Renowned venture capitalist Jon Moulton has given a ringing endorsement to Guernsey's investment funds industry.
The Chairman of private equity firm Better Capital, Mr Moulton was speaking at the Guernsey Funds Forum in London attended by nearly 400 delegates. He told the audience that Guernsey's funds industry was on the right track and it would continue to prosper if this course was maintained.
Mr Moulton, who has a house in the Island and whose Guernsey-domiciled investment company is listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange, said: "The thing that Guernsey has is a very good reputation; it works very well. It has got excellent regulation and is sensibly run. You can actually talk to the regulator in marked contrast to some other jurisdictions. It has reasonable costs, the fiscal structure is sensible and the relationship with Europe, while difficult, is currently in a good place. Guernsey needs to carry on doing what it's doing into the future and it will prosper."
The Guernsey Funds Forum was held on Wednesday 11 May at the Grange St Paul's Hotel in London. There were 480 delegates registered for the event and nearly 400 attended on the day. The Forum was hosted by ITV news anchor, Alastair Stewart, OBE, who acted as moderator for the three panel sessions.
Peter Niven, Chief Executive of Guernsey Finance – the promotional agency for the Island's finance industry internationally, was delighted with the number and quality of attendees, as well as the content of the sessions.
Mr Niven said: "It is important for us to reach those key players who are able to influence the decision on where a fund is domiciled and on that basis we scored very highly in terms of who we attracted to this event. There was strong representation from the major London law firms working in the funds sector as well as a good number of UK managers. What they wanted to know was how we are tackling the AIFM Directive and what do we think the future is looking like in terms of investor appetite and new and different alternative asset classes. In that respect we ticked all the boxes."
The first session examined the current developments surrounding the EU's Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM) Directive. It featured Jarrod Cowley-Grimmond from the Commerce and Employment Department of the States of Guernsey, Carl Rosumek of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission (GFSC), Anne Holm Rannaleet from IK Investment Partners and who was also speaking on behalf of the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (EVCA), Benoit Le Bret of international law firm Gide Loyrette Nouel who is also a consultant to the EVCA and Guy Rainbird, from the Association of Investment Companies (AIC).
Mr Niven explained that each of the panellists had been very much involved in the discussion and negotiations on the framework for the AIFM Directive and its development into an offering which was much more palatable to the Guernsey funds sector.
He said: "What came through from the session and what impressed the delegates was our level of engagement with the EU. Industry, government and regulator have been on the front foot working together to ensure Guernsey's interests are understood and taken into account within the Directive, not just for the broad terms which were agreed at the end of last year but also the finer details that are still under discussion."
Session two looked at the current trends and issues in relation to raising capital and in particular asking where fund managers are raising their money and where they plan for it to be invested. Speakers were Tomas Olsson from Prosperity Capital Management, Andy Rothery of Deloitte, Joe Winkley from Oriel Securities and Darko Hajdukovic of the London Stock Exchange.
The final discussion of the afternoon focused on alternative asset classes and what might be the best performer in the future. Panellists were Mr Moulton, Stephen Foster of Credit Suisse Asset Management, Jon Macintosh of Saltus, Matthew Arkinstall from Greenpark Capital and Charles Murphy from Matrix.
Michael McKenna, Partner at Berwin Leighton Paisner in London, said: "I have found it very professional and very well organised. It has been very useful and interesting to get the inside track on the AIFM. I have been thoroughly impressed. You go to a lot of these things and they are just a sales pitch for various firms; this is doing it in a much more professional manner and the delegates will take something away from it."
Patricia White, Managing Director at Legis Fund Services in Guernsey, added: "It has provided an excellent opportunity for Guernsey to demonstrate its intellectual capital and skills as a jurisdiction of choice for funds."
As well as the conference, there was also an exhibition of Guernsey service providers, including the Island's leading fund administrators, custodians, legal practices and accountancy firms and the formal programme was followed by a drinks networking reception.
The Guernsey Funds Forum took place on Wednesday 11th May 2011 at the Grange St. Pauls Hotel, 10 Godliman Street, London, EC4V 5AJ. The event was supported by the EVCA, the AIC, Legal Week and www.funddomiciles.com.
The net asset value of funds under management and administration in Guernsey reach a record high of £257 billion at the end of December 2010 – up £14.3 billion (5.9%) during the final quarter of last year and £73.2 billion (39.7%) year on year.
For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit www.guernseyfinance.com.
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