For EU and non-EU managers, the ability to choose between AIFMD or UCITS regimes to bring a regulated fund product to market with minimal fuss is a compelling one. With its unique business model, ML Capital has proven to the marketplace that there are many ways to scale the walls of so-called "Fortress Europe".
ML Capital operates two Dublin-domiciled platforms that between them are capable of supporting a wide range of alternative investment strategies, from the most liquid end of the scale to the most illiquid end. The MontLake UCITS Platform was established in October 2010, while the MontLake QIAIF Platform, the AIFMD compliant solution, was established in December 2014, providing a dual-pronged route to access European investors.
"ML Capital is unique in what we offer," says CEO Cyril Delamare (pictured). "We cater for any type of European fund structure and position ourselves as the one-stop shop from a structuring perspective and distribution in Europe from our headquarters in Dublin. What makes us different is that we have a very clear idea as to what investors are looking for and that allows us to tailor the funds for our fund managers to match as best as possible the current demand."
David Hammond is General Counsel at ML Capital. He highlights that the direction of the market has become clear – whether it is from a regulator's viewpoint or an investor's, "it is around more substance and more quality. If you want to present an investment opportunity to investors it has to tick as many boxes as possible e.g. that it delivers returns in the right sleeve from a tax perspective and that it is fully onshore and regulated. From a manager's perspective, they want reassurance that the route for setting up a regulated fund is user-friendly. They want to know that the regulatory and operational considerations needed for a regulated fund to work well are all taken care of."
This is why solution providers like ML Capital are proving to be a vital cog in the European fund market. Running a regulated fund – UCITS or AIF – is potentially daunting for any manager and comes with a myriad of operational considerations. As Hammond articulates, "we like to think of ourselves as the glue that holds everything together and makes the operation work in such a way that it allows the fund manager to concentrate on the job at hand, which is generating performance and marketing the fund to potential investors."
Delamare further emphasises this point by adding that ML Capital helps fund managers "by carefully project managing every fund launch, taking into account the requirement of the regulator and service providers whilst making the product attractive to investors in a time efficient manner"
Managers can choose to work with ML Capital by joining its platform offering, where they elect to set up a sub-fund, or by using them for standalone fund services. With respect to the former, this is a fully outsourced solution where the manager joins either the MontLake UCITS or MontLake QIAIF platform and ML Capital's management company, MLC Management Ltd, acts as the external AIFM. If the manager prefers to launch their own standalone fund, ML Capital will do all of the operational heavy lifting and ensure that the fund runs smoothly; alleviating the pressure on the manager.
"We've built a team that has years of experience in the fund industry coming from a wide range of backgrounds including legal, distribution, risk and fund allocators giving us the ability to support multiple fund strategies and understand their requirements. ML's view is that the fund managers manage and we operate the funds," concludes Hammond