A group of billionaire hedge fund managers are supporting the drive to take Britain out of Europe, and stand to benefit financially from such a move.
Two of the five top hedge fund billionaires in the country already have connections to campaigns supporting a so-called Brexit, writes Michael Bow in The Independent. Others are set to pledge their support in the next few months.
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Financial community split on Brexit
The financial crisis of 2007 led to strict European rules on hedge fund activity, which would be threatened if the UK left the EU. Hedge funds stand to save around $393 million if the rules are lifted.
“There are quite a few hedge fund managers who are anti-EU,” said one Mayfair hedge fund boss, who declined to provide his name. “Many are generally opposed to it.”
The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has pledged his support for continued UK membership of the EU. Financial firms in the City of London are split on the idea, with multinational investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and Citigroup backing continued membership while the Mayfair-based hedge funds call for an exit.
Hedge fund managers riled by stricter EU regulations
Crispin Odey, founding partner of Odey Asset Management, has been supporting a lobby group called Vote Leave. “We joined an economic union, not a political union, and you should give voters a say,” Mr Odey said. “This is nothing to do with hedge funds and the EU. My criticism of the EU pre-dates the regulations which have come in.”
Sir Michael Hintze, the fourt-richest hedge fund boss in the UK, is also connected to the campaign, although Vote Leave campaign head, Dominic Cummings, said last week that “no hedge funds have bankrolled us so far.”
Financiers used to operating in the shadows were ruffled by the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, which called for more transparency and a limit on individual salaries. The directive is estimated to have increased operating costs by 5% per year, according to KPMG.
The Independent estimated that these costs are equivalent to around $393 million, but hedge fund trade body the Alternative Investment Management Association did not provide an estimated figure.