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Roundtable: What draws hedge funds, family offices to Gibraltar

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Gibraltar is a self-governing, self-financing U.K. Overseas Territory to which all E.U. treaties apply and where European law applies, except for agriculture, fishery and VAT, which is not applied in Gibraltar.

Gibraltar’s main fund vehicle is the Experienced Investor Fund (EIF). The Experienced Investor Fund regulations came into force in 2005 in Gibraltar. The Gibraltar EIF is said to be the fund vehicle with the fastest launch time in the E.U: if the fund has completed the required documentation appropriately and met the requirements, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) would then register the fund within 10 days. The process integrates various risk control factors and in fact places the onus to a certain extent on service providers. Financial services firms establishing themselves in Gibraltar can also passport their services throughout the E.U. through a simple process of notification to the FSC.

Gibraltar is not only sunny over 300 days a year, but also has a very favourable tax regime and a diversified economy with an estimated GDP growth of 10.2% in 2014/2015. In Gibraltar there is no wealth tax, no capital gains tax, no tax on investment income, no value added tax and no inheritance tax. There is only personal income tax and corporation tax. Since 2010, the standard rate of corporate tax has been 10%. The effective personal rate of tax is 25%, but executives working in an industry such as financial services and possess specialist skills, as defined under certain regulations, and fulfil certain conditions, can cap their personal level of taxation at just below ₤30,000, based on earnings in excess of ₤120,000/annum. That is also an attraction for investment managers and professionals to relocate to Gibraltar.

However, Gibraltar is not an island, but connected to and part of mainland Europe which opens up Spain, Portugal and the rest of the world by car. A wide range of service providers operate in Gibraltar. For example, funds can choose from ten locally licensed fund administrators, and many international banks have operations there. That can be a stark contrast to some of the smaller international or European jurisdictions that often need to rely on just one or two banks, typically one local bank and maybe one foreign bank.

Financial services accounts for about 25% of the Gibraltar economy, Over the last few years, insurance business has grown substantially and Gibraltar has become a very significant player in the U.K. motor insurance market with approximately 17% of U.K. motor insurance premiums being written by Gibraltar-based insurance companies. Gibraltar is currently also looking to strategically build out solutions for insurance linked securities (ILS), and the newly authorised Gibraltar Stock Exchange (GSX) has big expansion plans and will also offer fund listings.

Gaming success story built the base for investment and family office expansion

One of Gibraltar’s recent success story is the very large e-commerce or e-gaming industry that now employs over 3,000 people within Gibraltar and is a large contributor to the GDP. Gibraltar was the first jurisdiction to create an adequate regulatory framework for that type of business that didn’t exist anywhere else in the world, which has now even become the benchmark and template for other jurisdictions. By getting that right, and by being the first, Gibraltar was able to attract the biggest global players in that space, with a number of far reaching ripple effects. For example, Gibraltar has built out early a solid IT and internet infrastructure, from which other sectors are now profiting. The territory has also a growing family office sector which is partially also driven by the gaming sector where, as mentioned, a number of individuals and families have had great success.

The Opalesque Gibraltar Roundtable, sponsored by Gibraltar Finance and Eurex, took place September 26th at the local office of Gibraltar Finance with:

  1. Joanne Beiso, Head of Funds Supervision, Gibraltar Financial Services Commission
  2. Nicola Smith, Managing Director, Helvetic Fund Administration
  3. Andrew McGrath, Founder and CIO, Burren Capital Advisors
  4. Andrew Rochford, Founder, Calderon Fund PCC
  5. Joey Garcia, Funds Partner, Isolas law firm
  6. Philip Canessa, Senior Executive, Gibraltar Finance
  7. Renaud Huck, Head of Buy-Side Relations, Deutsche Börse Group
The group also discussed:
  • Platform solutions for AIFM for smaller managers
  • Why “reverse solicitation” is like a unicorn: very pretty in concept but not really existing
  • Why Burren Capital and Calderon Fund decided to set up in Gibraltar
  • Avoiding the Russian Dolls: Why regulators are doing what they do
  • Why Basel III, CRD IV will eventually drive smaller players from OTC to new listed derivatives like Eurex’ swap futures and Euro secured funding (Repo) futures

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