Regulatory Arbitrage

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DEFINITION of 'Regulatory Arbitrage'

A practice whereby firms capitalize on loopholes in regulatory systems in order to circumvent unfavorable regulation. Arbitrage opportunities may be accomplished by a variety of tactics, including restructuring transactions, financial engineering and geographic relocation. Regulatory arbitrage is difficult to prevent entirely, but its prevalence can be limited by closing the most obvious loopholes and thus increasing the costs associated of circumventing the regulation.

BREAKING DOWN 'Regulatory Arbitrage'

An interesting example of regulatory arbitrage came from Blackstone's 2007 IPO. In an unusual move, Blackstone went public as a master limited partnership in an effort to avoid the higher tax rates imposed on corporations. In order to retain these tax advantages, Blackstone also had to avoid classification as an investment company. Through carefully negotiating the tax regulations, Blackstone hopes to exploit a 'regulatory arbitrage' between the tax code's legal definitions and economic substance.

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