour of legalisation dominating the CNS posts and the radio waves, an official referendum may still produce a ‘no’ vote.

The Cayman Minister Association has already submitted a petition to government with over 1200 signatures against gambling, and the church leaders have said they intend to campaign against the introduction of any form of gambling if the government goes ahead with a referendum. Those against legalised gambling tend to be older members of the Caymanian population who are more likely to be registered voters.
Much of the support for gambling is coming from the private sector as well as ex-pat residents and there has been little overt political support for its introduction. With the exception of Ezzard Miller, the independent representative from North Side, no other MLAs have publicly supported legalisation.  The PPM has said publicly that it has always opposed and continues to oppose any form of legalised gambling and the premier has not revealed either his own position or the UDP’s policy on the issue.
Speaking to News27 last week, the premier said that he would be seeking to settle the matter once and for all.  “I am planning to have a vote in November and I encourage people who want to vote ‘no’ to come out against it and those who want to vote ‘yes’ to play their democratic role, but the matter must be settled now,” Bush said.
The premier has also stated that once the people have the chance to vote on the subject, if they vote ‘no’ the police will start clamping down on the illegal numbers game, which is said to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars ever weekend for the black market as many residents are believed to play one of at least three illegal lotteries.
With the advent of online gambling, many people are also able to gamble at home on their computers and participate in overseas lotteries, which is almost impossible for the police to prevent and which is seen by many as lost revenue to the local economy.
Support for gambling is coming for various sectors of the community but there is not a single body or organisation campaigning directly for its legalisation. Although the Cayman Islands Tourist Association and the Chamber of Commerce had their names associated with an open letter from Michael Ryan to the local press listing a number of alternatives to direct taxation including gambling, the two bodies have denied offering their full support.
Both CITA and the Chamber have stated that their respective memberships have mixed opinions on the subject but say they support a referendum on the topic. In both CNS polls on the subject around 80% of voters who have participated have said they are in favour of some form of gambling or a national lottery.  Over 140 comments were posted on the most recent news story on CNS (See Anti-gamblers gather support) with many readers expressing strong opinions in favour of some form of gambling.

Results of the first poll

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RCIPS launches fast track scheme for top cops

| 07/06/2010 | 15 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island local news(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has launched a new scheme designed to pickout the cream of the cops. The High Potential Development Scheme (HPDS) was launched on Friday, 4 June, with the first Caymanian officer to be inducted. Police Constable Leo Anglin (left), who is 24 years old, will begin his training today, 7 June, and start on the fast track towards the higher ranks. Police Commissioner David Baines explained that the initiative was designed to place young local officers who show outstanding commitment and potential into promoted roles within the service. Anglin told the media on Friday that he had his eye on a chief inspector’s role but was also watching the commissioner as well. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

Officers inducted into the scheme will take part in a structured programme of activity to allow them to experience all aspects of police work, Baines explained. They will be assigned a mentor specially selected from the senior staff of the RCIPS who will work with them for the duration of the scheme. Officers will only be promoted when they have completed the pertinent sections of the HPDS programme and passed all relevant police promotion examinations.
Outstanding candidates could potentially achieve the rank of chief inspector within a 7-year period, considerably faster that the time line it would normally take to get to police management.
“The scheme will encourage officers to think about their long term prospects and about the impact the decisions they make have on colleagues, staff and our communities,” said the commissioner. “It’s about teaching officers to take a more strategic view of policing and develop their leadership skills. The RCIPS needs more home-grown talent in the higher ranks – and that’s what we hope to achieve through the HPDS.
“Constable Anglin was the obvious choice to be the first officer on the scheme. Although he has only been with us for a matter of months he has impressed many members of the RCIPS and our local communities with his commitment, professionalism and his dedication to police work. I have no hesitation in saying that if he works hard and continues to show the same levels of commitment while on the HPDS, he has the potential to be a future leader in the RCIPS," Baines explained.
He warned, however, that any officer entering the scheme would be expected to work hard. “Everyone who enters the scheme has to remember they will only get out of it what they put in. It’s not an easy option or a guarantee of promotion,” stressed the commissioner. “It will be challenging and push officers to the absolute limit – but it will get the very best out of all who take part.”
Anglin, who only graduated from the RCIPS training school in December 2009, is still a probationary constable and has spent the last five months working with the Marine Unit, where he impressed everyone he worked with. Training staff within the RCIPSquickly identified PC Anglin’s potential and recommended his induction to the HPDS. He was interviewed by the commissioner, who agreed that he should be the first officer to take part in the scheme.
From Monday Anglin will be based on an operational shift at George Town Police Station. He will complete 6 months in this post before moving onto further operational duties at West Bay and Bodden Town. Over the next two years he will spend time in many departments of the force, including Operations, Neighbourhood Policing, CID and Support Services.
“It’s a real honour to be the first officer in the RCIPS to take part in the scheme,” said Anglin. “I am looking forward to the challenges the HPDS will present, but I’m confident that if I apply myself to it that Iwill make a success of it. Policing is not just a job,, it’s a way to make a real and lasting difference to the communities of the Cayman Islands. I am very proud to be able to lead the way for other Caymanians who want a long term career in the RCIPS.”
Baines said that senior staff will be on the look out for more potential candidates as there will be no limit to the number of officers that can join the scheme, but only Caymanian recruits who have served less than four years and those who show exceptional potential will be placed on the fast track.

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G20 fail to agree on bank tax

| 07/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(Reuters): The world’s top economies scrapped plans for a universal global bank tax on Saturday, giving countries plenty of wiggle room over how to make banks pay for their bailouts in future. Finance ministers from the Group of 20 countries ended a two-day meeting to review progress on a string of initiatives agreed last year to make the financial system safer and protect taxpayers from having to pay for bank rescues again. Attempts to introduce a global bank levy were finally ditched in the face of opposition from Japan Canada and Brazil whose banks needed no public aid during the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.

"There is no agreement to proceed with an ex ante bank tax," said Canadian Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty.

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Armed duo hit 7MB ESSO

| 07/06/2010 | 22 Comments

(CNS): Update 1:15pm — Police have confirmed that a man and woman held up the ESSO gas station along Seven Mile Beach at around 1:20am this morning (Monday 7 June). Armed with a gun, the suspects forced staff in the gas station store to lay on the floor as they stole money from the till and personal possessions. No shots were fired and no one was injured during the incident. The robbers fled the scene on foot, though police believe they escaped in a car parked behind the station. Police said no arrests have yet been made and George Town detectives are now investigating the incident. This is the fourth armed robbery in four days on Grand Cayman and the second on a gas station. The ESSO station at Red Bay was held up by armed masked gunmen on Thursday evening. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

Detective Sergeant Dwayne Jones of George Town CID is appealing for anyone who was in the area of around the relevant time and witnessed the robbery or saw the suspects fleeing the scene to come forward. Anyone with information should call George Town police station on 929-4222 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS).

CNS understands there was also break in at Lorna’s Texaco in Bodden Town around 12:20am on Thursday 3 June. Sources say robbers pried open a side door and cut away the telephone line running into the building.Police are investigating the incident.

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Householders to get rights of defence from intruders

| 07/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(The Guardian): Householders who confront burglars are to be given greater rights to defend their families and homes. The justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, is looking at increasing legal protection for people who use force to fight off intruders. The government is eager to "ensure that people have the protection they need when they defend themselves against intruders", a ministry of justice source told the Observer. Clarke will also examine the idea of increased legal protection for have-a-go heroes and passersby willing to "apprehend criminals". The move follows high-profile cases in which householders were given jail sentences after attacking burglars.

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