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Campbell Lutyens eyes post-Brexit opportunity with Paris office

The independent advisory industry has had to navigate a material increase in regulatory burdens due to the UK's departure from the EU, says chief executive Andrew Sealey.

Campbell Lutyens has opened a European office to better support its clients and investors following the UK’s departure from the EU.

The advisory firm and placement agent opened the bureau in Paris, bringing its global office count to eight, according to a statement. The office will serve both fund placement and secondaries advisory functions and will be led by Annabelle Judd, a principal in the firm’s secondaries team.

“Brexit is complicating our business – there’s a material increase in the regulatory burden,” chief executive Andrew Sealey told Private Equity International. “The reality is it took a lot longer than we expected. We’re glad we started early.”

Campbell Lutyens is understood to be one of the few independent advisory firms in alternatives to have opened a full-service Europe office since the 2016 referendum. Buyside firms including HarbourVest Partners and Pantheon have opened offices in Dublin in the last five years to minimise the disruption caused by Brexit.

Sealey said that in deciding which European city to open an office in, the firm ranked locations across four criteria: connectivity to London and the rest of Europe; the attraction of the city as a place to live; the concentration of the firm’s clients; and the nation’s regulatory framework. Paris and Luxembourg topped the list, with the French regulators “leaning in” a little more to make the process smoother, Sealey said.

Legal sources told PEI last year that administrative bodies in the EU could face a backlog of applications from UK managers that want to set up AIFMs at the last minute so they can market to local investors. Some national regulators have been more proactive than others in wooing GPs: France’s financial regulator has offered review processes in English to facilitate managers setting up AIFMs in the country, streamlined certain processes, such as pre-authorisations, and offers a shortened timeline of two months.

Although certain jurisdictions have transitional agreements, Sealey said the UK’s departure from the EU significantly limits independent placement agents’ and advisory firms’ activities, both in terms of marketing to local institutions as well as acting in those jurisdictions for clients that may want to sell portfolios on the secondaries market.

He added that the office in France would allow the firm to continue to advise clients across fund placement and secondaries activities.