- 1Spain: An attractive country for investment
- 2Setting up a business in Spain
- 3 Tax System
- 4 Investment aid and incentives in Spain
- 5 Labor and social security regulations
- 6 Intellectual property law
- 7Legal framework and tax implications of e-commerce in Spain
- AI Annex I Company and Commercial Law
- AIIAnnex II The Spanish financial system
- AIIIAnnex IIIAccounting and audit issues
- Financial institutions
- Safeguards to protect financial services customers
2. Financial institutions
2.4 Collective Investment Schemes
Collective investment schemes (Instituciones de Inversión Colectiva, or IICs) are vehicles designed to raise funds, assets or rights from the general public to manage them and invest them in assets, rights, securities or other instruments, financial or otherwise, provided that the investor’s return is established according to the collective results.
The favorable tax treatment enjoyed by collective investment schemes in Spain has led to a considerable increase both in the number of these vehicles and the volume of their investments.
According to data published by INVERCO, (the Spanish Association of Collective Investment Schemes and Pension Funds), financial saving (financial assets) by Spanish households at the end of September 2020 amounted to, according to the Bank of Spain, 2.31 billion euros. In the third quarter, Spanish households reduced their balance in financial assets by 38,986 million euros, 1.7% less than in June of the same year. Investment funds and investment companies experienced quarterly growth of 1.7%. In year-on-year terms, and in an environment of high uncertainty with notable risk aversion among households, the asset with the highest growth is deposits/cash, which already recorded a year-on-year increase of 7.7%, with the household savings rate at record highs.
In cumulative terms for the first three quarters, new financial asset purchases by households reached 60,510 million euros, a figure that had not occurred since 2006, although only two assets have concentrated all the interest of Spanish households: deposits/cash and CIIs, on which households have made subscriptions of 7,703 million euros up to September7.
In addition to the abundant sectorial legislation, the basic rules for IICs are contained in Collective Investment Scheme Law 35/2003, of November 4, and its implementing regulation, approved by Royal Decree 1082/2012, of July 13, 2012. This legislation transposes the latest version of Directive 2009/65/EC8 of the European Parliament and of the Council of July 13, 2009 on the coordination of laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS).
Spanish collective investment schemes may be of two types:
- Financial: Their primary activity is to invest in or manage transferable securities. These include investment companies and securities funds, money market funds and other institutions whose corporate purpose is to invest in or manage financial assets.
- Non-financial: They deal mainly in real asset assets for operation purposes and include real estate investment companies and funds. Of note in this regard is the creation of Listed Corporations for Investment in the Real Estate Market (Sociedades Anónimas Cotizadas de Inversión en el Mercado Inmobiliario, SOCIMIs) whose main activity is to acquire and develop urban real estate for lease activities.
As for the legal form that the various schemes may take, the legislation envisages two alternatives:
- Investment Companies: These are collective investment schemes that take the form of a corporation (and therefore have legal personality) and whose corporate purpose is to raise funds, assets or rights from the general public to manage them and invest them in assets, rights, securities or other instruments, financial or otherwise, provided that the investor’s return is established according to the collective results. The management of an Investment Company is entrusted to its board of directors, although the general meeting—or the board of directors by delegation—has the authority to resolve upon the appointment of an SGIIC as the party responsible for guaranteeing compliance with the provisions of Royal Decree 1082/2012 of July 13, 2012 approving the enabling Regulations for Law 35/2003 of November 4, 2003 on collective investment institutions (the IIC Regulation). If the Investment Company does not appoint a SGIIC, the company itself shall be subject to the regime for SGIICs established in Royal Decree 1082/2012. The SGIIC appointed, or the Investment Company if a SGIIC has not been appointed, may in turn delegate the management of investments to another financial institution or institutions in the manner and subject to the requirements set out in the IIC Regulation. The number of shareholders may not be less than 100. In the case of multiple compartment SICAVs, the number of shareholders may not be less than 20, and the total number of shareholders of the SICAV may not be less than 100 under any circumstances.
Financial Investment Companies will be formed as open-ended investment companies (Sociedades de Inversión de Capital Variable, or SICAV) with variable capital, that is, capital that may be increased or reduced within the maximum or minimum capital limits set in their bylaws, by means of the sale or acquisition by the company of its own shares. Shares will be issued and bought back by the company at the request of any interested party according to the corresponding net asset value on the date of the request. The acquisition of own shares by the SICAV, in an amount between the initial capital and the limit per the bylaws, will not be subject to the restrictions established for the derivative acquisition of own shares in the Capital Companies Law. Since they are listed companies, SICAV shares must be represented by book entries (the unofficial market habitually used for trading the shares of SICAVs is the Alternative Stock Market (Mercado Alternativo Bursátil, MAB)). Non-financial Investment Companies will be closed-end companies, i.e. they will have a fixed capital structure.
It is obligatory for SICAVs to have a depositary.
- Investment Funds: These are pools of assets with no legal personality divided into a number of transferable units (with no par value) with identical properties belonging to a group of investors ("unit-holders") who may not be fewer than 100. In the case of multiple compartment investment funds, the number of unit-holders in each of the compartments may not be less than 20 and the total number of unit-holders of the investment fund may not be less than 100 under any circumstances. The subscription or redemption of the units depends on their supply or demand, so their value ("net asset value") is calculated by dividing the value of the assets of the fund by the number of units outstanding. Payment on redemption will be made by the depositary within a maximum of three business days from the date of the net asset value applicable to the company.
A fund is managed by Management Company of Collective Investment Schemes that has the power to dispose of the assets, although it is not the owner of the assets. A Depositary is the company responsible for the liquidity of the securities and, as the case may be, for their safe-keeping. Both companies are remunerated for their services through fees.
Listed investment funds are those whose units are admitted to trading on a stock exchange, for which purpose they must meet a number of requirements.
A distinction may also be drawn between collective investment schemes according to whether they are subject to Spanish or European legislation:
- Spanish Collective Investment Scheme (IIC) legislation:
Spanish IICs are investment companies with registered office in Spain and investment funds formed in Spain. They are subject to Spanish IIC legislation, which reserves the corresponding activity and name for them.
Foreign IICs are any IICs other than those mentioned in the preceding paragraph. If they wish to be traded in Spain, they must meet certain requirements established in the applicable legislation.
- European Collective Investment Scheme (IIC) legislation:
Harmonized IICs are IICs authorized in an EU Member State in accordance with the UCITS legislation.
Non-harmonized IICs are IICs domiciled in an EU Member State that do not meet the requirements established in the UCITS legislation and IICs domiciled in non-EU Member States. In addition, Collective Investment Schemes of Free Investment, commonly known in the market as Hedge Funds9, are in any case considered as non-harmonized IICs. Collective Investment Schemes of Free Investment may invest in financial assets and instruments and in derivatives, regardless of the nature of the underlying assets. Such investments must respect the general principles of liquidity, risk diversification and transparency, but are not subject to the rest of the investment rules established for IICs.
The Spanish National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) is the body in charge of supervising IICs. In this respect, both investment companies and investment funds require prior authorization from the CNMV for their formation. After their formation and registration at the Commercial Registry (the registration requirement is not obligatory for investment funds), the CNMV registers the IIC and its prospectus on its register.
The asset and capital requirements of the main types of IICs include the following:
- Financial investment funds will have minimum assets of €3,000,000. In the case of multiple compartment funds, each compartment must have at least €600,000 in assets and the total minimum capital paid in may not be less than €3,000,000 under any circumstances.
- The minimum capital of Open-End Investment Companies (SICAVs) will be €2,400,000, which must be fully subscribed and paid in. In the case of multiple compartment SICAVs, each compartment must have minimum capital of €480,000 and the total minimum capital paid in may not be less than €2,400,000 under any circumstances.
- The minimum capital stock of real estate investment companies will be €9,000,000. In the case of multiple compartment companies, each compartment must have capital of at least €2,400,000 and the total capital of the company may not be less than €9,000,000 under any circumstances.
A brief comment should also be made regarding the trading10 of foreign IICs in Spain which, subject to fulfillment of the formalities and requirements established in the legislation, requires that a distinction be drawn between:
- Harmonized IICs, which may trade in Spain unrestricted once the competent authority in the home Member State informs them that it has sent the CNMV a notification with the relevant information.
- Non-harmonized IICs and IICs authorized in a non-EU Member State, which require express authorization from the CNMV and registration on its registers.
2.4.2 Management Companies of Collective Investment Schemes
The key features of Management Companies of Collective Investment Vehicles (SGIICs) are as follows:
- They are corporations which have as their corporate purpose the management of investments, the control and management of risks, administration, representation and the management of subscriptions and redemptions of investment funds and companies. They may also market the participation units or shares of IICs.
- Moreover, SGIICs may be authorized to engage in the following activities:
- Discretionary and individualized investment portfolio management.
- Administration, representation, management and marketing of venture capital entities, closed-ended collective investment entities, European venture capital funds (EVCF) and European social entrepreneurship funds (ESEF).
- Investment advice.
- Safe-keeping and management of units of investment funds and, as the case may be, of shares of investment companies, EVCFs and ESEFs.
- Receipt and transfer of customer orders relating to one or more financial instruments.
- It falls on the CNMV to grant prior authorization for the formation of an SGIIC. Once formed, in order to commence its operations, the SGIIC must be registered at the Commercial Registry and on the appropriate CNMV register.
- SGIICs must, at all times, have equity11 that may not be less than the larger of the following amounts:
- Minimum capital stock of €125,000 fully paid in and increased by certain proportions established in the IIC regulations according to certain circumstances.
- 25% of the overheads charged in the income statement for the prior year. Overheads will comprise personnel expenses, general expenses, levies and taxes, amortization/depreciation charges and other operating charges.
- The current legislation introduces the necessary provisions to ensure the correct functioning of the cross-border fund management company passport, enabling Spanish SGIICs to manage funds domiciled in other EU Member States and SGIICs from other Member States to manage Spanish funds.
- In addition, regarding cross-border activities of SGIICs, the following may be noted:
- SGIICs authorized in Spain may engage in the activity to which the foreign authorization refers, either through a branch or under the freedom to provide services, after fulfilling all formalities and requirements established by law.
- Foreign SGIICs may engage in their activities in Spain either by opening a branch or under the freedom to provide services, provided that they satisfy the relevant statutory formalities and requirements.
- Any individual or legal entity that, alone or acting in concert with others, intends to, directly or indirectly, acquire a significant holding12 in a Spanish SGIIC or to, directly or indirectly, increase their holding in that SGIIC so that either the percentage of voting rights or of capital they hold is equal to or greater than 20, 30 or 50 percent, or by virtue of the acquisition they could come to control the SGIIC, they must first notify the CNMV in order to secure a statement of non-opposition to the proposed acquisition, indicating the amount of the expected holding and including all the information required by law. Acquiring or increasing significant holdings in breach of the law constitutes a very serious infringement. In addition, any individual or legal entity that, directly or indirectly, intends to dispose of a significant holding in an SGIIC, to reduce their holding so that it falls below the thresholds of 20, 30 or 50 percent, or that, as a result of the proposed disposal, may lose control of the credit institution, must give prior notice to the CNMV.
Likewise, any individual or legal entity that, alone or acting in concert with others, has acquired, directly or indirectly, a holding in a management company, so that the percentage of voting rights or of capital that they hold is equal to or greater than 5 percent, must give immediate written notice to the CNMV and the SGIIC in question, indicating the amount of the resulting holding.
8Modified by Directive 2014/91/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 amending Directive 2009/65/EC on the coordination of laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS) as regards depositary functions, remuneration policies and sanctions.
9Directive 2011/61/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of June 8, 2011, on alternative investment fund managers, lays down the rules applicable to the ongoing operation and transparency of the managers of alternative investment funds which manage and/or market alternative investment funds throughout the EU. Royal Decree 1082/2012, of July 13, 2012, approving the implementing regulations of Law 35/2003, introduced some of the new requirements set forth under Directive 2011/61/EU. In addition, on November 13, 2014, the Official State Gazette published Law 22/2014, of November 12, 2014, regulating venture capital entities, other closed-ended type collective investment entities and the management companies of closed-ended type collective investment entities, and amending Law 35/2003, of November 4, 2003 on collective investment schemes the main purpose of which is to transpose Directive 2011/61/EU, on Alternative Investment Fund Managers into Spanish law.
10Subject to the requirements laid down in Directive 2011/61/EU.
11SGIICs may be exempt from compliance with some of the obligations of the Law, as provided for in the regulations, where they meet the following requirements: they only manage investment firms and the managed assets are less than a) €100 million, including assets acquired by using leverage; or b) €500 million where the investment firms they manage are not leveraged and have no right of reimbursement that may be exercised during a period of five years after the date of initial investment.
12Where "significant holding" means a holding in a SGIIC that amounts, directly or indirectly, to at least 10% of the capital or voting rights of the institution. Where a holding makes it possible to exert a notable influence at the institution, it will also be considered a significant holding even if it does not amount to 10%.