Accessing Europe: an introduction to marketing funds
By JFA member firm Langham Hall
Over the past few months, we have seen the fundraising landscape turned on its head,with many LPs halting any new allocations and instead paying careful attention to their existing portfolios.
In late March we estimated that over half of global LPs had pressed pause on underwriting new private fund investments, either stopping their investment allocations entirely, or only proceeding with in-process investments.
As markets begin to open up again, we are seeing positive sentiment from LPs, who are now starting to look at resuming their investment programmes, albeit with perhaps a different risk appetite to that of 2019.
Looking to Europe in particular, we have seen a sustained increase in the number of non-EU sponsors looking to market to the bloc, where the aggregate AuM now exceeds €23 trillion.
For these sponsors, there are several routes to market, with no “one size fits all” approach. These include reverse solicitation, marketing under National Private Placement Regimes (“NPPR”), or the setup of a European parallel vehicle to access the marketing passport under the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (“AIFMD”):
· Reverse Solicitation: this refers to the acceptance of subscriptions from investors that actively solicited the manager without any active marketing taking place. Managers that receive genuine inbound enquiries may accept subscriptions via reverse solicitation, but it would be prudent to document that true reverse solicitation has taken place in case of litigation further down the line. Due to its passive nature, reverse solicitation cannot be considered a marketing strategy.
· Private Placement: for managers using non-EU structures, e.g. Cayman, Delaware or Channel Islands, some countries still retain their National Private Placement Regimes. These can be tricky to navigate but for managers raising in just a handful of countries, this can be a cost-effective way of accessing Europe. For many countries, the manager will be required to complete and file Annex IV reports for each Alternative Investment Fund (“AIF”) being marketed. For countries such as Germany and Denmark, a depositary-lite is required to be appointed. It is important to note that NPPR is particularly difficult in much of southern Europe, including France, Italy and Spain.
· European Parallel: Under AIFMD, funds which operate within this framework qualify for the European marketing passport, allowing these AIFs to be distributed in all 28 European member states. In this model, the fund will be required to appoint a regulated full scope Alternative Investment Fund Manager (“AIFM”), as well as a depositary. We often see these funds setup in Luxembourg, using a host-AIFM, to avoid the regulatory and substance burden of setting up a sponsor owned Luxembourg AIFM. By having an AIFMD compliant parallel fund, managers can accept capital opportunistically and at short notice. There are also no restrictions on where the fund can be marketed (although there are restrictions on the parties to whom it can be marketed).
Clearly there are pros and cons to each method, and managers will need to review which is the most suitable depending on their marketing strategy. However, with such a large pool of institutional capital in Europe, it is getting harder and harder to ignore the fundraising potential in the region.