Foreign Investment Funds in UAE

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The New Fund Regulations have been long-awaited and have replaced both the Board of Directors Resolution No. 37 of 2012 (Concerning the Regulation of Mutual Funds) (“2012 Fund Regulations”) and the Board of Directors Resolution No. 13 of 2013 (on Amending the Regulation of Investment Funds) (the “Private Placement Exceptions” and together with the 2012 Fund Regulations, the “Former Regulations”). The New Fund Regulations were published in the UAE Federal Gazette dated 31 July 2016 and are currently in force. We note that SCA has also recently circulated certain draft regulations for review and comment which will also be of relevance to fund regulation in the UAE. Accordingly, we note that the New Fund Regulations will need to be read in conjunction with any applicable resolution, regulation, directive or circular issued by SCA from time to time, including those in relation to the arranging and promoting of financial products and securities. 

Similar to the 2012 Fund Regulations, the New Fund Regulations include provisions on licensing, management, offer document requirements, subscription, and issuance and listing of fund units. However, the New Fund Regulations also feature some changes to the Former Regulations, including the introduction of provisions for specialized categories of funds, such as umbrella and feeder funds. While the majority of these changes will largely affect UAE domiciled funds, there are new provisions that will also affect foreign funds. This article covers some of the key aspects of the New Fund Regulations.

Foreign Funds

The New Fund Regulations greatly simplify the requirements for the promotion of foreign funds in the UAE. The seven articles (containing twenty-two clauses) under the 2012 Fund Regulation have been pared down to just one article (of five clauses), perhaps reflecting that most foreign funds are currently promoted on a cross-border basis or under the private placement exceptions. Both the 2012 Fund Regulations and the New Fund Regulations only relate to the promotion of a foreign fund in the UAE through a local distributor who has a duty to register the fund with the SCA and comply with certain requirements. The New Fund Regulations essentially pare the requirements down to requiring registration of a foreign fund and annual renewal of registration where a local distributor is used.

That said, promoters of foreign funds should note that the private placement exceptions under the New Fund Regulations have been narrowed in scope. Under the Former Regulations, the 2012 Fund Regulations did not apply in respect of the private promotion of foreign funds targeting:

  • federal or local government financial portfolios;
  • companies, institutions or entities trading on their own account whose main purpose, or one of their main purposes, is to invest in securities; and
  • investment managers who have a discretionary investment mandate.

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