x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Jersey seeks slice of capital action

Jersey, which is a British crown dependency, is looking to cement its relationship with Abu Dhabi as the capital embarks on its own plans to create a financial tax free zone.

Sir Philip Bailhache, Jersey’s assistant chief minister, says Abu Dhabi is a good place for people to use as a springboard to Europe. Lee Hoagland / The National
Sir Philip Bailhache, Jersey’s assistant chief minister, says Abu Dhabi is a good place for people to use as a springboard to Europe. Lee Hoagland / The National

The tiny island of Jersey, a powerhouse of international offshore finance that has been increasingly successful in attracting funds from Arabian Gulf states, is looking to cement its relationship with Abu Dhabi as the capital embarks on its own plans to create a financial tax free zone.

Sir Philip Bailhache, Jersey’s assistant chief minister, is in the UAE this week to discuss among other things how its financial regulator can help Abu Dhabi’s fledgling financial centre. There aren’t any concrete plans yet between the two sides and Sir Philip said it was still “early days” but ways of cooperation might also include financial education as well as regulatory advice.

“Abu Dhabi is a good place for people to use as a springboard to London and the European Union,” Sir Philip said in an interview with The National yesterday. “As an offshore place, it’s a sensible place to structure your investments into the UK in particular and to use as a base for operations for Europe as well.”

The broad outline of the financial zone, called the Abu Dhabi Global Market, has already been drawn by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council after a federal decree in February. It will consist of three bodies – a registrar, a regulator and a courts system – under a five-man board chaired by Ahmed Ali Mohammed Al Sayegh, who is also the deputy chairman of Abu Dhabi Media, which publishes The National.

The free zone, on a 114-hectare site on Al Maryah Island, will be a fully-fledged financial hub that includes offices and commercial premises as well as residential, hotel and leisure facilities.

The island already houses the upmarket Galleria shopping mall and the five-star Rosewood Hotel. Coming to Al Maryah soon are a Four Seasons hotel and the Cleveland Clinic hospitall.

Jersey, which is a British crown dependency, has been successful in the past decade in attracting funds from the Gulf to its offshore financial services.

Banks including the National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank have business in Jersey and over the past decade the Channel island has managed to attract £20 billion (Dh117.66bn) of funds from the region.

“The level of total bank deposits in Jersey is just over £150bn and the proportion coming from the Gulf has risen to 13 per cent of that total,’’ Sir Philip said.

“It’s obviously a very important market for us. It’s grown probably over a period of 10 years from 0 per cent to 13 per cent. ”

mkassem@thenational.ae