London's Lobbyists Prepare to Return Fire
By Carsten Volkery and Michael Kröger
Hedge fund regulations, a tax on financial markets, a ban on naked short selling. The EU's bid to rein in the speculators has the financial industry up in arms. Lobbyists are already preparing to systematically attack the new proposals.
A day after the European Union outlined proposals to increase regulation of the financial markets, London's financial professionals are preparing a counter-attack. Some greeted the proposed regulations with contempt, others conjured up horror scenarios to campaign against the planned regulations.
"We are very disappointed by the proposals from Brussels," says Andrew Shrimpton, a partner at the leading London hedge fund consultancy Kinetic Partners. If the rules were really to be implemented then the sector would shrink massively, he says.
He was reacting to the announcement of several pieces of bad news for the financial industry this week. On Tuesday the German banking regulators BaFin announced that it was banning naked short-selling on government bonds issued by EU countries and naked credit default swaps. Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling center-right government in Berlin said that it wanted to see a Europe-wide tax on financial markets introduced. And EU finance ministers, along with the Economic and Financial Committee of the European Parliament, voted for tougher regulation of hedge funds and private equity companies, despite objections from the British government.
The planned limits on hedge funds have provoked particular criticism in London, Europe's financial mecca. The industry there is particularly aggrieved as 80 percent of European hedge funds are based in Great Britain -- and many working in the City point out that Germany would not tolerate Brussels attempting to curb, for example, its automotive industry. more