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Investors boost Jersey funds to pounds 30.7bn record

Funds from all over the world but especially from South Africa poured into Jersey-based investment funds last year, swelling their total value by 26 per cent to a record pounds 30.7bn.

The ending of apartheid and a slight relaxation of the restrictions on moving capital out of South Africa has led to the establishment of several SA-controlled funds in Jersey. Liberty Life was the first to set up and others have followed. There are now 1,338 collective investment funds operating in the Island, with 130 being established during 1996 and a further 41 new funds being processed.

The Jersey authorities are delighted with the way in which funds from all over the world continue to pour into the tiny finance centre. They see the continued growth as clear evidence that investors' faith in Jersey's reputation and stability has not been shaken, despite recent criticism of their controversial limited liability partnerships law and an alleged $27m (pounds 17m) foreign currency fraud.

John Pallot, deputy director of the island's Financial Services Department, said: "It demonstrates the continuing health of this sector in Jersey and the confidence that the international funds industry and its clients have in the island.

"However, these statistics are only half the story as the more private funds, usually offered to fewer than 50 investors, are not included in the results. The value of these is estimated at about pounds 22bn, bringing the total value of Jersey's fund industry to well over pounds 50bn."

The applications for the 41 new funds being processed come from promoters all over the world including the US and the Middle East as well as western Europe and South Africa.

Neighbouring Guernsey has also enjoyed growth in this sector, the total value of its investment funds rising by 4.6 per cent last year to pounds 13.4bn.

There are now 337 different investment schemes based in the island, representing a record number of 116,390 unit or shareholders.

Nigel Taylor, Guernsey's Superintendent of Investment Business, said: "In terms of trends there is an increasing interest in distressed securities as an asset class, emerging market debt instruments and a re-emergence of cash and property funds." He added there were 31 new funds in the pipeline.