SEC Division of Investment Management Lifts Actively-Managed ETF Derivatives Use Moratorium and Announces Two Rulemaking Initiatives

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In a speech on December 6 before the ALI CLE 2012 Conference on Investment Adviser Regulation: Legal Compliance Forum on Institutional Advisory Services, Norm Champ, the new Director of the Division of Investment Management of the Securities and Exchange Commission, stated, “the Division staff will no longer defer consideration of exemptive requests . . . relating to actively-managed ETFs that make use of derivatives.” Such exemptive requests must now contain two specific representations: (1) that the ETF board periodically will review and approve the ETF’s use of derivatives and how the ETF’s adviser assesses and manages risk regarding the ETF’s use of derivatives; and (2) that the ETF’s disclosure of its use of derivatives in its offering documents and periodic reports is consistent with relevant SEC guidance.

In March 2010, the Division imposed a moratorium on actively managed ETF exemptive applications where the ETF would use derivatives in its portfolio. The Division later sought public comment on the use of derivatives by all investment companies, including ETFs, under a Concept Release it issued on August 31, 2011, to which it received almost 50 comment letters. Index-based ETFs have been able to seek exemptive relief where their use of derivatives was confined to up to 20% of their portfolio that was not invested directly in their referenced index’s components. Mr. Champ also indicated that the moratorium remained in place with respect to new applications for leveraged ETFs and that the Division staff was continuing to review investment company use of derivatives.

Mr. Champ also discussed two rule initiatives that will affect advisers and investment companies. First, the Division is working on rules under the Investment Advisers Act of 19409 for private fund advisers relating to books and records rules and advertising in light of the JOBS Act, which requires the SEC to promulgate rules allowing general solicitation and advertising for certain Regulation D, Rule 506 private placements. Second, the Division will be issuing additional guidance on investment company valuation of securities.

Mr. Champ’s speech is available here.

 


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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