(Bloomberg) -- Abu Dhabi could become a global financial center, according to billionaire Alan Howard who pitched the emerging hedge fund region as the best time zone to trade for macro money managers.
In a rare public appearance, the co-founder of Brevan Howard Asset Management counted the city’s robust regulation, rule of law and favorable taxation as a lure for financial firms moving to the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
“You can see the BOJ beginning of the day and at the end of the day you can see the Fed,” Howard said in an interview with former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne at Abu Dhabi Finance Week on Tuesday. “So that is an incredible advantage of Abu Dhabi and because of that we also need an execution desk here.”
Brevan Howard, one of the world’s biggest hedge funds with assets of more than $35 billion, opened an outpost in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, joining a string of peers expanding in the Middle East region that’s fast becoming a major hub for hedge funds.
The move follows efforts by the UAE capital, whose sovereign wealth funds oversee some $1.5 trillion, to draw in more international foreign money and financial firms. Ray Dalio set up a branch of his family office in Abu Dhabi Global Market, the emirate’s international financial free zone, which has wooed a cadre of big hedge funds, venture capital firms and crypto companies this past year.
As part of Brevan Howard’s expansion, co-founder Trifon Natsis and portfolio manager Mitesh Gupta relocated to Abu Dhabi, Bloomberg reported in June. The macro-trading firm now has about 60 staff based in the city and will have about 120 by the beginning of next year, Howard said.
“We brought to a lot of our senior people because that’s the way to help the financial center grow by getting that human capital here,” Howard said. “As soon as you get more top hedge funds coming here, that can lead to the banks having to send their best people. I think it’s a great opportunity for this to become a financial center.”
Requests from employees to relocate to Abu Dhabi far exceeded the number of employees the firm could accommodate and the firm had to limit the number of people moving to the new office.
“People have come on their own. We did not force anyone, quite the contrary,” Howard said.
(Updates with Brevan Howard details from fifth paragraph.)
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