The ACCESS pool has also indicated that it intends to rent the regulated operator to manage its assets.Other options for LPP to grow its assets under management towards the £25bn threshold, according to O’Higgins, are to sign up other public sector funded pension schemes or private sector funds.Some private sector schemes have expressed an interest in working with LPP, he said.LPP is keen to emphasise that it is not just an asset pool but a “pensions services organisation” that can offer investment management and other services to third-party pension schemes.O’Higgins noted that LPP was further advanced than the other LGPS collaborations, as the pooling of assets will start at the end of this month.“We’re up and running,” he said, adding that the partnership was focused on “moving forward” rather than worried about meeting the £25bn target.LPP obtained approval from the Financial Conduct Authority for its investment management company in April, a process said to have taken around two years. Some private sector pension schemes have expressed an interest in potentially working with the Local Pensions Partnership (LPP), the company that will run the pooled assets of the London Pensions Fund Authority, Lancashire County Pension Fund and Berkshire Pension Fund.The partnership does not yet meet the £25bn (€28bn) target the UK government set for the asset pools it has instructed UK local government pension schemes (LGPS) to form, but Michael O’Higgins, chair of the LPP, told IPE he was confident about the partnership’s future, and that there were several options for it to grow its asset base.With Berkshire, the LPP asset pool would stand at around £13bn.O’Higgins said the partnership was likely to bid to run investment management for the Welsh LGPS pool that has decided to outsource this function.
If Kobe Bryant’s body clock is correct in calculating how this all works — and based on his lifetime of experiences, why wouldn’t he be the most trusted expert? — the media cycle stuck to the ESPN-generated story that landed Monday morning and attempts to emasculate the Lakers star’s current value to the franchise should hit its expiration date right about …Wait for it … Pfffff.So, where to start with this 4,100-plus-word piece, teetering precariously on unnamed sources and recycled material, that somehow has bestowed a cycle of media notoriety to writer Henry Abbott as he took to as many ESPN platforms as possible to explain how, why and what his line of reasoning might be in the noise he’s created leading up to the NBA regular-season openers.About that ESPN story where Bryant came out ranked only the 40th-best player in the league? That’s so last week. It’s been temporarily supplanted by this one, titled simply “Kobe” and included in the league’s multimedia season preview by ESPN, one of the league’s invested TV stakeholders.And it’s already accomplished several well-calculated things, not the least of which is exhuming a dramatic story arch surrounding a major-market iconic brand that will occasionally make appearances on the same network over the next six months. The goal is maintaining enough national viewer interest despite predictions the team may not be around when the playoffs take place.How the storied franchise got itself in this current predicament has been well chronicled by the local media covering this soap opera on a daily basis. And why not? L.A. media outlets find nearly anything related to the status of Bryant and the Lakers appeals across all measurable Hollywoodland demographics. It’s a cycle that can operate on a minute-to-minute basis at its most fascinating moments.Nationally, when put up there among the other ongoing sagas, the Lakers-Kobe adventure must smell a bit stale. For what it’s worth, the ESPN NBA preview cover of its magazine focuses on the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose — then there’s the misleading headline tease to the Bryant story inside that says he “won’t leave.”Sports Illustrated, with a preview cover on the new/old Cleveland Cavaliers trio of LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, also has a refer to a story inside about how all 30 teams stack up in an “entertainment value ranking.” For the record, the list puts the Lakers way down at No. 16 and says, “Kobe Bryant remains as watchable as it gets … the same can’t be said for his supporting cast.” At least it didn’t try to create something out of nothing. Or, should we more strongly imply, nothing we hadn’t stomached before.Still, the hits that Abbott may have taken on local L.A. sports-talk shows for his poorly executed thesis (one that SportsGrid.com called in a headline a “Hit Piece On Kobe Bryant”) were more spectacularly superseded by the thousands of Internet hits and comments posted, bolstered by Facebook likes, Twitter alerts and array of talking heads hashing it out among themselves on local and national ESPN radio and TV programs.(We won’t even get into the incendiary comments Skip Bayless made related to how Bryant benefited from his 2003 rape trial, which have many calling for his suspension from the already rotting “First Take” weekday morning program).So to that end, ESPN’s mission was accomplished. Predicting the media cycle needed a boost prior to its NBA launch, this was the time to strap some retro-rockets to a payload satellite that has orbited the L.A. universe for the past two decades and has somehow stayed on the radar.But as a piece of journalism possibly shedding new light on an assumption few would even dispute, this came off like an old piece of chewing gum. Been there, spit it out already.Consider the (lack of) sourceThe bushel of unnamed sources Abbott uses to support this one-note theme that no one wants to play with Bryant is spectacularly vapid – agents, especially, notorious for providing self-serving background about something or someone to justify their clients’ status. Sober up. This is what they’re paid to do.Examples cited in situations that involved former teammates Ramon Sessions or Dwight Howard, or potential Lakers such as Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James, contain notable inaccuracies and draws assumptions based on partial information.Quoting another “front office executive from a rival team who knows everyone involved” is simply unacceptable. There’s something kind of appropriate in that also hearing those talk about the standards upheld during the career of the late, great Washington Post editor and journalistic Rushmore figure Ben Bradlee, we still find stories like these that can be added to the heap of substandard reporting in trying to justify the end to a meanness.That may have sparked Lakers president Jeanie Buss to make the rounds on ESPN programming Thursday morning and insert her own so-called first take: “I read the story, I don’t agree with any of it.”It’s even more curious that, given ESPN started all this and stands to benefit most, the most pointed conversation this week came from ESPN national radio host Colin Cowherd bringing on KSPN-710 host and Lakers radio play-by-play man John Ireland onto Wednesday morning’s show.Ireland, who has interviewed Bryant hundreds of times going back to his KCAL-Channel 9 sideline days, agreed with Cowherd that many people have been calling out Bryant’s self-centered motives for years, at almost every point in his career.“I think what Henry did here is went out and tried to sell a narrative that the reason the Lakers are bad is that nobody wants to play with Kobe, and that’s factually untrue,” Ireland said.“I’m not even disputing the facts in Henry’s piece. What I’m disputing is that he didn’t tell the full story. The piece lacks context. And it lacks thoroughness. … You used the phrase (that the story was) ‘well sourced.’ Couldn’t I argue the opposite, that it’s incredibly unsourced? …“Some may not want to play with Kobe, but that’s not the whole story. It’s a small piece of the pie, and guys like you and Henry are selling it like it’s the whole thing. And you know better.”Abbott has admitted in various ESPN chat shows that the interviews done for this piece were more than a year ago, when the Howard arrival and departure was at the forefront. Abbott said he followed up recently and all the sources stood by their opinions.Except, of course, they continued to not reveal themselves.Bryant weighs inAs Bryant nears the final chapter of his career — he’s been a professional basketball player now exactly half his 36 years on the planet — those who cover the team see him as far more accessible, thoughtful in his assessments and perhaps more aware he can help shape his media-filtered legacy.He may speak his mind about front-office moves, and perhaps those same people cringe at it. But it’s the same front office that gave him the exorbitant contract extension, nothing he extorted from his own agent representation — again, media spin that’s often glossed over in trying to rewrite history. It’s a team that figured out it needs Bryant to help justify its multi-year, multi-billion dollar deal with Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet, as TWC also recently signed on to become a team title advertising sponsor.Bryant certainly seems to understand the process, as by his response to the ESPN story when the local media members, many of whom have issues with facts and references cited in the piece, finally asked Bryant to comment on it (since, as Abbott notes, Bryant declined to participate through a Lakers spokesman).“It’s not the first one and it won’t be the last one,” Bryant said Tuesday. “One thing I’ve come to understand over the years is that you’ll have a bad story that comes out on a Monday and it seems like it’s the end of the world and it seems like everybody’s taking shots at you. But time goes by and then you look back on it and it was just a Monday.“Then you have another great story that comes out maybe a month later, or something like that, and it’s a fantastic story. And then there’s a bad story that comes out one month after that. So you understand that it’s a cycle, and things are never as good or as bad as they seem in the moment in time.”There’s your story, in a media nutshell.If ESPN watchers are now apt to tune in to see if Bryant’s shot selection causes new teammate Jeremy Lin to sneer at him, or Steve Nash to move one chair away from him on the bench during a timeout, then perhaps the Abbott narrative may resurface.Until the rinse-and-repeat cycle happens. It’s just the nature of the fleeced. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error