The first onshore hedge funds are scheduled to launch in France next month when new regulations on investment in the industry come into force.

According to AMF, the French regulator, the regulations on alternative funds, have already been approved by the AMF board and are awaiting approval by the finance minister..

The French regulators and the inevstment fund industry have been working on developing a new fund vehicle, known as ARIA funds, which will enable specific institutional investors, such as insurance companies and retirement plans, to invest in hedge fund products.

Role of Prime Brokers in France

There is still uncertainty surrounding the role of prime brokers since French legislation currently does not provide for primer broker status.

The main French banks, which currently act as custodians, are reluctant to take on the dual responsibilities and risks involved with acting as a prime broker as well as a custodian.

The AMF has proposed for the first time that prime brokers be allowed to operate and that they and custodians divide the responsibilities on a contractual basis.

Agreement on this issue is expected to be clarified and formalised by regulation in due course.

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