British Win Major Concession From Allies On Hedge Funds

May 2 2007 | 2:35pm ET

The European crusade to increase hedge fund oversight and transparency may have suffered a fatal blow, with European Union finance ministers agreeing to drop a call for regulators to examine whether the current level of transparency was appropriate at British insistence.

A draft of conclusions to be approved by EU finance minister at a meeting next week will instead emphasize that decisions about the necessary level of transparency belong to the private sector, Reuters reports, a major setback for the German-led initiative. The U.K., which along with the U.S. and European Commission had been critical of “heavy-handed” oversight proposed by its continental partners—had reportedly in the past few weeks been moving towards the German position.

The common position of hedge funds, which ministers hope to bring before the G7 later this month, now sounds strikingly upbeat about hedge funds, saying the indirect system of supervision has “so far enhanced resilience to systemic shocks” and has contributed significantly to fostering efficiency of the financial system.” Its toughest words are for “creditors, investors and authorities,” which it calls on “to remain vigilant and to adequately assess the potential risks that hedge funds present.”

“The U.K. did not want transparency to be mentioned in the same sentence as regulators as it could hint at direct supervision changes,” an EU source told Reuters.

In the meantime, the U.K. has lost one of its top alternative investments regulators to the private sector.

Andrew Shrimpton, head of the Financial Services Authority’s hedge fund and private equity supervisory unit, left on Monday. He is set to join management consultant Kinetic Partners as a senior adviser in its regulatory compliance practice on May 11.

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