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22 April 2010

Singapore to put hedge, PE funds under review

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Singapore said it will review rules for its investment management industry, including hedge-fund and private-equity managers, as regulators increase oversight globally, the Bloomberg News reported.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore “will consult the public within the next two weeks on proposals to enhance our regulatory regime to ensure that it remains sound and responsive to the changing needs of the various stakeholders in the fund management industry,” it said in an e-mailed reply to queries from Bloomberg News late Wednesday.

“This is essential for the long-term and sustainable growth of the fund management industry.”

Hedge funds and private-equity firms are under scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers worldwide, who say they are partly to blame for the worst financial crisis in a generation.

Singapore’s hedge-fund industry has grown into Asia’s second biggest behind Hong Kong as the government lured investment management professionals with tax incentives and grants.

Hedge funds worldwide posted net outflows of $285 billion last year, leaving assets at $1.6 trillion, according to Hedge Fund Research Inc., a Chicago-based research firm.

The regulator has set up the Investment Intermediaries Department to supervise intermediaries, including alternative investment managers, and to “drive regulatory policies” governing the industry, according to the statement.

“MAS adopts an open and consultative approach with the industry, and remains committed to building Singapore as a fund management and alternative investment hub,” the regulator said.

Singapore’s hedge-fund industry has grown to 138 single- strategy hedge-fund managers employing more than 800 professionals from near zero in 1997, according to a survey by the local chapter of the Alternative Investment Management Association. The industry oversees at least $34.9 billion, excluding assets managed by several of the large global firms, it said, making it Asia’s second biggest.

The island-state’s “lighter regulatory touch” has enabled hedge-fund managers to set up business “relatively quickly,” without risking any delay in getting the necessary licenses from the regulator, according to an overview of the industry published by AIMA.

Hedge-fund managers in Singapore are still subject to local rules on securities and futures trading as well as money laundering.

The size of Singapore’s asset management industry shrank about 26 percent to S$864 billion ($630 billion) in 2008 from a year earlier because of the global financial crisis, the authority said in its latest survey released in September.


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