Demand for Bedell’s legal and fiduciary services in Asia is increasing significantly and we are expanding our team in Singapore as we continue to gear up to meet growth.
The bulk of the work undertaken is corporate and commercial British Virgin Island (BVI) legal services. A portion of that relates to setting up alternative investment vehicles, particularly hedge funds, for Asian and North American-based managers looking to invest in the region.
In addition, there is demand for regulatory work and we have been assisting clients in obtaining licences in the BVI for the management of investment funds, and in one more unusual case a licence for a foreign exchange manager.
We have assisted a client to list on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, and another with a Frankfurt listing, advised on private equity investments into BVI operating businesses, provided advice on capital restructuring, and provided legal opinions on a range of corporate work which reflects the accelerating expansion of the Asian markets.
Our clients are wide ranging and include international law firms, banks, trust companies, investment managers and entrepreneurs who are all aware of the massive potential for growth in the region, and are seeking to take advantage of those opportunities.
There is no doubting the enduring popularity of the BVI corporate vehicle. Its flexibility, ease of administration and use is the reason that it has become one of the most popular offshore structures.
It is estimated that of the foreign direct investment into mainland China during the past 20 years or so, about US$100 billion was channelled through BVI companies, making it second only to Hong Kong in terms of investment into mainland China.
Private clients are also attracted by the strong trust law developed by the BVI authorities, and its specialist VISTA trust regime. One of the primary holding vehicles under most of these trust structures would be a BVI company and the reasons again are because of the flexibility of the vehicle in wealth management structures and its ease of use.
As a firm we have a major commitment to growing our Asian business. Alongside our expanding presence in Singapore, we have an office in the BVI headed by an experienced lawyer, Valerie George Thomas, already well known in senior legal circles in the region, and in Jersey we have a further experienced team offering BVI legal advice, led by partners Simon Pascoe and Alasdair Hunter.
Bedell Trust, a provider of corporate and fiduciary services, is another part of Bedell with a focus on Asia. It is initially building wealth management business in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.
The trust team has also developed a close relationship with our London office for opportunities created by ever increasing Asian investment into the UK and Europe, particularly in real estate, as well as demand by Asian companies listing in London especially on the alternative investment market (AIM).
In the next few years, Asia as a region is likely to be busier than the rest of the world, and Singapore is an ideal office hub for us. As one of the world’s major financial centres, Singapore is driving a lot of its business from Southeast Asia from countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam and we expect considerable interest in utilising BVI corporate vehicles as a result.
While the office brings us closer to business in Southeast Asia, our representation in Hong Kong is helping us attract business from mainland China.
Heart of the market
The presence of an office in Singapore has brought us into the heart of the expanding Asian market, and is enabling us to offer a more direct service to existing BVI clients in the region. We know clients prefer having a team based in their own time zone, who can respond quickly and meet face to face more easily.
Our emphasis on client service is a strong differentiator that plays well in the region and is generating increasing numbers of instructions, creating the need for further expansion by us to meet demand.
In addition to offices in Singapore, BVI and Jersey, Bedell has offices in Guernsey, London, Dublin, Geneva and Mauritius.
Stephen Adams is a partner at Bedell Group Services in Singapore. He can be contacted on +65 6622 5514 or by email at email@example.com