It is no coincidence that Merrill Lynch Asset Management of Princeton, N.J., was the first fund company to offer U.S. dollar-denominated funds to Australian investors only three months after the Australian government eliminated taxes on unrealized capital gains on U.S. funds in June. (MFMN, 9/27/99) Merrill had actively lobbied for that law and was eagerly awaiting its enactment, said Charles Sickles, director of sales for global mutual funds at Merrill.
Merrill has been in the Australian market since 1972, when it first offered brokerage services, and the firm became a member of the Australian Stock Exchange in 1988, Sickles said. The company's early commitment to this market helped it develop a good relationship with the Australian Securities Investments Commission, Australia's equivalent of the SEC, and this relationship has proven invaluable, Sickles said. Together with the commission, Merrill lobbied the Australian government to forfeit its sizeable 48 percent capital gains tax on U.S. funds, Sickles said.