Barnier Optimistic About U.S. Hedge Fund Deal

May 11 2010 | 7:17pm ET

The momentum for hedge fund regulation in the European Union appears to be faltering, but the bloc’s financial markets commissioner is still hopeful for a deal—between the EU and the U.S.

Michel Barnier, on a visit to Washington, D.C., said “the debate on hedge funds and private equity is in the last stretch,” adding that a deal between the 27-member EU and the U.S. is “possible soon.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been critical of the EU’s proposed hedge fund rules, which could block U.S. firms and other foreign hedge funds from access to the European market. Geithner has written to Barnier and other European leaders urging them to ensure that the EU rules are not protectionist, with U.S. lawmakers threatening to block European firms from the U.S. market in retaliation.

Barnier has previously been dismissive of U.S. concerns, warning that he would not be “bullied” by Washington. But he sounded a more conciliatory note on this side of the Atlantic.

“We’re working on the basis of a proposal from my predecessor in conditions that were extremely rapid and fast, so this text needed improvement and has been improved,” Barnier said. “I’m going to talk to Sec. Geithner about it and avoid all types of discrimination.”


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