Nearly half a year went by since the Kapitalanlagengesetzbuch (German Investment Act; “KAGB”) entered into force in July 2013. Time for a first resume of the issues which crystallised in the due course of the license procedures for Alternative Investment Fund Managers (“AIFM”) since then.
Capital requirements and regulator’s usance in this area
While most of the draft applications complied with the general capital requirements pursuant to section 25 KAGB, it was sometimes necessary to remind of existing regulator’s usance in order to avoid otherwise predictable feedback by the regulator on this issue. Occasionally applicants omitted that the volumes requested by section 25 par. 1 and 4 KAGB are minimum requirements, which can be missed, especially in case of starting losses.
Also it must be recognised that the regulator expects a sustainable business case: This expectation includes usually that the own funds necessary to cover the starting loss were already provided by the initial capital contribution. Any additional capital contribution during the planning period of the planned figures filed with the application should therefore be avoided.
Appropriateness of the managing directors
As in all regulatory license procedures, the regulator ascribes also under the KAGB highest importance to the reliability and competence of the managing directors.
The regulator turns its attention especially to whether the approved business experience of the managing directors covers all types of assets and funds applied for. In single cases even two managing directors for each type of asset/fund were requested. Similar to the rules under the former Investment Act, the regulator requests also under the KAGB a corresponding restriction of the license application and thereby the later license to individual types of assets/funds. Especially in case of expansive business models the scope of license should therefore be considered carefully.
However, regarding the managing directors’ reliability the regulator seems rather pragmatic: Initially there were concerns that especially managing directors from the former unregulated business of closed funds could, due to their “insolvency experience” gathered there, would receive intensive feedback from the regulator regarding their reliability. In the current practise, however, only few remarks were recorded. The same applies regarding the number of additional activities due to parallel managing director positions in the individual AIF-companies, where also only few enquiries were raised; however, many managing directors already waived such parallel positions in anticipatory obedience.
With regard to the business organisation of the AIFM, the regulator especially picked up planned outsourcing arrangements. The transformation of existing business models usually involves either to add the AIFM as a most confined extension to the existing structure or the existing organisation is transferred to the new licensee thereby retaining a minimum structure for settling the unregulated former business which enjoys grandfathering. In both cases the smaller unit usually receives services from the bigger organisation under various outsourcing agreements. It was not always ensured that the regulated AIFM must be vested with appropriate authority to give directives and monitoring rights. In some case the unregulated unit was even designed as a fall back solution for the rather small organisation of the AIFM. The regulator did not appreciate such approach in the licensing procedure.
The license procedure takes usually more time than most of the applicants were expecting. Some applicants filed their applications already in July and still await the end of their license procedure. During this time some applicants felt being subjected more restrictive requirements compared to other license applications. At time one could get the impression that the coordination process between the regulator’s individual staff in charge for the application is still in an early stage. It remains to be seen how the regulator’s practise is going to even out. This would be helpful since another wave of applications can be expected to be filed during the now starting second half of the grandfathering period.