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DIFC Mulls Fee Cuts to Lure More Funds

Abdul Basit / 13 January 2010

DUBAI — Dubai International Financial Centre, or DIFC, is considering a substantial reduction in fees before the middle of this year to attract more funds, a top official of the financial free zone said.

“We have a comprehensive package including cut in registration and listing fees of funds,” DIFC Chief Economist Dr Nasser Saidi told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar in Dubai on Tuesday.

Without disclosing the size of reduction Dr Saidi said, “The move will capture bulk for DIFC by streamlining and reducing the cost.” The DIFC is an onshore hub for global finance which offers its member institutions incentives such as 100 per cent foreign ownership, zero tax on income and profits and no restrictions on foreign exchange.

He said that DIFC is also looking to attract real estate investment trusts and funds complying with Shariah-compliant banking law.

He said that the package is expected to be published before the middle of this year by the Dubai Financial Services Authority, or DFSA - regulator of the DIFC. It would be an opportunity for fund managers to start introducing the funds, he added.

The DFSA supervises and regulates a total of 326 entities - 249 authorised firms, 58 ancillary service providers, 17 registered auditors and two markets.

The DFSA on October 19, 2009 released the report of the Market Practitioner Panel it appointed in July 2009 to review the DIFC’s Collective Investment Funds regime.

The Panel Report contains recommendations relating to 10 key issues. In the Panel’s view, these issues need to be addressed in order to support the growth of the funds industry in the DIFC.

The key recommendations of the Panel to the DFSA include Allowing DIFC-based fund managers to establish funds in other reputable jurisdictions, and also allowing fund managers established in reputable jurisdictions to establish funds in the DIFC; Expanding the grounds on which Authorised Firms in the DIFC can distribute Units of Foreign Funds.

Reducing licensing and other associated costs of fund managers; Allowing the protected cell company structure to be used for Umbrella Funds; Creating an Exempt Funds regime, in addition to the current Public and Private Funds, which is tailored to provide the right level investor protection to high-net worth professional; Reducing aspects of the current Independent Oversight; Tailoring Shari’a compliance requirements to suit the nature of the Islamic finance activities of the fund manager and the nature of the Fund; and Making the DIFC Funds regime more visible to the international fund community.

—abdulbasit@khaleejtimes.com

 
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