ZURICH Dec 3 Swiss-based firms can continue
selling alternative investment products - such as in hedge funds
or private equity firms - in the European Union after new rules
come into force next year.
EU and Swiss regulators reached an agreement on Monday on
alternative investments, which compete with traditional funds
that invest in bonds, cash and stocks.
From July, the Alternative Investment Fund Managers
Directive (AIFMD) will bar funds from non-EU countries, such as
Switzerland, distributing or managing alternative investment
funds unless their national regulator has the necessary
co-operation arrangements with EU securities supervisors.
"The agreement between (Swiss regulator) FINMA and EU
supervisors will further improve cross-border supervision of the
funds business and ultimately reinforce investor protection in
cross-border operations of alternative funds," FINMA chairman
Anne Heritier Lachat said.
Matthaeus Den Otter, chief executive of the Swiss Funds
Association, an industry body, said: "This is a milestone on the
road to market access for Swiss-based asset managers".
Alternative assets account for several hundred billions of
dollars in Switzerland's $4.2 trillion asset management
The global push for greater regulation of alternative
investments has intensified since the financial crisis when a
large number of these funds hit trouble and restricted or
prevented investors from pulling their money out.
Switzerland's alternative asset managers had feared AIFMD
would cut off their access to the EU. Some considered shifting
to Liechtenstein whose European Economic Area membership allows
it to sell financial products into the EU more easily.
"The exchange agreements are a good signal for managers in
Switzerland who want to be sure they can continue to operate in
Europe after the advent of AIFMD and the revision to Swiss law,"
said Glen Millar, head of the Geneva office of asset management
consultancy Kinetic Partners.
(Reporting by Martin de Sa'Pinto; Editing by Dan Lalor)