Isle of Man leads in offshore bank ranking

The Isle of Man has been recognised as “the leading offshore
centre” in a ranking of the prowess of leading financial capitals
around the world, narrowly beating rivals the Channel

The rankings are produced by the City of London, in its annual
Global Financial Centres Index which analyses the top 50 rated
financial centres worldwide. It is based on questioning financial
services professionals around the world.

The index ranks the Isle of Man in 21st place in an overall ranking
of financial centres, ahead of offshore competitors Channel Islands
(23rd), Cayman Islands (24th) and Hamilton (Bermuda) in 25th

The Isle of Man is also the highest ranked of seven ‘new’ financial
centres appearing for the first time, and third in the British
Isles after London and Dublin.

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The index ranks financial centres based on external benchmarking
data and current views of competitiveness. Factors of
competitiveness are grouped into five key areas – people, the
business environment, market access, infrastructure and general

The index compilers, in a report, said some observers “see offshore
centres as a weak link in the financial services industry but there
is no denying their importance”.

Offshore holdings are estimated at between $5 trillion and $7
trillion – five times as much as 20 years ago and representing up
to 8 percent of total global wealth.


Number of billionaires hits new high

China has more billionaires than any country except the US, as
rising stock and real estate help to boost wealth among the
country’s super-rich.

The number of Chinese worth $1 billion or more jumped to 108, from
15 last year, growing much more quickly than in Western countries,
wealth analyst Rupert Hoogewerf reported in his 2007 China ‘rich
list’, which ranks the 800 wealthiest individuals in the country.
The average wealth of those on the list doubled from a year earlier
to $562 million.

Yang Huiyan, 25, topped the list after receiving $17.5 billion from
her property developer father, the report said. Last year’s leader,
Zhang Yin, fell to second place with $10 billion from her stake in
Nine Dragons Paper.


Schroders buys Singapore private banking operation

UK asset manager Schroders is buying the Singapore-based private
banking unit of Commonwealth Bank of Australia for $10 million,
expanding its services to wealthy clients in Asia-Pacific. The unit
manages $600 million in assets and has a staff of 12.

“We have a strong asset management presence in Asia and we now look
forward to building a private banking business in the region,” said
Philip Mallinckrodt, group of head of Schroders Private

Khing Go, currently head of the unit, will become head of private
clients Asia for Schroders. The transaction is expected to complete
in the first quarter of 2008.


Man sees alternative assets inflows

Despite market turbulence, London-based alternative investments
firm Man Group’s funds under management reached $68 billion as of
the end of September, up 10.2 percent since March. This included
$41 billion from private investors, an increase of 12 percent since
the end of March. Institutional investors’ contribution of $27
billion was also up by 7.5 percent.

Man expects net management fee income to be up by over 15 percent,
driven by the growth in funds under management.

“The diversification of our investment styles, despite recent
turbulence in financial markets, has generated $2.4 billion of
positive performance for our investors in the first half,” said
Peter Clarke, Man Group chief executive.


Tax amnesty draws $130m in income

The tax amnesty set by Russia in March to help reverse an outflow
of flight capital has so far resulted in RUB3.2 billion ($130
million) of undeclared income, according to government officials.
Under the amnesty, people who declare untaxed income will avoid
prosecution in return for paying income tax at a 13 percent rate on
hidden assets – equal to the country’s flat rate of tax.

The amnesty does not cover those thought to be guilty of
large-scale tax evasion or money laundering. It does allow
individuals to declare untaxed income dating back to 2001. Up to
one-quarter of the income generated by Russians is thought to be
hidden behind the ‘black economy’.

The amnesty expires at the year end. If it fails to generate
significant inflows, the Russian authorities are expected to
tighten tax regulations in 2008. Up to $250 billion is estimated to
have fled Russia in recent years.


Number of wealthy Singaporeans to rise

Singapore will ride out any economic slowdown, with the number of
wealthy individuals in the city state due to rise by about 7
percent by 2011, according to a new forecast.

Researchers Datamonitor predict that the number of wealthy
individuals holding $60,000 or more in onshore liquid assets,
including cash and deposits, equities, bonds and unit trusts, will
rise from around 410,000 in 2006 to over 600,000 by 2011. This is a
stronger rate than in the previous five years.

Wealthy Singaporean residents held almost $140 billion in onshore
liquid assets in 2006, after growing at a CAGR of 6.2 percent since


UBS looks at Commerz French asset manager

UBS is in negotiations with Commerzbank to buy Caisse Centrale de
Réescompte (CCR), the German bank’s French investment management
unit. CCR has about €18 billion ($25.5 billion) in assets under
management and is valued at some €500 to €600 million. CCR also has
a unit for wealth management called CCR Chevrillon Philippe.

Commerzbank has been exiting large-scale investment management, and
sold its UK asset management firm Jupiter last year.


Hedge funds propose transparency code

A group of Europe’s largest hedge fund managers has proposed making
the alternatives industry more transparent in an attempt to head
off pressure for greater regulation. The London-based Hedge Fund
Working Group drafted a code of behaviour that would give investors
and banks more information about the risks hedge funds take and how
they value their assets.

The code would also require funds to disclose the full stakes they
own in companies, including positions held via derivatives. The
group, which includes Man Group among its 14 members, will now
request feedback from other UK hedge funds, as well as banks and

“The reason disclosure is at the core of this exercise is because
it gives investors, lenders and other stakeholders the information
they need to make better-informed decisions,” said Andrew Large, a
former Bank of England deputy governor who is chairman of the