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AIMA Plans China Chapter as Country Allows Hedge Funds

The Alternative Investment Management Association, the global industry advocacy group, plans to start a China chapter this year as the country opens up to hedge funds previously shunned as speculators.

Work on the China chapter began in the third quarter and AIMA hopes to put together applications for the various entities in China by the end of the first quarter, Philip Tye, chairman of the London-based group’s Hong Kong National Group, said in a telephone interview yesterday.

China plans to start regulating private funds under proposed revisions to the securities funds law, paving the way for development of a local hedge fund industry, Beijing-based Economic Information newspaper reported Jan. 4. The industry is also awaiting Shanghai’s approval of the first batch of international hedge funds to raise yuan capital in the city for overseas investments, according to Ye Xiaowei, co-managing partner of the Beijing office of law firm Bingham McCutchen LLP.

“It really is a time that AIMA needs to get a presence in China,” Tye said, declining to comment on the Shanghai pilot program known as Qualified Domestic Limited Partners, or QDLP. “There isn’t an official hedge fund industry, but we think one will start to be developed.”

The new chapter may have offices in Beijing and Shanghai, advocating for the industry with regulators and organizing local educational events, Tye said, adding that plans are still being firmed up.

First Members

The project is being led from Hong Kong by Florence Yip, Asia-Pacific asset management tax leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, who is also vice chairman of AIMA’s Hong Kong chapter.

A group called Friends of AIMA in China was set up to work on the structure and membership criteria of the China chapter, Tye said. The group’s members, including representatives from service providers and fund managers, will be the founding members of the China chapter, Tye said.

The Hedge Fund Association, a Florida-based trade and lobbying group set up in 1996 with members among hedge funds, their investors and service providers mainly in the Americas, last year set up a China chapter in Beijing and a Shanghai chapter, said Di Yiming, its Shanghai chapter director.

AIMA’s Hong Kong chapter is its largest outside of London with 170 corporate members, including four based in China, Tye said. The Hong Kong chapter has for years had a China committee.

Once the China chapter is established, the China committee in Hong Kong will shift its focus to local and Chinese managers operating in the city. The China chapter will concentrate on industry professionals located in mainland China, Tye added.

AIMA has 1,300 members globally, including managers of hedge funds, funds of hedge funds, prime brokers, legal and accounting firms, other investors, fund administrators and independent fund directors, according to its Website.

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