L&G starts direct lending to UK, European mid-market companies

first_imgLegal & General is to provide direct lending to mid-market companies in the UK and Europe, buying a 40% stake in alternatives manager Pemberton Asset Management. In addition to becoming a strategic investor in Pemberton, Legal & General said it had made an initial commitment to invest €250m in direct lending through Pemberton’s lending platform to UK and European corporates. It said it intended to make further significant commitments to the platform in future. The direct lending platform is aimed at institutional investors and focuses on lending to companies with turnover of between €100m and €1bn.  Paul Stanworth, managing director at Legal & General Capital, said: “The UK and Europe have been too dependent on bank financing, and this impacts particularly on businesses wishing to invest and expand.”He said creating a new channel to deploy longer-dated institutional money in the mid-market sector would help drive economic recovery at a time when bank balance sheets were constrained.He said it would also create a further asset class for direct investments by insurance companies and other institutions.Legal & General Group’s chief executive Nigel Wilson said creating an institutional private placement market for growing mid caps – as already existed in the US but not in the UK – would increase the variety of corporate funding and give investors good risk-adjusted returns.last_img read more

Bulgaria set to follow Hungary, Poland in raid of second-pillar pensions

first_imgSofia Hristova, chief executive and chairman at Allianz Bulgaria Pension Company, was critical of the move.“By forcing the Bulgarian citizens to re-choose their private pension provider for the mandatory portion of the social security contribution, which has been accumulating in individual member accounts since the beginning of the century, the government is trying to give a deceitful sugar coating to their ambition to move privately owned money into a publicly used pot to ease up the financial burden on the public PAYG system,” she said.“This time, the effort is under the disguise of ‘personal choice’.”Unlike the 2014 Polish pension changes, the decision, once made, would be irreversible, with members’ entire accounts transferred to the first pillar within six months of the decision.Furthermore, unlike Poland, Bulgaria’s first pillar does not run individualised accounts, so the funds would be swallowed up in the PAYG system.There is no deadline for current members to make this decision, but Miroslav Marinov, executive director at Pension Insurance Company Doverie, part of Vienna Insurance Group, believes many workers may perceive that the future benefits offered by the PAYG system would be better than those from the second pillar.These include those in the large ‘grey’ economy, whose official wages are far lower than what they actually receive, and who thus pay little in social security contributions.He also fears the 500,000-odd workers in state-run companies would come under employer pressure to make the switch.“This is an artificial competition and very frustrating for us,” Marinov said. “The first and second pillar should be working together to provide sustainable pensions.”Current first-pillar contributions are insufficient to maintain PAYG and require annual supplements from the state budget, partly because of the low average retirement age, of 56 years.Yet the memorandum of understanding included a freeze in 2015 on raising the retirement age.Additionally, under an amendment to the law, in 2015 new entrants to the labour force will have a year to decide whether to have a part of their social security contribution invested in a privately run pension scheme or have all their contributions in the PAYG first pillar.The PAYG system is the irreversible default for those who fail to make a choice, while those who choose the second pillar can subsequently make another, irreversible, decision to opt fully into the first pillar.The one-year countdown starts when an individual signs a labour contract, even if it was only a holiday or part-time student job.“We expect new labour members to be indifferent and default to the PAYG system,” Marinov said. “Young people in Bulgaria lack any education in financial planning and are not interested in pensions.”The changes affect both of Bulgaria’s second-pillar schemes, occupational and universal.The occupational (professional) pension funds cover those working in the so-called ‘first’ and ‘second’ labour categories, with members entitled to early retirement.According to the Bulgarian Financial Supervision Commission, these had some 267,000 members and BGN675m (€345m) in investments as of end-September 2014.The universal funds, with 3.4m member and BGN5.8bn in investments, cover the remaining ‘third’ category, for those born after 1959.Recent events intensified the pressure on public finances.In June, the collapse of Corporate Commercial Bank (KTB), the country’s fourth-largest lender, followed by a run on First Investment Bank (FIB), the third-biggest, required some BGN3.3bn in budget support.It was accompanied by the suspension of EU funds in mid-2014 because of alleged mismanagement.As a result, the private pension system has become a tempting target to offset a rising deficit, and not for the first time.Prime minister Boyko Borisov previously targeted the second pillar in 2010.“The government is trying to evade the Constitutional Court Ruling of 2011, when the first nationalisation attempt failed,” Hristova said.“The current move represents a breach of the agreement concluded among the same prime minister, the trade unions and the employers’ organisations in 2010.”The pensions industry is fighting back.The Bulgarian Association of Supplementary Pension Security Companies has issued a declaration, supported by employers’ organisations, and investment and asset management organisations, which has been submitted to Parliament, the media and all relevant stakeholders.“Meetings are scheduled with the key political parties, parliamentarian commissions, ministries and the Financial Supervision Commission, while individual pension fund members are actively defending their private pension accounts in all the social media,” Hristova told IPE. Bulgaria’s government looks set to follow in the footsteps of Hungary and Poland by raiding the mandatory second-pillar pension system to patch up public finances.It recently signed a five-point memorandum of understanding with trade union representatives that allowed members of the currently mandatory second system to decide whether, from 2015, part of their social security contribution should be transferred to the privately run funds.This weekend, president Rosen Plevneliev confirmed on local radio that he had no plans to veto the proposed amendment. The government’s controversial decision has shocked the pensions industry and given the country’s Parliament only a handful of working days to vote the 2015 Budget through.last_img read more

UK pension funds vigilant of Brexit outcomes after initial ups, downs

first_imgBritain’s larger pension funds are keeping a watchful eye for developments in the wake of the public vote for the country to leave the EU, with individual funds registering various gains and losses in the immediate market changes following the referendum.The common fund of Santander’s UK pension scheme gained more than $1bn (€900m) in June alone to reach an all-time asset high of £10.4bn (€12.3bn) and is now up 12.5% so far in 2016.Santander’s director of pensions Antony Barker told IPE: “This is largely attributable to few assets or asset classes experiencing any losses, and benefiting from having increased hedge ratios to around 70% in recent weeks.”He explained that the fund’s equity mandates were active, global and unconstrained, that private markets were largely unaffected in the short term and that the fund was only 50-60% currency hedged. “Our real estate has few voids, has a WAULT (weighted average unexpired lease term) of around seven years and is skewed away from prime offices,” he said.Barker pointed towards some of the unknown elements that lay on the horizon.“Looking ahead, the major factor is uncertainty across various discrete but unknown time periods – before triggering Article 50, from trigger to exit and post exit, as well as a possible second referendum, or more likely a general election, before the trigger,” he said.“There is also the US election looming large.”The CIO of the Environment Agency Pension Fund (EAPF), which had £2.9bn (€4bn) in assets at the end of June 2016, told IPE the Brexit vote was precisely the type of event the local government scheme felt its strategy was designed to withstand – and has. The scheme considered the possibility of a Leave vote as part of its planning in the lead-up to the UK’s EU referendum but did not make any immediate changes as a result of that analysis. According to CIO Mark Mansley, this was largely because it already had a very internationally diversified portfolio, and had ended its currency-hedging programme a few years ago.“We do have a small UK equity allocation, but the vast majority of our equities are global, so we felt that affords us considerable protection in the event of Brexit,” he told IPE. “We felt that the most immediate effect – as we have, indeed, seen – would be felt on the currency, which we expected might fall by 10%.”Somewhat surprising, added Mansley, was the reaction in the government bond market, with Gilt yields falling further than the fund had expected after weighing different factors.“That’s been the major negative for us,” he said. Overall, however, the pension fund feels the strategy it has been pursuing is designed to weather storms such as that triggered by the vote to leave the EU. “In a sense, we feel we’ve tested our investment strategy in probably one of the biggest shocks we could imagine,” said Mansley. “And, broadly speaking we feel it is robust.“It’s about the classic investment principles of being very diversified and being risk aware, which for us generally means being quite risk averse.”At a high level, the fund is therefore applying the motto of ‘keep calm and carry on’, although it is looking at the more UK-focused parts of its portfolio.Brexit could have a big impact on the EAPF, however, by causing it to postpone a second round of de-risking that it had lined up for this year. “We’ll have to see quite how far we will be able to proceed with that,” he said.Meanwhile, the £49bn Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) says the impact of the referendum vote may be significant for its sponsors and its long-term outlook as an investor.“However, it is too early to make judgements,” a spokeswoman said.She said the fund was a long-term investor, globally diversified and backed by a substantial covenant from the higher-education sector.  “We had taken some steps in anticipation of turbulence and expect considerable further uncertainty for a period,” she added.“We will be closely monitoring developments with regard to the UK government’s negotiations with Europe, as the key issues of relevance to our sponsors and investment approach are determined.” In the meantime, USS will continue working with policymakers and regulators in the markets it invests in to make sure asset-owners’ concerns are considered.“Our actions to date have focused on ensuring short-term market turbulence does not materially impact the scheme’s efficient operation,” she said.The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) said it would keep a close eye on events as they unfolded but that there was safety in its investment approach.“The outcome of the referendum will clearly have significant consequences, and we will be following developments carefully,” a spokeswoman for the UK lifeboat scheme said. “However, our long-standing low-risk approach and hedging strategy mean we are able to cope with the volatile markets we expect to see.”At Santander, Barker said that, if history were any guide, the current uncertainty in the wake of the referendum would probably prompt other investors to sell at discounted prices, and that there were suggestions real estate might correct by 15% or more.  “We’ve no need to generate additional liquidity or make sales, so we will be more likely to be net investors,” he said. Because the pension fund’s portfolio is largely driven by global stories and non-European considerations, Barker said he did not foresee any changes being made to the long-term strategy. “The more interesting question is where do you believe the economic powerhouses of the next decade are?” he asked.“My personal belief – and reflected in the pension fund strategy – is that it is Africa, India and China, and probably in that order, and this is where we have been committing most of our time and money,” Barker said.last_img read more

ATP hires Nordea’s Christian Hyldahl as chief executive

first_img“Our priority has been to recruit a new CEO who can head ATP at a time in which not just ATP but all institutional investors will be facing big challenges in the task of creating returns on investments,” Søndergaard said.“Apart from his high level of understanding of the complex parts of the financial markets, [he] has strong leadership skills that will be important for the whole ATP group, including ATP’s large administration business.“In the end, Christian’s personal characteristics were important for us – professional, decent and modest – which suit the role ATP plays in Danish society well.”Hyldahl said ATP played a key role in people’s lives in Denmark, as a pensions and administration company for the whole country.“After many fantastic years at Nordea, I have got a unique opportunity to write a new chapter in my working life, and I am enormously pleased to contribute to ATP,” he said.“I have followed ATP’s development over many years, and I am looking forward to becoming a part of that development.”Hydahl was promoted within Nordea to become head of the asset management division in January 2015, filling the gap left by Allan Polack, who was leaving to become chief executive of the country’s biggest commercial pensions provider PFA.Before that, Hydahl was CIO at the Nordea division for nearly four years. Denmark’s huge statutory pension fund ATP has poached the head of Nordea Asset Management to step into the shoes of chief executive Carsten Stendevad, who is leaving at the end of this year to return to the US for family reasons.The DKK805bn (€108bn) pension fund – the largest in Denmark and the fourth largest in Europe – said that, in Hyldahl, it was getting a chief executive with deep and extensive knowledge of financial markets.Jørgen Søndergaard, chairman of the ATP supervisory board, said: “Christian Hyldahl is a great replacement for Carsten Stendevad, who has done a tremendous job for ATP.”He said Hyldahl was a leader of high integrity and great judgement.last_img read more

UK pensions trade body names chief executive

first_imgMund said: “I want us to champion and focus on the areas that matter most to our members, and help us to provide a strong foundation for people’s retirement income. The PLSA has a dedicated and extremely capable workforce, and I am really looking forward to us driving the organisation forwards.”As well as the chief executive change, Williams is also due to step down from her position in October, with Richard Butcher – managing director of independent trustee firm PTL – taking over as chair.The PLSA said that, in his role as commercial services director, Mund had helped increase the trade body’s commercial income by 29%.During 2016, the PLSA recorded income of £8.2m (€9.2m), according to its annual accounts. Of this, £3.2m came from member subscriptions and £4.1m from its conferences and events. Profit for the year totalled just over £1m, while its reserves totalled £5m at the end of 2016. The UK’s Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) has appointed Julian Mund as its chief executive, succeeding Joanne Segars.Mund has been acting chief executive since June, when Segars left the pensions industry trade body. He will take on the role permanently from 1 August.He joined the PLSA in 2013 as commercial services director. He was previously director of markets and product development at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.Lesley Williams, chair of the PLSA, said: “As an organisation that speaks about the importance of good governance, we considered who would be the most appropriate fit for the role as well as consulting our strong succession plans and Julian’s appointment is a result of those. He has successfully led the PLSA team during a very uncertain time, ensuring stability and the continuity of our work.”last_img read more

UK’s £29bn Railways Pension Scheme appoints trustee chair as CEO

first_imgJohn Chilman is to become chief executive of the £29bn (€33.5bn) pension provider for the UK railways sector. He will be responsible for the Railways Pension Scheme’s (Railpen) in-house investment manager, RPMI Railpen, and its pension administration business.Chilman is currently the scheme’s chair of trustees and has been on the trustee board since 2007.His appointment follows the resignation of Phil Willcock, who will officially leave the scheme at the end of February after quitting less than a year into his role as CEO.  Babloo Ramamurthy, chairman of RPMI, said: “John’s past knowledge and experience of RPMI and his reputation as an innovative leader for many years in the pensions industry will be invaluable to ensure RPMI continues to deliver the trustee’s mission of paying members’ pensions securely affordably and sustainably.” Chilman added: “RPMI is a fantastic business, with knowledgeable and passionate people delivering an incredibly important service for hundreds of clients and hundreds of thousands of pension scheme members.” Chilman will take on his role at RPMI – the parent company for Railpen’s investment and administration businesses – in June. He is currently group head of pensions at National Grid, overseeing the utility provider’s pension arrangements in the UK and the US since May 2017.He became chair of the trustee board of Railpen in 2014, having been a trustee director since 2007. He will step down from this role in March.Chilman’s experience also includes a period as group pensions director at transport company FirstGroup and group head of reward at HBOS, a high street banking group. He is also an independent trustee director for the Nestlé UK Pension Fund.last_img read more

MJ Hudson acquires Dutch ESG consultancy

first_imgMatthew Hudson, chief executive of MJ Hudson, said: “We have entered a new era of asset management, where ESG has become, rightly, a business-critical issue for fund managers and investors.“Prompted by grassroots pressure and the attendant prospect of enhanced regulation, we believe that the next phase calls for more independent and consistent analysis of ESG factors within a framework that can assess the depth to which it has been internalised.”Matthijs Baan, co-founder of Spring, said the company had ambitious plans for expansion.Spring’s clients and 10 professionals plus certain support staff will transition to MJ Hudson Spring, as the new business will be known.For MJ Hudson, the deal comes after it established a legal practice in Milan in January and acquired Amaces, a North American and European data, analytics and benchmarking specialist, in December.Spring Associates is the latest target in a series of transactions in the ESG sector this year that has included the London Stock Exchange group buying Beyond Ratings and Moody’s Investors Services taking a majority stake in Vigeo Eiris. Asset management consultancy MJ Hudson has acquired Spring Associates Responsible Investment Service, a consultancy in the field of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investing.The acquisition is MJ Hudson’s first in the ESG sector.Spring Associates was founded in 2005 in the Netherlands and has worked with private equity fund managers and institutional investors as clients. MJ Hudson said the acquired business would continue to help fund managers integrate ESG into their investment processes, and support their portfolio companies by identifying and monitoring ESG risks and opportunities for value creation. Other services included analysing, monitoring and reporting on ESG risks in institutional investors’ fund portfolios.last_img read more

Pension SuperFund gets HMRC OK after switch on TPR request

first_imgThe Pension SuperFund (PSF) has had to set up a new occupational pension scheme at the request of The Pensions Regulator (TPR), with the consolidator vehicle today announcing the scheme had been officially registered by the UK tax authority.The group’s original plan had been to take over an existing corporate pension scheme – through what is called a “flexible apportionment arrangement” – and to integrate this into the PSF.However, a spokesperson today told IPE that in March TPR requested that PSF establish a new scheme.This was to ensure that HMRC – the UK’s tax, payments and customs authority – “were satisfied that all payments in and out were authorised and so tax exempt (and didn’t constitute refunds of surplus to employers)”. That new scheme was today officially registered by HMRC, which the PSF described as “a major step”. Chris Hitchen, chair of the PSF, said: “With the welcome publication of TPR’s framework for superfunds on the 18th June and now our HMRC registration today, the stars are aligning.”The next step is to secure a satisfactory assessment of our model from TPR and then we can submit our first deals for clearance as laid out in the framework.”Richard Wohanka, chair of The Pension SuperFund’s independent board of trustees, said with HMRC registration “The Pension SuperFund comes into being”.Under TPR’s recently announced interim regime for so-called superfunds, as part of its initial assessment the regulator is asking these emerging commercial defined benefit (DB) consolidators to provide evidence of registration with HMRC and also explain why they consider the pension scheme is eligible for the Pension Protection Fund.Mike Smedley, partner at Isio, formerly KPMG’s UK pensions practice, told IPE he regarded HMRC’s approval as “semi-technical”.“It’s important, but it’s first base, which was never going to be the difficult bit. Probably the more challenging steps are still to come, in terms of getting TPR approval.”With regard to TPR’s request for the Pension SuperFund to set up a standalone scheme rather than build on an existing scheme in the context of a first deal, Smedley suggested it was “cleaner for TPR for it to be a new scheme”.“They’re partly also setting the tone for how they would like transactions to be structured,” he added.A spokesperson for Clara Pensions, the other commercial DB consolidator that is actively marketing itself, said it had been registered with HMRC for some time.Superfunds are controversial in the UK.The Bank of England has flagged the risk of regulatory arbitrage between them and insurers, with governor Andrew Bailey recently reported to have written to the work and pensions secretary to criticise elements of TPR’s interim guidance for superfunds.The interim regime targets a 1-in-100 risk of failure to pay benefits promised to scheme members in full, which is less stringent than the Solvency II regime for insurers – calibrated to a 1-in-200 risk of failure.In a commentary yesterday, Fitch Ratings said that as a result of being allowed to operate with less capital than insurers, superfunds would be able to offer lower prices to corporates looking to offload their DB liabilities.It said superfunds could encroach on life insurers’ bulk purchase annuity market, but also that in the long run they could become a source of business for insurers.“The interim guidance for superfunds includes an important safeguard for scheme members that also points to superfunds being a pathway to a transfer to the insurance sector,” said Fitch.“Superfunds must not extract any surplus from a scheme or its capital buffer until such time as either the pension liabilities are bought out with an insurer or final payments have been made.”last_img read more

​PKA drops 20 coal stocks but keeps talking to those ready to change

first_imgPKA, which runs four labour-market pension funds in Denmark, said it has lowered its tolerance for coal operations within companies it invests in, and blacklisted firms with more than 20% of their business in the fossil fuel market.The Copenhagen-based pension fund manager said the move had led to the divestment of 20 firms on coal grounds, but said it was keeping some firms in its portfolio which did exceed this limit but had nevertheless shown they were willing to adapt to more sustainable energy.Dewi Dylander, head of responsible investment at PKA, said: “There is no room for companies that are not willing to adapt to a reality with less coal and more green energy, and therefore we are now tightening the requirements for the coal sector and excluding a large number of coal companies.”The latest list of exclusions PKA has published include US company NRG Energy, the parent company of the Hong Kong Electric Company, and the Indonesian government-owned electricity company Perusahaan Listrik Negara. PKA also said it had entered into dialogue with 12 additional companies that derived over 20% of their turnover from coal operations, with Dylander saying this was how the pension fund could create the biggest change to the industry.“These are companies where we are making an exception because they have listened to the call that we and a large number of other investors have made to switch away from coal,” said Dylander.PKA said these 12 companies, along with all other coal, oil and gas firms, would be evaluated at the end of 2022 at the latest, to assess whether they had successfully incorporated the goals of the Paris Agreement into their operations.The pension provider said the dialogue would take place through the investor initiative Climate Action 100+, which represented 450 investors and €35.6trn of assets under management, adding that PKA had already blacklisted a total of 89 coal firms to date, as well as 68 oil and gas companies.Last month, PKA said it was divesting from Brilliance China Automotive due to the Chinese carmaker’s “lack of focus on climate,” also revealing it had placed industry giants Suzuki, Hyundai, Fiat Chrysler, Subaru and Mahindra & Mahindra on watch.Looking for IPE’s latest magazine? Read the digital edition here.last_img read more

Brisbane property’s secret entrance hidden in plain sight

first_imgIt’s not the only property with secret entrances on the street, with old world pub Electric Avenue literally hiding a whole new era in the closet — a secret speak-easy jazz bar Jack Rabbit’s Whiskey Bar.Place director James Curtain said the street was the biggest inspiration for the firm. Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:11Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:11 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels720p720pHD432p432p270p270p180p180pAutoA, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenHidden entrance – Brisbane, Place Estate Agents Woolloongabba00:11 Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:20Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:20 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels720p720pHD432p432p270p270p180p180pAutoA, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenHidden entrance – Brisbane, Place Woolloongabba00:21 The street is a mix of antiques, vintage fashion, industrial chic and Brisbane bars and eateries infused with old world charm.“We drew inspiration from the heritage of the area, in particular the nature of the street. We wanted to create a tenancy that was in keeping with how those existing businesses look,” he told The Courier-Mail.“The secret door is our way of introducing an element of fun … it’s like a reversal of prohibition and bootleg alcohol.. so the bar’s in the front and it’s all business behind.” That’s next level thinking, party up front and business in the back.JUSTICE League stashed theirs in space, the Avengers’ hid theirs in New York, but the secret entrance in this Brisbane property is so clever it’s hidden in plain sight. The streets of Brisbane inner-city suburb Woolloongabba team with thousands every summer as cricket comes to town, but it’s also an area much loved for its old world bars, quirky restaurants, antiques and vintage fashion.Inspired by that 1920s prohibition era type charm a Brisbane firm decided to hide their workbase in plain sight – reversing prohibition era thinking putting the party up front and business in the back. More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus16 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market16 hours ago Coal veteran’s luxury homes on marketcenter_img FOLLOW SOPHIE FOSTER ON FACEBOOK Billionaire sets juicy price for QLD unit In a reverse prohibition type move, the property has its bar setting out front.It has a fully stocked bar, floor-to-ceiling bookcases overflowing with specially-sourced vintage books and jazz playing in the background.But hidden behind the row of wall-to-wall bookcases is the secret work base of real estate firm Place Woolloongabba.“Think prohibition, bootleg alcohol and the 1920s … It doesn’t remotely resemble a real estate office,” according to a spokeswoman.“But,” she said, “if you know which book to press, the secret entrance — think Batman — reveals the work office that lies behind”.Pressing the Who’s Who of 1977 literally opens the door hidden in the bookcase. The bookcase opens up to a large expanse full of timber tables, leather clad alcoves, and exposed ductwork in keeping with the industrial working nature of the area’s past.It’s not the first time the business has thought outside the box, the Place spokeswoman said, with the entrance to their Bulimba office a modern and fully-functioning kitchen and dining area, complete with fireplace. “The new Kangaroo Point office also looks like a show home.. boasting a fireplace, kitchen, living and dining area.”last_img read more