16 October 2017

OECD - Governments rapidly dismantling harmful tax incentives worldwide: BEPS Project driving major changes to international tax rules

Governments have dismantled, or are in the process of amending, nearly 100 preferential tax regimes as part of the OECD/G20 BEPS standards to improve the international tax framework, according to a progress report released today.

The report provides details on the outcome of peer reviews undertaken of 164 preferential tax regimes identified amongst the more than 100 jurisdictions participating in the OECD Inclusive Framework on BEPS.

The OECD/G20 BEPS Project delivers solutions for governments to close the gaps in existing international rules that allow corporate profits to “disappear” or be artificially shifted to low or no tax environments, where companies have little or no economic activity. Revenue losses from BEPS are conservatively estimated at USD 100-240 billion annually, or the equivalent of 4-10% of global corporate income tax revenues.

The BEPS Action 5 standard covers tax incentives (“preferential tax regimes”) that apply to mobile business income, such as financial and services income and income from intellectual property, which multinationals can shift with relative ease. To avoid a race to the bottom and negative spillover effects on other jurisdictions' tax bases, all 102 members of the BEPS Inclusive Framework have committed to ensuring that any regimes offered meet the criteria that have been agreed as part of BEPS Action 5. Crucially, this includes a requirement that taxpayers benefiting from a regime must themselves undertake the core business activity, ensuring the alignment of taxation with genuine business substance.

The Action 5 Progress Report on Preferential Tax Regimes includes the review of 164 preferential tax regimes offered by Inclusive Framework members against the Action 5 standard.

Of the 164 regimes reviewed in the last twelve months: 
  • 99 require action;
  • For 93 of these 99 regimes, the required changes have already been completed or initiated by Inclusive Framework members,
  • 56 regimes do not pose a BEPS risk,
  • 9 regimes are still under review, due to extenuating circumstances such as the impact of the recent hurricanes on certain Caribbean jurisdictions.

"Harmful tax practices are a particularly aggressive way through which jurisdictions can encourage the erosion of other jurisdictions' tax bases," said Martin Kreienbaum, Chair of the Inclusive Framework on BEPS. "It is critical that they be addressed, to protect the level playing field and prevent a race to the bottom. The Inclusive Framework's peer reviews are resulting in real changes to these tax incentives, making it harder for multinationals to artificially shift their profits around the world for a tax advantage."

"These outcomes demonstrate that the political commitments of members of the Inclusive Framework are rapidly resulting in measureable, tangible progress" said Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration. "The jurisdictions concerned are already working to address the harmful tax practices in their preferential regimes. In fact, countries have already changed or are changing almost 95 percent of the regimes where action is needed."

Inclusive Framework members have agreed an ambitious timeline, whereby jurisdictions whose regimes have harmful features are expected to adjust their regimes as soon as possible and generally no later than October 2018. The OECD will continue to publish the results of reviews of preferential regimes and the progress that jurisdictions are making to adjust them to reduce the risks posed to tax bases.

11 October 2017

Oxford Economic Papers: Political institutions and economic growth in Africa’s ‘Renaissance’

In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, many African states replaced authoritarian political regimes with competitive electoral systems; the economies of many also began to grow, some for the first time in decades. We argue that democratic reform led to economic growth, as did Acemoglu, Naidu, Restrepo and Robinson in an earlier paper. Our approach differs from theirs in that while we to seek to identify a causal relationship between democracy and development, we build our analysis around the qualitative accounts of regional specialists and the reasoning of political economists. Where others test for the existence of a causal account, we test for the existence of specific casual mechanisms.

06 October 2017

Oxford Economic Papers: Growth spillovers and market access in Africa

How much do countries in Africa benefit from their neighbours’ growth? This paper shows that neighbouring growth increases a country’s ‘foreign market access’ (FMA)—boosting export demand and increasing local output. Using luminosity data to exploit within-country variation, I find that between 1992 and 2012 domestic output responded to increases in FMA with an elasticity in the range 0.3 to 0.6. By reducing trade costs, countries can increase their FMA, and so increase the spillover of neighbouring growth into domestic growth.

FSC Mauritius: Communiqué in relation to Meeting of high level Mauritian delegation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK

The high level delegation led by Mr. Dev Manraj, the Financial Secretary is currently on mission in the United Kingdom met with representatives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on 05 October 2017. Working sessions were held with Mr Tim Morris, Senior Trade Advisor for Africa at the Department for International Trade and with his team to apprise the FCO about the Africa strategy implemented by the Government of Mauritius to encourage business opportunities in Africa as a potent way of expanding the economic space; and the setting up of Special Economic Zones to accommodate investment and operations especially in Ghana, Madagascar, Senegal, Gabon and Ivory Coast. The delegation also advocated the comparative advantages of using Mauritius as an investment corridor between the United Kingdom and the rest of Africa. The representatives of FCO welcomed initiatives undertaken and expressed their strong interest in engaging in a formal partnership with the Government of Mauritius to further implement the Africa strategy.

A courtesy meeting was also held at the House of Lords. The delegation met with Lord Anthony St. John, who is driving the strategy for Africa on behalf the House of Lords, and is also an eminent expert on African affairs, financial services and information technology. Lord Anthony St. John is also strongly supportive of Mauritius Government’s policy decision to harness the benefits of Fintech revolution and establishing the appropriate regulatory framework to position Mauritius a Fintech Hub for Africa.

In addition to these meetings, the delegation met with different stakeholders and operators in the financial services sector.

Financial Services Commission
06 October 2017

05 October 2017

FSC Mauritius: Communiqué in relation to high level delegation in the UK in the context of the setting up of the FCC

A high level delegation comprising Mr. Dev Manraj, the Financial Secretary; Dr. Navin Beekarry; Director General of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC); Mr Harvesh Seegolam, the Chief Executive of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), is currently on mission in the United Kingdom in the context of the setting up of the Financial Crime Commission. The delegation met with Mr David Green CB QC, the Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and his team on Wednesday 04th of October 2017 to discuss about the establishment of a best tailor-made model of the Financial Crime Commission for Mauritius. In the same context, Dr. Navin Beekarry also had a series of meetings with the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Crown Prosecution Office (CPS) in order to examine the UK model and experience on financial crime investigation and prosecution and how this model and experience can provide valuable lessons for Mauritius. The delegation also discussed about technical assistance on capacity building and areas of practice in modernising our practices in financial crime investigation and prosecution.

The Government is conscious that, with the increasing cross-border financial transactions, often facilitated by rapid technological developments, it is high time to develop a renewed financial crime enforcement strategy, adapted to the modern world. This new strategy to combating financial crime will not only strengthen the financial services sector, but will also make Mauritius a model in fighting financial crime for the region. In its commitment to relentlessly fight fraud, corruption and financial crime, it was announced in the Government programme 2015-2019, the establishment of the Financial Crime Commission as an apex body overseeing the ICAC, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the Enforcement Department of the FSC. A Committee, under the Chairmanship of the Financial Secretary, comprising key stakeholders namely the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Financial Services and Good Governance, the ICAC, the FSC, the FIU, the MRA and the Mauritius Police Force, is currently studying the best avenues to set up the Financial Crime Commission. The main Committee has set up a Working Group under the Chairmanship of the Director General of ICAC to submit proposals for the establishment of the Financial Crime Commission.

Financial Services Commission
05 October 2017

FT: Investing in Mauritius

The island nation reinvents itself as a launch pad for global investors in Africa, with both China and India as its key partners. We also take a look into Mauritius’ growing focus on cross-border banking activities, tourism, environmental challenges, and sugarcane industry.


Indian Ocean island aspires to be trade and investment hub for Africa


Despite concerns, the financial system is judged to be sound


Relations with Asian giants are central to development plans


Action required to deal with global warming and natural hazards


Industry faces ‘challenges’, including how to entice visitors to spend more


OECD says island must not base future on leaching tax revenue from African neighbours


A journey down any country road shows cane still hugely important to economy


Changes to European sugar quotas give distilleries taste for global markets

04 October 2017

IMF - Understanding Correspondent Banking Trends: A Monitoring Framework

The withdrawal of correspondent banking relationships (CBRs) remains a concern for the international community because, in affected jurisdictions, the decline could have potential adverse consequences on international trade, growth, financial inclusion, and the stability and integrity of the financial system. Building on existing initiatives and IMF technical assistance, this paper discusses a framework that can be readily used by central banks and supervisory authorities to effectively monitor the developments of CBRs in their jurisdiction. The working paper explains the monitoring framework and includes the necessary reporting templates and an analytical tool for the collection of data and analysis of CBRs.

 IMF Working Paper No. 17/216

deVere launches investment app as it further expands into fintech

Adding to its growing fintech proposition, deVere Group has today launched deVere Investment, an execution-only, low-cost investment app that will allow clients to purchase Structured Notes, ETFs and Mutual Funds. 

The app is offered by deVere Investment Ltd, a technology-driven company based out of Mauritius, and is available to download now through iTunes and Google Play.

Nigel Green, founder and chief executive of deVere Group, affirms: “This fast and effective app provides clients with a platform that is low cost and gives them the ability of day-to-day execution-only trading”.

In addition, it also gives the clients a great advantage whereby they can purchase Structured Notes with no minimum investment and low custodian costs of just 20 basis points”.

He continues: “By capitalising on the benefits of this investment app, deVere is helping even more people make their savings work for them, enabling them to successfully achieve their long-term financial objectives”.

Also, it is helping to advance the financial services sector past the limited scope of what traditional firms and banks are offering their clients, especially in terms of customer experience and accessibility”.

In today’s world, clients demand personal instant access anywhere and at any time - and this app, which is a specialist vehicle that allows clients to track their portfolios on the go, offers just that”.

Earlier this year, through deVere E-Money, the organisation launched its first fintech (financial technology) proposition, deVere Vault, a global e-money app designed for internationally mobile individuals and firms. Last week another 22 currency wallets were added to the existing five, making deVere Vault the world’s most international e-money app. More than 40,000 users will have downloaded and be using deVere Vault before the end of the year, it has been forecast.

deVere Group is expected to launch more ground-breaking fintech solutions in the next few months.

As the additional currency wallets were rolled out last week, the deVere CEO commented: “We’re entering a new age. We are truly at the start of a tech and digital revolution that is monumentally changing the way we live, do business and connect to one another - and the changes are coming quicker than ever before and will affect more people than ever before”.

From self-driving cars, genetic bio-editing to intelligent robots, new technologies will impact every part of our lives. Our financial lives will be no exception. Therefore, we’re committed to helping shape the future by developing accessible and in-demand fintech propositions that empower us all to achieve our financial objectives and manage our money in today’s world”.

26 September 2017

VAM Global appoints Managing Director of Mauritius Administration and Trust Company

VAM Global, the Luxembourg-based Holding Company of the VAM Group which includes the Mauritian Administration and Trust Company (MATCO) and operates VAM Funds, has appointed Mooneer Salehmohamed as Managing Director for MATCO and as VAM Group General Counsel.

Salehmohamed, who will be taking overall charge of MATCO’s Head Office in Mauritius, will also be appointed to the position of Director, VAM Marketing Ltd and Director, VAM Management Services Ltd.

Salehmohamed will be travelling across the various regions in which MATCO and VAM’s other entities operate with the aim of developing existing and prospective client relationships. He is a qualified Barrister in England and Mauritius, with over 10 years of experience in the legal and regulatory field within the Financial Services Industry in the City of London.

Prior to the appointment, Salehmohamed was a Non-Executive Director on the MATCO board. He held legal and regulatory roles at Fleming Family & Partners, Newton Investment Management (a subsidiary of BNY Mellon) and Eaton Vance Management (International) Limited, where he headed the Compliance department within the UK, with responsibility for the Singapore office.

MATCO forms part of the VAM Global group and works to establish, manage and administer companies and trusts to help clients meet their objectives. MATCO’s specialist knowledge is focused on connecting clients to and from Africa, but the company maintains a global client base, helping them to preserve their wealth and provide them with greater flexibility over the management and distribution of their assets.

Brendan Adams, Director, VAM Global, says: “I am delighted to announce the appointment of Mooneer as MATCO’s managing director. Mooneer’s expertise in the legal and financial regulatory field, combined with MATCO’s state-of-the-art computer system,  reinforces our position as one of the leading trust and administration companies in Mauritius.

David Macdonald, Director, VAM Marketing and VAM Funds, says: “Attracting someone of Mooneer’s calibre into the business is a great endorsement of our strategy and ambition. Mooneer will add great value to our VAM Marketing Board of Directors, as we continue to grow the global distribution of VAM Funds.

Salehmohamed says: “MATCO has built its proposition around being a gateway to and from Africa for corporate and individual clients globally, and I am thrilled to be taking on the role of Managing Director to oversee the future growth of the company’s prospective and existing business relationships.

As Mauritius grows in importance as a financial centre that connects Africa to the world, MATCO is well-placed to help clients meet their specific objectives for wealth preservation, from businesses to private individuals and families.

22 September 2017

Vistra: Cryptocurrency Series

In this five part cryptocurrency series, find out more about what cryptocurrency is, what blockchain is, about cryptocurrency regulation and regulatory sandboxes, initial coin offerings and China banning the ICO.





21 September 2017

Johnnie Walker Black Label Director’s Cut

Thirty-five years on from being the spirit of choice in cult sci-fi classic Blade Runner, Johnnie Walker Black Label returns to the big screen in its highly-anticipated sequel Blade Runner 2049.


Johnnie Walker Black Label The Director’s Cut is a limited edition Scotch Whisky created by Master Blender Jim Beveridge in collaboration with visionary filmmaker Denis Villeneuve. The experimental blend is inspired by Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, and is presented in a futuristic bottle.

With our trademark smokiness and a contemporary twist, Johnnie Walker Black Label The Director’s Cut is a rich, smooth blend with aromatic and vanilla flavours and is bottled at 49% ABV as a nod to the futuristic period in which the film is set.

Not easily replicated, the “Ahara” cocktail by Tenzin Samdo is an ode to Blade Runner 2049.
Created by Ezra Star, the “Deckard” cocktail takes its name and inspiration from one of the main characters in Blade Runner 2049.

Step into the future with “Quest”—a cocktail created by Tenzin Samdo for Blade Runner 2049.

The visionary Sam Anderson created the “Ode to Dreams” featuring Johnnie Walker Black Label - The Director’s Cut inspired by Blade Runner 2049.

Inspired by BladeRunner 2049, the “Penicillin 2049” cocktail by Tenzin Samdo is garnished with a futuristic sensory cloud.

20 September 2017

Oracle Continues Africa Expansion with New Mauritius Office

Oracle announced today the opening of its new office in Mauritius to advance the rapid growth of Oracle's Cloud computing business and provide seamless support to Oracle customers and partners in the island nation and the African continent.

Key dignitaries including Mauritius' Honourable Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation Yogida Sawmynaden; Cherian Varghese, Vice President – Technology, Africa, Oracle and Dr. Avinash Ramtohul, Country Leader – Mauritius, Oracle attended a launch event at the new office to mark the milestone.

"Mauritius is a strategic high growth market for Oracle and we have continuously invested in enhancing our local capabilities and service offerings", said Cherian Varghese. "We are excited to expand our presence with the new office for which we will soon start hiring digitally savvy candidates with a strong sense of personal drive and the ability to successfully sell some of the world's most exciting cloud technologies."

Oracle has been present in Mauritius for more than two decades and the company has been instrumental in driving digital transformation for key entities from both the public and private sector.

"Mauritius has traditionally been an early adopter of enterprise technology and hence the country ranks highest amongst African nations on the ICT Development Index (IDI)", said Yogida Sawmynaden. "Our vision is to further develop Mauritius' ICT sector as a key economic pillar. It is through the continued investment, from companies such as Oracle, that this vision will be realised; not only through their ongoing support to drive digital transformation in Mauritius but also with their capacity building initiatives, aiding the development of a skilled workforce."

Expanding presence across Africa to support a fast growing customer and partner base is a key priority for Oracle. Oracle now operates 13 dedicated offices across Africa; these include two each in Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa and single offices in Algeria, Kenya, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Morocco and Mauritius.

Cloud computing led digital transformation is fast gathering pace in Mauritius. As per a recent IDC CIO survey, 45% of organizations in Mauritius are planning on implementing private cloud service hosted and managed by a third party datacentre within the next 24 months, with over 20% confirming that they have already implemented private cloud solutions. There is a clear indication that the region is ready to embrace business digitisation, as the need for Enterprise Resource Planning (45%), Platform as a Service (30%) and Storage as a Service (38%) rank high in the list of public cloud services companies are planning to adopt over the next 24 months.

15 September 2017

Nespresso Explorations 2 - One Of A Kind Coffee Collection

Welcome to the second edition in our one of a kind coffee collection, EXPLORATIONS.



COLOMBIA AGUADAS



The particular microclimate high up in the Aguadas region of Colombia, meant one pocket of farmers made their coffee in an unusual way, resulting in an extraordinary cup. Welcome to the story of Colombia Aguadas.


A Matter Of Timing


Sometimes, things happen when you least expect, and the creation of this coffee was one of those moments. Always on the lookout for something special, it was after a routine coffee cupping that a new taste note unlike any other we’d previously seen in the region leapt from the table. So, excited by this special profile potential, we set out to discover just how it had been created.


Our agronomists worked with the Aguadas cooperative to investigate which particular practices had created the extraordinary cup quality. They discovered that tucked high up in the Aguadas mountains, the cold nights meant a small group of farmers had to ferment their coffee for a little longer than usual.



This seemingly simple alteration brought about the most incredible taste potential. As well as longer fermentation, these farmers were highly selective in only picking the ripest cherries and then solely sun drying their beans in the Colombian sun.

Unwavering Dedication


Trusting in the expertise of the agronomists, these 61 coffee farmers agreed to fine-tune their practices in order to consistently create the exact quality we were after, bringing you this special cup.


It’s testament to the farmers’ skill, commitment to their crop, and a trusting relationship with our agronomists, that they could perfect what was found on the cupping table. Allowing us to bring you a Colombian coffee different to any we have brought you before.


A New Taste Unearthed


This discovery has shifted our perception of what an Aguadas coffee can be.


The farmers’ drive and devotion to what they do allows you to meet Colombia Aguadas

With an average medium roasting, we’ve developed a complex profile– the gentle acidity dances with incredibly sweet notes, bringing to mind dulcet candied fruits.


Life In A Cooperative


Being part of a coffee cooperative is about more than just business. The strong community bond sees farmers helping and supporting each other and means the farming families have greater access to education programs, advanced agronomy training and improved farm facilities.


So, within the cooperative, they not only get to produce even better quality coffee, but their love for what they do is able to grow too. And you can taste it in every cup.


The Rewards Of Fairtrade


When farmers work with Nespresso, we ensure they get a good deal for their coffee. That is why one of the keys of the growth of the Aguadas coffee cooperative has been to become Fairtrade certified as well as to sell their coffee through the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program.


Many of the region’s villages now benefit from services financed with the Fairtrade Premium in the Aguadas cooperative. The Fairtrade Premium comes on top of the coffee price; it is received directly by the cooperative and spent according to the community’s needs.

Since 2005, the region has also participated in the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program. This program is our unique coffee sourcing program. It ensures we can offer the highest quality coffees to our consumers while delivering positive impact to farmers, their communities and the surrounding landscapes. We have also worked to provide retirement savings for the cooperative farmers – a program designed by the Colombian government and implemented as a Fairtrade pilot by Nespresso.

The Fruit Connection


Colombia Aguadas has a special aromatic connection to other Grand Crus in our collection such as Rosabaya de Colombia, Cosi and Livanto, however each coffee has its own specificities.


Rosabaya De Colombia


Rosabaya de Colombia is another coffee with prominent acidity and fruity notes. While bringing you the same rich roast and body, Rosabaya de Colombia bears winey notes more like red fruits, while the Colombia Aguadas dulcet fruit has a pleasing sweetness reminiscent of candied apples and red berries.


Cosi


Cosi is crafted from a blend of both Kenyan and South American Arabicas and brings you a more subtle sweetness. The Arabicas in Cosi also bring characteristic cereal and lightly toasted notes to the coffee rather than the candied sweetness of Colombia Aguadas.


Livanto


Livanto shares the same balanced profile as Colombia Aguadas. A medium roasting similar to Colombia Aguadas accentuates malted notes, whilst fruity notes evolve to create a complex and delicate, caramelised bouquet.


Taken With Milk


We recommend drinking Colombia Aguadas black to perceive the aromatic subtleties of the origin. If drunk with milk, we suggest trying it as a Latte Macchiato. 
Milk blends perfectly with this Espresso resulting in an elegant and creamy beverage with sweet caramelised and fruity notes.

ETHIOPIA YIRGACHEFFE


After years of patient searching and sampling, this coffee jumped off the cupping table and brought back to life the elusive and historical notes thought by many to have slipped away forever. Welcome to the story of Ethiopia Yirgacheffe.

Legend Of The Yirgacheffe Coffee

One particular south central region of Ethiopia is world famous for its distinctive coffee flavour. For as long as coffee has existed, the district of Yirgacheffe has been home to the floral notes of Jasmine blossom and Bergamot citrus. Like the fine feathers in a ladies hat, these delicate notes have been cherished by both locals and coffee lovers alike.

However, after alterations in trade routes and how coffee was sold in communal lots, these particular flavours became diluted and much more difficult to find. But, not happy with bringing to you anything less than what we knew a true Yirgacheffe coffee could be, we kept on looking for what we were sure was still out there.

Hunting For Elusive Notes

You know what it’s like when you set your mind to something. We wouldn’t accept anything short of what we knew was possible. Sure, it took some time, but we never gave up hope. Constantly waiting and looking, we carefully watched the crops in the region for these treasured notes to appear again.

With nothing hitting the mark, we passed on lot after lot and continued our search. Until one day. Those classic flavours leapt once again from the cupping table. When it was time to act, we were ready.

A Cherished Taste Returns

The aromas found on the cupping table that day were delicately perfumed and sprinkled with the magic of white floral notes, transporting us to the blossom-scented home of the origin of coffee. Sounds worth waiting for, don’t you think?

Having taken so long to find again, we handled these precious notes like exquisite china – gently crafting Ethiopia Yirgacheffe with a light roasted profile resulting in a fine velvety texture. Carefully bringing everything together for a coffee with all the finesse of a true, authentic Yirgacheffe.

A Land Of Coffee Lovers

Welcome to the place where coffee is part of the family. It’s been part of Ethiopia's indigenous cultural tradition for more than 10 generations. Considered the birthplace of coffee, it still grows wild high up in the mountain forests. Unlike many coffee growing countries, Ethiopians drink half as much coffee as they export.

A daily ritual in most homes across the country is the ornate coffee ceremony where they roast beans in an open pan over a fire and come together to talk and drink.

The Rewards Of Fairtrade

Sustainability is right at the heart of what we do and when it comes to bringing you a responsible cup, Nespresso is always partnering up to ensure the highest positive impact for farming communities. That’s why we work with partners like Fairtrade International.

The Yirgacheffe Cooperative unites 22 farms, all Fairtrade. As well as being focused on producing the best coffee crops, the members of the cooperative have proudly invested Fairtrade money into both education and community infrastructure. As most farms are smallholders, this not only strengthens the community, it is also a vital way to help secure the smooth delivery of their coffee from the farms to your cup.

The Floral Connection

Our second coffee from the country, Bukeela ka Ethiopia is also a Pure Origin but this Grand Cru comes from Sidamo and other Western regions of Ethiopia.

Bukeela ka Ethiopia

Bukeela ka Ethiopia is lighter in body and less intense than Ethiopia Yirgacheffe but also has those delicate floral notes the country’s coffee is known and loved for.

Taken With Milk

We recommend drinking Ethiopia Yirgacheffe black to perceive the aromatic subtleties of the origin. If drunk with milk, we suggest trying it as a Latte Macchiato. This coffee will become even more aromatic with surprising floral notes reminiscent of a violet candy. The addition of milk brings sweetness and a biscuit flavour to this tasteful Espresso.

14 September 2017

Vistra to Acquire Corporate Services Business from Deutsche Bank

Vistra, a leading global corporate service provider, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Corporate Services business of Deutsche Bank’s Global Transaction Banking division. 'Corporate Services' provides management and administration of SPVs and asset holding companies to banks, non-bank financial institutions and corporates. The business specialises in the administration of structures for:
  • Structured Finance transactions (CLOs, CDOs, Securitizations, Mortgage-Backed Securities);
  • Aircraft Leasing;
  • Commercial Real Estate holding; and
  • Investment Funds (mainly private equity and real estate).  
Operating in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Jersey, Mauritius, Cayman Islands and the US, the business employs 139 staff globally. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals.

Expected to close in the first half of 2018, the transaction will assist Vistra to continue on its progressive growth trajectory. The acquisition strengthens Vistra's international network and provides further scale and expertise for existing jurisdictions. All of Deutsche Bank's Corporate Services staff will be given the opportunity to join the combined operation to support and grow the client relationships that are at the core of this acquisition. Terms of the agreement are not being disclosed. 

Commenting on the acquisition, Onno Bouwmeister, Vistra’s Group Managing Director of Alternative Investments division stated “This acquisition marks another significant step in Vistra’s growth, broadening our presence in seven of our existing locations across Europe, the Cayman Islands and Mauritius. It gives us presence in Ireland, a key strategic jurisdiction particularly in light of the upcoming ‘Brexit’ process, and additional capability in Mauritius where the bulk of the back-office administrative activity is carried out to high quality standards. This additional expertise in the Capital Markets sector will have a significant impact on our Alternative Investments division, creating exciting opportunities for our new employees and clients alike. We look forward to working together to build on our achievements to date and take Vistra to the next level.

Jose Sicilia, Deutsche Bank's Head of Trust and Agency Services, Global Transaction Banking said “Our main goal with this transaction was to find a partner that will continue to deliver the highest quality services to our Corporate Services clients as well as a dedicated Corporate Service provider for our staff. This will enable us to sharpen our focus on our existing award-winning securities services business. We feel we have achieved our objective with Vistra.

13 September 2017

Herbert Smith Freehills research reveals Artificial Intelligence will recast the relationship dynamic between legal providers and clients

International law firm Herbert Smith Freehills has published the results of its Artificial Intelligence (AI) research anticipating its impact on the legal practice. The report, Artificial Intelligence: The client perspective, reveals that clients want their legal providers to focus on collaboration, new ways of service delivery and talent development. The introduction of AI into law firms' working practices will enable firms to meet these client demands.


Investing in AI technologies seems an obvious strategy for law firms. However, the technology is a means to an end. Clients may not contribute to law firms' AI investments but they expect their legal providers to take a lead in offering progressive services and solutions to recast the value gleaned from their relationships. Law firms need to take charge of creating the right mix of human and machine capabilities to recast future relationships that benefit both provider and client.

The research compiles the views of senior clients – including general counsels, chief operating officers and strategy directors – from 22 leading international companies from a wide range of industries, including the financial, insurance, real estate and consumer goods sectors.

The findings suggest that clients have strong views in three distinct areas:
  1. Recast the relationship dynamic: Clients believe that AI tools will lead  to greater efficiency and challenge revenue models but also – and more importantly – drive an enhanced engagement. Clients want their law firms to move beyond traditional transactional lead delivery to a new, more collaborative relationship model.
  2. Embrace new business models: Clients want to know that their legal provider is making the best decisions around innovation, combining new technologies with new ways of working, including collaborating with third parties and challenging existing processes.
  3. Reshape the talent pool: Clients expect that their legal provider can still deliver top human talent as  well as take advantage of technology.
CEO Mark Rigotti comments:

"Artificial intelligence is advancing rapidly and is changing the way law firms do business, the way we interact with clients and ultimately, the way we think. The traditional model for delivering legal services is being redefined and clients expect their law firms to deliver more value. At Herbert Smith Freehills providing legal services aligned with legal technology solutions, remains at the heart of our innovation agenda."

12 September 2017

Who Owns the Wealth in Tax Havens? Macro Evidence and Implications for Global Inequality

Drawing on newly published macroeconomic statistics, this paper estimates the amount of household wealth owned by each country in offshore tax havens. The equivalent of 10% of world GDP is held in tax havens globally, but this average masks a great deal of heterogeneity—from a few percent of GDP in Scandinavia, to about 15% in Continental Europe, and 60% in Gulf countries and some Latin American economies. We use these estimates to construct revised series of top wealth shares in ten countries, which account for close to half of world GDP. Because offshore wealth is very concentrated at the top, accounting for it increases the top 0.01% wealth share substantially in Europe, even in countries that do not use tax havens extensively. It has considerable effects in Russia, where the vast majority of wealth at the top is held offshore. These results highlight the importance of looking beyond tax and survey data to study wealth accumulation among the very rich in a globalized world.

Who Owns the Wealth in Tax Havens? Macro Evidence and Implications for Global Inequality (Annette Alstadsæter, Niels Johannesen and Gabriel Zucman), NBER working paper 23805, September 2017

11 September 2017

Despite Brexit Uncertainty London Remains On Top

There is an overall drop in confidence amongst the leading centres. Of the top 25 centres, 23 fell in the ratings and only two rose. At the lower end of the table, 20 of the 25 lowest rated centres actually rose in the GFCI ratings.

There is little change in the top five positions. London and New York remain in first and second places. Interestingly, despite the ongoing Brexit negotiations, London only fell two points, the smallest decline in the top ten centres. Hong Kong has moved just ahead of Singapore into third – only two points ahead on a scale of 1,000. Tokyo remains in fifth.

The gap between third place Hong Kong and second place New York is now only 12 points. This is the smallest gap between second and third places for over five years. New York fell by 24 points, the largest fall in the top 15 centres, presumably due to fears over US trade.

Western European financial centres are still volatile. Frankfurt, Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam all rose, but Zurich, Geneva, and Luxembourg fell in the ratings. Overall assessments for the European centres continued to fluctuate as people speculate about which centres might benefit from London leaving the EU. However, the majority of centres in the region rose with Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Vienna all showing strong rises.

The leading financial centres in the Asia/Pacific region fell in the ratings. All of the top ten centres in the region fell in the ratings with Singapore, Tokyo, and Osaka all showing marked declines. These are reverses of strong gains made in 2015-16.

All centres in North America fell in the GFCI ratings. As mentioned above, New York fell. San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and Washington also saw large falls. The decline of Canadian centres was less severe than the falls of the USA centres.

All of the Eastern European centres rose in the ratings. Cyprus, Athens, St Petersburg, and Moscow reversed some of their recent declines.

Financial centres in the Middle East and Africa showed mixed results in GFCI 22. Dubai and Casablanca fell slightly, but other centres in the region did well. Abu Dhabi, second in the region, reduced the gap to first place Dubai to just nine points. Elsewhere in the Middle East, there were good rises for Bahrain and Riyadh.

Latin American and Caribbean centres did well. The Caribbean centres of the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas saw strong rises. Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro also did well. Buenos Aires joined the main GFCI, but Santiago remains an associate centre having failed to accumulate a sufficient number of assessments to enter the main index.

European ‘island’ centres did well. The British Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man all performed strongly and there were also strong rises for Malta, Reykjavik, and Gibraltar.

07 September 2017

Is ‘offshore’ a dirty word?

Until recently the wealthy could stash their cash offshore with impunity. Now, amid public resentment, they and their favoured havens are having to embrace transparency, says Alec Marsh