Sector · Markets

Best of the week: Buying a Rome hotel with a Raif

This week on Investment Officer Luxembourg again demonstrated that the Grand Duchy can be a source of financial stories of a surprising nature. Bill Gates’ new hotel is being financed with an alternative investment fund registered in Luxembourg.

The Luxembourg fund is called Marini International Holding (Luxembourg) Scs and is part of a triangulation involving firms from Rome, Puerto Rico and Luxembourg that paid 165 million euro for the Palazzo Marini, a 16th century building in the center of Rome. The building will be converted into a luxury Four Seasons hotel, a chain owned by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

This week’s most popular story on Investment Officer Luxembourg shows that ESG and sustainability requirements continue to cause headaches in the industry. One month after the EU ordered the investment sector to ask clients for their sustainability preferences, investment firms appear to show limited enthusiasm for complying with the new requirements as complexity around the EU's ESG rules persists and greenwashing fears linger. 

More alternatives

Investment Officer Luxembourg this week welcome Universal Investment as a knowledge partner. In a first contribution, Sofia Harrschar, country head Luxembourg, wrote that investors are finding stability in alternative investments. “As long as the assets continue to deliver an attractive return, there is no doubt that the diversity this multicoloured asset class brings to a portfolio will continue to make it attractive,” Harrschar said.

Addressing financial markets, both Amundi and M&G Investments presented their outlooks. In a media call that took place just as US inflation data was reported as higher than expected, the firms echoed enthusiasm for government bonds.

Vincent Mortier, Group CIO at Amundi, Europe's biggest fund manager, believes that the theory of the 60/40 portfolio is not dead. "It was just put into the freezer. Now it can make a comeback again,” said Mortier, telling investors it is time to get back into bonds. "Bond is back, and not just on the screen."

Inflation risk receding?

At M&G Investments, a UK-based global investment manager whose European activities are directed from Luxembourg, chief investment officers Jim Leaviss, Fabiana Fedeli and William Nicoll also believe that - particularly in the US - the inflation risk is receding, although uncertainty over the economic slowdown and the Ukraine war remains a market factor.

As a final thought at the end of this week, the position of women in the European fund management industry continues to consistently fall short of ambitions. This year’s Citywire Alpha Female Report shows that a mere 5.5 percent of all actively managed funds - or one out of 18 - are led by women. “Progress towards gender parity in portfolio management looks to have come to a grinding halt.”

Next Tuesday and Wednesday, the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry hosts its Global Distribution Conference. We will be present and listen to what the experts say. To get into the mood, listen to this earlier interview with Xavier Parain, the head of FundRock in Luxembourg, talk about Luxembourg’s potential as a global distribution hub. 

Enjoy your weekend!

Raymond Frenken is editorial manager of Investment Officer Luxembourg.