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04 March 2014

FT: EU countries seek to rewrite deal on fund manager pay

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11 EU countries and three political groups in the EP are seeking to rewrite a legislative deal struck last week, amid fears that the fine print on pay will affect the non-EU operations of fund groups. Even at this late stage, their combined votes are potentially enough to block a deal.

It is the final attempt in a year-long fight to loosen the pay restraints being imposed on the asset management industry through a revised directive on UCITS – a class of retail fund that holds net assets of €6.4 trillion.

While a political drive for a bonus cap fizzled out last year, new rules from 2016 will require fund managers’ bonuses to be half-paid in units of the funds that they manage. They will also have to defer 40 per cent of bonuses for at least three years, or 60 per cent in the case of very large bonuses. Some countries fear the recitals in the law – the parts explaining the reasons, which are non-binding but guide regulators in enforcing the rules – would require fund managers based outside the EU to follow the pay rules.

Sven Giegold, the German Green MEP who is lead negotiator for the parliament, said the current directive would stop work leaving EU financial centres: “I don’t understand the UK government calling into question these rules", he said on Tuesday. “These might correspond to certain business interests but I doubt it is in the best interests of the country.”

Britain, Germany, Sweden, Ireland and Luxembourg are among 11 countries calling for “some minor alterations” to the text of the directive, including parts of the remuneration clause/recital. Their combined votes are enough to potentially block a deal, even at this late stage. In a note, they warn that the existing wording could “lead to the rules being extended to any firm that has had some operational task delegated to it; would be overtly extraterritorial in reach . . . and could affect investment advisers who should be independent of the firm to avoid conflicts of interest”.

Three political groups in the parliament – including the Liberals and centre-right European People’s party – are also demanding revisions to the remuneration text. However, Mr Giegold is standing his ground, saying the deal is in line with the mandate given to him by parliament and is essential to avoid circumvention.

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© Financial Times

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