Cayman Islands Segregated Portfolio Companies: New Case Law Highlights Attractions for Promoters and Hedge Fund Managers

Typically, hedge fund managers use exempted companies organized in a master-feeder structure or in an umbrella fund structure to organize their funds.  Presently in the Cayman Islands, approximately 70% of funds are organized using these structures.  However, with the introduction in 1998 of segregated portfolio companies (SPCs) (known in other jurisdictions as “single account” or “protected cell” companies), an opportunity was given to promoters to utilize a structure that was less expensive and more efficient than the traditional structures.  Although a seemingly attractive fund vehicle, SPCs have not gathered a great following in the Cayman Islands.  At present, only around 10% of Cayman registered funds are SPCs, and that proportion has been relatively constant in recent years.  Their use has been generally limited to single investor funds where there are a large number of participants and there is a need to have the ability to create new portfolios quickly and simply.  However, with the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal (Court) handing down its decision in ABC Company (SPC) v. J & Co Ltd in June 2012, it is opportune to revisit the option available to promoters and managers of using an SPC as an attractive alternative to the vehicles more commonly used to establish hedge funds in the Cayman Islands.  In a guest article, Christopher Russell and Jayson Wood, partner and counsel, respectively, in the litigation and insolvency department of Appleby (Cayman) Ltd., discuss: the purposes and the general advantages of SPCs; the reasons for the apparent unpopularity of SPCs; the facts and legal analysis of the ABC decision; and four key structuring lessons for hedge fund managers looking to use the SPC structure following the ABC decision.

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