U.K. Hedge Funds Call For End To Short Sale Ban

Oct 1 2008 | 9:00am ET

British hedge funds are indulging themselves with a few, I told you so’s.

With financial stocks continuing their freefall in spite of new short-selling restrictions, the Alternative Investment Management Association, the leading hedge fund lobby on the other side of the Atlantic, is calling for those rules to be scrapped.

“We’ve established that short-selling wasn’t a factor in the latest share price decline,” Andrew Baker, AIMA’s deputy CEO, said. “The ban was well-intentioned but wide of the mark and we would like to see it removed as quickly as possible.”

Short-sellers have raised the ire of politicians in Britain perhaps even more than in the U.S. Earlier this month, the U.K. Financial Services Authority imposed a four-month ban on shorting financial stocks, similar to the U.S. measure instituted days later, which has a maximum 30-day lifespan. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has even intimated that the restrictions could become permanent.

But despite the moves, two major British financials, Bradford & Bingley and Fortis, have needed government bailouts.

“The developments of last week demonstrate that short-selling was not a factor in those recent bank problems,” Man Group CEO Peter Clarke said. “Even before that, short-selling was just a small component of general selling pressure.”

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