REFILE-EU hedge fund rules could boost Swiss appeal

Thu Nov 11, 2010 4:13pm GMT

(Corrects literal in headline)

* New rules don't shut out Swiss-based managers * Removal of uncertainty could trigger delayed exodus By Martin de Sa'Pinto

ZURICH, Nov 11 (Reuters) -New European Union rules on hedge funds and private equity will not shut out Swiss-based companies as previously feared and could lead to more hedge funds moving to tax-friendly Switzerland, industry insiders said.

The regulation, which the European Parliament passed on Thursday, could kick start Swiss efforts to lure financial professionals away from Britain, currently home to 75 percent of European hedge fund assets, with the promise of lower taxes. [ID:nLDE6AA15E]

"This will certainly have an impact on the larger fund managers with big risk and portfolio management departments," said Marcel Jouault, who represents the financial industry in Pfaeffikon, a town near Zurich.

Earlier this year, industry professionals and consultants said uncertainty over the pending regulation was a major factor causing London's wealthy hedge fund managers to stay put despite stiff tax increases for top British earners. [ID:nLDE64R0KT]

The new ruling removes that uncertainty and allows EU-established funds to delegate portfolio and risk management to Swiss-based managers under the supervision of FINMA, the regulator, said the Swiss Funds Association in a statement.

The EU regulation package had already been agreed in October with EU states, which have joint say with parliament on the rules. [ID:nLDE6AA15E]

Swiss asset managers will have to comply with regulations comparable to those for other EU managers. Switzerland also has to conclude double taxation treaties which meet international standards, the SFA said.

"Swiss asset managers may at a later date acquire authorization in respect of marketing in one or more EU member states, or even an EU Passport," the body added.

A European Union passport allows funds which qualify for a license to be sold in one EU country to operate across the 27-nation bloc.

"The passport was an issue, but with clearer guidelines, we'll see a lot more happening now. More large funds will move over and more firms are establishing branches in Switzerland now the uncertainty has passed," said Jouault.

Pfaeffikon, near Zurich, is in the low-tax Schwyz canton which is planning to further reduce taxes in 2011 in its drive to attract funds.

Jouault said many European managers had been gearing up for a possible move to his region of Switzerland even before the new rules were agreed.

"Since August it's like somebody turned on a switch. There have been a lot of real enquiries, real people coming to take a look, checking out apartments ... We have registered 50 new financial companies in Pfaeffikon this year," he said. (Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

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