Luxembourg and Ireland in global financial networks: Analysing the changing structure of European investment funds

Dariusz Wójcik, Michael Urban, Sabine Dörry

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Using a unique database on investment funds and the conceptual framework of global financial networks, this paper examines the spatial structure of the European investment fund industry, with particular focus on Luxembourg and Ireland. Grounded in financial and economic geography, the paper shows how these countries became the leading investment fund domiciles through a mixture of structural factors and agency enabling a fast and flexible implementation of the European Directive on the Undertakings for the Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS) of 1985, and the cultivation of the investment fund industry ever since. In the process, Luxembourg and Ireland have built on and developed their functions as offshore jurisdictions and international financial centres, both sustained by their governments and regulatory agencies. The analysis of the functional structure of investment funds and their networked geography reveals the increasingly dominant position of London as the investment management centre for the industry, and the increasing concentration of control by large asset management firms. Stripped to its basics, the geography of European investment fund networks is about large, mainly US, asset management firms, creating and managing funds in Luxembourg and Ireland, and investing money through London. As such, the rise of European investment funds can be seen as an example of European financial integration through Americanisation. The Luxembourg and Irish investment fund industry are connected mainly through London and New York, and thus function as satellites of the NY-LON axis, rather than a Luxembourg-Dublin axis in international finance. Overall, the paper demonstrates that studying this seemingly arcane industry, and the role of two small countries in it, reveals much about the nature of financial globalization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)514-528
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Issue number2
Early online dateDec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Research for this paper has been funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement number 681337). The paper reflects only the authors’ views and the ERC is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains. We also acknowledge funding from the National Research Fund Luxembourg (INTER/FWO/16/11312037/FinWebs).


  • Global financial networks
  • European investment funds
  • Luxembourg
  • Ireland

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