May 11, 2009 / 5:39 PM / 9 years ago

Odey plans Swiss office but commits to UK presence

LONDON (Reuters) - Hedge fund firm Odey Asset Management says it will not abandon Britain, despite government plans for higher taxes on top earners, but will launch a Swiss arm able to avoid tough new European regulation.

The comment by chief executive David Stewart followed a report in The Sunday Times newspaper the firm was “seriously considering leaving” in response to the government’s move to raise the income tax rate on high earners to 50 percent. “I‘m sure we would always have operations in the UK,” Stewart told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

Whether an individual stayed in Britain or moved to another country was a matter “for individuals,” he said, adding: “If you’re a young person and a non-domicile, why on earth would you stay here?”

Stewart also said the firm plans to open a Switzerland-based office that would be similar to its Guernsey-based wealth management operations.

“We will have some people in Switzerland ... We’ve been talking about Switzerland for a year,” he said. “We’ve developed an offshore company in Guernsey and it’s logical to expand it abroad.”

Last month the European Commission unveiled draft plans for hedge fund managers to register and be subject to close scrutiny to operate in the bloc, in a move that helps draw an end to two decades of “light touch” financial supervision.

“We’re very concerned about the new regulatory regime that is coming out of Brussels,” Stewart said.

“We’re going to do these things anyway. We think there’s a business opportunity. The fact that it’s in a different regulatory regime may have an influence.”

Editing by Dan Lalor

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