Archive for January 18th, 2010

Blues get grant of over half million euros

| 18/01/2010 | 8 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Blue Iguana Recovery Programme(CNS): The Blue Iguana Recovery Programme (BIRP) has been given a $646,000 (€550,000) by the European Union to help with the goal ofreturning a viable population of the critically endangered species to the wild. According to government information services, the grant from the EU was brokered through the Cabinet Office and made to the National Trust’s blue iguana project as part of a regional EU programme to help countries sustainably manage their protected areas. EU Representative Marlene Lamonth, who toured the blue iguana captive breeding site during the EU delegation’s visit earlier this month, met with BIRP Director, Fred Burton, to discuss key aspects of the project.

“The grant focuses on developing sustainable and low-impact tourism products that can be combined with education,” she said. “During our visit we aimed to meet with those who will execute the project to talk about how they will achieve agreed project goals. We especially focused on what should be done in the first year of implementation."

The iguana relocation project took off last year after the previous administration committed to protecting almost 200 acres of Crown land in Grand Cayman’s eastern interior, via a 99-year peppercorn lease to the National Trust.

“Securing the grant is the culmination of much hard work, and we are excited to start work on the project,” said the Cabinet Office’s Christina Rowlandson.

Currently located in the Botanic Park, the entire iguana breeding programme will eventually be relocated to the leased area. And according to Burton, plans also include building an interactive visitor centre and trail system.

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Young investors measure their competing returns

| 18/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS):  With several months still to go before the game is up so far the St. Ignatius Shantastic Krew are leading the investment pack in the Saxon Investment Club groups competition. More than 75 year 10-12 students from Cayman Prep and High School, John Gray High School and St. Ignatius High School started hypothetical portfolios, capitalizing on the opportunity to get hands-on experience investing as they simulate the excitement of the New York Stock Exchange.  To date Shantastic Krew are ahead with a 4.2% return on investment (ROI), followed closely by St. Ignatius Generations with a 3.6% ROI.  

Saxon described the contest as a platform for young people to experience the realities of the investment world and the students have endured more than two months of gruelling competition as they choose, analyze and hypothetically trade stocks in accordance with real-time stock market information. With portfolio performance being reported on each month, the groups battle it out for the $3,000 grand prize up for grabs, as well as monthly prizes.  

Each group began the fiscal year with $100,000 in their hypothetical portfolio and chose companies based collectively on their interests or research. For the month of December, five groups showed a profit – St. Ignatius Shantastic Krew and St. Ignatius Generations as previously announced, as well as St Ignatius Five Star with a 2.6% ROI, Cayman Prep Group 4 with a 2.2% ROI and Cayman Prep Group 3 with a 0.01% ROI. 

 “The students are now really starting to find their footing in the investment world, learning just how unpredictable and volatile the markets can be – but gaining an understanding of strategies used to ensure the best performance,” said CEO of Saxon Brian Williams. “I am very proud of all of our students – it is a learning curve and they are enthusiastically taking each day at a time, gaining a sound understanding of the investment world.” 

Across the board, group portfolio performance varied between 4.2% ROI and -3.5% ROI. Though not necessarily a significant loss, Cayman Prep Group 2’s disappointing -3.5% ROI can be attributed mainly to the poor performance of Proshares Ultra Gold which took a hit of -$2,989.  

Williams said the groups that made profits had more diversified portfolios which had more stability and performed better. He commented that the groups that had negative returns tended to only invest in two or three stocks. “One of the lessons that the students are learning is that having a wider range of stocks can typically have an overall stabilizing effect as it can counterbalance the poor performance of a single stock,” he added.  

This strategy certainly proved true for St. Ignatius Generations, with the most diverse portfolio boasting over 13 stock investments.  Even though three of their stocks suffered losses, the other 10 ultimately performed to counteract the effect, resulting in an impressive 3.6% ROI.  “The whole point of this club is to provide students exposure to the realities and fast pace of the investment world. Learning from experience is a crucial part of this process – and the groups that made losses are committed to meeting to reassess their strategies to ensure they are better prepared for next month,” Williams explained. 

As well as engaging in real-life trading experiences, students are also being trained to follow the stock markets, using several industry and website blogs. The group discussions lend themselves to garnering a well-rounded understanding of the performance of their investments.   

Williams said the even though some groups might have experienced an overall loss the majority had at least one company they invested in that made a profit. “We are only two months into the programme, and I can already confidently say that each and every student is wiser today than they were yesterday when it comes to the tricks of the trade in the world of investing. The next few months are bound to bring a whirlwind of lessons – and at this point in the game, it is still too early to decipher which group is going to walk away $3,000 richer!”he noted.  

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Marine photographers donate image library

| 18/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Award-winning photographers, William and Donna Goodwin are hoping to inspire Cayman’s young people about their own marine environment. The husband and wife team have donated five DVDs to the Education Ministry containing more than 800 images and video clips of marine life and underwater scenery taken just off the coast of Cayman Brac. The couple said with the pressures of climate change and man’s impact on the environment, the marine world was changing rapidly and they want to enthuse young Caymanians to understand what they have beneath the waves before it is all lost.

“Most kids may never have an opportunity to dive and experience Cayman’s marine beauty for themselves,” Donna Goodwin explained. “With all of the environmental changes, we wanted to capture some of that beauty before it’s gone, but we also hope to inspire the kids to take charge and become advocates for their environment.”

The images have been loaded onto the Education Department’s interactive Studywiz web portal, where both teachers and students can access them for lessons and projects. They have been dubbed the Cayman Islands Underwater Image Bank for Students and are under copyright for use as educational tools only.  The images and videos will also help supplement resources in the Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s ocean science programme. They can also be used in the biology component of GCSE science; GCSE leisure and tourism studies; and any other areas deemed relevant by teachers.

The idea for the donation was born following a chance meeting between the Goodwins and the Education Minister during the grand opening of the Alexander Hotel in Cayman Brac last year.  

 “I think that this is a good indication of what can happen when private citizens, who are simply doing what they love, use their talents to assist our school system,” Rolston Anglin said. “For them to have stepped up and done this, completely free of cost, is highly commendable and we really just want to thank them.  They have demonstrated that it’s possible to assist our education system without spending a lot of money, and that all of us can have a profound impact on our children’s education by simply sharing our own work and interests with them. I encourage others to partner with the education system in similar fashion.”

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Rapid growth predicted for fund sector

| 18/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Experts are predicting a surge in the fortune of hedge funds over the coming years. Despite the global economic crisis, Joel Press Managing Director of Morgan Stanley’s Prime Brokerage Division has predicted hundreds of smaller hedge fund start-ups in 2010. With inflows still coming into the market Press suggested that the industry will be worth US$3 trillion four years from now, compared to the current estimated value of US$1.8 trillion. "There is no need for hedge fund fees to go down," Press said at an offshore conference in New York recently sponsored by local offshore law firm Walkers.

"If you look at long-term investing, hedge funds are absolutely performing better than any other investment vehicle. Investors are looking to replace equities with hedge fund allocations and hedge funds are increasingly being used as an equity substitute," Press added.

The Morgan Stanley expert was one of a line up of industry pundits that came together with some 300 others from the financial industry for the seminar to discuss the fund industry’s future. Predictions included greater market discipline from investors and an increased focus on due diligence by providers and custodians. Greater allocations to hedge funds were anticipated at the expense of equities, while the latest regulatory waves and the next likely bubbles in the market were also debated.

"In today’s environment, there can no longer simply be a checklist to confirm a process. Potential investors must look at what motivates and drives the relevant provider," said Ingrid Pierce, Partner with Walkers and head of the firm’s Cayman Islands Hedge Fund practice. "Custody diligence is very much at the forefront of people’s minds. Key questions include whether counterparties have the ability to move or re-hypothecate assets and whether contracts will hold up in an insolvency."

Investigative diligence, which looks in a very detailed way at precisely what various providers do, not just what they say they do, has also become a key focus as investors and other players ramp up their policies in this area, according to Pierce.

"It is important for both funds and investors to work out well in advance exactly what their exit strategy will be and how the provisions in the fund’s documents will actually work," Pierce said. "The heightened levels of diligence we have seen throughout the investment process are not going to diminish anytime soon. All participants, including legal counsel have to increase our awareness of the issues and address key areas of risk with our clients."

Highlighting some positive trends in hedge funds, AIMA’s Todd Groome pointed to new allocations going to a variety of strategies. For example, managers in Asia are seeing 75% of net new allocations coming from the United States, primarily from pension funds. He also noted the launch of new hedge funds represents a clear increase in confidence.

“Market discipline from investors is back with a vengeance,” said Groome. “Investors are asking for greater transparency. They want to use the transparency to create a more idiosyncratic contract for their particular situation and a particular strategy.”

On the regulatory front, in this current challenging policy environment, Groome said things will take time and require considerable coordination among financial leaders, policy makers, and investors.

The seminar also featured an in-depth examination of the role of fiduciaries, notably issues of responsibilities and accountability, from Guy Locke, Partner and Joint Head of the Corporate and Financial Restructuring Group at Walkers and Scott Lennon, Senior Vice President at Walkers Fund Services.

"It is a brand new world for hedge fund directors. Questionnaires are more extensive and elaborate and people want to know that manuals have been fully tested," Lennon said. "With changing standards of care and liability caps for auditors and other service providers, managers are in a tough negotiating environment. It is important to understand the whole picture of risk and where it will fall if things go wrong."

Hedge fund financing was addressed by Philip Paschalides, a Walkers Partner and head of the firm’s Finance and Corporate Group in the Cayman Islands. Paschalides said that the banking team in Walkers’ Cayman office had its busiest year ever for hedge fund financing, suggesting that leverage may not be a thing of the past.

"Lenders are generally quite savvy about the hedge fund world," Paschalides said. "They keep databases, look at redemptions and gates and will lower borrowing bases to account for liquidity and concentration issues."

Gregory Zuckerman from The Wall Street Journal said we are in an age of bubbles, citing housing, energy, Asian currencies and technology stocks as examples of bubbles the market has experienced over the past decade.

"The next bubble may be emerging markets, Brazil, China, or pockets of real estate in Asia or Australia," Zuckerman said. "Everyone is worried about the next investor. There is an incentive to increasingly pile on trades and now it is much easier to express trades using ETFs, synthetic CDS and other types of derivatives. Managers today are fully invested and talking about adding leverage, but they don’t really believe in the long term nature of these investments. It might work out in the short term but long term you wonder if they can all get out."

The New York event was the latest in the ‘Walkers Fundamentals’ series designed to bring discussions of key financial issues to the world’s investment capitals. Video highlights of the seminar will be posted to Walkers’ website at

"We were delighted to hear attendees use words such as ‘enlightening’ and ‘relevant’ to describe the event," said Mark Lewis, Senior Investment Funds Partner with Walkers, who opened the seminar. “Walkers believes the best way to ensure best practices in the financial community is through open discussion and education by all the participants.”



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Search over for missing five boaters

| 18/01/2010 | 6 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Caymna local news, Five lost at sea, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service(CNS): After hundreds of hours searching land and sea, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Marine Unit has called off the search for the five people lost at sea eight days after it began. Police confirmed on Monday morning, 18 January, that the operation had been called off and the families had been made aware of the decision, which was taken following a thorough evaluation of the searches undertaken to date, areas covered, currents analysis, and the weather conditions, both at the time of the incident and in the following days. (The 26ft canoe which was found days after the five were reported missing on Sunday, 10 January)

The families of Raynell Wood, Astor Range, Joshua Gilman, Jeamie Avila and Michelle Wood  told the RCIPS that they are comfortable with the decision and fully understand the reasons for doing so.

Chief Inspector Courtney Myles, the officer co-ordinating the search for the group, said it had already been a difficult week for the families as the unit moved from what was originally a search and rescue operation into a search and recovery mission as hopes faded of finding any of the group alive.

“Hundreds of hours have been spent conducting air, land and sea searches for Raynel, Astor, Joshua, Jeamie and Michelle, in the hope of bring some kind of closure to the families. We will, of course, continue to provide support to the families and keep them fully updated with any developments," Myles added.

Inspector Brad Ebanks of the RCIPS Marine Unit said the community response to the tragedy had been phenomenal. “Every single day we’ve been inundated with calls from people and private companies, volunteering to help either by coming out their own boats, searching on wave runners, providing aircraft, conducting land searches or by working alongside our divers,” he said. “On behalf of RCIPS and the families I would like to extend out heartfelt thanks for that effort and commitment.”

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Kids compete to make movies

| 18/01/2010 | 0 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Cayman National Cultural Foundation(CNS): The Cayman National Cultural Foundation (CNCF) and the Cayman Islands Film Commission (CIFM) have come together to encourage young Caymanians to try their hand at making movies with a filmmaking competition. The “Young Image Makers Short Film Competition” is part of this year’s Cayfest arts festival and kids from 10 to 15 years old can enter the preliminary round of the competition by submitting a 2-5 minute video by 20 January. Videos can be shot with any kind of camera even a video phone and the winning film will earn is maker a scholarship to a one-week New York Film Academy Summer Camp.

From the preliminary submissions received, a select group will be chosen to go on to the final round and have the benefit of a one-day filmmaking workshop. The workshop will introduce the fundamentals of filmmaking, which the competitors will use in making their final project. Finalist in the “Young Image Makers Short Film Competition” will have their final projects screened at the Harquail Theatre during Cayfest in April.

 The winning film will also be aired on Cayman 27’s “Kidz Stuff” programme. Among those on the judging panel is Cayman’s very own Hollywood filmmaker Frank E. Flowers. CNCF is actively promoting the competition to schools and the CNCF said educators are very enthusiastic about getting their students involved. The school with the most entries will be recognized with a special award. Entries must be submitted on DVD or Memory Stick to CNCF at the Harquail Cultural Centre or to the Film Commission at the Cayman Corporate Centre on Hospital Road along with a registration form. Registration forms are available from both offices and from their websites:, click on Hot Topics and at

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Tesco is too dangerous says top cop

| 18/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(Times online): A senior police officer has declared that popping into the supermarket for his lunchtime sandwich maybe too dangerous for him and that someone else will have to do his shopping. Peter Vaughan the newly appointed Chief Constable of South Wales who has been in the job for just two weeks and is not  yet a household name, even in his own patch has astonished colleagues with his claims hecan’t go to Tesco. It is unclear how many people would recognise him if they bumped into him in the aisles. And, if they did, is it likely they would attack him, possibly pelting him with breakfast rolls, as happened to Camilla Parker Bowles in Sainsbury’s before her marriage to the Prince of Wales?

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TV firm warns of outages during upgrades

| 18/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As a result of upgrades to its main antenna Weststar TV said that there will be intermittent outages during the day on Wednesday 20 January while the work is being done and the antenna, is being switched out. Around half of the channels will be effected, the TV provider stated as, it said, the antenna is only one of the two used for broadcasting signal to the island. The work has to be done during daylight hours so evening viewing should not be impacted.

West star said that the replacement of the main antenna on the tower, located at Television Centre in George Town, would improve signal to the entire island. “We strive to provide our customers with the best service possible and this new antenna will help us fulfill that goal,” added Director of Operations, Traci Bradley.

 “The work needs to be done during the day so that the engineers have proper light, but we do want to minimize any inconvenience to customers at the same time,” Bradley said.  “We have scheduled the work to be completed between 8 and 5 so that we don’t interrupt Daybreak, News27 at 6 or any evening programming when most of our customers are watching TV.”

WestStar said it was sorry for any inconvenience the outages might cause, but assured its customers that the work would be worth it as the end result would be better service. 


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New York Times ready to charge online readers

| 18/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(New York Magazine): New York Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. appears close to announcing that the paper will begin charging for access to its website, according to people familiar with internal deliberations. After a year of sometimes fraught debate inside the paper, the choice for some time has been between a Wall Street Journal-type pay wall and the metered system adopted by the Financial Times, in which readers can sample a certain number of free articles before being asked to subscribe. The Times seems to have settled on the metered system. One personal friend of Sulzberger said a final decision could come within days.

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Police charge man with rape

| 18/01/2010 | 34 Comments

(CNS): A 39-year-old man is due to appear before the court today, Monday 18 January, charged with a number of offences related to an alleged sexual assault on a 31 year old man. Leonard Antonio Ebanks of West Bay has been charged with rape, threatening violence and disorderly conduct. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said that on 9 January officers received a report from the 31-year-old man that he had been attacked and subjected to a sexual assault in JosephDrive, West Bay.

Police said that enquiries conducted by local CID officers resulted in the arrest of Ebanks, who has now been formally charged with the rape of the male victim and will now make his first appearance in Summary Court later today. Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or call Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS).

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