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BlackRock gets OK to set up company to invest in alts for French clients

BlackRock (BLK) received an approval from French financial services regulator Autorité des Marchés Financiers to set up a company that will manage illiquid alternatives for clients in France, the U.S. money manager said in a statement Thursday.

"We have obtained alternative investment fund manager license to be able to manage alternative assets in France, but also for clients outside France. But this is not Brexit-related. (We are) not (opening) a new office," a spokesman said.

BlackRock's illiquid alternatives business globally has $75 billion in assets under management. BlackRock did not provide the size of Europe-based assets.

Global money management firms operating in Europe need to obtain a license to operate under the alternative investment fund manager directive, known as AIFMD passport. Some national regulators in Europe require additional licenses to provide services to clients in those countries. "We have that license in a number of European markets and this is an additional license," the spokesman added.

"This entity forms an important part of the growth strategy for our alternatives business, as we continue to develop a differentiated platform that serves clients globally, in addition to serving our French clients. This is a significant milestone that builds on the success of BlackRock's European and French businesses, and is an achievement built on being a truly local player in every market we operate in," a separate BlackRock spokeswoman said.

The French government has lifted restrictions to invest in alternative asset classes in the past few years. The regulators gave pension funds permission to invest up to 3% in open-end strategies in 2015.