485APOS 1 d909225d485apos.htm AMG FUNDS AMG FUNDS
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As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 16, 2015

1933 Act Registration No. 333-84639

1940 Act Registration No. 811-09521

 

 

 

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

 

FORM N-1A

REGISTRATION STATEMENT
UNDER
THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933 x
Pre-Effective Amendment No. ¨
Post-Effective Amendment No. 142 x
REGISTRATION STATEMENT
UNDER
THE INVESTMENT COMPANY ACT OF 1940 x
Amendment No. 145 x

 

 

AMG FUNDS

(Exact name of registrant as specified in charter)

 

 

800 Connecticut Avenue

Norwalk, Connecticut 06854

(Address of principal executive offices)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (800) 835-3879

Gregory C. Davis

Ropes & Gray LLP

Three Embarcadero Center

San Francisco, CA 94111-4006

(Name and address of agent for service)

 

 

It is proposed that this filing will become effective:

 

¨ immediately upon filing pursuant to paragraph (b)
¨ on (date) pursuant to paragraph (b)
¨ 60 days after filing pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)
¨ on (date) pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)
x 75 days after filing pursuant to paragraph (a)(2)
¨ On (date) pursuant to (a)(2) of rule 485

If appropriate, check the following box:

 

¨ This post-effective amendment designates a new effective date for a previously filed post-effective amendment.

The Amendment relates solely to AMG GW&K Small Cap Growth Fund, a series of AMG Funds (the “Trust”). The Amendment does not supersede or amend any disclosure in the Trust’s Registration Statement relating to any other series of the Trust.

 

 

 


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The information in this Prospectus is not complete and may be changed. We may not sell these securities until the registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission is effective. This Prospectus is not an offer to sell these securities, and it is not soliciting an offer to buy these securities, in any state where the offer or sale is not permitted.
PRELIMINARY PROSPECTUS SUBJECT TO COMPLETION April 16, 2015
AMG Funds
Prospectus
[June 30, 2015]

AMG GW&K Small Cap Growth Fund
Investor Class: [ ]      Service Class: [ ]      Institutional Class: [ ]
www.amgfunds.com

As with all mutual funds, the Securities and Exchange Commission has not approved or disapproved these securities or
determined if this Prospectus is truthful or complete. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.
PXX-XXXX


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Table of Contents
Summary of The Fund

AMG GW&K Small Cap Growth Fund
Investment Objective
The investment objective of the AMG GW&K Small Cap Growth Fund (the “Fund”) is to provide investors with long-term capital appreciation.
Fees and Expenses of the Fund
The table below describes the fees and expenses that you may pay if you buy and hold shares of the Fund.
Annual Fund Operating Expenses
(expenses that you pay each year as a percentage of the value of your investment)
  Investor
Class
Service
Class
Institutional
Class
Management Fee 0.75% 0.75% 0.75%
Distribution and Service (12b-1) Fees 0.25% None None
Other Expenses1 0.78% 0.68% 0.53%
Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses 1.78% 1.43% 1.28%
Fee Waiver and Expense Reimbursements2 (0.33)% (0.33)% (0.33)%
Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses
After Fee Waiver and Expense Reimbursements2
1.45% 1.10% 0.95%
1 Because the Fund is new, “Other Expenses” are based on estimates for the current fiscal year.
2 AMG Funds LLC (the “Investment Manager”) has contractually agreed, through at least May 1, 2017, to waive management fees and/or reimburse the Fund’s expenses in order to limit Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses After Fee Waiver and Expense Reimbursements (exclusive of taxes, interest (including interest incurred in connection with bank and custody overdrafts), brokerage commissions and other transaction costs, shareholder servicing fees, distribution and service (12b-1) fees, acquired fund fees and expenses, and extraordinary expenses) of the Fund to the annual rate of 0.95% of the Fund’s average daily net assets, subject to later reimbursement by the Fund in certain circumstances. In general, for a period of up to 36 months from the time of any waiver, reimbursement, or payment pursuant to the Fund’s contractual expense limitation, the Investment Manager may recover from the Fund fees waived and expenses paid to the extent that such repayment would not cause the Fund’s Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses After Fee Waiver and Expense Reimbursements (exclusive of the items noted in the parenthetical above) to exceed the contractual expense limitation amount. The contractual expense limitation may only be terminated in the event the Investment Manager or a successor ceases to be the investment manager of the Fund or a successor fund, by mutual agreement between the Investment Manager and the AMG Funds Board of Trustees or in the event of the Fund’s liquidation unless the Fund is reorganized or is a party to a merger in which the surviving entity is successor to the accounting and performance information of the Fund.
Expense Example
This Example will help you compare the cost of investing in the Fund to the cost of investing in other mutual funds. The Example makes certain assumptions. It assumes that you invest $10,000 as an initial investment in the Fund for the time periods
indicated and then redeem all of your shares at the end of those periods. It also assumes that your investment has a 5% total return each year and the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. The Example includes the Fund’s contractual expense limitation through May 1, 2017. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on the above assumptions, your costs would be:
  1 Year 3 Years
Investor Class $148 $500
Service Class $112 $392
Institutional Class $ 97 $345
Portfolio Turnover
The Fund pays transaction costs, such as commissions, when it buys and sells securities (or “turns over” its portfolio). A higher portfolio turnover rate may indicate higher transaction costs and may result in higher taxes when Fund shares are held in a taxable account. These costs, which are not reflected in Annual Fund Operating Expenses or in the Example, affect the Fund’s performance. Because the Fund commenced operations on or about the date of this Prospectus, the Fund has no reportable portfolio turnover rate.
Principal Investment Strategies
Under normal circumstances, the Fund invests at least 80% of its net assets, plus the amount of any borrowings for investment purposes, in equity securities of small-capitalization companies. The Fund ordinarily invests in approximately 55-85 stocks. The Fund primarily invests in common stock and preferred stock of U.S. small-capitalization companies. Small-capitalization companies are those with a market capitalization of less than $5.0 billion at the time of purchase or otherwise within the range of capitalizations of companies in the Russell 2000® Growth Index (between $169.0 million and $4.0 billion as of the last reconstitution on May 31, 2014). The Fund may continue to hold securities of a portfolio company that subsequently appreciates above the small-capitalization threshold. Because of this, the Fund may have less than 80% of its net assets in equity securities of small-capitalization companies at any given time.
The Fund invests in an unrestricted opportunity set, pursuing quality companies with growth oriented characteristics. GW&K Investment Management, LLC, the subadvisor to the Fund (“GW&K” or the “Subadvisor”), intends to assemble a portfolio of securities diversified as to companies and industries. The Subadvisor may consider increasing or reducing the Fund’s investment in a particular industry in view of the Fund’s goal of achieving industry diversification.

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Summary of The Fund

Principal Risks
There is the risk that you may lose money on your investment. All investments carry a certain amount of risk, and the Fund cannot guarantee that it will achieve its investment objective. An investment in the Fund is not a deposit or obligation of any bank, is not endorsed or guaranteed by any bank, and is not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) or any other government agency. Below are some of the risks of investing in the Fund. The risks are described in alphabetical order and not in the order of importance or potential exposure.
Growth Stock Risk—the prices of equity securities of companies that are expected to experience relatively rapid earnings growth, or “growth stocks,” may be more sensitive to market movements because the prices tend to reflect future investor expectations rather than just current profits.
Liquidity Risk—the Fund may not be able to dispose of particular investments, such as illiquid securities, readily at favorable times or prices or the Fund may have to sell them at a loss.
Management Risk—because the Fund is an actively-managed investment portfolio, security selection or focus on securities in a particular style, market sector or group of companies may cause the Fund to incur losses or underperform relative to its benchmarks or other funds with a similar investment objective. There can be no guarantee that the Subadvisor’s investment techniques and risk analysis will produce the desired result.
Market Risk—market prices of investments held by the Fund may fall rapidly or unpredictably due to a variety of factors, including changing economic, political, or market conditions or in response to events that affect particular industries or companies.
Small-Capitalization Stock Risk—the stocks of small-capitalization companies often have greater price volatility, lower trading volume, and less liquidity than the stocks of larger, more established companies.
Performance
This section would normally include a bar chart and a table showing how the Fund has performed and how its performance has varied from year to year. Because the Fund has not yet completed a full calendar year of operations as of the date of this Prospectus, the bar chart and table are not shown. Although past performance of the Fund is no guarantee of how it will perform in the future, historical performance may give you some indication of the risks of investing in the Fund.
Portfolio Management
Investment Manager
AMG Funds LLC
Subadvisor
GW&K Investment Management, LLC
Portfolio Managers
Daniel L. Miller, CFA
Partner and Director of Equities of GW&K; Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 06/15.
Joseph C. Craigen, CFA
Vice President of GW&K; Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 06/15.
Buying and Selling Fund Shares
Initial Investment Minimum
Investor Class
Regular Account: $2,000
Individual Retirement Account: $1,000
Service Class
Regular Account: $100,000
Individual Retirement Account: $25,000
Institutional Class
Regular Account: $1,000,000
Individual Retirement Account: $50,000
Additional Investment Minimum
Investor Class and Service Class (all accounts): $100
Institutional Class (all accounts): $1,000
TRANSACTION POLICIES
You may purchase or sell your shares of the Fund any day that the New York Stock Exchange is open for business, either through your registered investment professional or directly with the Fund. Shares may be purchased, sold or exchanged by mail at the address listed below, by phone at 800.548.4539, online at www.amgfunds.com, or by bank wire (if bank wire instructions are on file for your account).
AMG Funds
c/o BNY Mellon Investment Servicing (US) Inc.
P.O. Box 9769
Providence, RI 02940-9769
Tax Information
The Fund intends to make distributions that are taxable to you as ordinary income, qualified dividend income or capital gains, except when your investment is in an IRA, 401(k), or other tax-advantaged investment plan. By investing in the Fund through such a plan, you will not be subject to tax on distributions from the Fund so long as the amounts distributed remain in the plan, but you will generally be taxed upon withdrawal of monies from the plan.
Payments to Broker-Dealers and Other Financial Intermediaries
If you purchase the Fund through a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary (such as a bank), the Fund and its related companies, including the Investment Manager, AMG Distributors, Inc. (the “Distributor”) and the Subadvisor, may pay the intermediary for the sale of Fund shares and related services. These payments may create a conflict of interest by

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Summary of The Fund

influencing the broker-dealer or other intermediary and your salesperson to recommend the Fund over another investment. Ask your salesperson or visit your financial intermediary’s website for more information.

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Additional Information About the Fund

AMG GW&K Small Cap Growth Fund
This Fund will invest primarily in the securities and instruments as described in the summary section of the Fund’s Prospectus. This section contains additional information about the Fund’s investment strategies and the investment techniques utilized by the Fund’s Subadvisor in managing the Fund, and also additional information about the Fund's expenses .
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE FUND'S PRINCIPAL INVESTMENT STRATEGIES
The Subadvisor utilizes fundamental research and bottom-up stock selection and quantitative screening to seek to identify small-cap companies with sustainable earnings growth in niche markets, and whose management is focused on enhancing value for shareholders. The Fund seeks to hold securities for the long term. The Fund aims to participate in rising markets and defend in down markets.
The Subadvisor focuses on quality small-cap companies with sound management and long-term sustainable growth. In selecting companies for the Fund, the Subadvisor looks for firms with the following key attributes:
Experienced, tenured, high-quality management;
Business models that deliver consistent long-term growth;
Leading companies in attractive and defensible niche markets;
Strong financial characteristics; and
Appropriate valuation.
Various factors may lead the Subadvisor to consider selling a particular security, such as a significant change in the relevant company’s senior management or its products, a deterioration in its fundamental characteristics, if the company has corporate governance issues, or if the Subadvisor believes the security has become overvalued.
Under normal circumstances, the Fund invests at least 80% of its net assets, plus the amount of any borrowings for investment purposes, in equity securities of small-capitalization companies. The Fund will provide shareholders with at least 60 days’ prior written notice of any change in this policy.
WHERE THIS FUND FITS AS PART OF YOUR ASSET ALLOCATION
In selecting a mutual fund, one should consider its overall fit within an asset allocation plan. This Fund may be appropriate as part of your overall investment allocation if you are:
Looking to gain exposure to small-cap equities in your portfolio.
Seeking exposure to growth oriented investments.
Seeking long-term capital appreciation.
Willing to accept short-term volatility of returns.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE FUND'S EXPENSES
Under “Fees and Expenses of the Fund” in the Fund’s summary section, because Investor Class shares are authorized to pay up to 0.25% and Service Class shares are authorized to pay up to 0.15% in shareholder servicing fees, Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses and Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses After Fee Waiver and Expense Reimbursements may fluctuate from year-to-year based on the actual amount of shareholder servicing fees incurred. Shareholder servicing fees paid by Investor Class and Service Class shares are reflected in “Other Expenses” in the Annual fund Operating Expenses table for such classes. Please see “Choosing A Share Class” below for more information on the Fund’s shareholder servicing fees.
PORTFOLIO MANAGERS
Daniel L. Miller, CFA
Partner,
Director of Equities
Joseph C. Craigen, CFA
Vice President
See “Fund Management” below for more information on the portfolio managers.

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Additional Information About the Fund

Summary of the Fund’s Principal Risks
This section presents more detailed information about the Fund’s risks as described in the Fund’s summary section of the Prospectus. The risks are described in alphabetical order and not in the order of importance or potential exposure. The Fund could be subject to additional risks because the types of investments it makes and market conditions may change over time.
All investments involve some type and level of risk. There is the risk that you will lose money on your investment. Before you invest, please make sure that you have read, and understand, the risk factors that apply to the Fund.
GROWTH STOCK RISK
The prices of equity securities of companies that are expected to experience relatively rapid earnings growth, or “growth stocks,” may be more sensitive to changes in current or expected earnings than other types of stocks and tend to be more volatile than the market in general. Growth stocks may underperform value stocks and stocks in other broad style categories (and the stock market as a whole) during given periods.
LIQUIDITY RISK
Liquidity risk is the risk that the Fund may not be able to dispose of investments readily at favorable times or prices. For example, investments in non-U.S. investments, restricted securities, securities having small market capitalizations, and securities having substantial market and/or credit and counterparty risk tend to involve greater liquidity risk. Additionally, the market for certain investments may become illiquid under adverse market or economic conditions independent of any specific adverse changes in the conditions of a particular issuer. In such cases, the Fund, due to limitations on investments in illiquid securities and the difficulty in purchasing and selling such securities or instruments, may decline in value or be unable to achieve its desired level of exposure to a certain issuer or sector.
ManagEment RISK
The Fund is subject to management risk because it is an actively managed investment portfolio. Management risk is the chance that security selection or focus on securities in a particular style, market
sector or group of companies will cause the Fund to incur losses or underperform relative to its benchmarks or other funds with a similar investment objective. The Fund’s Subadvisor will apply its investment techniques and risk analyses in making investment decisions for the Fund, but there can be no guarantee that these will produce the desired result. To the extent the Fund’s Subadvisor uses quantitative analyses or models, any imperfections, errors or limitations in such analyses or models could affect the Fund’s performance or the ability of the Subadvisor to implement its strategies. In particular, with respect to limitations in such analyses or models, the analyses and models may make simplifying assumptions that limit their effectiveness, may appear to explain prior market data but fail to predict future market events, and may use data that is inaccurate or does not include the most recent information about a company or a security.
MARKET RISK
Market prices of investments held by the Fund may fall rapidly or unpredictably and will rise and fall due to changing economic, political, or market conditions or in response to events that affect particular industries or companies. The value of your investment could go up or down depending on market conditions. Equity investments generally have greater price volatility than fixed income investments, although under certain market conditions fixed income investments may have comparable or greater price volatility.
SMALL-CAPITALIZATION STOCK RISK
The stocks of small-capitalization companies may involve more risk than the stocks of larger, more established companies because they often have greater price volatility, lower trading volume, and less liquidity. These companies tend to have smaller revenues, narrower product lines, less management depth and experience, smaller shares of their product or service markets, fewer financial resources, and less competitive strength than larger companies. A fund that invests in small-capitalization companies may underperform other stock funds (such as medium- and large-company stock funds) when stocks of small-capitalization companies are out of favor.
Other Important Information About the Fund and its Investment Strategies and Risks


In addition to the principal investment strategies described in this Prospectus, the Fund may also make other types of investments, and, therefore, may be subject to other risks. Some of these risks are described in the Fund’s Statement of Additional Information dated [June 30, 2015], as supplemented from time to time (the “SAI”).
INVESTMENT OBJECTIVE
The Fund’s investment objective may be changed without shareholder approval and without prior notice.
TEMPORARY DEFENSIVE MEASURES
The Fund may, from time to time, take a temporary defensive position that is inconsistent with its principal investment strategies. When the Subadvisor believes a temporary defensive position is necessary in response to adverse market, economic, political or other conditions, the Fund may invest any amount of its net assets in money market securities, cash or cash equivalents. Taking a defensive position might prevent the Fund from achieving its investment objective.

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Additional Information About the Fund

Other Important Information About the Fund and its Investment Strategies and Risks (CONTINUED)
Portfolio Turnover
As described in the Fund's summary section of this Prospectus, the Fund may sell any security when it believes the sale is consistent with the Fund’s investment strategies and in the Fund’s best interest to do so. This may result in active and frequent trading of portfolio securities. A portfolio turnover rate greater than 100% would indicate that the Fund sold and replaced the entire value of its securities holdings during the previous one-year period. Higher portfolio turnover may adversely affect Fund performance by increasing Fund transaction costs and may increase your tax
liability. Because the Fund commenced operations on or about the date of this Prospectus, the Fund has no reportable portfolio turnover rate.
PORTFOLIO HOLDINGS
A description of the policies and procedures with respect to the disclosure of the Fund’s portfolio securities is available in the Fund's SAI, which is available on the Fund's website at www.amgfunds.com.
Fund Management


The Fund is a series of AMG Funds, a Massachusetts business trust (the “Trust”). The Trust is part of the AMG Funds Family, a mutual fund family comprised of different funds, each having distinct investment management objectives, strategies, risks, and policies.
The Investment Manager, located at 800 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut 06854, is a subsidiary of Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. (“AMG”), located at 777 South Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach, Florida 33401. The Investment Manager serves as investment manager to the Fund and is responsible for the Fund’s overall administration and operations. The Investment Manager also monitors the performance, security holdings, and investment strategies of the Subadvisor to the Fund. AMG Distributors, Inc. (the “Distributor”), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Investment Manager, serves as the Fund’s distributor. Except for distribution and service (12b-1) fees paid by the Fund, the Distributor receives no other compensation from the Fund for its services as distributor.
Pursuant to an exemptive order issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), the Fund participates in a manager of managers structure whereby the Investment Manager serves as the investment manager of the Fund and selects and recommends to the Fund’s Board of Trustees investment subadvisors to manage the Fund’s investment portfolio. Under the terms of this exemptive order, the Investment Manager is able, subject to certain conditions and oversight by the Fund’s Board of Trustees but without shareholder approval, to hire or change the contract terms of unaffiliated subadvisors of the Fund. The Investment Manager, subject to oversight by the Trustees, has ultimate responsibility to oversee the subadvisors and recommend their hiring, termination, and replacement. Shareholders of the Fund continue to have the right to terminate such subadvisory agreements for the Fund at any time by a vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of the Fund.
GW&K, the Subadvisor to the Fund, has day-to-day responsibility for managing the Fund’s portfolio. GW&K, located at 222 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116, has advised individual and institutional clients since 1974 and, as of December 31, 2014, had assets under management of approximately $22.823 billion. AMG indirectly owns a majority interest in GW&K.
Daniel L. Miller, CFA and Joseph C. Craigen, CFA are the portfolio managers jointly and primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund’s portfolio, and have managed the Fund since its inception. Mr. Miller joined GW& K in December 2008 as Partner and Director of Equities, responsible for overseeing all aspects of GW&K’s equity group, including portfolio management, research and trading. Mr. Miller spent 21 years at Putnam Investments, where he was Chief Investment Officer for the Specialty Growth Group from 1996 to 2004. After retiring from Putnam Investments in 2004, Mr. Miller worked as an investment consultant and financial consultant for various companies from 2004 to 2008, until he joined GW&K. Mr. Craigen joined GW&K in 2008 and is a Vice President. He is a member of the GW&K Equity team analyzing small cap companies and is also a member of the firm’s Investment Committee. He started his investment career as an Equity Research Associate at Tucker Anthony from 1999 to 2001, and later held positions as an Equity Analyst at Needham & Company from 2001 to 2005 and at Citizens Funds from 2005 to 2008.
The Fund is obligated by its Investment Management Agreement to pay an annual management fee to the Investment Manager of 0.75% of the average daily net assets of the Fund. The Investment Manager, in turn, pays GW&K all of this fee for its services as Subadvisor. Under a separate Administration and Shareholder Servicing Agreement with the Fund, the Investment Manager provides a variety of administrative services to the Fund and receives compensation from the Fund for these services in an amount up to 0.25% of each class’s average daily net assets.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
In addition to the expense limitation for the Fund discussed above, from time to time in the future GW&K may waive all or portion of its subadvisory fee. In such an event, the Investment Manager will, subject to certain conditions, waive an equal amount of its management fee. Additional information regarding other accounts managed by the Fund’s portfolio managers, and their compensation and ownership of Fund shares, is available in the Fund’s SAI.
A discussion regarding the basis for the Trust’s Board of Trustees approving the Investment Management Agreement with respect to the Fund between the Trust and the Investment Manager and the

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Additional Information About the Fund

Fund Management (CONTINUED)
Subadvisory Agreement between the Investment Manager and the Fund’s Subadvisor will be available in the Fund’s Annual Report to
shareholders for the period ending December 31, 2015.

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Shareholder Guide

Your Account
You may invest in the Fund by purchasing Investor Class, Service Class, or Institutional Class shares. Each class of shares is subject to different types and levels of expenses and minimum initial investment amounts, as described below.
The Investor Class shares of the Fund are subject to the expenses of a 12b-1 plan of distribution adopted by the Board of Trustees, and certain classes of shares also bear shareholder servicing fees in different amounts. Because each class bears fees and expenses in different amounts, the net asset value (the “NAV”) per share of the three classes may differ. Investor Class shares are expected to have lower total returns than Service Class shares and Institutional Class shares, and Service Class shares are expected to have lower total returns than Institutional Class shares. In all other material respects, the Investor Class shares, Service Class shares, and Institutional Class shares are the same, each share representing a proportionate interest in the Fund. Each class of shares of the Fund is subject to a minimum initial investment amount, as described below.
Your purchase or redemption of Fund shares is based on each class’s share price. The price at which you purchase and redeem your shares is based on the NAV per share next determined after your purchase or redemption order is received on each day the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) is open for trading. The NAV per share of each class of shares of the Fund is equal to the class’s net worth (assets minus liabilities) divided by the number of shares outstanding for that class. The NAV for each class is calculated at the close of regular business of the NYSE, usually 4:00 p.m. New York time. Purchase orders received after 4:00 p.m. from certain processing organizations that have entered into contractual arrangements with the Fund will also receive that day’s offering price provided that the purchase orders the processing organization transmits to the Fund were received by the processing organization in proper form before 4:00 p.m. Likewise, redemption orders received after 4:00 p.m. from certain processing organizations that have entered into contractual arrangements with the Fund will also be redeemed at the NAV computed that day provided that the orders the processing organization transmits to the Fund were received by the processing organization in proper form before 4:00 p.m.
Current net asset values per share for the Fund are available on the Fund’s website at www.amgfunds.com.
Investments traded in foreign markets may trade when the NYSE is closed. Those investments are generally valued at the closing of the exchange where they are primarily traded. Foreign securities may trade on days when the Fund is not open for business, thus affecting the value of the Fund’s assets on days when Fund shareholders may not be able to buy or sell Fund shares.
FAIR VALUE POLICY
Each Fund’s investments are generally valued based on market quotations provided by third-party pricing services approved by the Board of Trustees of the Trust. Under certain circumstances, a Fund investment will be priced based on an evaluation of its fair value, according to procedures established by and under the general supervision of the Board of Trustees. Each Fund may use the fair value of
a portfolio investment to calculate its NAV in the event that the market quotation, price or market based valuation for the portfolio investment is not deemed to be readily available or otherwise not determinable pursuant to the Board’s valuation procedures, if the Investment Manager believes the quotation, price or market based valuation to be unreliable, or in certain other circumstances.
Portfolio investments that trade primarily on foreign markets are priced based upon the market quotation of such securities as of the close of their respective principal markets. The Board has adopted a policy that securities held in the Fund that can be fair valued by the applicable fair value pricing service are fair valued on each business day without regard to a “trigger” (i.e., without regard to invoking fair value based upon a change in an index exceeding a pre-determined level).
Each Fund may invest in securities that may be thinly traded. The Board of Trustees has adopted procedures to adjust prices of securities that are judged to be stale so that they reflect fair value. An investment valued on the basis of its fair value may be valued at a price higher or lower than available market quotations.

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Shareholder Guide

Choosing a Share Class
Investors can choose among three share classes when investing in the Fund:
Investor Class
Service Class
Institutional Class
The classes differ in the way that they deal with Fund expenses. When choosing a share class, it is important to consider these three factors:
The amount you plan to invest;
Your investment objectives; and
The expenses and charges for the class.
We recommend that you discuss your investment goals and choices with your financial professional to determine which share class is right for you.
Investor Class Shares
Investor Class shares have no up-front sales charges or deferred sales charges. Your entire amount invested purchases the Fund’s shares at the Investor Class’s NAV. Shareholders may bear shareholder servicing fees of up to 0.25% for shareholder servicing provided by financial intermediaries, such as broker-dealers (including fund supermarket platforms), banks, and trust companies.
See “Investing Through an Intermediary” below for more information on shareholder servicing fees paid to financial intermediaries. Shareholders of Investor Class shares also pay distribution (12b-1) fees of 0.25%. See “Distribution and Service (12b-1) Fees” below for more information.
Service Class Shares
Service Class shares have no up-front sales charges or deferred sales charges. Your entire amount invested purchases Fund shares at the Service Class’s NAV. Shareholders may bear shareholder servicing fees of up to 0.15% for shareholder servicing provided by financial intermediaries, such as broker-dealers (including fund supermarket platforms), banks, and trust companies. See “Investing Through an Intermediary” below for more information on shareholder servicing fees paid to financial intermediaries. The Service Class shares do not pay distribution (12b-1) fees.
Institutional Class Shares
Institutional Class shares have no up-front sales charges or deferred sales charges. Your entire amount invested purchases Fund shares at the Institutional Class’s NAV. Shareholders do not bear shareholder servicing fees for shareholder servicing provided by financial intermediaries, such as broker-dealers (including fund supermarket platforms), banks, and trust companies. The Institutional Class shares do not pay distribution (12b-1) fees.
Investing Through an Intermediary
  
If you invest through a third party such as a bank, broker-dealer (including through a fund supermarket platform), trust company or other financial intermediary (each of the above, a “Financial Intermediary”), rather than directly with the Fund, certain purchase and redemption policies, fees, and minimum investment amounts may differ from those described in this Prospectus. Many, if not all, of these Financial Intermediaries may receive various forms of compensation in connection with the sale of Fund shares and/or the servicing of shareholder accounts. Such compensation from the Fund may include receipt of distribution (12b-1) fees and/or shareholder servicing fees. For more information on 12b-1 fees, see “Distribution and Service (12b-1) Fees” below. With respect to the payment of shareholder servicing fees, shareholder servicing fees are paid out of the assets of each of the Investor Class and Service Class on an ongoing basis for the receipt of certain shareholder services from Financial Intermediaries (including through fund supermarket platforms), including account maintenance, transaction processing and customer liaison services, and will increase the cost to shareholders who invest in Investor Class and Service Class shares. These payments are made pursuant to written agreements between the Financial Intermediaries and the Investment Manager, the Distributor and/or the Fund.
The Investment Manager, the Subadvisor and/or the Distributor may pay additional compensation (directly out of their own resources and not as an expense of the Fund) to certain affiliated or unaffiliated Financial Intermediaries in connection with the sale, including distribution, marketing and promotional services, or retention of Fund shares and/or shareholder servicing. To the extent permitted by SEC and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. rules and other applicable laws and regulations, the Investment Manager, the Subadvisor and the Distributor may make other payments or allow other promotional incentives to Financial Intermediaries. This compensation may provide such Financial Intermediaries with an incentive to favor sales of shares of the Fund over other investment options. Any such payments may be substantial; however, they will be made by the Investment Manager, the Subadvisor and/or the Distributor, as applicable, not by the Fund or its shareholders, and will not change the NAV or the price of the Fund’s shares.
You can find further details in the SAI about the payments made by the Investment Manager, the Subadvisor and/or the Distributor and the services provided by Financial Intermediaries. You can ask your Financial Intermediary for information about any payments it receives from the Investment Manager, the Subadvisor and/or the Distributor and any services it provides, as well as about fees and/or commissions it charges.

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Shareholder Guide

Distribution and Service (12b-1) Fees
The Fund has adopted a Distribution and Service Plan (12b-1 Plan) for the Investor Class that allows the Fund to pay fees for selling and distributing Investor Class shares and for providing service to shareholders in the Investor Class. The 12b-1 fees are paid to the Distributor to cover the Investor Class’s sales, marketing, and
promotional expenses. Because 12b-1 fees are deducted from the net assets of the Investor Class on an ongoing basis, they increase the cost of your investment the longer you hold it, and will result in lower total returns and may end up costing you more than other types of sales charges.
Transaction Policies
  
OPENING YOUR ACCOUNT
You can set up your account either through a registered financial professional or on your own, by submitting your completed application to the Fund with your initial investment. Your account application must be in “good order” before we can process it; that is, the application must contain all of the information and documentation requested. Failing to provide what we request may delay the purchase date or cause us to reject your application and return your investment monies.
BUYING AND SELLING Fund SHARES
You may buy shares of the Fund once you set up an account. You also may buy additional shares or sell your shares any day that the NYSE is open for business. When you buy or sell Fund shares, the price is the NAV per share that is calculated after we receive your order in proper form. Each class’s NAV is calculated at the close of regular trading on the NYSE, usually 4:00 p.m. New York time.
PROCESSING ORDERS
If you sell shares of the Fund, the Fund will send your check to the address we have on file for your account. A request to send a check to any other address or a third party requires a signature medallion guarantee. If the sale of your shares follows a purchase by check, the Fund may hold the proceeds of your sale for up to 15 calendar days to ensure that the check has cleared. Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) transactions are also subject to a 15 calendar day holding period.

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Shareholder Guide

How to Buy or Sell Shares
      
  If you wish to open an account and buy shares*... If you wish to add shares to your account*... If you wish to sell shares*,†...
Through your registered investment professional: Contact your investment advisor or other investment professional Send any additional monies to your investment professional to the address on your account statement Contact your investment advisor or other investment professional
On your own:
By mail
Complete the account application, then mail the application and a check payable to AMG Funds to:
AMG Funds
c/o BNY Mellon Investment Servicing (US) Inc.
PO Box 9769
Providence, RI 02940-9769
Send a letter of instruction and a check payable to AMG Funds to:
AMG Funds
c/o BNY Mellon Investment Servicing (US) Inc.
PO Box 9769
Providence, RI 02940-9769
(Include your account number and
fund name on your check)
Write a letter of instruction containing:
• Name of the Fund
• Dollar amount or number of
shares you wish to sell
• Your name
• Your account number
• Signatures of all account owners
Mail your letter to:
AMG Funds
c/o BNY Mellon Investment
Servicing (US) Inc.
PO Box 9769
Providence, RI 02940-9769
By telephone Not available If your account has already been established, call the transfer agent at 800.548.4539 If you elected telephone redemption privileges on your account application, call us at 800.548.4539. Telephone redemptions are available only for redemptions of less than $50,000 for Investor Class shares and Service Class shares and $250,000 for Institutional Class shares.
Over the Internet Not available If your account has already been established and ACH banking instructions are on file, go to our website at
www.amgfunds.com
Go to our website at
www.amgfunds.com. Internet redemptions are available only for redemptions of less than $50,000 for Investor Class shares and Service Class shares and $250,000 for Institutional Class shares.
By bank wire Call us at 800.548.4539 for instructions Call us at 800.548.4539 for instructions Available if bank wire instructions are on file for your account
* Please indicate which class of shares you are buying or selling when you place your order.
Redemptions of $50,000 and over for Investor Class and Service Class shares and $250,000 and over for Institutional Class shares require a medallion signature guarantee. A medallion guarantee is a signature guarantee by a guarantor institution such as a bank, broker-dealer, credit union, national securities exchange, or savings association that is a recognized participant of the Securities Transfer Agents Medallion Program (STAMP) 2000. Telephone and Internet redemptions are available only for redemptions that are below $50,000 for Investor Class shares and Service Class shares and below $250,000 for Institutional Class shares.

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Shareholder Guide

How to Buy or Sell Shares (CONTINUED)
INVESTMENT MINIMUMS
Your cash investments in the Fund must be in U.S. dollars. We do not accept third-party or “starter” checks.
Share Class Initial Investment Additional Investments
Investor Class:    
• Regular Accounts $2,000 $100
• Individual Retirement Accounts $1,000 $100
Service Class:    
• Regular Accounts $100,000 $100
• Individual Retirement Accounts $25,000 $100
Institutional Class:    
• Regular Accounts $1,000,000 $1,000
• Individual Retirement Accounts $50,000 $1,000

The minimum initial and additional investment amounts may be waived for investments by current or retired officers and Trustees of the Trust and other funds of the AMG Funds family, as well as their family members; current or retired officers, directors, and employees of AMG and certain participating affiliated companies of AMG; the immediate family members of any such officer, director, or employee (including parents, grandparents, spouses, children, grandchildren, siblings, fathers/mothers-in-law, sisters/brothers-in-law, daughters/sons-in-law, nieces, nephews, and domestic partners); and a trust or plan established primarily for the benefit of any of the foregoing persons. Additionally, the Fund or the Distributor may, in its discretion, waive the minimum initial or additional investment amounts at any time.

OTHER PURCHASE INFORMATION
Subject to the approval of the Trust and in accordance with the Trust’s policies and procedures, an investor may purchase shares of the Fund with securities that are eligible for purchase by the Fund (consistent with the Fund’s investment policies and restrictions) and that have a value that is readily ascertainable and determined in accordance with the Trust’s valuation policies. These transactions will be effected only if the Investment Manager or the Subadvisor intends to retain the security in the Fund as an investment. Assets purchased by the Fund in such transactions will be valued in generally the same manner as they would be valued for purposes of pricing the Fund’s shares, if such assets were included in the Fund’s assets at the time of purchase. The Trust reserves the right to amend or terminate this practice at any time.
SIGNATURE GUARANTEE
If you are selling $50,000 or more worth of Investor Class or Service Class shares or $250,000 or more worth of Institutional Class shares, you will need to provide the Fund with a medallion guarantee, an imprint that verifies the authenticity of your signature. The medallion program offers shareholders added protection because it guarantees that the person who signs the transaction request is the actual shareholder or legally authorized representative.
We accept medallion imprints only from a guarantor institution such as a bank, broker-dealer, credit union, national securities exchange, or savings association that is a recognized participant of the Securities Transfer Agents Medallion Program (STAMP) 2000. When requesting a medallion signature guarantee from a guarantor institution, please be sure it is issued in an amount that covers your planned transaction. A notary public cannot provide a signature guarantee.
UNAUTHORIZED TRANSACTIONS
The Fund is not responsible for any losses due to unauthorized transactions as long as the Fund follows reasonable security procedures designed to verify your identity. It is your responsibility to review and verify the accuracy of your confirmation statements immediately after you receive them. If you do not want the ability to sell and exchange shares by telephone or the Internet, call the Fund at 800.548.4539 for instructions.
LIMITATIONS ON THE FUND
The Fund may restrict or limit certain transactions, including, but not limited to, the following examples:
Redeem your account if its value (i) falls below $500 for Investor Class and Service Class shares or $25,000 for Institutional Class shares due to redemptions you make, or (ii) is below $100, but, in each case, not until after the Fund gives you at least 60 days’ notice and the opportunity to increase your account balance to the minimum account balance amount;
Suspend sales or postpone payments when the NYSE is closed for any reason other than its usual weekend or holiday closings or when the SEC restricts trading;
Change the minimum required investment amounts;
Delay sending out sales proceeds for up to seven days. This usually applies to very large sales without notice, excessive trading, or during unusual market conditions;
Make a redemption-in-kind, a payment in portfolio securities instead of in cash. If the Fund makes a redemption-in-kind, the securities received as payment remain subject to market and other risks until they are sold and such sales may result in transaction costs, such as brokerage fees;

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Shareholder Guide

How to Buy or Sell Shares (CONTINUED)
Refuse a buy order for any reason, including your failure to submit a properly completed application;
Refuse an exchange request for any person or group if the Fund determines that the request could adversely affect the Fund, for example, if the person or group has engaged in excessive trading. (See “Limiting Trades” below) This determination is at the Investment Manager’s discretion, based on a case-by-case analysis consistent with the Trust’s policies and procedures regarding frequent trading; and
End or limit the exchange privilege policy after giving 60 days’ advance notice to shareholders or impose fees in connection with exchanges or sales.
FREQUENT TRADING POLICY
The Board of Trustees of the Trust has adopted policies and procedures reasonably designed to prevent frequent trading in shares of the Fund. Frequent trading may result from an effort by a shareholder to engage in “market timing.” These activities may disrupt management of the Fund's portfolio, increase the Fund's expenses, and have a negative impact on the Fund's performance. There may be additional risks due to frequent trading activities. As described previously, the Fund has adopted procedures to minimize these risks.
Monitoring Trades
To help prevent frequent trading, the Investment Manager monitors the trading activities of Fund accounts on a daily basis, including large accounts maintained directly with the Fund's transfer agent. If the Investment Manager determines that an account shows a pattern of excessive trading and/or excessive exchanging among the AMG
Funds Family of Funds, the Investment Manager reviews the account’s activities and may warn the account owner and/or restrict the account. The Investment Manager also notifies the Fund's transfer agent of any restriction and periodically informs the Board of Trustees about the implementation of these frequent trading policies and procedures.
Limiting Trades
The Fund may refuse a purchase order for any reason and will limit or refuse an exchange request if the Investment Manager believes that a shareholder is engaging in market timing activities that may harm the Fund and its shareholders. Transactions accepted by a Financial Intermediary that violate the Fund's frequent trading policies are not considered to be acceptable by the Fund, and the Fund may reject them on the next business day after the Financial Intermediary has received them.
Although the Fund uses reasonable efforts to prevent market timing activities in the Fund, its efforts may not always succeed. For example, although the Fund strives to apply these policies and procedures uniformly to all accounts, the Fund receives certain purchase, exchange, and redemption orders through Financial Intermediaries that maintain omnibus accounts with the Fund. Although the Fund has attempted to put safeguards in place to ensure that Financial Intermediaries have implemented procedures designed to deter market timing, the Fund's ability to detect frequent trading activities by investors who hold shares through Financial Intermediaries will still be limited by the ability of the Fund and such intermediaries to monitor for a pattern of excessive trading and/or excessive exchanging within an omnibus account.
Investor Services
  
AUTOMATIC INVESTMENTS
You may arrange to make automatic deductions at regular intervals from a designated bank account.
AUTOMATIC REINVESTMENT PLAN
This plan lets you conveniently reinvest your dividends and capital gain distributions in additional shares of the Fund.
AUTOMATIC REDEMPTIONS
With this feature, you can easily redeem a set amount each month from your account. You may make automatic monthly redemptions of $100 or more. Redemptions are normally completed on the 25th day of each month. If the 25th day falls on a weekend or holiday, the Fund will complete the redemption on the next business day.
RETIREMENT PLANS
You may hold your shares in a traditional or Roth IRA, which are available to you at no additional cost. Call us at 800.548.4539 to get more information and an IRA kit.
EXCHANGE PRIVILEGES
To enhance your investment flexibility, we allow you to exchange your shares of the Fund for the same class of shares of other funds in the Trust or for shares of other funds managed by the Investment Manager, subject to the applicable investment minimum. Not all funds managed by the Investment Manager offer all classes of shares or are open to new investors. In addition to exchanging into other funds managed by the Investment Manager as described above, you also may exchange your shares of the Fund through the Investment Manager for shares in the Agency share class of the JPMorgan Liquid Assets Money Market Fund (the “JPMorgan Fund”). In addition, the following restrictions apply:
Except for the JPMorgan Fund, the value of the shares exchanged must meet the minimum purchase requirement of the fund and class for which you are exchanging them. There is no minimum purchase requirement to exchange into the JPMorgan Fund.

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Shareholder Guide

Investor Services (CONTINUED)
There is no fee associated with the exchange privilege; however, your exchange may result in tax consequences. For details, see “Taxability of Transactions” below.
The exchange privilege is available only if both of the accounts involved in the transaction are registered in the same name with the same address and taxpayer identification number.
You can request your exchange in writing, by telephone (if elected on the application), by Internet, or through your investment advisor, bank, or investment professional. Normally, we will execute the entire exchange transaction in a single business day.
Be sure to read the prospectus of any fund that you are considering for an exchange. Subject to the restrictions above, when you purchase a fund’s shares by exchange, the same terms and conditions that apply to any new investment in that fund also apply to the exchange. The Fund may discontinue, alter, or limit the exchange privileges at any time, subject to applicable law.
ACCOUNT STATEMENTS
The Fund will send you quarterly and yearly statements with details about your account activity. The Fund will also send you a Form 1099-DIV annually (unless your account is an IRA) that shows the tax breakdown of any dividends and distributions you received from your account. In addition, you will receive a confirmation after each trade execution.
COST BASIS REPORTING
Upon the redemption or exchange of your shares in the Fund, the Fund or, if you purchase your shares through a Financial Intermediary, your Financial Intermediary, generally will be required to
provide you and the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) with cost basis information. Please see http://investor.amgfunds.com/home.html or contact the Fund at 800.548.4539, or consult your Financial Intermediary, as appropriate, for more information regarding available methods for cost basis reporting and how to select a particular method. Please consult your tax advisor to determine which available cost basis method is best for you.
DIVIDENDS AND DISTRIBUTIONS
The Fund normally declares and pays any income dividends and net realized capital gain distributions, if any, annually in December. Most investors have their dividends and distributions reinvested in additional shares, and the Fund will do this automatically unless you request otherwise. You may also change your election at any time by giving the Fund written notice at least 10 days before the scheduled payment date.
CHANGES TO YOUR ACCOUNT
The Fund will mail correspondence and other materials to the address on file for you. Please notify the Fund immediately of any changes to your address or to other information that might affect your account.
Certain Federal Income Tax Information
  
The following tax information is a general summary of certain U.S. federal income tax consequences applicable to an investment in the Fund under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended and as in effect as of the date of this Prospectus. A more detailed tax discussion is provided in the SAI. The Fund does not intend for this information to address all aspects of taxation that may apply to individual shareholders or to specific types of shareholders such as insurance companies, financial institutions, tax-advantaged retirement plans, broker-dealers, and foreign persons, each of whom may qualify for special treatment under U.S. federal income tax laws. You should consult a tax advisor about the U.S. federal, state, local, and foreign tax consequences to you of your investment in the Fund based on your particular circumstances.
The Fund intends to elect and to qualify and be treated each taxable year as a regulated investment company. A regulated investment company generally is not subject to tax at the corporate level on income and gains from investments that are distributed to shareholders. However, the Fund’s failure to qualify and be eligible for treatment as a regulated investment company would result in
corporate-level taxation, and consequently a reduction in income available for distribution to shareholders.
TAXABILITY OF DIVIDENDS AND DISTRIBUTIONS
For U.S. federal income tax purposes, distributions of investment income, whether reinvested or taken as cash, are generally taxable to you as ordinary income. Taxes on distributions of capital gains are determined by how long the Fund owned or is considered to have owned the investments that generated them, rather than how long you have owned your shares.
Distributions from the sale of investments that the Fund owns or is considered to have owned for more than one year and that are properly reported by the Fund as capital gain dividends are treated as long-term capital gains includible in your net capital gain and taxed to individuals at reduced rates.
Distributions from the sale of investments that the Fund owns or is considered to have owned for one year or less are taxable to individuals as ordinary income.

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Shareholder Guide

Certain Federal Income Tax Information (CONTINUED)
Properly reported distributions of “qualified dividend income” are taxable to individuals at the rate that applies to net capital gains, provided that both you and such distributing Fund meet certain holding period and other requirements.
A 3.8% Medicare contribution tax is imposed on the “net investment income” of individuals, estates and trusts to the extent their income exceeds certain threshold amounts. Net investment income generally includes for this purpose dividends paid by the Fund, including any capital gain dividends and net gains recognized on the sale, redemption or exchange of shares of the Fund. Shareholders are advised to consult their tax advisors regarding the possible implications of this additional tax on their investment in the Fund.
Distributions are taxable to you in the same manner whether you receive them in cash or reinvest them in additional shares.
Distributions by the Fund to retirement plans that qualify for tax-exempt treatment under U.S. federal income tax laws are not taxable. By investing in the Fund through such a plan, you will not be subject to tax on distributions from the Fund so long as the amounts distributed remain in the plan, but you will generally be taxed upon withdrawal of monies from the plan. If your investment is through such a plan, you should consult your tax advisor to determine the suitability of the Fund as an investment through your
retirement plan and the tax treatment of distributions (including distributions of amounts attributable to an investment in the Fund) from such a plan.
TAXABILITY OF TRANSACTIONS
Any gain or loss that results from the sale, exchange (including an exchange of the Fund's shares for shares of another fund) or redemption of your shares will be treated generally as capital gain or loss for U.S. federal income tax purposes, which will be long-term or short-term depending on how long you have held your shares.
TAX WITHHOLDING
To avoid back-up withholding of U.S. federal income taxes on distributions or sale proceeds, federal law requires you to:
Provide your Social Security Number (“SSN”) or other taxpayer identification number (“TIN”);
Certify that your SSN or TIN is correct; and
Certify that you are not subject to back-up withholding.
In addition, the Fund must also withhold taxes on distributions and sale proceeds if the IRS notifies the Fund that the SSN or TIN you provided is incorrect, or the IRS notifies the Fund that you have failed to properly report certain interest and dividend income.

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Financial Highlights


This section would ordinarily include Financial Highlights. The Financial Highlights table is intended to help you understand the Fund’s financial performance for the Fund’s periods of operations. Because the Fund commenced operation on or about the date of this Prospectus, no financial highlights are shown.

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How To Contact Us

AMG GW&K SMALL CAP GROWTH FUND
INVESTMENT MANAGER AND ADMINISTRATOR
AMG Funds LLC
800 Connecticut Avenue
Norwalk, Connecticut 06854
203.299.3500 or 800.835.3879
SUBADVISOR
GW&K Investment Management, LLC
222 Berkeley Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
DISTRIBUTOR
AMG Distributors, Inc.
800 Connecticut Avenue
Norwalk, Connecticut 06854
CUSTODIAN
The Bank of New York Mellon
2 Hanson Place
Brooklyn, New York 10286
LEGAL COUNSEL
Ropes & Gray LLP
Prudential Tower
800 Boylston Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02199-3600
TRANSFER AGENT
BNY Mellon Investment Servicing (US) Inc.
P.O. Box 9769
Providence, Rhode Island 02940-9769
800.548.4539
TRUSTEES
Bruce B. Bingham
Christine C. Carsman
William E. Chapman, II
Edward J. Kaier
Kurt A. Keilhacker
Steven J. Paggioli
Richard F. Powers III
Eric Rakowski
Victoria L. Sassine
Thomas R. Schneeweis

22 AMG Funds


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AMG Funds
Prospectus
[June 30, 2015]

Where to find additional information
The Fund's Statement of Additional Information (the “SAI”) contains additional information about the Fund and its investments. Additional information about the Fund's investments will be available in the Fund's Annual and Semi-Annual Reports to shareholders. In the Fund's Annual Report, you will find a discussion of the market conditions and investment strategies that significantly affected the Fund's performance during its last fiscal year. To request free copies of these materials or to make other inquiries, please contact the Fund:
By telephone:
800.835.3879
By mail:
AMG Funds
800 Connecticut Avenue
Norwalk, Connecticut 06854-2325
On the Internet:
Electronic copies are available on our website
at www.amgfunds.com
Information about the Fund, including the Fund's current SAI and, when available, Annual and Semi-Annual Reports, is on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). The Fund's SAI is incorporated by reference into (is legally part of) this Prospectus.
Reports and other information about the Fund are also available on the EDGAR database of the SEC’s Web site at http://www.sec.gov. You may obtain copies by electronic request, after paying a duplicating fee, via email to publicinfo@sec.gov, or by writing the SEC’s Public Reference Section, Washington, D.C. 20549-1520. You may also review and copy information about the Fund at the SEC’s Public Reference Room in Washington, D.C. For access to the Reference Room, call 202.551.8090.
© 2015 AMG Funds LLC
Investment Company Act Registration Number 811-09521
www.amgfunds.com

As with all mutual funds, the Securities and Exchange Commission has not approved or disapproved these securities or
determined if this Prospectus is truthful or complete. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.
Pxx-xxxx


Table of Contents

The information in this Statement of Additional Information is not complete and may be changed. We may not sell these securities until the registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission is effective. This Statement of Additional Information is not an offer to sell these securities, and it is not soliciting an offer to buy these securities in any state where the offer or sale is not permitted.

 

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION SUBJECT TO COMPLETION April 16, 2015

AMG FUNDS

AMG GW&K SMALL CAP GROWTH FUND

INSTITUTIONAL CLASS: [    ]

SERVICE CLASS: [    ]

INVESTOR CLASS: [    ]

 

 

STATEMENT OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

DATED [June 30, 2015]

You can obtain a free copy of the prospectus for AMG GW&K Small Cap Growth Fund (the “Fund”), dated [June 30, 2015], as supplemented from time to time (the “Prospectus”), by calling AMG Funds LLC (the “Investment Manager”) at (800) 835-3879 or by visiting the Fund’s Website at www.amgfunds.com. The Fund’s Prospectus provides basic information about investing in the Fund.

This Statement of Additional Information is not a Prospectus. It contains additional information regarding the activities and operations of the Fund. It should be read in conjunction with the Fund’s Prospectus.


Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

     Page  

GENERAL INFORMATION

     1   

ADDITIONAL INVESTMENT POLICIES

     1   

TRUSTEES AND OFFICERS

     33   

CONTROL PERSONS AND PRINCIPAL HOLDERS OF SECURITIES

     44   

MANAGEMENT OF THE FUND

     45   

BROKERAGE ALLOCATION AND OTHER PRACTICES

     54   

PURCHASE, REDEMPTION AND PRICING OF SHARES

     55   

CERTAIN FEDERAL INCOME TAX MATTERS

     59   

OTHER INFORMATION

     75   

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

     77   

APPENDIX A : DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES RATINGS

     A-1   

APPENDIX B

     B-1   


Table of Contents

GENERAL INFORMATION

This Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”) relates to AMG GW&K Small Cap Growth Fund (the “Fund”). The Fund is a series of shares of beneficial interest of AMG Funds, a Massachusetts business trust (the “Trust”), and part of the AMG Funds Family of Funds, which consists of [48] funds (the “AMG Fund Complex”). The Trust was organized on June 18, 1999.

The Fund commenced operations on or following the date of this SAI, and its initial fiscal year ends on December 31, 2015. The Fund has established three classes of shares: Institutional Class, Service Class and Investor Class.

This SAI describes the financial history, management and operation of the Fund, as well as the Fund’s investment objective and policies. It should be read in conjunction with the Fund’s current prospectus, dated [June 30, 2015], as supplemented from time to time (the “Prospectus”). The Trust’s executive office is located at 800 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut 06854.

AMG Funds LLC (the “Investment Manager”), a subsidiary of Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. (“AMG”), serves as investment manager to the Fund and is responsible for the Fund’s overall administration. It selects and recommends, subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees (the “Trustees”), an independent asset manager, or a team of independent asset managers (the “Subadvisor” or “Subadvisors”) to manage the Fund’s investment portfolio. The Investment Manager also monitors the performance, security holdings and investment strategies of these Subadvisors and researches any potential new Subadvisors for the Fund. GW&K Investment Management, LLC currently serves as Subadvisor to the Fund. See “Management of the Fund” for more information.

Investments in the Fund are not:

 

    Deposits or obligations of any bank;

 

    Guaranteed or endorsed by any bank; or

 

    Federally insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve Board or any other federal agency.

ADDITIONAL INVESTMENT POLICIES

The following is additional information regarding the investment policies used by the Fund in an attempt to achieve its investment objective as stated in its Prospectus. The Trust is an open-end management investment company, and the Fund is a diversified series of the Trust.

The table below shows the types of securities and instruments that may be purchased by the Fund to the extent such investments are permitted by applicable law. For a more complete description of the types of securities and techniques that may be utilized by the Fund, see “Investment Techniques and Associated Risks” below. The information below does not describe every type of investment, technique or risk to which the Fund may be exposed. The Fund reserves the right, without notice, to make any investment, or use any investment technique, except to the extent that such activity would require a shareholder vote, as discussed below under “Fundamental Investment Restrictions.”

 

1


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Investment Practices

   AMG GW&K Small Cap
Growth Fund

Below Investment Grade Securities

   X

Borrowing

   X

Cash Equivalents

  

Bank Obligations

   X

Repurchase Agreements

   X

Commercial Paper

   X

Derivative Instruments

   X

Emerging Market Securities

   X

Equity Investments

  

Common Stock

   X

Convertible Securities

   X

Depositary Receipts

   X

Initial Public Offerings

   X

Preferred Stock

   X

Foreign Securities

   X

Forward Commitments

   X

Illiquid Investments; Privately Placed and Certain Unregistered Securities

   X

Interfund Lending

   X

Investment Company Securities

   X

Real Estate Investment Trusts

   X

Reverse Repurchase Agreements

   X

Securities Lending

   X

United States Government Obligations

   X

Warrants and Rights

   X

When-Issued Securities

   X

Zero Coupon Securities

   X

 

2


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Investment Techniques and Associated Risks

(1) Below Investment Grade Securities

In General. The Fund may invest in below investment grade securities, subject to any limitations set forth in the Fund’s Prospectus and this SAI. Below investment grade securities (also referred to as “high yield securities” or “junk bonds”) are securities rated below BBB by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services (“S&P”) or Baa by Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. (“Moody’s”), securities comparably rated by another Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (“NRSRO”), or unrated securities of equivalent quality. See Appendix A for further discussion regarding securities ratings. Below investment grade securities are deemed by the rating agencies to be predominantly speculative with respect to the issuer’s capacity to pay interest and repay principal. Below investment grade securities, while generally offering higher yields than investment grade securities with similar maturities, involve greater risks, including the possibility of default or bankruptcy. The special risk considerations in connection with investments in these securities are discussed below.

Below investment grade securities generally offer a higher yield than that available from higher-rated issues with similar maturities, as compensation for holding a security that is subject to greater risk. Below investment grade securities are deemed by rating agencies to be predominately speculative with respect to the issuer’s capacity to pay interest and repay principal and may involve major risk or exposure to adverse conditions. Lower-rated securities involve higher risks in that they are especially subject to (1) adverse changes in general economic conditions and in the industries in which the issuers are engaged, (2) adverse changes in the financial condition of the issuers, (3) price fluctuation in response to changes in interest rates and (4) limited liquidity and secondary market support.

Effect of Interest Rates and Economic Changes. All interest-bearing securities typically experience appreciation when interest rates decline and depreciation when interest rates rise. The market values of below investment grade securities tend to reflect individual corporate developments to a greater extent than do higher rated securities, which react primarily to fluctuations in the general level of interest rates. Below investment grade securities also tend to be more sensitive to economic conditions than are higher-rated securities. As a result, they generally involve more credit risks than securities in the higher-rated categories. During an economic downturn or a sustained period of rising interest rates, highly leveraged issuers of below investment grade securities may experience financial stress which may adversely affect their ability to service their debt obligations, meet projected business goals, and obtain additional financing. Periods of economic uncertainty and changes would also generally result in increased volatility in the market prices of these securities and thus in the Fund’s net asset value.

Payment Expectations. Below investment grade securities may contain redemption, call or prepayment provisions which permit the issuer of such securities to, at its discretion, redeem the securities. During periods of falling interest rates, issuers of these securities are likely to redeem or prepay the securities and refinance them with debt securities with a lower interest rate. To the extent an issuer is able to refinance the securities, or otherwise redeem them, the Fund may have to replace the securities with a lower yielding security, which would result in a lower return.

Credit Ratings. Credit ratings issued by credit-rating agencies are designed to evaluate the safety of principal and interest payments of rated securities. They do not, however, evaluate the market value risk of lower-quality securities and, therefore, may not fully reflect the risks of an investment. In addition, credit rating agencies may or may not make timely changes in a rating to reflect changes in the economy or in the condition of the issuer that affect the market value of the security. With regard to an investment in below investment grade securities, the achievement of the Fund’s investment objective may

 

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be more dependent on the subadvisor’s own credit analysis than is the case for higher rated securities. Although the subadvisor considers security ratings when making investment decisions, it does not rely solely on the ratings assigned by the rating services. Rather, the subadvisor performs research and independently assesses the value of particular securities relative to the market. The subadvisor’s analysis may include consideration of the issuer’s experience and managerial strength, changing financial condition, borrowing requirements or debt maturity schedules, and the issuer’s responsiveness to changes in business conditions and interest rates. It also considers relative values based on anticipated cash flow, interest or dividend coverage, asset coverage and earnings prospects.

The Fund’s subadvisor buys and sells debt securities principally in response to its evaluation of an issuer’s continuing ability to meet its obligations, the availability of better investment opportunities, and its assessment of changes in business conditions and interest rates.

Liquidity and Valuation. Below investment grade securities may lack an established retail secondary market, and to the extent a secondary trading market does exist, it may be less liquid than the secondary market for higher rated securities. The lack of a liquid secondary market may negatively impact the Fund’s ability to dispose of particular securities. The lack of a liquid secondary market for certain securities may also make it more difficult for the Fund to obtain accurate market quotations for purposes of valuing the Fund’s portfolio. In addition, adverse publicity and investor perceptions, whether or not based on fundamental analysis, may decrease the values and liquidity of below investment grade securities, especially in a thinly traded market.

Because of the many risks involved in investing in below investment grade securities, the success of such investments is dependent upon the credit analysis of the subadvisor. Although the market for below investment grade securities is not new, and the market has previously weathered economic downturns, the past performance of the market for such securities may not be an accurate indication of its performance during future economic downturns or periods of rising interest rates. Differing yields on debt securities of the same maturity are a function of several factors, including the relative financial strength of the issuers.

(2) Borrowing

Under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”), the Fund may borrow from any bank, provided that immediately after any such borrowing there is an asset coverage of at least 300% for all borrowings by the Fund and provided further, that in the event that such asset coverage shall at any time fall below 300%, the Fund shall, within three days (not including Sundays and holidays) thereafter or such longer period as the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) may prescribe by rules and regulations, reduce the amount of its borrowings to such an extent that the asset coverage of such borrowings shall be at least 300%. In addition, the Fund may borrow up to 33 1/3% of its total assets through an interfund lending program with other funds in the AMG Fund Complex (as further described below). The 1940 Act also permits an open-end investment company to borrow money from a bank or other person provided that such loan is for temporary purposes only and is in an amount not exceeding 5% of the value of the investment company’s total assets at the time when the loan is made. A loan is presumed to be for temporary purposes if it is repaid within sixty days and is not extended or renewed. Typically, the Fund may pledge up to 33 1/3% of its total assets to secure these borrowings. The Trust, on behalf of the Fund, has entered into a master interfund lending agreement that would allow the Fund to borrow, for temporary purposes only, from other funds in the AMG Fund Complex, subject to the Fund’s fundamental investment restrictions and provided such borrowings do not exceed the amount permitted by Section 18 of the 1940 Act, and the rules and regulations thereunder, as modified by the below mentioned and any other applicable exemptive order or other relief. Please see “Interfund

 

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Lending” below for more information. If the Fund’s asset coverage for borrowings falls below 300%, the Fund will take prompt action to reduce its borrowings even though it may be disadvantageous at that time from an investment point of view. The Fund will incur costs when it borrows, including payment of interest and any fee necessary to maintain a line of credit, and may be required to maintain a minimum average balance. If the Fund is permitted to borrow money to take advantage of investment opportunities, if the income and appreciation on assets acquired with such borrowed funds exceed their borrowing cost, the Fund’s investment performance will increase, whereas if the income and appreciation on assets acquired with borrowed funds are less than their borrowing costs, investment performance will decrease. In addition, if the Fund borrows to invest in securities, any investment gains made on the securities in excess of the costs of the borrowing, and any gain or loss on hedging, will cause the net asset value of the shares to rise faster than would otherwise be the case. On the other hand, if the investment performance of the additional securities purchased fails to cover their cost (including any interest paid on the money borrowed) to the Fund, the net asset value of the Fund’s shares will decrease faster than would otherwise be the case. This speculative characteristic is known as “leverage.”

(3) Cash Equivalents

The Fund may invest in cash equivalents to the extent that such investments are consistent with the Fund’s investment objective, policies and restrictions, and as discussed in the Fund’s Prospectus. A description of the various types of cash equivalents that may be purchased by the Fund appears below.

Bank Obligations. The Fund may purchase obligations of domestic and foreign banks and foreign branches of domestic banks. Banks are subject to extensive governmental regulations. These regulations place limitations on the amounts and types of loans and other financial commitments which may be made by the bank and the interest rates and fees which may be charged on these loans and commitments. The profitability of the banking industry depends on the availability and costs of capital funds for the purpose of financing loans under prevailing money market conditions. General economic conditions also play a key role in the operations of the banking industry. Exposure to credit losses arising from potential financial difficulties of borrowers may affect the ability of the bank to meet its obligations under a letter of credit.

Repurchase Agreements. In a repurchase agreement, the Fund buys a security from a bank or a broker-dealer that has agreed to repurchase the same security at a mutually agreed upon date and price. The resale price normally reflects the purchase price plus a mutually agreed upon interest rate. This interest rate is effective for the period of time the Fund is invested in the agreement and is not related to the coupon rate on the underlying security. Repurchase agreements are subject to certain risks that may adversely affect the Fund. If a seller defaults, the Fund may incur a loss if the value of the collateral securing the repurchase agreement declines and may incur disposition costs in connection with liquidating the collateral. In addition, if bankruptcy proceedings are commenced with respect to a seller of the security, the Fund’s ability to dispose of the collateral may be delayed or limited. Generally, the period of these repurchase agreements will be short, and at no time will the Fund enter into a repurchase agreement for a period of more than seven (7) days.

(4) Commercial Paper

Commercial paper refers to promissory notes that represent an unsecured debt of a corporation or finance company. They have a maturity of less than nine (9) months. Eurodollar commercial paper refers to promissory notes payable in U.S. dollars by European issuers.

 

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(5) Derivative Instruments

The following describes certain derivative instruments and products in which the Fund may invest and risks associated therewith.

The Fund might not employ any of the strategies described below or be permitted by applicable law to do so, and no assurance can be given that any strategy used will succeed. Also, suitable derivative and/or hedging transactions may not be available in all circumstances and there can be no assurance that the Fund will be able to identify or employ a desirable derivative and/or hedging transaction at any time or from time to time or that any such transactions will be successful.

Futures Contracts and Options on Futures Contracts. The Fund may use futures contracts, including futures contracts on global equity and fixed income securities, interest rate futures contracts, foreign currency futures contracts and futures contracts on security indices (including broad-based security indices), for any purpose. The Fund may invest in foreign currency futures contracts and options thereon (“options on futures”) that are traded on a U.S. or foreign exchange or board of trade, or similar entity, or quoted on an automated quotation system as an adjunct to their securities activities. The Fund may purchase and sell futures contracts on various securities indices (“Index Futures”), including indices of U.S. government securities, foreign government securities, equity securities or fixed income securities, and related options. Through the use of Index Futures and related options, the Fund may create economic exposure in its portfolio to long and short positions in the global (U.S. and non-U.S.) equity, bond and currency markets without incurring the substantial brokerage costs which may be associated with investment in the securities of multiple issuers. The Fund may enter into futures contracts for the purchase or sale of fixed income securities, equity securities or foreign currencies, and may also use options on securities or currency futures contracts.

A futures contract provides for the future sale by one party and purchase by another party of a specified quantity of a financial instrument, foreign currency or the cash value of an index at a specified price and time. An Index Future is an agreement pursuant to which two parties agree to take or make delivery of an amount of cash equal to the difference between the value of a securities index (“Index”) at the close of the last trading day of the contract and the price at which the index contract was originally written. Although the value of an Index might be a function of the value of certain specified securities, no physical delivery of these securities is made. A unit is the value of the relevant Index from time to time. Entering into a contract to buy units is commonly referred to as buying or purchasing a contract or holding a long position in an Index. Index Futures contracts can be traded through all major commodity brokers. As described below, the Fund will be required to segregate initial margin in the name of the futures broker upon entering into an Index Future. Variation margin will be paid to and received from the broker on a daily basis as the contracts are marked to market. For example, when the Fund has purchased an Index Future and the price of the relevant Index has risen, that position will have increased in value and the Fund will receive from the broker a variation margin payment equal to that increase in value. Conversely, when the Fund has purchased an Index Future and the price of the relevant Index has declined, the position would be less valuable and the Fund would be required to make a variation margin payment to the broker.

The Fund will ordinarily be able to close open positions on the futures exchanges on which Index Futures are traded at any time up to and including the expiration day. All positions which remain open at the close of the last business day of the contract’s life are required to settle on the next business day (based upon the value of the relevant Index on the expiration day), with settlement made with the appropriate clearing house. Additional or different margin requirements as well as settlement procedures may be applicable to foreign stock Index Futures at the time the Fund purchases such instruments. Positions in Index Futures may be closed out by the Fund only on the futures exchanges upon which the Index Futures are then traded.

 

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The following example illustrates generally the manner in which Index Futures operate. The Standard & Poor’s 100 Stock Index (the “S&P 100 Index”) is composed of 100 selected common stocks, most of which are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”). The S&P 100 Index assigns relative weightings to the common stocks included in the Index, and the Index fluctuates with changes in the market values of those common stocks. In the case of the S&P 100 Index, contracts are to buy or sell 100 units. Thus, if the value of the S&P 100 Index were $180, one contract would be worth $18,000 (100 units x $180). The Index Future specifies that no delivery of the actual stocks making up the Index will take place. Instead, settlement in cash must occur upon the termination of the contract, with the settlement being the difference between the contract price and the actual level of the Index at the expiration of the contract. For example, if the Fund enters into a futures contract to buy 100 units of the S&P 100 Index at a specified future date at a contract price of $180 and the S&P 100 Index is at $184 on that future date, the Fund will gain $400 (100 units x gain of $4). If the Fund enters into a futures contract to sell 100 units of the Index at a specified future date at a contract price of $180 and the S&P 100 Index is at $182 on that future date, the Fund will lose $200 (100 units x loss of $2).

A public market exists in futures contracts covering a number of Indices as well as financial instruments and foreign currencies, including but not limited to: the S&P 500; the S&P Midcap 400; the Nikkei 225; the NYSE Composite; U.S. Treasury bonds; U.S. Treasury notes; GNMA Certificates; three-month U.S. Treasury bills; 90-day commercial paper; bank certificates of deposit; Eurodollar certificates of deposit; the Australian dollar; the Canadian dollar; the British pound; the Japanese yen; the Swiss franc; the Mexican peso; and certain multinational currencies, such as the euro. It is expected that other futures contracts in which the Fund may invest will be developed and traded in the future.

The Fund may purchase and write call and put options on futures. Options on futures possess many of the same characteristics as options on securities and indices (discussed below). An option on a futures contract gives the holder the right, in return for the premium paid, to assume a long position (call) or short position (put) in a futures contract at a specified exercise price at any time during the period of the option. Upon exercise of a call option, the holder acquires a long position in the futures contract and the writer is assigned the opposite short position. In the case of a put option, the holder acquires a short position and the writer is assigned the opposite long position.

When the Fund purchases or sells a futures contract, the Fund is required to deposit with its futures commission merchant an amount of margin set by the exchange on which the contract is traded (“initial margin”). The required amount of initial margin may be modified by the exchange or the futures commission merchant during the term of the contract. Margin requirements on foreign exchanges may be different than U.S. exchanges. The initial margin does not represent a borrowing or loan by the Fund, but rather is in the nature of a performance bond or good faith deposit on the futures contract which is returned to the Fund upon termination of the contract, assuming all contractual obligations have been satisfied. The Fund expects to earn interest income on its initial margin deposits. A futures contract held by the Fund is valued daily at the official settlement price of the exchange on which it is traded. Each day the Fund pays or receives cash, called “variation margin,” equal to the daily change in value of the futures contract. This process is known as “marking to market.” Variation margin does not represent a borrowing or loan by the Fund but is instead a settlement between the Fund and the exchange of the amount one would owe the other if the futures contract expired. If the Fund has insufficient cash to meet daily variation margin requirements, it might need to sell securities at a time when such sales are disadvantageous. In computing daily net asset value, the Fund will mark to market its open futures positions.

 

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The Fund is also required to deposit and maintain margin with respect to put and call options on futures contracts written by it. Such margin deposits will vary depending on the nature of the underlying futures contract (and the related initial margin requirements), the current market value of the option, and other futures positions held by the Fund.

Although some futures contracts call for making or taking delivery of the underlying securities, generally these obligations are closed out prior to delivery by offsetting purchases or sales of matching futures contracts (i.e., with the same exchange, underlying security or index, and delivery month). If an offsetting purchase price is less than the original sale price, the Fund realizes a capital gain, or if it is more, the Fund realizes a capital loss. Conversely, if an offsetting sale price is more than the original purchase price, the Fund realizes a capital gain, or if it is less, the Fund realizes a capital loss. Any transaction costs must also be included in these calculations. Positions in futures and options on futures may be closed only on an exchange or board of trade that provides a secondary market. However, there can be no assurance that a liquid secondary market will exist for a particular contract at a particular time. In such event, it may not be possible to close a futures contract or options position.

Limitations on Use of Futures and Options on Futures. The Fund may only enter into futures contracts or options on futures which are standardized and traded on a U.S. or foreign exchange or board of trade, or similar entity, or quoted on an automated quotation system, or in the case of options on futures, for which an established over-the-counter (“OTC”) option market exists. The Fund may utilize futures contracts and related options for any purpose, including for investment purposes and for “bona fide hedging” purposes (as such term is defined in applicable regulations of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”)), for example, to hedge against changes in interest rates, foreign currency exchange rates or securities prices. For instance, the Fund may invest to a significant degree in Index Futures on stock indices and related options (including those which may trade outside of the United States) as an alternative to purchasing individual stocks in order to adjust their exposure to a particular market.

When purchasing a futures contract, the Fund will segregate or earmark (and mark-to-market on a daily basis) assets determined to be liquid by the Fund’s subadvisor, in accordance with procedures established by the Board of Trustees that, when added to the amounts deposited with a futures commission merchant as margin, are equal to the market value of the futures contract on the Fund’s records. Alternatively, the Fund may “cover” its position by purchasing a put option on the same futures contract with a strike price as high or higher than the price of the contract held by the Fund.

When selling a futures contract, the Fund will segregate or earmark (and mark-to-market on a daily basis) assets determined to be liquid by the Fund’s subadvisor in accordance with procedures established by the Board of Trustees that are equal to the market value of the instruments underlying the contract. Alternatively, the Fund may “cover” its position by owning the instruments underlying the contract (or, in the case of an Index Future, a portfolio with a volatility substantially similar to that of the Index on which the futures contract is based), or by holding a call option permitting the Fund to purchase the same futures contract at a price no higher than the price of the contract written by the Fund (or at a higher price if the difference is maintained in liquid assets with the Fund’s custodian).

When selling a call option on a futures contract, the Fund will segregate or earmark (and mark-to-market on a daily basis) assets determined to be liquid by the Fund’s subadvisor in accordance with procedures established by the Board of Trustees that, when added to the amounts deposited with a futures commission merchant as margin, equal the total market value of the futures contract underlying the call option. Alternatively, the Fund may cover its position by entering into a long position in the same futures

 

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contract at a price no higher than the strike price of the call option, by owning the instruments underlying the futures contract, or by holding a separate call option permitting the Fund to purchase the same futures contract at a price not higher than the strike price of the call option sold by the Fund.

When selling a put option on a futures contract, the Fund will segregate or earmark (and mark-to-market on a daily basis) assets determined to be liquid by the Fund’s subadvisor in accordance with procedures established by the Board of Trustees that equal the purchase price of the futures contract, less any margin on deposit. Alternatively, the Fund may cover the position either by entering into a short position in the same futures contract, or by owning a separate put option permitting it to sell the same futures contract so long as the strike price of the purchased put option is the same or higher than the strike price of the put option sold by the Fund.

The Fund is operated by a person, the Investment Manager, who has claimed an exclusion from the definition of the term “commodity pool operator” under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”) pursuant to Rule 4.5 under the CEA (the “exclusion”) promulgated by the CFTC (with respect to the Fund). Accordingly, neither the Investment Manager (with respect to the Fund) nor the Fund is subject to registration or regulation as a “commodity pool operator” or “commodity pool,” respectively, under the CEA. To remain eligible for the exclusion, the Fund will be limited in its ability to use certain financial instruments regulated under the CEA (“commodity interests”), including futures and options on futures and certain swaps transactions. In the event that the Fund’s investments in commodity interests are not within the thresholds set forth in the exclusion, the Investment Manager may be required to register as a “commodity pool operator” and/or “commodity trading advisor” with the CFTC with respect to the Fund. The Investment Manager’s eligibility to claim the exclusion with respect to the Fund will be based upon, among other things, the level and scope of the Fund’s investment in commodity interests, the purposes of such investments and the manner in which the Fund holds out its use of commodity interests. The Fund’s ability to invest in commodity interests (including, but not limited to, futures and swaps on broad-based securities indexes and interest rates) is limited by the Investment Manager’s intention to operate the Fund in a manner that would permit the Investment Manager to continue to claim the exclusion under Rule 4.5, which may adversely affect the Fund’s total return. In the event the Investment Manager becomes unable to rely on the exclusion in Rule 4.5 and is required to register with the CFTC as a commodity pool operator with respect to the Fund, the Fund’s expenses may increase, adversely affecting the Fund’s total return.

Risks Associated with Futures and Options on Futures. There are several risks associated with the use of futures contracts and options on futures as hedging techniques. A purchase or sale of a futures contract may result in losses in excess of the amount invested in the futures contract. Some of the risk may be caused by an imperfect correlation between movements in the price of the futures contract and the price of the security or other investment being hedged. The hedge will not be fully effective where there is such imperfect correlation. Also, an incorrect correlation could result in a loss on both the hedged securities in the Fund and the hedging vehicle, so that the portfolio return might have been greater had hedging not been attempted. For example, if the price of the futures contract moves more than the price of the hedged security, the Fund would experience either a loss or gain on the future which is not completely offset by movements in the price of the hedged securities. In addition, there are significant differences between the securities and futures markets that could result in an imperfect correlation between the markets, causing a given hedge not to achieve its objectives. The degree of imperfection of correlation depends on circumstances such as variations in speculative market demand for futures and options on futures on securities, including technical influences in futures trading and options on futures, and differences between the financial instruments being hedged and the instruments underlying the standard contracts available for trading in such respects as interest rate levels, maturities, and creditworthiness of issuers. To compensate for imperfect correlations, the Fund may purchase or sell

 

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futures contracts in a greater dollar amount than the hedged securities if the volatility of the hedged securities is historically greater than the volatility of the futures contracts. Conversely, the Fund may purchase or sell fewer contracts if the volatility of the price of the hedged securities is historically less than that of the futures contracts. The risk of imperfect correlation generally tends to diminish as the maturity date of the futures contract approaches. A decision as to whether, when and how to hedge involves the exercise of skill and judgment, and even a well conceived hedge may be unsuccessful to some degree because of market behavior or unexpected interest rate trends. Also, suitable hedging transactions may not be available in all circumstances.

Additionally, the price of Index Futures may not correlate perfectly with movement in the relevant index due to certain market distortions. First, all participants in the futures market are subject to margin deposit and maintenance requirements. Rather than meeting additional margin deposit requirements, investors may close futures contracts through offsetting transactions which could distort the normal relationship between the index and futures markets. Second, the deposit requirements in the futures market are less onerous than margin requirements in the securities market, and as a result, the futures market may attract more speculators than does the securities market. Increased participation by speculators in the futures market may also cause temporary price distortions. In addition, trading hours for foreign stock Index Futures may not correspond perfectly to hours of trading on the foreign exchange to which a particular foreign stock Index Future relates. This may result in a disparity between the price of Index Futures and the value of the relevant index due to the lack of continuous arbitrage between the Index Futures price and the value of the underlying index.

Futures exchanges may limit the amount of fluctuation permitted in certain futures contract prices during a single trading day. The daily limit establishes the maximum amount that the price of a futures contract may vary either up or down from the previous day’s settlement price at the end of the current trading session. Once the daily limit has been reached in a futures contract subject to the limit, no more trades may be made on that day at a price beyond that limit. The daily limit governs only price movements during a particular trading day and therefore does not limit potential losses because the limit may work to prevent the liquidation of unfavorable positions. For example, futures prices have occasionally moved to the daily limit for several consecutive trading days with little or no trading, thereby preventing prompt liquidation of positions and subjecting some holders of futures contracts to substantial losses.

There can be no assurance that a liquid market will exist at a time when the Fund seeks to close out a futures or a futures option position. If the Fund were unable to liquidate a futures contract or an option on a futures position due to the absence of a liquid secondary market, the imposition of price limits or otherwise, it could incur substantial losses. The Fund would continue to be subject to market risk with respect to the position. Also, except in the case of purchased options, the Fund would continue to be required to make daily variation margin payments and might be required to maintain a position being hedged by the future or option or to maintain cash or securities in a segregated account. In addition, many of the contracts discussed above are relatively new instruments without a significant trading history. As a result, there can be no assurance that an active secondary market will develop or continue to exist.

Forward Currency Contracts. The Fund may enter into forward currency contracts for any purpose, including to attempt to hedge currency exposure or to enhance return. A forward currency contract is an obligation to purchase or sell a currency against another currency at a future date and price as agreed upon by the parties. The Fund may either accept or make delivery of the currency at the maturity of the forward contract or, prior to maturity, enter into a closing transaction involving the purchase or sale of an offsetting contract. Secondary markets generally do not exist for forward currency

 

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contracts, with the result that closing transactions generally can be made for forward currency contracts only by negotiating directly with the counterparty. Thus, there can be no assurance that the Fund will be able to close out a forward currency contract at a favorable price prior to maturity.

The Fund may engage in forward currency transactions in anticipation of, or to protect itself against, fluctuations in exchange rates. The Fund might sell a particular currency forward, for example, when it wanted to hold bonds denominated in that currency but anticipated, and sought to be protected against, a decline in the currency against the U.S. dollar. Similarly, the Fund might purchase a currency forward to “lock in” the dollar price of securities denominated in that currency which it anticipated purchasing. To avoid leverage in connection with forward currency transactions, the Fund will set aside with its custodian or earmark securities considered to be liquid by the subadvisor in accordance with procedures established by the Board of Trustees, or hold a covered position against any potential delivery or payment obligations under any outstanding contracts, in an amount equal to open positions in forwards used for non-hedging purposes.

Forward currency contracts are not traded on regulated exchanges. When the Fund enters into a forward currency contract, it incurs the risk of default by the counterparty to the transaction.

Options. A call option gives the purchaser the right to buy, and obligates the writer to sell, the underlying security or instrument at the agreed-upon price during the option period. A put option gives the purchaser the right to sell, and obligates the writer to buy, the underlying security or instrument at the agreed-upon price during the option period. Purchasers of options pay an amount, known as a premium, to the option writer in exchange for the right under the option contract. The Fund may purchase and sell both put options and call options on a variety of underlying securities and instruments, including, but not limited to, specific securities, securities indices, futures contracts and foreign currencies.

The Fund may purchase call options for any purpose. For example, a call option may be purchased by the Fund as a long hedge. Call options also may be used as a means of participating in an anticipated price increase of a security or instrument on a more limited risk basis than would be possible if the security or instrument itself were purchased. In the event of a decline in the price of the underlying security or instrument, use of this strategy would serve to limit the Fund’s potential loss to the option premium paid; conversely, if the market price of the underlying security or instrument increases above the exercise price and the Fund either sells or exercises the option, any profit realized would be reduced by the premium.

The Fund may purchase put options for any purpose. For example, a put option may be purchased by the Fund as a short hedge. The put option enables the Fund to sell the underlying security or instrument at the predetermined exercise price; thus the potential for loss to the Fund below the exercise price is limited to the option premium paid. If the market price of the underlying security or instrument is lower than the exercise price of the put option, any profit the Fund realizes on the sale of the security or instrument would be reduced by the premium paid for the put option less any amount for which the put option may be sold.

The Fund may write call or put options for any purpose. For example, writing put or call options can enable the Fund to enhance income or yield by reason of the premiums paid by the purchasers of such options. However, the Fund may also suffer a loss as a result of writing options. For example, if the market price of the security or instrument underlying a put option declines to less than the exercise price of the option, minus the premium received, the Fund would suffer a loss. The Fund will segregate or earmark assets or otherwise “cover” written call or put options in accordance with applicable SEC guidelines.

 

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Writing call options can serve as a limited short hedge, because declines in the value of the hedged security or instrument would be offset to the extent of the premium received for writing the option. However, when securities prices increase, the Fund is exposed to an increased risk of loss, because if the price of the underlying security or instrument exceeds the option’s exercise price, the Fund will suffer a loss equal to the amount by which the market price exceeds the exercise price at the time the call option is exercised, minus the premium received. If the call option is an OTC option, the securities or other assets used as cover may be considered illiquid.

Writing put options can serve as a limited long hedge because declines in the value of the hedged investment would be offset to the extent of the premium received for writing the option. However, if the underlying security or instrument depreciates to a price lower than the exercise price of the put option, it can be expected that the put option will be exercised and the Fund will be obligated to purchase the underlying security or instrument at more than its market value. If the put option is an OTC option, the securities or other assets used as cover may be considered illiquid.

The value of an option position will be affected by, among other things, the current market value of the underlying security or instrument, the time remaining until expiration, the relationship of the exercise price to the market price of the underlying security or instrument, the historical price volatility of the underlying security or instrument and general market conditions.

The Fund may effectively terminate its right or obligation under an option by entering into a closing transaction. For example, the Fund may terminate its obligation under a call or put option that it had written by purchasing an identical call or put option; this is known as a closing purchase transaction. Conversely, the Fund may terminate a position in a put or call option it had purchased by writing an identical put or call option; this is known as a closing sale transaction. Closing transactions permit the Fund to realize profits or limit losses on an option position prior to its exercise or expiration.

Risks of Options. Options offer large amounts of leverage, which will result in the Fund’s net asset value being more sensitive to changes in the value of the related instrument. The Fund may purchase or write both exchange traded and OTC options. Exchange traded options in the United States are issued by a clearing organization affiliated with the exchange on which the option is listed that, in effect, guarantees completion of every exchange traded option transaction. In contrast, OTC options are contracts between the Fund and its counterparty (usually a securities dealer or a bank) with no clearing organization guarantee. Thus, when the Fund purchases an OTC option, it relies on the counterparty from whom it purchased the option to make or take delivery of the underlying investment upon exercise of the option. Failure by the counterparty to do so would result in the loss of any premium paid by the Fund as well as the loss of any expected benefit of the transaction.

The Fund’s ability to establish and close out positions in exchange-listed options depends on the existence of a liquid market. However, there can be no assurance that such a market will exist at any particular time. Closing transactions can be made for OTC options only by negotiating directly with the counterparty, or by a transaction in the secondary market if any such market exists. There can be no assurance that the Fund will in fact be able to close out an OTC option position at a favorable price prior to expiration. In the event of insolvency of the counterparty, the Fund might be unable to close out an OTC option position at any time prior to its expiration, if at all.

If the Fund were unable to effect a closing transaction for an option it had purchased, due to the absence of a counterparty or secondary market, the imposition of price limits or otherwise, it would have to exercise the option to realize any profit. The inability to enter into a closing purchase transaction for a covered call option written by the Fund could cause material losses because the Fund would be unable to sell the investment used as cover for the written option until the option expires or is exercised.

 

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Options have varying expiration dates. The exercise price of the options may be below, equal to or above the current market value of the underlying security or instrument. Options purchased by the Fund that expire unexercised have no value, and the Fund will realize a loss in the amount of the premium paid and any transaction costs. If an option written by the Fund expires unexercised, the Fund realizes a gain equal to the premium received at the time the option was written. Transaction costs must be included in these calculations.

Options on Indices. Puts and calls on indices are similar to puts and calls on other investments except that all settlements are in cash and gain or loss depends on changes in the index in question rather than on price movements in individual securities, futures contracts or other investments. When the Fund writes a call on an index, it receives a premium and agrees that, prior to the expiration date, the purchaser of the call, upon exercise of the call, will receive from the Fund an amount of cash if the closing level of the index upon which the call is based is greater than the exercise price of the call. The amount of cash is equal to the difference between the closing price of the index and the exercise price of the call times a specified multiple (“multiplier”), which determines the total dollar value for each point of such difference. When the Fund buys a call on an index, it pays a premium and has the same rights as to such call as are indicated above. When the Fund buys a put on an index, it pays a premium and has the right, prior to the expiration date, to require the seller of the put, upon the Fund’s exercise of the put, to deliver to the Fund an amount of cash if the closing level of the index upon which the put is based is less than the exercise price of the put, which amount of cash is determined by the multiplier, as described above for calls. When the Fund writes a put on an index, it receives a premium and the purchaser of the put has the right, prior to the expiration date, to require the Fund to deliver to it an amount of cash equal to the difference between the closing level of the index and exercise price times the multiplier if the closing level is less than the exercise price.

Risks of Options on Indices. The risks of investments in options on indices may be greater than options on securities, futures contracts or other investments. Because index options are settled in cash, when the Fund writes a call on an index it cannot provide in advance for its potential settlement obligations by acquiring and holding the underlying index. The Fund can offset some of the risk of writing a call index option by holding a diversified portfolio of securities or instruments similar to those on which the underlying index is based. However, the Fund cannot, as a practical matter, acquire and hold a portfolio containing exactly the same securities or instruments as underlie the index and, as a result, bears a risk that the value of the securities or instruments held will vary from the value of the index.

Even if the Fund could assemble a portfolio that exactly reproduced the composition of the underlying index, it still would not be fully covered from a risk standpoint because of the “timing risk” inherent in writing index options. When an index option is exercised, the amount of cash that the holder is entitled to receive is determined by the difference between the exercise price and the closing index level on the date when the option is exercised. As with other kinds of options, the Fund as the call writer will not learn of the assignment until the next business day at the earliest. The time lag between exercise and notice of assignment poses no risk for the writer of a covered call on a specific underlying security or instrument, such as common stock, because there the writer’s obligation is to deliver the underlying security or instrument, not to pay its value as of a fixed time in the past. So long as the writer already owns the underlying security or instrument, it can satisfy its settlement obligations by simply delivering it, and the risk that its value may have declined since the exercise date is borne by the exercising holder. In contrast, even if the writer of an index call holds investments that exactly match the composition of the

 

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underlying index, it will not be able to satisfy its assignment obligations by delivering those investments against payment of the exercise price. Instead, it will be required to pay cash in an amount based on the closing index value on the exercise date. By the time it learns that it has been assigned, the index may have declined, with a corresponding decline in the value of its portfolio. This “timing risk” is an inherent limitation on the ability of index call writers to cover their risk exposure by holding security or instrument positions.

If the Fund has purchased an index option and exercises it before the closing index value for that day is available, it runs the risk that the level of the underlying index may subsequently change. If such a change causes the exercised option to fall out-of-the-money, the Fund will be required to pay the difference between the closing index value and the exercise price of the option (times the applicable multiplier) to the assigned writer.

Risks Related to OTC Options. Unlike exchange traded options, which are standardized with respect to the underlying instrument, expiration date, contract size, and strike price, the terms of OTC options (options not traded on exchanges) generally are established through negotiation with the other party to the option contract. While this type of arrangement allows the Fund great flexibility to tailor the option to its needs, OTC options generally involve greater risk than exchange traded options, which are guaranteed by the clearing organization of the exchanges where they are traded. In addition, OTC options are generally considered illiquid by the SEC.

The Fund can use both European-style and American-style options. A European-style option is only exercisable immediately prior to its expiration. This is in contrast to American-style options, which are exercisable at any time prior to the expiration date of the option.

Foreign Currency Options. The Fund may use currency options to cross-hedge or to increase total return when the subadvisor anticipates that the currency will appreciate or depreciate in value. The Fund may additionally buy or sell put and call options on foreign currencies as a hedge against changes in the value of the U.S. dollar (or another currency) in relation to a foreign currency in which the Fund’s securities may be denominated. A put option on a foreign currency gives the purchaser of the option the right to sell a foreign currency at the exercise price until the option expires. A call option on a foreign currency gives the purchaser of the option the right to purchase the currency at the exercise price until the option expires. The Fund might purchase a currency put option, for example, to protect itself during the contract period against a decline in the dollar value of a currency in which it holds or anticipates holding securities. If the currency’s value should decline against the dollar, the loss in currency value should be offset, in whole or in part, by an increase in the value of the put. If the value of the currency instead should rise against the dollar, any gain to the Fund would be reduced by the premium paid for the put option. A currency call option might be purchased, for example, in anticipation of, or to protect against, a rise in the value against the dollar of a currency in which the Fund anticipates purchasing securities.

The Fund may buy or sell put and call options on foreign currencies either on exchanges or in the OTC market. Currency options traded on U.S. or other exchanges may be subject to position limits which may limit the ability of the Fund to reduce foreign currency risk using such options. Listed options are third party contracts (i.e., performance of the obligations of the purchaser and seller is guaranteed by the exchange or clearing corporation), and have standardized strike prices and expiration dates. OTC options are two party contracts with negotiated strike prices and expiration dates.

Additional Risks of Futures Contracts, Options on Futures Contracts, Options on Securities and Forward Currency Exchange Contracts and Options thereon. Options on securities, futures contracts, options on futures contracts, and options on currencies may be traded on foreign exchanges. Such

 

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transactions may not be regulated as effectively as similar transactions in the United States; may not involve a clearing mechanism and related guarantees; and are subject to the risk of governmental actions affecting trading in, or the prices of, foreign securities. Some foreign exchanges may be principal markets so that no common clearing facility exists and a trader may look only to the broker for performance of the contract. The value of such positions also could be adversely affected by (i) other complex foreign political, legal and economic factors, (ii) lesser availability than in the United States of data on which to make trading decisions, (iii) delays in the Fund’s ability to act upon economic events occurring in foreign markets during non-business hours in the United States, (iv) the imposition of different exercise and settlement terms and procedures and margin requirements than in the United States and (v) lesser trading volume. In addition, unless the Fund hedges against fluctuations in the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the currencies in which trading is done on foreign exchanges, any profits that the Fund might realize in trading could be eliminated by adverse changes in the exchange rate, or the Fund could incur losses as a result of those changes.

The value of some derivative instruments in which the Fund may invest may be particularly sensitive to changes in prevailing interest rates, and, like the other investments of the Fund, the ability of the Fund to successfully utilize these instruments may depend in part upon the ability of the subadvisor to forecast interest rates and other economic factors correctly. If the subadvisor incorrectly forecasts such factors and has taken positions in derivative instruments contrary to prevailing market trends, the Fund could be exposed to risk of loss. In addition, the Fund’s use of such instruments may cause the Fund to realize higher amounts of short-term capital gains (generally taxed to shareholders at ordinary income tax rates) than if the Fund had not used such instruments.

Swap Agreements. The Fund may engage in swap transactions, including, but not limited to swap agreements on interest rates, security indices, specific securities and currency exchange rates.

The Fund may enter into index swap agreements for purposes of attempting to gain exposure to the securities making up an index in a market without actually purchasing those securities. Swap agreements are two-party contracts entered into primarily by institutional investors for periods ranging from a few weeks to a number of years. In a standard “swap” transaction, two parties agree to exchange the returns (or differentials in rates of return) earned or realized on particular predetermined investments or instruments, which may be adjusted for an interest factor. The gross returns to be exchanged or “swapped” between the parties are calculated with respect to a “notional amount,” such as the return on or increase in value of a particular dollar amount invested at a particular interest rate, or in a “basket” of securities representing a particular index.

Most swap agreements entered into by the Fund calculate the obligations of the parties to the agreement on a “net basis.” Consequently, the Fund’s current obligations (or rights) under a swap agreement will generally be equal only to the net amount to be paid or received under the agreement based on the relative values of the positions held by each party to the agreement (the “net amount”). The Fund’s current obligations under a swap agreement will be accrued daily (offset against any amounts owing to the Fund from the counterparty) and any accrued but unpaid net amounts owed to a swap counterparty will be covered by segregating or earmarking assets determined to be liquid by the Subadvisor in accordance with procedures established by the Board of Trustees, to avoid any potential leveraging of the Fund’s portfolio. Obligations under swap agreements so covered will not be construed to be “senior securities” for purposes of the Fund’s investment restriction concerning senior securities. The Fund will not enter into a swap agreement with any single party that is engaged in a securities related business if the net amount owed or to be received under existing contracts with that party, along with investments in other securities issued by such counterparty, would exceed 5% of the Fund’s assets.

 

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Whether the Fund’s use of swap agreements will be successful in furthering its investment objective will depend on the subadvisor’s ability to predict correctly whether certain types of investments are likely to produce greater returns than other investments. Certain restrictions imposed on the Fund by the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”) may limit the Fund’s ability to use swap agreements.

Because swaps are two-party contracts that may be subject to contractual restrictions on transferability and termination and because they may have terms of greater than seven days, swap agreements may be considered to be illiquid. If a swap is not liquid, it may not be possible to initiate a transaction or liquidate a position at an advantageous time or price, which may result in significant losses, and the Fund’s obligation under such agreement, together with other illiquid assets and securities, will not exceed 15% of the Fund’s net assets.

Moreover, the Fund bears the risk of loss of the amount expected to be received under a swap agreement in the event of the default or bankruptcy of a swap agreement counterparty. The Fund will enter into swap agreements only with counterparties that meet certain standards of creditworthiness. When a counterparty’s obligations are not fully secured by collateral, then the Fund is essentially an unsecured creditor of the counterparty. If the counterparty defaults, the Fund will have contractual remedies, but there is no assurance that a counterparty will be able to meet its obligations pursuant to such contracts or that, in the event of default, the Fund will succeed in enforcing contractual remedies. Counterparty risk still exists even if a counterparty’s obligations are secured by collateral because the Fund’s interest in collateral may not be perfected or additional collateral may not be promptly posted as required. Counterparty risk also may be more pronounced if a counterparty’s obligations exceed the amount of collateral held by the Fund (if any), the Fund is unable to exercise its interest in collateral upon default by the counterparty, or the termination value of the instrument varies significantly from the marked-to-market value of the instrument.

New rules and regulations affecting the derivatives market affect counterparty risk with respect to derivatives. Some derivatives transactions are required to be centrally cleared, and a party to a cleared derivatives transaction is subject to the credit risk of the clearing house and the member of the clearing house (“clearing member”) through which it holds its cleared position, rather than the credit risk of its original counterparty to the derivative transaction. Credit risk of market participants with respect to derivatives that are centrally cleared is concentrated in a few clearing houses, and it is not clear how an insolvency proceeding of a clearing house would be conducted and what impact an insolvency of a clearing house would have on the financial system. A clearing member is generally obligated to segregate all funds received from customers with respect to cleared derivatives transactions from the clearing member’s proprietary assets. However, all funds and other property received by a clearing broker from its customers are generally held by the clearing broker on a commingled basis in an omnibus account, and the clearing member may invest those funds in certain instruments permitted under the applicable regulations. The assets of the Fund might not be fully protected in the event of the bankruptcy of the Fund’s clearing member, because the Fund would be limited to recovering only a pro rata share of all available funds segregated on behalf of the clearing broker’s customers for a relevant account class. Also, the clearing member is required to transfer to the clearing organization the amount of margin required by the clearing organization for cleared derivatives, which amounts are generally held in an omnibus account at the clearing organization for all customers of the clearing member. Regulations promulgated by the CFTC require that the clearing member notify the clearing house of the amount of initial margin provided by the clearing member to the clearing organization that is attributable to each customer. However, if the clearing member does not provide accurate reporting, the Fund is subject to the risk that a clearing organization will use the Fund’s assets held in an omnibus account at the clearing organization to satisfy payment obligations of a defaulting customer of the clearing member to the clearing

 

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organization. In addition, if a clearing member does not comply with the applicable regulations or its agreement with the Fund, or in the event of fraud or misappropriation of customer assets by a clearing member, the Fund could have only an unsecured creditor claim in an insolvency of the clearing member with respect to the margin held by the clearing member.

Many swaps are complex and often valued subjectively. Many over-the-counter derivatives are complex and their valuation often requires modeling and judgment, which increases the risk of mispricing or incorrect valuation. The pricing models used may not produce valuations that are consistent with the values the Fund realizes when it closes or sells an over-the-counter derivative. Valuation risk is more pronounced when the Fund enters into over-the-counter derivatives with specialized terms because the market value of those derivatives in some cases is determined in part by reference to similar derivatives with more standardized terms. Incorrect valuations may result in increased cash payment requirements to counterparties, undercollateralization and/or errors in calculation of the Fund’s net asset value.

The Fund may enter into interest rate and currency swap transactions and purchase or sell interest rate and currency caps and floors. The Fund will usually enter into interest rate swaps on a net basis (i.e. the two payment streams are netted out, with the Fund receiving or paying, as the case may be, only the net amount of the two payments). The net amount of the excess, if any, of the Fund’s obligations over its entitlement with respect to each interest rate or currency swap will be calculated on a daily basis and an amount of cash or other liquid assets having an aggregate net asset value at least equal to the accrued excess will be maintained in a segregated account by the Fund’s custodian. If the Fund enters into an interest rate or currency swap on other than a net basis it will maintain a segregated account in the full amount accrued on a daily basis of its obligations with respect to the swap. The Fund will not enter into any interest rate or currency swap, cap or floor transaction unless the unsecured senior debt or the claims-paying ability of the other party thereto is rated at least “high quality” by at least one NRSRO at the time of entering into such transaction.

Segregated Accounts or Cover. The Fund will comply with SEC guidelines regarding covering certain financial transactions, including options, futures contracts, options on futures, forward contracts, swaps and other derivative transactions, and will, if the guidelines require, segregate or earmark on its books cash or other liquid assets in the prescribed amount as determined daily. In addition to the methods of segregating assets or otherwise “covering” such transactions described in this SAI, the Fund may cover the transactions using other methods currently or in the future permitted under the 1940 Act, the rules and regulations thereunder or orders issued by the SEC thereunder. For these purposes, interpretations and guidance provided by the SEC staff may be taken into account when deemed appropriate by the Fund.

Assets used as cover cannot be sold while the position in the corresponding instrument is open, unless they are replaced with other appropriate assets. As a result, the commitment of a large portion of the Fund’s assets to cover in accounts could impede portfolio management or the Fund’s ability to meet redemption requests or other current obligations.

Note about Government Regulation of Derivatives. It is possible that government regulation of various types of derivative instruments, including futures and swap agreements, may limit or prevent the Fund from using such instruments as a part of its investment strategy, and could ultimately prevent the Fund from being able to achieve its investment objective. It is impossible to predict fully the effects of legislation and regulation in this area, but the effects could be substantial and adverse.

 

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The futures markets are subject to comprehensive statutes, regulations, and margin requirements. The SEC, the CFTC and the exchanges are authorized to take extraordinary actions in the event of a market emergency, including, for example, the implementation or reduction of speculative position limits, the implementation of higher margin requirements, the establishment of daily price limits and the suspension of trading.

The regulation of swaps and futures transactions in the U.S., the European Union and other jurisdictions is a rapidly changing area of law and is subject to modification by government and judicial action. There is a possibility of future regulatory changes altering, perhaps to a material extent, the nature of an investment in the Fund or the ability of the Fund to continue to implement its investment strategies.

Under recently adopted rules and regulations, transactions in some types of swaps (including interest rate swaps and credit default swaps on North American and European indices) are required to be centrally cleared. In a transaction involving those swaps (“cleared derivatives”), the Fund’s counterparty is a clearing house, rather than a bank or broker. Since the Fund is not a member of clearing houses and only clearing members can participate directly in the clearing house, the Fund will hold cleared derivatives through accounts at clearing members. In cleared derivatives transactions, the Fund will make payments (including margin payments) to and receive payments from a clearing house through its accounts at clearing members. Clearing members guarantee performance of their clients’ obligations to the clearing house.

In many ways, cleared derivative arrangements are less favorable to mutual funds than bilateral arrangements. For example, the Fund may be required to provide more margin for cleared derivatives transactions than for bilateral derivatives transactions. Also, in contrast to a bilateral derivatives transaction, following a period of notice to the Fund, a clearing member generally can require termination of an existing cleared derivatives transaction at any time or an increase in margin requirements above the margin that the clearing member required at the beginning of a transaction. Clearing houses also have broad rights to increase margin requirements for existing transactions or to terminate those transactions at any time. Any increase in margin requirements or termination of existing cleared derivatives transactions by the clearing member or the clearing house could interfere with the ability of the Fund to pursue its investment strategy. Further, any increase in margin requirements by a clearing member could expose the Fund to greater credit risk to its clearing member, because margin for cleared derivatives transactions in excess of a clearing house’s margin requirements typically is held by the clearing member. Also, the Fund is subject to risk if it enters into a derivatives transaction that is required to be cleared (or that the Investment Manager or Subadvisor expects to be cleared), and no clearing member is willing or able to clear the transaction on the Fund’s behalf. In those cases, the transaction might have to be terminated, and the Fund could lose some or all of the benefit of the transaction, including loss of an increase in the value of the transaction and/or loss of hedging protection. In addition, the documentation governing the relationship between the Fund and clearing members is drafted by the clearing members and generally is less favorable to the Fund than typical bilateral derivatives documentation. For example, documentation relating to cleared derivatives generally includes a one-way indemnity by the Fund in favor of the clearing member for losses the clearing member incurs as the Fund’s clearing member and typically does not provide the Fund any remedies if the clearing member defaults or becomes insolvent. While futures contracts entail similar risks, the risks likely are more pronounced for cleared swaps due to their more limited liquidity and market history.

Some types of cleared derivatives are required to be executed on an exchange or on a swap execution facility. A swap execution facility is a trading platform where multiple market participants can execute derivatives by accepting bids and offers made by multiple other participants in the platform. While this execution requirement is designed to increase transparency and liquidity in the cleared

 

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derivatives market, trading on a swap execution facility can create additional costs and risks for the Fund. For example, swap execution facilities typically charge fees, and if the Fund executes derivatives on a swap execution facility through a broker intermediary, the intermediary may impose fees as well. Also, the Fund may indemnify a swap execution facility, or a broker intermediary who executes cleared derivatives on a swap execution facility on the Fund’s behalf, against any losses or costs that may be incurred as a result of the Fund’s transactions on the swap execution facility. If the Fund wishes to execute a package of transactions that include a swap that is required to be executed on a swap execution facility as well as other transactions (for example, a transaction that includes both a security and an interest rate swap that hedges interest rate exposure with respect to such security), it is possible the Fund could not execute all components of the package on the swap execution facility. In that case, the Fund would need to trade certain components of the package on the swap execution facility and other components of the package in another manner, which could subject the Fund to the risk that certain of the components of the package would be executed successfully and others would not, or that the components would be executed at different times, leaving the Fund with an unhedged position for a period of time.

These and other new rules and regulations could, among other things, further restrict the Fund’s ability to engage in, or increase the cost to the Fund of, derivatives transactions, for example, by making some types of derivatives no longer available to the Fund, increasing margin or capital requirements, or otherwise limiting liquidity or increasing transaction costs. These regulations are new and evolving, so their potential impact on the Fund and the financial system are not yet known. While the new regulations and central clearing of some derivatives transactions are designed to reduce systemic risk (i.e., the risk that the interdependence of large derivatives dealers could cause them to suffer liquidity, solvency or other challenges simultaneously), there is no assurance that the new clearing mechanisms will achieve that result, and in the meantime, as noted above, central clearing and related requirements expose the Fund to new kinds of risks and costs.

(6) Emerging Market Securities

Investments in securities in emerging market countries may be considered to be speculative and may have additional risks from those associated with investing in the securities of U.S. issuers. There may be limited information available to investors that is publicly available, and generally emerging market issuers are not subject to uniform accounting, auditing and financial standards and requirements like those required by U.S. issuers.

Investors should be aware that the value of the Fund’s investments in emerging markets securities may be adversely affected by changes in the political, economic or social conditions, embargoes, economic sanctions, expropriation, nationalization, limitation on the removal of funds or assets, controls, tax regulations and other restrictions in emerging market countries. These risks may be more severe than those experienced in foreign countries. Emerging market securities trade with less frequency and volume than domestic securities and, therefore, may have greater price volatility and lack liquidity. Furthermore, there is often no legal structure governing private or foreign investment or private property in some emerging market countries. This may adversely affect the Fund’s operations and the ability to obtain a judgment against an issuer in an emerging market country.

(7) Equity Investments

The Fund may invest in equity securities. These securities may include securities listed on any domestic or foreign securities exchange and securities traded in the OTC market. More information on the various types of equity investments in which the Fund may invest appears below.

 

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Common Stock. Common stocks are securities that represent a unit of ownership in a corporation. The Fund’s transactions in common stock represent “long” transactions where the Fund owns the securities being sold, or will own the securities being purchased. Prices of common stocks will rise and fall due to a variety of factors, which include changing economic, political or market conditions that affect particular industries or companies.

Large-capitalization companies tend to compete in mature product markets and do not typically experience the level of sustained growth of smaller companies and companies competing in less mature product markets. Also, large-capitalization companies may be unable to respond as quickly as smaller companies to competitive challenges or changes in business, product, financial, or other market conditions.

The stocks of small- and mid-capitalization companies involve more risk than the stocks of larger, more established companies because they often have greater price volatility, lower trading volume, and less liquidity. These companies tend to have smaller revenues, narrower product lines, less management depth and experience, smaller shares of their product or service markets, fewer financial resources, and less competitive strength than larger companies.

Convertible Securities. A convertible security is a bond, debenture, note, preferred stock or other security that may be converted into or exchanged for a prescribed amount of common stock of the same or a different issuer within a particular period of time at a specified price or formula. A convertible security entitles the holder to receive interest paid or accrued on debt or the dividend paid on preferred stock until the convertible security matures or is redeemed, converted or exchanged. Before conversion, convertible securities ordinarily provide a stable stream of income with generally higher yields than those of common stocks of the same or similar issuers, but lower than the yield on non-convertible debt. Convertible securities are usually subordinated to comparable tier non-convertible securities but rank senior to common stock in a corporation’s capital structure.

The value of a convertible security is a function of (1) its yield in comparison with the yields of other securities of comparable maturity and quality that do not have a conversion privilege and (2) its worth, at market value, if converted into the underlying common stock. Convertible securities are typically issued by smaller capitalized companies, whose stock prices may be volatile. The price of a convertible security often reflects such variations in the price of the underlying common stock in a way that non-convertible debt does not. A convertible security may be subject to redemption at the option of the issuer at a price established in the convertible security’s governing instrument, which could have an adverse effect on the Fund’s ability to achieve its investment objective.

Depositary Receipts. Global Depositary Receipts (“GDRs”) are negotiable certificates held in the bank of one country representing a specific number of shares of a stock traded on an exchange of another country. American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”) are negotiable receipts issued by a United States bank or trust company, trade in U.S. markets and evidence ownership of securities in a foreign company which have been deposited with such bank or trust’s office or agent in a foreign country. European Depositary Receipts (“EDRs”) are European receipts evidencing a similar arrangement. Non-Voting Depositary Receipts (“NVDRs”) are trading instruments issued by the Thai NVDR Company Limited, a subsidiary wholly owned by The Stock Exchange of Thailand (the “SET”), intended to stimulate trading activity in the Thai stock market. NVDRs are automatically regarded as listed securities in the SET. Generally, ADRs, in registered form, are designed for use in the U.S. securities markets and EDRs, in bearer form, are designed for use in European securities markets. GDRs are receipts that may trade in U.S. or non-U.S. markets. Positions in GDRs, ADRs and EDRs are not necessarily denominated in the same currency as the common stocks into which they may be converted.

 

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With respect to investments in NVDRs, investors will receive all financial benefits, e.g., dividends and right issues, as if they had invested in a company’s ordinary shares, except that NVDR holders do not have the voting rights associated with the shares.

Investing in depositary receipts presents risks not present to the same degree as investing in domestic securities even though the Fund will purchase, sell and be paid dividends on depositary receipts in U.S. dollars. These risks include fluctuations in currency exchange rates, which are affected by international balances of payments and other economic and financial conditions; government intervention; speculation; and other factors. With respect to certain foreign countries, there is the possibility of expropriation or nationalization of assets, confiscatory taxation and political, social and economic instability. The Fund may be required to pay foreign withholding or other taxes on certain of its depositary receipts, but investors may or may not be able to deduct their pro rata shares of such taxes in computing their taxable income, or take such shares as a credit against their U.S. federal income tax. Unsponsored depositary receipts are offered by companies which are not prepared to meet either the reporting or accounting standards of the United States. While readily exchangeable with stock in local markets, unsponsored depositary receipts may be less liquid than sponsored depositary receipts. Additionally, there generally is less publicly available information with respect to unsponsored depositary receipts.

Initial Public Offerings (“IPOs”). The Fund may purchase securities in IPOs. These securities are subject to many of the same risks as investing in companies with smaller market capitalizations. Securities issued in IPOs have no trading history, and information about the companies may be available for very limited periods. The prices of securities sold in IPOs may be highly volatile. At any particular time or from time to time, the Fund may not be able to invest in securities issued in IPOs, or invest to the extent desired, because, for example, only a small portion (if any) of the securities being offered in an IPO may be made available to the Fund. In addition, under certain market conditions, a relatively small number of companies may issue securities in IPOs. Similarly, as the number of funds to which IPO securities are allocated increases, the number of securities issued to any one fund may decrease. The investment performance of the Fund during periods when it is unable to invest significantly or at all in IPOs may be lower than during periods when the Fund is able to do so. In addition, as the Fund increases in size, the impact of IPOs on the Fund’s performance will generally decrease.

Preferred Stock. Preferred stock pays dividends at a specified rate and generally has preference over common stock in the payment of dividends and the liquidation of the issuer’s assets but is junior to the debt securities of the issuer in those same respects. Unlike interest payments on debt securities, dividends on preferred stock are generally payable at the discretion of the issuer’s board of directors, and shareholders may suffer a loss of value if dividends are not paid Preferred shareholders generally have no legal recourse against the issuer if dividends are not paid. The market prices of preferred stocks are subject to changes in interest rates and are more sensitive to changes in the issuer’s creditworthiness than are the prices of debt securities. Under ordinary circumstances, preferred stock does not carry voting rights. Prices of preferred stocks may rise and fall rapidly and unpredictably due to a variety of factors, which include changing economic, political or market conditions that affect particular industries or companies.

(8) Foreign Securities

The Fund may invest in foreign securities, subject to the limitations described below. The Fund may invest in foreign issuers or in securities principally traded outside the United States, including emerging markets securities. The Fund may invest in securities of non-U.S. issuers directly or in the form of ADRs, EDRs, GDRs, or other securities representing underlying shares of foreign issuers, described under “Depositary Receipts” above.

 

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Investment in securities of foreign entities, whether directly or indirectly in the form of ADRs, EDRs, GDRs or similar instruments, and securities denominated in foreign currencies involves risks typically not present to the same degree in domestic investments. Such risks include potential future adverse political and economic developments, possible embargoes or economic sanctions on a country, sector or issuer, possible imposition of withholding taxes on interest or other income, possible seizure, nationalization or expropriation of foreign deposits, possible establishment of exchange controls or taxation at the source, greater fluctuations in value due to changes in exchange rates, or the adoption of other foreign governmental restrictions which might adversely affect the payment of principal and interest on such obligations. In addition, there may be less publicly available information about foreign issuers or securities than about U.S. issuers or securities, foreign investments may be effected through structures that may be complex or obfuscatory, and foreign issuers are often subject to accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards and requirements and engage in business practices different from those of domestic issuers of similar securities or obligations. With respect to unsponsored ADRs, these programs cover securities of companies that are not required to meet either the reporting or accounting standards of the United States. Foreign issuers also are usually not subject to the same degree of regulation as domestic issuers, and many foreign financial markets, while generally growing in volume, continue to experience substantially less volume than domestic markets, and securities of many foreign companies are less liquid and their prices are more volatile than the securities of comparable U.S. companies. In addition, brokerage commissions, custodial services and other costs related to investment in foreign markets (particularly emerging markets) generally are more expensive than in the United States. Such foreign markets also may have longer settlement periods than markets in the United States as well as different settlement and clearance procedures. In certain markets, there have been times when settlements have been unable to keep pace with the volume of securities transactions, making it difficult to conduct such transactions. The inability of the Fund to make intended securities purchases due to settlement problems could cause the Fund to miss attractive investment opportunities. Inability to dispose of a portfolio security caused by settlement problems could result either in losses to the Fund due to subsequent declines in value of a portfolio security or, if the Fund had entered into a contract to sell the security, could result in possible liability to the purchaser. Settlement procedures in certain emerging markets also carry with them a heightened risk of loss due to the failure of the broker or other service provider to deliver cash or securities.

The value of the Fund’s portfolio securities computed in U.S. dollars will vary with increases and decreases in the exchange rate between the currencies in which the Fund has invested and the U.S. dollar. A decline in the value of any particular currency against the U.S. dollar will cause a decline in the U.S. dollar value of the Fund’s holdings of securities denominated in such currency and, therefore, will cause an overall decline in the Fund’s net asset value and net investment income and capital gains, if any, to be distributed in U.S. dollars to shareholders by the Fund.

The rate of exchange between the U.S. dollar and other currencies is influenced by many factors, including the supply and demand for particular currencies, central bank efforts to support particular currencies, the movement of interest rates, the price of oil, the pace of activity in the industrial countries, including the United States, and other economic and financial conditions affecting the world economy.

The Fund may purchase securities that are issued by the government, a corporation, or a financial institution of one nation but denominated in the currency of another nation. To the extent that the Fund invests in ADRs, the depositary bank generally pays cash dividends in U.S. dollars regardless of the currency in which such dividends originally are paid by the issuer of the underlying security.

 

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The Fund will not invest in a foreign currency or in securities denominated in a foreign currency if such currency is not at the time of investment considered by the Fund’s Subadvisor to be fully exchangeable into U.S. dollars without legal restriction.

Several of the countries in which the Fund may invest restrict, to varying degrees, foreign investments in their securities markets. Governmental and private restrictions take a variety of forms, including (i) limitation on the amount of funds that may be invested into or repatriated from the country (including limitations on repatriation of investment income and capital gains), (ii) prohibitions or substantial restrictions on foreign investment in certain industries or market sectors, such as defense, energy and transportation, (iii) restrictions (whether contained in the charter of an individual company or mandated by the government) on the percentage of securities of a single issuer which may be owned by a foreign investor, (iv) limitations on the types of securities which a foreign investor may purchase and (v) restrictions on a foreign investor’s right to invest in companies whose securities are not publicly traded. In some circumstances, these restrictions may limit or preclude investment in certain countries. Therefore, the Fund may invest in such countries through the purchase of shares of investment companies organized under the laws of such countries.

The Fund’s interest and dividend income from foreign issuers may be subject to non-U.S. withholding and other foreign taxes. The Fund also may be subject to taxes on trading profits in some countries. In addition, some countries have a transfer or stamp duties tax on certain securities transactions. The imposition of these taxes may decrease the net return on foreign investments as compared to dividends and interest paid to the Fund by domestic companies, and thus increase the cost to the Fund of investing in any country imposing such taxes. United States shareholders in the Fund will likely not be entitled to a credit or deduction for United States federal income tax purposes, for their pro rata portion of foreign income taxes paid by the Fund. See “Certain Federal Income Tax Matters” below.

The risks of foreign investing are of greater concern in the case of investments in emerging markets, which may exhibit greater price volatility and risk of principal, have less liquidity and have settlement arrangements which are less efficient than in developed markets. Furthermore, the economies of emerging market countries generally are heavily dependent upon international trade and, accordingly, have been and may continue to be adversely affected by trade barriers, managed adjustments in relative currency values, and other protectionist measures imposed or negotiated by the countries with which they trade. These emerging market economies also have been and may continue to be adversely affected by economic conditions in the countries with which they trade. See “Emerging Market Securities” above.

(9) Forward Commitments

The Fund may make contracts to purchase securities on a forward commitment basis for a fixed price at a future date beyond the customary settlement period for such securities (“forward commitments”) if the Fund segregates liquid assets, consisting of cash, U.S. Government securities or other appropriate securities, in an amount at least equal to the amount of the Fund’s commitments. Forward commitments involve a risk of loss if the value of the securities to be purchased declines prior to the settlement date, which risk is in addition to the risk of decline in value of the Fund’s other assets. The Fund may dispose of a commitment prior to settlement and may realize short-term capital gains or losses upon such disposition. Purchasing securities on a forward commitment basis can also involve the risk of default by the other party on its obligation, delaying or preventing the Fund from recovering the collateral or completing the transaction.

 

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(10) Illiquid Investments; Privately Placed and Certain Unregistered Securities

The Fund may invest in privately placed, restricted, Rule 144A or other unregistered securities. Rule 144A securities are securities that are eligible for resale without registration under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”), pursuant to Rule 144A under the 1933 Act. The Fund may not acquire illiquid holdings if, as a result, more than 15% of its net assets would be in illiquid investments. If the Fund determines at any time that it owns illiquid securities in excess of 15% of its net assets, it will cease to undertake new commitments to acquire illiquid securities until its holdings are no longer in excess of 15% of its net asset value, and, depending on circumstances, may take additional steps to reduce its holdings of illiquid securities. Subject to this limitation, the Fund may acquire investments that are illiquid or have limited liquidity, such as private placements or investments that are not registered under the 1933 Act and cannot be offered for public sale in the United States without first being registered under the 1933 Act. An investment is considered “illiquid” if it cannot be disposed of within seven (7) days in the normal course of business at approximately the same amount at which it was valued in the Fund’s portfolio. The price the Fund’s portfolio may pay for illiquid securities or receive upon resale may be lower than the price paid or received for similar securities with a more liquid market. Accordingly, the valuation of these securities will take into account any limitations on their liquidity.

Rule 144A securities may be determined to be liquid or illiquid in accordance with the guidelines established by the Investment Manager and approved by the Trustees. The Trustees will monitor compliance with these guidelines on a periodic basis. Investment in these securities entails the risk to the Fund that there may not be a buyer for these securities at a price that the Fund believes represents the security’s value should the Fund wish to sell the securities. If a security the Fund holds must be registered under the 1933 Act before it may be sold, the Fund may be obligated to pay all or part of the registration expenses. In addition, in these circumstances a considerable time may elapse between the time of the decision to sell and the time the Fund may be permitted to sell a security under an effective registration statement. If, during such a period, adverse market conditions develop, the Fund may obtain a less favorable price than when it first decided to sell the security.

(11) Interfund Lending

To satisfy redemption requests or to cover unanticipated cash shortfalls (due to “sales fails” or other factors), the Fund has entered into a master interfund lending agreement (“Interfund Lending Agreement”) under which the Fund would lend money and borrow money for temporary purposes directly to and from another fund in the AMG Fund Complex through a credit facility (each an “Interfund Loan”), subject to meeting the conditions of an SEC exemptive order granted to the Fund permitting such interfund lending. The Fund may not borrow more than the lesser of the amount permitted by Section 18 of the 1940 Act, and the rules and regulations thereunder, as modified by the above mentioned and any other applicable SEC exemptive order or other relief, or the amount permitted by its fundamental investment restrictions. All Interfund Loans will consist only of uninvested cash reserves that the Fund otherwise would invest in short-term repurchase agreements or other short-term instruments either directly or through a money market fund.

If the Fund has outstanding borrowings, any Interfund Loans to the Fund (a) will be at an interest rate equal to or lower than any outstanding bank loan, (b) will be secured at least on an equal priority basis with at least an equivalent percentage of collateral to loan value as any outstanding bank loan that requires collateral, (c) will have a maturity no longer than any outstanding bank loan (and in any event not over seven days) and (d) will provide that, if an event of default occurs under any agreement evidencing an outstanding bank loan to the Fund, the event of default will automatically (without need for action or notice by the lending fund) constitute an immediate event of default under the Interfund Lending Agreement entitling the lending fund to call the Interfund Loan (and exercise all rights with respect to any collateral) and that such call will be made if the lending bank exercises its right to call its loan under its agreement with the borrowing fund.

 

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The Fund may make an unsecured borrowing through the credit facility if its outstanding borrowings from all sources immediately after the interfund borrowing total 10% or less of its total assets; provided, that if the Fund has a secured loan outstanding from any other lender, including but not limited to another fund in the AMG Fund Complex, the Fund’s Interfund Loan will be secured on at least an equal priority basis with at least an equivalent percentage of collateral to loan value as any outstanding loan that requires collateral. If the Fund’s total outstanding borrowings immediately after an interfund borrowing would be greater than 10% of its total assets, the Fund may borrow through the credit facility only on a secured basis. The Fund may not borrow through the credit facility nor from any other source if its total outstanding borrowings immediately after the interfund borrowing would exceed the limits imposed by Section 18 of the 1940 Act or the Fund’s fundamental investment restrictions.

The Fund may not lend to another fund in the AMG Fund Complex through the interfund lending credit facility if the Interfund Loan would cause its aggregate outstanding loans through the credit facility to exceed 15% of the lending fund’s current net assets at the time of the Interfund Loan. The Fund’s Interfund Loans to any one fund shall not exceed 5% of the lending fund’s net assets. The duration of Interfund Loans is limited to the time required to receive payment for securities sold, but in no event may the duration exceed seven days. Interfund Loans effected within seven days of each other will be treated as separate loan transactions for purposes of this condition. Each Interfund Loan may be called on one business day’s notice by a lending fund and may be repaid on any day by a borrowing fund.

The limitations detailed above and the other conditions of the SEC exemptive order permitting interfund lending are designed to minimize the risks associated with interfund lending for both the lending fund and the borrowing fund. However, no borrowing or lending activity is without risk. When the Fund borrows money from another fund, there is a risk that the Interfund Loan could be called on one day’s notice or not renewed, in which case the Fund may have to borrow from a bank at higher rates if an Interfund Loan were not available from another fund. A delay in repayment to a lending fund could result in a lost opportunity or additional lending costs.

(12) Investment Company Securities

The Fund may invest some portion of its assets in shares of other investment companies, including exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) and money market funds, to the extent that they may facilitate achieving the investment objective of the Fund or to the extent that they afford the principal or most practical means of access to a particular market or markets or they represent attractive investments in their own right. The Fund’s purchase of shares of investment companies may result in the payment by a shareholder of duplicative management fees. The Investment Manager and Subadvisor for the Fund will consider such fees in determining whether to invest in other mutual funds. The Fund will invest only in investment companies, or classes thereof, that do not charge a sales load; however, the Fund may invest in such companies with distribution plans and fees, and may pay customary brokerage commissions to buy and sell shares of closed-end investment companies and ETFs.

The return on the Fund’s investments in investment companies will be reduced by the operating expenses, including investment advisory and administrative fees, of such companies. The Fund’s investments in a closed-end investment company may require the payment of a premium above the net asset value of the investment company’s shares, and the market price of the investment company thereafter may decline without any change in the value of the investment company’s assets. The Fund, however, will not invest in any investment company or trust unless it is believed that the potential benefits of such investment are sufficient to warrant the payment of any such premium.

 

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The provisions of the 1940 Act may impose certain limitations on the Fund’s investments in other investment companies. In particular, the Fund’s investments in investment companies are limited to, subject to certain exceptions, (i) 3% of the total outstanding voting stock of any one investment company, (ii) 5% of the Fund’s total assets with respect to any one investment company, and (iii) 10% of the Fund’s total assets with respect to investment companies in the aggregate (the “Limitation”). The Fund may be able to rely on an exemption from the Limitation if (i) the investment company in which the Fund would like to invest has received an order for exemptive relief from the Limitation from the SEC that is applicable to the Fund; and (ii) the investment company and the Fund take appropriate steps to comply with any terms and conditions in such order. In addition, pursuant to rules adopted by the SEC, the Fund may invest (1) in shares issued by money market funds, including certain unregistered money market funds, and (2) in shares issued by affiliated funds in excess of the Limitation.

As an exception to the above, the Fund has the authority to invest all of its assets in the securities of a single open-end investment company with substantially the same fundamental investment objectives, restrictions, and policies as that of the Fund. The Fund will notify its shareholders prior to initiating such an arrangement.

The Fund may seek to invest in ETFs that have received an exemptive order from the SEC permitting investment by other funds in the ETFs in excess of the Limitation, provided that the Fund enters into and complies with the terms and conditions of an agreement with each ETF, and the Fund complies with the ETF’s exemptive order.

ETFs that are linked to a specific index may not be able to replicate and maintain exactly the composition and relative weighting of investments underlying the applicable index and will incur certain expenses not incurred by their applicable index. Certain investments comprising the index tracked by an ETF may, at times, be temporarily unavailable, which may impede an ETF’s ability to track its index.

The market value of ETF shares may differ from their net asset value per share. This difference in price may be due to the fact that the supply and demand in the market for ETF shares at any point in time is not always identical to the value of the underlying investments that the ETF holds. There may be times when an ETF share trades at a premium or discount to its net asset value.

(13) Real Estate Investment Trusts (“REITs”)

The Fund may invest in REITs, which are pooled investment vehicles that invest primarily in income-producing real estate or real estate related loans or interest.

REITs are generally classified as equity REITs, mortgage REITs or a combination of equity and mortgage REITs. Equity REITs invest the majority of their assets directly in real property and derive income primarily from the collection of rents. Equity REITs can also realize capital gains by selling properties that have appreciated in value. Mortgage REITs invest the majority of their assets in real estate mortgages and derive income from the collection of interest payments. Like regulated investment companies such as the Fund, REITs are not taxed on income distributed to shareholders provided that they comply with certain requirements under the Code. The Fund will indirectly bear its proportionate share of any expenses paid by REITs in which it invests in addition to the expenses paid by the Fund.

 

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Investing in REITs involves certain unique risks. Equity REITs may be affected by changes in the value of the underlying property owned by such REITs, while mortgage REITs may be affected by the quality of any credit extended. REITs are dependent upon management skills, are not diversified (except to the extent the Code requires), and are subject to the risk of financing projects. During periods of declining interest rates, certain mortgage REITs may hold mortgages that the mortgagors elect to prepay, and such prepayment may diminish the yield on securities issued by such mortgage REITs. REITs are subject to heavy cash flow dependency, defaults by borrowers, self-liquidation, and the possibility of failing to qualify for the special tax treatment accorded REITs under the Code and failing to maintain their exemption from the 1940 Act. REITs, and mortgage REITs in particular, are also subject to interest rate risk.

(14) Reverse Repurchase Agreements

In a reverse repurchase agreement, the Fund sells a security and agrees to repurchase the same security at a price and on a date mutually agreed upon by the parties. The difference between the repurchase price and the original price is the reverse repurchase agreement rate, which reflects the interest rate in effect for the term of the agreement. For the purposes of the 1940 Act, a reverse repurchase agreement can be viewed as the borrowing of money by the Fund and, therefore, a form of leverage which may magnify any gains or losses for the Fund, but for which the Fund is not required to have 300% asset coverage.

The Fund will invest the proceeds of borrowings under reverse repurchase agreements. In addition, the Fund will enter into reverse repurchase agreements only when the interest income to be earned from the investment of the proceeds is more than the interest expense of the transaction. The Fund will not invest the proceeds of a reverse repurchase agreement for a period that is longer than the terms of the reverse repurchase agreement itself. The Fund will earmark or establish and maintain a segregated account with the custodian consisting of liquid assets in an amount equal to the amount of its obligation under the reverse repurchase agreement.

(15) Securities Lending

The Fund may lend its portfolio securities in order to realize additional income. This lending is subject to the Fund’s investment policies and restrictions. The Fund may lend its investment securities so long as (i) the loan is secured by collateral having a market value at all times not less than 102% (105% in the case of certain foreign securities) of the value of the securities loaned, (ii) such collateral is marked to market on a daily basis, (iii) the loan is subject to termination by the Fund at any time, and (iv) the Fund receives reasonable interest on the loan. When cash is received as collateral, the Fund will invest the cash received in short-term instruments to earn additional income. The Fund will bear the risk of any loss on any such investment. The Fund may pay reasonable finders, administrative and custodial fees to persons that are unaffiliated with the Fund for services in connection with loans of portfolio securities. In addition, voting rights may pass with the loaned portfolio securities, but if a material event occurs affecting an investment on loan, the loan will be recalled on a reasonable efforts basis and the securities voted by the Fund. The Bank of New York Mellon serves as the Fund’s securities lending agent.

(16) United States Government Obligations

The Fund may invest in direct obligations of the U.S. Treasury. These obligations include Treasury bills, notes and bonds, all of which have their principal and interest payments backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government.

 

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The Fund may invest in obligations issued by the agencies or instrumentalities of the United States Government. These obligations may or may not be backed by the “full faith and credit” of the United States. Securities which are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States include obligations of the GNMA, the Farmers Home Administration and the Export-Import Bank. For those securities which are not backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, the Fund must principally look to the federal agency guaranteeing or issuing the obligation for ultimate repayment and therefore may not be able to assert a claim against the United States itself for repayment in the event that the issuer does not meet its commitments. The securities in which the Fund may invest that are not backed by the full faith and credit of the United States include, but are not limited to: (a) obligations of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, the Federal Home Loan Banks and the U.S. Postal Service, each of which has the right to borrow from the U.S. Treasury to meet its obligations; (b) securities issued by the Federal National Mortgage Association, which are supported by the discretionary authority of the U.S. Government to purchase the agency’s obligations; and (c) obligations of the Federal Farm Credit System and the Student Loan Marketing Association, each of whose obligations may be satisfied only by the individual credits of the issuing agency.

(17) Warrants and Rights

Rights are short-term obligations issued in conjunction with new stock issues. Warrants give the holder the right to buy an issuer’s securities at a stated price for a stated time. The holder of a right or warrant has the right to purchase a given number of shares of a security of a particular issuer at a specified price until expiration of the right or warrant. Such investments provide greater potential for profit than a direct purchase of the same amount of the securities. Prices of warrants do not necessarily move in tandem with the prices of the underlying securities, and warrants are considered speculative investments. They pay no dividends and confer no rights other than a purchase option. If a warrant or right is not exercised by the date of its expiration, the Fund would lose its entire investment in such warrant or right.

(18) When-Issued Securities

The Fund may purchase securities on a when-issued basis. The purchase price and the interest rate payable, if any, on the securities are fixed on the purchase commitment date or at the time the settlement date is fixed. The value of these securities is subject to market fluctuation. For fixed income securities, no interest accrues to the Fund until a settlement takes place. At the time the Fund makes a commitment to purchase securities on a when-issued basis, it will record the transaction, reflect the daily value of the securities when determining its net asset value, and if applicable, calculate the maturity for the purposes of determining its average maturity from the date of the transaction. At the time of settlement, a when-issued security may be valued below the amount of its purchase price.

In connection with these transactions, the Fund will earmark or maintain a segregated account with the custodian containing liquid assets in an amount which is at least equal to the commitments. On the delivery dates of the transactions, the Fund will meet its obligations from maturities or sales of the securities held in the segregated account and/or from cash flow. If the Fund chooses to dispose of the right to acquire a when-issued security prior to its acquisition, it could incur a loss or a gain due to market fluctuation. Furthermore, the Fund may be at a disadvantage if the other party to the transaction defaults. When-issued transactions may allow the Fund to hedge against changes in interest rates.

 

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(19) Zero Coupon Securities

The Fund may invest in zero coupon securities. “Zero coupon” securities are issued at a significant discount from face value and pay interest only at maturity rather than at intervals during the life of the security. Zero coupon securities tend to be more volatile than other securities with similar stated maturities, but which make regular payments of either principal or interest.

The Fund is required to accrue and distribute imputed income from zero coupon securities on a current basis, even though it does not receive the income currently. The Fund may have to sell other investments to obtain cash needed to make income distributions, which may reduce the Fund’s assets, increase its expense ratio and decrease its rate of return.

Diversification Requirements for the Fund

The Fund intends to meet the diversification requirements of the 1940 Act as in effect from time to time. Currently under the 1940 Act, a “diversified” fund generally may not, with respect to 75% of its total assets, invest more than 5% of its total assets in the securities of any one issuer or own more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of such issuer (except, in each case, U.S. Government securities, cash, cash items and the securities of other investment companies). The remaining 25% of a fund’s total assets is not subject to this limitation. A fund that is non-diversified can invest a greater percentage of its assets in a single issuer or a group of issuers, and, as a result, may be subject to greater credit, market, and other risks than a diversified fund. The poor performance by a single issuer may have a greater impact on the performance of a non-diversified fund. A non-diversified fund’s shares tend to be more volatile than shares of a diversified fund and are more susceptible to the risks of focusing investments in a small number of issuers or industries, and the risks of a single economic, political or regulatory occurrence.

Quality Requirements

Determinations of comparable quality for unrated securities are made by the Subadvisor based on its own credit research. Any credit quality restrictions or standards for the Fund with respect to a particular security in which the Fund may invest must be satisfied at the time the investment is made. If the Subadvisor determines that the quality of a rated or unrated investment has declined since investment by the Fund or in the event of certain ratings downgrades by NRSROs of the Fund’s rated securities, the Fund may continue to hold the applicable investment.

In addition, at the time the Fund invests in any commercial paper, bank obligation or repurchase agreement, the issuer must have outstanding debt rated A (or its equivalent) or higher by an NRSRO; the issuer’s parent corporation, if any, must have outstanding commercial paper rated Prime-2 (or its equivalent) or better by an NRSRO; or if no such ratings are available, the investment must be of comparable quality in the Subadvisor’s opinion. At the time the Fund invests in any other short-term debt securities, they must be rated A-1/Prime-1 (or its equivalent) or higher by an NRSRO, or if unrated, the investment must be of comparable quality in the Subadvisor’s opinion. See Appendix A for more detailed information on the various ratings categories.

Industry Concentration

The 1940 Act requires the Fund to state the extent, if any, to which it intends to concentrate investments in a particular industry. While the 1940 Act does not define what constitutes “concentration” in an industry, the staff of the SEC takes the position that, in general, investments of more than 25% of a fund’s assets in an industry constitutes concentration. The SEC staff has also taken the position that a policy relating to industry concentration does not apply to investments in “government securities” (as defined in the 1940 Act) or in tax-exempt securities issued by U.S. federal, state and municipal governments or political subdivisions of U.S. federal, state and municipal governments.

 

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Fundamental Investment Restrictions

The following investment restrictions have been adopted by the Trust with respect to the Fund. Except as otherwise stated, these investment restrictions are “fundamental” policies. A “fundamental” policy is defined in the 1940 Act to mean that the restriction cannot be changed without the vote of a “majority of the outstanding voting securities” of the Fund. A majority of the outstanding voting securities is defined in the 1940 Act as the lesser of (a) 67% or more of the voting securities present at a meeting if the holders of more than 50% of the outstanding voting securities are present or represented by proxy, or (b) more than 50% of the outstanding voting securities.

The Fund:

(1) May issue senior securities to the extent permitted by the Investment Company Act of 1940, or the rules or regulations thereunder, as such statute, rules or regulations may be amended from time to time, or by regulatory guidance or interpretations of, or any exemptive order or other relief issued by the SEC or any successor organization or their staff under, such Act, rules or regulations.

(2) May borrow money to the extent permitted by the Investment Company Act of 1940, or the rules or regulations thereunder, as such statute, rules or regulations may be amended from time to time, or by regulatory guidance or interpretations of, or any exemptive order or other relief issued by the SEC or any successor organization or their staff under, such Act, rules or regulations.

(3) May lend money to the extent permitted by the Investment Company Act of 1940, or the rules or regulations thereunder, as such statute, rules or regulations may be amended from time to time, or by regulatory guidance or interpretations of, or any exemptive order or other relief issued by the SEC or any successor organization or their staff under, such Act, rules or regulations.

(4) May underwrite securities to the extent permitted by the Investment Company Act of 1940, or the rules or regulations thereunder, as such statute, rules or regulations may be amended from time to time, or by regulatory guidance or interpretations of, or any exemptive order or other relief issued by the SEC or any successor organization or their staff under, such Act, rules or regulations.

(5) May purchase and sell commodities to the extent permitted by the Investment Company Act of 1940, or the rules or regulations thereunder, as such statute, rules or regulations may be amended from time to time, or by regulatory guidance or interpretations of, or any exemptive order or other relief issued by the SEC or any successor organization or their staff under, such Act, rules or regulations.

(6) May purchase and sell real estate to the extent permitted by the Investment Company Act of 1940, or the rules or regulations thereunder, as such statute, rules or regulations may be amended from time to time, or by regulatory guidance or interpretations of, or any exemptive order or other relief issued by the SEC or any successor organization or their staff under, such Act, rules or regulations.

(7) May purchase securities of any issuer only when consistent with the maintenance of its status as a diversified company under the Investment Company Act of 1940, or the rules or regulations thereunder, as such statute, rules or regulations may be amended from time to time, or under regulatory guidance or interpretations of such Act, rules or regulations.

 

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(8) May not concentrate investments in a particular industry or group of industries, as concentration is defined or interpreted under the Investment Company Act of 1940, and the rules and regulations thereunder, as such statute, rules or regulations may be amended from time to time, and under regulatory guidance or interpretations of such Act, rules or regulations.

Any restriction on investments or use of assets, including, but not limited to, market capitalization, geographic, rating and/or any other percentage restrictions, set forth in this SAI or the Fund’s Prospectus shall be measured only at the time of investment, and any subsequent change, whether in the value, market capitalization, rating, percentage held or otherwise, will not constitute a violation of the restriction, other than with respect to investment restriction (2) above related to borrowings by the Fund.

Cyber Security Risk

With the increased use of technologies such as the Internet and the dependence on computer systems to perform business and operational functions, investment companies (such as the Fund) and their service providers (including the Investment Manager) may be prone to operational and information security risks resulting from cyber-attacks and/or technological malfunctions. In general, cyber-attacks are deliberate, but unintentional events may have similar effects. Cyber-attacks include, among others, stealing or corrupting data maintained online or digitally, preventing legitimate users from accessing information or services on a website, releasing confidential information without authorization, and causing operational disruption. Successful cyber-attacks against, or security breakdowns of, the Fund, the Investment Manager, the Subadvisor, or a custodian, transfer agent, or other affiliated or third-party service provider may adversely affect the Fund or its shareholders. For instance, cyber-attacks may interfere with the processing of shareholder transactions, affect the Fund’s ability to calculate its NAV, cause the release of private shareholder information or confidential Fund information, impede trading, cause reputational damage, and subject the Fund to regulatory fines, penalties or financial losses, reimbursement or other compensation costs, and additional compliance costs. Cyber-attacks may render records of Fund assets and transactions, shareholder ownership of Fund shares, and other data integral to the functioning of the Fund inaccessible or inaccurate or incomplete. The Fund may also incur substantial costs for cyber security risk management in order to prevent cyber incidents in the future. The Fund and its shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result. While the Investment Manager has established business continuity plans and systems designed to prevent cyber-attacks, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified. The Fund relies on third-party service providers for many of its day-to-day operations, and will be subject to the risk that the protections and protocols implemented by those service providers will be ineffective to protect the Fund from cyber-attack. Similar types of cyber security risks also are present for issuers of securities in which the Fund invests, which could result in material adverse consequences for such issuers, and may cause the Fund’s investment in such securities to lose value.

Portfolio Turnover

Generally, the Fund purchases securities for investment purposes and not for short-term trading profits. However, the Fund may sell securities without regard to the length of time that the security is held in the portfolio when the Fund believes the sale is consistent with the Fund’s investment strategies and in the Fund’s best interest to do so. A higher degree of portfolio activity may increase brokerage costs to the Fund and may increase shareholders’ tax liability.

Because the Fund commenced operations on or following the date of this SAI, there is no information available for portfolio turnover rates for the Fund.

 

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Disclosure of Portfolio Holdings

The Trust has adopted policies and procedures reasonably designed to prevent selective disclosure of the Fund’s portfolio holdings to third parties, other than disclosures that are consistent with the best interests of the Fund’s shareholders. The Fund will disclose its portfolio holdings, including characteristics for securities held in the Fund based on the entire portfolio (or a portion thereof), on a monthly basis on or about the 10th business day of the following month by posting this information on its Website. The Chief Compliance Officer of the Fund may designate an earlier or later date for public disclosure of the Fund’s portfolio holdings. In addition, the Fund (i) will disclose the top 10 portfolio holdings and related information on or about 10 business days after each calendar quarter-end, and (ii) may disclose aggregated information about the Fund’s portfolio, including, but not limited to, valuation measures and risk measures, on or about 12 business days after each calendar quarter-end, in each case by posting the information on the Fund’s Website. Other disclosures of portfolio holdings information will only be made following a determination by the Chief Compliance Officer of the Fund that the disclosures are in the best interests of the Fund’s shareholders and are for a legitimate business purpose (such as to service providers or broker-dealers in connection with the performance of services for the Fund), and that the recipient is subject to a duty of confidentiality and may not trade in securities on the basis of non-public information that may be included in these disclosures. The Chief Compliance Officer of the Fund will monitor the use of the information disclosed by approved recipients and report to the Board of Trustees at least annually regarding these disclosures, and will identify and address any potential conflicts between the Investment Manager’s interests and those of the Fund’s shareholders in connection with these disclosures.

The Trust has arrangements with the persons indicated below to make available information about the Fund’s portfolio securities. The Trust’s policies and procedures prohibit any person or entity from receiving compensation or consideration of any kind in connection with the release of information relating to the Fund’s portfolio holdings.

The Fund may regularly provide non-public portfolio holdings information, including current portfolio holdings information, to the following third parties in the normal course of their performance of services to the Fund: the Subadvisor (GW&K Investment Management, LLC); the independent registered public accounting firm ([ ]); the Custodian (The Bank of New York Mellon); financial printer (R.R. Donnelley); counsel to the Fund (Ropes & Gray LLP) or counsel to the independent trustees of the Fund (Sullivan & Worcester LLP); regulatory authorities; and securities exchanges and other listing organizations. Disclosures of current portfolio holdings information will be made on a daily basis with respect to the Subadvisor and the Custodian. Disclosures of portfolio holdings information will be made to the Fund’s independent registered public accounting firm and financial printer on a semi-annual basis in connection with the preparation of public filings, and from time to time in the course of Fund operations. Disclosures of portfolio holdings information, including current portfolio holdings information, may be made to counsel to the Fund or counsel to the Fund’s independent trustees in connection with periodic meetings of the Board of Trustees and otherwise from time to time in connection with the Fund’s operations. In addition, the Fund provides portfolio holdings information to the following data providers, fund ranking/rating services, independent consultants and fair valuation services: Lipper, Inc., Morningstar, Inc., Interactive Data Corporation, FactSet, Bloomberg, Wilshire Associates, and Vestar Capital Partners. The Fund may disclose non-public current portfolio holdings information to Interactive Data Corporation on a daily basis for valuation purposes, to FactSet and Bloomberg on a daily basis for portfolio holdings analysis, to Wilshire Associates on the 7th business day of every month for consulting services, portfolio holdings and performance analysis, and to Vestar Capital Partners on a monthly basis for proxy voting purposes. The Fund also provides current portfolio holdings information to Lipper, Inc., Morningstar, Inc. and various institutional investment consultants and other related firms, but only after such information has already been disclosed to the general public.

 

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The entities to which the Fund voluntarily discloses portfolio holdings information are required, either by explicit agreement or by virtue of their respective duties to the Fund, to maintain the confidentiality of the information disclosed. There can be no assurance that the Trust’s policies and procedures regarding selective disclosure of the Fund’s portfolio holdings will protect the Fund from potential misuse of that information by individuals or entities to which it is disclosed.

TRUSTEES AND OFFICERS

The Trustees and Officers of the Trust, their business addresses, principal occupations for the past five years and dates of birth are listed below. The Trustees provide broad supervision over the affairs of the Trust and the Fund. The Trustees are experienced executives who meet periodically throughout the year to oversee the Fund’s activities, review contractual arrangements with companies that provide services to the Fund, and review the Fund’s performance. Unless otherwise noted, the address of each Trustee or Officer is the address of the Trust: 800 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut 06854.

There is no stated term of office for Trustees. Each Trustee serves during the continued lifetime of the Trust until he or she dies, resigns or is removed, or, if sooner, until the next meeting of shareholders called for the purpose of electing Trustees and until the election and qualification of his or her successor in accordance with the Trust’s organizational documents and the Board’s policy that a Trustee retire at the end of the calendar year in which the Trustee reaches the age of 75. The Chairman of the Board, the President, the Treasurer and the Secretary and such other officers as the Trustees may in their discretion from time to time elect each hold office until his or her successor is elected and qualified, or until he or she sooner dies, resigns, is removed or becomes disqualified. Each officer holds office at the pleasure of the Trustees.

Independent Trustees

The Trustees in the following table are not “interested persons” of the Trust within the meaning of the 1940 Act (“Independent Trustees”). William E. Chapman serves as the Independent Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

[To be updated by amendment]

 

NAME

AND

DATE OF

BIRTH

  

POSITION(S)

HELD WITH

THE TRUST

AND

LENGTH OF

TIME

SERVED

  

PRINCIPAL
OCCUPATION(S)
DURING PAST 5

YEARS

  

NUMBER

OF FUNDS

IN FUND
COMPLEX
OVERSEEN

BY

TRUSTEE

  

OTHER
DIRECTORSHIPS
HELD BY

TRUSTEE

DURING PAST 5
YEARS

  

EXPERIENCE,
QUALIFICATIONS,
ATTRIBUTES,

SKILLS FOR

BOARD

MEMBERSHIP

Bruce B. Bingham

DOB: 12/1/48

   Trustee since 2012    Partner, Hamilton Partners (real estate development firm) (1987-Present)    [46]    Director of The Yacktman Funds, Inc. (2 portfolios) (2000-2012); Trustee of Aston Funds (27 portfolios) (2014-Present)    Significant experience as a board member of mutual funds; business experience as a partner of a real estate development and investment firm; familiar with financial statements.

 

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NAME

AND

DATE OF

BIRTH

  

POSITION(S)

HELD WITH

THE TRUST

AND

LENGTH OF

TIME

SERVED

  

PRINCIPAL
OCCUPATION(S)
DURING PAST 5

YEARS

  

NUMBER

OF FUNDS

IN FUND
COMPLEX
OVERSEEN

BY

TRUSTEE

  

OTHER
DIRECTORSHIPS
HELD BY

TRUSTEE

DURING PAST 5
YEARS

  

EXPERIENCE,
QUALIFICATIONS,
ATTRIBUTES,

SKILLS FOR

BOARD

MEMBERSHIP

William E. Chapman, II

DOB: 9/23/41

   Trustee since 1999; Independent Chairman; Chairman of the Governance Committee    President and Owner, Longboat Retirement Planning Solutions (1998-Present); Trustee Emeritus of Bowdoin College (2013-Present); Trustee of Bowdoin College (2002-2013); Hewitt Associates, LLC (part time) (provider of Retirement and Investment Education Seminars) (2002-2009)    [46]    Director of Harding, Loevner Funds, Inc. (6 portfolios); Trustee of Third Avenue Trust (5 portfolios); Trustee of Third Avenue Variable Trust (1 portfolio); Trustee of Aston Funds (27 portfolios) (2010-Present)    Significant experience as a board member of mutual funds; significant executive experience with several financial services firms; continuing service as Independent Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the Trust’s Governance Committee.

Edward J. Kaier

DOB: 9/23/45

   Trustee since 1999; Chairman of the Audit Committee    Attorney at Law and Partner, Teeters Harvey Marrone & Kaier LLP (2007-Present); Attorney at Law and Partner, Hepburn Willcox Hamilton & Putnam, LLP (1977-2007)    [46]    Trustee of Third Avenue Trust (5 portfolios); Trustee of Third Avenue Variable Trust (1 portfolio); Trustee of Aston Funds (27 portfolios) (2010-Present)    Significant experience as a board member of mutual funds; practicing attorney; continuing service as Chairman of the Trust’s Audit Committee.

Kurt A. Keilhacker

DOB: 10/5/63

   Trustee since 2013    Managing Member, TechFund Europe (2000-Present); Managing Member, TechFund Capital (1997-Present); Trustee, Gordon College (2001-Present); Board Member, 6wind SA, (2002-Present); Managing Member, Elementum Ventures (2013-Present)    [48]    Trustee of Aston Funds (27 portfolios) (2014-Present)    Significant board experience, including as a board member of private companies; significant experience as a managing member of private companies; significant experience in the venture capital industry; significant experience as co-founder of a number of technology companies.

 

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NAME

AND

DATE OF

BIRTH

  

POSITION(S)

HELD WITH

THE TRUST

AND

LENGTH OF

TIME

SERVED

  

PRINCIPAL
OCCUPATION(S)
DURING PAST 5

YEARS

  

NUMBER

OF FUNDS

IN FUND
COMPLEX
OVERSEEN

BY

TRUSTEE

  

OTHER
DIRECTORSHIPS
HELD BY

TRUSTEE

DURING PAST 5
YEARS

  

EXPERIENCE,
QUALIFICATIONS,
ATTRIBUTES,

SKILLS FOR

BOARD

MEMBERSHIP

Steven J. Paggioli

DOB: 4/3/50

   Trustee since 2004    Independent Consultant (2002-Present); Formerly Executive Vice President and Director, The Wadsworth Group (1986-2001); Executive Vice President, Secretary and Director, Investment Company Administration, LLC (1990-2001); Vice President, Secretary and Director, First Fund Distributors, Inc. (1991-2001)    [46]    Trustee, Professionally Managed Portfolios (43 portfolios); Advisory Board Member, Sustainable Growth Advisors, LP; Independent Director, Chase Investment Counsel (2008-Present); Trustee of Aston Funds (27 portfolios) (2010-Present)    Significant board experience, including as a board member of mutual funds; significant executive experience with several financial services firms; former service with financial service regulator; Audit Committee financial expert.

Richard F. Powers III

DOB: 2/2/46

   Trustee since 2013    Adjunct Professor, Boston College (2011-Present); President and CEO of Van Kampen Investments Inc. (1998-2003)    [46]    Trustee of Aston Funds (27 portfolios) (2014-Present)    Significant experience as a director of a public company; significant executive experience with several financial services firms; significant experience as President and Chief Executive Officer of a mutual fund complex.

 

35


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NAME

AND

DATE OF

BIRTH

  

POSITION(S)

HELD WITH

THE TRUST

AND

LENGTH OF

TIME

SERVED

  

PRINCIPAL
OCCUPATION(S)
DURING PAST 5

YEARS

  

NUMBER

OF FUNDS

IN FUND
COMPLEX
OVERSEEN

BY

TRUSTEE

  

OTHER
DIRECTORSHIPS
HELD BY

TRUSTEE

DURING PAST 5
YEARS

  

EXPERIENCE,
QUALIFICATIONS,
ATTRIBUTES,

SKILLS FOR

BOARD

MEMBERSHIP

Eric Rakowski

DOB: 6/5/58

   Trustee since 1999    Professor, University of California at Berkeley School of Law (1990-Present)    [48]    Director of Harding, Loevner Funds, Inc. (6 portfolios); Trustee of Third Avenue Trust (5 portfolios); Trustee of Third Avenue Variable Trust (1 portfolio); Trustee of Aston Funds (27 portfolios) (2010-Present)    Significant experience as a board member of mutual funds; former practicing attorney; currently professor of law.

Victoria L. Sassine

DOB: 8/11/65

   Trustee since 2013    Lecturer, Babson College (2007 – Present)    [48]    Trustee of Aston Funds (27 portfolios) (2014-Present)    Currently professor of finance; significant business and finance experience in strategic financial and operation management positions in a variety of industries; accounting experience in a global accounting firm; experience as a board member of various organizations; Certified Public Accountant (inactive).

Thomas R. Schneeweis

DOB: 5/10/47

   Trustee since 2004    Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts (2013-Present); Partner, S Capital Management, LLC (2007-Present); President, TRS Associates (1982-Present); Director, CISDM at the University of Massachusetts, (1996-    [46]    Trustee of Aston Funds (27 portfolios) (2010-Present)    Significant experience as a board member of mutual funds; formerly professor of finance; significant executive experience with several investment partnerships.

 

36


Table of Contents

NAME

AND

DATE OF

BIRTH

  

POSITION(S)

HELD WITH

THE TRUST

AND

LENGTH OF

TIME

SERVED

  

PRINCIPAL
OCCUPATION(S)
DURING PAST 5

YEARS

  

NUMBER

OF FUNDS

IN FUND
COMPLEX
OVERSEEN

BY

TRUSTEE

  

OTHER
DIRECTORSHIPS
HELD BY

TRUSTEE

DURING PAST 5
YEARS

  

EXPERIENCE,
QUALIFICATIONS,
ATTRIBUTES,

SKILLS FOR

BOARD

MEMBERSHIP

      2013); President, Alternative Investment Analytics, LLC, (formerly Schneeweis Partners, LLC) (2001-2013); Professor of Finance, University of Massachusetts (1977-2013); Partner, White Bear Partners, LLC (2007-2010); Partner, Northampton Capital Management, LLC (2004-2010)         

Interested Trustee

Ms. Carsman is an “interested person” of the Trust within the meaning of the 1940 Act by virtue of her position with, and interest in securities of, AMG.

[To be updated by amendment]

 

NAME

AND

DATE OF

BIRTH

  

POSITION(S)
HELD WITH
THE TRUST
AND
LENGTH OF
TIME
SERVED

  

PRINCIPAL
OCCUPATION(S)
DURING PAST 5

YEARS

  

NUMBER OF
FUNDS IN
FUND
COMPLEX
OVERSEEN
BY
TRUSTEE/

OFFICER

  

OTHER
DIRECTORSHIPS
HELD BY

TRUSTEE/

OFFICER

DURING PAST 5
YEARS

  

EXPERIENCE,
QUALIFICATIONS,
ATTRIBUTES,

SKILLS FOR BOARD

MEMBERSHIP

Christine C. Carsman

DOB: 4/2/52

   Trustee since 2011    Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. (2011-Present); Senior Vice President and Chief Regulatory Counsel, Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. (2007-2011); Vice President and Chief Regulatory Counsel, Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. (2004-2007); Secretary and Chief Legal Officer, AMG Funds, AMG Funds I, AMG Funds II and AMG Funds III (2004-2011); Senior Counsel, Vice President and Director of Operational Risk Management and Compliance, Wellington Management Company, LLP (1995-2004)    [48]    Trustee of Aston Funds (27 portfolios) (2014-Present)    Significant business, legal and risk management experience with several financial services firms; former practicing attorney at private law firm; significant experience as an officer of the Trust, including as Chief Legal Officer.

 

37


Table of Contents

Information About Each Trustee’s Experience, Qualifications, Attributes or Skills

Trustees of the Trust, together with information as to their positions with the Trust, principal occupations and other board memberships for the past five years, and experience, qualifications, attributes or skills for serving as Trustees are shown in the tables above. The summaries relating to the experience, qualifications, attributes and skills of the Trustees are required by the registration form adopted by the SEC, do not constitute holding out the Board or any Trustee as having any special expertise or experience, and do not impose any greater responsibility or liability on any such person or on the Board as a whole than would otherwise be the case. The Board believes that the significance of each Trustee’s experience, qualifications, attributes or skills is an individual matter (meaning that experience that is important for one Trustee may not have the same value for another) and that these factors are best evaluated at the Board level, with no single Trustee, or particular factor, being indicative of Board effectiveness. However, the Board believes that Trustees need to be able to critically review, evaluate, question and discuss information provided to them, and to interact effectively with Trust management, service providers and counsel, in order to exercise effective business judgment in the performance of their duties. The Board believes that each of its members has these abilities. Experience relevant to having these abilities may be achieved through a Trustee’s educational background; business, professional training or practice (e.g., finance or law), or academic positions; experience from service as a board member (including the Board) or as an executive of investment funds, significant private or not-for-profit entities or other organizations; and/or other life experiences. To assist them in evaluating matters under federal and state law, the Independent Trustees are counseled by their own separate, independent legal counsel, who participates in Board meetings and interacts with the Investment Manager, and also may benefit from information provided by the Trust’s and the Investment Manager’s legal counsel. Both Independent Trustee and Trust counsel have significant experience advising funds and fund board members. The Board and its committees have the ability to engage other experts, including the Fund’s independent public accounting firm, as appropriate. The Board evaluates its performance on an annual basis.

 

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Officers

 

NAME AND DATE OF BIRTH

  

POSITION(S) HELD WITH

THE TRUST AND LENGTH

OF TIME SERVED

  

PRINCIPAL OCCUPATION(S)

DURING

PAST 5 YEARS

Jeffrey T. Cerutti

DOB: 2/7/68

   President and Principal
Executive Officer since 2014
   Chief Executive Officer, AMG Funds LLC (2014-Present); Director, President and Principal, AMG Distributors, Inc. (2014-Present); President and Principal Executive Officer, AMG Funds, AMG Funds I, AMG Funds II, and AMG Funds III (2014-Present); President, VP Distributors (2011-2014); Executive Vice President, Head of Distribution, Virtus Investment Partners, Inc. (2010-2014); Managing Director, Head of Sales, UBS Global Asset Management (2001-2010)

Keitha L. Kinne

DOB: 5/16/58

   Chief Operating Officer since 2007    Chief Operating Officer, AMG Funds LLC (2007-Present); Chief Investment Officer, AMG Funds LLC (2008-Present); Chief Operating Officer, AMG Distributors, Inc. (2007-Present); Chief Operating Officer, AMG Funds, AMG Funds I, AMG Funds II, and AMG Funds III (2007-Present); President and Principal Executive Officer, AMG Funds, AMG Funds I, AMG Funds II and AMG Funds III (2012-2014); Managing Partner, AMG Funds LLC (2007-2014); President, AMG Distributors, Inc. (2012-2014); Managing Director, Legg Mason & Co., LLC (2006-2007); Managing Director, Citigroup Asset Management (2004-2006)

Lewis Collins

DOB: 2/22/66

   Secretary since 2011; Chief
Legal Officer since 2011
   Secretary and Chief Legal Officer, AMG Funds, AMG Funds I, AMG Funds II and AMG Funds III (2011-Present); Senior Vice President and Senior Counsel, Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. (2010-Present); Vice President and Senior Counsel, Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. (2006-2010); Senior Counsel, Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. (2002-2006); Attorney, Ropes & Gray LLP (1998-2002)

Donald S. Rumery

DOB: 5/29/58

   Principal Financial Officer
since 2008; Chief Financial
Officer since 2007; Treasurer
since 1999
   Principal Financial Officer, AMG Funds, AMG Funds I, AMG Funds II, and AMG Funds III (2008-

 

39


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NAME AND DATE OF BIRTH

  

POSITION(S) HELD WITH

THE TRUST AND LENGTH

OF TIME SERVED

  

PRINCIPAL OCCUPATION(S)

DURING

PAST 5 YEARS

      Present); Senior Vice President, Director of Mutual Funds Services, AMG Funds LLC (2005-Present); Treasurer, AMG Funds III (1995-Present); Treasurer, AMG Funds (1999-Present); Treasurer, AMG Funds I, and AMG Funds II (2000-Present); Chief Financial Officer, AMG Funds, AMG Funds I, AMG Funds II, and AMG Funds III (2007-Present); Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer, AMG Distributors, Inc. (2000-2012); Vice President, AMG Funds LLC (1994-2004)

John C. Ball

DOB: 1/9/76

   Assistant Treasurer since 2014    Vice President, Assistant Treasurer, AMG Funds LLC (2014-Present); Assistant Treasurer, AMG Funds, AMG Funds I, AMG Funds II, and AMG Funds III (2014-Present); Vice President, State Street Corp. (2010-2014); Vice President, State Street International (Ireland) Limited (2007-2010)

John J. Ferencz

DOB: 3/9/62

   Chief Compliance Officer since 2010; Code of Ethics Reporting Officer since 2010; Sarbanes Oxley Code of Ethics Compliance Officer since 2010    Chief Compliance Officer, Code of Ethics Reporting Officer and Sarbanes Oxley Code of Ethics Compliance Officer, AMG Funds, AMG Funds I, AMG Funds II and AMG Funds III (2010-Present); Vice President, Chief Compliance Officer – AMG Family of Funds, AMG Funds LLC (2010-Present); Senior Compliance Analyst, Mutual Funds and Regulatory, GE Asset Management Incorporated (2005-2010)

Patrick J. Spellman

DOB: 3/15/74

   Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Officer since 2014    Senior Vice President, Chief Compliance Officer, AMG Funds LLC (2011-Present); Chief Compliance Officer, AMG Distributors, Inc., (2010-Present); Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Officer, AMG Funds, AMG Funds I, AMG Funds II, and AMG Funds III (2014-Present); Compliance Manager, Legal and Compliance, Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. (2005-2011)

 

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Trustee Share Ownership

[To be updated by amendment]

 

Name of Trustee

  

Dollar Range of Equity Securities
in the Fund Beneficially Owned as
of December 31, 2014

  

Aggregate Dollar Range of Equity
Securities in All Registered

Investment Companies Overseen

by Trustee in the Family of

Investment Companies*

Beneficially Owned as of

December 31, 2014

Independent Trustees:

     

Bruce B. Bingham

   [None]    Over $100,000

William E. Chapman, II

   [None]    Over $100,000

Edward J. Kaier

   [None]    Over $100,000

Kurt A. Keilhacker

   [None]    Over $100,000

Steven J. Paggioli

   [None]    Over $100,000

Richard F. Powers III

   [None]    None

Eric Rakowski

   [None]    Over $100,000

Victoria L. Sassine

   [None]    None

Thomas R. Schneeweis

   [None]    $50,001-$100,000

Interested Trustee:

     

Christine C. Carsman

   [None]    Over $100,000

 

* The Family of Investment Companies consists of the funds in the AMG Funds Family of Funds.

Board Leadership Structure and Risk Oversight

The following provides an overview of the leadership structure of the Board of Trustees of AMG Funds (the “Board”) and the Board’s oversight of the Fund’s risk management process. The Board consists of ten Trustees, nine of whom are not “interested persons” (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Fund (the “Independent Trustees”). An Independent Trustee serves as Chairman of the Board. In addition, the Board also has two standing committees, the Audit Committee and Governance Committee (the “Committees”) (discussed below), each comprised of all of the Independent Trustees, to which the Board has delegated certain authority and oversight responsibilities.

The Board’s role in management of the Trust is oversight, including oversight of the Fund’s risk management process. The Board meets regularly on at least a quarterly basis and at these meetings the officers of the Fund and the Fund’s Chief Compliance Officer report to the Board on a variety of matters. A portion of each regular meeting is devoted to an executive session of the Independent Trustees, the Independent Trustees’ separate, independent legal counsel, and the Fund’s Chief Compliance Officer, at which no members of management are present. In a separate executive session of the Independent Trustees and the Independent Trustees’ independent legal counsel, the Independent Trustees consider a variety of matters that are required by law to be considered by the Independent Trustees, as well as matters that are scheduled to come before the full Board, including fund governance, compliance, and leadership issues. When considering these matters, the Independent Trustees are advised by their independent legal counsel. The Board reviews its leadership structure periodically and believes that its structure is appropriate to enable the Board to exercise its oversight of the Fund.

 

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AMG Funds has retained AMG Funds LLC as the Fund’s investment advisor and administrator. The Investment Manager is responsible for the Fund’s overall administration and operations, including management of the risks that arise from the Fund’s investments and operations. Employees of the Investment Manager serve as several of the Fund’s officers, including the Fund’s President. The Board provides oversight of the services provided by the Investment Manager and the Fund’s officers, including their risk management activities. On an annual basis, the Fund’s Chief Compliance Officer conducts a compliance review and risk assessment and prepares a written report relating to the review that is provided to the Board for review and discussion. The assessment includes a broad-based review of the risks inherent to the Fund, the controls designed to address those risks, and selective testing of those controls to determine whether they are operating effectively and are reasonably designed. In the course of providing oversight, the Board and the Committees receive a wide range of reports on the Fund’s activities, including regarding the Fund’s investment portfolio, the compliance of the Fund with applicable laws, and the Fund’s financial accounting and reporting. The Board receives periodic reports from the Fund’s Chief Legal Officer on the Investment Manager’s risk management activities. The Board also receives periodic reports from the Fund’s Chief Compliance Officer regarding the compliance of the Fund with federal and state securities laws and the Fund’s internal compliance policies and procedures. In addition, the Board receives periodic reports from the portfolio managers of the Fund’s Subadvisor and the Investment Manager’s investment research team regarding the management of the Fund, including its investment risks. The Board also receives periodic reports from the Fund’s Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and other senior personnel of the Investment Manager regarding the Investment Manager’s general business operations.

Board Committees

As described below, the Board of Trustees has two standing Committees, each of which is chaired by an Independent Trustee. The Board has not established a formal risk oversight committee. However, much of the regular work of the Board and its standing Committees addresses aspects of risk oversight.

Audit Committee

[To be updated by amendment]

The Board of Trustees has an Audit Committee consisting of all of the Independent Trustees. Edward J. Kaier serves as the chairman of the Audit Committee. Under the terms of its charter, the Audit Committee: (a) acts for the Trustees in overseeing the Trust’s financial reporting and auditing processes; (b) receives and reviews communications from the independent registered public accounting firm relating to its review of the Fund’s financial statements; (c) reviews and assesses the performance, approves the compensation, and approves or ratifies the appointment, retention or termination of the Trust’s independent registered public accounting firm; (d) meets periodically with the independent registered public accounting firm to review the annual audits of the series of the Trust, including the audit of the Fund, and pre-approves the audit services provided by the independent registered public accounting firm; (e) considers and acts upon proposals for the independent registered public accounting firm to provide non-audit services to the Trust or the Investment Manager or its affiliates to the extent that such approval is required by applicable laws or regulations; (f) considers and reviews with the independent registered public accounting firm, periodically as the need arises, but not less frequently than annually, matters bearing upon the registered public accounting firm’s status as “independent” under applicable standards of independence established from time to time by the SEC and other regulatory authorities; and (g) reviews and reports to the full Board with respect to any material accounting, tax, valuation or record keeping issues of which the Audit Committee is aware that may affect the Trust, the

 

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Trust’s financial statements or the amount of any dividend or distribution right, among other matters. The chairman of the Audit Committee or his designee also may carry out the duties of the Board’s pricing oversight committee from time to time. The Audit Committee met two times times during the 12-month period January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014.

Governance Committee

[To be updated by amendment]

The Board of Trustees has a Governance Committee consisting of all of the Independent Trustees. William E. Chapman serves as the chairman of the Governance Committee. Under the terms of its charter, the Governance Committee is empowered to perform a variety of functions on behalf of the Board, including responsibility to make recommendations with respect to the following matters: (i) individuals to be appointed or nominated for election as Independent Trustees; (ii) the designation and responsibilities of the chairperson of the Board (who shall be an Independent Trustee) and Board committees, such other officers of the Board, if any, as the Governance Committee deems appropriate, and officers of the Fund; (iii) the compensation to be paid to Independent Trustees; and (iv) other matters the Governance Committee deems necessary or appropriate. The Governance Committee is also empowered to: (i) set any desired standards or qualifications for service as a Trustee; (ii) conduct self-evaluations of the performance of the Trustees and help facilitate the Board’s evaluation of the performance of the Board at least annually; (iii) oversee the selection of independent legal counsel to the Independent Trustees and review reports from independent legal counsel regarding potential conflicts of interest; and (iv) consider and evaluate any other matter the Governance Committee deems necessary or appropriate. It is the policy of the Governance Committee to consider nominees recommended by shareholders. Shareholders who would like to recommend nominees to the Governance Committee should submit the candidate’s name and background information in a sufficiently timely manner (and in any event, no later than the date specified for receipt of shareholder proposals in any applicable proxy statement of the Fund) and should address their recommendations to the attention of the Governance Committee, c/o the Secretary of the Fund, 800 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut 06854. The Governance Committee met two times times during the 12-month period January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014.

Trustees’ Compensation

[To be updated by amendment]

 

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For their services as Trustees of the Trust and other funds within the AMG Fund Complex for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2015, the Trustees are estimated to be compensated as follows:

Compensation Table:

 

Name of

Trustee

  

Aggregate

Compensation

from the Fund (a)

    

Total Compensation

from the

Fund Complex

Paid to Trustees (b)

 

Independent Trustees:

     

Bruce B. Bingham

   $ [                $ [            

William E. Chapman II (c)

   $ [                $ [            

Edward J. Kaier (d)

   $ [                $ [            

Kurt A. Keilhacker

   $ [                $ [            

Steven J. Paggioli

   $ [                $ [            

Richard F. Powers III

   $ [                $ [            

Eric Rakowski

   $ [                $ [            

Victoria L. Sassine

   $ [                $ [            

Thomas R. Schneeweis

   $ [                $ [            

Interested Trustee:

     

Christine C. Carsman

     None         None   

 

(a) The Fund commenced operations on or following the date of this SAI and its initial fiscal year ends on December 31, 2015. Because the Fund is new, compensation is estimated for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2015. The Trust does not provide any pension or retirement benefits for the Trustees.
(b) Total compensation includes compensation estimated to be paid during the 12-month period ending December 31, 2015 for services as a Trustee of the AMG Fund Complex. As of the date of this SAI, each of Messrs. Bingham, Chapman, Kaier, Paggioli, Powers and Schneeweis served as a trustee to [46] funds in the AMG Fund Complex and each of Messrs. Keilhacker and Rakowski and Mses. Sassine and Carsman served as a trustee or director to [48] funds in the AMG Fund Complex.
(c) Mr. Chapman receives an additional $[        ] annually for serving as the Independent Chairman, which is reflected in the chart above.
(d) Mr. Kaier receives an additional $[        ] annually for serving as the Audit Committee Chairman, which is reflected in the chart above.

CONTROL PERSONS AND PRINCIPAL HOLDERS OF SECURITIES

Control Persons

[To be updated by amendment]

[Because the Fund commenced operations on or following the date of this SAI, as of [            ], 2015, no persons or entities “controlled” (within the meaning of the 1940 Act) the Fund.] A person or entity that “controls” the Fund could have effective voting control over the Fund. It may not be possible for matters subject to a vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of the Fund to be approved without the affirmative vote of such “controlling” shareholders, and it may be possible for such matters to be approved by such shareholders without the affirmative vote of any other shareholders.

Principal Holders

[To be updated by amendment]

[Because the Fund commenced operations on or following the date of this SAI, as of [            ], 2015, no persons or entities owned beneficially and/or of record 5% or more of the outstanding shares of the Fund.]

Management Ownership

[To be updated by amendment]

 

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[Because the Fund commenced operations on or following the date of this SAI, as of [            ], 2015, all management personnel (i.e., Trustees and Officers) as a group owned beneficially less than 1% of the outstanding shares of each class of the Fund.]

MANAGEMENT OF THE FUND

Investment Manager and Subadvisor

The Trustees provide broad supervision over the operations and affairs of the Trust and the Fund. The Investment Manager serves as investment manager to the Fund. The Investment Manager also serves as administrator of the Fund and carries out the daily administration of the Trust and the Fund. The Investment Manager’s principal address is 800 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut 06854. The Investment Manager is a subsidiary of AMG, and a subsidiary of AMG serves as the Managing Member of the Investment Manager. AMG is located at 777 South Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach, Florida 33401. AMG (NYSE: AMG) is a global asset management company with equity investments in leading boutique investment management firms. AMG Distributors, Inc. (the “Distributor”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Investment Manager, serves as distributor of the Fund. The Distributor’s principal address is 800 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut 06854.

The assets of the Fund are managed by a Subadvisor selected by the Investment Manager, subject to the review and approval of the Trustees. The Investment Manager recommends Subadvisors for the Fund to the Trustees based upon continuing quantitative and qualitative evaluation of each Subadvisor’s skills in managing assets subject to specific investment styles and strategies. Short-term investment performance, by itself, is not a significant factor in hiring or terminating a Subadvisor, and the Investment Manager does not expect to make frequent changes of Subadvisors. The Investment Manager and its corporate predecessors have over 20 years of experience in evaluating Subadvisors for individuals and institutional investors.

For its investment management services, the Investment Manager receives an investment management fee from the Fund. All of the investment management fee paid by the Fund to the Investment Manager is used to pay the subadvisory fees of the Subadvisor that manages the assets of the Fund. Because GW&K Investment Management, LLC (“GW&K”) is an affiliate of the Investment Manager, the Investment Manager indirectly benefits from the compensation received by GW&K.

The Subadvisor has discretion, subject to oversight by the Trustees and the Investment Manager, to purchase and sell portfolio assets, consistent with the Fund’s investment objective, policies and restrictions. Generally, the services that the Subadvisor provides to the Fund are limited to asset management and related recordkeeping services.

The Subadvisor or an affiliated broker-dealer may execute portfolio transactions for the Fund and receive brokerage commissions, or markups/markdowns, in connection with the transaction as permitted by Sections 17(a) and 17(e) of the 1940 Act, and the rules thereunder, and the terms of any exemptive order issued by the SEC. The Board of Trustees has approved procedures in conformity with Rule 10f-3 under the 1940 Act whereby the Fund may purchase securities that are offered in underwritings in which an affiliate of the Fund’s Subadvisor participates. For underwritings where a Subadvisor affiliate participates as a principal underwriter, certain restrictions may apply that could, among other things, limit the amount of securities that the Fund could purchase in the underwritings.

 

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The Subadvisor may also serve as a discretionary or non-discretionary investment advisor to management or advisory or other accounts which are unrelated in any manner to the Fund or the Investment Manager and its affiliates.

Investment Management and Subadvisory Agreements

The Investment Manager serves as investment manager to the Fund pursuant to an investment management agreement with the Trust (the “Investment Management Agreement”). The Investment Management Agreement permits the Investment Manager to engage, from time to time, one or more Subadvisors to assist in the performance of its services. Pursuant to the Investment Management Agreement, the Investment Manager has entered into a Subadvisory Agreement with GW&K with respect to the Fund (the “Subadvisory Agreement”).

The Investment Management Agreement and the Subadvisory Agreement provide for an initial term of two years and thereafter shall continue in effect from year to year so long as such continuation is specifically approved at least annually (i) by either the Trustees of the Trust or by vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Fund, and (ii) in either event by the vote of a majority of the Trustees of the Trust who are not parties to the agreements or “interested persons” (as defined in the 1940 Act) of any such party, cast in person at a meeting called for the purpose of voting on such continuance.

The Investment Management Agreement and the Subadvisory Agreement may be terminated, without penalty, by the Board of Trustees, by vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities (as defined in the 1940 Act), by the Investment Manager or (in the case of the Subadvisory Agreement) by the Subadvisor on 60 days’ written notice to the other party. The Investment Management Agreement and the Subadvisory Agreement terminate automatically in the event of assignment, as defined in the 1940 Act and the regulations thereunder.

The Investment Management Agreement provides that the Investment Manager is specifically responsible for the following advisory and/or administrative services:

 

    developing and furnishing continuously an investment program and strategy for the Fund in compliance with the Fund’s investment objective and policies as set forth in the Trust’s current Registration Statement;

 

    providing research and analysis relative to the investment program and investments of the Fund;

 

    determining (subject to the overall supervision and review of the Board) what investments shall be purchased, held, sold or exchanged by the Fund and what portion, if any, of the assets of the Fund shall be held in cash or cash equivalents;

 

    making changes on behalf of the Trust in the investments of the Fund;

 

    furnishing to the Trust necessary assistance in the preparation of all reports now or hereafter required by federal or other laws, and the preparation of prospectuses, registration statements and amendments thereto that may be required by federal or other laws or by the rules or regulations of any duly authorized commission or administrative body;

 

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    furnishing to the Trust office space in the offices of the Investment Manager, or in such other place or places as may be agreed upon from time to time, and all necessary office facilities, simple business equipment, supplies, utilities and telephone service; and

 

    furnishing to the Trust all executive and administrative personnel necessary for managing the affairs of the Trust, including personnel to perform clerical, bookkeeping, accounting and other office functions.

Under the Subadvisory Agreement, the Subadvisor manages all of the Fund’s portfolio, including the determination of the purchase, retention, or sale of securities, cash, and other investments for the Fund in accordance with the Fund’s investment objective, policies, and investment restrictions. The Subadvisor provides these services subject to the general supervision of the Investment Manager and the Trust’s Board of Trustees. The provision of investment advisory services by the Subadvisor to the Fund will not be exclusive under the terms of the Subadvisory Agreement, and the Subadvisor will be free to and expects to render investment advisory services to others.

In performing the functions set forth above and supervising the Subadvisor, the Investment Manager:

 

    performs periodic detailed analysis and reviews of the performance by the Subadvisor of its obligations to the Fund, including without limitation a review of the Subadvisor’s investment performance in respect of the Fund;

 

    prepares and presents periodic reports to the Board regarding the investment performance of the Subadvisor and other information regarding the Subadvisor, at such times and in such forms as the Board may reasonably request;

 

    reviews and considers any changes in the personnel of the Subadvisor responsible for performing the Subadvisor’s obligations and makes appropriate reports to the Board;

 

    reviews and considers any changes in the ownership or senior management of the Subadvisor and makes appropriate reports to the Board;

 

    performs periodic in-person or telephonic diligence meetings, including with respect to compliance matters, with representatives of the Subadvisor;

 

    assists the Board and management of the Trust in developing and reviewing information with respect to the initial approval of the Subadvisory Agreement with the Subadvisor and annual consideration of the Subadvisory Agreement thereafter;

 

    prepares recommendations with respect to the continued retention of the Subadvisor or the replacement of the Subadvisor, including at the request of the Board;

 

    identifies potential successors to or replacements of the Subadvisor or potential additional subadvisors, performs appropriate due diligence, and develops and presents to the Board a recommendation as to any such successor, replacement, or additional subadvisor, including at the request of the Board;

 

    designates and compensates from its own resources such personnel as the Investment Manager may consider necessary or appropriate to the performance of its services; and

 

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    performs such other review and reporting functions as the Board shall reasonably request consistent with the Investment Management Agreement and applicable law.

The Fund pays all expenses not borne by the Investment Manager or Subadvisor including, but not limited to, the charges and expenses of the Fund’s custodian and transfer agent, independent auditors and legal counsel for the Fund and the Trust’s Independent Trustees, 12b-1 fees, if any, all brokerage commissions, transfer taxes and transaction taxes in connection with portfolio transactions, all taxes and filing fees, the fees and expenses for registration or qualification of the Fund’s shares under federal and state securities laws, all expenses of shareholders’ and Trustees’ meetings and of preparing, printing and mailing reports to shareholders and the compensation of Trustees who are not directors, officers or employees of the Investment Manager, Subadvisor or their affiliates, other than affiliated registered investment companies. The Investment Manager compensates all executive and clerical personnel and Trustees of the Trust if such persons are employees of the Investment Manager or its affiliates.

The Subadvisory Agreement requires the Subadvisor to provide fair and equitable treatment to the Fund in the selection of portfolio investments and the allocation of investment opportunities. However, it does not obligate the Subadvisor to acquire for the Fund a position in any investment that any of the Subadvisor’s other clients may acquire. The Fund shall have no first refusal, co-investment or other rights in respect of any such investment, either for the Fund or otherwise.

Although the Subadvisor makes investment decisions for the Fund independent of those for its other clients, it is likely that similar investment decisions will be made from time to time. When the Fund and another client of the Subadvisor are simultaneously engaged in the purchase or sale of the same security, the transactions are, to the extent feasible and practicable, averaged as to price and the amount is allocated between the Fund and the other client(s) pursuant to a formula considered equitable by the Subadvisor. In specific cases, this system could have an adverse effect on the price or volume of the security to be purchased or sold by the Fund. However, the Trustees believe, over time, that coordination and the ability to participate in volume transactions should benefit the Fund.

The Investment Management Agreement provides that, in the absence of willful misfeasance, bad faith, negligence, or reckless disregard of its obligations or duties, the Investment Manager is not subject to liability to the Fund or any Fund shareholder for any act or omission in the course of, or connected with, the matters to which the Investment Management Agreement relates. The Subadvisory Agreement provides that the Subadvisor shall not be subject to any liability for any act or omission, error of judgment, or mistake of law or for any loss suffered by the Investment Manager or the Trust in connection with the Subadvisory Agreement, except by reason of the Subadvisor’s willful misfeasance, bad faith, or negligence in the performance of its duties, or by reason of the Subadvisor’s reckless disregard of its obligations and duties under the Subadvisory Agreement.

The Trust may rely on an exemptive order from the SEC that, subject to compliance with its conditions, would permit the Investment Manager to enter into subadvisory agreements with unaffiliated subadvisors without shareholder approval. Under the terms of this exemptive order, the Investment Manager is able, subject to certain conditions (including a 90-day notification requirement discussed below) and approval by the Trustees but without shareholder approval, to employ new unaffiliated subadvisors for the Fund, change the terms of the subadvisory agreement for an unaffiliated subadvisor, or continue the employment of an unaffiliated subadvisor after events that under the 1940 Act and the subadvisory agreement would be deemed to be an automatic termination of the subadvisory agreement provided that the Investment Manager provides notification to shareholders within 90 days of the hiring of an unaffiliated subadvisor. The Investment Manager, subject to oversight by the Trustees, has ultimate responsibility to oversee the subadvisors and recommend their hiring, termination, and

 

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replacement. Although shareholder approval will not be required for the termination of subadvisory agreements, shareholders of the Fund will continue to have the right to terminate such subadvisory agreements for the Fund at any time by a vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of the Fund. The Investment Manager may not change a subadvisor to the Fund without approval of the Trust’s Board of Trustees and, to the extent required by the 1940 Act, shareholder approval.

Compensation of the Investment Manager and the Subadvisor

As compensation for the investment management services rendered and related expenses under the Investment Management Agreement, the Fund has agreed to pay the Investment Manager an investment management fee, at an annual rate of 0.75%, which is computed daily as a percentage of the value of the average daily net assets of the Fund and may be paid monthly.

As compensation for the investment management services rendered and related expenses under the Subadvisory Agreement, the Investment Manager has agreed to pay the Subadvisor all of the investment management fee (net of all mutually agreed upon fee waivers and reimbursements) for managing the portfolio, which is also computed daily and paid monthly based on the average daily net assets that the Subadvisor manages. The fee paid to the Subadvisor is paid out of the fee the Investment Manager receives from the Fund and does not increase the Fund’s expenses.

Investment Management Fees Paid by the Fund. Because the Fund commenced operations on or following the date of this SAI, there have been no payments by the Fund to the Investment Manager for advisory services.

Subadvisory Fees Paid by the Investment Manager. Because the Fund commenced operations on or following the date of this SAI, there have been no payments by the Investment Manager to the Subadvisor for subadvisory services for the Fund.

Expense Limitations

From time to time, the Investment Manager may agree to limit the Fund’s expenses by agreeing to waive all or a portion of the investment management fee and certain other fees it would otherwise be entitled to receive from the Fund and/or reimburse certain Fund expenses above a specified maximum amount (i.e., an “expense limitation”). The Investment Manager may waive all or a portion of its fees and/or reimburse Fund expenses for a number of reasons, such as passing on to the Fund and its shareholders the benefit of reduced portfolio management fees resulting from a waiver by the Investment Manager or Subadvisor of all or a portion of the fees it would otherwise be entitled to receive from the Fund, or attempting to make the Fund’s performance more competitive as compared to similar funds. The effect of any contractual expense limitations in effect at the date of this SAI is reflected in the tables below and in the Annual Fund Operating Expenses table (including footnotes thereto) located in the front of the Fund’s Prospectus. In general, for a period of up to 36 months from the time of any waiver, reimbursement, or payment pursuant to the Fund’s contractual expense limitation, the Investment Manager may recover from the Fund fees waived and expenses paid to the extent that such repayment would not cause the Fund’s Net Annual Fund Operating Expenses (exclusive of the items noted in the Fund’s Prospectus) to exceed its contractual expense limitation amount. In addition, the Investment Manager or Subadvisor may voluntarily agree to waive or reimburse a portion of its management fee from time to time. Any voluntary expense limitations by the Investment Manager or by the Subadvisor may be terminated or reduced in amount at any time and solely in the discretion of the Investment Manager or Subadvisor. In general, contractual expense limitations are only terminated at the end of a term, and shareholders will generally be notified of any change on or about the time that it becomes effective. Because the Fund commenced operations on or following the date of this SAI, there have been no fees waived or expenses reimbursed to the Fund.

 

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The Investment Manager also serves as the administrator to the Fund and receives compensation from the Trust for the Fund pursuant to an administration and shareholder servicing agreement (the “Fund Administration Agreement”) between the Trust and the Investment Manager. For more information about the Fund Administration Agreement, see “Administrative Services; Distribution Arrangements” below.

Portfolio Managers of the Fund (information as of December 31, 2014)

[To be updated by amendment]

GW&K Investment Management, LLC (“GW&K”)

GW&K has served as Subadvisor to the Fund since its inception. AMG has a majority ownership and controlling interest in GW&K that it acquired from The Bank of New York Mellon (“BNY”) on October 1, 2008. As of December 31, 2014 GW&K’s assets under management were approximately $22.823.

Daniel L. Miller and Joseph C. Craigen serve as the portfolio managers jointly and primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund.

Other Accounts Managed by the Portfolio Managers

Portfolio Manager: Daniel L. Miller, CFA

 

Type of Account

   Number Of
Accounts
Managed
     Total Assets
Managed
($millions)
     Number of Accounts
Managed For Which
Advisory Fee is
Performance Based
     Assets Managed For
Which Advisory
Fee is Performance
Based ($millions)
 

Registered Investment Companies

     1       $ 48         None       $ 0   

Other Pooled Investment Vehicles

     1       $ 18         None       $ 0   

Other Accounts

     5,080       $ 3,935         1       $ 185   

Portfolio Manager: Joseph C. Craigen, CFA

 

Type of Account

   Number Of
Accounts
Managed
     Total Assets
Managed
($millions)
     Number of Accounts
Managed For Which
Advisory Fee is
Performance Based
     Assets Managed For
Which Advisory
Fee is Performance
Based ($millions)
 

Registered Investment Companies

     1       $ 48         None       $ 0   

Other Pooled Investment Vehicles

     None       $ 0         None       $ 0   

Other Accounts

     110       $ 95         None       $ 0   

 

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Potential Material Conflicts of Interest

[GW&K’s portfolio managers simultaneously manage multiple types of portfolios, including separate accounts, wrap fee programs and sub advised mutual funds, according to the same or a similar investment strategy as the Fund. However, the portfolios managed by a portfolio manager may not have portfolio compositions identical to those of the Fund managed by the portfolio manager due, for example, to specific investment limitations or guidelines present in some portfolios or funds but not others. The portfolio managers may purchase securities for one portfolio and not another portfolio, and the performance of securities purchased for one portfolio may vary from the performance of securities purchased for other portfolios. A portfolio manager may place transactions on behalf of other accounts that are directly or indirectly contrary to investment decisions made on behalf of the Fund, or make investment decisions that are similar to those made for the Fund, both of which have the potential to adversely impact the Fund depending on market conditions. For example, a portfolio manager may purchase a security in one portfolio while appropriately selling that same security in another portfolio. In addition, some of these portfolios have fee structures that are or have the potential to be higher than the advisory fees paid by the Fund, which can cause potential conflicts in the allocation of investment opportunities between the Fund and the other accounts. However, the compensation structure for portfolio managers (see “Portfolio Manager Compensation” below) generally does not provide any incentive to favor one account over another because that part of a manager’s bonus based on performance is not based on the performance of one account to the exclusion of others.

While GW&K has policies and procedures to help ensure accounts are treated fairly and equitably over time not all accounts within a strategy will be managed the same at all times. Different client guidelines and/or differences within the investment strategies may lead to the use of different investment practices for accounts within the same or similar investment strategy.]

Portfolio Manager Compensation

[Portfolio manager compensation is a formula that balances investment management results and growth of the product. Compensation is comprised of a fixed base salary which is determined by the individual’s experience and position relative to market data, as well as a bonus that incorporates 3 components:

 

    Performance (of strategies managed by the portfolio manager based on composite returns) Relative to Peers

 

    Risk-Adjusted Performance (of strategies managed by the portfolio manager based on composite returns) Relative to applicable Benchmarks

 

    Discretionary

The bonus is not based specifically on the performance of the Fund nor is it based specifically on the assets held by the Fund.]

Portfolio Managers’ Ownership of Fund Shares

AMG GW&K Small Cap Growth Fund:

Mr. Miller:         [None]

Mr. Craigen:      [None]

 

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Proxy Voting Policies and Procedures

Proxies for the Fund’s portfolio securities are voted in accordance with GW&K’s proxy voting policies and procedures, which are set forth in Appendix B to this SAI, except that for a proxy with respect to shares of (i) an unaffiliated money market fund used as a cash management vehicle (a “Cash Sweep Fund”), the Investment Manager typically votes the proxy as recommended by the Cash Sweep Fund’s directors; and (ii) an ETF held by the Fund, in connection with an SEC exemptive order on which the Fund relies with respect to the ETF, the Investment Manager may vote the proxy in the same proportion as the vote of all other holders of shares of the ETF.

Because the Fund commenced operations on or following the date of this SAI, there is no information available regarding how the Fund voted proxies relating to portfolio securities during the past twelve-months.

Codes of Ethics

The Trust, the Investment Manager, the Distributor and the Subadvisor have adopted codes of ethics under Rule 17j-1 of the 1940 Act. These codes of ethics, which generally permit personnel subject to the codes to invest in securities, including securities that may be purchased or held by the Fund, contain procedures that are designed to avoid the conflicts of interest that may be presented by personal securities investing.

Administrative Services

Under the Fund Administration Agreement between the Trust and the Investment Manager, the Investment Manager also serves as administrator of the Fund and is responsible for certain aspects of managing the Fund’s operations, including administration and shareholder servicing. The administrative and shareholder services to be provided include, but are not limited to, processing and/or coordinating Fund share purchases and redemptions, responding to inquiries from shareholders, providing omnibus level support for financial intermediaries who perform sub-accounting for shares held of record by financial intermediaries for the benefit of other beneficial owners and other general and administrative responsibilities for the Fund. For these services, the Fund will pay the Investment Manager 0.25% of its average daily net assets per annum. The Fund Administration Agreement generally may be terminated by the Investment Manager upon at least 120 days’ prior written notice to the Trust, and by the Trust upon at least 30 days’ prior written notice to the Investment Manager.

Because the Fund commenced operations on or following the date of this SAI, there have been no payments by the Fund to the Investment Manager for administrative services.

Distribution Arrangements

Under a Distribution Agreement (the “Distribution Agreement”) between the Trust and the Distributor, the Distributor serves as the principal distributor and underwriter for the Fund. The Distributor is a registered broker-dealer and member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”). Shares of the Fund will be continuously offered and will be sold directly to prospective purchasers and through brokers, dealers or other financial intermediaries who have executed selling agreements with the Distributor. Subject to the compensation arrangements discussed below, generally the Distributor bears all or a portion of the expenses of providing services pursuant to the Distribution Agreement, including the payment of the expenses relating to the distribution of the Fund’s Prospectus for sales purposes and any advertising or sales literature. Any costs and expenses not allocated to the Distributor shall be borne by the Investment Manager or an affiliate of the Investment Manager as agreed upon between the Distributor and the Investment Manager from time to time. The Distributor is not obligated to sell any specific amount of shares of the Fund.

 

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The Distribution Agreement may be terminated by either party under certain specified circumstances and will automatically terminate on assignment in the same manner as the Investment Management Agreement. The Distribution Agreement continues in effect for two years from the date of its execution and for successive one-year periods thereafter, provided that each such continuance is specifically approved (i) by the vote of a majority of the Trustees of the Trust or by the vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of the Fund and (ii) by a majority of the Trustees of the Trust who are not “interested persons” of the Trust or the Distributor (as that term is defined in the 1940 Act).

For sales of Fund shares, the Distributor may provide promotional incentives including cash compensation to certain brokers, dealers, or financial intermediaries whose representatives have sold or are expected to sell significant amounts of shares. Other programs may provide, subject to certain conditions, additional compensation to brokers, dealers, or financial intermediaries based on a combination of aggregate shares sold and increases of assets under management. All of the above payments will be made pursuant to the Rule 12b-1 distribution and service plan described below and possibly supplemented by payments by the Distributor or its affiliates out of their own assets, or, in the case of such shares that are not subject to a Rule 12b-1 distribution and service plan, only by the Distributor or its affiliates out of their own assets.

The Distributor’s principal address is 800 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut 06854.

Rule 12b-1 Distribution and Service Plan. The Trust has adopted a distribution and service plan with respect to the Investor Class shares of the Fund (the “Plan”), in accordance with the requirements of Rule 12b-1 under the 1940 Act and the requirements of the applicable rules of FINRA regarding asset-based sales charges. All share classes of the Fund are sold without a front end or contingent deferred sales load and Institutional Class shares and Service Class shares of the Fund are not subject to the expenses of any Rule 12b-1 distribution and service plan.

Pursuant to the Plan, the Fund may compensate the Distributor for its expenditures in financing any activity primarily intended to result in the sale of Investor Class shares and for maintenance and personal service provided to existing shareholders of that class. The Plan authorizes payments to the Distributor up to 0.25% annually of the Fund’s average daily net assets attributable to the Investor Class.

The Plan further provides for periodic payments by the Trust or the Distributor to brokers, dealers and other financial intermediaries for providing shareholder services and for promotional and other sales related costs. The portion of payments by Investor Class shares of the Fund under the Plan for shareholder servicing may not exceed an annual rate of 0.25% of the average daily net asset value of the Fund’s shares of that class owned by clients of such broker, dealer or financial intermediary.

In accordance with the terms of the Plan, the Distributor provides to the Fund, for review by the Trustees, a quarterly written report of the amounts expended under the Plan and the purpose for which such expenditures were made. In the Trustees’ quarterly review of the Plan, they will review the level of compensation the Plan provides in considering the continued appropriateness of the Plan.

Under its terms, the Plan remains in effect from year to year provided such continuance is approved annually by vote of the Trustees, including the Trustees who are not “interested persons” (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Trust and have no direct or indirect financial interest in the Plan or any related agreements, cast in person at a meeting called for the purpose of voting on such continuance. The

 

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Plan may not be amended to increase materially the amount to be spent under the Plan without approval of the shareholders of the Fund, and material amendments to the Plan must also be approved by the Trustees in a manner described therein. The Plan may be terminated at any time, without payment of any penalty, by vote of the majority of the Trustees who are not interested persons (as that term is defined in the 1940 Act) of the Trust and have no direct or indirect financial interest in the operations of the Plan or any related agreements, or by a vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of the Fund (as that term is defined in the 1940 Act). The Plan will automatically terminate in the event of its assignment.

Because the Fund commenced operations on or following the date of this SAI, there have been no payments for the Investor Class shares of the Fund under the Plan.

Custodian

The Bank of New York Mellon, a subsidiary of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (the “Custodian”), 2 Hanson Place, Brooklyn, New York 10286, is the Custodian for the Fund. The Custodian is responsible for holding all cash assets and all portfolio securities of the Fund, releasing and delivering such securities as directed by the Fund, maintaining bank accounts in the name of the Fund, receiving for deposit into such accounts payments for shares of the Fund, collecting income and other payments due the Fund with respect to portfolio securities and paying out monies of the Fund.

The Custodian is authorized to deposit securities in securities depositories or to use the services of sub-custodians, including foreign sub-custodians, to the extent permitted by and subject to the regulations of the SEC.

Transfer Agent

BNY Mellon Investment Servicing (US) Inc., P.O. Box 9769, Providence, Rhode Island 02940-9769 (the “Transfer Agent”), is the transfer agent for the Fund and the sub-transfer agent for the ManagersChoice® asset allocation program and also serves as the dividend disbursing agent for the Fund.

Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

[                    ], [                    ], is the independent registered public accounting firm for the Fund. [                    ] conducts an annual audit of the financial statements of the Fund, assists in the preparation and/or review of the Fund’s federal and state income tax returns and may provide other audit, tax and related services.

BROKERAGE ALLOCATION AND OTHER PRACTICES

The Subadvisory Agreement provides that the Subadvisor places all orders for the purchase and sale of securities that are held in the Fund’s portfolio. In executing portfolio transactions and selecting brokers or dealers, it is the policy and principal objective of the Subadvisor to seek to obtain best price and execution. It is expected that securities will ordinarily be purchased in the primary markets. The Subadvisor shall consider all factors that it deems relevant when assessing best price and execution for the Fund, including the breadth of the market in the security, the price of the security, the financial condition and execution capability of the broker or dealer and the reasonableness of the commission, if any (for the specific transaction and on a continuing basis).

In addition, when selecting brokers to execute transactions and in evaluating the best available net price and execution, the Subadvisor is authorized by the Trustees to consider the “brokerage and

 

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research services” (as defined in Section 28(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended), provided by the broker. The Subadvisor is also authorized to cause the Fund to pay a commission to a broker who provides such brokerage and research services for executing a portfolio transaction which is in excess of the amount of commission another broker would have charged for effecting that transaction. The Subadvisor must determine in good faith, however, that such commission was reasonable in relation to the value of the brokerage and research services provided viewed in terms of that particular transaction or in terms of all the accounts over which the Subadvisor exercises investment discretion. Brokerage and research services received from such brokers will be in addition to, and not in lieu of, the services required to be performed by the Subadvisor. The Fund may purchase and sell portfolio securities through brokers who provide the Subadvisor with research services. Brokerage commissions may be used for the general benefit of all other clients of the Subadvisor where legally and contractually permissible.

The Trustees will periodically review the total amount of commissions paid by the Fund to determine if the commissions paid over representative periods of time were reasonable in relation to commissions being charged by other brokers and the benefits to the Fund of using particular brokers or dealers. It is possible that certain of the services received by the Subadvisor attributable to a particular transaction will primarily benefit one or more other accounts for which investment discretion is exercised by the Subadvisor.

The fees of the Subadvisor are not reduced by reason of its receipt of such brokerage and research services. Generally, the Subadvisor does not provide any services to the Fund except portfolio investment management and related record-keeping services. The Investment Manager may request that the Subadvisor employ certain specific brokers who have agreed to pay certain Fund expenses. The use of such brokers is subject to best price and execution, and there is no specific amount of brokerage that is required to be placed through such brokers.

Brokerage Commissions

Because the Fund commenced operations on or following the date of this SAI, there have been no payments by the Fund for brokerage commissions.

Brokerage Recapture Arrangements

The Trust may enter into arrangements with various brokers pursuant to which a portion of the commissions paid by the Fund may be directed by the Fund to pay expenses of the Fund. Consistent with its policy and principal objective of seeking best price and execution, the Subadvisor may consider these brokerage recapture arrangements in selecting brokers to execute transactions for the Fund. There is no specific amount of brokerage that is required to be placed through such brokers. In all cases, brokerage recapture arrangements relate solely to expenses of the Fund and not to expenses of the Investment Manager or the Subadvisor.

PURCHASE, REDEMPTION AND PRICING OF SHARES

Purchasing Shares

Investors may open accounts directly with the Fund or through their financial planners or investment professionals, or directly with the Trust in circumstances as described in the Fund’s current Prospectus. Shares may also be purchased through bank trust departments on behalf of their clients and tax-exempt employee welfare, pension and profit-sharing plans. The Trust reserves the right to determine which customers and which purchase orders the Trust will accept.

 

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Certain investors may purchase or sell the Fund’s shares through broker-dealers or through other processing organizations that may impose transaction fees or other charges in connection with this service. Shares purchased in this way may be treated as a single account for purposes of the minimum initial investment. The Fund may from time to time make payments to such broker-dealers or processing organizations for certain record-keeping services. Investors who do not wish to receive the services of a broker-dealer or processing organization may consider investing directly with the Trust. Shares held through a broker-dealer or processing organization may be transferred into the investor’s name by contacting the broker-dealer or processing organization or the Transfer Agent. Certain processing organizations and others may receive compensation from the Investment Manager, the Subadvisor and/or the Distributor out of their legitimate profits in exchange for selling shares or for recordkeeping or other shareholder related services.

Purchase orders received by the Trust before 4:00 p.m. New York time at the address listed in the Fund’s current Prospectus on any day that the NYSE is open for business will receive the net asset value computed that day. Purchase orders received after 4:00 p.m. from certain processing organizations that have entered into contractual arrangements with the Investment Manager, will also receive that day’s offering price, provided that the orders the processing organization transmits to the Investment Manager were received in proper form by the processing organization before 4:00 p.m. The broker-dealer, omnibus processor or investment professional is responsible for promptly transmitting orders to the Trust. Orders transmitted to the Trust at the address indicated in the Prospectus will be promptly forwarded to the Transfer Agent.

Federal funds or bank wires used to pay for purchase orders must be in U.S. dollars and received in advance, except for certain processing organizations that have entered into contractual arrangements with the Trust. Purchases made by check are effected when the check is received, but are accepted subject to collection at full face value in U.S. funds and must be drawn in U.S. dollars on a U.S. bank.

To ensure that checks are collected by the Trust, if shares purchased by check or by Automated Clearing House funds (“ACH”) are sold before the check has cleared, the redemption proceeds will not be processed until the check has cleared. This may take up to 15 calendar days unless arrangements are made with the Investment Manager. However, during this 15 calendar-day period, such shareholder may exchange such shares into any series of the Trust, AMG Funds I, AMG Funds II or AMG Funds III, subject to applicable restrictions such as minimum investment amounts. The 15 calendar-day holding period for redemptions would still apply to shares received through such exchanges.

If the check accompanying any purchase order does not clear, or if there are insufficient funds in your bank account, the transaction will be canceled and you will be responsible for any loss the Trust incurs. For current shareholders, the Trust can redeem shares from any identically registered account in the Trust as reimbursement for any loss incurred. The Trust has the right to prohibit or restrict all future purchases in the Trust in the event of any nonpayment for shares. The Fund and the Distributor reserve the right to reject any order for the purchase of shares in whole or in part. The Trust reserves the right to cancel any purchase order for which payment has not been received by the third business day following placement of the order.

In the interest of economy and convenience, share certificates will not be issued. All share purchases are confirmed to the record holder and credited to such holder’s account on the Trust’s books maintained by the Transfer Agent.

 

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Redeeming Shares

Any redemption orders received in proper form by the Trust before 4:00 p.m. New York time on any day that the NYSE is open for business will receive the net asset value determined at the close of regular business of the NYSE on that day. Redemption orders received after 4:00 p.m. from certain processing organizations that have entered into contractual arrangements with the Fund will also be redeemed at the net asset value computed that day, provided that the orders the processing organization transmits to the Fund were received in proper form by the processing organization before 4:00 p.m.

Redemption orders received after 4:00 p.m. New York time will be redeemed at the net asset value determined at the close of trading on the next business day. Redemption orders transmitted to the Trust at the address indicated in the Fund’s current Prospectus will be promptly forwarded to the Transfer Agent. If you are trading through a broker-dealer or investment advisor, such investment professional is responsible for promptly transmitting orders.

The Trust reserves the right to redeem a shareholder account if its value (i) falls below $500 for Investor Class or Service Class shares or $25,000 for Institutional Class shares due to redemptions the shareholder makes, or (ii) is below $100, but, in each case, not until after the Fund gives the shareholder at least 60 days’ notice and the opportunity to increase the account balance to the minimum account balance amount. Whether the Trust will exercise its right to redeem shareholder accounts will be determined by the Investment Manager on a case-by-case basis.

If the Trust determines that it would be detrimental to the best interests of the remaining shareholders of the Fund to make payment wholly or partly in cash, payment of the redemption price may be made in whole or in part by a distribution in kind of securities from the Fund, in lieu of cash, in conformity with applicable law. If shares are redeemed in kind, the redeeming shareholder might incur transaction costs in converting the assets to cash and the assets will be subject to market and other risks until they are sold. The method of valuing portfolio securities is described under “Net Asset Value” below, and such valuation will be made as of the same time the redemption price is determined.

Investors should be aware that redemptions from the Fund may not be processed if a redemption request is not submitted in proper form. To be in proper form, the request must include the shareholder’s taxpayer identification number, account number, Fund number and signatures of all account holders. All redemptions will be mailed to the address of record on the shareholder’s account. In addition, if shares purchased by check or ACH are sold before the check has cleared, the redemption proceeds will not be sent to the shareholder until the check has cleared. This may take up to 15 calendar days unless arrangements are made with the Investment Manager. The Trust reserves the right to suspend the right of redemption and to postpone the date of payment upon redemption beyond seven days as follows: (i) during periods when the NYSE is closed for business other than weekends and holidays or when trading on the NYSE is restricted as determined by the SEC by rule or regulation, (ii) during periods in which an emergency, as determined by the SEC, exists that causes disposal by the Fund of, or evaluation of the net asset value of, portfolio securities to be unreasonable or impracticable, or (iii) for such other periods as the SEC may permit.

Exchange of Shares

As described in the Fund’s Prospectus, an investor may exchange shares of the Fund for shares of the same class of other funds in the Trust or for shares of other funds managed by the Investment Manager, subject to the applicable investment minimum. Not all funds managed by the Investment Manager offer all classes of shares or are open to new investors. In addition to exchanging into other funds managed by the Investment Manager as described above, an investor also may exchange shares of the Fund through the Investment Manager for shares in the Agency share class of the JPMorgan Liquid

 

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Assets Money Market Fund (the “JPMorgan Fund”) (see below for more information about the JPMorgan Fund). Because an exchange is the sale of shares of the Fund exchanged out of and the purchase of shares of the fund exchanged into, the usual purchase and redemption procedures, requirements and restrictions apply to each exchange. The value of the shares exchanged must meet the minimum purchase requirement of the fund and class for which you are exchanging them, except that there is no minimum purchase requirement to exchange into the JPMorgan Fund. Investors may exchange only into accounts that are registered in the same name with the same address and taxpayer identification number. In addition, an investor who intends to continue to maintain an account in the Fund may make an exchange out of the Fund only if following the exchange the investor would continue to meet the Fund’s minimum investment amount. Settlement on the purchase of shares of another fund will occur when the proceeds from the redemption become available. Shareholders subject to federal income tax may recognize capital gains or losses on the exchange for federal income tax purposes. The Trust reserves the right to discontinue, alter or limit the exchange privilege at any time, subject to applicable law. Holding your shares through a financial intermediary, such as a broker, may affect your ability to use the exchange privilege or other investor services.

The JPMorgan Fund is advised, offered and distributed by JPMorgan Asset Management and its affiliates, but an investor may place an exchange order in the same manner as the investor places other exchange orders and as described in the Fund’s Prospectus, subject to the restrictions above. The Investment Manager has entered into a Service Agreement and Supplemental Payment Agreement with the JPMorgan Fund’s distributor and investment advisor, respectively, that provide for a cash payment to the Investment Manager with respect to the average daily net asset value of the total number of shares of the JPMorgan Fund held by customers investing through the Investment Manager. This cash payment compensates the Investment Manager for providing, directly or through an agent, administrative, sub-transfer agent and other shareholder services, and not investment advisory or distribution related services.

Cost Basis Reporting

Upon the sale, redemption or exchange of Fund shares, the Fund or, in the case of shares purchased through a financial intermediary, the financial intermediary may be required to provide you and the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) with cost basis and certain other related tax information about the Fund’s shares you redeemed or exchanged. See the Fund’s Prospectus for more information.

Net Asset Value

Each class of shares computes its net asset value (“NAV”) once daily on Monday through Friday on each day on which the NYSE is open for trading, at the close of business of the NYSE, usually 4:00 p.m. New York time. The NAV will not be computed on the day the following legal holidays are observed: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The Fund may close for purchases and redemptions at such other times as may be determined by the Board of Trustees to the extent permitted by applicable law. The time at which orders are accepted and shares are redeemed may be changed in case of an emergency or if the NYSE closes at a time other than 4:00 p.m. New York time.

The NAV per share of each class of the Fund is equal to the value of the class’s net worth (assets minus liabilities) divided by the number of shares outstanding for that class. Equity securities listed on a domestic securities exchange or traded in a U.S. OTC market (including ADRs and GDRs) are valued at the official closing price or last quoted sale price of the market where such security is primarily traded, or, lacking any sales, at the last quoted bid price or the mean between the last quoted bid and ask price

 

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(the “exchange mean price”). Equity securities primarily traded on an international securities exchange or in a non-U.S. OTC market are valued at the market’s official closing price, or, if there are no trades on the applicable date, at the last quoted bid price or exchange mean price. In addition, if the applicable market does not offer an official closing price or if the official closing price is not representative of the overall market, equity securities primarily traded on an international securities exchange and equity securities traded in a non-U.S. OTC market are valued at the last quoted sale price. The Board has adopted a policy that securities held in the Fund that can be fair valued by the applicable fair value pricing service are fair valued on each business day without regard to a “trigger” (i.e., without regard to invoking fair value based upon a change in an index exceeding a pre-determined level). Debt obligations (other than short term debt obligations that have 60 days or less remaining until maturity) will be valued using the evaluated bid price or the mean between the evaluated bid and ask prices furnished by independent pricing services. Short term debt obligations (debt obligations with maturities of one year or less at the time of issuance) that have 60 days or less remaining until maturity will be valued at amortized cost. Notwithstanding the foregoing, currencies, financial derivatives and IPOs will be valued in accordance with the Fund’s valuation procedures adopted from time to time. The Fund’s investments are generally valued based on independent market quotations or prices or, if none, “evaluative” or other market based valuations provided by third-party pricing services approved by the Board. In the event that the market quotation, price or market based valuation for a portfolio instrument is not deemed to be readily available or otherwise not determinable pursuant to the Board’s valuation procedures, if the Investment Manager believes the quotation, price or market based valuation to be unreliable, or in certain other circumstances, the portfolio instrument may be valued at fair value, as determined in good faith and pursuant to procedures established by and under the general supervision of the Board. All portfolio instrument valuations described above on a valuation date shall be valuations of such instruments as of or prior to the close of business of the NYSE.

Frequent Purchase and Redemption Arrangements

The Trust does not have any arrangements with any person to permit frequent purchases and redemptions of the Fund’s shares, and no compensation or other consideration is received by the Fund, the Investment Manager or any other party in this regard.

Dividends and Distributions

The Fund declares and pays dividends and distributions as described in its Prospectus.

If a shareholder has elected to receive dividends and/or distributions in cash and the postal or other delivery service is unable to deliver the checks to the shareholder’s address of record, the dividends and/or distributions will automatically be converted to having the dividends and/or distributions reinvested in additional shares. No interest will accrue on amounts represented by uncashed dividend or redemption checks.

CERTAIN FEDERAL INCOME TAX MATTERS

The following summary of certain U.S. federal income tax considerations is intended for general informational purposes only. This discussion is not tax advice. This discussion does not address all aspects of taxation (including state, local, and foreign taxes) that may be relevant to particular shareholders in light of their own investment or tax circumstances, or to particular types of shareholders (including insurance companies, tax-deferred retirement plans, financial institutions or broker-dealers, foreign corporations, and persons who are not citizens or residents of the United States) subject to special treatment under U.S. federal income tax laws. This summary is based on the Code, the regulations thereunder, published rulings and court decisions, in effect as of the date of this SAI. These laws are subject to change, possibly on a retroactive basis.

 

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YOU ARE ADVISED TO CONSULT YOUR OWN TAX ADVISOR WITH RESPECT TO THE SPECIFIC TAX CONSEQUENCES OF AN INVESTMENT IN THE FUND IN LIGHT OF YOUR PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS DISCUSSION IS NOT INTENDED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR CAREFUL TAX PLANNING.

Federal Income Taxation of the Fund—in General

The Fund intends to elect to be treated and intends to qualify and to be eligible to be treated each taxable year as a “regulated investment company” under Subchapter M of the Code. In order to so qualify and to be so treated, the Fund must, among other things:

 

  (a) derive at least 90% of its gross income in each taxable year from (i) dividends, interest, payments with respect to certain securities loans, gains from the sale or other disposition of stock, securities or foreign currencies, or other income (including, but not limited to, gains from options, futures or forward contracts) derived with respect to its business of investing in such stock, securities or currencies and (ii) net income derived from interests in “qualified publicly traded partnerships” (as defined below) (all such income, “Qualifying Income”);

 

  (b) invest the Fund’s assets in such a manner that, as of the close of each quarter of its taxable year, (i) at least 50% of the value of the Fund’s total assets is represented by cash and cash items (including receivables), U.S. government securities and securities of other regulated investment companies, and other securities limited in respect of any one issuer (except with regard to certain investment companies furnishing capital to development corporations) to an amount not greater in value than 5% of the value of the total assets of the Fund and to not more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of such issuer, and (ii) not more than 25% of the value of the Fund’s total assets is invested in (x) the securities (other than U.S. government securities or the securities of other regulated investment companies) of any one issuer, or two or more issuers each of which the Fund owns 20% or more of the total combined voting power of all classes of stock entitled to vote and that are engaged in the same or similar trades or businesses or related trades or businesses, or (y) the securities of one or more “qualified publicly traded partnerships” (as defined below); and

 

  (c) distribute with respect to each taxable year at least 90% of the sum of its investment company taxable income (as that term is defined in the Code without regard to the deduction for dividends paid—generally, taxable ordinary income and the excess, if any, of net short-term capital gains over net long-term capital losses) and net tax-exempt interest income, for such year.

In general, for purposes of the 90% gross income requirement described in (a) above, income derived from a partnership will be treated as Qualifying Income only to the extent such income is attributable to items of income of the partnership which would be Qualifying Income if realized by the Fund. However, 100% of the net income derived from an interest in a “qualified publicly traded partnership” (a partnership (x) the interests in which are traded on an established securities market or are readily tradable on a secondary market or the substantial equivalent thereof, and (y) that derives less than 90% of its income from the Qualifying Income described in paragraph (a)(i) above) will be treated as Qualifying Income. In general, such entities will be treated as partnerships for U.S. federal income tax purposes because they meet the passive income requirement under Code section 7704(c)(2). In addition, although in general the passive loss rules of the Code do not apply to regulated investment companies,

 

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such rules do apply to a regulated investment company with respect to items attributable to an interest in a qualified publicly traded partnership. For purposes of the diversification test in (b) above, the term “outstanding voting securities of such issuer” will include the equity securities of a qualified publicly traded partnership. Also, for purposes of the diversification test in (b) above, the identification of the issuer (or, in some cases, issuers) of a particular Fund investment will depend on the terms and conditions of that investment. In some cases, identification of the issuer (or issuers) is uncertain under current law, and an adverse determination or future guidance by the IRS with respect to issuer identification for a particular type of investment may adversely affect the Fund’s ability to meet the diversification test in (b) above.

Gains from foreign currencies (including foreign currency options, foreign currency futures and foreign currency forward contracts) currently constitute Qualifying Income for purposes of the 90% test. However, the Treasury Department has the authority to issue regulations (possibly retroactively) excluding from the definition of Qualifying Income the Fund’s foreign currency gains to the extent that such income is not directly related to the Fund’s principal business of investing in stock or securities. This could affect the qualification of the Fund as a regulated investment company.

If the Fund qualifies for treatment as a regulated investment company, the Fund generally will not be subject to U.S. federal income tax on its investment company taxable income (computed without regard to the dividends-paid deduction) and net capital gain (net long-term capital gains in excess of net short-term capital losses, in each case determined with reference to capital losses carried forward from prior years) that it distributes to its shareholders in the form of dividends (including Capital Gain Dividends, as defined below) on a timely basis.

If the Fund were to fail to meet the income, diversification or distribution tests described above, the Fund could in some cases cure such failure, including by paying a Fund-level tax, paying interest, making additional distributions or disposing of certain assets. If the Fund were ineligible to or otherwise did not cure such failure for any taxable year, or if the Fund were otherwise to fail to qualify for treatment as a regulated investment company for such year, it would lose the beneficial tax treatment accorded regulated investment companies under Subchapter M of the Code and all of its taxable income would be subject to tax at regular corporate rates without any deduction for distributions to shareholders. All distributions by the Fund, including any distributions of net long-term capital gains, would be taxable to shareholders in the same manner as other regular corporate dividends to the extent of the Fund’s current or accumulated earnings and profits. Some portions of such distributions might be eligible for treatment as “qualified dividend income” for individuals and for the “dividends-received deduction” for corporate shareholders, in each case as described below. The Fund could be required to recognize unrealized gains, pay substantial taxes and interest and make substantial distributions before requalifying as a regulated investment company that is accorded special tax treatment.

If the Fund were to fail to distribute in a calendar year at least an amount equal to the sum of 98% of its ordinary income for such calendar year and 98.2% of its capital gain net income for the one-year period ending on October 31 of such calendar year (or a later date, if the Fund is permitted to elect and so elects), plus any such amounts retained from the prior year, the Fund would be subject to a nondeductible 4% excise tax on the undistributed amounts. For purposes of the required excise tax distribution, the Fund’s ordinary gains and losses from the sale, exchange or other taxable disposition of property that would otherwise be taken into account after October 31 of a calendar year (or a later date, if the Fund makes the election referred to above) generally are treated as arising on January 1 of the following calendar year. Also, for these purposes, the Fund will be treated as having distributed any amount on which it is subject to corporate income tax for the taxable year ending within the calendar year. A dividend paid by the Fund to shareholders in January of a year generally is deemed to have been

 

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paid by the Fund on December 31 of the preceding year, if the dividend was declared and payable to shareholders of record on a date in October, November, or December of that preceding year. The Fund intends to make sufficient distributions to avoid the imposition of this 4% excise tax, although there can be no assurance that it will be able to do so.

In determining its net capital gain, including in connection with determining the amount available to support a Capital Gain Dividend (as defined below), its taxable income, and its earnings and profits, a regulated investment company generally may elect to treat part or all of any post-October capital loss (defined as any “net capital loss” attributable to the portion of the taxable year after October 31 or, if there is no such loss, the net long-term capital loss or net short-term capital loss attributable to any such portion of the taxable year) or late-year ordinary loss (generally, the sum of its (i) net ordinary loss from the sale, exchange or other taxable disposition of property, attributable to the portion of the taxable year after October 31, and its (ii) other net ordinary loss attributable to the portion, if any, of the taxable year after December 31) as if incurred in the succeeding taxable year.

Capital losses in excess of capital gains (“net capital losses”) are not permitted to be deducted against the Fund’s net investment income. Instead, potentially subject to certain limitations, the Fund may carry net capital losses from any taxable year forward to subsequent taxable years to offset capital gains, if any, realized during such subsequent taxable years. Distributions from capital gains are generally made after applying any available capital loss carryforwards. Capital loss carryforwards are reduced to the extent they offset current-year net realized capital gains, whether the Fund retains or distributes such gains. The Fund may carry net capital losses forward to one or more subsequent taxable years without expiration. The Fund must apply such carryforwards first against gains of the same character. The Fund’s available capital loss carryforwards, if any, will be set forth in its annual shareholder report for each fiscal year.

Taxation of the Fund’s Investments

Certain Debt Securities; Original Issue Discount; Market Discount. For U.S. federal income tax purposes, some debt obligations with a fixed maturity date of more than one year from the date of issuance (and all zero-coupon debt obligations with a fixed maturity date of more than one year from the date of issuance) will be treated as having original issue discount (“OID”). OID is, very generally, defined as the excess of the stated redemption price at maturity of a debt obligation over the issue price. OID is treated for U.S. federal income tax purposes as interest income earned by the Fund, which will comprise a part of the Fund’s investment company taxable income or net tax-exempt income required to be distributed to shareholders as described above, whether or not cash on the debt obligation is actually received. Generally, the amount of OID accrued each year is determined on the basis of a constant yield to maturity which takes into account the compounding of interest (as potentially reduced by any amortizable bond premium – see below).

Some debt obligations with a fixed maturity date of more than one year from the date of issuance that are acquired by the Fund in the secondary market may be treated as having “market discount.” Very generally, market discount is the excess of the stated redemption price of a debt obligation over the purchase price of such obligation (or in the case of an obligation issued with OID, its “revised issue price”). Generally, any gain recognized on the disposition of, and any partial payment of principal on, a debt obligation having market discount is treated as ordinary income to the extent the gain, or principal payment, does not exceed the “accrued market discount” on such debt obligation. Market discount generally accrues in equal daily installments. The Fund may make one or more elections applicable to debt obligations having market discount, which could affect the character and timing of recognition of income.

 

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Some debt obligations with a fixed maturity date of one year or less from the date of issuance may be treated as having OID, or, in certain cases, “acquisition discount” (very generally, the excess of the stated redemption price over the purchase price). Generally, the Fund will be required to include the acquisition discount or OID in income (as ordinary income) and thus distribute it over the term of the debt obligation, even though payment of that amount is not received until a later time, upon partial or full repayment or disposition of the debt obligation. The Fund may make one or more of the elections applicable to debt obligations having acquisition discount or OID, which could affect the character and timing of recognition of income.

Pay-in-kind bonds also will give rise to income which is required to be distributed and is taxable even though the Fund holding the security receives no interest payment in cash on the security during the year.

If the Fund holds the foregoing kinds of securities, it may be required to pay out as an income distribution each year an amount which is greater than the total amount of cash interest the Fund actually received. Such distributions may be made from cash assets or, if necessary, by liquidation of portfolio securities including at a time when it may not be advantageous to do so. The Fund may realize gains or losses from such liquidations. In the event the Fund realizes net capital gains from such transactions, its shareholders may receive a larger Capital Gain Dividend (see “Federal Income Taxation of Shareholders,” below) than they would have in the absence of such transactions.

Securities Issued or Purchased at a Premium. Very generally, where the Fund purchases a bond at a price that exceeds the stated principal amount (or revised issue price) – that is, at a premium – the premium is amortizable over the remaining term of the bond. In the case of a taxable bond, if the Fund makes an election applicable to all such bonds it purchases, which election is irrevocable without the consent of the IRS, the Fund reduces the current taxable income from the bond by the amortizable premium and reduces its tax basis in the bond (or the upward basis adjustment attributable to any OID) by the amount of such offset; upon the disposition or maturity of such bonds acquired on or after January 4, 2013, the Fund is permitted to deduct, against stated interest from other bonds, any remaining premium allocable to a prior period. In the case of a tax-exempt bond, tax rules require the Fund to reduce its tax basis by the amount of amortizable premium.

Junk Bonds. To the extent such investments are permissible, the Fund may invest in debt obligations that are in the lowest rating categories or are unrated, including debt obligations of issuers not currently paying interest or who are in default. If the Fund invests in high-yield OID obligations issued by corporations (including tax-exempt obligations), a portion of the OID accruing on the obligation may be treated as taxable dividend income. In such cases, if the issuer of the high-yield discount obligation is a domestic corporation, dividend payments by the Fund attributable to such portion of accrued OID may be eligible for the dividends-received deduction for corporate shareholders.

Investments in debt obligations that are at risk of or in default present special tax issues for the Fund. Tax rules are not entirely clear about issues such as whether or to what extent the Fund should recognize market discount on a debt obligation, when the Fund may cease to accrue interest, OID or market discount, when and to what extent the Fund may take deductions for bad debts or worthless securities and how the Fund should allocate payments received on obligations in default between principal and income. These and other related issues will be addressed by the Fund when, as and if it invests in such securities, in order to seek to ensure that it distributes sufficient income to preserve its status as a regulated investment company and does not become subject to U.S. federal income or excise tax.

 

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Issuer Deductibility of Interest. A portion of the interest paid or accrued on certain high yield discount obligations owned by the Fund may not be deductible to (and thus, may affect the cash flow of) the issuer and will instead be treated as a dividend paid by the issuer for purposes of the dividends-received deduction (described below). In such cases, if the issuer of the high yield discount obligations is a domestic corporation, dividend payments by the Fund may be eligible for the corporate dividends received deduction (described below) to the extent attributable to the deemed dividend portion of such accrued interest.

Options, Futures, Forward Contracts, Swap Agreements, and Other Derivatives. The Fund’s use of derivatives may cause the Fund to recognize taxable income in excess of the cash generated by such instruments. As a result, the Fund could be required at times to liquidate other investments in order to satisfy its distribution requirements under the Code. The Fund’s use of derivatives may also affect the amount, timing, and character of the Fund’s distributions. The character of the Fund’s taxable income will, in some cases, be determined on the basis of reports made to the Fund by the issuers of the securities in which they invest. In addition, because the tax rules applicable to such investments may be uncertain under current U.S. federal income tax law, an adverse determination or future IRS guidance with respect to these rules (which determination or guidance could be retroactive) may affect whether the Fund has derived its income from the proper sources, made sufficient distributions, and otherwise satisfied the relevant requirements, to maintain its qualification and eligibility for treatment as a regulated investment company and avoid a fund-level tax.

Certain of the Fund’s investments may be subject to provisions of the Code that (i) require inclusion of unrealized gains in the Fund’s income for purposes of the excise tax and the distribution requirements applicable to regulated investment companies; (ii) defer recognition of realized losses; (iii) cause adjustments in the holding periods of portfolio securities; (iv) convert capital gains into ordinary income; (v) characterize both realized and unrealized gains or losses as short-term or long-term, irrespective of the holding period of the investment; and (vi) require inclusion of unrealized gains or losses in the Fund’s income for purposes of determining whether 90% of the Fund’s gross income is Qualifying Income. Such provisions may apply to, among other investments, futures contracts, options on futures contracts, options on securities, options on security indices, swaps, short sales, securities loan or similar transactions, and foreign securities. The Fund will monitor its transactions and may make certain tax elections available to it in order to mitigate the impact of these rules and prevent disqualification of the Fund as a regulated investment company.

In general, option premiums received by the Fund are not immediately included in the income of the Fund. Instead, the premiums are recognized when the option contract expires, the option is exercised by the holder, or the Fund transfers or otherwise terminates the option (e.g., through a closing transaction). If a call option written by the Fund is exercised and the Fund sells or delivers the underlying stock, the Fund generally will recognize capital gain or loss equal to the (a) sum of the strike price and the option premium received by the Fund minus (b) the Fund’s basis in the stock. Such gain or loss generally will be short-term or long-term depending upon the holding period of the underlying stock. If securities are purchased by the Fund pursuant to the exercise of a put option written by it, the Fund generally will subtract the premium received for purposes of computing its cost basis in the securities purchased. Gain or loss arising in respect of a termination of the Fund’s obligation under an option other than through the exercise of the option will be short-term gain or loss depending on whether the premium income received by the Fund is greater or less than the amount paid by the Fund (if any) in terminating the transaction. Thus, for example, if an option written by the Fund expires unexercised, the Fund generally will recognize short-term capital gain equal to the premium received.

 

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Certain futures contracts entered into by the Fund, as well as listed non-equity options written or purchased by the Fund on U.S. exchanges (including options on debt securities, equity indices and futures contracts), will be governed by section 1256 of the Code (“section 1256 contracts”). Gains or losses on these contracts generally are considered to be 60% long-term and 40% short-term capital gains or losses; however, foreign currency gains or losses arising from certain section 1256 contracts are treated as ordinary in character (See “Foreign Currency Transactions and Hedging” below). Also, section 1256 contracts held by the Fund at the end of each taxable year (and, for purposes of the 4% excise tax, on certain other dates prescribed in the Code) are “marked to market” with the result that unrealized gains or losses are treated as though they were realized.

The timing and character of income and losses arising in respect of swap contracts are, in many instances, unclear. In addition, the tax treatment of a payment made or received on a swap contract held by the Fund, and in particular, whether such payment is, in whole or in part, capital or ordinary in character, will vary depending upon the terms of the particular swap contract.

Transactions in options, futures and forward contracts, and swaps undertaken by the Fund may result in “straddles” for U.S. federal income tax purposes. The straddle rules may affect the character of gains (or losses) realized by the Fund, and losses realized by the Fund on positions that are part of a straddle may be deferred under the straddle rules, rather than being taken into account in calculating the taxable income for the taxable year in which the losses are realized. In addition, certain carrying charges (including interest expenses) associated with positions in a straddle may be required to be capitalized rather than deducted currently. Certain elections that the Fund may make with respect to its straddle positions may also affect the amount, character, and timing of the recognition of gains or losses from the affected positions.

Because only a few regulations implementing the straddle rules have been promulgated, the consequences of such transactions to the Fund are not entirely clear. The straddle rules may increase the amount of short-term capital gain realized by the Fund, which is taxed as ordinary income when distributed to shareholders. Because application of the straddle rules may affect the character of gains or losses, defer losses and/or accelerate the recognition of gains or losses from the affected straddle positions, the amount which must be distributed to shareholders as ordinary income or long-term capital gain may be increased or decreased substantially as compared to a fund that did not engage in such transactions.

Foreign Currency Transactions and Hedging. Any transaction by the Fund in foreign currencies, foreign currency-denominated debt obligations or certain foreign currency options, futures contracts or forward contracts (or similar instruments) may give rise to ordinary income or loss to the extent such income or loss results from fluctuations in the value of the foreign currency concerned. Such ordinary income treatment might accelerate Fund distributions to shareholders and increase the distributions taxed to shareholders as ordinary income. Any net ordinary losses so created cannot be carried forward by the Fund to offset income or gains earned in subsequent taxable years. However, in certain circumstances, the Fund may elect to treat gains or losses from certain foreign currency positions as capital gains or losses.

Book-Tax Differences. Certain of the Fund’s investments in derivative instruments and foreign currency-denominated instruments, and any of the Fund’s transactions in foreign currencies and hedging activities, are likely to produce a difference between its book income and the sum of its taxable income and net tax-exempt income (if any). If the Fund’s book income exceeds the sum of its taxable income

 

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and net tax-exempt income (if any), the distribution (if any) of such excess generally will be treated as (i) a dividend to the extent of the Fund’s remaining earnings and profits (including earnings and profits arising from tax-exempt income), (ii) thereafter as a return of capital to the extent of the recipient’s basis in its shares, and (iii) thereafter as gain from the sale or exchange of a capital asset. If the Fund’s book income is less than the sum of its taxable income and net tax-exempt income (if any), the Fund could be required to make distributions exceeding book income to qualify as a regulated investment company that is accorded special tax treatment.

Repurchase Agreements and Securities Loans. Any distribution of income that is attributable to (i) income received by the Fund in lieu of dividends with respect to securities on loan pursuant to a securities lending transaction or (ii) dividend income received by the Fund on securities it temporarily purchased from a counterparty pursuant to a repurchase agreement that is treated for U.S. federal income tax purposes as a loan by the Fund, will not constitute qualified dividend income to individual shareholders and will not be eligible for the dividends-received deduction for corporate shareholders, in each case as described below. In addition, withholding taxes accrued on dividends during the period that such security was not directly held by the Fund will not qualify as a foreign tax paid by the Fund and therefore cannot be passed through to shareholders even if the Fund meets the requirements described in “Foreign Taxes,” below.

Real Estate Investment Trusts. The Fund’s investments in REIT equity securities may result in the Fund’s receipt of cash in excess of the REIT’s earnings; if the Fund distributes these amounts, these distributions could constitute a return of capital to Fund shareholders for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Investments in REIT equity securities may also require the Fund to accrue and distribute income not yet received. To generate sufficient cash to make the requisite distributions, the Fund may be required to sell securities in its portfolio (including when it is not advantageous to do so) that it otherwise would have continued to hold. Dividends received by the Fund from a REIT will not qualify for the corporate dividends-received deduction and generally will not constitute qualified dividend income.

Passive Foreign Investment Companies. Under the Code, investments in certain foreign investment companies that qualify as “passive foreign investment companies” (“PFICs”) are subject to special tax rules. A PFIC is any foreign corporation in which (i) 75% or more of the gross income for the taxable year is passive income, or (ii) the average percentage of the assets (generally by value, but by adjusted tax basis in certain cases) that produce or are held for the production of passive income is at least 50%. Generally, “passive income” for this purpose means dividends, interest (including income equivalent to interest), royalties, rents, annuities, the excess of gains over losses from certain property transactions and commodities transactions, and foreign currency gains. Passive income for this purpose does not include rents and royalties received by the foreign corporation from active business and certain income received from related persons.

Equity investments by the Fund in certain PFICs could subject the Fund to a U.S. federal income tax or other charge (including interest charges) on distributions received from the PFIC or on proceeds received from the disposition of shares in the PFIC, which tax cannot be eliminated by making distributions to the Fund’s shareholders. However, in certain circumstances, the Fund may avoid this tax treatment by electing to treat the PFIC as a “qualified electing fund” (i.e., make a “QEF election”), in which case the Fund will be required to include its share of the PFIC’s income and net capital gains annually, regardless of whether it receives any distribution from the PFIC. Alternatively, the Fund may elect to mark the gains (and to a limited extent losses) in its PFIC holdings “to the market” as though it had sold (and repurchased) its holdings in those PFICs on the last day of the Fund’s taxable year. Such gains and losses are treated as ordinary income and loss. The QEF and mark-to-market elections may

 

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have the effect of accelerating the recognition of income (without the receipt of cash) and increasing the amount required to be distributed for the Fund to avoid taxation. Making either of these elections therefore may require the Fund to liquidate other investments (including when it is not advantageous to do so) to meet its distribution requirement, which also may accelerate the recognition of gain and affect the Fund’s total return. If the Fund indirectly invests in PFICs by virtue of the Fund’s investment in underlying U.S. funds, it may not make such elections; rather, the underlying U.S. funds directly investing in PFICs would decide whether to make such elections. Because it is not always possible to identify a foreign corporation as a PFIC, the Fund may incur the tax and interest charges described above in some instances. Dividends paid by PFICs will not be eligible to be treated as “qualified dividend income.”

Investments in Other Investment Companies. The Fund’s investments in shares of other mutual funds, ETFs or other companies that are treated as regulated investment companies (each, an “investment company”), as well as certain investments in REITs, can cause the Fund to be required to distribute greater amounts of net investment income or net capital gain than the Fund would have distributed had it invested directly in the securities held by the investment company, rather than in shares of the investment company. Further, the amount or timing of distributions from the Fund qualifying for treatment as a particular character (e.g., long-term capital gain, exempt interest, eligibility for dividends-received deduction, etc.) will not necessarily be the same as it would have been had the Fund invested directly in the securities held by the investment company.

If the Fund receives dividends from an investment company, and the investment company reports such dividends as qualified dividend income, then the Fund is permitted in turn to report a portion of its distributions as qualified dividend income, provided the Fund meets holding period and other requirements with respect to shares of the investment company. If the Fund receives dividends from an investment company and the investment company reports such dividends as eligible for the dividends-received deduction, then the Fund is permitted in turn to report its distributions derived from those dividends as eligible for the dividends-received deduction as well, provided the Fund meets holding period and other requirements with respect to shares of the investment company. (Qualified dividend income and the dividends-received deduction are described below.)

Mortgage-Related Securities. The Fund may invest directly or indirectly in residual interests in real estate mortgage investment conduits (“REMICs”) (including by investing in collateralized mortgage obligations (“CMOs”) with respect to which an election to be treated as a REMIC is in effect) or equity interests in taxable mortgage pools (“TMPs”). Under a notice issued by the IRS in October 2006 and Treasury regulations that have yet to be issued, but may apply retroactively, a portion of the Fund’s income (including income allocated to the Fund from certain pass-through entities such as REITs) that is attributable to a residual interest in a REMIC or an equity interest in a TMP (referred to in the Code as an “excess inclusion”) will be subject to U.S. federal income tax in all events. This notice also provides, and the regulations are expected to provide, that excess inclusion income of a regulated investment company, such as the Fund, will be allocated to shareholders of the regulated investment company in proportion to the dividends received by such shareholders, with the same consequences as if the shareholders held the related residual interest directly. As a result, the Fund investing in such interests may not be a suitable investment for charitable remainder trusts (see “Tax-Exempt Shareholders” below). In general, excess inclusion income that is allocated to shareholders (i) cannot be offset by net operating losses (subject to a limited exception for certain thrift institutions), (ii) will constitute unrelated business taxable income (“UBTI”) to entities (including a qualified pension plan, an individual retirement account, a 401(k) plan, a Keogh plan or other tax-exempt entity) subject to tax on UBTI, thereby potentially requiring such an entity that is allocated excess inclusion income, and otherwise might not be

 

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required to file a tax return, to file a tax return and pay tax on such income, and (iii) in the case of a non-U.S. shareholder, will not qualify for any reduction in U.S. federal withholding tax. A shareholder will be subject to U.S. federal income tax on such inclusions notwithstanding any exemption from such income tax otherwise available under the Code.

Foreign Taxes. The Fund’s income from or on the proceeds of its investments in non-U.S. assets may be subject to withholding and other taxes imposed by such countries. Tax treaties between certain countries and the U.S. may reduce or eliminate such taxes. It is impossible to determine the effective rate of foreign tax in advance because the amount of the Fund’s assets to be invested within various countries is not known. Shareholders generally will not be entitled to claim a credit or deduction with respect to foreign taxes incurred by the Fund. This will decrease the Fund’s yield on securities subject to such taxes.

Taxation of Certain Investments. As described above, certain of the Fund’s investments will create taxable income in excess of the cash they generate. In such cases, the Fund may be required to sell assets (including when it is not advantageous to do so) to generate the cash necessary to distribute to its shareholders all of its income and gains and therefore to eliminate any tax liability at the Fund level. These dispositions may cause the Fund to realize higher amounts of short-term capital gains (generally taxed to shareholders at ordinary income tax rates) and, in the event the Fund realizes net capital gains from such transactions, its shareholders may receive a larger Capital Gain Dividend (as defined below) than if the Fund had not held such investments. The character of the Fund’s taxable income will, in many cases, be determined on the basis of reports made to the Fund by the issuers of the securities in which they invest. The tax treatment of certain securities in which the Fund may invest is not free from doubt and it is possible that an IRS examination of the issuers of such securities could result in adjustments to the income of the Fund.

Federal Income Taxation of Shareholders

For U.S. federal income tax purposes, distributions of investment income are generally taxable to shareholders as ordinary income. Taxes on distributions of capital gains are determined by how long the Fund owned or is considered to have owned the investments that generated them, rather than how long a shareholder may have owned shares in the Fund. In general, the Fund will recognize long-term capital gain or loss on investments it has owned (or is deemed to have owned) for more than one year, and short-term capital gain or loss on investments it has owned (or is deemed to have owned) for one year or less. Distributions of net capital gain (that is, the excess of net long-term capital gain over net short-term capital loss, in each case determined with reference to loss carryforwards) that are properly reported by the Fund as capital gain dividends (“Capital Gain Dividends”) will be taxable to shareholders as long-term capital gains includible in net capital gain and taxed to individuals at reduced rates relative to ordinary income. Distributions from capital gains are generally made after applying any available capital loss carryovers. Distributions of net short-term capital gain (as reduced by any net long-term capital loss for the taxable year) will be taxable to shareholders as ordinary income.

The Code generally imposes a 3.8% Medicare contribution tax on the net investment income of certain individuals, trusts, and estates to the extent their income exceeds certain threshold amounts. For these purposes, “net investment income” generally includes, among other things, (i) distributions paid by the Fund of net investment income and capital gains as described above, and (ii) any net gain from the sale, redemption or exchange of Fund shares. Shareholders are advised to consult their tax advisors regarding the possible implications of this additional tax on their investment in the Fund.

 

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The Fund intends to distribute at least annually to its shareholders all or substantially all of its investment company taxable income (computed without regard to the dividends-paid deduction) and its net tax-exempt income (if any), and may distribute its net capital gain. Taxable income that is retained by the Fund will be subject to tax at the Fund level at regular corporate rates. The Fund may also retain for investment its net capital gain. If the Fund retains any net capital gain, it will be subject to tax at the Fund level at regular corporate rates on the amount retained, but may designate the retained amount as undistributed capital gains in a timely notice to its shareholders who (i) will be required to include in income for U.S. federal income tax purposes, as long-term capital gain, their shares of such undistributed amount, and (ii) will be entitled to credit their proportionate shares of the tax paid by the Fund on such undistributed amount against their U.S. federal income tax liabilities, if any, and to claim refunds on a properly filed U.S. tax return to the extent the credit exceeds such liabilities. If the Fund makes this designation, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, the tax basis of shares owned by a shareholder of the Fund will be increased by an amount equal under current law to the difference between the amount of undistributed capital gains included in the shareholder’s gross income and the tax deemed paid by the shareholder under clause (ii) of the preceding sentence. The Fund is not required to, and there can be no assurance the Fund will, make this designation if it retains all or a portion of its net capital gain in a taxable year.

Distributions are taxable to shareholders as described herein whether shareholders receive them in cash or reinvest them in additional shares through a dividend reinvestment plan.

Distributions by the Fund will result in a reduction in the fair market value of the Fund’s shares. A distribution may be taxable to the shareholder, even though, from an investment standpoint, it may constitute a partial return of capital. In particular, a shareholder that purchases shares of the Fund just prior to a taxable distribution will then receive a return of investment upon distribution which may nevertheless be taxable to the shareholder as ordinary income or capital gain.

“Qualified dividend income” received by an individual will be taxed at the reduced rates applicable to net capital gain. In order for some portion of the dividends received by the Fund shareholder to be qualified dividend income, the Fund must meet holding period and other requirements with respect to some portion of the dividend-paying stocks in its portfolio and the shareholder must meet holding period and other requirements with respect to the Fund’s shares.

In general, a dividend will not be treated as qualified dividend income (at either the Fund or shareholder level) (i) if the dividend is received with respect to any share of stock held for fewer than 61 days during the 121-day period beginning on the date which is 60 days before the date on which such share becomes ex-dividend with respect to such dividend (or, in the case of certain preferred stock, 91 days during the 181-day period beginning 90 days before such date), (ii) to the extent that the recipient is under an obligation (whether pursuant to a short sale or otherwise) to make related payments with respect to positions in substantially similar or related property, (iii) if the recipient elects to have the dividend income treated as investment income for purposes of the limitation on deductibility of investment interest, or (iv) if the dividend is received from a foreign corporation that is (a) not eligible for the benefits of a comprehensive income tax treaty with the United States (with the exception of dividends paid on stock of such a foreign corporation readily tradable on an established securities market in the United States) or (b) treated as a PFIC. Distributions received by the Fund from REITs generally will not constitute qualified dividend income.

In general, distributions of investment income reported by the Fund as derived from qualified dividend income will be treated as qualified dividend income by a shareholder taxed as an individual provided the shareholder meets the holding period and other requirements described above with respect

 

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to the Fund’s shares. If the aggregate qualified dividend income received by the Fund during any taxable year is 95% or more of its “gross income,” then 100% of the Fund’s dividends (other than Capital Gain Dividends) will be eligible to be treated as qualified dividend income. For this purpose, the only capital gain included in the term “gross income” is the excess of net short-term capital gain over net long-term capital loss.

A portion of the dividends paid by the Fund to shareholders that are corporations (other than S corporations) may be eligible for the 70% dividends-received deduction (subject to a holding period requirement imposed by the Code) to the extent such dividends are derived from dividends received from U.S. corporations. However, any distributions received by the Fund from PFICs and REITs will not qualify for the corporate dividends-received deduction. A dividend received by the Fund will not be treated as a dividend eligible for the dividends-received deduction (i) if it has been received with respect to any share of stock that the Fund has held for less than 46 days (91 days in the case of certain preferred stock) during the 91-day period beginning on the date which is 45 days before the date on which such share becomes ex-dividend with respect to such dividend (during the 181-day period beginning 90 days before such date in the case of certain preferred stock) or (ii) to the extent that the Fund is under an obligation (pursuant to a short sale or otherwise) to make related payments with respect to positions in substantially similar or related property. Moreover, the dividends-received deduction may otherwise be disallowed or reduced (i) if the corporate shareholder fails to satisfy the foregoing requirements with respect to its shares of the Fund or (ii) by application of various provisions of the Code (for instance, the dividends-received deduction is reduced in the case of a dividend received on debt-financed portfolio stock (generally, stock acquired with borrowed funds)).

The ultimate tax characterization of the Fund’s distributions made in a taxable year cannot be determined until after the end of that taxable year. As a result, there is a possibility that the Fund may make total distributions during a taxable year in an amount that exceeds the net investment income and net capital gains the Fund realizes that year, in which case the excess generally will be treated as a return of capital to shareholders. A return of capital reduces the shareholder’s tax basis in the Fund’s shares, with any amounts exceeding such basis treated as gain from the sale of shares. A return of capital is not taxable, but it reduces a shareholder’s tax basis in its Fund shares, thus reducing any loss or increasing any gain on the subsequent taxable disposition by a shareholder of those shares.

As required by federal law, detailed federal tax information with respect to each calendar year will be furnished to each shareholder early in the succeeding year.

Sale, Exchange or Redemption of Shares

The sale, exchange, or redemption of shares of the Fund may give rise to a gain or loss. In general, any gain or loss realized upon a taxable disposition of shares will be treated as long-term capital gain or loss if the shares have been held for more than 12 months. Otherwise, the gain or loss on the taxable disposition of shares will be treated as short-term capital gain or loss. However, any loss realized upon a taxable disposition of shares held by a shareholder for six months or less will be treated as long-term, rather than short-term, to the extent of any Capital Gain Dividends received (or deemed received) by the shareholder with respect to those shares. Further, all or a portion of any loss realized upon a taxable disposition of shares will be disallowed under the Code’s “wash-sale” rule if other substantially identical shares of the Fund are purchased within 30 days before or after the disposition. In such a case, the basis of the newly purchased shares will be adjusted to reflect the disallowed loss.

Upon the sale, exchange or redemption of Fund shares, the Fund or, in the case of shares purchased through a financial intermediary, the intermediary may be required to provide you and the IRS with cost basis and certain other related tax information about the Fund shares you sold, exchanged or redeemed.

 

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Backup Withholding

The Fund generally is required to withhold and remit to the U.S. Treasury a percentage of the taxable distributions and redemption proceeds paid to any individual shareholder who fails to properly furnish the Fund with a correct taxpayer identification number, who has under-reported dividend or interest income, or who fails to certify to the Fund that he or she is not subject to such withholding. The backup withholding tax rate is 28%.

Backup withholding is not an additional tax. Any amounts withheld may be credited against a shareholder’s U.S. federal income tax liability, provided the appropriate information is furnished to the IRS.

Tax-Exempt Shareholders

Income of a regulated investment company, such as the Fund, that would be UBTI if earned directly by a tax-exempt entity will not generally be attributed as UBTI to a tax-exempt shareholder of the Fund. Notwithstanding this “blocking” effect, a tax-exempt shareholder could realize UBTI by virtue of its investment in the Fund if shares in the Fund constitute debt-financed property in the hands of the tax-exempt shareholder within the meaning of Code Section 514(b).

A tax-exempt shareholder may also recognize UBTI if the Fund recognizes “excess inclusion income” derived from direct or indirect investments in residual interests in REMICs or equity interests in TMPs (as described above) if the amount of such income recognized by the Fund exceeds the Fund’s investment company taxable income (after taking into account deductions for dividends paid by the Fund).

In addition, special tax consequences apply to charitable remainder trusts (“CRTs”) that invest in regulated investment companies that invest directly or indirectly in residual interests in REMICs or equity interests in TMPs. Under legislation enacted in December 2006, a CRT (as defined in section 664 of the Code) that realizes UBTI for a taxable year must pay an excise tax annually of an amount equal to such UBTI. Under IRS guidance issued in October of 2006, a CRT will not recognize UBTI as a result of investing in the Fund that recognizes “excess inclusion income.” Rather, if at any time during any taxable year a CRT (or one of certain other tax-exempt shareholders, such as the United States, a state or political subdivision or an agency or instrumentality thereof, and certain energy cooperatives) is a record holder of a share in the Fund that recognizes “excess inclusion income,” then the Fund will be subject to a tax on that portion of its “excess inclusion income” for the taxable year that is allocable to such shareholders at the highest federal corporate income tax rate. The extent to which this IRS guidance remains applicable in light of the December 2006 legislation is unclear. To the extent permitted under the 1940 Act, the Fund may elect to specially allocate any such tax to the applicable CRT, or other disqualified organization shareholder, and thus reduce such shareholder’s distributions for the year by the amount of the tax that relates to such shareholder’s interest in the Fund. CRTs and other tax-exempt investors are urged to consult their tax advisors concerning the consequences of investing in the Fund.

Special tax rules apply to investments through defined contribution plans and other tax-qualified plans. Shareholders should consult their tax advisors to determine the suitability of shares of the Fund as an investment through such plans.

 

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Foreign Shareholders

Absent a specific statutory exemption, dividends other than Capital Gain Dividends paid by the Fund to a shareholder that is not a “U.S. person” within the meaning of the Code (a “foreign shareholder”) are subject to withholding of U.S. federal income tax at a rate of 30% (or lower applicable treaty rate) even if they are funded by income or gains (such as portfolio interest, short-term capital gains, or foreign-source dividend and interest income) that, if paid to a foreign shareholder directly, would not be subject to withholding. Distributions properly reported as Capital Gain Dividends generally are not subject to withholding of U.S. federal income tax.

For distributions with respect to taxable years beginning before January 1, 2015, a regulated investment company was not required to withhold any amounts (i) with respect to distributions from U.S.-source interest income of types similar to those not subject to U.S. federal income tax if earned directly by an individual foreign shareholder, to the extent such distributions were properly reported as such by the regulated investment company in a written notice to shareholders (“interest-related dividends”), and (ii) with respect to distributions of net short-term capital gains in excess of net long-term capital losses to the extent such distributions were properly reported as such by the regulated investment company in a written notice to shareholders (“short-term capital gain dividends”). This exception to withholding for interest-related dividends did not apply to distributions to a foreign shareholder (A) that had not provided a satisfactory statement that the beneficial owner was not a U.S. person, (B) to the extent that the dividend was attributable to certain interest on an obligation if the foreign shareholder was the issuer or was a 10% shareholder of the issuer, (C) that was within certain foreign countries that had inadequate information exchange with the United States, or (D) to the extent the dividend was attributable to interest paid by a person that was a related person of the foreign shareholder and the foreign shareholder was a controlled foreign corporation. The exception to withholding for short-term capital gain dividends did not apply to (A) distributions to an individual foreign shareholder who was present in the United States for a period or periods aggregating 183 days or more during the year of the distribution and (B) distributions subject to special rules regarding the disposition of U.S. real property interests. A regulated investment company was permitted to report such part of its dividends as interest-related and/or short-term capital gain dividends as eligible, but was not required to do so. In the case of shares held through an intermediary, the intermediary might have withheld even if the regulated investment company reported all or a portion of a payment as an interest-related or short-term capital gain dividend to shareholders. This exemption from withholding for interest-related and short-term capital gain dividends has expired for distributions with respect to taxable years of the Fund beginning on or after January 1, 2015. It is currently unclear whether Congress will extend this exemption from withholding for interest-related and short-term capital gain dividends for distributions with respect to taxable years of the Fund beginning on or after January 1, 2015, and what the terms of any such extension would be, including whether such extension would have retroactive effect.

Foreign shareholders should contact their intermediaries regarding the application of these rules to their accounts.

A foreign shareholder is not, in general, subject to U.S. federal income tax on gains (and is not allowed a deduction for losses) realized on the sale of shares of the Fund or on Capital Gain Dividends unless (i) such gain or dividend is effectively connected with the conduct by the foreign shareholder of a trade or business within the United States, (ii) in the case of a foreign shareholder that is an individual, the shareholder is present in the United States for a period or periods aggregating 183 days or more during the year of the sale or the receipt of the Capital Gain Dividend and certain other conditions are met, or (iii) or (iii) the special rules relating to gain attributable to the sale or exchange of “U.S. real property interests” (“USRPIs”) apply to the foreign shareholder’s sale of shares of the Fund or to the Capital Gain Dividend the foreign shareholder received (as described below).

 

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Special rules would apply if the Fund were either a “U.S. real property holding corporation” (“USRPHC”) or would be a USRPHC but for the operation of certain exceptions to the definition thereof. Very generally, a USRPHC is a domestic corporation that holds USRPIs the fair market value of which equals or exceeds 50% of the sum of the fair market values of the corporation’s USRPIs, interests in real property located outside the United States, and other trade or business assets. USRPIs are generally defined as any interest in U.S. real property and any interest (other than solely as a creditor) in a USRPHC or, very generally, an entity that has been a USRPHC in the last five years. If an interest in the Fund were a USRPI, the Fund would be required to withhold U.S. tax on the proceeds of a share redemption by a greater-than-5% foreign shareholder, in which case such foreign shareholder generally would also be required to file U.S. tax returns and pay any additional taxes due in connection with the redemption.

If the Fund were a USRPHC or would be a USRPHC but for the exceptions referred to above, under a special “look-through” rule, any distributions by the Fund to a foreign shareholder (including, in certain cases, distributions made by the Fund in redemption of its shares) attributable directly or indirectly to distributions received by the Fund from a lower-tier REIT that the Fund would be required to treat as USRPI gain in its hands, generally would be subject to U.S. tax withholding. In addition, such distributions could result in the foreign shareholder being required to file a U.S. tax return and pay tax on the distributions at regular U.S. federal income tax rates. The consequences to a foreign shareholder, including the rate of such withholding and character of such distributions (e.g., as ordinary income or USRPI gain), would vary depending upon the extent of the foreign shareholder’s current and past ownership of the Fund. Prior to January 1, 2015, the special “look-through” rule described above for distributions by a regulated investment company to foreign shareholders also applied to distributions attributable to (i) gains realized on the disposition of USRPIs by the regulated investment company and (ii) distributions received by the regulated investment company from a lower-tier regulated investment company that the regulated investment company was required to treat as USRPI gain in its hands. It is currently unclear whether Congress will extend these former “look-through” provisions to distributions made on or after January 1, 2015, and what the terms of any such extension would be, including whether any such extension would have retroactive effect.

The Fund generally does not expect that it will be a USRPHC or would be a USRPHC but for the operation of certain of the special exceptions referred to above.

Foreign shareholders should consult their tax advisors and, if holding shares through intermediaries, their intermediaries, concerning the application of these rules to their investment in the Fund.

Foreign shareholders with respect to whom income from the Fund is effectively connected with a trade or business conducted by the foreign shareholder within the United States will in general be subject to U.S. federal income tax on the income derived from the Fund at the graduated rates applicable to U.S. citizens, residents or domestic corporations, whether such income is received in cash or reinvested in shares of the Fund and, in the case of a foreign corporation, may also be subject to a branch profits tax. If a foreign shareholder is eligible for the benefits of a tax treaty, any effectively connected income or gain will generally be subject to U.S. federal income tax on a net basis only if it is also attributable to a permanent establishment maintained by the shareholder in the United States. More generally, foreign shareholders who are residents in a country with an income tax treaty with the United States may obtain different tax results than those described herein, and are urged to consult their tax advisors.

 

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Tax Shelter Reporting Regulations

Under Treasury regulations, if a shareholder recognizes a loss on disposition of the Fund’s shares of $2 million or more for an individual shareholder or $10 million or more for a corporate shareholder, the shareholder must file with the IRS a disclosure statement on IRS Form 8886. Direct shareholders of portfolio securities are in many cases excepted from this reporting requirement, but under current guidance, shareholders of a regulated investment company are not excepted. Future guidance may extend the current exception from this reporting requirement to shareholders of most or all regulated investment companies. The fact that a loss is reportable under these regulations does not affect the legal determination of whether the taxpayer’s treatment of the loss is proper. Shareholders should consult their tax advisors to determine the applicability of these regulations in light of their individual circumstances.

Shareholder Reporting Obligations With Respect to Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts

Shareholders that are U.S. persons and own, directly or indirectly, more than 50% of the Fund by vote or value could be required to report annually their “financial interest” in the Fund’s “foreign financial accounts,” if any, on FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (“FBAR”). Shareholders should consult a tax advisor regarding the applicability to them of this reporting requirement.

Other Reporting and Withholding Requirements

Sections 1471-1474 of the Code and the U.S. Treasury regulations and IRS guidance issued thereunder (collectively, “FATCA”) generally require the Fund to obtain information sufficient to identify the status of each of its shareholders under FATCA or under an applicable intergovernmental agreement (an “IGA”) between the United States and a foreign government. If a shareholder of the Fund fails to provide the requested information or otherwise fails to comply with FATCA or an IGA, the Fund may be required to withhold under FATCA at a rate of 30% with respect to that shareholder on ordinary dividends it pays after June 30, 2014 (or, in certain cases, after later dates), and 30% of the gross proceeds of redemptions, sales and exchanges and certain Capital Gain Dividends it pays after December 31, 2016. If a payment by the Fund is subject to FATCA withholding, the Fund is required to withhold even if such payment would otherwise be exempt from withholding under the rules applicable to foreign shareholders described above (e.g., Capital Gain Dividends).

Each prospective investor is urged to consult its tax advisor regarding the applicability of FATCA and any other reporting requirements with respect to the prospective investor’s own situation, including investments through an intermediary.

State and Local Taxes

The Fund is a series of a Massachusetts business trust. Under current law, neither the Trust nor the Fund is liable for any income or franchise tax in The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, provided that the Fund continues to qualify as a regulated investment company under Subchapter M of the Code. However, the Fund may be subject to state and/or local taxes in other jurisdictions in which the Fund is deemed to be doing business. In addition, the treatment of the Fund and its shareholders in those states which have income tax laws might differ from treatment under the U.S. federal income tax laws. Shareholders should consult with their own tax advisors concerning the state and local tax consequences of investing in the Fund.

 

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EACH SHAREHOLDER SHOULD CONSULT A TAX ADVISOR ABOUT THE APPLICATION OF FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND FOREIGN TAX LAWS TO AN INVESTMENT IN THE FUND IN LIGHT OF THE SHAREHOLDER’S PARTICULAR TAX SITUATION.

OTHER INFORMATION

Massachusetts Business Trust

The Fund is a series of a “Massachusetts business trust.” A copy of the Amended and Restated Agreement and Declaration of Trust for the Trust (the “Declaration of Trust”) is on file in the office of the Secretary of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Declaration of Trust and the By-Laws of the Trust are designed to make the Trust similar in most respects to a Massachusetts business corporation. The principal distinction between the two forms concerns shareholder liability and is described below.

Under Massachusetts law, shareholders of such a trust may, under certain circumstances, be held personally liable as partners for the obligations of the trust. This is not the case for a Massachusetts business corporation. However, the Declaration of Trust of the Trust provides that the shareholders shall not be subject to any personal liability for the acts or obligations of the Fund and that every note, bond, contract, instrument, certificate or undertaking made on behalf of the Fund shall contain a provision to the effect that the shareholders are not personally liable thereunder.

No personal liability will attach to the shareholders under any undertaking containing such provision when adequate notice of such provision is given, except possibly in a few jurisdictions. With respect to all types of claims in the latter jurisdictions, (i) tort claims, (ii) contract claims where the provision referred to is omitted from the undertaking, (iii) claims for taxes, and (iv) certain statutory liabilities in other jurisdictions, a shareholder may be held personally liable to the extent that claims are not satisfied by the Fund. However, upon payment of such liability, the shareholder will be entitled to reimbursement from the assets of the Fund. The Trustees of the Trust intend to conduct the operations of the Trust in a way as to avoid, as far as possible, ultimate liability of the shareholders of the Fund.

The Declaration of Trust further provides that no Trustee, officer, employee, agent or shareholder of the Fund is liable to any third persons in connection with the affairs of the Fund. Nothing in the Declaration of Trust shall protect any Trustee from any liability that arises from his own bad faith, willful misfeasance, gross negligence or reckless disregard of the duties involved in the conduct of the office of the Trustee. The Declaration of Trust also provides that all third persons shall look solely to the assets of the Fund for any satisfaction of claims arising in connection with the affairs of the Fund. With the exceptions stated and except with respect to any matter as to which a Trustee or officer, including a person who serves at the Trust’s request as a director, officer or trustee of another organization in which the Trust has any interest as a shareholder, creditor or otherwise (each such Trustee, officer or person hereinafter referred to as a “Covered Person”) shall have been finally adjudicated in a decision on the merits in any action, suit or other proceeding not to have acted in good faith in the reasonable belief that such Covered Person’s action was in the best interests of the Trust, the Trust’s Declaration of Trust provides that a Covered Person is entitled to be indemnified against all liability in connection with the affairs of the Fund.

 

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The Trust shall continue without limitation of time subject to the provisions in the Declaration of Trust concerning termination by action of the shareholders or by action of the Trustees upon notice to the shareholders.

Description of Shares

The Trust is an open-end management investment company organized as a Massachusetts business trust in which the Fund represents a separate series of shares of beneficial interest. See “Massachusetts Business Trust” above. The Trustees may, without shareholder approval, divide the shares of any series of the Trust into one or more classes and combine the shares of two or more classes of any series into a single class. The Trustees have authorized the issuance of three classes of shares of the Fund – the Institutional Class, Service Class, and Investor Class shares.

The Declaration of Trust permits the Trustees to issue an unlimited number of full and fractional shares (without par value) of one or more series and to divide or combine the shares of any series or class, if applicable, into a greater or lesser number without changing the proportionate beneficial interest in the series or class. Each share of the Fund represents an equal proportionate interest in the Fund with each other share. Upon liquidation of the Fund, shareholders are entitled to share pro rata in the net assets of the Fund available for distribution to such shareholders. See “Massachusetts Business Trust” above. Shares of the Fund have no preemptive or conversion rights. The rights of redemption and exchange are described in the Prospectus and in this SAI.

The shareholders of the Trust are entitled to one vote for each whole share held of the Fund (or a class thereof) (or a proportionate fractional vote in respect of a fractional share), on matters on which shares of the Fund (or a class thereof) shall be entitled to vote.

Subject to the 1940 Act, the Trustees themselves have the power to alter the number and the terms of office of the Trustees, and to set the length of their own terms subject to certain removal procedures, and appoint their own successors, provided however, that immediately after such appointment the requisite majority of the Trustees have been elected by the shareholders of the Trust. The voting rights of shareholders are not cumulative in the election of Trustees so that holders of more than 50% of the shares voting can, if they choose, elect all Trustees being selected while the shareholders of the remaining shares would be unable to elect any Trustees. It is the intention of the Trust not to hold annual meetings of shareholders. The Trustees may call meetings of shareholders for action by shareholder vote as may be required or permitted by either the 1940 Act or by the Trust’s Declaration of Trust.

The Trustees have authorized the issuance and sale to the public of shares of several series of the Trust. The Trustees may authorize the issuance of shares of additional series of the Trust. The proceeds from the issuance of any additional series would be invested in separate, independently managed portfolios with distinct investment objectives, policies and restrictions, and share purchase, redemption and NAV procedures. All consideration received by the Trust for shares of any additional series, and all assets in which such consideration is invested, would belong to that series, subject only to the rights of creditors of the Trust and would be subject to the liabilities related thereto. Shareholders of any additional series will approve the adoption of any management contract, distribution agreement and any changes in the investment policies of any such additional series, to the extent required by the 1940 Act.

 

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Additional Information

This SAI and the Fund’s Prospectus do not contain all of the information included in the Trust’s Registration Statement filed with the SEC under the 1933 Act. Pursuant to the rules and regulations of the SEC, certain portions have been omitted. The Registration Statement, including the Exhibits filed therewith, may be examined at the office of the SEC in Washington D.C.

Statements contained in this SAI and the Fund’s Prospectus concerning the contents of any contract or other document are not necessarily complete, and in each instance, reference is made to the copy of such contract or other document filed as an Exhibit to the Registration Statement. Each such statement is qualified in all respects by such reference.

No dealer, salesman or any other person has been authorized to give any information or to make any representations, other than those contained in the Fund’s Prospectus or this SAI, in connection with the offer of shares of the Fund and, if given or made, such other representations or information must not be relied upon as having been authorized by the Trust, the Fund or the Distributor. The Fund’s Prospectus and this SAI do not constitute an offer to sell or solicit an offer to buy any of the securities offered thereby in any jurisdiction to any person to whom it is unlawful for the Fund or the Distributor to make such offer in such jurisdictions.

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

Because the Fund commenced operations on or following the date of this SAI, there are no financial statements for the Fund.

 

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APPENDIX A:

Description of Securities Ratings

The Fund’s investments may range in quality from securities rated in the lowest category in which the Fund is permitted to invest to securities rated in the highest category (as rated by Moody’s or S&P or, if unrated, determined by the Subadvisor to be of comparable quality). The percentage of the Fund’s assets invested in securities in a particular rating category will vary. The following is a description of Moody’s and S&P’s rating categories applicable to fixed income securities.

Moody’s Investors Service

Long-Term Obligation Ratings

Ratings assigned on Moody’s global long-term rating scale are forward-looking opinions of the relative credit risks of financial obligations issued by non-financial corporates, financial institutions, structured finance vehicles, project finance vehicles, and public sector entities. Long-term ratings are assigned to issuers or obligations with an original maturity of one year or more and reflect both on the likelihood of a default on contractually promised payments and the expected financial loss suffered in the event of default.

Aaa: Obligations rated Aaa are judged to be of the highest quality, subject to the lowest level of credit risk.

Aa: Obligations rated Aa are judged to be of high quality and are subject to very low credit risk.

A: Obligations rated A are judged to be upper-medium grade and are subject to low credit risk.

Baa: Obligations rated Baa are judged to be medium-grade and subject to moderate credit risk and as such may possess certain speculative characteristics.

Ba: Obligations rated Ba are judged to be speculative and are subject to substantial credit risk.

B: Obligations rated B are considered speculative and are subject to high credit risk.

Caa: Obligations rated Caa are judged to be speculative of poor standing and are subject to very high credit risk.

Ca: Obligations rated Ca are highly speculative and are likely in, or very near, default, with some prospect of recovery of principal and interest.

C: Obligations rated C are the lowest rated and are typically in default, with little prospect for recovery of principal or interest.

Note: Moody’s appends numerical modifiers 1, 2, and 3 to each generic rating classification from Aa through Caa. The modifier 1 indicates that the obligation ranks in the higher end of its generic rating category; the modifier 2 indicates a mid-range ranking; and the modifier 3 indicates a ranking in the lower end of that generic rating category. Additionally, a “(hyb)” indicator is appended to all ratings of hybrid securities issued by banks, insurers, finance companies, and securities firms.*

 

*

By their terms, hybrid securities allow for the omission of scheduled dividends, interest, or principal payments, which can potentially result in impairment if such an omission occurs. Hybrid securities may

 

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  also be subject to contractually allowable write-downs of principal that could result in impairment. Together with the hybrid indicator, the long-term obligation rating assigned to a hybrid security is an expression of the relative credit risk associated with that security.

Short-Term Obligation Ratings

Ratings assigned on Moody’s global short-term rating scale are forward-looking opinions of the relative credit risks of financial obligations issued by non-financial corporates, financial institutions, structured finance vehicles, project finance vehicles and public sector entities. Short-term ratings are assigned to obligations with an original maturity of thirteen months or less and reflect the likelihood of a default on contractually promised payments.

P-1: Issuers (or supporting institutions) rated Prime-1 have a superior ability to repay short-term debt obligations.

P-2: Issuers (or supporting institutions) rated Prime-2 have a strong ability to repay short-term debt obligations.

P-3: Issuers (or supporting institutions) rated Prime-3 have an acceptable ability to repay short-term obligations.

NP: Issuers (or supporting institutions) rated Not Prime do not fall within any of the Prime rating categories.

U.S. Municipal Short-Term Debt and Demand Obligation Ratings

Short-Term Obligation Ratings

The Municipal Investment Grade (MIG) scale is used to rate US municipal bond anticipation notes of up to three years maturity. Municipal notes rated on the MIG scale may be secured by either pledged revenues or proceeds of a take-out financing received prior to note maturity. MIG ratings expire at the maturity of the obligation, and the issuer’s long-term rating is only one consideration in assigning the MIG rating. MIG ratings are divided into three levels—MIG 1 through MIG 3—while speculative grade short-term obligations are designated SG.

MIG 1: This designation denotes superior credit quality. Excellent protection is afforded by established cash flows, highly reliable liquidity support, or demonstrated broad-based access to the market for refinancing.

MIG 2: This designation denotes strong credit quality. Margins of protection are ample, although not as large as in the preceding group.

MIG 3: This designation denotes acceptable credit quality. Liquidity and cash-flow protection may be narrow, and market access for refinancing is likely to be less well-established.

SG: This designation denotes speculative-grade credit quality. Debt instruments in this category may lack sufficient margins of protection.

Demand Obligation Ratings

In the case of variable rate demand obligations (VRDOs), a two-component rating is assigned: a long or short-term debt rating and a demand obligation rating. The first element represents Moody’s evaluation of risk associated with scheduled principal and interest payments. The second element represents

 

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Moody’s evaluation of risk associated with the ability to receive purchase price upon demand (“demand feature”). The second element uses a rating from a variation of the MIG scale called the Variable Municipal Investment Grade (VMIG) scale.

VMIG 1: This designation denotes superior credit quality. Excellent protection is afforded by the superior short-term credit strength of the liquidity provider and structural and legal protections that ensure the timely payment of purchase price upon demand.

VMIG 2: This designation denotes strong credit quality. Good protection is afforded by the strong short-term credit strength of the liquidity provider and structural and legal protections that ensure the timely payment of purchase price upon demand.

VMIG 3: This designation denotes acceptable credit quality. Adequate protection is afforded by the satisfactory short-term credit strength of the liquidity provider and structural and legal protections that ensure the timely payment of purchase price upon demand.

SG: This designation denotes speculative-grade credit quality. Demand features rated in this category may be supported by a liquidity provider that does not have an investment grade short-term rating or may lack the structural and/or legal protections necessary to ensure the timely payment of purchase price upon demand.

 

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Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services

Issue Credit Rating Definitions

A Standard & Poor’s issue credit rating is a forward-looking opinion about the creditworthiness of an obligor with respect to a specific financial obligation, a specific class of financial obligations, or a specific financial program (including ratings on medium-term note programs and commercial paper programs). It takes into consideration the creditworthiness of guarantors, insurers, or other forms of credit enhancement on the obligation and takes into account the currency in which the obligation is denominated. The opinion reflects Standard & Poor’s view of the obligor’s capacity and willingness to meet its financial commitments as they come due, and may assess terms, such as collateral security and subordination, which could affect ultimate payment in the event of default.

Issue credit ratings can be either long-term or short-term. Short-term ratings are generally assigned to those obligations considered short-term in the relevant market. In the U.S., for example, that means obligations with an original maturity of no more than 365 days—including commercial paper. Short-term ratings are also used to indicate the creditworthiness of an obligor with respect to put features on long-term obligations. Medium-term notes are assigned long-term ratings.

Long-Term Issue Credit Ratings*

AAA: An obligation rated ‘AAA’ has the highest rating assigned by Standard & Poor’s. The obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation is extremely strong.

AA: An obligation rated ‘AA’ differs from the highest-rated obligations only to a small degree. The obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation is very strong.

A: An obligation rated ‘A’ is somewhat more susceptible to the adverse effects of changes in circumstances and economic conditions than obligations in higher-rated categories. However, the obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation is still strong.

BBB: An obligation rated ‘BBB’ exhibits adequate protection parameters. However, adverse economic conditions or changing circumstances are more likely to lead to a weakened capacity of the obligor to meet its financial commitment on the obligation.

BB; B; CCC; CC; and C: Obligations rated ‘BB’, ‘B’, ‘CCC’, ‘CC’, and ‘C’ are regarded as having significant speculative characteristics. ‘BB’ indicates the least degree of speculation and ‘C’ the highest. While such obligations will likely have some quality and protective characteristics, these may be outweighed by large uncertainties or major exposures to adverse conditions.

BB: An obligation rated ‘BB’ is less vulnerable to nonpayment than other speculative issues. However, it faces major ongoing uncertainties or exposure to adverse business, financial, or economic conditions which could lead to the obligor’s inadequate capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation.

B: An obligation rated ‘B’ is more vulnerable to nonpayment than obligations rated ‘BB’, but the obligor currently has the capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation. Adverse business, financial, or economic conditions will likely impair the obligor’s capacity or willingness to meet its financial commitment on the obligation.

CCC: An obligation rated ‘CCC’ is currently vulnerable to nonpayment, and is dependent upon favorable business, financial, and economic conditions for the obligor to meet its financial commitment on the obligation. In the event of adverse business, financial, or economic conditions, the obligor is not likely to have the capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation.

 

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CC: An obligation rated ‘CC’ is currently highly vulnerable to nonpayment. The ‘CC’ rating is used when a default has not yet occurred, but Standard & Poor’s expects default to be a virtual certainty, regardless of the anticipated time to default.

C: An obligation rated ‘C’ is currently highly vulnerable to nonpayment, and the obligation is expected to have lower relative seniority or lower ultimate recovery compared to obligations that are rated higher.

D: An obligation rated ‘D’ is in default or in breach of an imputed promise. For non-hybrid capital instruments, the ‘D’ rating category is used when payments on an obligation are not made on the date due, unless Standard & Poor’s believes that such payments will be made within five business days in the absence of a stated grace period or within the earlier of the stated grace period or 30 calendar days. The ‘D’ rating also will be used upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition or the taking of similar action and where default on an obligation is a virtual certainty, for example due to automatic stay provisions. An obligation’s rating is lowered to ‘D’ if it is subject to a distressed exchange offer.

NR: This indicates that no rating has been requested, or that there is insufficient information on which to base a rating, or that Standard & Poor’s does not rate a particular obligation as a matter of policy.

 

* The ratings from ‘AA’ to ‘CCC’ may be modified by the addition of a plus (+) or minus (-) sign to show relative standing within the major rating categories.

Short-Term Issue Credit Ratings

A-1: A short-term obligation rated ‘A-1’ is rated in the highest category by Standard & Poor’s. The obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation is strong. Within this category, certain obligations are designated with a plus sign (+). This indicates that the obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitment on these obligations is extremely strong.

A-2: A short-term obligation rated ‘A-2’ is somewhat more susceptible to the adverse effects of changes in circumstances and economic conditions than obligations in higher rating categories. However, the obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation is satisfactory.

A-3: A short-term obligation rated ‘A-3’ exhibits adequate protection parameters. However, adverse economic conditions or changing circumstances are more likely to lead to a weakened capacity of the obligor to meet its financial commitment on the obligation.

B: A short-term obligation rated ‘B’ is regarded as vulnerable and has significant speculative characteristics. The obligor currently has the capacity to meet its financial commitments; however, it faces major ongoing uncertainties which could lead to the obligor’s inadequate capacity to meet its financial commitments.

C: A short-term obligation rated ‘C’ is currently vulnerable to nonpayment and is dependent upon favorable business, financial, and economic conditions for the obligor to meet its financial commitment on the obligation.

D: A short-term obligation rated ‘D’ is in default or in breach of an imputed promise. For non-hybrid capital instruments, the ‘D’ rating category is used when payments on an obligation are not made on the

 

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date due, unless Standard & Poor’s believes that such payments will be made within any stated grace period. However, any stated grace period longer than five business days will be treated as five business days. The ‘D’ rating also will be used upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition or the taking of a similar action and where default on an obligation is a virtual certainty, for example due to automatic stay provisions. An obligation’s rating is lowered to ‘D’ if it is subject to a distressed exchange offer.

SPUR (Standard & Poor’s Underlying Rating)

A SPUR rating is an opinion about the stand-alone capacity of an obligor to pay debt service on a credit-enhanced debt issue, without giving effect to the enhancement that applies to it. These ratings are published only at the request of the debt issuer/obligor with the designation SPUR to distinguish them from the credit-enhanced rating that applies to the debt issue. Standard & Poor’s maintains surveillance of an issue with a published SPUR.

Municipal Short-Term Note Ratings Definitions

A Standard & Poor’s U.S. municipal note rating reflects Standard & Poor’s opinion about the liquidity factors and market access risks unique to the notes. Notes due in three years or less will likely receive a note rating. Notes with an original maturity of more than three years will most likely receive a long-term debt rating. In determining which type of rating, if any, to assign, Standard & Poor’s analysis will review the following considerations:

 

    Amortization schedule—the larger the final maturity relative to other maturities, the more likely it will be treated as a note; and

 

    Source of payment—the more dependent the issue is on the market for its refinancing, the more likely it will be treated as a note.

Municipal short-term note rating symbols are as follows:

SP-1: Strong capacity to pay principal and interest. An issue determined to possess a very strong capacity to pay debt service is given a plus (+) designation.

SP-2: Satisfactory capacity to pay principal and interest, with some vulnerability to adverse financial and economic changes over the term of the notes.

SP-3: Speculative capacity to pay principal and interest.

Dual Ratings

Dual ratings may be assigned to debt issues that have a put option or demand feature. The first component of the rating addresses the likelihood of repayment of principal and interest as due, and the second component of the rating addresses only the demand feature. The first component of the rating can relate to either a short-term or long-term transaction and accordingly use either short-term or long-term rating symbols. The second component of the rating relates to the put option and is assigned a short-term rating symbol (for example, ‘AAA/A-1+’ or ‘A-1+/A-1’). With U.S. municipal short-term demand debt, the U.S. municipal short-term note rating symbols are used for the first component of the rating (for example, ‘SP-1+/A-1+’).

 

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Active Qualifiers (Currently applied and/or outstanding)

Standard & Poor’s uses six qualifiers that limit the scope of a rating. The structure of the transaction can require the use of a qualifier such as a ‘p’ qualifier, which indicates the rating addressed the principal portion of the obligation only. Likewise, the qualifier can indicate a limitation on the type of information used, such as “pi” for public information. A qualifier appears as a suffix and is part of the rating.

L: Ratings qualified with ‘L’ apply only to amounts invested up to federal deposit insurance limits.

p: This suffix is used for issues in which the credit factors, the terms, or both, that determine the likelihood of receipt of payment of principal are different from the credit factors, terms or both that determine the likelihood of receipt of interest on the obligation. The ‘p’ suffix indicates that the rating addresses the principal portion of the obligation only and that the interest is not rated.

pi: Ratings with a ‘pi’ suffix are based on an analysis of an issuer’s published financial information, as well as additional information in the public domain. They do not, however, reflect in-depth meetings with an issuer’s management and therefore may be based on less comprehensive information than ratings without a ‘pi’ suffix. Ratings with a ‘pi’ suffix are reviewed annually based on a new year’s financial statements, but may be reviewed on an interim basis if a major event occurs that may affect the issuer’s credit quality.

prelim: Preliminary ratings, with the ‘prelim’ suffix, may be assigned to obligors or obligations, including financial programs, in the circumstances described below. Assignment of a final rating is conditional on the receipt by Standard & Poor’s of appropriate documentation. Standard & Poor’s reserves the right not to issue a final rating. Moreover, if a final rating is issued, it may differ from the preliminary rating.

 

    Preliminary ratings may be assigned to obligations, most commonly structured and project finance issues, pending receipt of final documentation and legal opinions.

 

    Preliminary ratings are assigned to Rule 415 Shelf Registrations. As specific issues, with defined terms, are offered from the master registration, a final rating may be assigned to them in accordance with Standard & Poor’s policies.

 

    Preliminary ratings may be assigned to obligations that will likely be issued upon the obligor’s emergence from bankruptcy or similar reorganization, based on late-stage reorganization plans, documentation and discussions with the obligor. Preliminary ratings may also be assigned to the obligors. These ratings consider the anticipated general credit quality of the reorganized or post-bankruptcy issuer as well as attributes of the anticipated obligation(s).

 

    Preliminary ratings may be assigned to entities that are being formed or that are in the process of being independently established when, in Standard & Poor’s opinion, documentation is close to final. Preliminary ratings may also be assigned to the obligations of these entities.

 

    Preliminary ratings may be assigned when a previously unrated entity is undergoing a well-formulated restructuring, recapitalization, significant financing or other transformative event, generally at the point that investor or lender commitments are invited. The preliminary rating may be assigned to the entity and to its proposed obligation(s). These preliminary ratings consider the anticipated general credit quality of the obligor, as well as attributes of the anticipated obligation(s), assuming successful completion of the transformative event. Should the transformative event not occur, Standard & Poor’s would likely withdraw these preliminary ratings.

 

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    A preliminary recovery rating may be assigned to an obligation that has a preliminary issue credit rating.

t: This symbol indicates termination structures that are designed to honor their contracts to full maturity or, should certain events occur, to terminate and cash settle all their contracts before their final maturity date.

Inactive Qualifiers (No longer applied or outstanding)

*: This symbol that indicated that the rating was contingent upon Standard & Poor’s receipt of an executed copy of the escrow agreement or closing documentation confirming investments and cash flows. Discontinued use in August 1998.

c: This qualifier was used to provide additional information to investors that the bank may terminate its obligation to purchase tendered bonds if the long-term credit rating of the issuer was lowered to below an investment-grade level and/or the issuer’s bonds were deemed taxable. Discontinued use in January 2001.

G: The letter ‘G’ followed the rating symbol when a fund’s portfolio consisted primarily of direct U.S. Government securities.

pr: The letters ‘pr’ indicate that the rating was provisional. A provisional rating assumed the successful completion of a project financed by the debt being rated and indicates that payment of debt service requirements was largely or entirely dependent upon the successful, timely completion of the project. This rating, however, while addressing credit quality subsequent to completion of the project, made no comment on the likelihood of or the risk of default upon failure of such completion.

q: A ‘q’ subscript indicates that the rating is based solely on quantitative analysis of publicly available information. Discontinued use in April 2001.

r: The ‘r’ modifier was assigned to securities containing extraordinary risks, particularly market risks, which are not covered in the credit rating. The absence of an ‘r’ modifier should not be taken as an indication that an obligation would not exhibit extraordinary non-credit related risks. Standard & Poor’s discontinued the use of the ‘r’ modifier for most obligations in June 2000 and for the balance of obligations (mainly structured finance transactions) in November 2002.

Local Currency and Foreign Currency Ratings

Standard & Poor’s issuer credit ratings make a distinction between foreign currency ratings and local currency ratings. An issuer’s foreign currency rating will differ from its local currency rating when the obligor has a different capacity to meet its obligations denominated in its local currency, vs. obligations denominated in a foreign currency.

 

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APPENDIX B

GW&K INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, LLC

PROXY VOTING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

May 2014

INTRODUCTION

As an investment adviser and fiduciary of client assets, GW&K recognizes its obligation to identify potential conflicts of interest associated with its business and to conduct that business with honesty and integrity. In instances when GW&K is delegated proxy voting authority by its clients, GW&K seeks to maximize the long-term value of client assets and to cast votes believed to be fair and in the clients’ best interest. The following is a summary of the policies and procedures that govern GW&K’s proxy voting activities.

Proxy Guidelines and Proxy Voting Agent

GW&K has adopted proxy voting guidelines developed by Glass Lewis & Co. Proxies are voted on behalf of GW&K’s clients (who have delegated proxy voting authority) in accordance with those guidelines. GW&K reserves the right to cast votes contrary to the Glass Lewis & Co’s guidelines if it deems it necessary and in the best interest of its clients.

GW&K has contracted with Broadridge Financial Solutions (“Broadridge”), an independent third party service provider, to provide proxy voting services. GW&K has engaged Broadridge as its proxy voting agent to:

 

  (1) Conduct in-depth proxy research;

 

  (2) Process and execute proxies in connection with securities held by GW&K’s clients;

 

  (3) Maintain appropriate records of proxy statements, research, and recommendations;

 

  (4) Maintain appropriate records of proxy votes cast on behalf of GW&K’s clients;

 

  (5) Complete other proxy related administrative functions.

Responsibility and Oversight

GW&K is responsible for maintaining and administering these policies and procedures. GW&K will:

 

  (1) annually review the adequacy of these policies and procedures as well as the effectiveness of its proxy voting agent;

 

  (2) annually review Glass Lewis & Co’s proxy voting guidelines to ensure they are appropriately designed to meet the best interests of GW&K clients;

 

  (3) provide clients, upon written request, these proxy voting policy and procedures, and information about how proxies were voted on their behalf;

 

  (4) conduct a periodic review, no less often than annually, of proxy voting records to ensure that client proxies are voted in accordance with adopted guidelines; and

 

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  (5) annually review proxy voting records to ensure that records of proxy statements, research, recommendations, and proxy votes are properly maintained by its proxy voting agent.

Conflicts of Interest

In adopting Glass Lewis & Co’s proxy voting guidelines, GW&K seeks to remove potential conflicts of interest that could otherwise potentially influence the proxy voting process. In situations where Broadridge has a potential conflict of interest with respect to a proxy it is overseeing on behalf of GW&K’s clients, Broadridge is obligated to fully or partially abstain from voting the ballot as applicable and notify GW&K. GW&K will provide the voting recommendation after a review of the measures involved. GW&K’s Chief Compliance Officer, in conjunction with appropriate GW&K investment professionals, must approve decisions made on such items prior to any votes being cast.

In rare instances when a GW&K client identifies a potential conflict of interest or otherwise requests specific consideration on a given proxy, GW&K will deviate from established guidelines for that client’s shares. GW&K’s Chief Compliance Officer will become involved in any other situation, though also expected to be rare, where GW&K takes voting discretion from the Proxy Agent.

Disclosure

Clients may obtain Glass Lewis & Co’s proxy voting guidelines or information about how GW&K voted proxies for securities held in their account by submitting a written request to:

Proxy Policy Administrator

GW&K Investment Management

222 Berkeley Street, 15th Floor

Boston, Massachusetts 02116

Recordkeeping

GW&K will maintain the following records in accordance with regulatory requirements:

 

  (1) These policies and procedures (including any applicable amendments) which shall be made available to clients upon request;

 

  (2) Proxy statements, research, recommendations, and records of each vote;

 

  (3) Client written requests for proxy voting information and applicable responses by GW&K.

 

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PROXY PAPER™

GUIDELINES

2015 PROXY SEASON

AN OVERVIEW OF THE GLASS LEWIS APPROACH TO PROXY ADVICE

UNITED STATES

 

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Table of Contents

 

INTRODUCTION

  B-4   

Summary of Changes for the 2015 United States Policy Guidelines

  B-4   

A BOARD OF DIRECTORS THAT SERVES SHAREHOLDER INTEREST

  B-6   

Election of Directors

  B-6   

Independence

  B-6   

Voting Recommendations on the Basis of Board Independence

  B-8   

Committee Independence

  B-8   

Independent Chairman

  B-9   

Performance

  B-10   

Voting Recommendations on the Basis of Performance

  B-10   

Board Responsiveness

  B-11   

The Role of a Committee Chairman

  B-12   

Audit Committees and Performance

  B-12   

Standards for Assessing the Audit Committee

  B-13   

Compensation Committee Performance

  B-15   

Nominating and Governance Committee Performance

  B-17   

Board-Level Risk Management Oversight

  B-20   

Other Considerations

  B-20   

Controlled Companies

  B-22   

Significant Shareholders

  B-23   

Exceptions for Recent IPOs

  B-23   

Dual-Listed Companies

  B-24   

Mutual Fund Boards

  B-24   

Declassified Boards

  B-25   

Mandatory Director Term and Age limits

  B-26   

Proxy Access

  B-27   

Majority Vote for the Election of Directors

  B-27   

The Plurality Vote Standard

  B-28   

Advantages of a Majority Vote Standard

  B-28   

TRANSPARENCY AND INTEGRITY IN FINANCIAL REPORTING

  B-29   

Auditor Ratification

  B-29   

Voting Recommendations on Auditor Ratification

  B-29   

Pension Accounting Issues

  B-30   

THE LINK BETWEEN COMPENSATION AND PERFORMANCE

  B-31   

Advisory Vote on Executive Compensation (“Say-on-Pay”)

  B-31   

Say-on-Pay Voting Recommendations

  B-32   

Company Responsiveness

  B-33   

Pay for Performance

  B-33   

Short-Term Incentives

  B-33   

Long-Term Incentives

  B-34   

One-Off Awards

  B-35   

Recoupment Provisions (“Clawback”)

  B-35   

Hedging of Stock

  B-36   

Pledging of Stock

  B-36   

Compensation Consultant Independence

  B-37   

Frequency of Say-on-Pay

  B-37   

Vote on Golden Parachute Arrangements

  B-37   

Equity-Based Compensation Plan Proposals

  B-38   

Option Exchanges

  B-39   

Option Backdating, Spring-Loading and Bullet-Dodging

  B-39   

Director Compensation Plans

  B-40   

Employee Stock Purchase Plans

  B-41   

Executive Compensation Tax Deductibility (1RS 162(m) Compliance)

  B-41   

 

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GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE AND THE SHAREHOLDER FRANCHISE

  B-42   

Anti-Takeover Measures

  B-42   

Poison Pills (Shareholder Rights Plans)

  B-42   

NOL Poison Pills

  B-42   

Fair Price Provisions

  B-43   

Reincorporation

  B-43   

Exclusive Forum and Fee-Shifting Bylaw Provisions

  B-44   

Authorized Shares

  B-45   

Advance Notice Requirements

  B-46   

Voting Structure

  B-46   

Cumulative Voting

  B-46   

Supermajority Vote Requirements

  B-47   

Transaction of Other Business

  B-47   

Anti-Greenmail Proposals

  B-47   

Mutual Funds: Investment Policies and Advisory Agreements

  B-47   

Real Estate Investment Trusts

  B-48   

Preferred Stock Issuances at REITs

  B-48   

Business Development Companies

  B-48   

Authorization to Sell Shares at a Price below Net Asset Value

  B-48   

COMPENSATION, ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND GOVERNANCE SHAREHOLDER INITIATIVES OVERVIEW

  B-50   

 

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Guidelines Introduction

Glass Lewis evaluates these guidelines on an ongoing basis and formally updates them on an annual basis. This year we’ve made noteworthy revisions in the following areas, which are summarized below but discussed in greater detail in the relevant section of this document:

SUMMARY OF CHANGES FOR THE 2015 UNITED STATES POLICY GUIDELINES

GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE PERFORMANCE

We have adopted a policy regarding instances where a board has amended the company’s governing documents to reduce or remove important shareholder rights, or to otherwise impede the ability of shareholders to exercise such right, and has done so without shareholder approval. Examples of board actions that may cause such a recommendation include: the elimination of the ability of shareholders to call a special meeting or to act by written consent; an increase to the ownership threshold required for shareholders to call a special meeting; an increase to vote requirements for charter or bylaw amendments; the adoption of provisions that limit the ability of shareholders to pursue full legal recourse—such as bylaws that require arbitration of shareholder claims or that require shareholder plaintiffs to pay the company’s legal expenses in the absence of a court victory (i.e., “fee-shifting” or “loser pays” bylaws); the adoption of a classified board structure; and the elimination of the ability of shareholders to remove a director without cause. In these instances, depending on the circumstances, we may recommend that shareholders vote against the chairman of the governance committee, or the entire committee.

BOARD RESPONSIVENESS TO MAJORITY-APPROVED SHAREHOLDER PROPOSALS

Glass Lewis will generally recommend that shareholders vote against all members of the governance committee during whose tenure a shareholder proposal relating to important shareholder rights received support from a majority of the votes cast (excluding abstentions and broker non-votes) and the board failed to respond adequately. Examples of such shareholder proposals include those seeking a declassified board structure, a majority vote standard for director elections, or a right to call a special meeting. We have expanded this policy to specify that in determining whether a board has sufficiently implemented such a proposal, we will examine the quality of the right enacted or proffered by the board for any conditions that may unreasonably interfere with the shareholders’ ability to exercise the right (e.g., overly prescriptive procedural requirements for calling a special meeting).

VOTE RECOMMENDATIONS FOLLOWING IPO

We have increased our scrutiny of provisions adopted in a company’s charter or bylaws prior to an initial public offering (“IPO”). While Glass Lewis will generally refrain from issuing voting recommendations on the basis of most corporate governance best practices (e.g., board independence, committee membership and structure, meeting attendance, etc.) during the one-year period following an IPO, we will scrutinize certain provisions adopted in the company’s charter or bylaws prior to the IPO. Specifically, we will consider recommending to vote against all members of the board who served at the time of the adoption of an anti-takeover provision, such as a poison pill or classified board, if the provision is not put up for shareholder vote following the IPO. Additionally, consistent with our general approach to boards that adopt exclusive forum provisions or fee-shifting bylaws without shareholder approval, we will recommend that shareholders vote against the governance committee chair in the case of an exclusive forum provision, and against the entire governance committee in the case of a provision limiting the ability of shareholders to pursue full legal recourse (e.g., “fee-shifting” bylaws), if these provisions are not put up to shareholder vote following the IPO.

 

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GLASS LEWIS STANDARDS FOR ASSESSING “MATERIAL” TRANSACTIONS WITH DIRECTORS

With regard to Glass Lewis’ $120,000 threshold for those directors employed by a professional services firm such as a law firm, investment bank, or consulting firm, where the company pays the firm, not the individual, for services, we have clarified that we may deem such a transaction to be immaterial where the amount represents less than 1% of the firm’s annual revenues and the board provides a compelling rationale as to why the director’s independence is not affected by the relationship.

ADVISORY VOTE ON EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

We have added a discussion of our approach to analyzing one-off awards granted outside of existing incentive programs (see page 29). We have also provided clarification regarding our qualitative and quantitative approach to say-on-pay analysis.

EMPLOYEE STOCK PURCHASE PLANS

We have added a discussion of our approach to analyzing employee stock purchase plans (see page 35).

 

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I. A Board of Directors that Serves Shareholder Interest

ELECTION OF DIRECTORS

The purpose of Glass Lewis’ proxy research and advice is to facilitate shareholder voting in favor of governance structures that will drive performance, create shareholder value and maintain a proper tone at the top. Glass Lewis looks for talented boards with a record of protecting shareholders and delivering value over the medium- and long-term. We believe that a board can best protect and enhance the interests of shareholders if it is sufficiently independent, has a record of positive performance, and consists of individuals with diverse backgrounds and a breadth and depth of relevant experience.

INDEPENDENCE

The independence of directors, or lack thereof, is ultimately demonstrated through the decisions they make. In assessing the independence of directors, we will take into consideration, when appropriate, whether a director has a track record indicative of making objective decisions. Likewise, when assessing the independence of directors we will also examine when a director’s track record on multiple boards indicates a lack of objective decision-making. Ultimately, we believe the determination of whether a director is independent or not must take into consideration both compliance with the applicable independence listing requirements as well as judgments made by the director.

We look at each director nominee to examine the director’s relationships with the company, the company’s executives, and other directors. We do this to evaluate whether personal, familial, or financial relationships (not including director compensation) may impact the director’s decisions. We believe that such relationships make it difficult for a director to put shareholders’ interests above the director’s or the related party’s interests. We also believe that a director who owns more than 20% of a company can exert disproportionate influence on the board, and therefore believe such a director’s independence may be hampered, in particular when serving on the audit committee.

Thus, we put directors into three categories based on an examination of the type of relationship they have with the company:

Independent Director - An independent director has no material financial, familial or other current relationships with the company, its executives, or other board members, except for board service and standard fees paid for that service. Relationships that existed within three to five years1 before the inquiry are usually considered “current” for purposes of this test.

Affiliated Director - An affiliated director has, (or within the past three years, had) a material financial, familial or other relationship with the company or its executives, but is not an employee of the company.2 This includes directors whose employers have a material financial relationship with the company.3 In addition, we view a director who either owns or controls 20% or more of the company’s voting stock, or is an employee or affiliate of an entity that controls such amount, as an affiliate.4

 

 

1 NASDAQ originally proposed a five-year look-back period but both it and the NYSE ultimately settled on a three-year look-back prior to finalizing their rules. A five-year standard is more appropriate, in our view, because we believe that the unwinding of conflicting relationships between former management and board members is more likely to be complete and final after five years. However, Glass Lewis does not apply the five-year look-back period to directors who have previously served as executives of the company on an interim basis for less than one year.
2 If a company does not consider a non-employee director to be independent, Glass Lewis will classify that director as an affiliate.
3 We allow a five-year grace period for former executives of the company or merged companies who have consulting agreements with the surviving company, (We do not automatically recommend voting against directors in such cases for the first five years.) If the consulting agreement persists after this five-year grace period, we apply the materiality thresholds outlined in the definition of “material.”
4 This includes a director who serves on a board as a representative (as part of his or her basic responsibilities) of an investment firm with greater than 20% ownership. However, while we will generally consider him/her to be affiliated, we will not recommend voting against unless (i) the investment firm has disproportionate board representation or (ii) the director serves on the audit committee.

 

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We view 20% shareholders as affiliates because they typically have access to and involvement with the management of a company that is fundamentally different from that of ordinary shareholders. More importantly, 20% holders may have interests that diverge from those of ordinary holders, for reasons such as the liquidity (or lack thereof) of their holdings, personal tax issues, etc.

Glass Lewis applies a three-year look back period to all directors who have an affiliation with the company other than former employment, for which we apply a five-year look back.

Definition of “Material”: A material relationship is one in which the dollar value exceeds:

 

    $50,000 (or where no amount is disclosed) for directors who are paid for a service they have agreed to perform for the company, outside of their service as a director, including professional or other services; or

 

    $120,000 (or where no amount is disclosed) for those directors employed by a professional services firm such as a law firm, investment bank, or consulting firm and the company pays the firm, not the individual, for services.5 This dollar limit would also apply to charitable contributions to schools where a board member is a professor; or charities where a director serves on the board or is an executive;6 and any aircraft and real estate dealings between the company and the director’s firm; or

 

    1 % of either company’s consolidated gross revenue for other business relationships (e.g., where the director is an executive officer of a company that provides services or products to or receives services or products from the company).

Definition of “Familial”: Familial relationships include a person’s spouse, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and anyone (other than domestic employees) who shares such person’s home. A director is an affiliate if: i) he or she has a family member who is employed by the company and receives more than $120,000 in annual compensation; or, ii) he or she has a family member who is employed by the company and the company does not disclose this individual’s compensation.

Definition of “Company”: A company includes any parent or subsidiary in a group with the company or any entity that merged with, was acquired by, or acquired the company.7

 

 

5 We may deem such a transaction to be immaterial where the amount represents less than 1% of the firm’s annual revenues and the board provides a compelling rationale as to why the director’s independence is not affected by the relationship.
6 We will generally take into consideration the size and nature of such charitable entities in relation to the company’s size and industry along with any other relevant factors such as the director’s role at the charity. However, unlike for other types of related party transactions. Glass Lewis generally does not apply a look-back period to affiliated relationships involving charitable contributions; if the relationship between the director and the school or charity ceases, or if the company discontinues its donations to the entity, we will consider the director to be independent.
7 This includes cases where a director is employed by, or closely affiliated with, a private equity firm that profits from an acquisition made by the company Unless disclosure suggests otherwise, we presume the director is affiliated.

 

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Inside Director - An inside director simultaneously serves as a director and as an employee of the company. This category may include a chairman of the board who acts as an employee of the company or is paid as an employee of the company. In our view, an inside director who derives a greater amount of income as a result of affiliated transactions with the company rather than through compensation paid by the company (i.e., salary, bonus, etc. as a company employee) faces a conflict between making decisions that are in the best interests of the company versus those in the director’s own best interests. Therefore, we will recommend voting against such a director.

Additionally, we believe a director who is currently serving in an interim management position should be considered an insider, while a director who previously served in an interim management position for less than one year and is no longer serving in such capacity is considered independent. Moreover, a director who previously served in an interim management position for over one year and is no longer serving in such capacity is considered an affiliate for five years following the date of his/her resignation or departure from the interim management position.

VOTING RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE BASIS OF BOARD INDEPENDENCE

Glass Lewis believes a board will be most effective in protecting shareholders’ interests if it is at least two-thirds independent. We note that each of the Business Roundtable, the Conference Board, and the Council of Institutional Investors advocates that two-thirds of the board be independent. Where more than one-third of the members are affiliated or inside directors, we typically8 recommend voting against some of the inside and/or affiliated directors in order to satisfy the two-thirds threshold.

In the case of a less than two-thirds independent board, Glass Lewis strongly supports the existence of a presiding or lead director with authority to set the meeting agendas and to lead sessions outside the insider chairman’s presence.

In addition, we scrutinize avowedly “independent” chairmen and lead directors. We believe that they should be unquestionably independent or the company should not tout them as such.

COMMITTEE INDEPENDENCE

We believe that only independent directors should serve on a company’s audit, compensation, nominating, and governance committees.9 We typically recommend that shareholders vote against any affiliated or inside director seeking appointment to an audit, compensation, nominating, or governance committee, or who has served in that capacity in the past year.

Pursuant to Section 952 of the Dodd-Frank Act, as of January 11, 2013, the SEC approved new listing requirements for both the NYSE and NASDAQ which require that boards apply enhanced standards of independence when making an affirmative determination of the independence of compensation committee members. Specifically, when making this determination, in addition to the factors considered when assessing general director independence, the board’s considerations must include: (i) the source of compensation of the director, including any consulting, advisory or other compensatory fee paid by the listed company to the director (the “Fees Factor”); and (ii) whether the director is affiliated with the listing company, its subsidiaries, or affiliates of its subsidiaries (the “Affiliation Factor”).

 

 

8 With a staggered board, if the affiliates or insiders that we believe should not be on the board are not up for election, we will express our concern regarding those directors, but we will not recommend voting against the other affiliates or insiders who are up for election just to achieve two-thirds independence. However, we will consider recommending voting against the directors subject to our concern at their next election if the issue giving rise to tine concern is not resolved.
9

We will recommend voting against an audit committee member who owns 20% or more of the company’s stock, and we believe that there should be a maximum of one director (or no directors if the committee is comprised of less than three directors) who owns 20% or more of the company’s stock on the compensation, nominating, and governance committees.

 

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Glass Lewis believes it is important for boards to consider these enhanced independence factors when assessing compensation committee members. However, as discussed above in the section titled Independence, we apply our own standards when assessing the independence of directors, and these standards also take into account consulting and advisory fees paid to the director, as well as the director’s affiliations with the company and its subsidiaries and affiliates. We may recommend voting against compensation committee members who are not independent based on our standards.

INDEPENDENT CHAIRMAN

Glass Lewis believes that separating the roles of CEO (or, more rarely, another executive position) and chairman creates a better governance structure than a combined CEO/chairman position. An executive manages the business according to a course the board charts. Executives should report to the board regarding their performance in achieving goals set by the board. This is needlessly complicated when a CEO chairs the board, since a CEO/chairman presumably will have a significant influence over the board.

While many companies have an independent lead or presiding director who performs many of the same functions of an independent chairman (e.g., setting the board meeting agenda), we do not believe this alternate form of independent board leadership provides as robust protection for shareholders as an independent chairman.

It can become difficult for a board to fulfill its role of overseer and policy setter when a CEO/chairman controls the agenda and the boardroom discussion. Such control can allow a CEO to have an entrenched position, leading to longer-than-optimal terms, fewer checks on management, less scrutiny of the business operation, and limitations on independent, shareholder-focused goal-setting by the board.

A CEO should set the strategic course for the company, with the board’s approval, and the board should enable the CEO to carry out the CEO’s vision for accomplishing the board’s objectives. Failure to achieve the board’s objectives should lead the board to replace that CEO with someone in whom the board has confidence.

Likewise, an independent chairman can better oversee executives and set a pro-shareholder agenda without the management conflicts that a CEO and other executive insiders often face. Such oversight and concern for shareholders allows for a more proactive and effective board of directors that is better able to look out for the interests of shareholders.

Further, it is the board’s responsibility to select a chief executive who can best serve a company and its shareholders and to replace this person when his or her duties have not been appropriately fulfilled. Such a replacement becomes more difficult and happens less frequently when the chief executive is also in the position of overseeing the board.

Glass Lewis believes that the installation of an independent chairman is almost always a positive step from a corporate governance perspective and promotes the best interests of shareholders. Further, the presence of an independent chairman fosters the creation of a thoughtful and dynamic board, not dominated by the views of senior management. Encouragingly, many companies appear to be moving in this direction—one study even indicates that less than 12 percent of incoming CEOs in 2009 were awarded the chairman title, versus 48 percent as recently as 2002.10 Another study finds that 45 percent of S&P 500 boards now separate the CEO and chairman roles, up from 23 percent in 2003, although the same study found that of those companies, only 25 percent have truly independent chairs.11

 

 

10 Ken Favaro, Per-Ola Karlsson and Gary Neilson. “CEO Succession 2000-2009: A Decade of Convergence and Compression.” Booz & Company (from Strategy+Business, Issue 59, Summer 2010).
11 Spencer Stuart Board Index, 2013, p. 5.

 

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We do not recommend that shareholders vote against CEOs who chair the board. However, we typically recommend that our clients support separating the roles of chairman and CEO whenever that question is posed in a proxy (typically in the form of a shareholder proposal), as we believe that it is in the long-term best interests of the company and its shareholders.

Further, where the company has neither an independent chairman nor independent lead director, we will recommend voting against the chair of the governance committee.

PERFORMANCE

The most crucial test of a board’s commitment to the company and its shareholders lies in the actions of the board and its members. We look at the performance of these individuals as directors and executives of the company and of other companies where they have served.

We find that a director’s past conduct is often indicative of future conduct and performance. We often find directors with a history of overpaying executives or of serving on boards where avoidable disasters have occurred serving on the boards of companies with similar problems. Glass Lewis has a proprietary database of directors serving at over 8,000 of the most widely held U.S. companies. We use this database to track the performance of directors across companies.

VOTING RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE BASIS OF PERFORMANCE

We typically recommend that shareholders vote against directors who have served on boards or as executives of companies with records of poor performance, inadequate risk oversight, excessive compensation, audit- or accounting-related issues, and/or other indicators of mismanagement or actions against the interests of shareholders. We will reevaluate such directors based on, among other factors, the length of time passed since the incident giving rise to the concern, shareholder support for the director, the severity of the issue, the director’s role (e.g., committee membership), director tenure at the subject company, whether ethical lapses accompanied the oversight lapse, and evidence of strong oversight at other companies.

Likewise, we examine the backgrounds of those who serve on key board committees to ensure that they have the required skills and diverse backgrounds to make informed judgments about the subject matter for which the committee is responsible.

We believe shareholders should avoid electing directors who have a record of not fulfilling their responsibilities to shareholders at any company where they have held a board or executive position. We typically recommend voting against:

 

  1. A director who fails to attend a minimum of 75% of board and applicable committee meetings, calculated in the aggregate.12

 

 

12 However, where a director has served for less than one full year, we will typically not recommend voting against for failure to attend 75% of meetings. Rather, we will note the poor attendance with a recommendation to track this issue going forward. We will also refrain from recommending to vote against directors when the proxy discloses that the director missed the meetings due to serious illness or other extenuating circumstances.

 

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  2. A director who belatedly filed a significant form(s) 4 or 5, or who has a pattern of late filings if the late filing was the director’s fault (we look at these late filing situations on a case-by-case basis).

 

  3. A director who is also the CEO of a company where a serious and material restatement has occurred after the CEO had previously certified the pre-restatement financial statements.

 

  4. A director who has received two against recommendations from Glass Lewis for identical reasons within the prior year at different companies (the same situation must also apply at the company being analyzed).

 

  5. All directors who served on the board if, for the last three years, the company’s performance has been in the bottom quartile of the sector and the directors have not taken reasonable steps to address the poor performance.

BOARD RESPONSIVENESS

Glass Lewis believes that any time 25% or more of shareholders vote contrary to the recommendation of management, the board should, depending on the issue, demonstrate some level of responsiveness to address the concerns of shareholders. These include instances when 25% or more of shareholders (excluding abstentions and broker non-votes): WITHHOLD votes from (or vote AGAINST) a director nominee, vote AGAINST a management-sponsored proposal, or vote FOR a shareholder proposal. In our view, a 25% threshold is significant enough to warrant a dose examination of the underlying issues and an evaluation of whether or not a board response was warranted and, if so, whether the board responded appropriately following the vote. While the 25% threshold alone will not automatically generate a negative vote recommendation from Glass Lewis on a future proposal (e.g., to recommend against a director nominee, against a say-on-pay proposal, etc.), it may be a contributing factor to our recommendation to vote against management’s recommendation in the event we determine that the board did not respond appropriately.

As a general framework, our evaluation of board responsiveness involves a review of publicly available disclosures (e.g., the proxy statement, annual report, 8-Ks, company website, etc.) released following the date of the company’s last annual meeting up through the publication date of our most current Proxy Paper. Depending on the specific issue, our focus typically includes, but is not limited to, the following:

 

    At the board level, any changes in directorships, committee memberships, disclosure of related party transactions, meeting attendance, or other responsibilities;

 

    Any revisions made to the company’s articles of incorporation, bylaws or other governance documents;

 

    Any press or news releases indicating changes in, or the adoption of, new company policies, business practices or special reports; and

 

    Any modifications made to the design and structure of the company’s compensation program, as well as an assessment of the company’s engagement with shareholders on compensation issues as discussed in the CD&A, particularly following a material vote against a company’s say-on-pay.

Our Proxy Paper analysis will include a case-by-case assessment of the specific elements of board responsiveness that we examined along with an explanation of how that assessment impacts our current vote recommendations.

 

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THE ROLE OF A COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN

Glass Lewis believes that a designated committee chairman maintains primary responsibility for the actions of his or her respective committee. As such, many of our committee-specific vote recommendations are against the applicable committee chair rather than the entire committee (depending on the seriousness of the issue). However, in cases where we would ordinarily recommend voting against a committee chairman but the chair is not specified, we apply the following general rules, which apply throughout our guidelines:

 

    If there is no committee chair, we recommend voting against the longest-serving committee member or, if the longest-serving committee member cannot be determined, the longest-serving board member serving on the committee (i.e., in either case, the “senior director”); and

 

    If there is no committee chair, but multiple senior directors serving on the committee, we recommend voting against both (or all) such senior directors.

In our view, companies should provide clear disclosure of which director is charged with overseeing each committee. In cases where that simple framework is ignored and a reasonable analysis cannot determine which committee member is the designated leader, we believe shareholder action against the longest serving committee member(s) is warranted. Again, this only applies if we would ordinarily recommend voting against the committee chair but there is either no such position or no designated director in such role.

On the contrary, in cases where there is a designated committee chair and the recommendation is to vote against the committee chair, but the chair is not up for election because the board is staggered, we do not recommend voting against any members of the committee who are up for election; rather, we will note the concern with regard to the committee chair.

AUDIT COMMITTEES AND PERFORMANCE

Audit committees play an integral role in overseeing the financial reporting process because “[v]ibrant and stable capital markets depend on, among other things, reliable, transparent, and objective financial information to support an efficient and effective capital market process. The vital oversight role audit committees play in the process of producing financial information has never been more important.”13

When assessing an audit committee’s performance, we are aware that an audit committee does not prepare financial statements, is not responsible for making the key judgments and assumptions that affect the financial statements, and does not audit the numbers or the disclosures provided to investors. Rather, an audit committee member monitors and oversees the process and procedures that management and auditors perform. The 1999 Report and Recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Committee on Improving the Effectiveness of Corporate Audit Committees stated it best:

A proper and well-functioning system exists, therefore, when the three main groups responsible for financial reporting - the full board including the audit committee, financial management including the internal auditors, and the outside auditors - form a ‘three legged stool’ that supports responsible financial disclosure and active participatory oversight. However, in the view of the Committee, the audit committee must be ‘first among equals’ in this process, since the audit committee is an extension of the full board and hence the ultimate monitor of the process.

 

 

13 Audit Committee Effectiveness - What Works Best.” PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Institute of Internal Auditors Research Foundation. 2005.

 

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STANDARDS FOR ASSESSING THE AUDIT COMMITTEE

For an audit committee to function effectively on investors’ behalf, it must include members with sufficient knowledge to diligently carry out their responsibilities. In its audit and accounting recommendations, the Conference Board Commission on Public Trust and Private Enterprise said “members of the audit committee must be independent and have both knowledge and experience in auditing financial matters.”14

We are skeptical of audit committees where there are members that lack expertise as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or corporate controller, or similar experience. While we will not necessarily recommend voting against members of an audit committee when such expertise is lacking, we are more likely to recommend voting against committee members when a problem such as a restatement occurs and such expertise is lacking.

Glass Lewis generally assesses audit committees against the decisions they make with respect to their oversight and monitoring role. The quality and integrity of the financial statements and earnings reports, the completeness of disclosures necessary for investors to make informed decisions, and the effectiveness of the internal controls should provide reasonable assurance that the financial statements are materially free from errors. The independence of the external auditors and the results of their work all provide useful information by which to assess the audit committee.

When assessing the decisions and actions of the audit committee, we typically defer to its judgment and generally recommend voting in favor of its members. However, we will consider recommending that shareholders vote against the following:15

 

  1. All members of the audit committee when options were backdated, there is a lack of adequate controls in place, there was a resulting restatement, and disclosures indicate there was a lack of documentation with respect to the option grants.

 

  2. The audit committee chair, if the audit committee does not have a financial expert or the committee’s financial expert does not have a demonstrable financial background sufficient to understand the financial issues unique to public companies.

 

  3. The audit committee chair, if the audit committee did not meet at least four times during the year.

 

  4. The audit committee chair, if the committee has less than three members.

 

  5. Any audit committee member who sits on more than three public company audit committees, unless the audit committee member is a retired CPA, CFO, controller or has similar experience, in which case the limit shall be four committees, taking time and availability into consideration including a review of the audit committee member’s attendance at all board and committee meetings.16

 

  6. All members of an audit committee who are up for election and who served on the committee at the time of the audit, if audit and audit-related fees total one-third or less of the total fees billed by the auditor.

 

 

14 Commission on Public Trust and Private Enterprise. The Conference Board. 2003.
15 As discussed under the section labeled “Committee Chairman,” where the recommendation is to vote against the committee chair but the chair is not up for election because the board is staggered, we do not recommend voting against the members of the committee who are up for election; rather, we will note the concern with regard to the committee chair.
16 Glass Lewis may exempt certain audit committee members from the above threshold if, upon further analysis of relevant factors such as the director’s experience, the size, industry-mix and location of the companies involved and the director’s attendance at all the companies, we can reasonably determine that the audit committee member is likely not hindered by multiple audit committee commitments.

 

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  7. The audit committee chair when tax and/or other fees are greater than audit and audit-related fees paid to the auditor for more than one year in a row (in which case we also recommend against ratification of the auditor).

 

  8. All members of an audit committee where non-audit fees include fees for tax services (including, but not limited to, such things as tax avoidance or shelter schemes) for senior executives of the company. Such services are prohibited by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (“PCAOB”).

 

  9. All members of an audit committee that reappointed an auditor that we no longer consider to be independent for reasons unrelated to fee proportions.

 

  10. All members of an audit committee when audit fees are excessively low, especially when compared with other companies in the same industry.

 

  11. The audit committee chair17 if the committee failed to put auditor ratification on the ballot for shareholder approval. However, if the non-audit fees or tax fees exceed audit plus audit-related fees in either the current or the prior year, then Glass Lewis will recommend voting against the entire audit committee.

 

  12. All members of an audit committee where the auditor has resigned and reported that a section 10A18 letter has been issued.

 

  13. All members of an audit committee at a time when material accounting fraud occurred at the company.19

 

  14. All members of an audit committee at a time when annual and/or multiple quarterly financial statements had to be restated, and any of the following factors apply:

 

    The restatement involves fraud or manipulation by insiders;

 

    The restatement is accompanied by an SEC inquiry or investigation;

 

    The restatement involves revenue recognition;

 

    The restatement results in a greater than 5% adjustment to costs of goods sold, operating expense, or operating cash flows; or

 

    The restatement results in a greater than 5% adjustment to net income, 10% adjustment to assets or shareholders equity, or cash flows from financing or investing activities.

 

 

17 As discussed under the section labeled “Committee Chairman,” in all cases, if the chair of the committee is not specified, we recommend voting against the director who has been on the committee the longest.
18 Auditors are required to report all potential illegal acts to management and the audit committee unless they are clearly inconsequential in nature. If the audit committee or the board fails to take appropriate action on an act that has been determined to be a violation of the law, the independent auditor is required to send a section 10A letter to the SEC. Such letters are rare and therefore we believe should be taken seriously.
19 Research indicates that revenue fraud now accounts for over 60% of SEC fraud cases, and that companies that engage in fraud experience significant negative abnormal stock price declines—facing bankruptcy, delisting, and material asset sales at much higher rates than do non-fraud firms (Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission. “Fraudulent Financial Reporting: 1998-2007 “ May 2010).

 

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  15. All members of an audit committee if the company repeatedly fails to file its financial reports in a timely fashion. For example, the company has filed two or more quarterly or annual financial statements late within the last 5 quarters.

 

  16. All members of an audit committee when it has been disclosed that a law enforcement agency has charged the company and/or its employees with a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

 

  17. All members of an audit committee when the company has aggressive accounting policies and/or poor disclosure or lack of sufficient transparency in its financial statements.

 

  18. All members of the audit committee when there is a disagreement with the auditor and the auditor resigns or is dismissed (e.g., the company receives an adverse opinion on its financial statements from the auditor).20

 

  19. All members of the audit committee if the contract with the auditor specifically limits the auditor’s liability to the company for damages.

 

  20. All members of the audit committee who served since the date of the company’s last annual meeting, and when, since the last annual meeting, the company has reported a material weakness that has not yet been corrected, or, when the company has an ongoing material weakness from a prior year that has not yet been corrected.

We also take a dim view of audit committee reports that are boilerplate, and which provide little or no information or transparency to investors. When a problem such as a material weakness, restatement or late filings occurs, we take into consideration, in forming our judgment with respect to the audit committee, the transparency of the audit committee report.

COMPENSATION COMMITTEE PERFORMANCE

Compensation committees have a critical role in determining the compensation of executives. This includes deciding the basis on which compensation is determined, as well as the amounts and types of compensation to be paid. This process begins with the hiring and initial establishment of employment agreements, including the terms for such items as pay, pensions and severance arrangements. It is important in establishing compensation arrangements that compensation be consistent with, and based on the long-term economic performance of, the business’s long-term shareholders returns.

Compensation committees are also responsible for the oversight of the transparency of compensation. This oversight includes disclosure of compensation arrangements, the matrix used in assessing pay for performance, and the use of compensation consultants. In order to ensure the independence of the board’s compensation consultant, we believe the compensation committee should only engage a compensation consultant that is not also providing any services to the company or management apart from their contract with the compensation committee. It is important to investors that they have clear and complete disclosure of all the significant terms of compensation arrangements in order to make informed decisions with respect to the oversight and decisions of the compensation committee.

Finally, compensation committees are responsible for oversight of internal controls over the executive compensation process. This includes controls over gathering information used to determine compensation, establishment of equity award plans, and granting of equity awards. For example, the use of a compensation consultant who maintains a business relationship with company management may

 

 

20

The Council of Institutional Investors. “Corporate Governance Policies,” p. 4, April 5, 2006; and “Letter from Council of Institutional Investors to the AICPA,” Novembers, 2006.

 

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cause the committee to make decisions based on information that is compromised by the consultant’s conflict of interests. Lax controls can also contribute to improper awards of compensation such as through granting of backdated or spring-loaded options, or granting of bonuses when triggers for bonus payments have not been met.

Central to understanding the actions of a compensation committee is a careful review of the Compensation Discussion and Analysis (“CD&A”) report included in each company’s proxy. We review the CD&A in our evaluation of the overall compensation practices of a company, as overseen by the compensation committee. The CD&A is also integral to the evaluation of compensation proposals at companies, such as advisory votes on executive compensation, which allow shareholders to vote on the compensation paid to a company’s top executives.

When assessing the performance of compensation committees, we will consider recommending that shareholders vote against the following:21

 

  1. All members of a compensation committee during whose tenure the committee failed to address shareholder concerns following majority shareholder rejection of the say-on-pay proposal in the previous year. Where the proposal was approved but there was a significant shareholder vote (i.e., greater than 25% of votes cast) against the say-on-pay proposal in the prior year, if the board did not respond sufficiently to the vote including actively engaging shareholders on this issue, we will also consider recommending voting against the chairman of the compensation committee or all members of the compensation committee, depending on the severity and history of the compensation problems and the level of shareholder opposition.

 

  2. All members of the compensation committee who are up for election and served when the company failed to align pay with performance (e.g., a company receives an F grade in our pay- for-performance analysis) if shareholders are not provided with an advisory vote on executive compensation at the annual meeting.22

 

  3. Any member of the compensation committee who has served on the compensation committee of at least two other public companies that have consistently failed to align pay with performance and whose oversight of compensation at the company in question is suspect.

 

  4. The compensation committee chair if the company consistently has received deficient grades in our pay-for-performance analysis, and if during the past year the company performed the same as or worse than its peers.23

 

 

21 As discussed under the section labeled “Committee Chairman,” where the recommendation is to vote against the committee chair and the chair is not up for election because the board is staggered, we do not recommend voting against any members of the committee who are up for election; rather, we will note the concern with regard to the committee chair.
22 Where there are multiple CEOs in one year, we will consider not recommending against the compensation committee but will defer judgment on compensation policies and practices until the next year or a full year after arrival of the new CEO In addition, if a company provides shareholders with a say-on-pay proposal, we will initially only recommend voting against the company’s say-on-pay proposal and will not recommend voting against the members of the compensation committee unless there is a pattern of failing to align pay and performance and/or the company exhibits egregious compensation practices. However, if the company repeatedly fails to align pay and performance, we will then recommend against the members of the compensation committee in addition to recommending voting against the say-on-pay proposal.
23 In cases where a company has received two consecutive D grades, or if its grade improved from an F to a D in the most recent period, and during the most recent year the company performed better than its peers (based on our analysis), we refrain from recommending to vote against the compensation committee chair. In addition, if a company provides shareholders with a say-on-pay proposal in this instance, we will consider voting against the advisory vote rather than the compensation committee chair unless the company exhibits unquestionably egregious practices.

 

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  5. All members of the compensation committee (during the relevant time period) if the company entered into excessive employment agreements and/or severance agreements.

 

  6. All members of the compensation committee when performance goals were changed (i.e., lowered) when employees failed or were unlikely to meet original goals, or performance-based compensation was paid despite goals not being attained.

 

  7. All members of the compensation committee if excessive employee perquisites and benefits were allowed.

 

  8. The compensation committee chair if the compensation committee did not meet during the year.

 

  9. All members of the compensation committee when the company repriced options or completed a “self tender offer” without shareholder approval within the past two years.

 

  10. All members of the compensation committee when vesting of in-the-money options is accelerated.

 

  11. All members of the compensation committee when option exercise prices were backdated. Glass Lewis will recommend voting against an executive director who played a role in and participated in option backdating.

 

  12. All members of the compensation committee when option exercise prices were spring-loaded or otherwise timed around the release of material information.

 

  13. All members of the compensation committee when a new employment contract is given to an executive that does not include a clawback provision and the company had a material restatement, especially if the restatement was due to fraud.

 

  14. The chair of the compensation committee where the CD&A provides insufficient or unclear information about performance metrics and goals, where the CD&A indicates that pay is not tied to performance, or where the compensation committee or management has excessive discretion to alter performance terms or increase amounts of awards in contravention of previously defined targets.

 

  15. All members of the compensation committee during whose tenure the committee failed to implement a shareholder proposal regarding a compensation-related issue, where the proposal received the affirmative vote of a majority of the voting shares at a shareholder meeting, and when a reasonable analysis suggests that the compensation committee (rather than the governance committee) should have taken steps to implement the request.24

NOMINATING AND GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE PERFORMANCE

The nominating and governance committee, as an agent for the shareholders, is responsible for the governance by the board of the company and its executives. In performing this role, the committee is responsible and accountable for selection of objective and competent board members. It is also responsible for providing leadership on governance policies adopted by the company, such as decisions to implement shareholder proposals that have received a majority vote. (At most companies, a single committee is charged with these oversight functions; at others, the governance and nominating responsibilities are apportioned among two separate committees.)

 

 

24 In all other instances (i.e., a non-compensation-related shareholder proposal should have been implemented) we recommend that shareholders vote against the members of the governance committee.

 

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Consistent with Glass Lewis’ philosophy that boards should have diverse backgrounds and members with a breadth and depth of relevant experience, we believe that nominating and governance committees should consider diversity when making director nominations within the context of each specific company and its industry. In our view, shareholders are best served when boards make an effort to ensure a constituency that is not only reasonably diverse on the basis of age, race, gender and ethnicity, but also on the basis of geographic knowledge, industry experience, board tenure and culture.

Regarding the committee responsible for governance, we will consider recommending that shareholders vote against the following:25

 

  1. All members of the governance committee26 during whose tenure a shareholder proposal relating to important shareholder rights received support from a majority of the votes cast (excluding abstentions and broker non-votes) and the board has not begun to implement or enact the proposal’s subject matter.27 Examples of such shareholder proposals include those seeking a declassified board structure, a majority vote standard for director elections, or a right to call a special meeting. In determining whether a board has sufficiently implemented such a proposal, we will examine the quality of the right enacted or proffered by the board for any conditions that may unreasonably interfere with the shareholders’ ability to exercise the right (e.g., overly restrictive procedural requirements for calling a special meeting).

 

  2. The governance committee chair,28 when the chairman is not independent and an independent lead or presiding director has not been appointed.29

 

  3. In the absence of a nominating committee, the governance committee chair when there are less than five or the whole nominating committee when there are more than 20 members on the board.

 

  4. The governance committee chair, when the committee fails to meet at all during the year.

 

  5. The governance committee chair, when for two consecutive years the company provides what we consider to be “inadequate” related party transaction disclosure (i.e., the nature of such transactions and/or the monetary amounts involved are unclear or excessively vague, thereby preventing a shareholder from being able to reasonably interpret the independence status of multiple directors above and beyond what the company maintains is compliant with SEC or applicable stock exchange listing requirements).

 

 

25 As discussed in the guidelines section labeled “Committee Chairman,” where we would recommend to vote against the committee chair but the chair Is not up for election because the board is staggered, we do not recommend voting against any members of the committee who are up for election; rather, we will note the concern with regard to the committee chair.
26 If the board does not have a committee responsible for governance oversight and the board did not implement a shareholder proposal that received the requisite support, we will recommend voting against the entire board. If the shareholder proposal at issue requested that the board adopt a declassified structure, we will recommend voting against all director nominees up for election.
27 Where a compensation-related shareholder proposal should have been implemented, and when a reasonable analysis suggests that the members of the compensation committee (rather than the governance committee) bear the responsibility for failing to implement the request, we recommend that shareholders only vote against members of the compensation committee.
28 As discussed in the guidelines section labeled “Committee Chairman,” where we would recommend to vote against the committee chair but the chair Is not up for election because the board is staggered, we do not recommend voting against any members of the committee who are up for election; rather, we will note the concern with regard to the committee chair.
29 If the board does not have a committee responsible for governance oversight and the board did not implement a shareholder proposal that received the requisite support, we will recommend voting against the entire board. If the shareholder proposal at issue requested that the board adopt a declassified structure, we will recommend voting against all director nominees up for election.

 

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  6. The governance committee chair, when during the past year the board adopted a forum selection clause (i.e., an exclusive forum provision)30 without shareholder approval, or, if the board is currently seeking shareholder approval of a forum selection clause pursuant to a bundled bylaw amendment rather than as a separate proposal.

 

  7. All members of the governance committee during whose tenure the board adopted, without shareholder approval, provisions in its charter or bylaws that, through rules on director compensation, may inhibit the ability of shareholders to nominate directors.

In addition, we may recommend that shareholders vote against the chairman of the governance committee, or the entire committee, where the board has amended the company’s governing documents to reduce or remove important shareholder rights, or to otherwise impede the ability of shareholders to exercise such right, and has done so without seeking shareholder approval. Examples of board actions that may cause such a recommendation include: the elimination of the ability of shareholders to call a special meeting or to act by written consent; an increase to the ownership threshold required for shareholders to call a special meeting; an increase to vote requirements for charter or bylaw amendments; the adoption of provisions that limit the ability of shareholders to pursue full legal recourse—such as bylaws that require arbitration of shareholder claims or that require shareholder plaintiffs to pay the company’s legal expenses in the absence of a court victory (i.e., “fee-shifting” or “loser pays” bylaws); the adoption of a classified board structure; and the elimination of the ability of shareholders to remove a director without cause.

Regarding the nominating committee, we will consider recommending that shareholders vote against the following:31

 

  1. All members of the nominating committee, when the committee nominated or renominated an individual who had a significant conflict of interest or whose past actions demonstrated a lack of integrity or inability to represent shareholder interests.

 

  2. The nominating committee chair, if the nominating committee did not meet during the year.

 

  3. In the absence of a governance committee, the nominating committee chair32 when the chairman is not independent, and an independent lead or presiding director has not been appointed.33

 

 

30 Where a compensation-related shareholder proposal should have been implemented, and when a reasonable analysis suggests that the members of the compensation committee (rather than the governance committee) bear the responsibility for failing to implement the request, we recommend that shareholders only vote against members of the compensation committee.
31 As discussed in the guidelines section labeled “Committee Chairman,” If the committee chair is not specified, we recommend voting against the director who has been on the committee the longest. If the longest-serving committee member cannot be determined, we will recommend voting against the longest-serving board member serving on the committee.
32 As discussed under the section labeled “Committee Chairman,” if the committee chair is not specified, we will recommend voting against the director who has been on the committee the longest. If the longest-serving committee member cannot be determined, we will recommend voting against the longest-serving board member on the committee. In the absence of both a governance and a nominating committee, we will recommend voting against the chairman of the board on this basis, unless if the chairman also serves as the CEO, in which case we will recommend voting against the longest-serving director.
33 In the absence of both a governance and a nominating committee, we will recommend voting against the chairman of the board on this basis, unless if the chairman also serves as the CEO, in which case we will recommend voting against the longest-serving director.

 

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  4. The nominating committee chair, when there are less than five or the whole nominating committee when there are more than 20 members on the board.34

 

  5. The nominating committee chair, when a director received a greater than 50% against vote the prior year and not only was the director not removed, but the issues that raised shareholder concern were not corrected.35

BOARD-LEVEL RISK MANAGEMENT OVERSIGHT

Glass Lewis evaluates the risk management function of a public company board on a strictly case- by-case basis. Sound risk management, while necessary at all companies, is particularly important at financial firms which inherently maintain significant exposure to financial risk. We believe such financial firms should have a chief risk officer reporting directly to the board and a dedicated risk committee or a committee of the board charged with risk oversight. Moreover, many non-financial firms maintain strategies which involve a high level of exposure to financial risk. Similarly, since many non-financial firms have complex hedging or trading strategies, those firms should also have a chief risk officer and a risk committee.

Our views on risk oversight are consistent with those expressed by various regulatory bodies. In its December 2009 Final Rule release on Proxy Disclosure Enhancements, the SEC noted that risk oversight is a key competence of the board and that additional disclosures would improve investor and shareholder understanding of the role of the board in the organization’s risk management practices. The final rules, which became effective on February 28, 2010, now explicitly require companies and mutual funds to describe (while allowing for some degree of flexibility) the board’s role in the oversight of risk.

When analyzing the risk management practices of public companies, we take note of any significant losses or writedowns on financial assets and/or structured transactions. In cases where a company has disclosed a sizable loss or writedown, and where we find that the company’s board-level risk committee’s poor oversight contributed to the loss, we will recommend that shareholders vote against such committee members on that basis. In addition, in cases where a company maintains a significant level of financial risk exposure but fails to disclose any explicit form of board-level risk oversight (committee or otherwise)36, we will consider recommending to vote against the chairman of the board on that basis. However, we generally would not recommend voting against a combined chairman/ CEO, except in egregious cases.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

In addition to the three key characteristics - independence, performance, experience - that we use to evaluate board members, we consider conflict-of-interest issues as well as the size of the board of directors when making voting recommendations.

 

 

34 In the absence of both a governance and a nominating committee, we will recommend voting against the chairman of the board on this basis, unless if the chairman also serves as the CEO, in which case we will recommend voting against the longest-serving director.
35 Considering that shareholder discontent clearly relates to the director who received a greater than 50% against vote rather than the nominating chair, we review the severity of the issue(s) that initially raised shareholder concern as well as company responsiveness to such matters, and will only recommend voting against the nominating chair if a reasonable analysis suggests that it would be most appropriate. In rare cases, we will consider recommending against the nominating chair when a director receives a substantial (i.e., 25% or more) vote against based on the same analysis.
36 A committee responsible for risk management could be a dedicated risk committee, the audit committee, or the finance committee, depending on a given company’s board structure and method of disclosure. At some companies, the entire board is charged with risk management.

 

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Conflicts of Interest

We believe board members should be wholly free of identifiable and substantial conflicts of interest, regardless of the overall level of independent directors on the board. Accordingly, we recommend that shareholders vote against the following types of directors:

 

  1. A CFO who is on the board: In our view, the CFO holds a unique position relative to financial reporting and disclosure to shareholders. Due to the critical importance of financial disclosure and reporting, we believe the CFO should report to the board and not be a member of it.

 

  2. A director who is on an excessive number of boards: We will typically recommend voting against a director who serves as an executive officer of any public company while serving on more than two other public company boards and any other director who serves on more than six public company boards.37 Academic literature suggests that one board takes up approximately 200 hours per year of each member’s time. We believe this limits the number of boards on which directors can effectively serve, especially executives at other companies.38 Further, we note a recent study has shown that the average number of outside board seats held by CEOs of S&P 500 companies is 0.6, down from 0.7 in 2008 and 1.0 in 2003.39

 

  3. A director who provides — or a director who has an immediate family member who provides — material consulting or other material professional services to the company. These services may include legal, consulting, or financial services. We question the need for the company to have consulting relationships with its directors. We view such relationships as creating conflicts for directors, since they may be forced to weigh their own interests against shareholder interests when making board decisions. In addition, a company’s decisions regarding where to turn for the best professional services may be compromised when doing business with the professional services firm of one of the company’s directors.

 

  4. A director, or a director who has an immediate family member, engaging in airplane, real estate, or similar deals, including perquisite-type grants from the company, amounting to more than $50,000. Directors who receive these sorts of payments from the company will have to make unnecessarily complicated decisions that may pit their interests against shareholder interests.

 

  5. Interlocking directorships: CEOs or other top executives who serve on each other’s boards create an interlock that poses conflicts that should be avoided to ensure the promotion of shareholder interests above all else.40

 

  6. All board members who served at a time when a poison pill with a term of longer than one year was adopted without shareholder approval within the prior twelve months.41 In the event a board is

 

 

37 Glass Lewis will not recommend voting against the director at the company where he or she serves as an executive officer, only at the other public companies where he or she serves on the board.
38 Our guidelines are similar to the standards set forth by the NACD in its “Report of the NACD Blue Ribbon Commission on Director Professionalism,” 2001 Edition, pp. 14-15 (also cited approvingly by the Conference Board in its “Corporate Governance Best Practices: A Blueprint for the Post-Enron Era,” 2002, p. 17), which suggested that CEOs should not serve on more than 2 additional boards, persons with full-time work should not serve on more than 4 additional boards, and others should not serve on more than six boards.
39 Spencer Stuart Board Index, 2013, p. 6.
40 We do not apply a look-back period for this situation. The interlock policy applies to both public and private companies. We will also evaluate multiple board interlocks among non-insiders (i.e., multiple directors serving on the same boards at other companies), for evidence of a pattern of poor oversight.
41

Refer to Section V. Governance Structure and the Shareholder Franchise for further discussion of our policies regarding anti-takeover measures, including poison pills.

 

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  classified and shareholders are therefore unable to vote against all directors, we will recommend voting against the remaining directors the next year they are up for a shareholder vote. If a poison pill with a term of one year or less was adopted without shareholder approval, and without adequate justification, we will consider recommending that shareholders vote against all members of the governance committee. If the board has, without seeking shareholder approval, and without adequate justification, extended the term of a poison pill by one year or less in two consecutive years, we will consider recommending that shareholders vote against the entire board.

Size of the Board of Directors

While we do not believe there is a universally applicable optimum board size, we do believe boards should have at least five directors to ensure sufficient diversity in decision-making and to enable the formation of key board committees with independent directors. Conversely, we believe that boards with more than 20 members will typically suffer under the weight of “too many cooks in the kitchen” and have difficulty reaching consensus and making timely decisions. Sometimes the presence of too many voices can make it difficult to draw on the wisdom and experience in the room by virtue of the need to limit the discussion so that each voice may be heard.

To that end, we typically recommend voting against the chairman of the nominating committee at a board with fewer than five directors. With boards consisting of more than 20 directors, we typically recommend voting against all members of the nominating committee (or the governance committee, in the absence of a nominating committee).42

CONTROLLED COMPANIES

We believe controlled companies warrant certain exceptions to our independence standards. The board’s function is to protect shareholder interests; however, when an individual, entity (or group of shareholders party to a formal agreement) owns more than 50% of the voting shares, the interests of the majority of shareholders are the interests of that entity or individual. Consequently, Glass Lewis does not apply our usual two-thirds board independence rule and therefore we will not recommend voting against boards whose composition reflects the makeup of the shareholder population.

Independence Exceptions

The independence exceptions that we make for controlled companies are as follows:

 

  1. We do not require that controlled companies have boards that are at least two-thirds independent. So long as the insiders and/or affiliates are connected with the controlling entity, we accept the presence of non-independent board members.

 

  2. The compensation committee and nominating and governance committees do not need to consist solely of independent directors.

 

    We believe that standing nominating and corporate governance committees at controlled companies are unnecessary. Although having a committee charged with the duties of searching for, selecting, and nominating independent directors can be beneficial, the unique composition of a controlled company’s shareholder base makes such committees weak and irrelevant.

 

 

42 The Conference Board, at p. 23 in its May 2003 report “Corporate Governance Best Practices, Id.,” quotes one of its roundtable participants as stating, “when you’ve got a 20 or 30 person corporate board, it’s one way of assuring that nothing is ever going to happen that the CEO doesn’t want to happen.”

 

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    Likewise, we believe that independent compensation committees at controlled companies are unnecessary. Although independent directors are the best choice for approving and monitoring senior executives’ pay, controlled companies serve a unique shareholder population whose voting power ensures the protection of its interests. As such, we believe that having affiliated directors on a controlled company’s compensation committee is acceptable. However, given that a controlled company has certain obligations to minority shareholders we feel that an insider should not serve on the compensation committee. Therefore, Glass Lewis will recommend voting against any insider (the CEO or otherwise) serving on the compensation committee.

 

  3. Controlled companies do not need an independent chairman or an independent lead or presiding director. Although an independent director in a position of authority on the board - such as chairman or presiding director - can best carry out the board’s duties, controlled companies serve a unique shareholder population whose voting power ensures the protection of its interests.

Size of the Board of Directors

We have no board size requirements for controlled companies.

Audit Committee Independence

Despite a controlled company’s status, unlike for the other key committees, we nevertheless believe that audit committees should consist solely of independent directors. Regardless of a company’s controlled status, the interests of all shareholders must be protected by ensuring the integrity and accuracy of the company’s financial statements. Allowing affiliated directors to oversee the preparation of financial reports could create an insurmountable conflict of interest.

SIGNIFICANT SHAREHOLDERS

Where an individual or entity holds between 20-50% of a company’s voting power, we believe it is reasonable to allow proportional representation on the board and committees (excluding the audit committee) based on the individual or entity’s percentage of ownership.

EXCEPTIONS FOR RECENT IPOs

We believe companies that have recently completed an initial public offering (“IPO”) should be allowed adequate time to fully comply with marketplace listing requirements as well as to meet basic corporate governance standards. We believe a one-year grace period immediately following the date of a company’s IPO is sufficient time for most companies to comply with all relevant regulatory requirements and to meet such corporate governance standards. Except in egregious cases, Glass Lewis refrains from issuing voting recommendations on the basis of corporate governance best practices (e.g., board independence, committee membership and structure, meeting attendance, etc.) during the one-year period following an IPO.

However, two specific cases warrant strong shareholder action against the board of a company that completed an IPO within the past year:

 

  1.

Adoption of an anti-takeover provision such as a poison pill or classified board: In cases where a board adopts an anti-takeover provision preceding an IPO, we will consider recommending to vote against the members of the board who served when it was adopted if the board: (i) did not also commit to submit the anti-takeover provision to a shareholder vote within 12 months of the IPO; or

 

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  (ii) did not provide a sound rationale for adopting the anti-takeover provision (such as a sunset for the pill of three years or less). In our view, adopting such an anti-takeover device unfairly penalizes future shareholders who (except for electing to buy or sell the stock) are unable to weigh in on a matter that could potentially negatively impact their ownership interest. This notion is strengthened when a board adopts a classified board with an infinite duration or a poison pill with a five to ten year term immediately prior to having a public shareholder base so as to insulate management for a substantial amount of time while postponing and/or avoiding allowing public shareholders the ability to vote on the anti-takeover provision adoption. Such instances are indicative of boards that may subvert shareholders’ best interests following their IPO.

 

  2. Adoption of an exclusive forum provision or fee-shifting bylaw: Consistent with our general approach to boards that adopt exclusive forum provisions or fee-shifting bylaws without shareholder approval (refer to our discussion of nominating and governance committee performance in Section I of the guidelines), we believe shareholders should hold members of the governance committee responsible. In cases where a board adopts an exclusive forum provision for inclusion in a company’s charter or bylaws before the company’s IPO, we will recommend voting against the chairman of the governance committee, or, in the absence of such a committee, the chairman of the board, who served during the period of time when the provision was adopted. However given the even stronger impediment on shareholder legal recourse of a fee-shifting bylaw, in cases where a board adopts such a bylaw before the company’s IPO, we will recommend voting against the entire governance committee, or, in the absence of such a committee, the chairman of the board, who served during the period of time when the provision was adopted.

In addition, shareholders should also be wary of companies that adopt supermajority voting requirements before their IPO. Absent explicit provisions in the articles or bylaws stipulating that certain policies will be phased out over a certain period of time (e.g., a predetermined declassification of the board, a planned separation of the chairman and CEO, etc.) long-term shareholders could find themselves in the predicament of having to attain a supermajority vote to approve future proposals seeking to eliminate such policies.

DUAL-LISTED COMPANIES

For those companies whose shares trade on exchanges in multiple countries, and which may seek shareholder approval of proposals in accordance with varying exchange- and country-specific rules, we will apply the governance standards most relevant in each situation. We will consider a number of factors in determining which Glass Lewis country-specific policy to apply, including but not limited to: (i) the corporate governance structure and features of the company including whether the board structure is unique to a particular market; (ii) the nature of the proposals; (in) the location of the company’s primary listing, if one can be determined; (iv) the regulatory/governance regime that the board is reporting against; and (v) the availability and completeness of the company’s SEC filings.

MUTUAL FUND BOARDS

Mutual funds, or investment companies, are structured differently from regular public companies (i.e., operating companies). Typically, members of a fund’s adviser are on the board and management takes on a different role from that of regular public companies. Thus, we focus on a short list of requirements, although many of our guidelines remain the same.

The following mutual fund policies are similar to the policies for regular public companies:

 

  1. Size of the board of directors: The board should be made up of between five and twenty directors.

 

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  2. The CFO on the board: Neither the CFO of the fund nor the CFO of the fund’s registered investment adviser should serve on the board.

 

  3. Independence of the audit committee: The audit committee should consist solely of independent directors.

 

  4. Audit committee financial expert: At least one member of the audit committee should be designated as the audit committee financial expert.

The following differences from regular public companies apply at mutual funds:

 

  1. Independence of the board: We believe that three-fourths of an investment company’s board should be made up of independent directors. This is consistent with a proposed SEC rule on investment company boards. The Investment Company Act requires 40% of the board to be independent, but in 2001, the SEC amended the Exemptive Rules to require that a majority of a mutual fund board be independent. In 2005, the SEC proposed increasing the independence threshold to 75%. In 2006, a federal appeals court ordered that this rule amendment be put back out for public comment, putting it back into “proposed rule” status. Since mutual fund boards play a vital role in overseeing the relationship between the fund and its investment manager, there is greater need for independent oversight than there is for an operating company board.

 

  2. When the auditor is not up for ratification: We do not recommend voting against the audit committee if the auditor is not up for ratification. Due to the different legal structure of an investment company compared to an operating company, the auditor for the investment company (i.e., mutual fund) does not conduct the same level of financial review for each investment company as for an operating company.

 

  3. Non-independent chairman: The SEC has proposed that the chairman of the fund board be independent. We agree that the roles of a mutual fund’s chairman and CEO should be separate. Although we believe this would be best at all companies, we recommend voting against the chairman of an investment company’s nominating committee as well as the chairman of the board if the chairman and CEO of a mutual fund are the same person and the fund does not have an independent lead or presiding director. Seven former SEC commissioners support the appointment of an independent chairman and we agree with them that “an independent board chairman would be better able to create conditions favoring the long-term interests of fund shareholders than would a chairman who is an executive of the adviser.” (See the comment letter sent to the SEC in support of the proposed rule at http://www.sec.gov/news/ studies/indchair.pdf)

 

  4. Multiple funds overseen by the same director: Unlike service on a public company board, mutual fund boards require much less of a time commitment. Mutual fund directors typically serve on dozens of other mutual fund boards, often within the same fund complex. The Investment Company Institute’s (“ICI”) Overview of Fund Governance Practices, 1994-2012, indicates that the average number of funds served by an independent director in 2012 was 53. Absent evidence that a specific director is hindered from being an effective board member at a fund due to service on other funds’ boards, we refrain from maintaining a cap on the number of outside mutual fund boards that we believe a director can serve on.

DECLASSIFIED BOARDS

Glass Lewis favors the repeal of staggered boards and the annual election of directors. We believe staggered boards are less accountable to shareholders than boards that are elected annually. Furthermore, we feel the annual election of directors encourages board members to focus on shareholder interests.

 

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Empirical studies have shown: (i) staggered boards are associated with a reduction in a firm’s valuation; and (ii) in the context of hostile takeovers, staggered boards operate as a takeover defense, which entrenches management, discourages potential acquirers, and delivers a lower return to target shareholders.

In our view, there is no evidence to demonstrate that staggered boards improve shareholder returns in a takeover context. Some research has indicated that shareholders are worse off when a staggered board blocks a transaction; further, when a staggered board negotiates a friendly transaction, no statistically significant difference in premium occurs.43 Additional research found that charter-based staggered boards “reduce the market value of a firm by 4% to 6% of its market capitalization” and that “staggered boards bring about and not merely reflect this reduction in market value.”44 A subsequent study reaffirmed that classified boards reduce shareholder value, finding “that the ongoing process of dismantling staggered boards, encouraged by institutional investors, could well contribute to increasing shareholder wealth.”45

Shareholders have increasingly come to agree with this view. In 2013, 91% of S&P 500 companies had declassified boards, up from approximately 40% a decade ago.46 Management proposals to declassify boards are approved with near unanimity and shareholder proposals on the topic also receive strong shareholder support; in 2014, shareholder proposals requesting that companies declassify their boards received average support of 84% (excluding abstentions and broker non-votes), whereas in 1987, only 16.4% of votes cast favored board declassification.47 Further, a growing number of companies, nearly half of all those targeted by shareholder proposals requesting that all directors stand for election annually, either recommended shareholders support the proposal or made no recommendation, a departure from the more traditional management recommendation to vote against shareholder proposals.

Given our belief that declassified boards promote director accountability, the empirical evidence suggesting staggered boards reduce a company’s value and the established shareholder opposition to such a structure, Glass Lewis supports the declassification of boards and the annual election of directors.

MANDATORY DIRECTOR TERM AND AGE LIMITS

Glass Lewis believes that director age and term limits typically are not in shareholders’ best interests. Too often age and term limits are used by boards as a crutch to remove board members who have served for an extended period of time. When used in that fashion, they are indicative of a board that has a difficult time making “tough decisions.”

Academic literature suggests that there is no evidence of a correlation between either length of tenure or age and director performance. On occasion, term limits can be used as a means to remove a director for boards that are unwilling to police their membership and to enforce turnover. Some shareholders support term limits as a way to force change when boards are unwilling to do so.

 

 

43 Lucian Bebchuk, John Coates IV, Guhan Subramanian, “The Powerful Antitakeover Force of Staggered Boards: Further Findings and a Reply to Symposium Participants,” 55 Stanford Law Review 885-917 (2002).
44 Lucian Bebchuk, Alma Cohen, “The Costs of Entrenched Boards” (2004).
45 Lucian Bebchuk, Alma Cohen and Charles C.Y. Wang, “Staggered Boards and the Wealth of Shareholders: Evidence from a Natural Experiment,” SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract-1706806 (2010), p. 26.
46 Spencer Stuart Board Index, 2013, p 4.
47 Lucian Bebchuk, John Coates IV and Guhan Subramanian, “The Powerful Antitakeover Force of Staggered Boards: Theory, Evidence, and Policy”.

 

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While we understand that age limits can be a way to force change where boards are unwilling to make changes on their own, the long-term impact of age limits restricts experienced and potentially valuable board members from service through an arbitrary means. Further, age limits unfairly imply that older (or, in rare cases, younger) directors cannot contribute to company oversight.

In our view, a director’s experience can be a valuable asset to shareholders because of the complex, critical issues that boards face. However, we support routine director evaluation, preferably performed independently by an external firm, and periodic board refreshment to foster the sharing of new perspectives in the boardroom and the generation of new ideas and business strategies. Further, we believe the board should evaluate the need for changes to board composition based on an analysis of skills and experience necessary for the company, as well as the results of an independent board evaluation, instead of relying on arbitrary age or tenure limits. When necessary, shareholders can address concerns regarding proper board composition through director elections.

We believe that shareholders are better off monitoring the board’s approach to corporate governance and the board’s stewardship of company performance rather than imposing inflexible rules that don’t necessarily correlate with returns or benefits for shareholders.

However, if a board adopts term/age limits, it should follow through and not waive such limits. If the board waives its term/age limits, Glass Lewis will consider recommending shareholders vote against the nominating and/or governance committees, unless the rule was waived with sufficient explanation, such as consummation of a corporate transaction like a merger.

PROXY ACCESS

In lieu of running their own contested election, proxy access would not only allow certain shareholders to nominate directors to company boards but the shareholder nominees would be included on the company’s ballot, significantly enhancing the ability of shareholders to play a meaningful role in selecting their representatives. Glass Lewis generally supports affording shareholders the right to nominate director candidates to management’s proxy as a means to ensure that significant, long-term shareholders have an ability to nominate candidates to the board.

Companies generally seek shareholder approval to amend company bylaws to adopt proxy access in response to shareholder engagement or pressure, usually in the form of a shareholder proposal requesting proxy access, although some companies may adopt some elements of proxy access without prompting. Glass Lewis considers several factors when evaluating whether to support proposals for companies to adopt proxy access including the specified minimum ownership and holding requirement for shareholders to nominate one or more directors, as well as company size, performance and responsiveness to shareholders.

For a discussion of recent regulatory events in this area, along with a detailed overview of the Glass Lewis approach to Shareholder Proposals regarding Proxy Access, refer to Glass Lewis’ Proxy Paper Guidelines for Shareholder Initiatives, available at www.glasslewis.com.

MAJORITY VOTE FOR THE ELECTION OF DIRECTORS

In stark contrast to the failure of shareholder access to gain acceptance, majority voting for the election of directors is fast becoming the de facto standard in corporate board elections. In our view, the majority voting proposals are an effort to make the case for shareholder impact on director elections on a company-specific basis.

While this proposal would not give shareholders the opportunity to nominate directors or lead to elections where shareholders have a choice among director candidates, if implemented, the proposal would allow shareholders to have a voice in determining whether the nominees proposed by the board should actually serve as the overseer-representatives of shareholders in the boardroom. We believe this would be a favorable outcome for shareholders.

 

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During the first half of 2014, Glass Lewis tracked approximately 28 shareholder proposals seeking to require a majority vote to elect directors at annual meetings in the U.S. While this is roughly on par with what we have reviewed in each of the past several years, it is a sharp contrast to the 147 proposals tracked during all of 2006. This large drop in the number of proposals being submitted in recent years compared to 2006 is a result of many companies having already adopted some form of majority voting, including approximately 84% of companies in the S&P 500 Index, up from 56% in 2008.48

Investors are also increasingly supporting this measure. During the 2014 proxy season, shareholder proposals requesting that companies adopt a majority voting standard for director elections received, on average, 59% shareholder support (excluding abstentions and broker non-votes). Further, nearly half of these resolutions received majority shareholder support and a number of companies either recommended shareholders vote in favor of or did not make a recommendation for how shareholders should vote on these proposals.

THE PLURALITY VOTE STANDARD

Today, most US companies still elect directors by a plurality vote standard. Under that standard, if one shareholder holding only one share votes in favor of a nominee (including that director, if the director is a shareholder), that nominee “wins” the election and assumes a seat on the board. The common concern among companies with a plurality voting standard is the possibility that one or more directors would not receive a majority of votes, resulting in “failed elections.”

ADVANTAGES OF A MAJORITY VOTE STANDARD

If a majority vote standard were implemented, a nominee would have to receive the support of a majority of the shares voted in order to be elected. Thus, shareholders could collectively vote to reject a director they believe will not pursue their best interests. Given that so few directors (less than 100 a year) do not receive majority support from shareholders, we think that a majority vote standard is reasonable since it will neither result in many failed director elections nor reduce the willingness of qualified, shareholder-focused directors to serve in the future. Further, most directors who fail to receive a majority shareholder vote in favor of their election do not step down, underscoring the need for true majority voting.

We believe that a majority vote standard will likely lead to more attentive directors. Although shareholders only rarely fail to support directors, the occasional majority vote against a director’s election will likely deter the election of directors with a record of ignoring shareholder interests. Glass Lewis will therefore generally support proposals calling for the election of directors by a majority vote, excepting contested director elections.

In response to the high level of support majority voting has garnered, many companies have voluntarily taken steps to implement majority voting or modified approaches to majority voting. These steps range from a modified approach requiring directors that receive a majority of withheld votes to resign (i.e., a resignation policy) to actually requiring a majority vote of outstanding shares to elect directors.

We feel that the modified approach does not go far enough because requiring a director to resign is not the same as requiring a majority vote to elect a director and does not allow shareholders a definitive voice in the election process. Further, under the modified approach, the corporate governance committee could reject a resignation and, even if it accepts the resignation, the corporate governance committee decides on the director’s replacement. And since the modified approach is usually adopted as a policy by the board or a board committee, it could be altered by the same board or committee at any time.

 

 

48 Spencer Stuart Board Index, 2013, p. 13.

 

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II. Transparency and Integrity in Financial Reporting

AUDITOR RATIFICATION

The auditor’s role as gatekeeper is crucial in ensuring the integrity and transparency of the financial information necessary for protecting shareholder value. Shareholders rely on the auditor to ask tough questions and to do a thorough analysis of a company’s books to ensure that the information provided to shareholders is complete, accurate, fair, and that it is a reasonable representation of a company’s financial position. The only way shareholders can make rational investment decisions is if the market is equipped with accurate information about a company’s fiscal health. As stated in the October 6, 2008 Final Report of the Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession to the U.S. Department of the Treasury:

“The auditor is expected to offer critical and objective judgment on the financial matters under consideration, and actual and perceived absence of conflicts is critical to that expectation. The Committee believes that auditors, investors, public companies, and other market participants must understand the independence requirements and their objectives, and that auditors must adopt a mindset of skepticism when facing situations that may compromise their independence.”

As such, shareholders should demand an objective, competent and diligent auditor who performs at or above professional standards at every company in which the investors hold an interest. Like directors, auditors should be free from conflicts of interest and should avoid situations requiring a choice between the auditor’s interests and the public’s interests. Almost without exception, shareholders should be able to annually review an auditor’s performance and to annually ratify a board’s auditor selection. Moreover, in October 2008, the Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession went even further, and recommended that “to further enhance audit committee oversight and auditor accountability ... disclosure in the company proxy statement regarding shareholder ratification [should] include the name(s) of the senior auditing partner(s) staffed on the engagement.”49

On August 16, 2011, the PCAOB issued a Concept Release seeking public comment on ways that auditor independence, objectivity and professional skepticism could be enhanced, with a specific emphasis on mandatory audit firm rotation. The PCAOB convened several public roundtable meetings during 2012 to further discuss such matters. Glass Lewis believes auditor rotation can ensure both the independence of the auditor and the integrity of the audit; we will typically recommend supporting proposals to require auditor rotation when the proposal uses a reasonable period of time (usually not less than 5-7 years), particularly at companies with a history of accounting problems.

VOTING RECOMMENDATIONS ON AUDITOR RATIFICATION

We generally support management’s choice of auditor except when we believe the auditor’s independence or audit integrity has been compromised. Where a board has not allowed shareholders to review and ratify an auditor, we typically recommend voting against the audit committee chairman. When there have been material restatements of annual financial statements or material weaknesses in internal controls, we usually recommend voting against the entire audit committee.

Reasons why we may not recommend ratification of an auditor include:

 

  1. When audit fees plus audit-related fees total less than the tax fees and/or other non-audit fees.

 

 

49 “Final Report of the Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.” p. Vlll:20, October 6, 2008.

 

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  2. Recent material restatements of annual financial statements, including those resulting in the reporting of material weaknesses in internal controls and including late filings by the company where the auditor bears some responsibility for the restatement or late filing.50

 

  3. When the auditor performs prohibited services such as tax-shelter work, tax services for the CEO or CFO, or contingent-fee work, such as a fee based on a percentage of economic benefit to the company.

 

  4. When audit fees are excessively low, especially when compared with other companies in the same industry.

 

  5. When the company has aggressive accounting policies.

 

  6. When the company has poor disclosure or lack of transparency in its financial statements.

 

  7. Where the auditor limited its liability through its contract with the company or the audit contract requires the corporation to use alternative dispute resolution procedures without adequate justification.

 

  8. We also look for other relationships or concerns with the auditor that might suggest a conflict between the auditor’s interests and shareholder interests.

PENSION ACCOUNTING ISSUES

A pension accounting question occasionally raised in proxy proposals is what effect, if any, projected returns on employee pension assets should have on a company’s net income. This issue often arises in the executive-compensation context in a discussion of the extent to which pension accounting should be reflected in business performance for purposes of calculating payments to executives.

Glass Lewis believes that pension credits should not be included in measuring income that is used to award performance-based compensation. Because many of the assumptions used in accounting for retirement plans are subject to the company’s discretion, management would have an obvious conflict of interest if pay were tied to pension income. In our view, projected income from pensions does not truly reflect a company’s performance.

 

 

50 An auditor does not audit interim financial statements. Thus, we generally do not believe that an auditor should be opposed due to a restatement of interim financial statements unless the nature of the misstatement is clear from a reading of the incorrect financial statements.

 

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III. The Link Between Compensation and Performance

Glass Lewis carefully reviews the compensation awarded to senior executives, as we believe that this is an important area in which the board’s priorities are revealed. Glass Lewis strongly believes executive compensation should be linked directly with the performance of the business the executive is charged with managing. We believe the most effective compensation arrangements provide for an appropriate mix of performance-based short- and long-term incentives in addition to fixed pay elements while promoting a prudent and sustainable level of risk-taking.

Glass Lewis believes that comprehensive, timely and transparent disclosure of executive pay is critical to allowing shareholders to evaluate the extent to which pay is aligned with company performance. When reviewing proxy materials, Glass Lewis examines whether the company discloses the performance metrics used to determine executive compensation. We recognize performance metrics must necessarily vary depending on the company and industry, among other factors, and may include a wide variety of financial measures as well as industry-specific performance indicators. However, we believe companies should disclose why the specific performance metrics were selected and how the actions they are designed to incentivize will lead to better corporate performance.

Moreover, it is rarely in shareholders’ interests to disclose competitive data about individual salaries below the senior executive level. Such disclosure could create internal personnel discord that would be counterproductive for the company and its shareholders. While we favor full disclosure for senior executives and we view pay disclosure at the aggregate level (e.g., the number of employees being paid over a certain amount or in certain categories) as potentially useful, we do not believe share-holders need or will benefit from detailed reports about individual management employees other than the most senior executives.

ADVISORY VOTE ON EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION (“SAY-ON-PAY”)

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”) required companies to hold an advisory vote on executive compensation at the first shareholder meeting that occurs six months after enactment of the bill (January 21, 2011).

This practice of allowing shareholders a non-binding vote on a company’s compensation report is standard practice in many non-US countries, and has been a requirement for most companies in the United Kingdom since 2003 and in Australia since 2005. Although say-on-pay proposals are non-binding, a high level of “against” or “abstain” votes indicates substantial shareholder concern about a company’s compensation policies and procedures.

Given the complexity of most companies’ compensation programs, Glass Lewis applies a highly nuanced approach when analyzing advisory votes on executive compensation. We review each company’s compensation on a case-by-case basis, recognizing that each company must be examined in the context of industry, size, maturity, performance, financial condition, its historic pay for performance practices, and any other relevant internal or external factors.

We believe that each company should design and apply specific compensation policies and practices that are appropriate to the circumstances of the company and, in particular, will attract and retain competent executives and other staff, while motivating them to grow the company’s long-term shareholder value.

Where we find those specific policies and practices serve to reasonably align compensation with performance, and such practices are adequately disclosed, Glass Lewis will recommend supporting the company’s approach. If, however, those specific policies and practices fail to demonstrably link compensation with performance, Glass Lewis will generally recommend voting against the say-on-pay proposal.

 

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Glass Lewis reviews say-on-pay proposals on both a qualitative basis and a quantitative basis, with a focus on several main areas:

 

    The overall design and structure of the company’s executive compensation programs including selection and challenging nature of performance metrics;

 

    The implementation and effectiveness of the company’s executive compensation programs including pay mix and use of performance metrics in determining pay levels;

 

    The quality and content of the company’s disclosure;

 

    The quantum paid to executives; and

 

    The link between compensation and performance as indicated by the company’s current and past pay-for-performance grades.

We also review any significant changes or modifications, and rationale for such changes, made to the company’s compensation structure or award amounts, including base salaries.

SAY-ON-PAY VOTING RECOMMENDATIONS

In cases where we find deficiencies in a company’s compensation program’s design, implementation or management, we will recommend that shareholders vote against the say-on-pay proposal. Generally such instances include evidence of a pattern of poor pay-for-performance practices (i.e., deficient or failing pay for performance grades), unclear or questionable disclosure regarding the overall compensation structure (e.g., limited information regarding benchmarking processes, limited rationale for bonus performance metrics and targets, etc.), questionable adjustments to certain aspects of the overall compensation structure (e.g., limited rationale for significant changes to performance targets or metrics, the payout of guaranteed bonuses or sizable retention grants, etc.), and/or other egregious compensation practices.

Although not an exhaustive list, the following issues when weighed together may cause Glass Lewis to recommend voting against a say-on-pay vote:

 

    Inappropriate peer group and/or benchmarking issues;

 

    Inadequate or no rationale for changes to peer groups;

 

    Egregious or excessive bonuses, equity awards or severance payments, including golden handshakes and golden parachutes;

 

    Problematic contractual payments, such as guaranteed bonuses;

 

    Targeting overall levels of compensation at higher than median without adequate justification;

 

    Performance targets not sufficiently challenging, and/or providing for high potential payouts;

 

    Performance targets lowered without justification;

 

    Discretionary bonuses paid when short- or long-term incentive plan targets were not met;

 

    Executive pay high relative to peers not justified by outstanding company performance; and

 

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    The terms of the long-term incentive plans are inappropriate (please see “Long-Term Incentives” on page 29).

In instances where a company has simply failed to provide sufficient disclosure of its policies, we may recommend shareholders vote against this proposal solely on this basis, regardless of the appropriateness of compensation levels.

COMPANY RESPONSIVENESS

At companies that received a significant level of shareholder opposition (25% or greater) to their say-on-pay proposal at the previous annual meeting, we believe the board should demonstrate some level of engagement and responsiveness to the shareholder concerns behind the discontent, particularly in response to shareholder engagement. While we recognize that sweeping changes cannot be made to a compensation program without due consideration and that a majority of shareholders voted in favor of the proposal, given that the average approval rate for say-on-pay proposals is about 90% we believe the compensation committee should provide some level of response to a significant vote against, including engaging with large shareholders to identify their concerns. In the absence of any evidence that the board is actively engaging shareholders on these issues and responding accordingly, we may recommend holding compensation committee members accountable for failing to adequately respond to shareholder opposition, giving careful consideration to the level of shareholder protest and the severity and history of compensation problems.

Where we identify egregious compensation practices, we may also recommend voting against the compensation committee based on the practices or actions of its members during the year. Such practices may include: approving large one-off payments, the inappropriate, unjustified use of discretion, or sustained poor pay for performance practices.

PAY FOR PERFORMANCE

Glass Lewis believes an integral part of a well-structured compensation package is a successful link between pay and performance. Our proprietary pay-for-performance model was developed to better evaluate the link between pay and performance of the top five executives at US companies. Our model benchmarks these executives’ pay and company performance against peers selected using Equilar’s market-based peer groups and across five performance metrics. By measuring the magnitude of the gap between two weighted-average percentile rankings (executive compensation and performance), we grade companies based on a school letter system: “A”, “B”, “F”, etc. The grades guide our evaluation of compensation committee effectiveness and we generally recommend voting against compensation committee of companies with a pattern of failing our pay-for-performance analysis.

We also use this analysis to inform our voting decisions on say-on-pay proposals. As such, if a company receives a failing grade from our proprietary model, we are more likely to recommend that shareholders vote against the say-on-pay proposal. However, other qualitative factors such as an effective overall incentive structure, the relevance of selected performance metrics, significant forthcoming enhancements or reasonable long-term payout levels may give us cause to recommend in favor of a proposal even when we have identified a disconnect between pay and performance.

SHORT-TERM INCENTIVES

A short-term bonus or incentive (“STI”) should be demonstrably tied to performance. Whenever possible, we believe a mix of corporate and individual performance measures is appropriate. We would normally expect performance measures for STIs to be based on company-wide or divisional financial measures as well as non-financial factors such as those related to safety, environmental issues, and customer satisfaction. While we recognize that companies operating in different sectors or markets may seek to utilize a wide range of metrics, we expect such measures to be appropriately tied to a company’s business drivers.

 

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Further, the target and potential maximum awards that can be achieved under STI awards should be disclosed. Shareholders should expect stretching performance targets for the maximum award to be achieved. Any increase in the potential maximum award should be clearly justified to shareholders.

Glass Lewis recognizes that disclosure of some measures may include commercially confidential information. Therefore, we believe it may be reasonable to exclude such information in some cases as long as the company provides sufficient justification for non-disclosure. However, where a short-term bonus has been paid, companies should disclose the extent to which performance has been achieved against relevant targets, including disclosure of the actual target achieved.

Where management has received significant STIs but short-term performance over the previous year prima facie appears to be poor or negative, we believe the company should provide a clear explanation of why these significant short-term payments were made.

LONG-TERM INCENTIVES

Glass Lewis recognizes the value of equity-based incentive programs, which are often the primary long-term incentive for executives. When used appropriately, they can provide a vehicle for linking an executive’s pay to company performance, thereby aligning their interests with those of shareholders. In addition, equity-based compensation can be an effective way to attract, retain and motivate key employees.

There are certain elements that Glass Lewis believes are common to most well-structured long-term incentive (“LTI”) plans. These include:

 

    No re-testing or lowering of performance conditions;

 

    Performance metrics that cannot be easily manipulated by management;

 

    Two or more performance metrics;

 

    At least one relative performance metric that compares the company’s performance to a relevant peer group or index;

 

    Performance periods of at least three years;

 

    Stretching metrics that incentivize executives to strive for outstanding performance while not encouraging excessive risk-taking; and

 

    Individual limits expressed as a percentage of base salary.

Performance measures should be carefully selected and should relate to the specific business/industry in which the company operates and, especially, the key value drivers of the company’s business.

While cognizant of the inherent complexity of certain performance metrics, Glass Lewis generally believes that measuring a company’s performance with multiple metrics serves to provide a more complete picture of the company’s performance than a single metric; further, reliance on just one metric may focus too much management attention on a single target and is therefore more susceptible to manipulation. When utilized for relative measurements, external benchmarks such as a sector index or peer group should be disclosed and transparent. The rationale behind the selection of a specific index or peer group should also be disclosed. Internal benchmarks should also be disclosed and transparent, unless a cogent case for confidentiality is made and fully explained.

 

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We also believe shareholders should evaluate the relative success of a company’s compensation programs, particularly with regard to existing equity-based incentive plans, in linking pay and performance when evaluating new LTI plans to determine the impact of additional stock awards. We will therefore review the company’s pay-for-performance grade (see below for more information) and specifically the proportion of total compensation that is stock-based.

ONE-OFF AWARDS

Glass Lewis believes shareholders should generally be wary of awards granted outside of the standard incentive schemes outlined above, as such awards have the potential to undermine the integrity of a company’s regular incentive plans, the link between pay and performance or both. We generally believe that if the existing incentive programs fail to provide adequate incentives to executives, companies should redesign their compensation programs rather than make additional grants.

However, we recognize that in certain circumstances, additional incentives may be appropriate. In these cases, companies should provide a thorough description of the awards, including a cogent and convincing explanation of their necessity and why existing awards do not provide sufficient motivation. Further, such awards should be tied to future service and performance whenever possible.

Additionally, we believe companies making supplemental awards should also describe if and how the regular compensation arrangements will be affected by these supplemental awards. In reviewing a company’s use of supplemental awards, Glass Lewis will review the terms and size of the grants in the context of the company’s overall incentive strategy and granting practices, as well as the current operating environment.

RECOUPMENT PROVISIONS (“CLAWBACKS”)

We believe it is prudent for boards to adopt detailed and stringent bonus recoupment policies to prevent executives from retaining performance-based awards that were not truly earned. We believe such “clawback” policies should be triggered in the event of a restatement of financial results or similar revision of performance indicators upon which bonuses were based. Such policies would allow the board to review all performance-related bonuses and awards made to senior executives during the period covered by a restatement and would, to the extent feasible, allow the company to recoup such bonuses in the event that performance goals were not actually achieved. We further believe clawback policies should be subject to only limited discretion to ensure the integrity of such policies.

Section 954 of the Dodd-Frank Act requires the SEC to create a rule requiring listed companies to adopt policies for recouping certain compensation during a three-year look-back period. The rule applies to incentive-based compensation paid to current or former executives if the company is required to prepare an accounting restatement due to erroneous data resulting from material non-compliance with any financial reporting requirements under the securities laws. However, the SEC has yet to finalize the relevant rules.

These recoupment provisions are more stringent than under Section 304 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in three respects: (i) the provisions extend to current or former executive officers rather than only to the CEO and CFO; (ii) it has a three-year look-back period (rather than a twelve-month look-back period); and (¡ii) it allows for recovery of compensation based upon a financial restatement due to erroneous data, and therefore does not require misconduct on the part of the executive or other employees.

 

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HEDGING OF STOCK

Glass Lewis believes that the hedging of shares by executives in the shares of the companies where they are employed severs the alignment of interests of the executive with shareholders. We believe companies should adopt strict policies to prohibit executives from hedging the economic risk associated with their share ownership in the company.

PLEDGING OF STOCK

Glass Lewis believes that shareholders should examine the facts and circumstances of each company rather than apply a one-size-fits-all policy regarding employee stock pledging. Glass Lewis believes that shareholders benefit when employees, particularly senior executives have “skin-in-the-game” and therefore recognizes the benefits of measures designed to encourage employees to both buy shares out of their own pocket and to retain shares they have been granted; blanket policies prohibiting stock pledging may discourage executives and employees from doing either.

However, we also recognize that the pledging of shares can present a risk that, depending on a host of factors, an executive with significant pledged shares and limited other assets may have an incentive to take steps to avoid a forced sale of shares in the face of a rapid stock price decline. Therefore, to avoid substantial losses from a forced sale to meet the terms of the loan, the executive may have an incentive to boost the stock price in the short term in a manner that is unsustainable, thus hurting shareholders in the long-term. We also recognize concerns regarding pledging may not apply to less senior employees, given the latter group’s significantly more limited influence over a company’s stock price. Therefore, we believe that the issue of pledging shares should be reviewed in that context, as should polices that distinguish between the two groups.

Glass Lewis believes that the benefits of stock ownership by executives and employees may outweigh the risks of stock pledging, depending on many factors. As such, Glass Lewis reviews all relevant factors in evaluating proposed policies, limitations and prohibitions on pledging stock, including:

 

    The number of shares pledged;

 

    The percentage executives’ pledged shares are of outstanding shares;

 

    The percentage executives’ pledged shares are of each executive’s shares and total assets;

 

    Whether the pledged shares were purchased by the employee or granted by the company;

 

    Whether there are different policies for purchased and granted shares;

 

    Whether the granted shares were time-based or performance-based;

 

    The overall governance profile of the company;

 

    The volatility of the company’s stock (in order to determine the likelihood of a sudden stock price drop);

 

    The nature and cyclicality, if applicable, of the company’s industry;

 

    The participation and eligibility of executives and employees in pledging;

 

    The company’s current policies regarding pledging and any waiver from these policies for employees and executives; and

 

    Disclosure of the extent of any pledging, particularly among senior executives.

 

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COMPENSATION CONSULTANT INDEPENDENCE

As mandated by Section 952 of the Dodd-Frank Act, as of January 11, 2013, the SEC approved new listing requirements for both the NYSE and NASDAQ which require compensation committees to consider six factors in assessing compensation advisor independence. These factors include: (1) provision of other services to the company; (2) fees paid by the company as a percentage of the advisor’s total annual revenue; (3) policies and procedures of the advisor to mitigate conflicts of interests; (4) any business or personal relationships of the consultant with any member of the compensation committee; (5) any company stock held by the consultant; and (6) any business or personal relationships of the consultant with any executive officer of the company. According to the SEC, “no one factor should be viewed as a determinative factor.” Glass Lewis believes this six-factor assessment is an important process for every compensation committee to undertake but believes companies employing a consultant for board compensation, consulting and other corporate services should provide clear disclosure beyond just a reference to examining the six points to allow shareholders to review the specific aspects of the various consultant relationships.

We believe compensation consultants are engaged to provide objective, disinterested, expert advice to the compensation committee. When the consultant or its affiliates receive substantial income from providing other services to the company, we believe the potential for a conflict of interest arises and the independence of the consultant may be jeopardized. Therefore, Glass Lewis will, when relevant, note the potential for a conflict of interest when the fees paid to the advisor or its affiliates for other services exceeds those paid for compensation consulting.

FREQUENCY OF SAY-ON-PAY

The Dodd-Frank Act also requires companies to allow shareholders a non-binding vote on the frequency of say-on-pay votes, i.e. every one, two or three years. Additionally, Dodd-Frank requires companies to hold such votes on the frequency of say-on-pay votes at least once every six years.

We believe companies should submit say-on-pay votes to shareholders every year. We believe that the time and financial burdens to a company with regard to an annual vote are relatively small and incremental and are outweighed by the benefits to shareholders through more frequent accountability. Implementing biannual or triennial votes on executive compensation limits shareholders’ ability to hold the board accountable for its compensation practices through means other than voting against the compensation committee. Unless a company provides a compelling rationale or unique circumstances for say-on-pay votes less frequent than annually, we will generally recommend that shareholders support annual votes on compensation.

VOTE ON GOLDEN PARACHUTE ARRANGEMENTS

The Dodd-Frank Act also requires companies to provide shareholders with a separate non-binding vote on approval of golden parachute compensation arrangements in connection with certain change- in-control transactions. However, if the golden parachute arrangements have previously been subject to a say-on-pay vote which shareholders approved, then this required vote is waived.

Glass Lewis believes the narrative and tabular disclosure of golden parachute arrangements benefits all shareholders. Glass Lewis analyzes each golden parachute arrangement on a case-by-case basis, taking into account, among other items: the nature of the change-in-control transaction, the ultimate value of the payments particularly compared to the value of the transaction, the tenure and position of the executives in question before and after the transaction, any new or amended employment agreements entered into in connection with the transaction, and the type of triggers involved (i.e., single vs. double).

 

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EQUITY-BASED COMPENSATION PLAN PROPOSALS

We believe that equity compensation awards, when not abused, are useful for retaining employees and providing an incentive for them to act in a way that will improve company performance. Glass Lewis evaluates equity-based compensation plans using a detailed model and analytical review.

Equity-based compensation programs have important differences from cash compensation plans and bonus programs. Accordingly, our model and analysis takes into account factors such as plan administration, the method and terms of exercise, repricing history, express or implied rights to reprice, and the presence of evergreen provisions.

Our analysis is primarily quantitative and focused on the plan’s cost as compared with the business’s operating metrics. We run twenty different analyses, comparing the program with absolute limits we believe are key to equity value creation and with a carefully chosen peer group. In general, our model seeks to determine whether the proposed plan is either absolutely excessive or is more than one standard deviation away from the average plan for the peer group on a range of criteria, including dilution to shareholders and the projected annual cost relative to the company’s financial performance. Each of the twenty analyses (and their constituent parts) is weighted and the plan is scored in accordance with that weight.

In our analysis, we compare the program’s expected annual expense with the business’s operating metrics to help determine whether the plan is excessive in light of company performance. We also compare the plan’s expected annual cost to the enterprise value of the firm rather than to market capitalization because the employees, managers and directors of the firm contribute to the creation of enterprise value but not necessarily market capitalization (the biggest difference is seen where cash represents the vast majority of market capitalization). Finally, we do not rely exclusively on relative comparisons with averages because, in addition to creeping averages serving to inflate compensation, we believe that some absolute limits are warranted.

We evaluate equity plans based on certain overarching principles:

 

    Companies should seek more shares only when needed;

 

    Requested share amounts should be small enough that companies seek shareholder approval every three to four years (or more frequently);

 

    If a plan is relatively expensive, it should not grant options solely to senior executives and board members;

 

    Annual net share count and voting power dilution should be limited;

 

    Annual cost of the plan (especially if not shown on the income statement) should be reasonable as a percentage of financial results and should be in line with the peer group;

 

    The expected annual cost of the plan should be proportional to the business’s value;

 

    The intrinsic value that option grantees received in the past should be reasonable compared with the business’s financial results;

 

    Plans should deliver value on a per-employee basis when compared with programs at peer companies;

 

    Plans should not permit re-pricing of stock options;

 

    Plans should not contain excessively liberal administrative or payment terms;

 

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    Plans should not count shares in ways that understate the potential dilution, or cost, to common shareholders. This refers to “inverse” full-value award multipliers;

 

    Selected performance metrics should be challenging and appropriate, and should be subject to relative performance measurements; and

 

    Stock grants should be subject to minimum vesting and/or holding periods sufficient to ensure sustainable performance and promote retention.

OPTION EXCHANGES

Glass Lewis views option repricing plans and option exchange programs with great skepticism. Shareholders have substantial risk in owning stock and we believe that the employees, officers, and directors who receive stock options should be similarly situated to align their interests with shareholder interests.

We are concerned that option grantees who believe they will be “rescued” from underwater options will be more inclined to take unjustifiable risks. Moreover, a predictable pattern of repricing or exchanges substantially alters a stock option’s value because options that will practically never expire deeply out of the money are worth far more than options that carry a risk of expiration.

In short, repricings and option exchange programs change the bargain between shareholders and employees after the bargain has been struck.

There is one circumstance in which a repricing or option exchange program may be acceptable: if macroeconomic or industry trends, rather than specific company issues, cause a stock’s value to decline dramatically and the repricing is necessary to motivate and retain employees. In this circumstance, we think it fair to conclude that option grantees may be suffering from a risk that was not foreseeable when the original “bargain” was struck. In such a circumstance, we will recommend supporting a repricing only if the following conditions are true:

 

    Officers and board members cannot participate in the program;

 

    The stock decline mirrors the market or industry price decline in terms of timing and approximates the decline in magnitude;

 

    The exchange is value-neutral or value-creative to shareholders using very conservative assumptions and with a recognition of the adverse selection problems inherent in voluntary programs; and

 

    Management and the board make a cogent case for needing to motivate and retain existing employees, such as being in a competitive employment market.

OPTION BACKDATING, SPRING-LOADING AND BULLET-DODGING

Glass Lewis views option backdating, and the related practices of spring-loading and bullet-dodging, as egregious actions that warrant holding the appropriate management and board members responsible. These practices are similar to re-pricing options and eliminate much of the downside risk inherent in an option grant that is designed to induce recipients to maximize shareholder return.

Backdating an option is the act of changing an option’s grant date from the actual grant date to an earlier date when the market price of the underlying stock was lower, resulting in a lower exercise price for the option. Since 2006, Glass Lewis has identified over 270 companies that have disclosed internal or government investigations into their past stock-option grants.

 

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Spring-loading is granting stock options while in possession of material, positive information that has not been disclosed publicly. Bullet-dodging is delaying the grants of stock options until after the release of material, negative information. This can allow option grants to be made at a lower price either before the release of positive news or following the release of negative news, assuming the stock’s price will move up or down in response to the information. This raises a concern similar to that of insider trading, or the trading on material non-public information.

The exercise price for an option is determined on the day of grant, providing the recipient with the same market risk as an investor who bought shares on that date. However, where options were backdated, the executive or the board (or the compensation committee) changed the grant date retroactively. The new date may be at or near the lowest price for the year or period. This would be like allowing an investor to look back and select the lowest price of the year at which to buy shares.

A 2006 study of option grants made between 1996 and 2005 at 8,000 companies found that option backdating can be an indication of poor internal controls. The study found that option backdating was more likely to occur at companies without a majority independent board and with a long-serving CEO; both factors, the study concluded, were associated with greater CEO influence on the company’s compensation and governance practices.51

Where a company granted backdated options to an executive who is also a director, Glass Lewis will recommend voting against that executive/director, regardless of who decided to make the award. In addition, Glass Lewis will recommend voting against those directors who either approved or allowed the backdating. Glass Lewis feels that executives and directors who either benefited from backdated options or authorized the practice have breached their fiduciary responsibility to shareholders.

Given the severe tax and legal liabilities to the company from backdating, Glass Lewis will consider recommending voting against members of the audit committee who served when options were backdated, a restatement occurs, material weaknesses in internal controls exist and disclosures indicate there was a lack of documentation. These committee members failed in their responsibility to ensure the integrity of the company’s financial reports.

When a company has engaged in spring-loading or bullet-dodging, Glass Lewis will consider recommending voting against the compensation committee members where there has been a pattern of granting options at or near historic lows. Glass Lewis will also recommend voting against executives serving on the board who benefited from the spring-loading or bullet-dodging.

DIRECTOR COMPENSATION PLANS

Glass Lewis believes that non-employee directors should receive reasonable and appropriate compensation for the time and effort they spend serving on the board and its committees. However, a balance is required. Fees should be competitive in order to retain and attract qualified individuals, but excessive fees represent a financial cost to the company and potentially compromise the objectivity and independence of non-employee directors. We will consider recommending supporting compensation plans that include option grants or other equity-based awards that help to align the interests of outside directors with those of shareholders. However, equity grants to directors should not be performance- based to ensure directors are not incentivized in the same manner as executives but rather serve as a check on imprudent risk-taking in executive compensation plan design.

Glass Lewis uses a proprietary model and analyst review to evaluate the costs of equity plans compared to the plans of peer companies with similar market capitalizations. We use the results of this model to guide our voting recommendations on stock-based director compensation plans.

 

 

51 Lucian Bebchuk, Yaniv Grinstein and Urs Peyer. “LUCKY CEOs.” November, 2006.

 

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EMPLOYEE STOCK PURCHASE PLANS

Glass Lewis believes that employee stock purchase plans (“ESPPs”) can provide employees with a sense of ownership in their company and help strengthen the alignment between the interests of employees and shareholders. We use a quantitative model to estimate the cost of the plan by measuring the expected discount, purchase period, expected purchase activity (if previous activity has been disclosed) and whether the plan has a “lookback” feature, and then compare this cost to ESPPs at similar companies. Except for the most extreme cases, Glass Lewis will generally support these plans given the regulatory purchase limit of $25,000 per employee per year, which we believe is reasonable. We also look at the number of shares requested to see if a ESPP will significantly contribute to overall shareholder dilution or if shareholders will not have a chance to approve the program for an excessive period of time. As such, we will generally recommend against ESPPs that contain “evergreen” provisions that automatically increase the number of shares available under the ESPP each year.

EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION TAX DEDUCTIBILITY (IRS 162(M) COMPLIANCE)

Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code allows companies to deduct compensation in excess of $1 million for the CEO and the next three most highly compensated executive officers, excluding the CFO, if the compensation is performance-based and is paid under shareholder-approved plans. Companies therefore submit incentive plans for shareholder approval to take of advantage of the tax deductibility afforded under 162(m) for certain types of compensation.

We believe the best practice for companies is to provide robust disclosure to shareholders so that they can make fully-informed judgments about the reasonableness of the proposed compensation plan. To allow for meaningful shareholder review, we prefer that disclosure should include specific performance metrics, a maximum award pool, and a maximum award amount per employee. We also believe it is important to analyze the estimated grants to see if they are reasonable and in line with the company’s peers.

We typically recommend voting against a 162(m) proposal where: (i) a company fails to provide at least a list of performance targets; (ii) a company fails to provide one of either a total maximum or an individual maximum; or (¡ii) the proposed plan or individual maximum award limit is excessive when compared with the plans of the company’s peers.

The company’s record of aligning pay with performance (as evaluated using our proprietary pay-for- performance model) also plays a role in our recommendation. Where a company has a record of setting reasonable pay relative to business performance, we generally recommend voting in favor of a plan even if the plan caps seem large relative to peers because we recognize the value in special pay arrangements for continued exceptional performance.

As with all other issues we review, our goal is to provide consistent but contextual advice given the specifics of the company and ongoing performance. Overall, we recognize that it is generally not in shareholders’ best interests to vote against such a plan and forgo the potential tax benefit since shareholder rejection of such plans will not curtail the awards; it will only prevent the tax deduction associated with them.

 

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IV. Governance Structure and the Shareholder Franchise

ANTI-TAKEOVER MEASURES

POISON PILLS (SHAREHOLDER RIGHTS PLANS)

Glass Lewis believes that poison pill plans are not generally in shareholders’ best interests. They can reduce management accountability by substantially limiting opportunities for corporate takeovers. Rights plans can thus prevent shareholders from receiving a buy-out premium for their stock. Typically we recommend that shareholders vote against these plans to protect their financial interests and ensure that they have an opportunity to consider any offer for their shares, especially those at a premium.

We believe boards should be given wide latitude in directing company activities and in charting the company’s course. However, on an issue such as this, where the link between the shareholders’ financial interests and their right to consider and accept buyout offers is substantial, we believe that shareholders should be allowed to vote on whether they support such a plan’s implementation. This issue is different from other matters that are typically left to board discretion. Its potential impact on and relation to shareholders is direct and substantial. It is also an issue in which management interests may be different from those of shareholders; thus, ensuring that shareholders have a voice is the only way to safeguard their interests.

In certain circumstances, we will support a poison pill that is limited in scope to accomplish a particular objective, such as the closing of an important merger, or a pill that contains what we believe to be a reasonable qualifying offer clause. We will consider supporting a poison pill plan if the qualifying offer clause includes each of the following attributes:

 

    The form of offer is not required to be an all-cash transaction;

 

    The offer is not required to remain open for more than 90 business days;

 

    The offeror is permitted to amend the offer, reduce the offer, or otherwise change the terms;

 

    There is no fairness opinion requirement; and

 

    There is a low to no premium requirement.

Where these requirements are met, we typically feel comfortable that shareholders will have the opportunity to voice their opinion on any legitimate offer.

NOL POISON PILLS

Similarly, Glass Lewis may consider supporting a limited poison pill in the event that a company seeks shareholder approval of a rights plan for the express purpose of preserving Net Operating Losses (NOLs). While companies with NOLs can generally carry these losses forward to offset future taxable income, Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code limits companies’ ability to use NOLs in the event of a “change of ownership.”52 In this case, a company may adopt or amend a poison pill (“NOL pill”) in order to prevent an inadvertent change of ownership by multiple investors purchasing small chunks of stock at the same

 

 

52 Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code refers to a “change of ownership” of more than 50 percentage points by one or more 5% shareholders within a three-year period. The statute is intended to deter the “trafficking” of net operating losses.

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time, and thereby preserve the ability to carry the NOLs forward. Often such NOL pills have trigger thresholds much lower than the common 15% or 20% thresholds, with some NOL pill triggers as low as 5%.

Glass Lewis evaluates NOL pills on a strictly case-by-case basis taking into consideration, among other factors, the value of the NOLs to the company, the likelihood of a change of ownership based on the size of the holding and the nature of the larger shareholders, the trigger threshold and whether the term of the plan is limited in duration (i.e., whether it contains a reasonable “sunset” provision) or is subject to periodic board review and/or shareholder ratification. However, we will recommend that shareholders vote against a proposal to adopt or amend a pill to include NOL protective provisions if the company has adopted a more narrowly tailored means of preventing a change in control to preserve its NOLs. For example, a company may limit share transfers in its charter to prevent a change of ownership from occurring.

Furthermore, we believe that shareholders should be offered the opportunity to vote on any adoption or renewal of a NOL pill regardless of any potential tax benefit that it offers a company. As such, we will consider recommending voting against those members of the board who served at the time when an NOL pill was adopted without shareholder approval within the prior twelve months and where the NOL pill is not subject to shareholder ratification.

FAIR PRICE PROVISIONS

Fair price provisions, which are rare, require that certain minimum price and procedural requirements be observed by any party that acquires more than a specified percentage of a corporation’s common stock. The provision is intended to protect minority shareholder value when an acquirer seeks to accomplish a merger or other transaction which would eliminate or change the interests of the minority stockholders. The provision is generally applied against the acquirer unless the takeover is approved by a majority of “continuing directors” and holders of a majority, in some cases a supermajority as high as 80%, of the combined voting power of all stock entitled to vote to alter, amend, or repeal the above provisions.

The effect of a fair price provision is to require approval of any merger or business combination with an “interested stockholder” by 51% of the voting stock of the company, excluding the shares held by the interested stockholder. An interested stockholder is generally considered to be a holder of 10% or more of the company’s outstanding stock, but the trigger can vary.

Generally, provisions are put in place for the ostensible purpose of preventing a back-end merger where the interested stockholder would be able to pay a lower price for the remaining shares of the company than he or she paid to gain control. The effect of a fair price provision on shareholders, however, is to limit their ability to gain a premium for their shares through a partial tender offer or open market acquisition which typically raise the share price, often significantly. A fair price provision discourages such transactions because of the potential costs of seeking shareholder approval and because of the restrictions on purchase price for completing a merger or other transaction at a later time.

Glass Lewis believes that fair price provisions, while sometimes protecting shareholders from abuse in a takeover situation, more often act as an impediment to takeovers, potentially limiting gains to shareholders from a variety of transactions that could significantly increase share price. In some cases, even the independent directors of the board cannot make exceptions when such exceptions may be in the best interests of shareholders. Given the existence of state law protections for minority shareholders such as Section 203 of the Delaware Corporations Code, we believe it is in the best interests of shareholders to remove fair price provisions.

REINCORPORATION

In general, Glass Lewis believes that the board is in the best position to determine the appropriate jurisdiction of incorporation for the company. When examining a management proposal to reincorporate to

 

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a different state or country, we review the relevant financial benefits, generally related to improved corporate tax treatment, as well as changes in corporate governance provisions, especially those relating to shareholder rights, resulting from the change in domicile. Where the financial benefits are de minimis and there is a decrease in shareholder rights, we will recommend voting against the transaction.

However, costly, shareholder-initiated reincorporations are typically not the best route to achieve the furtherance of shareholder rights. We believe shareholders are generally better served by proposing specific shareholder resolutions addressing pertinent issues which may be implemented at a lower cost, and perhaps even with board approval. However, when shareholders propose a shift into a jurisdiction with enhanced shareholder rights, Glass Lewis examines the significant ways would the company benefit from shifting jurisdictions including the following:

 

    Is the board sufficiently independent?

 

    Does the company have anti-takeover protections such as a poison pill or classified board in place?

 

    Has the board been previously unresponsive to shareholders (such as failing to implement a shareholder proposal that received majority shareholder support)?

 

    Do shareholders have the right to call special meetings of shareholders?

 

    Are there other material governance issues of concern at the company?

 

    Has the company’s performance matched or exceeded its peers in the past one and three years?

 

    How has the company ranked in Glass Lewis’ pay-for-performance analysis during the last three years?

 

    Does the company have an independent chairman?

We note, however, that we will only support shareholder proposals to change a company’s place of incorporation in exceptional circumstances.

EXCLUSIVE FORUM AND FEE-SHIFTING BYLAW PROVISIONS

Glass Lewis recognizes that companies may be subject to frivolous and opportunistic lawsuits, particularly in conjunction with a merger or acquisition, that are expensive and distracting. In response, companies have sought ways to prevent or limit the risk of such suits by adopting bylaws regarding where the suits must be brought or shifting the burden of the legal expenses to the plaintiff, if unsuccessful at trial.

Glass Lewis believes that charter or bylaw provisions limiting a shareholder’s choice of legal venue are not in the best interests of shareholders. Such clauses may effectively discourage the use of shareholder claims by increasing their associated costs and making them more difficult to pursue. As such, shareholders should be wary about approving any limitation on their legal recourse including limiting themselves to a single jurisdiction (e.g., Delaware) without compelling evidence that it will benefit shareholders.

For this reason, we recommend that shareholders vote against any bylaw or charter amendment seeking to adopt an exclusive forum provision unless the company: (i) provides a compelling argument on why the provision would directly benefit shareholders; (ii) provides evidence of abuse of legal process in other, non-favored jurisdictions; (m) narrowly tailors such provision to the risks involved; and (iv) maintains a strong record of good corporate governance practices.

 

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Moreover, in the event a board seeks shareholder approval of a forum selection clause pursuant to a bundled bylaw amendment rather than as a separate proposal, we will weigh the importance of the other bundled provisions when determining the vote recommendation on the proposal. We will nonetheless recommend voting against the chairman of the governance committee for bundling disparate proposals into a single proposal (refer to our discussion of nominating and governance committee performance in Section I of the guidelines).

Similarly, some companies have adopted bylaws requiring plaintiffs who sue the company and fail to receive a judgment in their favor pay the legal expenses of the company. These bylaws, also known as “fee-shifting” or “loser pays” bylaws, will likely have a chilling effect on even meritorious shareholder lawsuits as shareholders would face an strong financial disincentive not to sue a company. Glass Lewis therefore strongly opposes the adoption of such fee-shifting bylaws and, if adopted without shareholder approval, will recommend voting against the governance committee.

AUTHORIZED SHARES

Glass Lewis believes that adequate capital stock is important to a company’s operation. When analyzing a request for additional shares, we typically review four common reasons why a company might need additional capital stock: