ESMA report values EU AIF at EUR 4.9 trillion
March 10, 2019

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) today published its first statistical report on European Union (EU) alternative investment funds (AIF). The study finds that the EU AIF sector in 2017, as measured by net asset value (NAV), amounted to EUR 4.9 trillion or nearly one third of the total EU fund industry. The report is based on data from 26,378 AIFs, or 80 percent of the market, and will be published annually.

Sector breakdown

Funds of funds accounted for 16 percent of the industry, followed by real estate (RE) funds (11 percent), hedge funds (5 percent) and private equity funds (4 percent). The remaining category of other AIFs accounts for close to two-thirds of the industry (63 percent), which highlights potential classification issues and therefore a more detailed analysis of this category will be carried out by ESMA. Most AIFs are sold to professional investors (81 percent) but retail participation is significant (19 percent), with the highest share in the funds of funds and real estate categories.

The AIF market in general has a relatively low risk profile, with limited use of leverage for most AIFs, except for hedge funds whose leverage stems mainly from their use of derivatives to increase their exposure (synthetic leverage), rather than from direct borrowing.

For most AIFs the liquidity risk is limited, as the liquidity of their portfolio is higher than the liquidity offered to investors. However, RE funds are exposed to significant liquidity risk as they invest in illiquid assets while allowing investors to redeem their shares over a short timeframe. This liquidity mismatch is a concern, especially given the high share of retail investors in RE (26 percent).





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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) today published its first statistical report on European Union (EU) alternative investment funds (AIF). The study finds that the EU AIF sector in 2017, as measured by net asset value (NAV), amounted to EUR 4.9 trillion or nearly one third of the total EU fund industry. The report is based on data from 26,378 AIFs, or 80 percent of the market, and will be published annually.

Sector breakdown

Funds of funds accounted for 16 percent of the industry, followed by real estate (RE) funds (11 percent), hedge funds (5 percent) and private equity funds (4 percent). The remaining category of other AIFs accounts for close to two-thirds of the industry (63 percent), which highlights potential classification issues and therefore a more detailed analysis of this category will be carried out by ESMA. Most AIFs are sold to professional investors (81 percent) but retail participation is significant (19 percent), with the highest share in the funds of funds and real estate categories.

The AIF market in general has a relatively low risk profile, with limited use of leverage for most AIFs, except for hedge funds whose leverage stems mainly from their use of derivatives to increase their exposure (synthetic leverage), rather than from direct borrowing.

For most AIFs the liquidity risk is limited, as the liquidity of their portfolio is higher than the liquidity offered to investors. However, RE funds are exposed to significant liquidity risk as they invest in illiquid assets while allowing investors to redeem their shares over a short timeframe. This liquidity mismatch is a concern, especially given the high share of retail investors in RE (26 percent).



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