Money managers under the microscope
Regulated are the cheesemakers
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, seen by many as the bane of the UK’s hedge funds industry for his input into the highly controversial EU directive on Alternative Investment Fund Managers, no doubt expected a hostile reception today at the Guildhall when he appeared at a debate hosted by Open Europe on the directive.
Whilst widely welcomed for his bravery in appearing, Rasmussen nevertheless came in for heavy criticism from City Minister Paul Myners, fellow panellists and an audience full of hedge fund and private equity representatives, making what was probably an uncomfortable lunchtime for the president of the EU assembly’s socialist bloc.
Opposition to the directive focuses on many things, including its proposed controls on leverage, perceived lack of industry consultation, a “one size fits all” approach to many different types of funds and what is seen by some as protectionism – by limiting EU investor choice to those funds with EU managers and EU service providers and stopping investors buying funds outside the EU.
However, for all the wide range of hostility, Rasmussen, who was accused by Myners of “tilting at mythical windmills”, was probably not expecting criticism on the subject of cheese.
BlackRock’s Doug Shaw cited Rasmussen as saying the directive had “more holes than Swiss cheese”.
He went on: “I would encourage Mr Rasmussen to make the most of his non-EU cheese analogy whilst he still can, even under the EU Cheese Directive — and if it doesn’t exist today maybe it will in the future.
“EU cheese-eaters will only be able to buy EU-produced cheese from EU milk, from EU herds, fed EU grass grown in EU fields.
“Now I like a bit of Dutch Leerdammer as much as the next man but I would just like to maximise my consumer choice.”