Brevan Howard Eyeing Escape From Geneva?

Oct 12 2012 | 12:01pm ET

Geneva's appeal appears to wearing thin for one of Europe's biggest hedge funds.

Brevan Howard Asset Management, which moved its main office to the Swiss city from London three years ago, may be inching back towards the British capital. The hedge fund is reportedly mulling new digs in the city, with possibly with as much or more space than their current offices on Baker Street.

Brevan is looking at 7-8 St. James's Square. That building has 65,000 square feet of space; Brevan, which has 38,000 square feet of cheaper space on Baker Street, could rent more than half of it. The hedge fund is said to be looking for as much as 40,000 square feet, which could house as many as 375 people.

While Geneva houses some of the firm's top executives, including co-founder Alan Howard and co-CEO Nagi Kawkabani, some 200 of the hedge fund's staff are still in London, twice the number in Geneva. And that number could grow to include people like Howard and Kawkabani, again.

"Everyone knows Alan Howard isn't happy here," one Geneva hedge fund professional told Reuters. "I've heard that some of the traders who made the move out to Geneva have since come to regret that decision," a London hedge fund investor added. "It seems that life in a small city doesn't always outweigh the tax savings."

And there may be fewer of those, as well. Geneva's top tax rate is 44%; the U.K.'s is currently 50% and will soon fall to 45%. In addition, Switzerland has recently adopted new hedge fund regulations, making it a less-attractive place to go to escape European Union regulations.

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