Albanian communist-era landmark reinvented as youth center

first_imgTIRANA, Albania (AP) — A pharaonic landmark in central Tirana built as a posthumous museum for Albania’s communist-era strongman, Enver Hoxha, is being transformed into a youth training and art center. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama attended Thursday’s symbolic start of work to radically transform the largely abandoned, 17,000-square-meter (180,000-square-foot) structure. It was designed by Hoxha’s daughter and her husband, both architects. Long viewed with mixed feelings by Albanians due to its link with the hated communist regime, the building narrowly escaped destruction a few years ago under a former center-right government. Other proposals had included turning it into a national library, a theater or even the country’s parliament.last_img read more

Major German statutory health insurer to set up Pensionsfonds

first_imgTechniker Krankenkasse (TK), Germany’s largest statutory health insurer, plans to set up its own external pension fund to be able to take advantage of greater investment freedom.It wants the pension fund to be ready by the beginning of 2020 at the latest, and is currently seeking external consultancy help with the project.TK has around 13,000 employees and 2,200 pensioners, and around 900 former employees with vested benefits. It currently pays pension benefits directly from its balance sheet when they fall due – the ‘Direktzusage’ route to financing pensions – but wants to transfer legacy liabilities from closed schemes to a standalone Pensionsfonds vehicle. It has already ringfenced assets to back up its pension promises via a contractual trust arrangement, ready to be transferred to the new fund. Thomas Thierhoff, Techniker KrankenkasseThomas Thierhoff, head of finance and controlling at TK, told IPE that the main motivation for wanting to transfer pension entitlements to a Pensionsfonds was to be able to invest more broadly.“As an insurer, TK’s investments are subject to rules that are very restrictive,” said Thierhoff. For example, under German law the company can only invest in equities up to a cap of 10%.“With the investment rules for Pensionsfonds we have more possibilities,” he said. Pensionsfonds are allowed to hold more equity and invest in a broader range of countries.Thierhoff said it was much too early to comment about asset allocation, but TK had run calculations based on a few scenarios that showed that higher returns would be possible.In deciding to set up a Pensionsfonds, TK was also partly influenced by the prospect of being able to pay lower contributions to the Pensionssicherungsverein (PSV), Germany’s insolvency pension protection scheme. Operating a Pensionsfonds entitles paying employers to a reduced contribution rate.TK could have opted for an external Pensionsfonds, such as the vehicles set up by consultancies Mercer and Willis Towers Watson, but for several reasons decided to set up its own funding platform.Thierhoff said it found there would be cost advantages in doing so, and the company would also have more influence on investments. TK also wanted to continue to handle pension administration itself.center_img Thierhoff declined to give a figure for the amount of pension liabilities that would be allocated to the Pensionsfonds as this had not yet been determined.TK will not be transferring all its pension liabilities. ‘Past service’ liabilities accrued under a contribution-oriented defined benefit pension plan (beitragsorientierte Leistungszusage) will not be outsourced. Thierhoff said TK had only relatively recently agreed a new pension plan – in 2011 – and as such it was not currently entertaining any ideas about the industry-wide collective defined contribution plans that have been made possible under Germany’s occupational pension reform law. The Betriebsrentenstärkungsgesetz came into effect last month. With around 10m insured individuals and 800,000 company clients, TK is the largest statutory health insurance provider in Germany.last_img read more

Suarez saga resolved, says Rodgers

first_imgLiverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he is satisfied with how the situation with Luis Suarez has been resolved.The Uruguay international returned to training with the first-team on Friday having been exiled for more than a week after criticising the Reds boss, who said his attitude and performances had not been up to standard.Suarez claimed the club had reneged on a deal agreed last summer to allow him to leave if a Champions League club came in for him, with Arsenal having had two bids for him rejected.“I am satisfied with how everything has been resolved and we as a club are looking to the future,” said Rodgers, who refused to confirm whether the player had apologised as he said he would have to in order to be reintegrated.“There is nothing to be said there. I won’t be saying anything on Luis Suarez and that is only purely out of respect for the (other) players.”Suarez is still suspended for a further six matches for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in April, but he was at Anfield to see his side win 1-0 against Stoke. His pre-match walk around the pitch’s perimeter brought muted applause and not the rapturous welcome he had received when he played in Steven Gerrard’s testimonial a fortnight ago at Anfield.“He is a part of our team and club and the supporters are a class act here,” said Rodgers.Rodgers had earlier described Suarez as “back…smiling and happy” in his pre-match interview with BT Sport.Suarez went public with his grievances last week after a second bid of £40,000,001 by Arsenal, which they thought should have triggered his departure, was rejected by the Merseysiders.Liverpool have always maintained there was no release clause as such, only a requirement to notify the player and begin negotiations should they wish. Suarez seemed much happier before Saturday’s game however, carrying daughter Delfina around the edge of the pitch to a ripple of applause from the smattering of fans assembled inside the ground an hour before kick-off.He even stopped to shake hands with former referee Mark Halsey at pitchside before disappearing down the tunnel, emerging less than 10 minutes later to make the walk back to the executive boxes in the Centenary Stand on the opposite side of the ground.last_img read more