EU Financial Chief Says Hedge Fund Deal Near

Jul 6 2010 | 1:01pm ET

Despite dire warnings last month about the fate of the European Union’s proposed hedge fund and private equity regulations, the controversial rules will be approved in September, a top EU official vowed.

Michel Barnier, the 27-nation bloc’s Financial Services Commissioner, told Bloomberg News that EU member states and the European Parliament are “in the final stretch” before voting to approve the new rules in September.

Barnier said the two sides “are close to an agreement” about alternative investment firms based outside of the EU. The Parliament, which last month was reported to be in no mood to compromise, wants to issue so-called “passports” to foreign firm that meet certain standards. Those passports would give hedge funds and private equity funds access to all EU markets.

But the EU finance ministers, who also must approve the regulations, did not include a passport provision, which would give each country in the bloc the right to approve or reject foreign funds. The British—who are most opposed to the EU rules altogether—threw a further monkey-wrench in by demanding that funds that fail to meet the passport requirements be allowed to apply for admission to individual EU markets.

Barnier also said that the EU plans to impose new rules covering derivatives and naked short sales. The latter could be banned outright, he said.

“It’s an option that we are studying with seriousness,” Barnier said.

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