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The Mauritius attraction

Investment Professionals (IPRO) has been managing family portfolios in the Indian Ocean and Sub-Saharan African regions since 1992.

Discretionary portfolios exceed US$200 million, with an international client base from Europe, Africa and Mauritius.

The shareholders of IPRO are two families who have been established in Mauritius for several generations, while managing director Stéphane Henry and the 35 employees have two focuses: a prudent approach able to generate reasonable long-term investment performance; and a personalised relationship offered to the 150 private clients by three client managers, including the managing director.

The IPRO Group benefits from strategic partnerships with key players of the fund management industry, through ongoing interactions with institutions based in the US, Europe, Dubai and Singapore.

The market cap of the Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM) now exceeds $5 billion, with 43 companies listed on the main board. Top portfolio holdings are: Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB), State Bank of Mauritius (SBM); hotel groups New Mauritius Hotels, Sun Resorts and Naiade Resorts; and investment
companies Ciel and Rogers.

International fund managers, who invested more than $100 million on the SEM between 2005 and 2007, have stayed on the sidelines this year as a result of the international banking crisis. The market has dropped by 20% over the last six months following the global flight to safety, after having risen by 36% in USD terms on average over the last three years.

The results as at 30 June 2008 published by MCB and SBM have however confirmed that the two banks have not been affected by the liquidity crunch: they have delivered growth in earnings per share of 60% and 63% respectively.

Having established itself as the leader in Mauritius for wealth management services, IPRO selected Botswana as the ideal hub for expanding into Africa. This was due to the country's political and economic stability, supported by a thriving diamond industry. In 2008, gem output is projected to rise to 35 million carats.

The most noteworthy recent development is the Diamond Trading Centre (DTC), a joint-venture between the government of Botswana and De Beers. Once fully operational, DTC is expected to reach an annual turnover of $550 million – 10% of De Beers' yearly sales.

The Botswana Stock Exchange has 19 listed companies and a market cap of $4 billion. One of IPRO's investment vehicles is the African Markets Leaders Fund, which invests in Botswana, Zambia (a copper-rich country), Kenya, South Africa and Mauritius.

One of the key investment sectors of the fund is telecoms – mobile penetration in the region is only 19% and growing at a very fast pace – where IPRO's top picks are Zain, MTN and Safaricom Kenya.

Our family clients have also come to IPRO for tax planning. Mauritius has one of the lowest corporate and personal income tax rates in the world (15%) and no inheritance tax. A number of clients have already moved their existing trusts to Mauritius. We have also helped them establish new trust structures or global business companies.

Taking advantage of its comprehensive legal framework, Mauritius has a network of 33 non-double taxation treaties, making it a tax-efficient destination. Recognition of Mauritius as a vibrant international offshore centre is demonstrated by the presence of international banks such as HSBC, Barclays, Deutsche Bank and Investec.

Mauritius has successfully attracted high net worth individuals from all over the world to become fiscal residents by buying an up-market property or investing in fast-growing sectors such as financial services, tourism or IT.

Jewels can also be found in the up-market property segment in Mauritius. Integrated Resort Schemes have been developed in secluded resort areas, built around international championship golf courses. Villa prices typically range between $1–3 million, with a product and service quality level inherited from the hotel industry.

The main projects, lead by Anahita – the world-class sanctuary – have already received international recognition. Anahita has been developed by the Ciel group, one of the two shareholders of IPRO.

Contact details
Stéphane Henry, managing director
Investment Professionals Ltd
6th Floor Harbour Front Building, John Kennedy Street
Port Louis, Mauritius
W: www.ipro.mu

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