China: 对深圳市私募基金协会出台的 《深圳市问题私募投资基金退出操作参考

Last Updated: 24 September 2019
Article by Xiong Ming
Most Read Contributor in China, September 2019

对深圳市私募基金协会出台的 《深圳市问题私募投资基金退出操作参考(试行)》的观察

2019年9月5日,深圳市私募基金协会向各私募基金管理人下发了《关于发布<&#28145;圳市问题私募投资基金退出操作参考(试行)>的通知》,将其"在总结已有案例基础上"制定的《深圳市问题私募投资基金退出操作参考(试行)》(以下简称"《退出参考》")进行发布,供符合《退出参考》范围内的的私募基金管理人参考执行。

与《退出参考》同步发布的,是《<&#28145;圳市问题私募投资基金退出操作参考(试行)>解读》(以下简称"《解读》"),该解读对《退出参考》的出台背景、核心目标、适用范围、以及相关规则和机制进行了解释,帮助读者更好地理解《退出参考》。

由于经济下行,今天有不少基金存续期限届满的投资者无法及时从其所投资的私募基金中退出,甚至不时传来私募基金管理人"失联跑路"的情况,在这样的背景下,深圳市私募基金协会出台《退出参考》,无疑是为化解行业问题的积极举措,是值得赞赏的行为。

我们也注意到,《退出参考》存在许多不明确的地方,更为重要的是,《退出参考》的实施可能会与相关私募基金的基金合同甚至包括合伙企业法在内的相关法律存在冲突,从而造成《退出参考》可能无法参考。

以下是我们的些许观察:

一、适用范围

《退出参考》对其适用范围的规定不明确。 有关《退出参考》的适用范围,《退出参考》提到"为实际经营地在我市辖区的私募基金管理人所设立的私募基金";《解读》提到,《退出参考》的适用范围为"实际经营地在深圳市的私募基金"。

显然,《退出参考》和《解读》对适用范围的说法并不一致。 根据《退出参考》,该规定的适用范围是实际经营地(而不是注册地)在深圳市的私募基金管理人所设立的全部私募基金,无论该等私募基金的注册地或实际经营地是否在深圳,如果有一家实际经营地不在深圳但是注册地在深圳的私募基金管理人(假定存在该等情况),则其名下设立的私募基金无须参考《退出参考》。但是根据《解读》,《退出参考》仅适用于实际经营地在深圳的私募基金,无论该等基金的基金管理人的实际经营地或者注册地是否在深圳,也无论相关私募基金的实际注册地是否在深圳。

与中国证券投资基金业协会获得中国证监会的授权对私募基金行业履行自律监管职能不同,深圳市私募基金协会是在深圳市登记的社团法人,在组织上并不属于中国证券投资基金业协会的下属机构,我们理解,深圳市私募基金协会所制定的文件应仅对其会员具有指导性,对实际经营地在深圳但是并非深圳市私募基金协会会员的私募基金管理人并无指导性,但是,根据《退出参考》,实际经营地在深圳但是并非深圳市私募基金协会会员的私募基金管理人似乎仍然适用《退出参考》。

另外,我们注意到,深圳市私募基金协会的会员包括不少注册地在上海、天津、西藏、珠海横琴的机构,如果该等机构是实际经营地在深圳以外地区的私募基金管理人,似乎该等机构并不因为其为深圳市私募基金协会的会员而必然适用《退出参考》。

二、问题私募基金

《退出参考》的目的就是为了解决问题私募基金的投资者有序退出的问题。那什么是问题私募基金呢?《退出参考》的规定并不明确。

根据《退出参考》,问题私募基金是指依照基金合同约定或依据相关法律法规及行业自律规则,基金管理人与其他参与主体无法化解纠纷,存在涉众风险等问题的私募基金。根据《解读》,问题私募基金则特指私募基金管理人违反合同约定,依据法律法规及行业自律规则不能正常实现产品清算或退出,私募基金管理人与投资者之间无法有效化解纠纷,存在涉众风险的私募基金。

《退出参考》和《解读》在问题私募基金的定义上的差异也是显然的。《退出参考》强调的是"基金管理人与其他参与主体无法化解纠纷,存在涉众风险",但是并不以私募基金管理人是否违反基金合同或任何合同约定为前提,《解读》则特别强调私募基金管理人违反合同约定这个前提。

《退出参考》特别提到,问题私募基金包括以下四种情形:

  1. 私募基金管理人发现私募基金退出存在重大风险,且短期内依照现有条件无法解决;
  2. 投资者与私募基金管理人及其他相关主体就私募基金退出安排无法达成一致意见,存在重大投资损失的;
  3. 私募基金监管部门和行业自律协会在检查工作中发现私募基金存在重大问题的;
  4. 其他影响私募基金退出的重大风险情形。

我们注意到,上述四种情形无比宽泛,并且在内涵上不完全符合《退出参考》或《解读》对问题私募基金所作的定义,例如,第(1)种情形下基金管理人可能并未违反基金合同、也不存在基金管理人与其他参与主体之间存在纠纷的情况,更别说无法化解纠纷;第(2)种情形中,基金管理人可能并不存在违反基金合同的情形;第(3)种情形下基金管理人和其他主体之间可能并不存在无法化解的纠纷。

那究竟是必须要符合相关定义才能构成问题私募基金还是只要存在列举的4种情形就是私募基金?目前尚不清楚。

另外,"问题私募基金"中所提及的一个重要概念——"涉众完全"没有定义,如果一支有限合伙型基金A只有2个有限合伙人,但是规模超过10亿,是否属于存在涉众风险?如果这2个有限合伙人不是个人,而是另外两个有限合伙基金X和Y,X和Y各有50个自然人有限合伙人,但是X和Y完全不适用《退出参考》(即该基金的管理人以及基金的注册地和实际经营地都不在深圳),A是否具有涉众风险?

如果一支管理优良的私募基金,纯粹因为市场的原因,投资者本金遭受损失,是否属于问题私募基金?

三、退出参与机构

"退出"是《退出参考》中一个最为重要的概念,但是何为"退出"?《退出参考》没有定义。一般而言,存在两种情形下的退出,一种是私募基金从底层资产的投资中退出,例如底层资产最终实现IPO,私募基金在二级市场上抛售股票而退出,一种是私募基金的投资者从私募基金中退出,如私募基金存续期限届满后,私募基金管理人将私募基金的全部财产清算分配完毕,私募基金终止。《退出参考》显然是指后一种情形下的退出。

《退出参考》创设了包含清退工作组、投资者大会、投资者监督委员会在内的三大退出参与机构,但是该等退出参与机构的创设缺乏法律依据。

根据《退出参考》,清退工作组是私募基金退出过程中的执行机构,负责退出期间私募基金的日常工作,清退工作组成员由私募基金管理人代表、专业中介机构代表组成,成员人数应不少于5人,其中,私募基金管理人代表不少于3人,专业中介机构代表应不少于2人。投资者大会是私募基金退出中的权力机构,代表全体投资者的利益,对事关全体投资者共同利益的重大事项,通过投资者大会进行表决。投资者监督委员会是私募基金退出过程中的常设监督机构,代表投资者大会监督私募基金退出活动,投资者监督委员会成员经投资者大会选举产生。

根据《退出参考》,清退工作组是私募基金退出过程中的执行机构,负责退出期间私募基金的日常工作,清退工作组成员由私募基金管理人代表、专业中介机构代表组成,成员人数应不少于5人,其中,私募基金管理人代表不少于3人,专业中介机构代表应不少于2人。投资者大会是私募基金退出中的权力机构,代表全体投资者的利益,对事关全体投资者共同利益的重大事项,通过投资者大会进行表决。投资者监督委员会是私募基金退出过程中的常设监督机构,代表投资者大会监督私募基金退出活动,投资者监督委员会成员经投资者大会选举产生。

有关清退工作组、投资者大会、投资者监督委员会的职责在《退出参考》中有详尽规定,这里不再赘述。总体上,就行使的职责而言,清退工作组类似于《中华人民共和国企业破产法》(以下简称"《破产法》")下的管理人,投资者大会和投资者监督委员会则类似于《破产法》下的债权人会议和债权人委员会。

《退出参考》明确规定,在私募基金涉及解散、清算、破产等法定程序的,应当根据公司法、合伙企业法、《破产法》等法律规定执行,据此,我们理解,《退出参考》适用的是私募基金的解散、清算、破产程序以外的情况。但是,一个公司或合伙企业在未发生解散、清算、破产的情况下,公司法、合伙企业法、《破产法》均未规定该等主体需要设立《退出参考》所界定的清退工作组、投资者大会、投资者监督委员会等退出参与机构并行使相应职责,因此,我们认为,该等机构的设置缺乏国家法律层面的依据。

合同约定的层面,在一个典型的私募基金合同例如有限合伙型私募基金合同中,也不存在设立清退工作组、投资者大会、投资者监督委员会这样机构的安排。

有限合伙型基金在遵守合伙企业法等法律法规的前提下,一般会有详细条款约定普通合伙人、基金管理人、有限合伙人(投资者)、合伙人大会(投资者大会)、投资决策委员会、投资咨询委员会等相关主体和机构的权利、义务、以及职责和权限等事项,同时,基金合同也会就组合投资的退出、投资回报分配、亏损和费用的分摊、退伙和转让、以及合伙企业的终止和清算等事宜进行详细约定。基金合同下的任何一方无视合同的约定要求在基金层面设立清退工作组、投资者大会、投资者监督委员会这些机构并赋予其职责,都是对现有基金合同的违反,并无法律效力。因此,在发生所谓"退出"的情况下,除非相关各方共同同意对基金合同进行修改以体现《退出参考》的安排,且该等修改不违反中国法律,否则,《退出参考》事实上并无参考价值。

另外,和《破产法》下的破产程序不同,在企业破产的情况下,有一个严格的申请破产和法院受理并裁定是否进入破产程序的规定,在《退出参考》下,并没有一个类似的进入"退出"的程序性规定,投资者是否有权申请、向谁申请、谁来认定相关私募基金是否应该适用《退出参考》?不清楚。

四、《退出参考》的初衷——涉众风险的处理

根据《解读》,《退出参考》的推出背景,是部分私募基金管理人在基金募集以及资金运用过程中存在违法违规的问题,影响社会经济稳定,同时,部分涉嫌违法的私募基金一旦被公安机关立案侦查,因司法程序固定,自立案查处到法院判决返还资金时间漫长,客观上存在资产大幅贬损、无人管理等现实困境,最终导致投资者利益受损。 因此,我们理解,《退出参考》是想解决因违法导致无人看管的私募基金资产贬值的问题,但是从《退出参考》的制度设计来看,清退工作组的主要人员仍然是私募基金管理人的代表,在私募基金管理人跑路的情况下,即使按照《退出参考》来处理,也无法有效组建清退工作组,因此,《退出参考》并未对私募基金资产出现"无人管理"的困境做出回应,对于其所关注的涉众风险,《退出参考》能在多大程度上解决,有待进一步观察。

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