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Ireland’s central bank issues consultation on post-AIFMD non-UCITs funds regime

Wednesday, 14 November 2012
Ireland’s central bank issues consultation on post-AIFMD non-UCITs funds regimeThe Central Bank of Ireland has released a public consultation proposing enhancements to its non-UCITS regime in preparation for the implementation of the European Union’s (EU’S) Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD). The implementation of AIFMD will give rise to substantial changes to the non-UCITS funds industry. It is proposed that the current Qualifying Investor Fund (QIF) regime in Ireland will be replaced with a new Qualifying Investor Alternative Investment Fund (QIAIF) regime. For retail investors in non-UCITS products, a separate Retail Investor Alternative Investment Fund (RIAIF) regime will be created.http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

The Central Bank of Ireland has released a public consultation proposing enhancements to its non-UCITS regime in preparation for the implementation of the European Union’s (EU’S) Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD). The implementation of AIFMD will give rise to substantial changes to the non-UCITS funds industry. It is proposed that the current Qualifying Investor Fund (QIF) regime in Ireland will be replaced with a new Qualifying Investor Alternative Investment Fund (QIAIF) regime. For retail investors in non-UCITS products, a separate Retail Investor Alternative Investment Fund (RIAIF) regime will be created.

Some fundamental changes set out by the Central Bank of Ireland at the end of October in its consultation paper on the implementation of Europe’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD)is designed to help strengthen Ireland’s attractiveness to international managers. Fearghal Woods, chairman of the Irish Funds Industry Association (IFIA) explains, “the authorities in Ireland are making significant progress towards implementing a range of legislative and other measures to enable the broadest possible range of regulated structures for alternative investment managers of all types to coincide with the introduction of the AIFMD directive and that will help maintain Ireland's position as a leading funds jurisdiction".

Interested market participants have six weeks to let the central bank know their comments on the proposed changes. Usually open consultations of this kind are allotted 12 weeks, but given that the AIFMD rules come into force in July 2013, time is of the essence and the central bank has opted for a shorter consultation process. “The central bank is sending out a strong signal that it is aware of change in the non-UCITS world and this consultation not only reflects the changes that are happening but seeks to anticipate future changes,” explains Kieran Fox, head of business development at IFIA.

Core to proposed changes to the country’s non-UCITS investment regime is the consolidation of the country’s regulatory book into a new single handbook covering all regulation for AIFMs. This consolidation will see the removal of countless minor regulatory requirements which have come into place over the years. “It is a game changer,” concedes Fox, “and it is clear that we have moved from a complex regulatory structure, that involves non-UCITS notice documents, and a dozen or so guidance notes and policy documents as well as an array of other ad hoc regulations towards it being brought into one handbook with appropriate chapters covering key market segments.”

According to the central bank, these changes will result in a more efficient and streamlined regulatory environment for all types of alternative investment funds in the country. “The timing of this consultation process will allow managers to establish AIFMD compliant funds in time for the implementation of the EU directive in July of next year,” explains Eoin Fitzgerald, managing director, Morgan Stanley Fund Services, and a member of IFIA Council, which leads industry engagement.

The central bank is proposing the redesign of its AIF regime to optimise its reliance on European regulatory requirements, or at least those set out in the AIFMD; the creation of a higher risk AIF option to UCITS for retail investors; the elimination of regulations on QIAIFs that are not substantially adding to the protection of investors as well as the application of the AIFMD depositary regime to all authorised AIFs, including those with AIFM below certain thresholds.

Changes to share class rules, the issuance of partly paid units and the removal of existing property fund rules will make it more attractive and easier to establish both private equity and property funds in Ireland. IFIA chief executive Pat Lardner explains that with 40% of the world’s hedge funds serviced in the country, “Ireland is the leading global centre for the domiciling and servicing of alternative investments.”

For more on this story, read the November edition of FTSE Global Markets, or visit the website: www.ftseglobalmarkets.com from Friday onwards.

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