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The Czech Republic has recently garnered significant interest from international investors due to its favorable investment climate and transparent governing framework. The country presents distinct opportunities for the establishment and management of investment funds with variable capital, known as SICAV. These funds are particularly appealing because of their flexibility in capital management and their adaptability to changing market conditions.

Financial support for investment

The Czech Republic offers various forms of financial support and incentives to attract investment. These incentives are designed to encourage the establishment and expansion of projects across several key areas.

Investment incentives are available for projects in the following areas:

  • Manufacturing
  • Technology centers
  • Business support services centers includes software development centers, shared services centers, high-tech repair centers, data centers, and customer support centers (call centers).

Aid is provided nationwide, excluding Prague, under the Act on Investment Incentives and includes the following:

Tax incentives
  • Full corporate tax relief for up to ten years for new companies.
  • Partial corporate tax relief for up to ten years for existing companies.
Job creation grants

Financial support ranges from EUR 3,700 to 11,100 per new job created in selected regions.

Training and retraining grants

Financial support covers up to 50% of eligible training costs for new employees in selected regions.

Cash grants for capital investments

Financial support up to 10% of the investment amount for large strategic projects in manufacturing and technology centers, subject to special eligibility criteria.

Property tax incentives

Property tax exemption for five years in Special Industrial Zones designated by the Czech government.

These comprehensive incentives and support services underscore the Czech Republic’s commitment to fostering a conducive environment for investment and business growth.

Czech legislation regarding collective investments adheres to EU directives, providing investors with a high degree of confidence and security. Registering an SICAV in the Czech Republic allows investors to optimize their tax liabilities and effectively allocate and protect assets through the creation of sub-funds. This makes SICAV a crucial instrument for achieving long-term investment objectives on the global stage.

This article offers an in-depth guide to the registration process for variable capital investment funds in the Czech Republic, including an analysis of the legal aspects, share capital requirements, and the operational activities of the fund. We will discuss the key steps for obtaining a license, the documentation requirements, and the tax considerations that every investor must account for.

Types of investment funds in the Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, legislation governing investment funds offers a range of forms and structures, enabling investors to select the most appropriate format for asset management. These variations are particularly significant when choosing between open-end and CEFs, which influences the ability to issue and trade shares. Let's delve into the various types of investment funds available.

Category 

Description

Key characteristics

Mutual funds

Structures where the fund's assets are divided into shares sold to investors.

Open-ended, allowing investors to buy or sell units back to the fund at any time. Managed by specialized management companies that oversee strategy and asset allocation.

Trust funds

Designed to invest in specific projects or goals, such as social, scientific, or cultural initiatives.

Closed-end, with limited exit options for investors until the fund's objectives are achieved.

Understanding SICAV in the Czech Republic

A variable capital investment fund in the Czech Republic, known by the abbreviation SICAV, is a type of joint-stock company designed for collective investments. The primary feature of the Czech SICAV is its ability to alter its capital without requiring formal amendments to its statutory documents or company reorganization. This is facilitated by streamlining the process for investors to purchase and sell fund shares, allowing the fund's capital to fluctuate in response to demand and investment outflows. 

In a SICAV, the board of directors has the discretion to either manage the funds themselves or appoint a management company through a fund management agreement. The company's capital is determined by the contributions from capital investors.

In such a fund’s structure it can be issued two types of shares:

  • Foundation shares: these shares are held by the founders of the company and confer traditional management rights, such as the right to attend and vote at the general meeting of CZ SICAV.
  • Investment units: these are available to investors and provide the right to redemption, though their holders have minimal influence on the management of the fund.

So, it can attract both private and corporate investors due to the possibility of regular investment and withdrawal of funds. Fund shares are bought and sold at NAV, which is determined daily.

Comparison with other types of funds 

Aspect

SICAV

Other IFs

Capital structure

Capital fluctuates based on the number of shares bought and sold.

Fixed capital that does not change after initial formation (CEFs).

Liquidity

High liquidity with shares that can be bought or sold daily at the current market price.

Limited liquidity with investor exit options available only during specific periods (CEFs).

Regulatory environment

Subject to strict EU regulatory requirements for transparency, risk management, and corporate governance.

May have less stringent regulatory requirements depending on the type of fund.

Tax aspects

Offers tax advantages with taxation typically only on dividends or realized profits.

Varies, but may not provide the same tax efficiency as SICAVs.

Investment fund management

Managed by appointed internal or external managers.

Management may be directly handled by founders or shareholders, depending on the fund type.

Investor appeal

Attracts investors seeking flexibility, liquidity, and tax efficiency.

May appeal to investors looking for specific investment objectives with less flexibility.

These features make SICAVs in the Czech Republic particularly appealing to investors seeking to diversify their investment portfolios and looking for optimal ways to manage their assets on a global scale.

Legal framework for regulating SICAV 

The nation's regulations are based on a combination of national legislation and EU directives. This ensures adherence to international standards in transparency, risk management, and investor rights protection.

Country legislative acts
  • Collective Investment Act governs the operations of all collective investment schemes. It specifies the requirements for fund structure, management, disclosure, and reporting.
  • Law on Markets in Financial Instruments regulates the trading rules for securities and other financial instruments, applicable to SICAV investment units.
  • Corporate Law governs the legal aspects of JSCs, directly relevant to SICAVs given their corporate structure.

Important note: currently, for CIFs or QIFs, the obligation to meet capital requirements must be assessed separately for each SICAV sub-fund.

The National Bank is the principal regulatory authority that supervises SICAV activities, including approving fund charters, monitoring operations, and ensuring compliance with legal requirements.

EU legislation
  • AIFMD impacts SICAV regulation by requiring fund managers to be licensed and to adhere to strict risk management and transparency standards.
  • MiFID II sets regulatory requirements for financial instruments, market operators, and trading platforms, directly affecting SICAV share transactions in the Czech Republic.

The incorporation of European norms and directives into Czech legislation occurs through amendments to existing laws or the enactment of new legislation. This harmonization ensures consistency in regulatory requirements across all EU member states and contributes to a unified market for financial services.

In line with European regulations, the Czech Republic prioritizes investor rights protection by ensuring comprehensive disclosure of funds, their management structures, and potential investment risks. This enables investors to make informed decisions and enhances confidence in the nation's financial system.

Tax aspects 

The Czech Republic's tax policy incorporates specific mechanisms to regulate investment funds, including SICAVs. These mechanisms aim to attract investors, simplify investment procedures, and ensure transparency and fairness in tax matters.

  • Taxation of the fund:
    • SICAVs are typically exempt from CIT, making them an advantageous investment vehicle. This exemption allows SICAVs to reinvest a significant portion of their income. If an investment fund is registered in the Czech Republic and listed on the EU stock market, it will be subject to CIT at 5%.
  • Taxation of dividends:
    • Dividends paid by SICAVs to shareholders may be subject to tax, depending on the tax residence of the recipient. For Czech residents, the dividend tax rate is 15%. For non-residents, the rate may vary based on the existence of a DTA between the Czech Republic and the investor’s country of residence.
  • Taxation of income from the sale of shares:
    • Gains from the sale of SICAV shares are generally tax-free for Czech investors. For foreign investors, tax conditions depend on bilateral tax treaties.
  • VAT and other taxes:
    • Investment funds in the Czech Republic are exempt from VAT on most of their transactions, reducing overall management and transaction costs.

Preferences for foreigners

The Czech Republic has established numerous bilateral tax cooperation agreements that can significantly reduce the tax burden on foreign investors, including dividends and gains from the sale of shares. The country continuously adapts its tax legislation to align with international standards, ensuring consistency with EU policies and other global obligations.

These tax advantages and the robust legal framework make investing through SICAV in the Czech Republic highly attractive to a diverse range of investors seeking effective tax planning and wealth management in a stable jurisdiction.

However, it is essential to note that a Czech SICAV must comply with stringent regulatory reporting and disclosure requirements. This includes the submission of quarterly and annual reports to the CNB and other relevant parties. Additionally, the fund is subject to regular audits to verify its financial status and ensure that management practices adhere to legal standards.

SICAV structural features 

SICAVs in the Czech Republic offer a distinctive structure that enhances flexibility in asset management and grants shareholders specific, unique rights. Let's examine the key structural features of SICAVs, including share capital, its registration, and the creation and management of sub-funds.

Share capital and its registration
  • Founding shares are acquired by the founders; they provide voting rights, and can be converted into ordinary investment units.
  • Investment shares are available for purchase by investors, reflecting the NAV, ensuring high liquidity and flexibility.
  • Capital registration must be registered with the CNB, including all required documents.
Creation of sub-funds
  • Each sub-fund may have its own strategy targeting specific markets, assets, or sectors.
  • Sub-funds do not require separate registration, but must be detailed in the fund’s documentation and submitted to the CNB.
  • Managed by separate management companies or centrally by the main SICAV management company, adhering to transparency and reporting standards.

These features make the Czech SICAV particularly appealing to many market participants, offering unique opportunities for investment diversification and flexible asset management.

SICAV registration procedure 

In the Czech Republic, this process involves several critical steps, each requiring meticulous adherence to legal and regulatory requirements to ensure the fund meets all necessary standards and operates within the country's legal framework.

Phase 1: Prepare documentation  

The initial step involves preparing and compiling the required documentation. This includes foundational documents such as the articles of association and memorandum of association, which must align with Czech collective investment legislation. These documents should clearly outline the fund's objectives, investment strategy, management provisions, and income distribution policies.

Phase 2: Selecting a management company  

To manage the fund's assets, appoint a licensed management company responsible for the day-to-day management of investments. The management company must be registered and approved by the CNB.

Phase 3: Registration in the commercial register  

This formally establishes the fund as a legal entity authorized to conduct investment activities.

Phase 4: Obtaining a license from CNB  

To officially register a SICAV, obtain a license from the CNB. This involves submitting an application along with comprehensive documentation, including a detailed description of the investment policy and risk management measures. The CNB will review the submitted materials and evaluate the fund's compliance with legal requirements.

Phase 5: Organize financial accounts  

To facilitate transactions with the fund's resources, it is necessary to open current accounts. These specialized accounts will be used for all financial transactions related to the SICAV's activities.

Upon completing the registration procedures and establishing the required banking and management structures, the fund is ready to commence operations. This includes raising capital from investors and executing transactions in line with the adopted investment strategy.

These steps ensure that every fund registered in the Czech Republic operates in full compliance with national and European legal and regulatory standards, thereby protecting investor rights and ensuring the stability of the country's financial system.

Obtaining a Czech investment license

Securing an investment license is a crucial step for launching an IF in the Czech Republic, particularly for variable capital funds such as SICAV. The CNB plays a central role in this process, setting and enforcing standards that all market participants must adhere to.

Aspect

Description

Role of the CNB

Licensing

The CNB issues licenses to investment funds, confirming their compliance with established legal requirements.

Regulation and supervision

The CNB provides continuous oversight of investment funds to ensure they meet regulatory standards and maintain financial stability.

Investor protection

The CNB monitors fund operations to ensure transparency and fairness in dealings with investors.

Risk prevention

The CNB assesses potential risks associated with fund activities and implements measures to mitigate them.

Evaluation criteria for obtaining a license

Legal compliance

Czech collective investment laws and relevant EU directives.

Governance structure

Protection of investor interests and compliance with regulatory requirements by effective management.

Financial strength

The fund must demonstrate financial robustness, including adequate initial capital and the ability to meet obligations to investors.

Business plan

A detailed business plan must be submitted, outlining the fund's investment strategy, risk assessment, and risk management measures.

Transparency and accountability

The fund must show a commitment to providing regular reports on its activities, financial status, and operational results.

Data protection and confidentiality

The fund must have mechanisms in place to protect investor personal data and maintain information confidentiality.

Process overview:

  • The CNB's assessment and licensing process is thorough and may take considerable time, as it carefully evaluates all aspects of the applicant's operations.
  • Once licensed, the SICAV fund can commence its activities in the Czech Republic, but it will remain under ongoing CNB supervision to ensure continuous compliance with established standards and regulations.

Establishing a SICAV in the Czech Republic enables flexible asset management (including disposal, control, and protection), minimizes tax liabilities, and optimizes financial flows.

To successfully organize such a business, it is essential to consider various legal provisions and requirements. The effective implementation of an investment strategy is achievable with the support of competent specialists. Entrepreneurs are advised to seek guidance and assistance from experts, such as those at IQ Decision UK, for the registration and management of investment companies in the Czech Republic.