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The 2017 Blues'n Jazz Festival in Luxembourg takes place this Saturday, with the official opening on Friday evening at the Hotel Le Royal when the Blues Club Lëtzebuerg will be celebrating its 20th anniversary.

The festival on Saturday will see no less than 44 concerts from 11 outdoor stages, as well as inside a number of cafés, located in Luxembourg-Grund, clausen, Pfaffenthal and the Bock Casemates.

Most open-air stages will see their first concerts starting at 19:00 or 20:00, with concerts going on until 02:00 (00:00 or 01:00 in some cases).

Meanwhile, most indoor venues see their concerts start at 23:00 until 04:00, with some starting as early as 20:00.

For full details, see

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From Saturday 29 July until Monday 7 august 2017, the A1 motorway stretch between the Potaschberg interchange and the Wasserbillig viaduct will affect traffic, according to the Administration des ponts et chaussées

The road surface will be replace between the morning of Saturday 29 July 2017 from 06:00 until Monday 7 August 2017 at 22:00, during which time traffic will be affected and diversions will be in operation, as follows:

From Saturday evening 29 July 2017 at 06:00 until Monday 7 August 2017 at 22:00, the A1 motorway will be affected between the Potaschberg interchange and the Wasserbillig viaduct in the direction of Trier, as well as the access ramp of the Potaschberg interchange from the N1 and towards Trier on the A1 motorway, and also all the access and exit ramps of the Mertert interchange between the N1D and the A1 motorway.

The following deviations are to be implemented:
• traffic from the Croix de Gasperich to Mertert is diverted from the Potaschberg interchange via the N1 to Mertert;
• Traffic from Trier to Mertert is diverted from the Wasserbillig interchange via CR141B, N10 (Wasserbillig) and N1 to Mertert.

Since the preparatory work necessary to close the motorway is carried out a few hours beforehand, traffic disruptions are expected in the early morning hours starting at 06:00.

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The Luxembourg Private Equity Association (LPEA) has announced that it will bring its roadshow to Paris in September and to London in October, and will also participatre in a financial Seminar in New York that same month.

20 September, Paris: A delegation from the Luxembourg private equity and venture capital community will visit Paris in September to share an update on the latest developments of its private equity platform. With increased regulation affecting the industry's activity, investors and service providers will discuss the features of the Luxembourg toolbox and share insights on operational aspects faced by asset managers

26 October, London: A presentation to private equity and venture capital managers willing to learn more about the Luxembourg toolbox with a focus on practical aspects and supported by testimonials of managers and other experts dealing with the two jurisdictions

In addition, the LPEA will participate, along with ALFI and Luxembourg for Finance (LFF) in a Financial Seminar in New York on 17 October: A Luxembourg seminar featuring the whole range of Luxembourg investment funds from UCITS to Alternatives. Meet and exchange with a Luxembourg delegation headed by the Luxembourg Minister of Finance, Pierre Gramegna.

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One last time, Luxembourg's Laurent Carnol has entered the great international stage of swimming, at the World Championships being held this week in Hungary.

At the World Championships in Budapest, the Ettelbrück resident swam the 200 metres breaststroke. In addition to the local champion and Olympic champion of 2012, Daniel Gyurta, the British Ross Murdoch (European champion 2016) and vice-world champion Kevin Cordes from the USA, Laurent once again struggled with the top stars of the scene. With a time of 2:14.87, he celebrated a successful conclusion of his illustrious career.

"I enjoyed the race to the full, it was great fun to swim again against Daniel and Ross in front of this backdrop. I knew that the training kilometers would be missing, on the second hundred it was quite painful," he said. "Now a big pressure falls from my shoulders and a new ‌section in my life begins with new challenges."

Looking back over his career, the 27-year-old won his 200 metres breaststroke semi-final at the European Championship in 2010 and finished his best international position in the final in 2:11.50 minutes.

Throughout his career, Laurent Carnol participated in five long-distance world championships and three Olympic Games and reached an Olympic semi-final in London 2012, the first swimmer in the history of the Luxembourg Swimming Federation to do so. In 2:11.17 he finished 15th, and this year he was named Luxembourg's Sportsman of the Year.

Sprinter Julie Meynen had her first outing at the world championship to start the 5th day of the competition. The 19-year-old swam over 100 metres freestyle in 55.99 and ranked 29th among 78 competitors. At the 50-metre mark, she turned 0.08 seconds below her national record split. On the second length, she could no longer keep up the pressure, as she had been struggling with a painful middle ear inflammation for two days. "In these circumstances, I am satisfied with the times."

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NN Investment Partners (NN IP) has received the top score for its Strategy & Governance approach to responsible investing and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) integration.

The A+ score was awarded by the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), marking NN IP’s progress from an A score in 2016. NN IP has been a signatory of the United Nations-supported PRI since 2008, and has been active in responsible investing since 1999.

Adrie Heinsbroek, Head of the Responsible Investment Team at NN Investment Partners, stated “We are proud to have been rewarded an A+ score for the Strategy & Governance module of responsible investing and ESG integration. This score underlines the strategic importance of responsible investing and ESG integration within NN IP, and the level of attention we devote to it. It is also a clear signal to our clients that we achieve our goals regarding our investment processes and that responsible investing is guaranteed at NN IP.”

NN IP received an A score for the Direct and Active Ownership modules, which is equal to its score in 2016. As a result, NN IP ranks among the top 50% of all asset managers that have signed the PRI in this category as well. In the sub-category Equity Investments, NN IP receives an A+ score for the robustness of its screening methods and the process of ESG integration into its analysis of listed equity investments.

Adrie Heinsbroek continued “We obviously want to keep moving forward, for example by using company-specific ESG factors alongside general policy-based ESG factors. For our analysis, this means that, in addition to the risk reduction of environmental policy programs, we also take into account the contribution to the profitability of products and services with environmental benefits. We obviously strive for the highest score in all asset classes and we want to offer our clients full access to our capabilities and expertise.”

PRI is the world’s largest international network with more than 1,500 investors working together to promote responsible investing. The network is supported by the United Nations and was established in 2005. It uses six core principles, most importantly the integration of ESG factors into the investment process.

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Next week, a Luxembourg athlete will attempt to swim the English Channel, the first Luxembourg to do so.

Paule Kremer is an English Teacher in Luxembourg; whilst studying in Brighton she competed in cross-country running and is now well-known in the running scene and the triathlon scene here in the Grand Duchy. Paule also raises funds for the Ploschter Project, an awareness campaign about Leukemia.

She has been training and acclimatising for the past few months, travelling to Dover on a bi-weekly basis. She competed in the Channel relay swim last year, within a team of six. She has also been swimming in the Stau (Esch-sur-Sure) as part of her training regime.

Her completion window opens on Saturday and ends next week. It looks like Tuesday or Wednesday will be best most likely opportunities for her to do the swim which is expected to take about 12-16 hours (or longer.... ) talked with Paule and asked her how she was preparing for the challenge. Paule stated "I am very much looking forward to it as all my training can now finally be put into action, but there are still a lot things that can go wrong on the day that I can't influence - weather, currents, not being able to hold down my feed... I've been training for an entire year with a lot of quality pool training over the winter and from April onwards I've acclimatised to the cold water and have since also upped my time in the water."

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From 6 June to 6 July, ALEBA undertook a survey via its website, of delegates and employees of the insurance sector on the new collective agreement (Convention Collective de Travail - CCT), regarding which negotiations will start at the end of the year.

ALEBA thanked those who responded, including providing constructive ideas to be incorporated into the new collective agreement.

Among the points most often mentioned is the maintenance and increase of the economic premium, commonly called the June premium. The second issue related to a substantial linear increase in wages and an annual bonus given the excellent results posted by companies in the sector. This is despite an increase in the payroll due to the hiring of highly qualified people in recent years to address the legal obligation of the supervisory authorities (Solvency II, the fight against money laundering, etc.).

The third issue refers to the social aspect and work / life balance, including leave, access to part-time work arrangements and protection against stress and bullying in order to compensate for a daily increase of workload. Increased sick leave days ("family leave") has also been requested on a number of occasions.

Given that a bill with the same objective is under discussion, ALEBA has stated that it will not introduce this request in the list of demands, but will ensure that the bill meets the expectations of the employees.

The results of the survey also showed a strong demand for a reduction in working time for older employees approaching the end of a career and before retirement; ALEBA will reflect on this proposal and how to put it in place.

A more flexible approach to work schedules was deemed to be more important than the demand for telework arrangements. These two elements will be further explored by ALEBA, and concrete and constructive proposals will also be suggested, taking into account that increased flexibility of working hours and teleworking can obviously contribute to the welfare of employees, but are also evolutions in societal inequality in the context of work/life balance. However, certain constraints (tax, for example in the case of teleworking) must be taken into account.

Some respondents introduced a new and really interesting idea: to have the opportunity to buy back days that would be deducted from the 13th month, for example.

To conclude, the results of this survey show that: employees want to maintain at least their current knowledge; the new collective agreement must adapt to new working methods and must limit employer abuses on several aspects: overtime, over-recruitment of trainees or students.

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25 years ago, the first Fairtrade coffee roasted in Luxembourg was introduced to the market; since then, thanks to the commitment of many players, fair trade has continued to grow in Luxembourg and consumers can now find a multitude of Fairtrade-certified products.

On Thursday, Fairtrade Luxembourg presented a series of statistics as to the take-up of the Fairtrade initiative in the Grand Duchy, and information related to Fairtrade here.

In 2016, sales of Fairtrade products increased by around 40% in Luxembourg. A turnover of €15 million was generated on the Luxembourg market by the partners of the NGO Fairtrade Lëtzebuerg.

On average, each resident of Luxembourg spent €26 on Fairtrade products.

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On Thursday, the mayor of Differdange, Roberto Traversini, the developer Ikogest and the APEMH Foundation (Association of Parents of Mentally Handicapped Children) participated in the symbolic sod-turning ceremony to launch the start of the Séquoia residence in Differdange on the plateau du Funiculaire.

In the heart of the Arboria district in Differdange, the new Séquoia residence is more than a classic residence; it is a social and family unit which will provide three functions: an inclusive "Topolino" nursery for up to 80 children, some with special needs, student housing and for young people. It is to be commissioned in 2019.

This new socio-familial construction project will fulfill three distinct functions. On the ground floor and half of the first floor, the Topolino Education and Welcome Service, operated by the APEMH, will host (as early as the beginning of 2019) up to 80 children from 0 to 4 years, some of whom have a disability. On the upper floors, the residence will have 22 student studios and 15 youth studios (some of which will be accessible to people with reduced mobility), as well as lounges as community spaces. The project forms a coherent and complementary block, where flows of traffic between children and young people are independent.

A response to new societal challenges

Demographic growth continues at Differdange, and the consequent expansion of the educational offer in the surrounding area (LUNEX University, the University of Luxembourg in Belval, Miami University, the Differdange International School - Esch-sur-Alzette) create new societal needs to which the municipality is responding by offering a complete service to residents.

The positive collaboration between the municipal authorities, the competent administrations, the operator of the crèche and the developer Ikogest have enabled the latter to design a turnkey solution. Ikogest will deliver a fully equipped building, furnished studios and even a landscaped garden, clearing the town of an important logistics management issue.

Situated in the centre of the new Arboria district, on the former plateau du Funiculaire, the Séquoia residence has been designed with the help of the Fabeck Architectes office. It has a gross floor area of 2,720 m2 and will be the first certified AAA-rated residential building in the area.

Quality of life

The socio-familial ensemble promises an excellent quality of life to each of its young occupants. It will also contribute to the good balance of the Arboria district, as the diversity of functions, populations and generations is fundamental to the smooth functioning and good living of a city.

Other recent real estate developments in Differdange testify to the anticipation of the municipality, which is preparing for the challenges of the future. These projects include the opening of the Opkorn shopping center on Thursday 26 October 2017 and the construction of the first tower of the city, Aurea, which will start in the first quarter of 2018. Like the entire Arboria district, these two projects are being undertaken by the developer Ikogest.

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The Julius Baer Group, a Swiss private banking group, has announced that it will be cetralising its European operations to Luxembourg.

Boris Collardi, CEO of Julius Baer, made the announcement on Tuesday, the day after the group published its half-year report for 2017. He explained that the decision was a strategic one, and that its European hub will move from Frankfurt to Luxembourg, with Frankfurt and London still important centres for them.

The Julius Baer Group has locations in more than 20 countries; Switzerland and Asia are the group’s two home markets, with the head office being located in Zurich. Julius Baer’s origins date back to 1890; it advises private clients and family offices around the world.

Julius Baer is one of twelve Swiss banks using Luxembourg as a hub to export their services across the EU.

Falk Fischer, Chairman of the Board of Managing Directors at Bank Julius Baer Luxembourg, explained to Luxembourg for Finance the reasons for choosing Luxembourg. He stated "Swiss banks do not have access to the single market of the EU, so to advise clients we needed an EU banking passport. A second reason was to set up our European platform because of the state-of-the-art IT technology in Luxembourg."

The bank was also impressed by the modern legal and regulatory framework and high culture of investor protection. “Luxembourg is important to Julius Baer because of its financial stability, the access to the decision makers both in politics and with the financial regulator, because of its product know-how and because of the very stable legal and regulatory framework” Falk Fischer added.

In 2016, Julius Baer strengthened its presence in Luxembourg with the acquisition of Commerzbank International S.A. Luxembourg, a fully-licensed private bank.

In Luxembourg, Julius Baer currently employs more than 200 people from 20 different countries, in the former Commerzbank building, located in the Luxembourg-Kirchberg.

Pierre Gramegna, Luxembourg's Finance Minister, has congratulated the group for choosing Luxembourg as its European hub for wealth management.

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