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BoC CEO: Cyprus failing to realise business opportunities (Updated)

Cyprus has tremendous opportunities to attract international funds, but needs to address the ease of doing business aspect of the industry, Bank of Cyprus CEO John Hourican said on Monday.
Addressing the International Funds Summit, organised by the Cyprus Investment Funds Association (CIFA), Hourican cited a survey published in The Economist, which ranked attractive destinations for fund managers.
“Today, 71 per cent said they would choose Ireland,” Hourican said.
“Cyprus doesn’t even register in this – it’s nowhere. Malta is there, Germany is there, Spain is there, Italy is there; these are countries that we can, and should, compete away in the eyes of investors.”
Cyprus has “great law”, a highly-educated, English-speaking workforce, great opportunity, and a unique “geo-position” that makes the business community remarkably positioned to succeed, he added, noting that it lags behind on ease of doing business.
“It is not an overwhelming choice today for fund managers,” Hourican said.
“An overwhelming choice is Ireland. Cyprus has all the capability, and more, of my home nation, and I would like to see it take a large piece of that pie. Can we compete? I think we can.”
Meanwhile, speaking at the same summit, Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said the government will be unveiling a bundle of bills aiming to strengthen the framework of international funds legislation over the next few weeks.
He added that the government’s goal is to make the legislative framework “more cutting-edge and modern, while maintaining a high degree of investor protection”.
“The new features will include the introduction of registered funds, the introduction of licensed mini-managers, and the introduction also of limited partnerships with legal personality as an alternative investment-fund vehicle,” he said.
“We are also exploring the introduction of a legal framework for licensed and regulated fund administrators, and shall remain on readiness to promote any further improvements to our legal framework.”
The finance minister thanked CIFA for “being such a valued partner for the ministry of finance”, and cited its collaboration with the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission as an “excellent example of government and industry working methodically together in the direction of creating those circumstances that will allow Cyprus to play a key role as a regional, reputable funds centre”.

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