x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Jersey to strengthen relations with UAE

With billions of dollars in Gulf money already in Jersey, the part-government funded Jersey Finance plans to open an office in Abu Dhabi early next year to further promote the island as an offshore financial services centre.

The Mont Orgueil Castle on the island of Jersey, which is striving to rekindle growth in its financial services sector.
The Mont Orgueil Castle on the island of Jersey, which is striving to rekindle growth in its financial services sector.

With billions of dollars in Gulf money already in Jersey, the part-government funded Jersey Finance plans to open an office in Abu Dhabi early next year to further promote the island as an offshore financial services centre.

The office hopes to attract more investment to the island and provide support services for banks, trust companies, fund managers and law companies that operate in Jersey and have clients in the region.

"There's an enormous amount of financial business between the UAE and Jersey," said Geoff Cook, the chief executive of Jersey Finance, a non-profit organisation.

"That includes the simple export of business bank deposits and family deposits, and several hundred billion dollar funds from the Gulf that are under management in Jersey."

The office will benefit the UAE through the two-way flow of business between Jersey and the UAE, Mr Cook said.

It will also help to develop links between the two governments. There are significant connections, with HSBC Middle East regulated on the island and National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) and Emirates NBD operating funds in the British Channel Island.

In addition to the Abu Dhabi office, which should become operational in the first quarter of next year, Jersey Finance plans to set up a regional office in Mumbai. With existing overseas offices in London and Hong Kong, it will soon also open a branch in Brussels.

Jersey has established itself as a significant offshore centre with its low taxation regime helping to attract funds for management from across the world.

It ranked 22nd in the Global Financial Centres Index - six places above Dubai - published by City of London Corporation in September.

Jersey is striving to rekindle growth in its financial services sector after the downturn damaged the competitiveness of offshore centres. Representing about half of Jersey's economy, profits from the financial services sector almost halved last year.

The Jersey Financial Services Commission also regulates several banking products provided by the region's banks.

NBAD launched a managed trust company in Jersey in 2003 to capture demand for offshore wealth management services, and Emirates NBD offers clients Jersey offshore deposits.

Jersey Finance envisages opportunities for further growth in the region. A number of law companies in Jersey are experienced in Sharia compliance, which is required for Islamic banking services.

"Quite a lot of the money from the Gulf [in Jersey] is from private family firms," said Mr Cook. "There's quite a lot of legal firms here in the UAE with clients who want assets held overseas."

About £19.8 billion (Dh116.78bn) of Middle East money was held in deposits in Jersey as of June 30, according to figures from Jersey Finance. Total bank deposits in Jersey were £166.9bn for the same period.

 

tarnold@thenational.ae