A collective investment scheme (CIS) is defined by the Malta Investment Services Act as a scheme or arrangement which has as its object the collective investment of capital acquired by means of an offer of units for subscription, sale or exchange and which has any of the following characteristics:
- The scheme or arrangement operates according to the principle of risk spreading, and either;
- The contributions of the participants and the profits or income out of which payments are to be made to them are pooled; or
- At the request of the holders, units are or are to be re-purchased or redeemed out of the assets of the scheme, or arrangement, continuously or in blocks at short intervals; or
- Units are, or have been, or will be issued continuously or in blocks at short intervals.
A CIS may be set up in Malta as a:
- SICAV (investment company with variable share capital (i.e. an open-ended fund)
- Investment company with fixed share capital (i.e. a closed-ended fund)
- Contractual Fund
- Limited Partnership
- Incorporated Cell Company; or
- Unit Trust.
CISs can be licenced as follows:
- UCITS Schemes: UCITS Schemes are open-ended schemes licenced in accordance with the provisions of the Investment Services Act. Within this framework these Schemes benefit from passporting rights within the EU and can hence be marketed in other EU or EEA Member States.
- Alternative Investment Funds: This category of funds includes non-UCITS Retail Schemes and Professional Investor Funds (PIFs). Non-UCITS Retail Schemes can be open-ended or closed-ended retail schemes. On the other hand, PIFs are regulated under a separate framework which is particularly suited for funds sold internationally on a private placement basis. As is the case for UCITS, the AIF framework allows these funds to benefit from the EU passport throughout the EU.
Collective Investment schemed in Malta are monitored by the Malta Financial Services Authority which, besides having the responsibility for the licensing process, is also responsible for the regulation and ongoing supervision of Collective Investment Schemes. It is to be noted however that the following Malta CIS are exempted from the requirement to operate according to the principle of risk spreading:
- Alternative investment funds marketed to professional investors;
- A collective investment scheme licensed as a professional investor fund targeting qualifying investors in terms of the Investment Services Rules;
- A collective investment scheme licensed as a professional investor fund targeting extraordinary investors in terms of the Investment Services Rules.
The nature, structure and operation of each fund will depend on the purpose and objectives of that specific fund.
Read more about the general features of the most common types of collective investment schemes availed of in terms of Maltese law: