The recent riots have highlighted a need for business owners to ensure they have no gap between insurance covers. We have been inundated with calls from business owners in the riot-hit areas, who have let their cover lapse and are now wanting cover. This presents a problem as we are unable to backdate cover.It has also highlighted a need to renew your business insurance as early as possible as it is now becoming difficult to place insurance within the riot-hit areas. The Association Of British Insurers offers the following advice, which NAMB Insurance echoes:”We have every sympathy for residents and business owners who have suffered damage to their properties. This is a time of enormous stress for them, and their insurers will be on hand to answer any questions that they may have. Home insurance should cover people for fire, looting or damage caused. Many policies will also cover people for accommodation costs if they cannot stay in their home.”Most commercial insurance policies will cover businesses for damage to their premises, including the interruption to their business as a result. Some policies will also cover those businesses which are not damaged, but whose trade is affected by the aftermath. It is important for people to contact their insurer to check what they are covered for and arrange for immediate help. It is too early for us to have an accurate picture of total costs, especially business interruption costs, but insurers are working hard to deal with claims coming in, which will give a sense of the level and cost of damage.”Stuart Knowles, affinity manager, National Association of Master Bakers Insurance
Source: Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. Aug 28, 2009 The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF) has announced that $484,300 in grant funds have been awarded to develop homegrown biofuels through its Vermont Biofuels Initiative (VBI). The purpose of the VBI is to foster the development of a viable biomass-to-biofuels industry in Vermont that uses local resources to supply a portion of the state’s liquid fuel energy needs in an effort to help the state meet 25% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2025. The VBI is funded by a Congressionally Directed Award from the Office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy through the U.S. Department of Energy, various private foundation sources, and the Vermont General Fund.The VSJF awarded $224,300 in strategically-directed funds, as well as an additional $260,000 from five competitive grant rounds designed to accelerate the development of Vermont’s biofuels production. Funds from the VBI are helping to support over $1million worth of on-going biofuels projects throughout the state.In total, Senator Leahy has secured $2.9 million over the course of three federal appropriations bills for biofuels research, development and demonstration projects in Vermont. The Senator announced the level of funding he has secured for the VSJF while touring the North Hardwick Dairy, a recent grantee, on Friday. Senator Leahy stated that “Vermont Sustainable Job Fund’s new Biofuels Initiative is forging a partnership with farmers across our state that will help identify the best matches among potential new energy sources, the resources on our farms, and the needs of our communities. This is the kind of practical help with the ways and means of production and of marketing that can open the doors to new markets and to greater value for farmers. This initiative fits squarely at the intersection of fuel security, economic development, agricultural diversification and self-reliance. It’s a good step here in Vermont, and it could also benefit other rural communities across the country.”The VSJF is providing farmers, entrepreneurs, and educators with opportunities to build markets for sustainable development through the Vermont Biofuels Initiative. “VSJF grants are supporting diversified, value-added operations, education and workforce training. The projects we fund will help Vermont’s dairy and other farms control fuel and feed costs by producing biodiesel and protein meal, and also create new sources of farm revenue and markets for local livestock feed, vegetable oil, and bio-based energy,” said Biofuels Director Netaka White.According to VSJF Executive Director Ellen Kahler, “the projects we are funding are representative of a unique agricultural model emerging in Vermont and the region. Unlike the large mid-west operations, the “New England model” of biofuel production is focused on rotational cropping of grains, grasses, cover crops and oilseeds for local consumption. VSJF is very grateful for the interest and support Senator Leahy has shown for community-scale biofuel production for local use.”The VSJF is also working with UVM Extension and the Biomass Energy Resource Center on a staff directed Grass Energy Research project and with the Vermont Center for Geographic Information to develop a Renewable EnergyAtlas for Vermont. Even greater levels of US DOE funding will be made available in 2010 through competitive grant rounds and staff directed projects, all aimed at developing a vibrant biofuels market, creating new economic opportunities for farmers and creating new green jobs in Vermont.The VSJF is a nonprofit organization formed by the State Legislature in 1995 to provide early stage grant funding and technical assistance to catalyze and accelerate the development of markets for sustainably produced goods and services. The VSJF currently focuses on biofuels development, sustainable forest products industry development, and the expansion of local food systems in Vermont.For more information on the Vermont Biofuels Initiative and available funding, visit www.vsjf.org(link is external).15 Biofuels Grant Awards Totaling $484,300 Announced Today Include:• Biofuels Feedstock Analysis for Oilseed Crop Research and Development,Dr. Heather Darby, University of Vermont & State Agriculture College / UVM Extension, Burlington, $67,000.• Biofuels Feedstock Analysis for Grass Energy Research and Development,Dr. Sid Bosworth, University of Vermont & State Agriculture College / UVM Extension, Burlington, $58,500.• On-Farm Oilseed Processing and Biodiesel Production, John Williamson,State Line Biofuels, Shaftsbury, $30,000. • Small-Scale Biodiesel Production Research Facility, Roger Rainville,Borderview Farm, Alburgh, $40,000. • Biomass-to-Biofuels Industry Network Development, Andrew Perchlik,Renewable Energy Vermont, Montpelier, $28,800.• Oilseed Crop Research and Development, Andrew Knafel, Clearbrook Farm,Shaftsbury, $20,000.• Oilseed Crop Research and Development, Jon Satz, Lilyquest Farm /Otter Creek Biofuels, Brandon, $20,000.• Oilseed Crop Research and Development, Larry Scott, Ekolott Farm,Newbury, $17,000.• Oilseed Crop Research and Development, Nicholas Meyer, North HardwickDairy, Hardwick, $13,000. • On-Farm Biodiesel Facility, William & Mark Mordasky, Rainbow ValleyBiodiesel, Brandon $65,000.• Biomass-to-Biofuels Course Development, University of Vermont andState Agricultural College, Burlington, $20,000.• Biomass-to-Biofuels Course Development, Vermont Technical College,Randolph, $20,000.• Algepower, Algae Production Techniques, Gail Busch, Montpelier,$20,000.• Carbon Harvest Energy, LLC, Algae Feedstock Research and Development,Williston, $20,000.• Bourne’s Energy, Biofuel Blending Project, Morrisville, $45,000.
In his report, Sir William Castell, chairman at the Wellcome Trust, said: “Danny Truell [the trust’s CIO] and his investment team continue to evolve our portfolio to ensure we have greater control of our destiny and that our long-term returns are driven more by the evolution of businesses than by short-term market fluctuations.”For example, over the past year, the trust – which does not invest in companies deriving a material turnover or profit from tobacco-related products –neither sold shares nor added any new holdings to its directly managed Mega Cap Basket of 31 holdings in large companies, valued at £3.4bn.Set up in late 2008, the basket has returned 55% on cost, the best performer being its £255m block of Marks & Spencer shares, which has returned 134%.A significant post-balance sheet development was the Twitter IPO, which resulted in a profit of $100m, from a stake of more than 1% in the company.A further $100m profit came from the sale of Wellcome’s stake in drug company Amplimmune to AstraZeneca.The report said market timing was an important tool for the fund.“Having significantly increased our exposure to public and private equity holdings in the period between 2008 and 2011, when many investors had become risk-averse, we have reaped the rewards in the last two years as they have again embraced risk assets,” it said.Equities in total account for 74.5% of the trust’s portfolio.The report added that, over the past decade, the trust had consistently managed to secure better returns than equity markets – 10% per annum versus 9% for global equities – while recording much lower levels of volatility.However, the largest contribution to equity performance came from the outperformance of strategies against their benchmarks.The report said: “The £612m internally managed Optionality Basket – which consists of companies whose operating performance and valuation appear to offer considerable upside potential given the underlying strength of their franchises – led the way, returning 47% and beating markets by 29%.”Turning to fixed income, the trust said: “Not owning bonds or commodities, which generally delivered negative or lacklustre returns, removed a potential drag on performance. Both nominal and real bond yields remain, in our opinion, too low as a consequence of financial repression, and we are unlikely to change our stance on bonds.”But it said investment opportunities might be more interesting in commodities.The real estate portfolio – 10.2% of assets – is made up 90% of residential property, which recorded another strong year.As for the immediate future, Wellcome expects asset returns to be weaker over the next five years – say in the high single digits – than they have been over the last five or 10 years.“Companies will continue to struggle to grow revenues, given the negative impact on the productivity of both labour and capital from continuing zero interest rate policies, which divert capital away from productive investment,” said the report, which also said equities now appear fairly valued.The report concluded: “Our response has been to concentrate our portfolio further to seek excess returns, which are driven by the success of individual assets, business models and partnerships over the long term rather than merely by market price movements.”More than 80% of the portfolio value is now concentrated in just under 100 directly held public or private assets or in external partnerships, each with a value exceeding $100m. The Wellcome Trust, the UK’s biggest charity, made a total return of 18% on its investment assets for the year to 30 September, thanks partly to counter-cyclical action in previous years, according to its annual report.Returns were £2.6bn (€3.1bn) on a portfolio worth £14.5bn at the start of the year, with investment assets now worth £16.4bn.The trust – whose main activity is funding medical research – said it had enjoyed positive returns from each major element of its portfolio – public equities, private equities, venture capital, hedge funds and property – over one, three, five and 10 years.All those asset classes recorded gains of between 15% and 20% over the past year.