Softbank Vision launch a coup for Jersey’s private fund sector

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Softbank’s decision to choose a Jersey-based financial services company to administer its USD100 billion technology fund is expected to lead to more funds domiciling in the island.

The Softbank Vision Fund was launched in October 2016 with the aim of becoming the biggest investor in the technology industry over the next decade.
 
The decision to have the fund administered in Jersey has been described as a “game changer” in the selection of fund domiciles by several attendees at the Jersey Finance Annual Funds Conference in London last week.
 
Christopher Griffin, counsel at law firm Carey Olsen, says Softbank’s choice of Jersey will “inevitably lead to an ever-increasing number of funds domiciling in Jersey with its fast track authorisation procedure and strong hub of service providers”.
 
The conference, which attracted almost 400 fund professionals, discussed Jersey’s new Private Placement Fund regime, which introduces a 48 hour authorisation for funds making offers to 50 or fewer investors.
 
“The new regime will be crucial in allowing managers to launch quickly with minimal upfront costs or ongoing regulatory burden,” says Griffin.
 
The conference revealed broad optimism for Jersey’s fund sector, despite the uncertainties posed by Brexit.
 
Geoff Cook, chief executive of Jersey Finance, flagged research by Preqin which shows asset managers are forecasting substantial increases in their allocation in alternatives, including 62% to private debt, 53% to infrastructure and 48% to private equity.
 
“Our market access arrangements with Europe continue, we are a sound, well governed, risk averse jurisdiction with enduring commercial links to London, which will appeal to international investors looking for stability and certainty,” Cook told conference attendees.
 
Jane Pearce, managing director at Vistra (Jersey), the trust, fiduciary, fund and corporate services firm, says the industry is unrecognisable from what it was a decade ago. 
 
She says Brexit was the first in a line of dominoes inspired by uncertainty about the status quo and that given the uncertainty of global geopolitics, technology and regulations, it won’t necessarily be easy for industry to flourish.
 
“So, yes, obstacles present themselves. But they have done so before. And the reason that industry looks so different from what it did even a decade ago is that we have always found ways to adapt and thrive.
 
“Our industry provides a neutral platform for investors to invest and protects them with robust legal and regulatory systems. I maintain the future looks bright for Jersey; it is certainly full of possibilities for innovation,” says Pearce.
 
At the conference Tim Morgan, vice chairman of the Jersey Funds Association, reported that deal flows across all asset classes were positive. He said there were further opportunities to build business based on the huge asset management capabilities of London and the structuring expertise in Jersey.
 
Morgan spoke on a panel which considered the impact of Brexit and regulation such as BEPS, with John Maxey, tax partner at Deloitte; Deborah Lloyd, chairman of the Association of Real Estate Funds; and Mike Jones, director of policy at the Jersey Financial Services Commission.
 
Conference panellists also highlighted the importance of the symbiotic relationship that endures between Jersey and London. The panellists all agreed that this relationship would be unaffected by Brexit.

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