EU To Formulate Common Hedge Fund Proposal

Apr 23 2007 | 9:31am ET

Another weekend of high-level regulatory meetings has produced more mixed messages for hedge funds.

At a meeting of European Union finance chiefs, Germany’s Peer Steinbrück took aim at the U.S.’s hands-off approach, saying it is “not working.” But speaking to reporters at the same meetings in Berlin, the EU’s internal markets commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, said that there was “no market failure” requiring regulatory action.

McCreevy said that hedge funds are “big boys who know what they’re doing.” As for the collapse of Amaranth Advisors, the most recent hedge fund blowup to produce calls for stricter oversight, McCreevy noted, “if they lost US$6 billion, someone must have made US$6 billion on the other side.”

Steinbrück, however, was having none of it, as he worked to convince his fellow European finance ministers to support Germany’s proposal of a code of conduct for hedge funds. The ministers agreed to try to formulate a joint proposal when they meet again in Brussels on May 8, ahead of a meeting of G8 finance ministers in Potsdam, Germany, the following week, when Steinbrück and his supporters will again have to deal directly with the skeptical Americans.

“We need to see what kinds of benchmarks are developed to ensure these practices are implemented,” Steinbrück said. He added that his proposal would be a success if roughly 15 of the largest hedge funds could be convinced to sign it.

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