Last Stand For Brits Against Hedge Fund Rules

Mar 8 2010 | 1:12pm ET

The British government is set to begin a last-ditch effort to water down the controversial hedge fund and private equity rules being considered by the European Union, even as hopes dim in London about its chances for success.

Britain’s representative on the European Commission’s Committee of Permanent Representatives, Kim Darroch, will seek to lobby her counterparts on Wednesday, The Independent reports. After the committee votes, it will be sent to the Economic and Financial Affairs Council and then on to the European Parliament as a whole. It is expected to easily succeed in both votes.

And so stopping the most potentially damaging parts of the Alternative Investment Fund Managers directive falls to a group of Eastern European countries that have not yet declared for either side.

The British have the backing of the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, and likely Estonia. The pro-AIFM bloc includes France, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy and likely Spain. Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania remain undecided.

The outlines of a potential compromise are becoming clearer, according to the Independent. Exemptions for smaller fund managers, backed by the British, are likely to succeed, and the strict custody requirements will probably be made more flexible. But the real knock-down, drag-out fight will be over the fate of foreign alternative investment firms.

The pro-regulation group are insisting that hedge funds from outside the EU be held to standards as strict as those within the bloc, or be excluded. The British have blasted the provision as protectionist.

The proposed rules would impose strict custody and reporting requirements on European hedge funds, as well as possible leverage limits.

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