Minimum Subscription Reduced to €100,000

Ireland’s popular regime for Qualifying Investor Funds ("QIFs"), which enables a QIF to be authorised by the Irish funds regulator, the Central Bank of Ireland (the “Central Bank”), in just 24 hours, has been further enhanced. With effect from 20 October 2010, the minimum subscription amount for QIFs has been reduced from €250,000 to €100,000.

Qualifying Investor Criteria Changed

In addition, there have been changes to the qualifying investor criteria to align it with MiFID terminology and further, the potential exemption from the minimum subscription requirement and qualifying investor criteria has been extended to include the promoter or an entity within the promoter's group.

The new definition of “Qualifying Investor” is as follows:

  • an investor who is a professional client within the meaning of Annex II of Directive 2004/39/EC (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive) (“MiFID”); or
  • an investor who receives an appraisal from an EU credit institution, a MiFID firm or a UCITS management company, that the investor has the appropriate expertise, experience and knowledge to adequately understand the investment in the scheme; or
  • an investor who certifies that they are an informed investor by providing the following: - confirmation (in writing) that the investor has such
  • knowledge of and experience in financial and business matters as would enable the investor to properly evaluate the merits and risks of the prospective investment; or
  •  confirmation (in writing) that the investor’s business involves, whether for its own account or the account of others, the management, acquisition or disposal of property of the same kind as the property of the scheme.

Annual Notification of IOP Extensions

A further improvement to the QIF regime, also effective from 20 October 2010, is that extensions to the initial offer period may now be notified to the Central Bank on an annual basis only (previously the notification was required on a quarterly basis).

Conclusion

These developments have arisen following an industry submission to, and co-operation with, the Central Bank, with a view to further enhancing the attractiveness of the QIF product. The QIF is, by far, the most popular non-UCITS fund product in Ireland, with total assets of $184 billion [1], which represents over 70% of all non-UCITS assets in Irish-domiciled funds. It is also the vehicle of choice for fund promoters wishing to pursue alternative strategies such as hedge funds, private equity/venture capital funds and real estate funds. The QIF now competes in terms of entry level for investors, flexibility and speed-to-market with off-shore products domiciled in jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands and BVI. This will be of particular assistance to funds redomiciling to Ireland in accordance with the recently commenced Irish legislation permitting this.

The revised Notices and Guidance Notes are available from the Central Bank’s website www.centralbank.ie.