Continued services by UK investment firms and investment funds following a hard Brexit
Even though the original Brexit date of 29 March 2019 will probably be postponed for a short term, there is at present still no certainty that a no deal Brexit or hard Brexit will be avoided. As a result, companies domiciled in the United Kingdom that presently make use of the freedom of services principle within the EU on the basis of a European passport, are still at risk of not being able to continue their services into the EU following Brexit. The Dutch legislator has however taken various steps to mitigate the results of Brexit and notably a hard Brexit. Apart from that, the Dutch legal regime provides for some options for continued services. Two regulations are relevant for investment firms and investment funds domiciled in the United Kingdom.
UK investment firms
Investment firms domiciled in the United Kingdom providing services to professionals clients in the Netherlands or dealing on own account in the Netherlands, may benefit from a proposed exemption from the Dutch licensing requirements for investment firms further to MiFID II. It has been proposed that the existing exemption for investment firms domiciled in the U.S., Switzerland and Australia will be amended and will also apply to investment firms domiciled in the United Kingdom following a hard Brexit.
To benefit from this exemption the investment firm involved may only provide investment services to professional clients (such as Dutch institutional investors), must be subject to supervision by a competent supervisor (the FCA), and must register with the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM). This registration is of an administrative nature and can already be made prior to and conditional upon a hard Brexit. A registration fee of € 4,400 will be charged by the AFM but only in case registration will actually take place upon a hard Brexit. As a result, no fees will be due if registration has already been applied for prior to Brexit but a hard Brexit will be avoided after all. In that case the registration will not be processed by the AFM.
A limited number of ongoing requirements applicable to Dutch licensed investment firms will apply upon registration. These requirements are generally not considered as burdensome.
UK investment funds
Alternative investment funds managers domiciled in the United Kingdom that are presently marketing their alternative investment funds in the Netherlands or are managing Dutch alternative investment funds, may benefit from the Dutch private placement regime under AIFMD in case of a hard Brexit and by doing so, continue their present activities in the Netherlands.
To benefit from this regime marketing must be limited to qualified investors (such as Dutch institutional investors), the competent regulator (the FCA) has to confirm that it will be able to meet the obligations under the cooperation agreement with the AFM as recently agreed upon, and registration with the AFM has to take place. This registration is of an administrative nature and is free of charge.
Further to AIFMD a limited number of ongoing requirements applicable to alternative investment funds managers will apply upon registration.