Dubai FSA authorises first DIFC-domiciled hedge fund

The Dubai Financial Services Authority has issued its first licence authorising a hedge fund institution to base its funds in the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC).

The move paves the way for the hedge fund firm in question, Argent Financial Group International LLP, to launch the first Dubai (DIFC) domiciled fund - the Constans Crescent Investment Fund - in April 2006.

Argent Financial Group International LLP is a UK subsidiary of the Argent Financial Group Ltd and an affiliate of the Argent Funds Group LLC. The companies are privately held, independent fund and investment managers originally founded in 1995 with US- and UK-managed funds currently domiciled in Caymans and the USA.

The Constans Crescent Investment Fund is a geographically focused, multi-strategy fund focused on investment opportunities in the greater Middle East/North Africa/South Asia region. The Fund primarily invests in a broad range of publicly listed securities across the capital structure of selected corporates, in the countries of the GCC, Levant, North Africa, Turkey and Pakistan. The objective of the Fund is to generate consistent absolute returns from a diversified portfolio of securities.

'We welcome Argent Financial Group International to the DIFC,' says Dr Omar Bin Sulaiman, Director General of the DIFC Authority. 'This is a very significant development for us. Argent Financial is the first to be licensed specifically for fund management function within the DIFC and, more importantly, to launch a specially designed product focussing on the Middle East. The region has USD 1.9 trillion looking for a home and we can now offer varied opportunities to investors and also to organisations looking to raise funds.'

Howard Leedham MBE, Senior Managing Director of Argent Financial Group Ltd adds: 'As London is the established financial powerhouse of the world, Dubai is very likely tomorrow's global financial powerhouse. The incredible vision to 'build it and they will come' is being verified with the arrival of every Emirates Airline flight. The creation of a 'zero-tax', financial city with its own international regulatory and legal standing, ready to serve the countries of the GCC and beyond is innovative and efficient

'If any financial company considers itself international, it ignores a presence in the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) at its peril. Argent Financial Group International is not only pleased to announce its intent to manage several Hedge Funds from DIFC, but it sees Dubai as becoming a hub to its entire Group of companies. The possibility of relocating the company's global headquarters into the DIFC is an evolving and increasingly real consideration.'

Background notes: The Argent Group of companies currently manages in the region of USD 2.5 billion in assets over various strategies for onshore and offshore investors. It now operates funds from offices in, London, the USA (five states), Bermuda, and has a Financial Analyst Platform in Mumbai, and will imminently commence fund operation in the DIFC-Dubai. The company currently has approximately 1,200 Sophisticated and institutional investors with the majority being non-US

Argent's investment approach is one that combines extensive proprietary credit research and quantitative modelling. Its research focus has enabled its funds to consistently provide superior returns to investors.

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