Monday, September 25, 2006

New networking solution and lower mobile rates

Telecommunications is one of the most fundamental elements in modern business. That is why the last news from Cable & Wireless and CCT Global Communications cannot but please local people as well as those having business connections to the BVI.

CCT Global Communications is the sole mobile telecommunications provider in the British Virgin Islands and the company that offers advanced digital voice and data network in the Caribbean. The company has lowered its rates for BVI customers (almost 10 000 people). Rob Lyons, CCT General Manager, has announced lowering GSM Flexphone rates by 60%. The lower mobile rates took effect on 1 September 2006.

It is worth mentioning that in less than a year this is already the 3rd time the company has reduced its rates. In March, it was announced that incoming cell phone to cell phone calls would be free. The 2nd announcement was that long distance rates would be lowered by 60%. Also, it should be noted that CCT Global Communications has never raised its rates in company's history.

Another giant of communications industry, Cable & Wireless, has recently announced fine-tuning and preparing numerous exciting products and services that would be introduced to the British Virgin Islands. Cable & Wireless will offer Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) solution to meet the priorities of its customers. Now, customers will be able to run more applications including voice, over one network of converged data services.

The company invested more than USD 10 million in the MPLS network, and currently Cable & Wireless is planning to continue investing in this new-generation network for providing world-class services.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

BVI holding companies boosting foreign investment to Hong Kong in the Q2-2006

I have already mentioned that the British Virgin Islands keep the 2nd largest foreign investor's position in China, the first one being Hong Kong - Special Administrative Region of the China. The 2nd quarter GDP and foreign investment data released yesterday by Hong Kong Census & Statistics Department, confirmed the similar situation in Hong Kong where the BVI has leading status among foreign investors.

According to the information provided, the direct investment income in Hong Kong grew 10.6%, compared to the same period last year.

Foreign investment share from the BVI is at impressive 18% placing it at the top of the investors' list. The British Virgin Islands provide continued inflow of direct investments into Hong Kong economy due to the large number of BVI holding companies which have been established in the BVI by Hong Kong residents. Other major investors are the US and UK at 10.1% and 6.9%, far behind BVI.

Above the level of BVI investments there are only investments received from Chinese companies and accounted for 31.4% of the total amount. As far as Hong Kong retains its status of Special Administrative Region of China, the Mainland is at all times the major source of Hong Kong's external factor income inflow.

Hong Kong GNP increased to $340.7 billion in the second quarter of this year, that means up 1.4% compared to the same period last year. The GDP increased even more and made $348.3 billion, up 5.1%.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Appleby Spurling Hunter and Bailhache Labesse Merger

Recently, both offshore law firms announced that their merger had been formally completed, so this is the birth of one of the most extensive offshore legal networks in the world. The merger was completed on September 1, 2006. Now, the group is called Appleby Hunter Bailhache and it is the only offshore provider of legal, fiduciary and administration services with a major presence in 4 leading offshore business centres - the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and Jersey. The group offers improved services to both new and existing customers.

Appleby Hunter Bailhache's key strengths are corporate and commercial advice, funds and investment services, insurance, asset finance, capital markets, banking, dispute resolution, trusts and real property, insolvency and restructuring, telecommunications and technology as well as company accounting and management services.

Both companies are one of the leaders in their respective jurisdictions, and the combined resources of the new company will give the possibility to provide support and superior services to customers aiming at conducting offshore business in the most crucial offshore jurisdictions. Both Appleby and Bailhache are described in the offshore service firms Appleby and Bailhache on June 4, 2006

As it has already been mentioned, the offshore service firm Appleby Spurling Hunter located in the most successful offshore jurisdictions – British Virgin Islands (BVI), Bermuda, Cayman Islands – and having offices in London and Hong Kong had more than 430 lawyers and staff.
15 of Appleby's lawyers had been admitted to practice in the British Virgin Islands. Appleby's BVI office is situated in Road Town, Tortola, where 5 resident attorneys provide corporate and litigation services.

Bailhache Labesse Group is a Jersey-based offshore company established in the 1890s that provided legal, fiduciary and administrative solutions to global corporations, institutions and high-net-worth individuals. Its vital features were corporate & financial services, commercial property, dispute resolution and private client work.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

New appointments in Harneys BVI and Hong Kong offices

The Hong Kong office of Harney Westwood & Riegels, which is the oldest and largest law firm in the British Virgin Islands and one of the leaders in international legal practices, has announced the new appointments at its headquarters. It announced the arrival of Michael Gagie from the BVI office. He took the post of the head of the Hong Kong office.

Ray Wearmouth, the lawyer who was on this position, returned to the British Virgin Islands and continues to lead the Financial and Commercial branches of the firm in the BVI.

Both lawyers participating in this rotation have obtained high reputation in the BVI offshore jurisdiction and internationally.

Michael Gagie regularly appears in the global legal directories as one of the leading corporate lawyers in the BVI. He was qualified as an English solicitor in 1997. Working in several London law firms, namely Weil, Gotshal & Manges and Simmons & Simmons, he specialized in mergers and acquisitions. He was seconded also to the London Stock Exchange. In the same period of time he was engaged by Shell International Limited as an in-house counsel.

His current areas of legal practice include all corporate and commercial disciplines. He joined Harneys in 2003. Now he regularly consults the AIM exchange in London on subject of the listing of BVI corporate entities. This year he is also registered as a Foreign Lawyer in Hong Kong and since July 2006 he is a partner.

Ray Wearmouth, another Harneys' partner, has started his career in 1994, when he was qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales and started working in the corporate department at DLA. He joined Harneys in 2001 and became a partner on December 2004. In 2005 he was registered in Hong Kong as a Foreign Lawyer. Currently he is working as Head of Banking & Finance and Corporate & Commercial in the BVI.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

BVI Captive insurers receive Practice Directions from Financial Services Comission

The BVI Financial Services Commission has published the new legislative acts. These are three Practice Directions that are issued under the Section 40 of the Financial Services Commission Act, 2001, and which give supplementary explanation of some terms, definitions and Commission requirements included in the Insurance Act, 1994 and Insurance (Amendment) Regulations, 2005. The documents were signed by Robin Goal, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Financial Services Commission, and officially sealed on 29 August 2006.

The Practice Direction Number 1 of 2006 - Definition of Terms – Insurance Allowable Assets gives formal definitions of the certain terms included in the Insurance (Amendment) Regulations, 2005, which expand the list of allowable assets and non-allowable assets. These terms are "high grade rating, "medium grade rating", "credit assessment institutions recognised by the Commission" and "stock exchanges recognised by the Commission". The Practice Direction includes the list of the Credit Assessment Institutions and Stock Exchanges recognised by the Commission, and represents the table of investment ratings.

The Practice Direction Number 2 of 2006 - Investment Policy for Captive Insurance Companies provides the criteria how the Commission may be ensured in the competent manner of insurer's business and prudent investment management practices. The need for satisfying the Commission that the insurer has available knowledge and expertise to carry on insurance business is provided by the Insurance Act, 1994. This Practice Direction applies to all Captive Insurers licenced under the Insurance Act, 1994, and sets out the minimum policies and procedures of prudent investment management.

The Practice Direction Number 3 of 2006 - Books and Records for Captive Insurance Companies also applies to all Captive Insurers and their insurance managers licenced under the Insurance Act, 1994. It provides guidance how they can demonstrate to the Commission that they meet the minimum requirements for maintaining books and records at the principal office of a Captive Insurer in the British Virgin Islands. The Practice Direction 3 also sets the minimum information amount that should be mantained in the insurer's principal office.

Friday, September 01, 2006

BVI loosing momentum in Ukraine

When talking about foreign investments into Ukraine's economy, the fact that the British Virgin Islands got the 8th place over the first six months of 2006 should by no means be ignored.

In this period of time, investments to the Ukrainian economy essentially increased. In accordance with the State Statistics Committee, the growth of foreign direct investments in first 6 months of 2006 has reached 1.698 billion USD.

As of July 1, 2006, the total amount of foreign investments into Ukraine's economy reached 18.383 billion USD.

About 85% of FDI came from just 10 countries. The biggest investments are from Germany – 495.2 million USD. Germany is followed by the second biggest investor – Cyprus – with 433.6 million USD. The list of biggest investors includes also France with 361.6 million USD, Great Britain with 272.9 million USD, the Netherlands with 270.4 million USD, Russia with 101.5 million USD, Austria with 85.6 million USD. The British Virgin Islands have invested 56.5 million USD. Poland and Hungary conclude the list of Ukraine's top investors with 26.6 and 24.7 million USD.

It is worth drawing attention to the fact that last year the British Virgin Islands were the 4th to invest in Ukraine's economy and its total investments exceeded 700 million USD. As far as Cyprus has been excluded from the Ukraine's “blacklist” of offshore zones while the BVI has been left there, recent BVI investments into the country have decreased while Cyprus is on an enormous increase – well, partially, on BVI's account.

It seems that the team of Mr. Robert Mathavious should include Ukraine in its list of the countries where the BVI jurisdiction is actively promoted, so that the British Virgin Islands would return their position with its other investment companies in Ukraine.

Besides the BVI, the Ukrainian offshore blacklist includes the Bahamas, Belize, Gibraltar, Dominican Republic, Marshall Islands, Jersey, the Isle of Man, the Island of Nevis, the Seychelles, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Turks & Caicos Islands. However, classical offshore countries – Panama and Mauritius are not blacklisted.