Business in the Caymans: The Financial Sector’s Golden Child

The business benefits of domiciling a company offshore are well-documented. Data suggests the advantages overwhelm the deficiencies for qualifying businesses. Cayman’s Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and most notably, Cayman Enterprise City (CEC) are no exception─one must search far and wide to one-up the impact of these initiatives.

Cayman Enterprise City, encompassed in the SEZ, is designed to attract and keep organizations from five distinct business sectors: marketing and media, outsourcing, biotechnology, commodities and derivatives, and internet and technology. This innovative design─founded in distinct silos of knowledge─forms the foundation for the unique international hub the CEC has become. Looking at the SEZ in its entirety, Cayman tops the list as the #1 jurisdiction for hedge funds and private equity across the globe, and is the tenth largest financial center, with 40 of the world’s 50 most prestigious banks having a presence.

With 59 percent of CEC companies originating in North America─and a cumulative economic impact of nearly $50M USD on Cayman’s local economy─Cayman is the clear winner. Incenting top businesses and business executives by offering tax neutrality (while making it relatively red-tape free to set up shop) has boosted their local economy and fortified their international brand.

To the victor go the spoils. In this case, the victor is the Cayman government and its people─and the spoils are green and countable. But in this game, second is not a bad place to be. Companies domiciled in the SEZ are exempt from corporate tax, sales tax, income tax, capital gains tax, and import duties. Companies with 100 percent foreign ownership can access all tax exemptions. Work visas for employees can be acquired within five business days. And if intellectual property is at the core of your company’s assets, you’ve hit pay dirt.

“There is good reason private equity has found a home in the Cayman Islands. They have crossed every ‘t’ and dotted every ‘i’, anticipating and removing each potential hurdle,” states Alfred Zaccagnino, President of Samarian Group of Companies. “Watching the Cayman Islands develop as an international business center has been remarkable.” The Samarian Group established a presence in the Cayman Islands in 2011 and, like most companies, plans to stay long-term.

In October 2015, Cayman will be added to the list alongside 90 other countries in implementing a Common Reporting Standard─an effort to streamline the automatic exchange of information (AEOI) with other countries related to taxation. Implementation will begin in 2017─and true to its recent history, the Cayman Islands will undoubtedly use this to further its brand as a leader in international business.