497 1 d91687d497.htm 497 FOR ISHARES TRUST 497 for iShares Trust
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December 29, 2015
2015 Prospectus
►  iShares Adaptive Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF | DEFA | BATS
The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has not approved or disapproved these securities or passed upon the adequacy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 


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“MSCI EAFE® Adaptive Hedge to USD Index” is a servicemark of MSCI Inc. and has been licensed for use for certain purposes by BlackRock Fund Advisors or its affiliates. iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates. The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold, or promoted by MSCI Inc., nor does MSCI Inc. make any representation regarding the advisability of investing in the Fund.
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iSHARES® ADAPTIVE CURRENCY
HEDGED MSCI EAFE ETF
Ticker: DEFA Stock Exchange: BATS
Investment Objective
The iShares Adaptive Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF (the “Fund”) seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of large- and mid-capitalization equities in Europe, Australasia, and the Far East while dynamically hedging currency risk for a U.S. dollar based investor.
Fees and Expenses
The following table describes the fees and expenses that you will incur if you own shares of the Fund. The investment advisory agreement between iShares Trust (the “Trust”) and BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”) (formerly, Barclays Global Fund Advisors (“BGFA”)) (the “Investment Advisory Agreement”) provides that BFA will pay all operating expenses of the Fund, except interest expenses, taxes, brokerage expenses, future distribution fees or expenses, and extraordinary expenses. The Fund may also pay “Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses.” Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses reflect the Fund's pro rata share of the fees and expenses incurred by investing in other investment companies. As the Fund has not commenced operations prior to the date of the Fund’s prospectus (the “Prospectus”), Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses are based on an estimate of the Fund’s allocation to other investment companies for the current fiscal year. The impact of Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses will be included in the total returns of the Fund. Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses are not used to calculate the Fund's net asset value per share (“NAV”). BFA, the investment adviser to the Fund, has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees in an amount equal to the Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any, attributable to the Fund's investments in other series of iShares Trust and iShares, Inc. until November 30, 2020. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to November 30, 2020 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA. In addition, with respect to the Fund, BFA has agreed to reduce the management fee on assets attributable to the Fund's investment in iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (“EFA” or the “Underlying Fund”) (and those assets used to hedge the currencies in which securities in EFA are denominated against the U.S. dollar) such that the management fee is equal to the total annual fund operating expenses after fee waiver of EFA plus 0.03% until November 30, 2020. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to November 30, 2020 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA.
You may also incur usual and customary brokerage commissions and other charges when buying or selling shares of the Fund, which are not reflected in the Example that follows:
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Annual Fund Operating Expenses
(ongoing expenses that you pay each year as a
percentage of the value of your investments)
Management
Fees
  Distribution and
Service (12b-1)
Fees
  Other
Expenses
  Acquired Fund Fees
and Expenses
  Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
  Fee Waiver   Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
After
Fee Waiver
0.38%   None   None   0.32%   0.70%   (0.35)%   0.35%
Example. This Example is intended to help you compare the cost of owning shares of the Fund with the cost of investing in other funds. The Example assumes that you invest $10,000 in the Fund for the time periods indicated and then sell all of your shares at the end of those periods. The Example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions, your costs would be:
  1 Year   3 Years    
  $36   $113    
Portfolio Turnover. The Fund and the Underlying Fund in which the Fund principally invests, the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF, may pay transaction costs, such as commissions, when they buy and sell securities (or “turn over” their portfolios). A higher portfolio turnover rate for the Fund or the Underlying Fund may indicate higher transaction costs and cause the Fund or the Underlying Fund to incur increased expenses. These expenses, which are not reflected in Annual Fund Operating Expenses or in the Example (except costs to the Underlying Fund included as part of Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses), affect the Fund's performance. To the extent the Underlying Fund incurs costs from high portfolio turnover, such costs may have a negative effect on the performance of the Fund.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the MSCI EAFE Adaptive
Hedge to USD Index (the “Underlying Index”), which has been developed by MSCI Inc. (the “Index Provider” or “MSCI”) as an equity benchmark for international stock performance with the foreign currency exposure of the securities included in the Underlying Index dynamically hedged against the U.S. dollar determined systematically by four currency risk indicators: carry, momentum, value, and volatility. As of December 11, 2015, the Underlying Index consisted of securities from the following countries or regions: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The Underlying Index may include large-, mid- or small-capitalization companies. Components primarily include consumer discretionary, financials and industrials companies. The components of the Underlying Index, and the degree to
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which these components represent certain industries, are likely to change over time.
As of its inception date, the Fund intends to seek to achieve its investment objective by investing a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund.
BFA uses a “passive” or indexing approach to try to achieve the Fund’s investment objective. Unlike many investment companies, the Fund does not try to “beat” the index it tracks and does not seek temporary defensive positions when markets decline or appear overvalued.
Indexing may eliminate the chance that the Fund will substantially outperform the Underlying Index but also may reduce some of the risks of active management, such as poor security selection. Indexing seeks to achieve lower costs and better after-tax performance by keeping portfolio turnover low in comparison to actively managed investment companies.
BFA uses a representative sampling indexing strategy to manage the Fund and the Underlying Fund. “Representative sampling” is an indexing strategy that involves investing in a representative sample of securities or other instruments comprising the Underlying Index. The securities selected are expected to have, in the aggregate, investment characteristics (based on factors such as market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of the Underlying Index. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may or may not hold all of the securities and other components of its Underlying Index.
The Fund generally will invest at least 90% of its assets in the component securities (including indirect investments through the Underlying Fund) and other instruments of the Underlying Index and in investments that have economic characteristics that are substantially identical to the component securities of the Underlying Index (i.e., depositary receipts representing securities of the Underlying Index) and may invest up to 10% of its assets in certain futures, options and swap contracts, cash and cash equivalents, including shares of money market funds advised by BFA or its affiliates, as well as in securities not included in the Underlying Index, but which BFA believes will help the Fund track the Underlying Index. Components of the Underlying Index include equity securities and foreign currency forward contracts (both deliverable and non-deliverable) designed to hedge against non-U.S. currency fluctuations. The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the Underlying Index before the fees and expenses of the Fund.
In order to replicate the “hedging” component of the Underlying Index, which attempts to mitigate currency risk, the Fund intends to enter into foreign currency forward contracts designed to offset the Fund’s holdings in component securities denominated in a non-U.S. dollar currency. A foreign currency forward contract is a contract between two parties to buy or sell a specified amount of a specific currency in the future at an agreed upon exchange rate. The Fund’s exposure to foreign currency forward contracts is based on the exposure of the Fund to the component securities and a hedge ratio (“Hedge Ratio”), as calculated by MSCI.
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The Underlying Index applies a methodology, based on the Hedge Ratio, that sells the total value or a portion of the total value of each non-U.S. dollar currency in which the securities of the Underlying Index are denominated in the form of a one-month currency contract to create a “hedge” against fluctuations in the relative value of the currencies in relation to the U.S. dollar. The Hedge Ratio is based on four commonly used indicators for measuring currency risk, which are equally weighted and include: value (relative purchasing power between the foreign currency and the U.S. dollar based on exchange rates over a long-term average), momentum (relative price momentum of the foreign currency compared against the U.S. dollar over the previous six months), carry (differences in short-term interest rates between the foreign currency and the U.S. dollar over a long-term average), and volatility (relative price volatility of the foreign currency based on the currency’s one-month average against its six-month average). The overall effect, since the four indicators are equally weighted, is that each foreign currency represented by constituent weights in the Underlying Index can be unhedged, 25% hedged, 50% hedged, 75% hedged or fully hedged relative to the U.S. dollar.
The hedge (based on the Hedge Ratio) is reset on a monthly basis by MSCI and will not be adjusted intra-month based on movement in the value of the underlying equity securities and/or currencies, or based on the four indicators. The Underlying Index may therefore be slightly “over-hedged” (if equity values decline) or “under-hedged” (if the equity values increase) between the month-end rebalances. The
Underlying Index is therefore intended to have higher returns than an equivalent unhedged investment when the component currencies are weakening relative to the U.S. dollar. Conversely, the Underlying Index is therefore intended to have lower returns than an equivalent unhedged investment when the component currencies are strengthening relative to the U.S. dollar.
While the use of foreign currency forward contracts, based on the Hedge Ratio, is designed to minimize the impact of the strengthening or weakening of a foreign currency on Fund returns, it does not necessarily eliminate the Fund’s exposure to the component currencies. The return of the foreign currency forward contracts may not perfectly offset the actual fluctuations between the component currencies and the U.S. dollar.
The Fund may use non-deliverable forward (“NDF”) contracts to execute its hedging transactions. An NDF is a contract where there is no physical settlement of two currencies at maturity. Rather, based on the strengthening or weakening of the currencies, a net cash settlement will be made by one party to the other.
The Fund may lend securities representing up to one-third of the value of the Fund's total assets (including the value of any collateral received).
The Underlying Index is calculated by the Index Provider, which is independent of the Fund and BFA. The Index Provider determines the composition and relative weightings of the securities and currency forwards in the Underlying Index and publishes
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information regarding the market value of the Underlying Index.
Industry Concentration Policy. The Fund will concentrate its investments (i.e., hold 25% or more of its total assets) in a particular industry or group of industries to approximately the same extent that the Underlying Index is concentrated. For purposes of this limitation, securities of the U.S. government (including its agencies and instrumentalities) and repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.
Summary of Principal Risks
As with any investment, you could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund's performance could trail that of other investments. The Fund is subject to the principal risks noted below (either directly or through its investments in the Underlying Fund), any of which may adversely affect the Fund's NAV, trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective.
Asset Class Risk. Securities and other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund's portfolio may underperform in comparison to the general financial markets, a particular financial market or other asset classes.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section of the Prospectus) may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that act as Authorized Participants. To the extent that these institutions exit the business or are
unable to proceed with creation and/or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units (as defined below), Fund shares may trade at a discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts and/or delisting.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class.
Consumer Discretionary Sector Risk. The consumer discretionary sector may be affected by changes in domestic and international economies, exchange and interest rates, competition, consumers' disposable income, consumer preferences, social trends and marketing campaigns.
Currency Hedging Risk. When a derivative is used as a hedge against a position that the Fund holds, any loss generated by the derivative generally should be substantially offset by gains on the hedged investment, and vice versa. While hedging can reduce or eliminate losses, it can also reduce or eliminate gains. Hedges are sometimes subject to imperfect matching between the derivative and its reference asset, and there can be no assurance that the calculation methodology for the currency hedging or the Fund’s hedging transactions, if implemented, will be effective. Currency hedging activity exposes the Fund to credit risk due to counterparty exposure, which risk will
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be higher to the extent that the Fund trades with a single counterparty or small number of counterparties.
In seeking to track the performance of the Underlying Index, the Fund will attempt to hedge the currency exposure of non-U.S. dollar denominated securities held in its portfolio (held directly or indirectly through its investment in the Underlying Fund) by investing in foreign currency forward contracts, which may include both physically-settled forward contracts and NDFs. NDFs may be less liquid than deliverable forward currency contracts. A lack of liquidity in NDFs of the hedged currency could result in the Fund being unable to structure its hedging transactions as intended. In addition, BFA may seek to limit the size of the Fund in order to attempt to reduce the likelihood of a situation where the Fund is unable to obtain sufficient liquidity in an underlying currency hedge to implement its investment objective.
Foreign currency forward contracts, including NDFs, do not eliminate movements in the value of non-U.S. currencies and securities but rather allow the Fund to establish a fixed rate of exchange for a future point in time. Exchange rates may be volatile and may change quickly and unpredictably in response to both global economic developments and economic conditions in a geographic region in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests. In addition, in order to minimize transaction costs, or for other reasons, the Fund’s exposure to the component currencies may not be fully hedged to the extent indicated by the Hedge Ratio, as determined by the indicators described in the Fund's principal investment strategies. At certain times, the Fund may use an optimized hedging
strategy and will hedge a smaller number of component currencies to reduce hedging costs. In addition, each currency's hedge is reset on a monthly basis and will not be adjusted during the month based on movement in the value of the component securities or currencies. As a result, the Underlying Index may be “over-hedged” or “under-hedged” between month-end rebalances. Furthermore, while the Fund is designed to hedge against currency fluctuations, it is possible that a degree of currency exposure may remain even at the time a hedging transaction is implemented. As a result, the Fund may not be able to structure its hedging transactions as anticipated or its hedging transactions may not successfully reduce the currency risk included in the Fund’s portfolio. The effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy will in general be affected by the volatility of both the Underlying Index and the volatility of the U.S. dollar relative to the currencies to be hedged, measured on an aggregate basis. Increased volatility in either or both the Underlying Index and the U.S. dollar relative to the currencies to be hedged will generally reduce the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy as calculated by MSCI. In addition, volatility in one or more of the currencies may offset stability in another currency and reduce the overall effectiveness of the hedges. The effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy may also in general be affected by interest rates. Significant differences between U.S. dollar interest rates and foreign currency interest rates may impact the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy.
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Currency Risk. Because the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's NAVs are determined in U.S. dollars, the Fund's NAV could decline if the currency of one or more of the non-U.S. markets in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar and the depreciation of one currency is not offset by appreciation in another currency and/or the Fund's attempt to hedge currency exposure to the depreciating currency or currencies is unsuccessful. Generally, an increase in the value of the U.S. dollar against a foreign currency will reduce the value of a security denominated in that foreign currency. In addition, fluctuations in the exchange rates of currencies could affect the economy or particular business operations of companies in a geographic region, including securities in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests, causing an adverse impact on the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund’s investments in the affected region and the United States. As a result, investors have the potential for losses regardless of the length of time they intend to hold Fund shares. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the value of an investment in the Fund may change quickly and without warning, which could have a significant negative impact on the Fund.
Cyber Security Risk. Failures or breaches of the electronic systems of the Fund and the Underlying Fund, the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's adviser, and the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests have the ability to cause disruptions and
negatively impact the Fund’s business operations, potentially resulting in financial losses to the Fund and its shareholders. While the Fund has established business continuity plans and risk management systems seeking to address system breaches or failures, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cyber security plans and systems of the Fund’s service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
Derivatives Risk. The Fund will use currency forwards and NDFs to hedge the currency exposure resulting from investments in the foreign currency-denominated securities held by the Fund and the Underlying Fund. The Fund’s use of these instruments, like investments in other derivatives, may reduce the Fund’s returns, increase volatility and/or result in losses due to credit risk or ineffective hedging strategies. Volatility is defined as the characteristic of a security, a currency, an index or a market, to fluctuate significantly in price within a defined time period. Currency forwards, like other derivatives, are also subject to counterparty risk, which is the risk that the other party in the transaction will not fulfill its contractual obligation. A risk of the Fund’s use of derivatives is that the fluctuations in their values may not correlate perfectly with the currency or currencies being hedged. The possible lack of a liquid secondary market for derivatives and the resulting inability of the Fund to sell or otherwise close a derivatives position could expose the Fund to losses and could make derivatives more difficult for the Fund to value accurately. The Fund could also suffer losses related to its
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derivatives positions as a result of unanticipated market movements, which losses are potentially unlimited. BFA’s use of derivatives is not intended to predict the direction of securities prices, currency exchange rates, interest rates and other economic factors, which could cause the Fund’s derivatives positions to lose value. Derivatives may give rise to a form of leverage and may expose the Fund to greater risk and increase its costs. The U.S. and certain other countries have adopted or are in the process of adopting regulatory reforms affecting the derivatives markets. These regulations may make derivatives more costly, may limit the availability of derivatives, and may otherwise adversely affect the value and performance of derivatives.
Equity Securities Risk. Equity securities are subject to changes in value, and their values may be more volatile than those of other asset classes.
Financials Sector Risk. Performance of companies in the financials sector may be adversely impacted by many factors, including, among others, government regulations, economic conditions, credit rating downgrades, changes in interest rates, and decreased liquidity in credit markets. The impact of more stringent capital requirements, recent or future regulation of any individual financial company, or recent or future regulation of the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. In recent years, cyber attacks and technology malfunctions and failures have become increasingly frequent in this sector and have caused significant losses.
Geographic Risk. A natural or other disaster could occur in a geographic
region in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests, which could affect the economy or particular business operations of companies in the specific geographic region, causing an adverse impact on the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's investments in the affected region.
Index-Related Risk. There is no guarantee that the Fund will achieve a high degree of correlation to the Underlying Index and therefore achieve its investment objective. Market disruptions and regulatory restrictions could have an adverse effect on the Fund’s ability to adjust its exposure to the required levels in order to track the Underlying Index. Errors in index data, index computations and/or the construction of the Underlying Index in accordance with its methodology may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, which may have an adverse impact on the Fund and its shareholders.
Industrials Sector Risk. The industrials sector may be adversely affected by changes in the supply of and demand for products and services, product obsolescence, claims for environmental damage or product liability and general economic conditions, among other factors.
Investment in Underlying Fund Risk. The Fund expects to invest a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund, so the Fund’s investment performance is likely to be directly related to the performance of the Underlying Fund. The Fund’s NAV will change with changes in the value of the Underlying Fund and other instruments in which the Fund invests based on their market valuations. An investment in the
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Fund will entail more costs and expenses than a direct investment in the Underlying Fund, including as a result of the currency hedging activity conducted by the Fund.
As the Fund’s allocation to the Underlying Fund changes from time to time, or to the extent that the expense ratio of the Underlying Fund changes, the weighted average operating expenses borne by the Fund may increase or decrease.
Issuer Risk. Fund performance depends on the performance of individual securities and other instruments to which the Fund and the Underlying Fund have exposure. Changes in the financial condition or credit rating of an issuer of those securities or counterparty on other instruments may cause the value of the securities or instruments to decline.
Management Risk. As the Fund may not fully replicate the Underlying Index, it is subject to the risk that BFA's investment strategy may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns.
Market Trading Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund face numerous market trading risks, including the potential lack of an active market for their shares, losses from trading in secondary markets, losses due to ineffective currency hedges, periods of high volatility and disruptions in the creation/redemption process. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES
TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV.
Mid-Capitalization Companies Risk. Compared to large-capitalization companies, mid-capitalization companies may be less stable and more susceptible to adverse developments, and their securities may be more volatile and less liquid.
Model Risk. Neither the Fund nor BFA can offer assurances that the allocation and hedging model used to calculate the Underlying Index will achieve its intended results.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund or the Underlying Fund trade on foreign exchanges that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of such an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”).
Non-Diversification Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may invest a large percentage of their respective assets in securities issued by or representing a small number of issuers. As a result, the Fund's performance may depend on the performance of a small number of issuers.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks associated with investing in those non-U.S. markets, such as heightened risks of inflation or nationalization. The Fund may lose
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money due to political, economic and geographic events affecting issuers of non-U.S. securities or non-U.S. markets. In addition, non-U.S. securities markets may trade a small number of securities and may be unable to respond effectively to increases in trading volume, potentially making prompt liquidation of holdings difficult or impossible at times. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are specifically exposed to Asian Economic Risk and European Economic Risk.
Operational Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are exposed to operational risk arising from a number of factors, including but not limited to human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund’s and the Underlying Fund's service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund, the Underlying Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate for those risks that they are intended to address.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are not actively managed and BFA does not attempt to take defensive positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Privatization Risk. Some countries in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invest have privatized, or have begun a process of privatizing, certain entities and industries. Privatized entities may lose money or be re-nationalized.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund invest in countries whose economies
are heavily dependent upon trading with key partners. Any reduction in this trading may have an adverse impact on the Fund's investments. Through its portfolio companies' trading partners, the Fund and the Underlying Fund are specifically exposed to Asian Economic Risk, European Economic Risk and U.S. Economic Risk.
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. The Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's investment in developed country issuers may subject the Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, economic and other risks specific to developed countries. Developed countries tend to represent a significant portion of the global economy and have generally experienced slower economic growth than some less developed countries. Many developed countries experienced a significant economic slowdown during the financial crisis that began in 2007. In addition, developed countries may be impacted by changes to the economic health of certain key trading partners, regulatory burdens, debt burdens and the price or availability of certain commodities.
Risk of Investing in Japan. The Japanese economy may be subject to considerable degrees of economic, political and social instability, which could have a negative impact on Japanese securities. Since the year 2000, Japan’s economic growth rate has remained relatively low, and it may remain low in the future. In addition, Japan is subject to the risk of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons and tsunamis, which could negatively affect the Fund or the Underlying Fund.
Securities Lending Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may engage in
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securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund and the Underlying Fund may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund and the Underlying Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund.
Security Risk. Some countries and regions in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests have experienced security concerns, such as terrorism or strained international relations. Incidents involving a country's or region's security may cause uncertainty in these markets and may adversely affect their economies and the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's investments.
Tax Risk. Because the Fund is expected to invest in the Underlying Fund, the Fund’s realized losses on sales of shares of the Underlying Fund may be indefinitely or permanently deferred as “wash sales.” Distributions of short-term capital gains by the Underlying Fund will be recognized as ordinary income by the Fund and would not be offset by the Fund’s capital loss carryforwards, if any. Capital loss carryforwards of the Underlying Fund, if any, would not offset net capital gains of the Fund. Each of these effects is caused by the Fund’s investment in the Underlying Fund and may result in distributions to Fund shareholders being of higher magnitudes and less likely to qualify for lower capital gain tax rates than if the Fund were to invest otherwise directly in the securities and
other instruments comprising the Underlying Index. The Fund is expected to invest in derivatives. The federal income tax treatment of a derivative may not be as favorable as a direct investment in an underlying asset. Derivatives may produce taxable income and taxable realized gain. Derivatives may adversely affect the timing, character and amount of income the Fund realizes from its investments. As a result, a larger portion of the Fund’s distributions may be treated as ordinary income rather than as capital gains. In addition, certain derivatives are subject to mark-to-market or straddle provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Internal Revenue Code”). If such provisions are applicable, there could be an increase (or decrease) in the amount of taxable dividends paid by the Fund. Income from swaps is generally taxable. In addition, the tax treatment of certain derivatives, such as swaps, is unsettled and may be subject to future legislation, regulation or administrative pronouncements issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”).
Tracking Error Risk. Tracking error is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities (including shares of the Underlying Fund) and other instruments held in the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences (including differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the Fund’s valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the Fund’s NAV), differences in transaction and hedging costs and forward rates achieved, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences
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in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or other distributions, changes to the Underlying Index and the cost to the Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. These risks may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions in the affected securities and/or foreign exchange markets. In addition, tracking error may result because the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not, and because the Fund accepts creations and redemptions during time periods between which it is able to adjust its currency hedges, whereas the Underlying Index does not adjust its hedging during these periods. To the extent that the Fund seeks its investment objective through investments in the Underlying Fund, the Fund may experience increased tracking error. The potential for increased tracking error may result from investments in the Underlying Fund due to, among other things, differences in the composition of the investment portfolio of the Underlying Fund as compared to the index tracked by the Underlying Fund and differences in the Fund’s valuation of the Underlying Fund and the foreign currency forward contracts (each valued as of the close
of the New York Stock Exchange, typically 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time) and the valuation of the securities in the Underlying Index (generally valued as of each security’s local market close) and the foreign currency forward contracts in the Underlying Index (generally valued at 4:00 p.m., London time).
Valuation Risk. The price the Fund and the Underlying Fund could receive upon sale of a security or unwind of a financial instrument or other asset may differ from the Fund's valuation of the security or other instrument or asset and from the value used by the Underlying Index, particularly for securities or other instruments that trade in low volume or volatile markets or that are valued using a fair value methodology. In addition, the value of the securities or other instruments in the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's portfolio may change on days when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's shares.
Performance Information
As of the date of the Prospectus, the Fund has been in operation for less than one full calendar year and therefore does not report its performance information.
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Management
Investment Adviser. BlackRock Fund Advisors.
Portfolio Managers. Matthew Goff, Diane Hsiung, Jennifer Hsui, Orlando Montalvo and Greg Savage (the “Portfolio Managers”) are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager supervises a portfolio management team. Mr. Goff, Ms. Hsiung, Ms. Hsui, Mr. Montalvo and Mr. Savage have been Portfolio Managers of the Fund since its inception.
Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares
The Fund is an ETF. Individual shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange. Most investors will buy and sell shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer. The price of Fund shares is based on market price, and because ETF shares trade at market prices rather than at NAV, shares may trade at a price greater than NAV (a premium) or less than NAV (a discount). The Fund will only issue or redeem shares that have been aggregated into blocks of 50,000 shares or multiples thereof (“Creation Units”) to Authorized Participants who have entered into agreements with the Fund's distributor. The Fund generally will issue or redeem Creation Units in return for a designated portfolio of securities (and an amount of cash) that the Fund specifies each day.
Tax Information
The Fund intends to make distributions that may be taxable to you as ordinary income or capital gains, unless you are investing through a tax-deferred arrangement such as a 401(k) plan or an individual retirement account (“IRA”), in which case, your distributions generally will be taxed when withdrawn.
Payments to Broker-Dealers and other Financial Intermediaries
If you purchase shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary (such as a bank), BFA or other related companies may pay the intermediary for marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems or other services related to the sale or promotion of the Fund. These payments may create a conflict of interest by 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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More Information About the Fund
This Prospectus contains important information about investing in the Fund. Please read this Prospectus carefully before you make any investment decisions. Additional information regarding the Fund is available at www.iShares.com.
BFA is the investment adviser to the Fund. Shares of the Fund are listed for trading on BATS Exchange, Inc. (“BATS”). The market price for a share of the Fund may be different from the Fund’s most recent NAV.
ETFs are funds that trade like other publicly traded securities. The Fund is designed to track an index. Similar to shares of an index mutual fund, each share of the Fund represents an ownership interest in an underlying portfolio of securities and other instruments intended to track a market index. Unlike shares of a mutual fund, which can be bought and redeemed from the issuing fund by all shareholders at a price based on NAV, shares of the Fund may be purchased or redeemed directly from the Fund at NAV solely by Authorized Participants. Also unlike shares of a mutual fund, shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange and trade in the secondary market at market prices that change throughout the day.
The Fund invests in a particular segment of the securities markets and seeks to track the performance of a currency hedged securities index that generally is not representative of the market as a whole. The Fund is designed to be used as part of broader asset allocation strategies. Accordingly, an investment in the Fund should not constitute a complete investment program.
An index is a financial calculation, based on a grouping of financial instruments, that is not an investment product, while the Fund is an actual investment portfolio. The performance of the Fund and the Underlying Index may vary for a number of reasons, including transaction costs, non-U.S. currency valuations, asset valuations, corporate actions (such as mergers and spin-offs), timing variances and differences between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index resulting from the Fund's use of representative sampling or from legal restrictions (such as diversification requirements) that apply to the Fund but not to the Underlying Index. “Tracking error” is the divergence of the performance (return) of the Fund's portfolio from that of the Underlying Index. BFA expects that, over time, the Fund’s tracking error will not exceed 5%. Because the Fund uses a representative sampling indexing strategy, it can be expected to have a larger tracking error than if it used a replication indexing strategy. “Replication” is an indexing strategy in which a fund invests in substantially all of the securities in its underlying index in approximately the same proportions as in the underlying index.
An investment in the Fund is not a bank deposit and it is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency, BFA or any of its affiliates.
The Fund's investment objective and the Underlying Index may be changed without shareholder approval.
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A Further Discussion of Principal Risks
The Fund is subject to various risks, including the principal risks noted below, any of which may adversely affect the Fund’s NAV, trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. The Fund may be exposed to these risks directly, or indirectly through the Fund's investments in the Underlying Fund. You could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund could underperform other investments.
Asian Economic Risk. Many Asian economies have experienced rapid growth and industrialization in recent years, but there is no assurance that this growth rate will be maintained. Other Asian economies, however, have experienced high inflation, high unemployment, currency devaluations and restrictions, and over-extension of credit. During the global recession that began in 2007, many of the export-driven Asian economies experienced the effects of the economic slowdown in the United States and Europe, and certain Asian governments implemented stimulus plans, low-interest rate monetary policies and currency devaluations. Economic events in any one Asian country may have a significant economic effect on the entire Asian region, as well as on major trading partners outside Asia. Any adverse event in the Asian markets may have a significant adverse effect on some or all of the economies of the countries in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests. Many Asian countries are subject to political risk, including corruption and regional conflict with neighboring countries. In addition, many Asian countries are subject to social and labor risks associated with demands for improved political, economic and social conditions. These risks, among others, may adversely affect the value of the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's investments.
Asset Class Risk. The securities or other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's portfolio may underperform in comparison to other securities or indexes that track other countries, groups of countries, regions, industries, groups of industries, markets, asset classes or sectors. Various types of securities and currencies as well as indexes may experience cycles of outperformance and underperformance in comparison to the general financial markets depending upon a number of factors, including, among other things, inflation, interest rates, productivity, global demand for local products or resources, regulation and governmental controls. This may cause the Fund to underperform other investment vehicles that invest in different asset classes.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that act as Authorized Participants. To the extent that these institutions exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation and/or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units, Fund shares may trade at a discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts and/or delisting.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's
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investments are concentrated in the securities of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class. The Fund may be more adversely affected by the underperformance of those securities, may experience increased price volatility and may be more susceptible to adverse economic, market, political or regulatory occurrences affecting those securities than a fund that does not concentrate its investments.
Consumer Discretionary Sector Risk. The success of consumer product manufacturers and retailers is tied closely to the performance of domestic and international economies, interest rates, exchange rates, competition, consumer confidence, changes in demographics and consumer preferences. Companies in the consumer discretionary sector depend heavily on disposable household income and consumer spending, and may be strongly affected by social trends and marketing campaigns. These companies may be subject to severe competition, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability.
Currency Hedging Risk. When a derivative is used as a hedge against a position that the Fund holds, any loss generated by the derivative generally should be substantially offset by gains on the hedged investment, and vice versa. While hedging can reduce or eliminate losses, it can also reduce or eliminate gains. Hedges are sometimes subject to imperfect matching between the derivative and its reference asset, and there can be no assurance that the Fund’s hedging transactions, if implemented, will be effective. Currency hedging activity exposes the Fund to credit risk due to counterparty exposure, which risk will be higher to the extent that the Fund trades with a single counterparty or small number of counterparties. In seeking to track the performance of the Underlying Index, the Fund will attempt to hedge the currency exposure of non-U.S. dollar denominated securities held in its portfolio (held directly or indirectly through its investment in the Underlying Fund) by investing in foreign currency forward contracts, which may include both physically-settled forward contracts and NDFs. NDFs may be less liquid than deliverable forward currency contracts. A lack of liquidity in NDFs of the hedged currency could result in the Fund being unable to structure its hedging transactions as intended. In addition, BFA may seek to limit the size of the Fund in order to attempt to reduce the likelihood of a situation where the Fund is unable to obtain sufficient liquidity in an underlying currency hedge to implement its investment objective.
There is no assurance that the Fund’s hedging strategy will be effective in hedging fluctuations in the value of these currencies against the U.S. dollar. The effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy will in general be affected by the volatility of both the Underlying Index and the volatility of the U.S. dollar relative to the currencies to be hedged, measured on an aggregate basis. Increased volatility will generally reduce the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy as calculated by MSCI. In addition, volatility in one or more of the currencies may offset stability in another currency and reduce the overall effectiveness of the hedges. The effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy may also be affected by interest rates, which may differ among the affected countries. Significant differences between U.S. dollar interest rates and some or all of the applicable foreign currency interest rates may impact the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy. In addition, the
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currency hedging carried out by the Fund may result in lower returns than those generated through direct investments in the securities comprising the Underlying Index or in the index tracked by the Underlying Fund when the local currency appreciates against the U.S. dollar.
Foreign currency forward contracts, including NDFs, do not eliminate movements in the value of non-U.S. currencies and securities but rather allow the Fund to establish a fixed rate of exchange for a future point in time. Exchange rates may be volatile and may change quickly and unpredictably in response to both global economic developments and economic conditions in a geographic region in which the Fund invests. In addition, in order to minimize transaction costs, or for other reasons, the Fund’s exposure to the component currencies may not be fully hedged to the extent indicated by the Hedge Ratio, as determined by the indicators described in the Fund's principal investment strategies or the hedge may not be effective due to counterparty failures or otherwise. At certain times, the Fund may use an optimized hedging strategy and will hedge a smaller number of component currencies to reduce hedging costs. Governments from time to time intervene in the currency markets, directly and by regulation, in order to influence prices. From time to time, governments may adopt policies designed to directly influence foreign exchange rates with respect to their currency. As a result, the Fund may not be able to structure its hedging transactions as anticipated or its hedging transactions may not successfully reduce the currency risk included in the Fund’s portfolio in a way that tracks the Underlying Index. To the extent the Fund enters into over-the-counter derivative transactions or other instruments to pursue its currency hedging strategy, the Fund will be subject to counterparty risk as well as market or liquidity risk with respect to these transactions. In addition, the Fund’s currency hedging activities may involve frequent trading of currency instruments, which may increase transaction costs and cause the Fund’s return to deviate from the Underlying Index.
Investors, such as the Fund, seeking to trade in foreign currencies may have limited access to certain currency markets due to a variety of factors, including government regulations, adverse tax treatment, exchange controls, currency convertibility issues and lack of market liquidity. These limitations and restrictions may impact the availability, liquidity and pricing of the financial instruments that are necessary for the Fund to hedge exposure to the currency markets. If the Fund’s ability to enter into contracts to purchase or sell the currency of a non-U.S. market in which the Fund invests is impaired, the Fund may not be able to achieve its investment objective. In addition, these foreign currency hedging instruments often involve derivative investments and, therefore, expose the Fund to the risks described under “Derivatives Risk.”
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's NAVs are determined on the basis of the U.S. dollar, investors may lose money if the currency of one or more of the non-U.S. markets in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of the local currency and the depreciation of one currency is not offset by appreciation in another currency and/or the Fund’s attempt to hedge currency exposure to the currency or currencies is unsuccessful. Similarly, because the Fund seeks to hedge currency risk in accordance with the Underlying Index, investors may not share in appreciation in the
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securities comprising the Underlying Index to the extent that such appreciation is due to increases in the value of the underlying currencies. In addition, fluctuations in the exchange rates of currencies could affect the economy or particular business operations of companies in a geographic region in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests, causing an adverse impact on the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund’s investments in the affected region and the United States that is separate from the value of the underlying currency or currencies and, therefore, unmitigated by the hedging strategy used by the Fund. The hedged currencies may also perform inversely to each other. If this is the case, investors may experience better performance with a fund that is unhedged from a currency perspective than one that is hedged or partially hedged from a currency perspective, as is the case with the Fund. As a result, investors in the Fund have the potential for losses regardless of the length of time they intend to hold Fund shares and regardless of the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging transactions. The performance of the Fund may be materially better or worse than the performance of the Underlying Fund due primarily to the Fund's attempt to hedge its foreign currency exposure. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the value of an investment in the Fund may change quickly and without warning, which could have a significant negative impact on the Fund.
Cyber Security Risk. With the increased use of technologies such as the Internet to conduct business, the Fund, the Underlying Fund, Authorized Participants, service providers and the relevant listing exchange are susceptible to operational, information security and related “cyber” risks both directly and through their service providers. Similar types of cyber security risks are also present for issuers of securities in which the Fund and the Underlying Fund invest, which could result in material adverse consequences for such issuers, and may cause the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's investment in such portfolio companies to lose value. Unlike many other types of risks faced by the Fund and the Underlying Fund, these risks typically are not covered by insurance. In general, cyber incidents can result from deliberate attacks or unintentional events. Cyber attacks include, but are not limited to, gaining unauthorized access to digital systems (e.g., through “hacking” or malicious software coding) for purposes of misappropriating assets or sensitive information, corrupting data, or causing operational disruption. Cyber attacks may also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as causing denial-of-service attacks on websites (i.e., efforts to make network services unavailable to intended users). Cyber security failures by or breaches of the systems of the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's adviser, distributor and other service providers (including, but not limited to, index providers, fund accountants, custodians, transfer agents and administrators), market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund and the Underlying Fund invest, have the ability to cause disruptions and impact business operations, potentially resulting in: financial losses, interference with the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's ability to calculate its NAV, disclosure of confidential trading information, impediments to trading, submission of erroneous trades or erroneous creation or redemption orders, the inability of the Fund,  the Underlying Fund or their service providers to transact business, violations of applicable privacy and other laws, regulatory fines, penalties, reputational damage,
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reimbursement or other compensation costs, or additional compliance costs. In addition, 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 or the Underlying Fund inaccessible or inaccurate or incomplete. Substantial costs may be incurred by the Fund or the Underlying Fund in order to resolve or prevent cyber incidents in the future. While the Fund and the Underlying Fund has established business continuity plans in the event of, and risk management systems to prevent, such cyber attacks, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems, including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cyber security plans and systems put in place by service providers to the Fund, issuers in which the Fund invests, market makers or Authorized Participants. The Fund and its shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result.
Derivatives Risk. The Fund will use currency forwards and NDFs to hedge the currency exposure resulting from investments in foreign currency-denominated securities. The Fund’s use of these instruments, like investments in other derivatives, may reduce the Fund’s returns, increase volatility and/or result in losses due to credit risk or ineffective hedging strategies. Volatility is defined as the characteristic of a security, a currency, an index or a market, to fluctuate significantly in price within a defined period. Currency forwards, like other derivatives, are also subject to counterparty risk, which is the risk that the other party in the transaction will not fulfill its contractual obligation. A risk of the Fund’s use of derivatives is that the fluctuations in their values may not correlate perfectly with the currency or currencies being hedged. The possible lack of a liquid secondary market for derivatives and the resulting inability of the Fund to sell or otherwise close a derivatives position could expose the Fund to losses and could make derivatives more difficult for the Fund to value accurately. The Fund could also suffer losses related to its derivatives positions as a result of unanticipated market movements, which losses are potentially unlimited. BFA’s use of derivatives is not intended to predict the direction of securities prices, currency exchange rates, interest rates and other economic factors, which could cause the Fund’s derivatives positions to lose value. Derivatives may give rise to a form of leverage and may expose the Fund to greater risk and increase its costs. The U.S. and certain other countries have adopted or are in the process of adopting regulatory reforms affecting the derivatives markets. These regulations may make derivatives more costly, may limit the availability of derivatives, and may otherwise adversely affect the value and performance of derivatives.
Equity Securities Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund each invest in equity securities, which are subject to changes in value that may be attributable to market perception of a particular issuer or to general stock market fluctuations that affect all issuers. Investments in equity securities may be more volatile than investments in other asset classes.
European Economic Risk. The Economic Monetary Union of the European Union (the “EU”) requires compliance with restrictions on inflation rates, deficits, interest rates and debt levels, as well as fiscal and monetary controls, each of which may significantly affect every country in Europe. Decreasing imports or exports, changes in governmental or EU regulations on trade, changes in the exchange rate of the euro
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(the common currency of certain EU countries), the default or threat of default by an EU member country on its sovereign debt (including, without limitation, the default by Greece) and/or an economic recession in an EU member country may have a significant adverse effect on the economies of EU member countries and their trading partners. The European financial markets have experienced volatility and adverse trends in recent years due to concerns about economic downturns or rising government debt levels in several European countries, including Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. These events have adversely affected the exchange rate of the euro and may continue to significantly affect European countries.
Responses to financial problems by European governments, central banks and others, including austerity measures and reforms, may not produce the desired results, may result in social unrest and may limit future growth and economic recovery or have other unintended consequences. Further defaults or restructurings by governments and other entities of their debt could have additional adverse effects on economies, financial markets and asset valuations around the world. In addition, one or more countries may abandon the euro and/or withdraw from the EU, including, with respect to the latter, the United Kingdom, which is a significant market in the global economy.
The occurrence of terrorist incidents throughout Europe also could impact financial markets. The impact of these events is not clear but could be significant and far-reaching and adversely affect the value of the Fund.
Financials Sector Risk. Companies in the financials sector of an economy are subject to extensive governmental regulation and intervention, which may adversely affect the scope of their activities, the prices they can charge, the amount of capital they must maintain and, potentially, their size. Governmental regulation may change frequently and may have significant adverse consequences for companies in the financials sector, including effects not intended by such regulation. The impact of recent or future regulation in various countries of any individual financial company or of the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. Certain risks may impact the value of investments in the financials sector more severely than those of investments outside this sector, including the risks associated with companies that operate with substantial financial leverage. Companies in the financials sector may also be adversely affected by increases in interest rates and loan losses, decreases in the availability of money or asset valuations, credit rating downgrades and adverse conditions in other related markets. Insurance companies, in particular, may be subject to severe price competition and/or rate regulation, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability. During the financial crisis that began in 2007, the deterioration of the credit markets impacted a broad range of mortgage, asset-backed, auction rate, sovereign debt and other markets, including U.S. and non-U.S. credit and interbank money markets, thereby affecting a wide range of financial institutions and markets. During the financial crisis, a number of large financial institutions failed, merged with stronger institutions or had significant government infusions of capital. Instability in the financial markets caused certain financial companies to incur large losses. Some financial companies experienced declines in the valuations of their assets, took actions to raise capital (such as the issuance of debt or equity securities), or even ceased operations. Some financial companies borrowed significant amounts of capital from
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government sources. Those actions caused the securities of many financial companies to decline in value. The financials sector is particularly sensitive to fluctuations in interest rates. The financials sector is also a target for cyber attacks and may experience technology malfunctions and disruptions. In recent years, cyber attacks and technology failures have become increasingly frequent and have reportedly caused losses.
Geographic Risk. Some of the companies in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests are located in parts of the world that have historically been prone to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, droughts, floods, hurricanes or tsunamis, and are economically sensitive to environmental events. Any such event may adversely impact the economies of these geographic areas, causing an adverse impact on the value of the Fund.
Index-Related Risk. The Fund seeks to achieve a return which corresponds generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Underlying Index as published by the Index Provider. There is no assurance that the Index Provider or any agents that may act on its behalf will compile the Underlying Index accurately, or that the Underlying Index will be determined, composed or calculated accurately. While the Index Provider provides descriptions of what the Underlying Index is designed to achieve, neither the Index Provider nor its agents provide any warranty or accept any liability in relation to the quality, accuracy or completeness of the Underlying Index or its related data, and they do not guarantee that the Underlying Index will be in line with the Index Provider’s methodology. BFA’s mandate as described in this Prospectus is to manage the Fund consistently with the Underlying Index provided by the Index Provider to BFA. Consequently, BFA does not provide any warranty or guarantee against the Index Provider’s or others’ errors. Errors in respect of the quality, accuracy and completeness of the data used to compile the Underlying Index may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, particularly where the indices are less commonly used as benchmarks by funds or managers. Therefore, gains, losses or costs associated with errors of the Index Provider or its agents will generally be borne by the Fund and its shareholders. For example, during a period where the Fund’s Underlying Index contains incorrect constituents, the Fund would have market exposure to such constituents and would be underexposed to the Underlying Index’s other constituents. Such errors may negatively or positively impact the Fund and its shareholders. Any gains due to the Index Provider’s or others’ errors will be kept by the Fund and its shareholders and any losses resulting from the Index Provider’s or others’ errors will be borne by the Fund and its shareholders.
Apart from scheduled rebalances, the Index Provider or its agents may carry out additional ad hoc rebalances to the Underlying Index in order, for example, to correct an error in the selection of index constituents. When the Underlying Index is rebalanced and the Fund in turn rebalances its portfolio to attempt to increase the correlation between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index, any transaction costs and market exposure arising from such portfolio rebalancing will be borne directly by the Fund and its shareholders. Therefore, errors and additional ad hoc
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rebalances carried out by the Index Provider to the Underlying Index may increase the costs to and the tracking error risk of the Fund.
Similar risks exist for the Underlying Fund in tracking its benchmark, which may result in the Fund's performance deviating from the return of the Underlying Index.
Industrials Sector Risk. The value of securities issued by companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by supply and demand related to their specific products or services and industrials sector products in general. The products of manufacturing companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction. Government regulations, world events, economic conditions and exchange rates may adversely affect the performance of companies in the industrials sector. Companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. The industrials sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors. Companies in the industrials sector, particularly aerospace and defense companies, may also be adversely affected by government spending policies because companies involved in this sector rely to a significant extent on government demand for their products and services.
Investment in Underlying Fund Risk. The Fund expects to invest a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund, so the Fund’s investment performance is likely to be directly related to the performance of the Underlying Fund. The Fund may also invest in other funds, including money market funds. The Fund’s NAV will change with changes in the value of the Underlying Fund and other instruments in which the Fund invests based on their market valuations. An investment in the Fund will entail more direct and indirect costs and expenses than a direct investment in the Underlying Fund, including as a result of the currency hedging activity conducted by the Fund. For example, the Fund indirectly pays a portion of the expenses (including operating expenses and management fees) incurred by the Underlying Fund, although some of such fees will be offset by the fee waiver by BFA.
An investor in the Fund may receive taxable gains from portfolio transactions by the Underlying Fund, as well as taxable gains from transactions in shares of the Underlying Fund held by the Fund. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may also hold common portfolio securities.
As the Fund's allocations to the Underlying Fund change from time to time, or to the extent that the expense ratio of the Underlying Fund changes, the weighted average operating expenses borne by the Fund may increase or decrease.
The Fund will seek to hedge the currency exposure of the instruments held by the Underlying Fund. The indirect nature of the holdings may make the hedging more difficult to achieve and the Fund may be unable to accurately hedge currency exposure inherent in the Underlying Fund.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities and other instruments to which the Fund or the Underlying Fund has exposure. Any issuer of these securities or counterparty on other instruments may perform poorly, causing the value of its securities or instruments to decline. Poor
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performance may be caused by poor management decisions, competitive pressures, changes in technology, expiration of patent protection, disruptions in supply, labor problems or shortages, corporate restructurings, fraudulent disclosures, credit deterioration of the issuer or other factors. Issuers may, in times of distress or at their own discretion, decide to reduce or eliminate dividends, which may also cause their stock prices to decline.
Management Risk. The Fund may not fully replicate the Underlying Index and may hold securities and other instruments not included in the Underlying Index. As a result, the Fund is subject to the risk that BFA’s investment strategy, the implementation of which is subject to a number of constraints, may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund could lose money due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during market downturns. Securities or other instruments may decline in value due to factors affecting markets generally or particular asset classes or industries represented in the markets. The value of a security or other instrument may decline due to general market conditions, economic trends or events that are not specifically related to the issuer of the security or asset or due to factors that affect a particular industry or group of industries. During a general market downturn, multiple asset classes may be negatively affected.
Market Trading Risk
Absence of Active Market. Although shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund are listed for trading on one or more stock exchanges, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained by market makers or Authorized Participants.
Risk of Secondary Listings. The Fund's and the Underlying Fund's shares may be listed or traded on U.S. and non-U.S. stock exchanges other than the U.S. stock exchange where the Fund's primary listing is maintained. There can be no assurance that the Fund’s and the Underlying Fund's shares will continue to trade on any such stock exchange or in any market or that the Fund’s and the Underlying Fund's shares will continue to meet the requirements for listing or trading on any exchange or in any market. The Fund's and the Underlying Fund's shares may be less actively traded in certain markets than in others, and investors are subject to the execution and settlement risks and market standards of the market where they or their broker direct their trades for execution. Certain information available to investors who trade Fund shares on a U.S. stock exchange during regular U.S. market hours may not be available to investors who trade in other markets, which may result in secondary market prices in such markets being less efficient.
Secondary Market Trading Risk. Shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund may trade in the secondary market at times when the Fund and the Underlying Fund do not accept orders to purchase or redeem shares. At such times, shares may trade in the secondary market with more significant premiums or discounts than might be experienced at times when the Fund and the Underlying Fund accept purchase and redemption orders. If the Fund purchases shares of the Underlying Fund at a time when the market price of Underlying Fund shares is at a premium to their NAV or sells
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Underlying Fund shares when their market price is at a discount to their NAV, the Fund may incur losses.
Secondary market trading in Fund shares may be halted by a stock exchange because of market conditions or for other reasons. In addition, trading in Fund shares on a stock exchange or in any market may be subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to “circuit breaker” rules on the stock exchange or market.
Shares of the Fund, similar to shares of other issuers listed on a stock exchange, may be sold short and are therefore subject to the risk of increased volatility and price decreases associated with being sold short.
Shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund May Trade at Prices Other Than NAV. Shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund each trade on stock exchanges at prices at, above or below the Fund’s most recent NAV. The NAV of the Fund and the Underlying Fund are calculated at the end of each business day and fluctuate with changes in the market value of the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's holdings. The trading price of each of the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's shares fluctuates continuously throughout trading hours based on both market supply of and demand for their shares and the underlying value of their portfolio holdings or NAV. As a result, the trading prices of the Fund’s and the Underlying Fund's shares may deviate significantly from NAV during periods of market volatility. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV. However, because shares can be created and redeemed in Creation Units at NAV, BFA believes that large discounts or premiums to the NAV of the Fund or the Underlying Fund, as applicable, are not likely to be sustained over the long term (unlike shares of many closed-end funds, which frequently trade at appreciable discounts from, and sometimes at premiums to, their NAVs). However, BFA may seek to limit the size of the Fund in order to attempt to mitigate the likelihood of a situation where the Fund is unable to obtain sufficient liquidity in an underlying currency hedge to implement its investment objective, including by recommending that the Fund limit purchases of Fund shares through Creation Unit transactions. If the Fund elects to impose limitations on creation transactions, Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium to NAV in the secondary market. While the creation/redemption feature is designed to make it more likely that the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's shares normally will trade on stock exchanges at prices close to the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's next calculated NAV, exchange prices are not expected to correlate exactly with the NAV due to timing reasons, supply and demand imbalances and other factors. In addition, disruptions to creations and redemptions, including disruptions at market makers, Authorized Participants, or market participants, and during periods of significant market volatility, may result in trading prices for shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund that differ significantly from its NAV.
Costs of Buying or Selling Fund Shares. Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange involves two types of costs that apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you will likely incur a brokerage commission and other charges. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread”; that is, the difference between what investors are willing to pay for Fund shares (the
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“bid” price) and the price at which they are willing to sell Fund shares (the “ask” price). There may also be regulatory and other charges that are incurred as a result of trading activity. Because of the costs inherent in buying or selling Fund shares, frequent trading may detract significantly from investment results and an investment in Fund shares may not be advisable for investors who anticipate regularly making small investments through a brokerage account.
Mid-Capitalization Companies Risk. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies may be more volatile than those of large-capitalization companies and, therefore, the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's share price may be more volatile than that of funds that invest a larger percentage of their assets in stocks issued by large-capitalization companies. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies are also more vulnerable than those of large-capitalization companies to adverse business or economic developments, and the stocks of mid-capitalization companies may be less liquid, making it difficult for the Fund to buy and sell them. In addition, mid-capitalization companies generally have less diverse product lines than large-capitalization companies and are more susceptible to adverse developments related to their products.
Model Risk. Neither the Fund nor BFA can offer assurances that the allocation and hedging model used to calculate the Underlying Index will achieve its intended results.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund trade on foreign exchanges that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Non-Diversification Risk. The Fund is classified as “non-diversified.” This means that the Fund may invest a large percentage of its assets in securities issued by or representing a small number of issuers. As a result, the Fund may be more susceptible to the risks associated with these particular issuers or to a single economic, political or regulatory occurrence affecting these issuers.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks of investing in the markets where such issuers are located, including heightened risks of inflation or nationalization and market fluctuations caused by economic and political developments. As a result of investing in non-U.S. securities, the Fund may be subject to increased risk of loss caused by any of the factors listed below:
Lower levels of liquidity and market efficiency;
Greater securities price volatility;
Exchange rate fluctuations and exchange controls;
Less availability of public information about issuers;
Limitations on foreign ownership of securities;
Imposition of withholding or other taxes;
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Imposition of restrictions on the expatriation of the funds or other assets of the Fund;
Higher transaction and custody costs and delays in settlement procedures;
Difficulties in enforcing contractual obligations;
Lower levels of regulation of the securities markets;
Weaker accounting, disclosure and reporting requirements; and
Legal principles relating to corporate governance, directors’ fiduciary duties and liabilities and stockholders’ rights in markets in which the Fund invests may differ and/or may not be as extensive or protective as those that apply in the United States.
Operational Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are exposed to operational risk arising from a number of factors, including but not limited to human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund’s and the Underlying Fund's service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund, the Underlying Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate for those risks that they are intended to address.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are not actively managed and may be affected by a general decline in market segments related to the Underlying Index. The Fund invests in securities and other instruments included in, or representative of, the Underlying Index, regardless of their investment merits. BFA generally does not attempt to take defensive positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Privatization Risk. Some countries in which the Fund and the Underlying Fund invests have privatized, or have begun the process of privatizing, certain entities and industries. Newly privatized companies may face tough competition from government-sponsored competitors that have not been privatized. In some instances, investors in newly privatized entities have suffered losses due to the inability of the newly privatized entities to adjust quickly to a competitive environment or changing regulatory and legal standards or, in some cases, due to re-nationalization of such privatized entities. There is no assurance that such losses will not recur.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. The economies of some countries in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests are dependent on trade with certain key trading partners. Reduction in spending on the products and services of these countries, institution of tariffs or other trade barriers by any of their key trading partners or a slowdown in the economies of any of their key trading partners may cause an adverse impact on the economies of such countries.
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. Investment in developed country issuers may subject the Fund or the Underlying Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, economic and other risks specific to developed countries. Developed countries generally tend to rely on services sectors (e.g., the financial services sector) as the primary means of economic growth. A prolonged slowdown in services sectors
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is likely to have a negative impact on economies of certain developed countries. Many developed countries experienced a significant economic slowdown during the financial crisis that began in 2007. In the past, certain developed countries have been targets of terrorism. Acts of terrorism in developed countries or against their interests may cause uncertainty in the financial markets and adversely affect the performance of the issuers to which the Fund or the Underlying Fund has exposure. Heavy regulation of certain markets, including labor and product markets, may have an adverse effect on certain issuers. Such regulations may negatively affect economic growth or cause prolonged periods of recession. Many developed countries are heavily indebted and face rising healthcare and retirement expenses. In addition, price fluctuations of certain commodities and regulations impacting the import of commodities may negatively affect developed country economies.
Risk of Investing in Japan. Japan may be subject to political, economic, nuclear, and labor risks, among others. Any of these risks, individually or in the aggregate, can impact an investment made in Japan.
Economic Risk. The growth of Japan's economy has recently lagged that of its Asian neighbors and other major developed economies. Since the year 2000, Japan’s economic growth rate has remained relatively low, and it may remain low in the future. The Japanese economy is heavily dependent on international trade and has been adversely affected by trade tariffs, other protectionist measures, competition from emerging economies and the economic conditions of its trading partners. Japan is also heavily dependent on oil imports, and higher commodity prices could therefore have a negative impact on the Japanese economy.
Political Risk. Historically, Japan has had unpredictable national politics and may experience frequent political turnover. Future political developments may lead to changes in policy that might adversely affect the Fund’s investments. In addition, China has become an important trading partner with Japan. Japan's political relationship with China, however, has become strained. Should political tension increase, it could adversely affect the Japanese economy and destabilize the region as a whole.
Large Government Debt Risk. The Japanese economy faces several concerns, including a financial system with large levels of nonperforming loans, over-leveraged corporate balance sheets, extensive cross-ownership by major corporations, a changing corporate governance structure, and large government deficits. These issues may cause a slowdown of the Japanese economy.
Currency Risk. The Japanese yen has fluctuated widely at times and any increase in its value may cause a decline in exports that could weaken the Japanese economy. The Japanese government has, in the past, intervened in the currency markets to attempt to maintain or reduce the value of the yen. Japanese intervention in the currency markets could cause the value of the yen to fluctuate sharply and unpredictably and could cause losses to investors.
Nuclear Energy Risk. The nuclear power plant catastrophe in Japan in March 2011 may have long-term effects on the Japanese economy and its nuclear energy industry, the extent of which are currently unknown.
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Labor Risk. Japan has an aging workforce and has experienced a significant population decline in recent years. Japan’s labor market appears to be undergoing fundamental structural changes, as a labor market traditionally accustomed to lifetime employment adjusts to meet the need for increased labor mobility, which may adversely affect Japan’s economic competitiveness.
Securities Lending Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund and the Underlying Fund, as applicable, may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund and the Underlying Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for the loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund or the Underlying Fund. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (“BTC”), the Fund’s securities lending agent, will take into account the tax impact to shareholders of substitute payments for dividends when managing the Fund’s securities lending program.
Security Risk. Some geographic areas in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests have experienced acts of terrorism or strained international relations due to territorial disputes, historical animosities, defense concerns and other security concerns. These situations may cause uncertainty in the markets of these geographic areas and may adversely affect their economies and the Fund's investments.
Tax Risk. Because the Fund is expected to invest in the Underlying Fund, the Fund’s realized losses on sales of shares of the Underlying Fund may be indefinitely or permanently deferred as “wash sales.” Distributions of short-term capital gains by the Underlying Fund will be recognized as ordinary income by the Fund and would not be offset by the Fund’s capital loss carryforwards, if any. Capital loss carryforwards of the Underlying Fund, if any, would not offset net capital gains of the Fund. Each of these effects is caused by the Fund’s investment in the Underlying Fund and may result in distributions to Fund shareholders being of higher magnitudes and less likely to qualify for lower capital gain tax rates than if the Fund were to invest directly in the securities and other instruments comprising the Underlying Index. The Fund is expected to invest in derivatives. The federal income tax treatment of a derivative may not be as favorable as a direct investment in an underlying asset. Derivatives may produce taxable income and taxable realized gain. Derivatives may adversely affect the timing, character and amount of income the Fund realizes from its investments. As a result, a larger portion of the Fund’s distributions may be treated as ordinary income rather than as capital gains. In addition, certain derivatives are subject to mark-to-market or straddle provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. If such provisions are applicable, there could be an increase (or decrease) in the amount of taxable dividends paid by the Fund. Income from swaps is generally taxable. In addition, the tax treatment of certain derivatives, such as swaps, is unsettled and may be subject to future legislation, regulation or administrative pronouncements issued by the IRS.
Tracking Error Risk. Tracking error is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities (including shares of the Underlying Fund) and other instruments held in
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the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences (including differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the Fund’s valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the Fund’s NAV), differences in transaction and hedging costs and forward rates achieved, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or other distributions, tax gains or losses, changes to the Underlying Index and the cost to the Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. These risks may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions in the affected securities and/or foreign exchange markets. In addition, tracking error may result because the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not, and because the Fund accepts creations and redemptions during time periods between which it is able to adjust its currency hedges, whereas the Underlying Index does not adjust its hedging during these periods. To the extent that the Fund seeks its investment objective through investments in the Underlying Fund, the Fund may experience increased tracking error. The potential for increased tracking error may result from investments in the Underlying Fund due to, among other things, differences in the composition of the investment portfolio of the Underlying Fund as compared to the index tracked by the Underlying Fund and differences in the Fund’s valuation of the Underlying Fund and the foreign currency forward contracts (each valued as of the close of the New York Stock Exchange, typically 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time) and the valuation of the securities in the Underlying Index (generally valued as of each security’s local market close) and the foreign currency forward contracts in the Underlying Index (generally valued at 4:00 p.m., London time).
U.S. Economic Risk. The United States is a significant, and in some cases the most significant, trading partner of, or foreign investor in countries in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests and the economies of these countries may be particularly affected by changes in the U.S. economy. A decrease in U.S. imports, new trade regulations, changes in the U.S. dollar exchange rate or an economic slowdown in the United States may have a material adverse effect on economies of those countries and, as a result, securities to which the Fund or the Underlying Fund have exposure.
Valuation Risk. The sale price the Fund could receive for a security or unwind of a financial instrument or other asset may differ from the Fund's valuation of the security or other instrument or asset and from the value used by the Underlying Index, particularly for securities or other instruments that trade in low volume or volatile markets, or that are valued using a fair value methodology. Because non-U.S. exchanges may be open on days when the Fund does not price its shares, the value of the securities or other instruments in the Fund’s portfolio may change on days when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund’s or Underlying Fund's shares. In addition, for purposes of calculating the Fund's NAV, the value of assets denominated in non-U.S. currencies is converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. This conversion may result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the Fund's NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund's performance and the performance of the Underlying Index.
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A Further Discussion of Other Risks
The Fund may also be subject to certain other risks associated with its investments and investment strategies either directly or indirectly through the Fund's investments in the Underlying Fund.
Australasian Economic Risk. The economies of Australasia, which include Australia and New Zealand, are dependent on exports from the energy, agricultural and mining sectors. This makes Australasian economies susceptible to fluctuations in the commodity markets. Australasian economies are also increasingly dependent on their growing service industries. Because the economies of Australasia are dependent on the economies of Asia, Europe and the United States as key trading partners and investors, reduction in spending by any of these trading partners on Australasian products and services, or negative changes in any of these economies, may cause an adverse impact on some or all of the Australasian economies.
Consumer Staples Sector Risk. The consumer staples sector may be affected by the regulation of various product components and production methods, marketing campaigns and other factors affecting consumer demand. Tobacco companies, in particular, may be adversely affected by new laws, regulations and litigation. The consumer staples sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors.
Healthcare Sector Risk. The profitability of companies in the healthcare sector is affected by the following factors, among others: extensive government regulations, restrictions on government reimbursement for medical expenses, rising costs of medical products and services, pricing pressure, an increased emphasis on outpatient services, limited number of products, industry innovation, changes in technologies and other market developments. A number of issuers in the healthcare industry have recently merged or otherwise experienced consolidation. The effects of this trend toward consolidation are unknown and may be far-reaching. Many healthcare companies are heavily dependent on patent protection. The expiration of a company’s patents may adversely affect that company’s profitability. Many healthcare companies are subject to extensive litigation based on product liability and similar claims. Healthcare companies are subject to competitive forces that may make it difficult to raise prices and, in fact, may result in price discounting. Many new products in the healthcare sector may be subject to regulatory approvals. The process of obtaining such approvals may be long and costly, and such efforts ultimately may be unsuccessful. Companies in the healthcare sector may be thinly capitalized and may be susceptible to product obsolescence.
Information Technology Sector Risk. Information technology companies face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on profit margins. Like other technology companies, information technology companies may have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or personnel. The products of information technology companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments, frequent new product introduction, unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. Companies in the information technology sector are heavily dependent on patent and
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intellectual property rights. The loss or impairment of these rights may adversely affect the profitability of these companies.
Materials Sector Risk. Companies in the materials sector may be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, exchange rates, import controls, increased competition, depletion of resources, technical advances, labor relations and government regulations, among other factors. Also, companies in the materials sector are at risk of liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. Production of materials may exceed demand as a result of market imbalances or economic downturns, leading to poor investment returns.
Portfolio Holdings Information
A description of the Trust's policies and procedures with respect to the disclosure of the Fund’s portfolio securities is available in the Fund's Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”). The top holdings of the Fund can be found at www.iShares.com. Fund fact sheets provide information regarding the Fund's top holdings and may be requested by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737).
A Further Discussion of Principal Investment Strategies
Overview
The Fund allocates and reallocates its assets among direct investments in securities and other instruments, and in investments in the Underlying Fund consistent with the allocation and reallocation of securities in the Underlying Index as determined by the Index Provider. The Fund will invest in foreign currency forward contracts designed to hedge non-U.S. currency fluctuations, based on MSCI’s calculation methodology, inherent in the securities in the Underlying Index. In addition, the Fund may borrow, lend its portfolio securities to brokers, dealers and financial institutions, and may invest the collateral in certain short-term instruments, either directly or through one or more money market funds, as described in greater detail in the Fund’s SAI.
The Underlying Fund
The Fund will invest a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund, so the Fund’s investment performance is likely to be directly related to the performance of the Underlying Fund. The Fund’s NAV will change with changes in the value of the Underlying Fund and other securities in which the Fund invests, subject to the impact of currency hedges, which may cause the Fund to outperform or underperform the return of the Underlying Fund. An investment in the Fund will entail more direct and indirect costs and expenses than a direct investment in the Underlying Fund. The Underlying Fund invests in non-U.S. securities without implementing a hedge of the local currency risk. This strategy is subject to additional risks, as described in this Prospectus and in the Fund’s SAI.
BFA is not required to invest the Fund’s assets in any particular underlying fund, including the Underlying Fund, or allocate any particular percentage of the Fund’s assets to any particular underlying fund, including the Underlying Fund. As of its inception date, the Fund intends to initially invest in the Underlying Fund and in currency hedges.
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The Underlying Fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the MSCI EAFE Index. The MSCI EAFE Index is a servicemark of the Index Provider and has been licensed for use for certain purposes by BFA or its affiliates. The Underlying Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold, or promoted by the Index Provider and the Index Provider makes no representation regarding the advisability of investing in the Underlying Fund or the Fund.
In managing the Underlying Fund, BFA uses a representative sampling index strategy. Representative sampling is an indexing strategy that involves investing in a representative sample of securities that collectively have an investment profile similar to a specified benchmark index. Securities selected for the Underlying Fund are expected to have, in the aggregate, investment characteristics (based on factors such as market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of the applicable underlying index. The Underlying Fund may or may not hold all of the securities that are included in its underlying index and may hold certain securities or other instruments that are not included in its underlying index or in the Underlying Index.
Management
Investment Adviser. As investment adviser, BFA has overall responsibility for the general management and administration of the Trust. BFA provides an investment program for the Fund and manages the investment of the Fund’s assets. In managing the Fund, BFA may draw upon the research and expertise of its asset management affiliates with respect to certain portfolio securities. In seeking to achieve the Fund's investment objective, BFA uses teams of portfolio managers, investment strategists and other investment specialists. This team approach brings together many disciplines and leverages BFA’s extensive resources.
Pursuant to the Investment Advisory Agreement between BFA and the Trust (entered into on behalf of the Fund), BFA is responsible for substantially all expenses of the Fund, except interest expenses, taxes, brokerage expenses, future distribution fees or expenses and extraordinary expenses.
For its investment advisory services to the Fund, BFA will be paid a management fee from the Fund based on a percentage of the Fund's average daily net assets, at an annual rate of 0.38%. BFA has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees in an amount equal to the Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any, attributable to the Fund's investments in other series of iShares Trust and iShares, Inc. until November 30, 2020. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to November 30, 2020 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA. In addition, with respect to the Fund, BFA has agreed to reduce the management fee on assets attributable to the Fund's investments in EFA (and those assets used to hedge the currencies in which securities in EFA are denominated against the U.S. dollar) such that the management fee is equal to the total annual fund operating expenses after fee waiver of EFA plus 0.03% until November 30, 2020. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to November 30, 2020 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA. In addition, BFA may from time to time voluntarily waive and/or reimburse fees or
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expenses in order to limit Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses (excluding Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any). Any such voluntary waiver or reimbursement may be eliminated by BFA at any time.
BFA is located at 400 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. It is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc. (“BlackRock”). As of September 30, 2015, BFA and its affiliates provided investment advisory services for assets in excess of $4.51 trillion. BFA and its affiliates trade and invest for their own accounts in the types of securities in which the Fund may also invest.
A discussion regarding the basis for the Trust's Board of Trustees' (the “Board”) approval of the Investment Advisory Agreement with BFA will be available in the Fund's annual report for the period ending July 31.
Portfolio Managers. Matthew Goff, Diane Hsiung, Jennifer Hsui, Orlando Montalvo and Greg Savage are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager is responsible for various functions related to portfolio management, including, but not limited to, investing cash inflows, coordinating with members of his or her portfolio management team to focus on certain asset classes, implementing investment strategy, researching and reviewing investment strategy and overseeing members of his or her portfolio management team that have more limited responsibilities.
Matthew Goff has been employed by BFA and BTC (formerly, Barclays Global Investors, N.A. (“BGI”)) as a portfolio manager since 2008. Prior to that, Mr. Goff was a portfolio manager from 2007 to 2008 for US Trust, a product manager from 2006 to 2007 for Iris Financial Solutions and a product manager from 2003 to 2006 for MSCI Barra. Mr. Goff has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since its inception.
Diane Hsiung has been employed by BFA and BTC as a senior portfolio manager since 2007. Prior to that, Ms. Hsiung was a portfolio manager from 2002 to 2006 for BGFA and BGI. Ms. Hsiung has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since its inception.
Jennifer Hsui has been employed by BFA and BTC as a senior portfolio manager since 2007. Prior to that, Ms. Hsui was a portfolio manager from 2006 to 2007 for BGFA and BGI. Ms. Hsui has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since its inception.
Orlando Montalvo has been employed by BFA and BTC as a senior portfolio manager since 2009. Prior to that, Mr. Montalvo was a senior portfolio manager from 2005 to 2009 for BGFA and BGI. Mr. Montalvo has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since its inception.
Greg Savage has been employed by BFA and BTC as a senior portfolio manager since 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Savage was a portfolio manager from 2001 to 2006 for BGFA and BGI. Mr. Savage has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since its inception.
The Fund's SAI provides additional information about the Portfolio Managers' compensation, other accounts managed by the Portfolio Managers and the Portfolio Managers' ownership (if any) of shares in the Fund.
Administrator, Custodian and Transfer Agent. State Street Bank and Trust Company (“State Street”) is the administrator, custodian and transfer agent for the Fund.
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Conflicts of Interest. BFA wants you to know that it has relationships with certain entities that may give rise to conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest. These entities are BFA’s affiliates, including BlackRock and The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., and each of their affiliates, directors, partners, trustees, managing members, officers and employees (collectively, the “Affiliates”).
The activities of BFA and the Affiliates in the management of, or their interest in, their own accounts and other accounts they manage, may present conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA and the Affiliates provide investment management services to other funds and discretionary managed accounts that may follow an investment program similar to that of the Fund. BFA and the Affiliates are involved worldwide with a broad spectrum of financial services and asset management activities and may engage in the ordinary course of business in activities in which their interests or the interests of their clients may conflict with those of the Fund. BFA or one or more of the Affiliates acts, or may act, as an investor, investment banker, research provider, investment manager, commodity pool operator, commodity trading advisor, financier, underwriter, adviser, market maker, trader, prime broker, lender, agent or principal, and have other direct and indirect interests in securities, currencies, commodities, derivatives and other instruments in which the Fund may directly or indirectly invest. Thus, it is likely that the Fund will have multiple business relationships with and will invest in, engage in transactions with, make voting decisions with respect to, or obtain services from, entities for which BFA or an Affiliate seeks to perform investment banking or other services.
BFA or one or more Affiliates may engage in proprietary trading and advise accounts and funds that have investment objectives similar to those of the Fund and/or that engage in and compete for transactions in the same types of securities, currencies and other instruments as the Fund, including in securities issued by other open-end and closed-end investment companies, which may include investment companies that are affiliated with the Fund and BFA, to the extent permitted under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”). The trading activities of BFA and these Affiliates are carried out without reference to positions held directly or indirectly by the Fund and may result in BFA or an Affiliate having positions in certain securities that are adverse to those of the Fund.
No Affiliate is under any obligation to share any investment opportunity, idea or strategy with the Fund. As a result, an Affiliate may compete with the Fund for appropriate investment opportunities. As a result of this and several other factors, the results of the Fund's investment activities may differ from those of an Affiliate and of other accounts managed by an Affiliate, and it is possible that the Fund could sustain losses during periods in which one or more Affiliates and other accounts achieve profits on their trading for proprietary or other accounts. The opposite result is also possible.
The Fund may, from time to time, enter into transactions in which BFA’s or an Affiliate’s clients have an interest adverse to the Fund. Furthermore, transactions undertaken by Affiliate-advised clients may adversely impact the Fund. Transactions by one or more Affiliate-advised clients or BFA may have the effect of diluting or otherwise disadvantaging the values, prices or investment strategies of the Fund.
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The Fund's activities may be limited because of regulatory restrictions applicable to one or more Affiliates and/or their internal policies designed to comply with such restrictions. In addition, the Fund may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies with which an Affiliate has developed or is trying to develop investment banking relationships or in which an Affiliate has significant debt or equity investments or other interests. The Fund also may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies for which an Affiliate provides or may in the future provide research coverage. An Affiliate may have business relationships with, and purchase, distribute or sell services or products from or to, distributors, consultants or others who recommend the Fund or who engage in transactions with or for the Fund, and may receive compensation for such services. The Fund may also make brokerage and other payments to Affiliates in connection with the Fund's portfolio investment transactions.
Pursuant to a securities lending program approved by the Board, the Fund has retained an Affiliate of BFA to serve as the securities lending agent for the Fund to the extent that the Fund participates in the securities lending program. For these services, the lending agent may receive a fee from the Fund, including a fee based on the returns earned on the Fund’s investment of the cash received as collateral for any loaned securities. BFA may receive compensation for managing the reinvestment of cash collateral. In addition, one or more Affiliates may be among the entities to which the Fund may lend its portfolio securities under the securities lending program.
The activities of BFA or the Affiliates may give rise to other conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA has adopted policies and procedures designed to address these potential conflicts of interest. See the Fund's SAI for further information.
Shareholder Information
Additional shareholder information, including how to buy and sell shares of the Fund, is available free of charge by calling toll-free: 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or visiting our website at www.iShares.com.
Buying and Selling Shares. Shares of the Fund may be acquired or redeemed directly from the Fund only in Creation Units or multiples thereof, as discussed in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus. Only an Authorized Participant (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section below) may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. Once created, shares of the Fund generally trade in the secondary market in amounts less than a Creation Unit.
Shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange for trading during the trading day. Shares can be bought and sold throughout the trading day like shares of other publicly traded companies. The Trust does not impose any minimum investment for shares of the Fund purchased on an exchange or otherwise in the secondary market. The Fund's shares trade under the trading symbol “DEFA.”
Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange or other secondary market involves two types of costs that may apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you may incur a brokerage commission and other
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charges. The commission is frequently a fixed amount and may be a significant proportional cost for investors seeking to buy or sell small amounts of shares. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread,” that is, any difference between the bid price and the ask price. The spread varies over time for shares of the Fund based on the Fund’s trading volume and market liquidity, and is generally lower if the Fund has high trading volume and market liquidity, and higher if the Fund has little trading volume and market liquidity (which is often the case for funds that are newly launched or small in size). The Fund's spread may also be impacted by the liquidity of the underlying securities held by the Fund, particularly for newly launched or smaller funds or in instances of significant volatility of the underlying securities.
The Board has adopted a policy of not monitoring for frequent purchases and redemptions of Fund shares (“frequent trading”) that appear to attempt to take advantage of a potential arbitrage opportunity presented by a lag between a change in the value of the Fund’s portfolio securities after the close of the primary markets for the Fund’s portfolio securities and the reflection of that change in the Fund’s NAV (“market timing”), because the Fund sells and redeems its shares directly through transactions that are in-kind and/or for cash, subject to the conditions described below under Creations and Redemptions. The Board has not adopted a policy of monitoring for other frequent trading activity because shares of the Fund are listed for trading on a national securities exchange.
The national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed is open for trading Monday through Friday and is closed on weekends and the following holidays: 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’s primary listing exchange is BATS.
Although the SEC has granted an exemptive order to the Trust permitting registered investment companies and unit investment trusts that enter into a participation agreement with the Trust (“Investing Funds”) to invest in iShares Funds beyond the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act subject to certain terms and conditions, the exemptive order is not applicable to the Fund. Accordingly, Investing Funds must adhere to the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act when investing in the Fund.
Book Entry. Shares of the Fund are held in book-entry form, which means that no stock certificates are issued. The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) or its nominee is the record owner of all outstanding shares of the Fund and is recognized as the owner of all shares for all purposes.
Investors owning shares of the Fund are beneficial owners as shown on the records of DTC or its participants. DTC serves as the securities depository for shares of the Fund. DTC participants include securities brokers and dealers, banks, trust companies, clearing corporations and other institutions that directly or indirectly maintain a custodial relationship with DTC. As a beneficial owner of shares, you are not entitled to receive physical delivery of stock certificates or to have shares registered in your name, and you are not considered a registered owner of shares. Therefore, to exercise any right as an owner of shares, you must rely upon the procedures of DTC and its
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participants. These procedures are the same as those that apply to any other securities that you hold in book-entry or “street name” form.
Share Prices. The trading prices of the Fund’s shares in the secondary market generally differ from the Fund’s daily NAV and are affected by market forces such as the supply of and demand for ETF shares and shares of underlying securities held by the Fund, economic conditions and other factors. Information regarding the intraday value of shares of the Fund, also known as the “indicative optimized portfolio value” (“IOPV”), is disseminated every 15 seconds throughout each trading day by the national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed or by market data vendors or other information providers. The IOPV is based on the current market value of the securities or other assets and/or cash required to be deposited in exchange for a Creation Unit. The IOPV does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities or other instruments held by the Fund at a particular point in time or the best possible valuation of the current portfolio. Therefore, the IOPV should not be viewed as a “real-time” update of the Fund's NAV, which is computed only once a day. The IOPV is generally determined by using both current market quotations and/or price quotations obtained from broker-dealers and other market intermediaries that may trade in the portfolio securities or other assets held by the Fund. The quotations of certain Fund holdings may not be updated during U.S. trading hours if such holdings do not trade in the United States. The Fund is not involved in, or responsible for, the calculation or dissemination of the IOPV and makes no representation or warranty as to its accuracy.
Determination of Net Asset Value. The NAV of the Fund normally is determined once daily Monday through Friday, generally as of the regularly scheduled close of business of the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) (normally 4:00 p.m., Eastern time) on each day that the NYSE is open for trading, based on prices at the time of closing, provided that (a) any Fund assets or liabilities denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar are translated into U.S. dollars at the prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers (as detailed below) and (b) U.S. fixed-income assets may be valued as of the announced closing time for trading in fixed-income instruments in a particular market or exchange. The NAV of the Fund is calculated by dividing the value of the net assets of the Fund (i.e., the value of its total assets, which includes the values of the Underlying Fund shares in which the Fund invests, less total liabilities) by the total number of outstanding shares of the Fund, generally rounded to the nearest cent.
The value of the securities and other assets and liabilities held by the Fund are determined pursuant to valuation policies and procedures approved by the Board. The Fund's assets and liabilities are valued on the basis of market quotations, when readily available.
Equity investments and investments in the Underlying Fund are valued at market value, which is generally determined using the last reported official closing price or last trading price on the exchange or market on which the security is primarily traded at the time of valuation.
The Fund may invest in non-U.S. securities. Foreign currency exchange rates with respect to the underlying securities are generally determined as of 4:00 p.m., London
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time. The Fund may also invest in foreign currency forward contracts, which are generally valued as of 4:00 p.m., Eastern time. Non-U.S. securities held by the Fund may trade on weekends or other days when the Fund does not price its shares. As a result, the Fund’s NAV may change on days when Authorized Participants (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus) will not be able to purchase or redeem Fund shares.
Generally, trading in non-U.S. securities, U.S. government securities, money market instruments and certain fixed-income securities is substantially completed each day at various times prior to the close of business on the NYSE. The values of such securities used in computing the NAV of the Fund are determined as of such times.
When market quotations are not readily available or are believed by BFA to be unreliable, the Fund’s investments are valued at fair value. Fair value determinations are made by BFA in accordance with policies and procedures approved by the Trust's Board. BFA may conclude that a market quotation is not readily available or is unreliable if a security or other asset or liability does not have a price source due to its lack of liquidity, if a market quotation differs significantly from recent price quotations or otherwise no longer appears to reflect fair value, where the security or other asset or liability is thinly traded, or where there is a significant event subsequent to the most recent market quotation. A “significant event” is an event that, in the judgment of BFA, is likely to cause a material change to the closing market price of the asset or liability held by the Fund. Non-U.S. securities whose values are affected by volatility that occurs in U.S. markets for related or highly correlated assets (e.g., American Depositary Receipts, Global Depositary Receipts or ETFs) on a trading day after the close of non-U.S. securities markets may be fair valued.
Fair value represents a good faith approximation of the value of an asset or liability. The fair value of an asset or liability held by the Fund is the amount the Fund might reasonably expect to receive from the current sale of that asset or the cost to extinguish that liability in an arm’s-length transaction. Valuing the Fund’s investments using fair value pricing will result in prices that may differ from current market valuations and that may not be the prices at which those investments could have been sold during the period in which the particular fair values were used. Use of fair value prices and certain current market valuations could result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the Fund’s NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund’s performance and the performance of the Underlying Index.
The value of assets or liabilities denominated in non-U.S. currencies will be converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. Use of a rate different from the rate used by the Index Provider may adversely affect the Fund’s ability to track the Underlying Index.
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Dividends and Distributions
General Policies. Dividends from net investment income, if any, generally are declared and paid at least once a year by the Fund. Distributions of net realized securities gains, if any, generally are declared and paid once a year, but the Trust may make distributions on a more frequent basis for the Fund. The Trust reserves the right to declare special distributions if, in its reasonable discretion, such action is necessary or advisable to preserve its status as a regulated investment company (“RIC”) or to avoid imposition of income or excise taxes on undistributed income or realized gains.
Dividends and other distributions on shares of the Fund are distributed on a pro rata basis to beneficial owners of such shares. Dividend payments are made through DTC participants and indirect participants to beneficial owners then of record with proceeds received from the Fund.
Dividend Reinvestment Service. No dividend reinvestment service is provided by the Trust. Broker-dealers may make available the DTC book-entry Dividend Reinvestment Service for use by beneficial owners of the Fund for reinvestment of their dividend distributions. Beneficial owners should contact their broker to determine the availability and costs of the service and the details of participation therein. Brokers may require beneficial owners to adhere to specific procedures and timetables. If this service is available and used, dividend distributions of both income and realized gains will be automatically reinvested in additional whole shares of the Fund purchased in the secondary market.
Taxes. As with any investment, you should consider how your investment in shares of the Fund will be taxed. The tax information in this Prospectus is provided as general information, based on current law. You should consult your own tax professional about the tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund.
Unless your investment in Fund shares is made through a tax-exempt entity or tax-deferred retirement account, such as an IRA, you need to be aware of the possible tax consequences when the Fund makes distributions or you sell Fund shares.
Taxes on Distributions. Distributions from the Fund’s net investment income (other than qualified dividend income), including distributions of income from securities lending and distributions out of the Fund’s net short-term capital gains, if any, are taxable to you as ordinary income. Distributions by the Fund of net long-term capital gains in excess of net short-term capital losses (capital gain dividends) are taxable to you as long-term capital gains, regardless of how long you have held the Fund’s shares. Distributions by the Fund that qualify as qualified dividend income are taxable to you at long-term capital gain rates. Long-term capital gains and qualified dividend income are generally eligible for taxation at a maximum rate of 15% for non-corporate shareholders with incomes below approximately $400,000 ($450,000 if married and filing jointly), adjusted annually for inflation, and 20% for individuals with any income above these amounts that is net long-term capital gain or qualified dividend income. In addition, a 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax is imposed on “net investment income,” including, but not limited to, interest, dividends, and net gain, of U.S. individuals with income exceeding $200,000 (or $250,000 if married and filing jointly) and of estates and trusts.
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Dividends will be qualified dividend income to you if they are attributable to qualified dividend income received by the Fund. Generally, qualified dividend income includes dividend income from taxable U.S. corporations and qualified non-U.S. corporations, provided that the Fund satisfies certain holding period requirements in respect of the stock of such corporations and has not hedged its position in the stock in certain ways. Substitute dividends received by the Fund with respect to dividends paid on securities lent out will not be qualified dividend income. For this purpose, a qualified non-U.S. corporation means any non-U.S. corporation that is eligible for benefits under a comprehensive income tax treaty with the United States, which includes an exchange of information program, or if the stock with respect to which the dividend was paid is readily tradable on an established United States securities market. The term excludes a corporation that is a passive foreign investment company.
Dividends received by the Fund from a real estate investment trust (“REIT”) or another RIC generally are qualified dividend income only to the extent such dividend distributions are made out of qualified dividend income received by such REIT or RIC. It is expected that dividends received by the Fund from a REIT and distributed to a shareholder generally will be taxable to the shareholder as ordinary income.
For a dividend to be treated as qualified dividend income, the dividend must be received with respect to a share of stock held without being hedged by the Fund, and with respect to a share of the Fund held without being hedged by you, for 61 days during the 121-day period beginning at 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.
In general, your distributions are subject to U.S. federal income tax for the year when they are paid. Certain distributions paid in January, however, may be treated as paid on December 31 of the prior year.
Short term capital gains earned by an Underlying Fund will be ordinary income when distributed to the Fund and will not be offset by the Fund's capital losses. Because the Fund is expected to invest in the Underlying Fund, the Fund's realized losses on sales of shares of the Underlying Fund may be indefinitely or permanently deferred as “wash sales.”
If the Fund’s distributions exceed current and accumulated earnings and profits, all or a portion of the distributions made in the taxable year may be recharacterized as a return of capital to shareholders. Distributions in excess of the Fund’s minimum distribution requirements, but not in excess of the Fund’s earnings and profits, will be taxable to shareholders and will not constitute nontaxable returns of capital. A return of capital distribution generally will not be taxable but will reduce the shareholder’s cost basis and result in a higher capital gain or lower capital loss when those shares on which the distribution was received are sold. Once a shareholder's cost basis is reduced to zero, further distributions will be treated as capital gain, if the shareholder holds shares of the Fund as capital assets.
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If you are neither a resident nor a citizen of the United States or if you are a non-U.S. entity, the Fund’s ordinary income dividends (which include distributions of net short-term capital gains) will generally be subject to a 30% U.S. withholding tax, unless a lower treaty rate applies, provided that withholding tax will generally not apply to any gain or income realized by a non-U.S. shareholder in respect of any distributions of long-term capital gains or upon the sale or other disposition of shares of the Fund.
A 30% withholding tax is currently imposed on U.S.-source dividends, interest and other income items and will be imposed on proceeds from the sale of property producing U.S.-source dividends and interest paid after December 31, 2018, to (i) foreign financial institutions, including non-U.S. investment funds, unless they agree to collect and disclose to the IRS information regarding their direct and indirect U.S. account holders and (ii) certain other foreign entities, unless they certify certain information regarding their direct and indirect U.S. owners. To avoid withholding, foreign financial institutions will need to (i) enter into agreements with the IRS that state that they will provide the IRS information, including the names, addresses and taxpayer identification numbers of direct and indirect U.S. account holders, comply with due diligence procedures with respect to the identification of U.S. accounts, report to the IRS certain information with respect to U.S. accounts maintained, agree to withhold tax on certain payments made to non-compliant foreign financial institutions or to account holders who fail to provide the required information, and determine certain other information concerning their account holders, or (ii) in the event that an applicable intergovernmental agreement and implementing legislation are adopted, provide local revenue authorities with similar account holder information. Other foreign entities may need to report the name, address, and taxpayer identification number of each substantial U.S. owner or provide certifications of no substantial U.S. ownership unless certain exceptions apply.
Dividends, interest and capital gains earned by the Underlying Fund with respect to non-U.S. positions may give rise to withholding and other taxes imposed by non-U.S. countries. Tax conventions between certain countries and the United States may reduce or eliminate such taxes. If more than 50% of the total assets of the Underlying Fund at the close of a year consists of non-U.S. stocks or securities (and 50% of the total assets of the Fund at the close of the year consists of foreign securities, or, at the close of each quarter, shares of the Underlying Fund), the Fund may “pass through” to you certain non-U.S. income taxes (including withholding taxes) paid by the Fund or the Underlying Fund. This means that you would be considered to have received as an additional dividend your share of such non-U.S. taxes, but you may be entitled to either a corresponding tax deduction in calculating your taxable income, or, subject to certain limitations, a credit in calculating your U.S. federal income tax.
If your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending arrangement, you may lose the ability to use foreign tax credits passed through by the Fund or to treat Fund dividends paid while the shares are held by the borrower as qualified dividend income. In addition, you may lose the ability to use foreign tax credits passed through by the Fund if your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending agreement.
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For purposes of foreign tax credits for U.S. shareholders of the Fund, foreign capital gains taxes may not produce associated foreign source income, thereby limiting a U.S. person's ability to use such credits.
If you are a resident or a citizen of the United States, by law, back-up withholding at a 28% rate will apply to your distributions and proceeds if you have not provided a taxpayer identification number or social security number and made other required certifications.
Taxes When Shares are Sold. Currently, any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares is generally treated as a long-term gain or loss if the shares have been held for more than one year. Any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares held for one year or less is generally treated as short-term gain or loss, except that any capital loss on the sale of shares held for six months or less is treated as long-term capital loss to the extent that capital gain dividends were paid with respect to such shares. Any such capital gains, including from sales of Fund shares or from capital gain dividends, are included in “net investment income” for purposes of the 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax mentioned above.
The foregoing discussion summarizes some of the consequences under current U.S. federal tax law of an investment in the Fund. It is not a substitute for personal tax advice. You may also be subject to state and local taxation on Fund distributions and sales of shares. Consult your personal tax advisor about the potential tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund under all applicable tax laws.
Creations and Redemptions. Prior to trading in the secondary market, shares of the Fund are “created” at NAV by market makers, large investors and institutions only in block-size Creation Units of 50,000 shares or multiples thereof. Each “creator” or authorized participant has entered into an agreement with the Fund's distributor, BlackRock Investments, LLC (the “Distributor”), an affiliate of BFA (an “Authorized Participant”).
A creation transaction, which is subject to acceptance by the transfer agent, generally takes place when an Authorized Participant deposits into the Fund a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) and a specified amount of cash approximating the holdings of the Fund in exchange for a specified number of Creation Units. To the extent practicable, the composition of such portfolio generally corresponds pro rata to the holdings of the Fund. However, creation and redemption baskets may differ.
Similarly, shares can be redeemed only in Creation Units, generally for a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities and other portfolio holdings for which cash may be substituted) held by the Fund and a specified amount of cash. Redeeming holders will receive cash in respect to the pro rata value of the forward contract and NDFs held by the Fund to the extent attributable to the creation unit being redeemed. Except when aggregated in Creation Units, shares are not redeemable by the Fund.
The prices at which creations and redemptions occur are based on the next calculation of NAV after a creation or redemption order is received in an acceptable form under the authorized participant agreement.
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Only an Authorized Participant may create or redeem Creation Units directly with the Fund.
In the event of a system failure or other interruption, including disruptions at market makers or Authorized Participants, orders to purchase or redeem Creation Units either may not be executed according to the Fund's instructions or may not be executed at all, or the Fund may not be able to place or change orders.
To the extent the Fund engages in in-kind transactions, the Fund intends to comply with the U.S. federal securities laws in accepting securities for deposit and satisfying redemptions with redemption securities by, among other means, assuring that any securities accepted for deposit and any securities used to satisfy redemption requests will be sold in transactions that would be exempt from registration under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”). Further, an Authorized Participant that is not a “qualified institutional buyer,” as such term is defined under Rule 144A of the 1933 Act, will not be able to receive restricted securities eligible for resale under Rule 144A.
Creations and redemptions must be made through a firm that is either a member of the Continuous Net Settlement System of the National Securities Clearing Corporation or a DTC participant that has executed an agreement with the Distributor with respect to creations and redemptions of Creation Unit aggregations. Information about the procedures regarding creation and redemption of Creation Units (including the cut-off times for receipt of creation and redemption orders) is included in the Fund's SAI.
Because new shares may be created and issued on an ongoing basis, at any point during the life of the Fund a “distribution,” as such term is used in the 1933 Act, may be occurring. Broker-dealers and other persons are cautioned that some activities on their part may, depending on the circumstances, result in their being deemed participants in a distribution in a manner that could render them statutory underwriters subject to the prospectus delivery and liability provisions of the 1933 Act. Any determination of whether one is an underwriter must take into account all the relevant facts and circumstances of each particular case.
Broker-dealers should also note that dealers who are not “underwriters” but are participating in a distribution (as contrasted to ordinary secondary transactions), and thus dealing with shares that are part of an “unsold allotment” within the meaning of Section 4(a)(3)(C) of the 1933 Act, would be unable to take advantage of the prospectus delivery exemption provided by Section 4(a)(3) of the 1933 Act. For delivery of prospectuses to exchange members, the prospectus delivery mechanism of Rule 153 under the 1933 Act is available only with respect to transactions on a national securities exchange.
Costs Associated with Creations and Redemptions. Authorized Participants are charged standard creation and redemption transaction fees to offset transfer and other transaction costs associated with the issuance and redemption of Creation Units. The standard creation and redemption transaction fees are set forth in the table below. The standard creation transaction fee is charged to the Authorized Participant on the day such Authorized Participant creates a Creation Unit, and is the same regardless of the number of Creation Units purchased by the Authorized Participant on
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the applicable business day. Similarly, the standard redemption transaction fee is charged to the Authorized Participant on the day such Authorized Participant redeems a Creation Unit, and is the same regardless of the number of Creation Units redeemed by the Authorized Participant on the applicable business day. Creations and redemptions for cash (when cash creations and redemptions (in whole or in part) are available or specified) are also subject to an additional charge (up to the maximum amounts shown in the table below). This charge is intended to compensate for brokerage, tax, foreign exchange, execution, price movement and other costs and expenses related to cash transactions. Investors who use the services of a broker or other financial intermediary to acquire or dispose of Fund shares may pay fees for such services.
The following table shows, as of December 30, 2015, the approximate value of one Creation Unit, standard fees and maximum additional charges for creations and redemptions (as described above):
Approximate
Value of a
Creation Unit
  Creation
Unit Size
  Standard
Creation/
Redemption
Transaction Fee
  Maximum Additional
Charge for
Creations*
  Maximum Additional
Charge for
Redemptions*
$1,250,000   50,000   $100   3.0%   2.0%

* As a percentage of the net asset value per Creation Unit, inclusive, in the case of redemptions, of the standard redemption transaction fee.
Householding. Householding is an option available to certain Fund investors. Householding is a method of delivery, based on the preference of the individual investor, in which a single copy of certain shareholder documents can be delivered to investors who share the same address, even if their accounts are registered under different names. Please contact your broker-dealer if you are interested in enrolling in householding and receiving a single copy of prospectuses and other shareholder documents, or if you are currently enrolled in householding and wish to change your householding status.
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Distribution
The Distributor or its agent distributes Creation Units for the Fund on an agency basis. The Distributor does not maintain a secondary market in shares of the Fund. The Distributor has no role in determining the policies of the Fund or the securities that are purchased or sold by the Fund. The Distributor’s principal address is 1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540.
BFA or its Affiliates make payments to broker-dealers, registered investment advisers, banks or other intermediaries (together, “intermediaries”) related to marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems, or their making shares of the Fund and certain other iShares funds available to their customers generally and in certain investment programs. Such payments, which may be significant to the intermediary, are not made by the Fund. Rather, such payments are made by BFA or its Affiliates from their own resources, which come directly or indirectly in part from fees paid by the iShares funds complex. Payments of this type are sometimes referred to as revenue-sharing payments. A financial intermediary may make decisions about which investment options it recommends or makes available, or the level of services provided, to its customers based on the payments it is eligible to receive. Therefore, such payments to an intermediary create conflicts of interest between the intermediary and its customers and may cause the intermediary to recommend the Fund or other iShares funds over another investment. More information regarding these payments is contained in the Fund's SAI. Please contact your salesperson or other investment professional for more information regarding any such payments his or her firm may receive from BFA or its Affiliates.
Financial Highlights
Financial highlights for the Fund are not available because, as of the effective date of this Prospectus, the Fund has not commenced operations and therefore has no financial highlights to report.
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Index Provider
MSCI is a provider of investment decision support tools to investors globally. MSCI products and services include indices, portfolio risk and performance analytics, and governance tools. MSCI is not affiliated with the Trust, BFA, State Street, the Distributor or any of their respective affiliates.
BFA or its Affiliates have entered into a license agreement with the Index Provider to use the Underlying Index. BFA or its Affiliates sublicense rights in the Underlying Index to the Trust at no charge.
Disclaimers
The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by MSCI or any affiliate of MSCI. Neither MSCI nor any other party makes any representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the advisability of investing in funds generally or in the Fund particularly or the ability of the Underlying Index to track general stock market performance. MSCI is the licensor of certain trademarks, service marks and trade names of MSCI and of the Underlying Index, which is determined, composed and calculated by MSCI without regard to the issuer of the Fund or the Fund. MSCI has no obligation to take the needs of the issuer of the Fund or the owners of the Fund into consideration in determining, composing or calculating the Underlying Index. MSCI is not responsible for, and has not participated in, the determination of the timing of, prices at, or quantities of the Fund to be issued or in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the Fund is redeemable for cash. Neither MSCI nor any other party has any obligation or liability to owners of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of the Fund.
ALTHOUGH MSCI SHALL OBTAIN INFORMATION FOR INCLUSION IN OR FOR USE IN THE CALCULATION OF THE INDEXES FROM SOURCES WHICH MSCI CONSIDERS RELIABLE, NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY GUARANTEES THE ACCURACY AND/OR THE COMPLETENESS OF THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN. NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY MAKES ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO RESULTS TO BE OBTAINED BY LICENSEE, LICENSEE'S CUSTOMERS AND COUNTERPARTIES, OWNERS OF THE FUND, OR ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY FROM THE USE OF THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN IN CONNECTION WITH THE RIGHTS LICENSED HEREUNDER OR FOR ANY OTHER USE. NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY MAKES ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, AND MSCI HEREBY EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE WITH RESPECT TO THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN. WITHOUT LIMITING ANY OF THE FOREGOING, IN NO EVENT SHALL MSCI OR ANY OTHER PARTY HAVE ANY LIABILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, CONSEQUENTIAL OR ANY OTHER DAMAGES (INCLUDING LOST PROFITS) EVEN IF NOTIFIED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
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Shares of the Fund are not sponsored, endorsed or promoted by BATS. BATS makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of the shares of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the ability of the Fund to track the total return performance of the Underlying Index or the ability of the Underlying Index to track stock market performance. BATS is not responsible for, nor has it participated in, the determination of the compilation or the calculation of the Underlying Index, nor in the determination of the timing of, prices of, or quantities of shares of the Fund to be issued, nor in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the shares are redeemable. BATS has no obligation or liability to owners of the shares of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of the shares of the Fund.
BATS does not guarantee the accuracy and/or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. BATS makes no warranty, express or implied, as to results to be obtained by the Trust on behalf of the Fund as licensee, licensee’s customers and counterparties, owners of the shares of the Fund, or any other person or entity from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein in connection with the rights licensed as described herein or for any other use. BATS makes no express or implied warranties and hereby expressly disclaims all warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose with respect to the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall BATS have any liability for any direct, indirect, special, punitive, consequential or any other damages (including lost profits) even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
The past performance of the Underlying Index is not a guide to future performance. BFA and its Affiliates do not guarantee the accuracy or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein and BFA and its Affiliates shall have no liability for any errors, omissions or interruptions therein. BFA and its Affiliates make no warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or to any other person or entity, as to results to be obtained by the Fund from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall BFA or its Affiliates have any liability for any special, punitive, direct, indirect or consequential damages (including lost profits), even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
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For more information visit www.iShares.com or call 1-800-474-2737
Copies of the Prospectus, SAI and other information can be found on our website at www.iShares.com. For more information about the Fund, you may request a copy of the SAI. The SAI provides detailed information about the Fund and is incorporated by reference into this Prospectus. This means that the SAI, for legal purposes, is a part of this Prospectus.
If you have any questions about the Trust or shares of the Fund or you wish to obtain the SAI free of charge, please:
Call: 1-800-iShares or 1-800-474-2737 (toll free)
Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Eastern time)
Email: iSharesETFs@blackrock.com
Write: c/o BlackRock Investments, LLC
1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540
Information about the Fund (including the SAI) can be reviewed and copied at the SEC's Public Reference Room in Washington, D.C., and information on the operation of the Public Reference Room may be obtained by calling the SEC at 1-202-551-8090. Reports and other information about the Fund are available on the EDGAR database on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov, and copies of this information may be obtained, after paying a duplicating fee, by electronic request at the following e-mail address: publicinfo@sec.gov, or by writing to the SEC's Public Reference Section, Washington, D.C. 20549-1520.
No person is authorized to give any information or to make any representations about the Fund and its shares not contained in this Prospectus and you should not rely on any other information. Read and keep this Prospectus for future reference.
©2015 BlackRock, Inc. All rights reserved. iSHARES® and BLACKROCK® are registered trademarks of BFA and its Affiliates. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.
Investment Company Act File No.: 811-09729
IS-P-DEFA-1215


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December 29, 2015
2015 Prospectus
►  iShares Adaptive Currency Hedged MSCI Eurozone ETF | DEZU | BATS
The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has not approved or disapproved these securities or passed upon the adequacy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 


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“MSCI EMU Adaptive Hedge to USD Index” is a servicemark of MSCI Inc. and has been licensed for use for certain purposes by BlackRock Fund Advisors or its affiliates. iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates. The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold, or promoted by MSCI Inc., nor does MSCI Inc. make any representation regarding the advisability of investing in the Fund.
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iSHARES® ADAPTIVE CURRENCY
HEDGED MSCI EUROZONE ETF
Ticker: DEZU Stock Exchange: BATS
Investment Objective
The iShares Adaptive Currency Hedged MSCI Eurozone ETF (the “Fund”) seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of large- and mid-capitalization equities from developed market countries which use the euro as their official currency while dynamically hedging currency risk for a U.S. dollar based investor.
Fees and Expenses
The following table describes the fees and expenses that you will incur if you own shares of the Fund. The investment advisory agreement between iShares Trust (the “Trust”) and BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”) (formerly, Barclays Global Fund Advisors (“BGFA”)) (the “Investment Advisory Agreement”) provides that BFA will pay all operating expenses of the Fund, except interest expenses, taxes, brokerage expenses, future distribution fees or expenses, and extraordinary expenses. The Fund may also pay “Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses.” Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses reflect the Fund's pro rata share of the fees and expenses incurred by investing in other investment companies. As the Fund has not commenced operations prior to the date of the Fund’s prospectus (the “Prospectus”), Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses are based on an estimate of the Fund’s allocation to other investment companies for the current fiscal year. The impact of Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses will be included in the total returns of the Fund. Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses are not used to calculate the Fund's net asset value per share (“NAV”). BFA, the investment adviser to the Fund, has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees in an amount equal to the Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any, attributable to investments by the Fund in iShares MSCI Eurozone ETF (“EZU” or the “Underlying Fund”) until December 31, 2020. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to December 31, 2020 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA. In addition, with respect to the Fund, BFA has agreed to reduce the management fee on assets attributable to the Fund's investments in EZU (and those assets used to hedge the currencies in which securities in EZU are denominated against the U.S. dollar) such that the management fee is equal to the total annual fund operating expenses after fee waiver of EZU plus 0.03% until December 31, 2020. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to December 31, 2020 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA.
You may also incur usual and customary brokerage commissions and other charges when buying or selling shares of the Fund, which are not reflected in the Example that follows:
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Annual Fund Operating Expenses
(ongoing expenses that you pay each year as a
percentage of the value of your investments)
Management
Fees
  Distribution and
Service (12b-1)
Fees
  Other
Expenses
  Acquired Fund Fees
and Expenses
  Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
  Fee Waiver   Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
After
Fee Waiver
0.62%   None   None   0.47%   1.09%   (0.59)%   0.50%
Example. This Example is intended to help you compare the cost of owning shares of the Fund with the cost of investing in other funds. The Example assumes that you invest $10,000 in the Fund for the time periods indicated and then sell all of your shares at the end of those periods. The Example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions, your costs would be:
  1 Year   3 Years    
  $51   $160    
Portfolio Turnover. The Fund and the Underlying Fund in which the Fund principally invests, the iShares MSCI Eurozone ETF, may pay transaction costs, such as commissions, when they buy and sell securities (or “turn over” their portfolios). A higher portfolio turnover rate for the Fund or the Underlying Fund may indicate higher transaction costs and cause the Fund or the Underlying Fund to incur increased expenses. These expenses, which are not reflected in Annual Fund Operating Expenses or in the Example (except costs to the Underlying Fund included as part of Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses), affect the Fund's performance. To the extent the Underlying Fund incurs costs from high portfolio turnover, such costs may have a negative effect on the performance of the Fund.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the MSCI EMU Adaptive Hedge to USD Index (the “Underlying
Index”), which has been developed by MSCI Inc. (the “Index Provider” or “MSCI”) as an equity benchmark for the European Monetary Union (the “EMU”) countries with the foreign currency exposure of the securities included in the Underlying Index dynamically hedged against the U.S. dollar determined systematically by four currency risk indicators: carry, momentum, value, and volatility. As of December 11, 2015, the Underlying Index consisted of securities from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. The Underlying Index may include
large-, mid- or small-capitalization companies. Components primarily include consumer discretionary, financials and industrials companies. The components of the Underlying Index, and the degree to which these components represent certain industries, are likely to change over time.
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As of its inception date, the Fund intends to seek to achieve its investment objective by investing a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund.
BFA uses a “passive” or indexing approach to try to achieve the Fund’s investment objective. Unlike many investment companies, the Fund does not try to “beat” the index it tracks and does not seek temporary defensive positions when markets decline or appear overvalued.
Indexing may eliminate the chance that the Fund will substantially outperform the Underlying Index but also may reduce some of the risks of active management, such as poor security selection. Indexing seeks to achieve lower costs and better after-tax performance by keeping portfolio turnover low in comparison to actively managed investment companies.
BFA uses a representative sampling indexing strategy to manage the Fund and the Underlying Fund. “Representative sampling” is an indexing strategy that involves investing in a representative sample of securities or other instruments comprising the Underlying Index. The securities selected are expected to have, in the aggregate, investment characteristics (based on factors such as market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of the Underlying Index. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may or may not hold all of the securities and other components of its Underlying Index.
The Fund generally will invest at least 90% of its assets in the component securities (including indirect
investments through the Underlying Fund) and other instruments of the Underlying Index and in investments that have economic characteristics that are substantially identical to the component securities of the Underlying Index (i.e., depositary receipts representing securities of the Underlying Index) and may invest up to 10% of its assets in certain futures, options and swap contracts, cash and cash equivalents, including shares of money market funds advised by BFA or its affiliates, as well as in securities not included in the Underlying Index, but which BFA believes will help the Fund track the Underlying Index. Components of the Underlying Index include equity securities and foreign currency forward contracts (both deliverable and non-deliverable) designed to hedge against non-U.S. currency fluctuations. The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the Underlying Index before the fees and expenses of the Fund.
In order to replicate the “hedging” component of the Underlying Index, which attempts to mitigate currency risk, the Fund intends to enter into foreign currency forward contracts designed to offset the Fund’s holdings in component securities denominated in a non-U.S. dollar currency. A foreign currency forward contract is a contract between two parties to buy or sell a specified amount of a specific currency in the future at an agreed upon exchange rate. The Fund’s exposure to foreign currency forward contracts is based on the exposure of the Fund to the component securities and a hedge ratio (“Hedge Ratio”), as calculated by MSCI.
The Underlying Index applies a methodology, based on the Hedge Ratio, that sells the total value or a
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portion of the total value of each non-U.S. dollar currency in which the securities of the Underlying Index are denominated in the form of a one-month currency contract to create a “hedge” against fluctuations in the relative value of the currencies in relation to the U.S. dollar. The Hedge Ratio is based on four commonly used indicators for measuring currency risk, which are equally weighted and include: value (relative purchasing power between the foreign currency and the U.S. dollar based on exchange rates over a long-term average), momentum (relative price momentum of the foreign currency compared against the U.S. dollar over the previous six months), carry (differences in short-term interest rates between the foreign currency and the U.S. dollar over a long-term average), and volatility (relative price volatility of the foreign currency based on the currency’s one-month average against its six-month average). The overall effect, since the four indicators are equally weighted, is that each foreign currency represented by constituent weights in the Underlying Index can be unhedged, 25% hedged, 50% hedged, 75% hedged or fully hedged relative to the U.S. dollar.
The hedge (based on the Hedge Ratio) is reset on a monthly basis by MSCI and will not be adjusted intra-month based on movement in the value of the underlying equity securities and/or currencies, or based on the four indicators. The Underlying Index may therefore be slightly “over-hedged” (if equity values decline) or “under-hedged” (if the equity values increase) between the month-end rebalances. The Underlying Index is therefore intended to have higher returns than an equivalent unhedged investment when
the component currencies are weakening relative to the U.S. dollar. Conversely, the Underlying Index is therefore intended to have lower returns than an equivalent unhedged investment when the component currencies are strengthening relative to the U.S. dollar.
While the use of foreign currency forward contracts, based on the Hedge Ratio, is designed to minimize the impact of the strengthening or weakening of a foreign currency on Fund returns, it does not necessarily eliminate the Fund’s exposure to the component currencies. The return of the foreign currency forward contracts may not perfectly offset the actual fluctuations between the component currencies and the U.S. dollar.
The Fund may use non-deliverable forward (“NDF”) contracts to execute its hedging transactions. An NDF is a contract where there is no physical settlement of two currencies at maturity. Rather, based on the strengthening or weakening of the currencies, a net cash settlement will be made by one party to the other.
The Fund may lend securities representing up to one-third of the value of the Fund's total assets (including the value of any collateral received).
The Underlying Index is calculated by the Index Provider, which is independent of the Fund and BFA. The Index Provider determines the composition and relative weightings of the securities and currency forwards in the Underlying Index and publishes information regarding the market value of the Underlying Index.
Industry Concentration Policy. The Fund will concentrate its investments
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(i.e., hold 25% or more of its total assets) in a particular industry or group of industries to approximately the same extent that the Underlying Index is concentrated. For purposes of this limitation, securities of the U.S. government (including its agencies and instrumentalities) and repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.
Summary of Principal Risks
As with any investment, you could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund's performance could trail that of other investments. The Fund is subject to the principal risks noted below (either directly or through its investments in the Underlying Fund), any of which may adversely affect the Fund's NAV, trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective.
Asset Class Risk. Securities and other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund's portfolio may underperform in comparison to the general financial markets, a particular financial market or other asset classes.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section of the Prospectus) may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that act as Authorized Participants. To the extent that these institutions exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation and/or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units (as
defined below), Fund shares may trade at a discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts and/or delisting.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class.
Consumer Discretionary Sector Risk. The consumer discretionary sector may be affected by changes in domestic and international economies, exchange and interest rates, competition, consumers' disposable income, consumer preferences, social trends and marketing campaigns.
Currency Hedging Risk. When a derivative is used as a hedge against a position that the Fund holds, any loss generated by the derivative generally should be substantially offset by gains on the hedged investment, and vice versa. While hedging can reduce or eliminate losses, it can also reduce or eliminate gains. Hedges are sometimes subject to imperfect matching between the derivative and its reference asset, and there can be no assurance that the calculation methodology for the currency hedging or the Fund’s hedging transactions, if implemented, will be effective. Currency hedging activity exposes the Fund to credit risk due to counterparty exposure, which risk will be higher to the extent that the Fund trades with a single counterparty or small number of counterparties.
In seeking to track the performance of the Underlying Index, the Fund will
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attempt to hedge the currency exposure of non-U.S. dollar denominated securities held in its portfolio (held directly or indirectly through its investment in the Underlying Fund) by investing in foreign currency forward contracts, which may include both physically-settled forward contracts and NDFs. NDFs may be less liquid than deliverable forward currency contracts. A lack of liquidity in NDFs of the hedged currency could result in the Fund being unable to structure its hedging transactions as intended. In addition, BFA may seek to limit the size of the Fund in order to attempt to reduce the likelihood of a situation where the Fund is unable to obtain sufficient liquidity in an underlying currency hedge to implement its investment objective.
Foreign currency forward contracts, including NDFs, do not eliminate movements in the value of non-U.S. currencies and securities but rather allow the Fund to establish a fixed rate of exchange for a future point in time. Exchange rates may be volatile and may change quickly and unpredictably in response to both global economic developments and economic conditions in a geographic region in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests. In addition, in order to minimize transaction costs, or for other reasons, the Fund’s exposure to the euro may not be fully hedged to the extent indicated by the Hedge Ratio, as determined by the indicators described in the Fund's principal investment strategies. In addition, each currency's hedge is reset on a monthly basis and will not be adjusted during the month based on movement in the value of the component securities or currencies. As a result, the Underlying Index may be “over-hedged”
or “under-hedged” between month-end rebalances. Furthermore, while the Fund is designed to hedge against currency fluctuations, it is possible that a degree of currency exposure may remain even at the time a hedging transaction is implemented. As a result, the Fund may not be able to structure its hedging transactions as anticipated or its hedging transactions may not successfully reduce the currency risk included in the Fund’s portfolio. The effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy will in general be affected by the volatility of both the Underlying Index and the volatility of the U.S. dollar relative to the euro, measured on an aggregate basis. Increased volatility in either or both the Underlying Index and the U.S. dollar relative to the euro will generally reduce the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy as calculated by MSCI. The effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy may also in general be affected by interest rates. Significant differences between U.S. dollar interest rates and foreign currency interest rates may impact the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy.
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's NAVs are determined in U.S. dollars, the Fund's NAV could decline if the euro depreciates against the U.S. dollar and the depreciation of one currency is not offset by appreciation in another currency and/or the Fund's attempt to hedge currency exposure to the depreciating currency or currencies is unsuccessful. Generally, an increase in the value of the U.S. dollar against a foreign currency will reduce the value of a security denominated in that foreign
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currency. In addition, fluctuations in the exchange rates of currencies could affect the economy or particular business operations of companies in a geographic region, including securities in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests, causing an adverse impact on the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund’s investments in the affected region and the United States. As a result, investors have the potential for losses regardless of the length of time they intend to hold Fund shares. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the value of an investment in the Fund may change quickly and without warning, which could have a significant negative impact on the Fund.
Cyber Security Risk. Failures or breaches of the electronic systems of the Fund and the Underlying Fund, the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's adviser, and the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests have the ability to cause disruptions and negatively impact the Fund’s business operations, potentially resulting in financial losses to the Fund and its shareholders. While the Fund has established business continuity plans and risk management systems seeking to address system breaches or failures, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cyber security plans and systems of the Fund’s service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
Derivatives Risk. The Fund will use currency forwards and NDFs to hedge
the currency exposure resulting from investments in the foreign currency-denominated securities held by the Fund and the Underlying Fund. The Fund’s use of these instruments, like investments in other derivatives, may reduce the Fund’s returns, increase volatility and/or result in losses due to credit risk or ineffective hedging strategies. Volatility is defined as the characteristic of a security, a currency, an index or a market, to fluctuate significantly in price within a defined time period. Currency forwards, like other derivatives, are also subject to counterparty risk, which is the risk that the other party in the transaction will not fulfill its contractual obligation. A risk of the Fund’s use of derivatives is that the fluctuations in their values may not correlate perfectly with the euro. The possible lack of a liquid secondary market for derivatives and the resulting inability of the Fund to sell or otherwise close a derivatives position could expose the Fund to losses and could make derivatives more difficult for the Fund to value accurately. The Fund could also suffer losses related to its derivatives positions as a result of unanticipated market movements, which losses are potentially unlimited. BFA’s use of derivatives is not intended to predict the direction of securities prices, currency exchange rates, interest rates and other economic factors, which could cause the Fund’s derivatives positions to lose value. Derivatives may give rise to a form of leverage and may expose the Fund to greater risk and increase its costs. The U.S. and certain other countries have adopted or are in the process of adopting regulatory reforms affecting the derivatives markets. These regulations may make derivatives more costly, may limit the availability of
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derivatives, and may otherwise adversely affect the value and performance of derivatives.
Equity Securities Risk. Equity securities are subject to changes in value, and their values may be more volatile than those of other asset classes.
Financials Sector Risk. Performance of companies in the financials sector may be adversely impacted by many factors, including, among others, government regulations, economic conditions, credit rating downgrades, changes in interest rates, and decreased liquidity in credit markets. The impact of more stringent capital requirements, recent or future regulation of any individual financial company, or recent or future regulation of the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. In recent years, cyber attacks and technology malfunctions and failures have become increasingly frequent in this sector and have caused significant losses.
Geographic Risk. A natural or other disaster could occur in a geographic region in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests, which could affect the economy or particular business operations of companies in the specific geographic region, causing an adverse impact on the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's investments in the affected region.
Index-Related Risk. There is no guarantee that the Fund will achieve a high degree of correlation to the Underlying Index and therefore achieve its investment objective. Market disruptions and regulatory restrictions could have an adverse effect on the Fund’s ability to adjust its exposure to the required levels in order to track the Underlying Index. Errors in index data,
index computations and/or the construction of the Underlying Index in accordance with its methodology may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, which may have an adverse impact on the Fund and its shareholders.
Industrials Sector Risk. The industrials sector may be adversely affected by changes in the supply of and demand for products and services, product obsolescence, claims for environmental damage or product liability and general economic conditions, among other factors.
Investment in Underlying Fund Risk. The Fund expects to invest a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund, so the Fund’s investment performance is likely to be directly related to the performance of the Underlying Fund. The Fund’s NAV will change with changes in the value of the Underlying Fund and other instruments in which the Fund invests based on their market valuations. An investment in the Fund will entail more costs and expenses than a direct investment in the Underlying Fund, including as a result of the currency hedging activity conducted by the Fund.
As the Fund’s allocation to the Underlying Fund changes from time to time, or to the extent that the expense ratio of the Underlying Fund changes, the weighted average operating expenses borne by the Fund may increase or decrease.
Issuer Risk. Fund performance depends on the performance of individual securities and other instruments to which the Fund and the Underlying Fund have exposure. Changes in the financial condition or
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credit rating of an issuer of those securities or counterparty on other instruments may cause the value of the securities or instruments to decline.
Management Risk. As the Fund may not fully replicate the Underlying Index, it is subject to the risk that BFA's investment strategy may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns.
Market Trading Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund face numerous market trading risks, including the potential lack of an active market for their shares, losses from trading in secondary markets, losses due to ineffective currency hedges, periods of high volatility and disruptions in the creation/redemption process. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV.
Model Risk. Neither the Fund nor BFA can offer assurances that the allocation and hedging model used to calculate the Underlying Index will achieve its intended results.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund or the Underlying Fund trade on foreign exchanges that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of such an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed
foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”).
Non-Diversification Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may invest a large percentage of their respective assets in securities issued by or representing a small number of issuers. As a result, the Fund's performance may depend on the performance of a small number of issuers.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks associated with investing in those non-U.S. markets, such as heightened risks of inflation or nationalization. The Fund may lose money due to political, economic and geographic events affecting issuers of non-U.S. securities or non-U.S. markets. In addition, non-U.S. securities markets may trade a small number of securities and may be unable to respond effectively to increases in trading volume, potentially making prompt liquidation of holdings difficult or impossible at times. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are specifically exposed to European Economic Risk.
Operational Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are exposed to operational risk arising from a number of factors, including but not limited to human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund’s and the Underlying Fund's service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund, the Underlying Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures
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do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate for those risks that they are intended to address.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are not actively managed and BFA does not attempt to take defensive positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund invest in countries whose economies are heavily dependent upon trading with key partners. Any reduction in this trading may have an adverse impact on the Fund's investments. Through its portfolio companies' trading partners, the Fund and the Underlying Fund are specifically exposed to European Economic Risk and U.S. Economic Risk.
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. The Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's investment in developed country issuers may subject the Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, economic and other risks specific to developed countries. Developed countries tend to represent a significant portion of the global economy and have generally experienced slower economic growth than some less developed countries. Many developed countries experienced a significant economic slowdown during the financial crisis that began in 2007. In addition, developed countries may be impacted by changes to the economic health of certain key trading partners, regulatory burdens, debt burdens and the price or availability of certain commodities.
Risk of Investing in Europe. The Fund is more exposed to the economic and political risks of Europe and of the European countries in which it invests
than funds whose investments are more geographically diversified. Adverse economic and political events in Europe may cause the Fund’s investments to decline in value. The economies and markets of European countries are often closely connected and interdependent, and events in one country in Europe can have an adverse impact on other European countries. The Fund makes investments in securities of issuers that are domiciled in, or have significant operations in, member countries of the European Union (the “EU”) that are subject to economic and monetary controls that can adversely affect the Fund’s investments. The European financial markets have experienced volatility and adverse trends in recent years and these events have adversely affected the exchange rate of the euro and may continue to significantly affect other European countries.
Risk of Investing in France. The Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's investment in French issuers may subject the Fund to legal, regulatory, political, currency, security, and economic risk specific to France. The French economy, along with certain other EU economies, experienced a significant economic slowdown during the financial crisis that began in 2007. Recently, new concerns emerged with respect to the economic outlook for certain EU countries, including France. As a result, the French economy has experienced significant volatility and adverse trends due to concerns about a prolonged economic downturn and rising government debt levels. The French economy is dependent on agricultural exports, and as a result, is susceptible to fluctuations in demand for agricultural products.
Risk of Investing in Germany. The Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's
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investment in German issuers subjects the Fund to legal, regulatory, political, currency, security, and economic risks specific to Germany. The German economy, along with certain other EU economies, experienced a significant economic slowdown during the financial crisis that began in 2007. Germany has an export dependent economy and therefore relies heavily on trade with key trading partners, including the Netherlands, China, the United States, France, Italy and other European countries. Germany is dependent on the economies of these other countries and any change in the price or demand for German exports may have an adverse impact on its economy.
Securities Lending Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund and the Underlying Fund may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund and the Underlying Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund.
Security Risk. Some countries and regions in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests have experienced security concerns, such as terrorism or strained international relations. Incidents involving a country's or region's security may cause uncertainty in these markets and may adversely affect their economies and the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's investments.
Tax Risk. Because the Fund is expected to invest in the Underlying Fund, the Fund’s realized losses on sales of shares of the Underlying Fund may be indefinitely or permanently deferred as “wash sales.” Distributions of short-term capital gains by the Underlying Fund will be recognized as ordinary income by the Fund and would not be offset by the Fund’s capital loss carryforwards, if any. Capital loss carryforwards of the Underlying Fund, if any, would not offset net capital gains of the Fund. Each of these effects is caused by the Fund’s investment in the Underlying Fund and may result in distributions to Fund shareholders being of higher magnitudes and less likely to qualify for lower capital gain tax rates than if the Fund were to invest otherwise directly in the securities and other instruments comprising the Underlying Index. The Fund is expected to invest in derivatives. The federal income tax treatment of a derivative may not be as favorable as a direct investment in an underlying asset. Derivatives may produce taxable income and taxable realized gain. Derivatives may adversely affect the timing, character and amount of income the Fund realizes from its investments. As a result, a larger portion of the Fund’s distributions may be treated as ordinary income rather than as capital gains. In addition, certain derivatives are subject to mark-to-market or straddle provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Internal Revenue Code”). If such provisions are applicable, there could be an increase (or decrease) in the amount of taxable dividends paid by the Fund. Income from swaps is generally taxable. In addition, the tax treatment of certain derivatives, such as swaps, is unsettled and may be subject to future legislation,
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regulation or administrative pronouncements issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”).
Tracking Error Risk. Tracking error is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities (including shares of the Underlying Fund) and other instruments held in the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences (including differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the Fund’s valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the Fund’s NAV), differences in transaction and hedging costs and forward rates achieved, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or other distributions, changes to the Underlying Index and the cost to the Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. These risks may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions in the affected securities and/or foreign exchange markets. In addition, tracking error may result because the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not, and because the Fund accepts creations and redemptions during time periods between which it is able to adjust its currency hedges, whereas the Underlying Index does not adjust its hedging during these periods. To the extent that the Fund seeks its investment objective through investments in the Underlying Fund, the Fund may experience increased
tracking error. The potential for increased tracking error may result from investments in the Underlying Fund due to, among other things, differences in the composition of the investment portfolio of the Underlying Fund as compared to the index tracked by the Underlying Fund and differences in the Fund’s valuation of the Underlying Fund and the foreign currency forward contracts (each valued as of the close of the New York Stock Exchange, typically 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time) and the valuation of the securities in the Underlying Index (generally valued as of each security’s local market close) and the foreign currency forward contracts in the Underlying Index (generally valued at 4:00 p.m., London time).
Valuation Risk. The price the Fund and the Underlying Fund could receive upon sale of a security or unwind of a financial instrument or other asset may differ from the Fund's valuation of the security or other instrument or asset and from the value used by the Underlying Index, particularly for securities or other instruments that trade in low volume or volatile markets or that are valued using a fair value methodology. In addition, the value of the securities or other instruments in the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's portfolio may change on days when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's shares.
Performance Information
As of the date of the Prospectus, the Fund has been in operation for less than one full calendar year and therefore does not report its performance information.
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Management
Investment Adviser. BlackRock Fund Advisors.
Portfolio Managers. Matthew Goff, Diane Hsiung, Jennifer Hsui, Orlando Montalvo and Greg Savage (the “Portfolio Managers”) are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager supervises a portfolio management team. Mr. Goff, Ms. Hsiung, Ms. Hsui, Mr. Montalvo and Mr. Savage have been Portfolio Managers of the Fund since its inception.
Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares
The Fund is an ETF. Individual shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange. Most investors will buy and sell shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer. The price of Fund shares is based on market price, and because ETF shares trade at market prices rather than at NAV, shares may trade at a price greater than NAV (a premium) or less than NAV (a discount). The Fund will only issue or redeem shares that have been aggregated into blocks of 50,000 shares or multiples thereof (“Creation Units”) to Authorized Participants who have entered into agreements with the Fund's distributor. The Fund generally will issue or redeem Creation Units in return for a designated portfolio of securities (and an amount of cash) that the Fund specifies each day.
Tax Information
The Fund intends to make distributions that may be taxable to you as ordinary income or capital gains, unless you are investing through a tax-deferred arrangement such as a 401(k) plan or an individual retirement account (“IRA”), in which case, your distributions generally will be taxed when withdrawn.
Payments to Broker-Dealers and other Financial Intermediaries
If you purchase shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary (such as a bank), BFA or other related companies may pay the intermediary for marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems or other services related to the sale or promotion of the Fund. These payments may create a conflict of interest by 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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More Information About the Fund
This Prospectus contains important information about investing in the Fund. Please read this Prospectus carefully before you make any investment decisions. Additional information regarding the Fund is available at www.iShares.com.
BFA is the investment adviser to the Fund. Shares of the Fund are listed for trading on BATS Exchange, Inc. (“BATS”). The market price for a share of the Fund may be different from the Fund’s most recent NAV.
ETFs are funds that trade like other publicly traded securities. The Fund is designed to track an index. Similar to shares of an index mutual fund, each share of the Fund represents an ownership interest in an underlying portfolio of securities and other instruments intended to track a market index. Unlike shares of a mutual fund, which can be bought and redeemed from the issuing fund by all shareholders at a price based on NAV, shares of the Fund may be purchased or redeemed directly from the Fund at NAV solely by Authorized Participants. Also unlike shares of a mutual fund, shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange and trade in the secondary market at market prices that change throughout the day.
The Fund invests in a particular segment of the securities markets and seeks to track the performance of a currency hedged securities index that generally is not representative of the market as a whole. The Fund is designed to be used as part of broader asset allocation strategies. Accordingly, an investment in the Fund should not constitute a complete investment program.
An index is a financial calculation, based on a grouping of financial instruments, that is not an investment product, while the Fund is an actual investment portfolio. The performance of the Fund and the Underlying Index may vary for a number of reasons, including transaction costs, non-U.S. currency valuations, asset valuations, corporate actions (such as mergers and spin-offs), timing variances and differences between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index resulting from the Fund's use of representative sampling or from legal restrictions (such as diversification requirements) that apply to the Fund but not to the Underlying Index. “Tracking error” is the divergence of the performance (return) of the Fund's portfolio from that of the Underlying Index. BFA expects that, over time, the Fund’s tracking error will not exceed 5%. Because the Fund uses a representative sampling indexing strategy, it can be expected to have a larger tracking error than if it used a replication indexing strategy. “Replication” is an indexing strategy in which a fund invests in substantially all of the securities in its underlying index in approximately the same proportions as in the underlying index.
An investment in the Fund is not a bank deposit and it is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency, BFA or any of its affiliates.
The Fund's investment objective and the Underlying Index may be changed without shareholder approval.
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A Further Discussion of Principal Risks
The Fund is subject to various risks, including the principal risks noted below, any of which may adversely affect the Fund’s NAV, trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. The Fund may be exposed to these risks directly, or indirectly through the Fund's investments in the Underlying Fund. You could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund could underperform other investments.
Asset Class Risk. The securities or other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's portfolio may underperform in comparison to other securities or indexes that track other countries, groups of countries, regions, industries, groups of industries, markets, asset classes or sectors. Various types of securities and currencies as well as indexes may experience cycles of outperformance and underperformance in comparison to the general financial markets depending upon a number of factors, including, among other things, inflation, interest rates, productivity, global demand for local products or resources, regulation and governmental controls. This may cause the Fund to underperform other investment vehicles that invest in different asset classes.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that act as Authorized Participants. To the extent that these institutions exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation and/or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units, Fund shares may trade at a discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts and/or delisting.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class. The Fund may be more adversely affected by the underperformance of those securities, may experience increased price volatility and may be more susceptible to adverse economic, market, political or regulatory occurrences affecting those securities than a fund that does not concentrate its investments.
Consumer Discretionary Sector Risk. The success of consumer product manufacturers and retailers is tied closely to the performance of domestic and international economies, interest rates, exchange rates, competition, consumer confidence, changes in demographics and consumer preferences. Companies in the consumer discretionary sector depend heavily on disposable household income and consumer spending, and may be strongly affected by social trends and marketing campaigns. These companies may be subject to severe competition, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability.
Currency Hedging Risk. When a derivative is used as a hedge against a position that the Fund holds, any loss generated by the derivative generally should be substantially offset by gains on the hedged investment, and vice versa. While hedging can reduce or
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eliminate losses, it can also reduce or eliminate gains. Hedges are sometimes subject to imperfect matching between the derivative and its reference asset, and there can be no assurance that the Fund’s hedging transactions, if implemented, will be effective. Currency hedging activity exposes the Fund to credit risk due to counterparty exposure, which risk will be higher to the extent that the Fund trades with a single counterparty or small number of counterparties. In seeking to track the performance of the Underlying Index, the Fund will attempt to hedge the currency exposure of non-U.S. dollar denominated securities held in its portfolio (held directly or indirectly through its investment in the Underlying Fund) by investing in foreign currency forward contracts, which may include both physically-settled forward contracts and NDFs. NDFs may be less liquid than deliverable forward currency contracts. A lack of liquidity in NDFs of the hedged currency could result in the Fund being unable to structure its hedging transactions as intended. In addition, BFA may seek to limit the size of the Fund in order to attempt to reduce the likelihood of a situation where the Fund is unable to obtain sufficient liquidity in an underlying currency hedge to implement its investment objective.
There is no assurance that the Fund’s hedging strategy will be effective in hedging fluctuations in the value of the euro against the U.S. dollar. The effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy will in general be affected by the volatility of both the Underlying Index and the volatility of the U.S. dollar relative to the euro, measured on an aggregate basis. Increased volatility will generally reduce the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy as calculated by MSCI. The effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy may also be affected by interest rates. Significant differences between U.S. dollar interest rates and foreign currency interest rates may impact the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy. In addition, the currency hedging carried out by the Fund may result in lower returns than those generated through direct investments in the securities comprising the Underlying Index or in the index tracked by the Underlying Fund when the local currency appreciates against the U.S. dollar.
Foreign currency forward contracts, including NDFs, do not eliminate movements in the value of non-U.S. currencies and securities but rather allow the Fund to establish a fixed rate of exchange for a future point in time. Exchange rates may be volatile and may change quickly and unpredictably in response to both global economic developments and economic conditions in a geographic region in which the Fund invests. In addition, in order to minimize transaction costs, or for other reasons, the Fund’s exposure to the euro may not be fully hedged to the extent indicated by the Hedge Ratio, as determined by the indicators described in the Fund's principal investment strategies or the hedge may not be effective due to counterparty failures or otherwise. Governments from time to time intervene in the currency markets, directly and by regulation, in order to influence prices. From time to time, governments may adopt policies designed to directly influence foreign exchange rates with respect to their currency. As a result, the Fund may not be able to structure its hedging transactions as anticipated or its hedging transactions may not successfully reduce the currency risk included in the Fund’s portfolio in a way that tracks the Underlying Index. To the extent the Fund enters into over-the-counter derivative transactions or other instruments to pursue its currency hedging strategy, the Fund will be subject to
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counterparty risk as well as market or liquidity risk with respect to these transactions. In addition, the Fund’s currency hedging activities may involve frequent trading of currency instruments, which may increase transaction costs and cause the Fund’s return to deviate from the Underlying Index.
Investors, such as the Fund, seeking to trade in foreign currencies may have limited access to certain currency markets due to a variety of factors, including government regulations, adverse tax treatment, exchange controls, currency convertibility issues and lack of market liquidity. These limitations and restrictions may impact the availability, liquidity and pricing of the financial instruments that are necessary for the Fund to hedge exposure to the currency markets. If the Fund’s ability to enter into contracts to purchase or sell the currency of a non-U.S. market in which the Fund invests is impaired, the Fund may not be able to achieve its investment objective. In addition, these foreign currency hedging instruments often involve derivative investments and, therefore, expose the Fund to the risks described under “Derivatives Risk.”
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's NAVs are determined on the basis of the U.S. dollar, investors may lose money if the euro depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of the local currency and/or the Fund’s attempt to hedge currency exposure to the euro is unsuccessful. Similarly, because the Fund seeks to hedge currency risk in accordance with the Underlying Index, investors will not share in appreciation in the securities comprising the Underlying Index to the extent that such appreciation is due to increases in the value of the underlying currency. In addition, fluctuations in the exchange rates of currencies could affect the economy or particular business operations of companies in a geographic region in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests, causing an adverse impact on the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund’s investments in the affected region and the United States that is separate from the value of the underlying currency and, therefore, unmitigated by the hedging strategy used by the Fund. If this is the case, investors may experience better performance with a fund that is unhedged from a currency perspective than one that is hedged from a currency perspective, as is the case with the Fund. As a result, investors in the Fund have the potential for losses regardless of the length of time they intend to hold Fund shares and regardless of the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging transactions. The performance of the Fund may be materially better or worse than the performance of the Underlying Fund due primarily to the Fund's attempt to hedge its foreign currency exposure. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the value of an investment in the Fund may change quickly and without warning, which could have a significant negative impact on the Fund.
Cyber Security Risk. With the increased use of technologies such as the Internet to conduct business, the Fund, the Underlying Fund, Authorized Participants, service providers and the relevant listing exchange are susceptible to operational, information security and related “cyber” risks both directly and through their service providers. Similar types of cyber security risks are also present for issuers of securities in which the Fund and the Underlying Fund invest, which could result in material adverse
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consequences for such issuers, and may cause the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's investment in such portfolio companies to lose value. Unlike many other types of risks faced by the Fund and the Underlying Fund, these risks typically are not covered by insurance. In general, cyber incidents can result from deliberate attacks or unintentional events. Cyber attacks include, but are not limited to, gaining unauthorized access to digital systems (e.g., through “hacking” or malicious software coding) for purposes of misappropriating assets or sensitive information, corrupting data, or causing operational disruption. Cyber attacks may also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as causing denial-of-service attacks on websites (i.e., efforts to make network services unavailable to intended users). Cyber security failures by or breaches of the systems of the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's adviser, distributor and other service providers (including, but not limited to, index providers, fund accountants, custodians, transfer agents and administrators), market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund and the Underlying Fund invest, have the ability to cause disruptions and impact business operations, potentially resulting in: financial losses, interference with the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's ability to calculate its NAV, disclosure of confidential trading information, impediments to trading, submission of erroneous trades or erroneous creation or redemption orders, the inability of the Fund,  the Underlying Fund or their service providers to transact business, violations of applicable privacy and other laws, regulatory fines, penalties, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensation costs, or additional compliance costs. In addition, 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 or the Underlying Fund inaccessible or inaccurate or incomplete. Substantial costs may be incurred by the Fund or the Underlying Fund in order to resolve or prevent cyber incidents in the future. While the Fund and the Underlying Fund has established business continuity plans in the event of, and risk management systems to prevent, such cyber attacks, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems, including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cyber security plans and systems put in place by service providers to the Fund, issuers in which the Fund invests, market makers or Authorized Participants. The Fund and its shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result.
Derivatives Risk. The Fund will use currency forwards and NDFs to hedge the currency exposure resulting from investments in foreign currency-denominated securities. The Fund’s use of these instruments, like investments in other derivatives, may reduce the Fund’s returns, increase volatility and/or result in losses due to credit risk or ineffective hedging strategies. Volatility is defined as the characteristic of a security, a currency, an index or a market, to fluctuate significantly in price within a defined period. Currency forwards, like other derivatives, are also subject to counterparty risk, which is the risk that the other party in the transaction will not fulfill its contractual obligation. A risk of the Fund’s use of derivatives is that the fluctuations in their values may not correlate perfectly with the currency or currencies being hedged. The possible lack of a liquid secondary market for derivatives and the resulting inability of the Fund to sell or otherwise close a derivatives position could expose the Fund to losses and could make derivatives more difficult for the Fund to value
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accurately. The Fund could also suffer losses related to its derivatives positions as a result of unanticipated market movements, which losses are potentially unlimited. BFA’s use of derivatives is not intended to predict the direction of securities prices, currency exchange rates, interest rates and other economic factors, which could cause the Fund’s derivatives positions to lose value. Derivatives may give rise to a form of leverage and may expose the Fund to greater risk and increase its costs. The U.S. and certain other countries have adopted or are in the process of adopting regulatory reforms affecting the derivatives markets. These regulations may make derivatives more costly, may limit the availability of derivatives, and may otherwise adversely affect the value and performance of derivatives.
Equity Securities Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund each invest in equity securities, which are subject to changes in value that may be attributable to market perception of a particular issuer or to general stock market fluctuations that affect all issuers. Investments in equity securities may be more volatile than investments in other asset classes.
European Economic Risk. The EMU of the European Union (the “EU”) requires compliance with restrictions on inflation rates, deficits, interest rates and debt levels, as well as fiscal and monetary controls, each of which may significantly affect every country in Europe. Decreasing imports or exports, changes in governmental or EU regulations on trade, changes in the exchange rate of the euro (the common currency of certain EU countries), the default or threat of default by an EU member country on its sovereign debt (including, without limitation, the default by Greece) and/or an economic recession in an EU member country may have a significant adverse effect on the economies of EU member countries and their trading partners. The European financial markets have experienced volatility and adverse trends in recent years due to concerns about economic downturns or rising government debt levels in several European countries, including Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. These events have adversely affected the exchange rate of the euro and may continue to significantly affect European countries.
Responses to financial problems by European governments, central banks and others, including austerity measures and reforms, may not produce the desired results, may result in social unrest and may limit future growth and economic recovery or have other unintended consequences. Further defaults or restructurings by governments and other entities of their debt could have additional adverse effects on economies, financial markets and asset valuations around the world. In addition, one or more countries may abandon the euro and/or withdraw from the EU, including, with respect to the latter, the United Kingdom, which is a significant market in the global economy.
The occurrence of terrorist incidents throughout Europe also could impact financial markets. The impact of these events is not clear but could be significant and far-reaching and adversely affect the value of the Fund.
Financials Sector Risk. Companies in the financials sector of an economy are subject to extensive governmental regulation and intervention, which may adversely affect the scope of their activities, the prices they can charge, the amount of capital they must maintain and, potentially, their size. Governmental regulation may change frequently and may have significant adverse consequences for companies in the financials sector,
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including effects not intended by such regulation. The impact of recent or future regulation in various countries of any individual financial company or of the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. Certain risks may impact the value of investments in the financials sector more severely than those of investments outside this sector, including the risks associated with companies that operate with substantial financial leverage. Companies in the financials sector may also be adversely affected by increases in interest rates and loan losses, decreases in the availability of money or asset valuations, credit rating downgrades and adverse conditions in other related markets. Insurance companies, in particular, may be subject to severe price competition and/or rate regulation, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability. During the financial crisis that began in 2007, the deterioration of the credit markets impacted a broad range of mortgage, asset-backed, auction rate, sovereign debt and other markets, including U.S. and non-U.S. credit and interbank money markets, thereby affecting a wide range of financial institutions and markets. During the financial crisis, a number of large financial institutions failed, merged with stronger institutions or had significant government infusions of capital. Instability in the financial markets caused certain financial companies to incur large losses. Some financial companies experienced declines in the valuations of their assets, took actions to raise capital (such as the issuance of debt or equity securities), or even ceased operations. Some financial companies borrowed significant amounts of capital from government sources. Those actions caused the securities of many financial companies to decline in value. The financials sector is particularly sensitive to fluctuations in interest rates. The financials sector is also a target for cyber attacks and may experience technology malfunctions and disruptions. In recent years, cyber attacks and technology failures have become increasingly frequent and have reportedly caused losses.
Geographic Risk. Some of the companies in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests are located in parts of the world that have historically been prone to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, droughts, floods, hurricanes or tsunamis, and are economically sensitive to environmental events. Any such event may adversely impact the economies of these geographic areas, causing an adverse impact on the value of the Fund.
Index-Related Risk. The Fund seeks to achieve a return which corresponds generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Underlying Index as published by the Index Provider. There is no assurance that the Index Provider or any agents that may act on its behalf will compile the Underlying Index accurately, or that the Underlying Index will be determined, composed or calculated accurately. While the Index Provider provides descriptions of what the Underlying Index is designed to achieve, neither the Index Provider nor its agents provide any warranty or accept any liability in relation to the quality, accuracy or completeness of the Underlying Index or its related data, and they do not guarantee that the Underlying Index will be in line with the Index Provider’s methodology. BFA’s mandate as described in this Prospectus is to manage the Fund consistently with the Underlying Index provided by the Index Provider to BFA. Consequently, BFA does not provide any warranty or guarantee against the Index Provider’s or others’ errors. Errors in respect of the quality, accuracy and completeness of the data used to compile the Underlying Index may occur from time
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to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, particularly where the indices are less commonly used as benchmarks by funds or managers. Therefore, gains, losses or costs associated with errors of the Index Provider or its agents will generally be borne by the Fund and its shareholders. For example, during a period where the Fund’s Underlying Index contains incorrect constituents, the Fund would have market exposure to such constituents and would be underexposed to the Underlying Index’s other constituents. Such errors may negatively or positively impact the Fund and its shareholders. Any gains due to the Index Provider’s or others’ errors will be kept by the Fund and its shareholders and any losses resulting from the Index Provider’s or others’ errors will be borne by the Fund and its shareholders.
Apart from scheduled rebalances, the Index Provider or its agents may carry out additional ad hoc rebalances to the Underlying Index in order, for example, to correct an error in the selection of index constituents. When the Underlying Index is rebalanced and the Fund in turn rebalances its portfolio to attempt to increase the correlation between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index, any transaction costs and market exposure arising from such portfolio rebalancing will be borne directly by the Fund and its shareholders. Therefore, errors and additional ad hoc rebalances carried out by the Index Provider to the Underlying Index may increase the costs to and the tracking error risk of the Fund.
Similar risks exist for the Underlying Fund in tracking its benchmark, which may result in the Fund's performance deviating from the return of the Underlying Index.
Industrials Sector Risk. The value of securities issued by companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by supply and demand related to their specific products or services and industrials sector products in general. The products of manufacturing companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction. Government regulations, world events, economic conditions and exchange rates may adversely affect the performance of companies in the industrials sector. Companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. The industrials sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors. Companies in the industrials sector, particularly aerospace and defense companies, may also be adversely affected by government spending policies because companies involved in this sector rely to a significant extent on government demand for their products and services.
Investment in Underlying Fund Risk. The Fund expects to invest a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund, so the Fund’s investment performance is likely to be directly related to the performance of the Underlying Fund. The Fund may also invest in other funds, including money market funds. The Fund’s NAV will change with changes in the value of the Underlying Fund and other instruments in which the Fund invests based on their market valuations. An investment in the Fund will entail more direct and indirect costs and expenses than a direct investment in the Underlying Fund, including as a result of the currency hedging activity conducted by the Fund. For example, the Fund indirectly pays a portion of the expenses (including operating
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expenses and management fees) incurred by the Underlying Fund, although some of such fees will be offset by the fee waiver by BFA.
An investor in the Fund may receive taxable gains from portfolio transactions by the Underlying Fund, as well as taxable gains from transactions in shares of the Underlying Fund held by the Fund. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may also hold common portfolio securities.
As the Fund's allocations to the Underlying Fund change from time to time, or to the extent that the expense ratio of the Underlying Fund changes, the weighted average operating expenses borne by the Fund may increase or decrease.
The Fund will seek to hedge the currency exposure of the instruments held by the Underlying Fund. The indirect nature of the holdings may make the hedging more difficult to achieve and the Fund may be unable to accurately hedge currency exposure inherent in the Underlying Fund.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities and other instruments to which the Fund or the Underlying Fund has exposure. Any issuer of these securities or counterparty on other instruments may perform poorly, causing the value of its securities or instruments to decline. Poor performance may be caused by poor management decisions, competitive pressures, changes in technology, expiration of patent protection, disruptions in supply, labor problems or shortages, corporate restructurings, fraudulent disclosures, credit deterioration of the issuer or other factors. Issuers may, in times of distress or at their own discretion, decide to reduce or eliminate dividends, which may also cause their stock prices to decline.
Management Risk. The Fund may not fully replicate the Underlying Index and may hold securities and other instruments not included in the Underlying Index. As a result, the Fund is subject to the risk that BFA’s investment strategy, the implementation of which is subject to a number of constraints, may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund could lose money due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during market downturns. Securities or other instruments may decline in value due to factors affecting markets generally or particular asset classes or industries represented in the markets. The value of a security or other instrument may decline due to general market conditions, economic trends or events that are not specifically related to the issuer of the security or asset or due to factors that affect a particular industry or group of industries. During a general market downturn, multiple asset classes may be negatively affected.
Market Trading Risk
Absence of Active Market. Although shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund are listed for trading on one or more stock exchanges, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained by market makers or Authorized Participants.
Risk of Secondary Listings. The Fund's and the Underlying Fund's shares may be listed or traded on U.S. and non-U.S. stock exchanges other than the U.S. stock exchange where the Fund's primary listing is maintained. There can be no assurance that the
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Fund’s and the Underlying Fund's shares will continue to trade on any such stock exchange or in any market or that the Fund’s and the Underlying Fund's shares will continue to meet the requirements for listing or trading on any exchange or in any market. The Fund's and the Underlying Fund's shares may be less actively traded in certain markets than in others, and investors are subject to the execution and settlement risks and market standards of the market where they or their broker direct their trades for execution. Certain information available to investors who trade Fund shares on a U.S. stock exchange during regular U.S. market hours may not be available to investors who trade in other markets, which may result in secondary market prices in such markets being less efficient.
Secondary Market Trading Risk. Shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund may trade in the secondary market at times when the Fund and the Underlying Fund do not accept orders to purchase or redeem shares. At such times, shares may trade in the secondary market with more significant premiums or discounts than might be experienced at times when the Fund and the Underlying Fund accept purchase and redemption orders. If the Fund purchases shares of the Underlying Fund at a time when the market price of Underlying Fund shares is at a premium to their NAV or sells Underlying Fund shares when their market price is at a discount to their NAV, the Fund may incur losses.
Secondary market trading in Fund shares may be halted by a stock exchange because of market conditions or for other reasons. In addition, trading in Fund shares on a stock exchange or in any market may be subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to “circuit breaker” rules on the stock exchange or market.
Shares of the Fund, similar to shares of other issuers listed on a stock exchange, may be sold short and are therefore subject to the risk of increased volatility and price decreases associated with being sold short.
Shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund May Trade at Prices Other Than NAV. Shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund each trade on stock exchanges at prices at, above or below the Fund’s most recent NAV. The NAV of the Fund and the Underlying Fund are calculated at the end of each business day and fluctuate with changes in the market value of the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's holdings. The trading price of each of the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's shares fluctuates continuously throughout trading hours based on both market supply of and demand for their shares and the underlying value of their portfolio holdings or NAV. As a result, the trading prices of the Fund’s and the Underlying Fund's shares may deviate significantly from NAV during periods of market volatility. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV. However, because shares can be created and redeemed in Creation Units at NAV, BFA believes that large discounts or premiums to the NAV of the Fund or the Underlying Fund, as applicable, are not likely to be sustained over the long term (unlike shares of many closed-end funds, which frequently trade at appreciable discounts from, and sometimes at premiums to, their NAVs). However, BFA may seek to limit the size of the Fund in order to attempt to mitigate the likelihood of a situation where the Fund is unable to obtain sufficient liquidity in an underlying currency hedge to implement its investment
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objective, including by recommending that the Fund limit purchases of Fund shares through Creation Unit transactions. If the Fund elects to impose limitations on creation transactions, Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium to NAV in the secondary market. While the creation/redemption feature is designed to make it more likely that the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's shares normally will trade on stock exchanges at prices close to the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's next calculated NAV, exchange prices are not expected to correlate exactly with the NAV due to timing reasons, supply and demand imbalances and other factors. In addition, disruptions to creations and redemptions, including disruptions at market makers, Authorized Participants, or market participants, and during periods of significant market volatility, may result in trading prices for shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund that differ significantly from its NAV.
Costs of Buying or Selling Fund Shares. Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange involves two types of costs that apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you will likely incur a brokerage commission and other charges. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread”; that is, the difference between what investors are willing to pay for Fund shares (the “bid” price) and the price at which they are willing to sell Fund shares (the “ask” price). There may also be regulatory and other charges that are incurred as a result of trading activity. Because of the costs inherent in buying or selling Fund shares, frequent trading may detract significantly from investment results and an investment in Fund shares may not be advisable for investors who anticipate regularly making small investments through a brokerage account.
Model Risk. Neither the Fund nor BFA can offer assurances that the allocation and hedging model used to calculate the Underlying Index will achieve its intended results.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund trade on foreign exchanges that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Non-Diversification Risk. The Fund is classified as “non-diversified.” This means that the Fund may invest a large percentage of its assets in securities issued by or representing a small number of issuers. As a result, the Fund may be more susceptible to the risks associated with these particular issuers or to a single economic, political or regulatory occurrence affecting these issuers.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks of investing in the markets where such issuers are located, including heightened risks of inflation or nationalization and market fluctuations caused by economic and political developments. As a result of investing in non-U.S. securities, the Fund may be subject to increased risk of loss caused by any of the factors listed below:
Lower levels of liquidity and market efficiency;
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Greater securities price volatility;
Exchange rate fluctuations and exchange controls;
Less availability of public information about issuers;
Limitations on foreign ownership of securities;
Imposition of withholding or other taxes;
Imposition of restrictions on the expatriation of the funds or other assets of the Fund;
Higher transaction and custody costs and delays in settlement procedures;
Difficulties in enforcing contractual obligations;
Lower levels of regulation of the securities markets;
Weaker accounting, disclosure and reporting requirements; and
Legal principles relating to corporate governance, directors’ fiduciary duties and liabilities and stockholders’ rights in markets in which the Fund invests may differ and/or may not be as extensive or protective as those that apply in the United States.
Operational Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are exposed to operational risk arising from a number of factors, including but not limited to human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund’s and the Underlying Fund's service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund, the Underlying Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate for those risks that they are intended to address.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are not actively managed and may be affected by a general decline in market segments related to the Underlying Index. The Fund invests in securities and other instruments included in, or representative of, the Underlying Index, regardless of their investment merits. BFA generally does not attempt to take defensive positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. The economies of some countries in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests are dependent on trade with certain key trading partners. Reduction in spending on the products and services of these countries, institution of tariffs or other trade barriers by any of their key trading partners or a slowdown in the economies of any of their key trading partners may cause an adverse impact on the economies of such countries.
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. Investment in developed country issuers may subject the Fund or the Underlying Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, economic and other risks specific to developed countries. Developed countries generally tend to rely on services sectors (e.g., the financial services sector) as the primary means of economic growth. A prolonged slowdown in services sectors is likely to have a negative impact on economies of certain developed countries. Many developed countries experienced a significant economic slowdown during the financial
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crisis that began in 2007. In the past, certain developed countries have been targets of terrorism. Acts of terrorism in developed countries or against their interests may cause uncertainty in the financial markets and adversely affect the performance of the issuers to which the Fund or the Underlying Fund has exposure. Heavy regulation of certain markets, including labor and product markets, may have an adverse effect on certain issuers. Such regulations may negatively affect economic growth or cause prolonged periods of recession. Many developed countries are heavily indebted and face rising healthcare and retirement expenses. In addition, price fluctuations of certain commodities and regulations impacting the import of commodities may negatively affect developed country economies.
Risk of Investing in France. Investment in French issuers may subject the Fund to legal, regulatory, political, currency, security, and economic risk specific to France. During the financial crisis that began in 2007, the French economy, along with certain other EU economies, experienced a significant economic slowdown. Recently, new concerns emerged in relation to the economic health of the EU. These concerns have led to tremendous downward pressure on certain EU member states, including France. Interest rates on France’s debt may rise to levels that make it difficult for it to service high debt levels without significant financial help from, among others, the European Central Bank and could potentially result in default. In addition, the French economy is dependent to a significant extent on the economies of certain key trading partners, including Germany and other Western European countries. Reduction in spending on French products and services, or changes in any of the economies may cause an adverse impact on the French economy. In addition, France may be subject to acts of terrorism. The French economy is dependent on exports from the agricultural sector. Leading agricultural exports include dairy products, meat, wine, fruit and vegetables, and fish. As a result, the French economy is susceptible to fluctuations in demand for agricultural products.
Risk of Investing in Germany. Investment in German issuers subjects the Fund or the Underlying Fund to legal, regulatory, political, currency, security, and economic risks specific to Germany. During the financial crisis that began in 2007, the German economy, along with certain other EU economies, experienced a significant economic slowdown. Recently, new concerns have emerged in relation to the economic health of the EU. These concerns have led to tremendous downward pressure on certain financial institutions, including German financial services companies. During the recent European debt crisis, Germany played a key role in stabilizing the euro. However, such efforts may prove unsuccessful, and any ongoing crisis may continue to significantly affect the economies of every country in Europe, including Germany. The German economy is dependent to a significant extent on the economies of certain key trading partners, including the United States and France, Italy and other European countries. Reduction in spending on German products and services, or changes in any of the economies may have an adverse impact on the German economy. In addition, heavy regulation of labor and product markets in Germany may have an adverse impact on German issuers. Such regulations may negatively impact economic growth or cause prolonged periods of recession.
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Securities Lending Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund and the Underlying Fund, as applicable, may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund and the Underlying Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for the loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund or the Underlying Fund. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (“BTC”), the Fund’s securities lending agent, will take into account the tax impact to shareholders of substitute payments for dividends when managing the Fund’s securities lending program.
Security Risk. Some geographic areas in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests have experienced acts of terrorism or strained international relations due to territorial disputes, historical animosities, defense concerns and other security concerns. These situations may cause uncertainty in the markets of these geographic areas and may adversely affect their economies and the Fund's investments.
Tax Risk. Because the Fund is expected to invest in the Underlying Fund, the Fund’s realized losses on sales of shares of the Underlying Fund may be indefinitely or permanently deferred as “wash sales.” Distributions of short-term capital gains by the Underlying Fund will be recognized as ordinary income by the Fund and would not be offset by the Fund’s capital loss carryforwards, if any. Capital loss carryforwards of the Underlying Fund, if any, would not offset net capital gains of the Fund. Each of these effects is caused by the Fund’s investment in the Underlying Fund and may result in distributions to Fund shareholders being of higher magnitudes and less likely to qualify for lower capital gain tax rates than if the Fund were to invest directly in the securities and other instruments comprising the Underlying Index. The Fund is expected to invest in derivatives. The federal income tax treatment of a derivative may not be as favorable as a direct investment in an underlying asset. Derivatives may produce taxable income and taxable realized gain. Derivatives may adversely affect the timing, character and amount of income the Fund realizes from its investments. As a result, a larger portion of the Fund’s distributions may be treated as ordinary income rather than as capital gains. In addition, certain derivatives are subject to mark-to-market or straddle provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. If such provisions are applicable, there could be an increase (or decrease) in the amount of taxable dividends paid by the Fund. Income from swaps is generally taxable. In addition, the tax treatment of certain derivatives, such as swaps, is unsettled and may be subject to future legislation, regulation or administrative pronouncements issued by the IRS.
Tracking Error Risk. Tracking error is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities (including shares of the Underlying Fund) and other instruments held in the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences (including differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the Fund’s valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the Fund’s NAV), differences in transaction and hedging costs and forward rates achieved, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or
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other distributions, tax gains or losses, changes to the Underlying Index and the cost to the Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. These risks may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions in the affected securities and/or foreign exchange markets. In addition, tracking error may result because the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not, and because the Fund accepts creations and redemptions during time periods between which it is able to adjust its currency hedges, whereas the Underlying Index does not adjust its hedging during these periods. To the extent that the Fund seeks its investment objective through investments in the Underlying Fund, the Fund may experience increased tracking error. The potential for increased tracking error may result from investments in the Underlying Fund due to, among other things, differences in the composition of the investment portfolio of the Underlying Fund as compared to the index tracked by the Underlying Fund and differences in the Fund’s valuation of the Underlying Fund and the foreign currency forward contracts (each valued as of the close of the New York Stock Exchange, typically 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time) and the valuation of the securities in the Underlying Index (generally valued as of each security’s local market close) and the foreign currency forward contracts in the Underlying Index (generally valued at 4:00 p.m., London time).
U.S. Economic Risk. The United States is a significant, and in some cases the most significant, trading partner of, or foreign investor in countries in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests and the economies of these countries may be particularly affected by changes in the U.S. economy. A decrease in U.S. imports, new trade regulations, changes in the U.S. dollar exchange rate or an economic slowdown in the United States may have a material adverse effect on economies of those countries and, as a result, securities to which the Fund or the Underlying Fund have exposure.
Valuation Risk. The sale price the Fund could receive for a security or unwind of a financial instrument or other asset may differ from the Fund's valuation of the security or other instrument or asset and from the value used by the Underlying Index, particularly for securities or other instruments that trade in low volume or volatile markets, or that are valued using a fair value methodology. Because non-U.S. exchanges may be open on days when the Fund does not price its shares, the value of the securities or other instruments in the Fund’s portfolio may change on days when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund’s or Underlying Fund's shares. In addition, for purposes of calculating the Fund's NAV, the value of assets denominated in non-U.S. currencies is converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. This conversion may result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the Fund's NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund's performance and the performance of the Underlying Index.
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A Further Discussion of Other Risks
The Fund may also be subject to certain other risks associated with its investments and investment strategies either directly or indirectly through the Fund's investments in the Underlying Fund.
Consumer Staples Sector Risk. The consumer staples sector may be affected by the regulation of various product components and production methods, marketing campaigns and other factors affecting consumer demand. Tobacco companies, in particular, may be adversely affected by new laws, regulations and litigation. The consumer staples sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors.
Healthcare Sector Risk. The profitability of companies in the healthcare sector is affected by the following factors, among others: extensive government regulations, restrictions on government reimbursement for medical expenses, rising costs of medical products and services, pricing pressure, an increased emphasis on outpatient services, limited number of products, industry innovation, changes in technologies and other market developments. A number of issuers in the healthcare industry have recently merged or otherwise experienced consolidation. The effects of this trend toward consolidation are unknown and may be far-reaching. Many healthcare companies are heavily dependent on patent protection. The expiration of a company’s patents may adversely affect that company’s profitability. Many healthcare companies are subject to extensive litigation based on product liability and similar claims. Healthcare companies are subject to competitive forces that may make it difficult to raise prices and, in fact, may result in price discounting. Many new products in the healthcare sector may be subject to regulatory approvals. The process of obtaining such approvals may be long and costly, and such efforts ultimately may be unsuccessful. Companies in the healthcare sector may be thinly capitalized and may be susceptible to product obsolescence.
Information Technology Sector Risk. Information technology companies face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on profit margins. Like other technology companies, information technology companies may have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or personnel. The products of information technology companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments, frequent new product introduction, unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. Companies in the information technology sector are heavily dependent on patent and intellectual property rights. The loss or impairment of these rights may adversely affect the profitability of these companies.
Materials Sector Risk. Companies in the materials sector may be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, exchange rates, import controls, increased competition, depletion of resources, technical advances, labor relations and government regulations, among other factors. Also, companies in the materials sector are at risk of liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. Production of materials may exceed demand as a result of market imbalances or economic downturns, leading to poor investment returns.
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Mid-Capitalization Companies Risk. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies may be more volatile than those of large-capitalization companies and, therefore, the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's share price may be more volatile than that of funds that invest a larger percentage of their assets in stocks issued by large-capitalization companies. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies are also more vulnerable than those of large-capitalization companies to adverse business or economic developments, and the stocks of mid-capitalization companies may be less liquid, making it difficult for the Fund to buy and sell them. In addition, mid-capitalization companies generally have less diverse product lines than large-capitalization companies and are more susceptible to adverse developments related to their products.
Telecommunications Sector Risk. The telecommunications sector of a country's economy is often subject to extensive government regulation. The costs of complying with governmental regulations, delays or failure to receive required regulatory approvals, or the enactment of new regulatory requirements may negatively affect the business of telecommunications companies. Government actions around the world, specifically in the area of pre-marketing clearance of products and prices, can be arbitrary and unpredictable. Companies in the telecommunications sector may encounter distressed cash flows due to the need to commit substantial capital to meet increasing competition, particularly in developing new products and services using new technology. Technological innovations may make the products and services of certain telecommunications companies obsolete. Telecommunications providers are generally required to obtain franchises or licenses in order to provide services in a given location. Licensing and franchise rights in the telecommunications sector are limited, which may provide an advantage to certain participants. Limited availability of such rights, high barriers to market entry and regulatory oversight, among other factors, have led to consolidation of companies within the sector, which could lead to further regulation or other negative effects in the future.
Utilities Sector Risk. Deregulation may subject utility companies to greater competition and may adversely affect their profitability. As deregulation allows utility companies to diversify outside of their original geographic regions and their traditional lines of business, utility companies may engage in riskier ventures. In addition, deregulation may eliminate restrictions on the profits of certain utility companies, but may also subject these companies to greater risk of loss. Companies in the utilities industry may have difficulty obtaining an adequate return on invested capital, raising capital, or financing large construction projects during periods of inflation or unsettled capital markets; face restrictions on operations and increased cost and delays attributable to environmental considerations and regulation; find that existing plants, equipment or products have been rendered obsolete by technological innovations; or be subject to increased costs because of the scarcity of certain fuels or the effects of man-made or natural disasters. Existing and future regulations or legislation may make it difficult for utility companies to operate profitably. Government regulators monitor and control utility revenues and costs, and therefore may limit utility profits. In certain countries, regulatory authorities may also restrict utility companies’ access to new markets, thereby diminishing these companies’ long-term prospects. There is no assurance that regulatory authorities will grant rate increases in the future, or that
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such increases will be adequate to permit the payment of dividends on stocks issued by a utility company. Energy conservation and changes in climate policy may also have a significant adverse impact on the revenues and expenses of utility companies.
Portfolio Holdings Information
A description of the Trust's policies and procedures with respect to the disclosure of the Fund’s portfolio securities is available in the Fund's Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”). The top holdings of the Fund can be found at www.iShares.com. Fund fact sheets provide information regarding the Fund's top holdings and may be requested by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737).
A Further Discussion of Principal Investment Strategies
Overview
The Fund allocates and reallocates its assets among direct investments in securities and other instruments, and in investments in the Underlying Fund consistent with the allocation and reallocation of securities in the Underlying Index as determined by the Index Provider. The Fund will invest in foreign currency forward contracts designed to hedge non-U.S. currency fluctuations, based on MSCI’s calculation methodology, inherent in the securities in the Underlying Index. In addition, the Fund may borrow, lend its portfolio securities to brokers, dealers and financial institutions, and may invest the collateral in certain short-term instruments, either directly or through one or more money market funds, as described in greater detail in the Fund’s SAI.
The Underlying Fund
The Fund will invest a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund, so the Fund’s investment performance is likely to be directly related to the performance of the Underlying Fund. The Fund’s NAV will change with changes in the value of the Underlying Fund and other securities in which the Fund invests, subject to the impact of currency hedges, which may cause the Fund to outperform or underperform the return of the Underlying Fund. An investment in the Fund will entail more direct and indirect costs and expenses than a direct investment in the Underlying Fund. The Underlying Fund invests in non-U.S. securities without implementing a hedge of the local currency risk. This strategy is subject to additional risks, as described in this Prospectus and in the Fund’s SAI.
BFA is not required to invest the Fund’s assets in any particular underlying fund, including the Underlying Fund, or allocate any particular percentage of the Fund’s assets to any particular underlying fund, including the Underlying Fund. As of its inception date, the Fund intends to initially invest in the Underlying Fund and in currency hedges.
The Underlying Fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the MSCI EMU Index. The MSCI EMU Index is a servicemark of the Index Provider and has been licensed for use for certain purposes by BFA or its affiliates. The Underlying Fund is not sponsored,
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endorsed, sold, or promoted by the Index Provider and the Index Provider makes no representation regarding the advisability of investing in the Underlying Fund or the Fund.
In managing the Underlying Fund, BFA uses a representative sampling index strategy. Representative sampling is an indexing strategy that involves investing in a representative sample of securities that collectively have an investment profile similar to a specified benchmark index. Securities selected for the Underlying Fund are expected to have, in the aggregate, investment characteristics (based on factors such as market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of the applicable underlying index. The Underlying Fund may or may not hold all of the securities that are included in its underlying index and may hold certain securities or other instruments that are not included in its underlying index or in the Underlying Index.
Management
Investment Adviser. As investment adviser, BFA has overall responsibility for the general management and administration of the Trust. BFA provides an investment program for the Fund and manages the investment of the Fund’s assets. In managing the Fund, BFA may draw upon the research and expertise of its asset management affiliates with respect to certain portfolio securities. In seeking to achieve the Fund's investment objective, BFA uses teams of portfolio managers, investment strategists and other investment specialists. This team approach brings together many disciplines and leverages BFA’s extensive resources.
Pursuant to the Investment Advisory Agreement between BFA and the Trust (entered into on behalf of the Fund), BFA is responsible for substantially all expenses of the Fund, except interest expenses, taxes, brokerage expenses, future distribution fees or expenses and extraordinary expenses.
For its investment advisory services to the Fund, BFA will be paid a management fee from the Fund based on a percentage of the Fund's average daily net assets, at an annual rate of 0.62%. BFA has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees in an amount equal to the Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any, attributable to investments by the Fund in EZU until December 31, 2020. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to December 31, 2020 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA. In addition, with respect to the Fund, BFA has agreed to reduce the management fee on assets attributable to the Fund's investments in EZU (and those assets used to hedge the currencies in which securities in EZU are denominated against the U.S. dollar) such that the management fee is equal to the total annual fund operating expenses after fee waiver of EZU plus 0.03% until December 31, 2020. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to December 31, 2020 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA. In addition, BFA may from time to time voluntarily waive and/or reimburse fees or expenses in order to limit Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses (excluding Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any). Any such voluntary waiver or reimbursement may be eliminated by BFA at any time.
BFA is located at 400 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. It is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc. (“BlackRock”). As of September 30, 2015, BFA
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and its affiliates provided investment advisory services for assets in excess of $4.51 trillion. BFA and its affiliates trade and invest for their own accounts in the types of securities in which the Fund may also invest.
A discussion regarding the basis for the Trust's Board of Trustees' (the “Board”) approval of the Investment Advisory Agreement with BFA will be available in the Fund's annual report for the period ending August 31.
Portfolio Managers. Matthew Goff, Diane Hsiung, Jennifer Hsui, Orlando Montalvo and Greg Savage are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager is responsible for various functions related to portfolio management, including, but not limited to, investing cash inflows, coordinating with members of his or her portfolio management team to focus on certain asset classes, implementing investment strategy, researching and reviewing investment strategy and overseeing members of his or her portfolio management team that have more limited responsibilities.
Matthew Goff has been employed by BFA and BTC (formerly, Barclays Global Investors, N.A. (“BGI”)) as a portfolio manager since 2008. Prior to that, Mr. Goff was a portfolio manager from 2007 to 2008 for US Trust, a product manager from 2006 to 2007 for Iris Financial Solutions and a product manager from 2003 to 2006 for MSCI Barra. Mr. Goff has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since its inception.
Diane Hsiung has been employed by BFA and BTC as a senior portfolio manager since 2007. Prior to that, Ms. Hsiung was a portfolio manager from 2002 to 2006 for BGFA and BGI. Ms. Hsiung has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since its inception.
Jennifer Hsui has been employed by BFA and BTC as a senior portfolio manager since 2007. Prior to that, Ms. Hsui was a portfolio manager from 2006 to 2007 for BGFA and BGI. Ms. Hsui has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since its inception.
Orlando Montalvo has been employed by BFA and BTC as a senior portfolio manager since 2009. Prior to that, Mr. Montalvo was a senior portfolio manager from 2005 to 2009 for BGFA and BGI. Mr. Montalvo has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since its inception.
Greg Savage has been employed by BFA and BTC as a senior portfolio manager since 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Savage was a portfolio manager from 2001 to 2006 for BGFA and BGI. Mr. Savage has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since its inception.
The Fund's SAI provides additional information about the Portfolio Managers' compensation, other accounts managed by the Portfolio Managers and the Portfolio Managers' ownership (if any) of shares in the Fund.
Administrator, Custodian and Transfer Agent. State Street Bank and Trust Company (“State Street”) is the administrator, custodian and transfer agent for the Fund.
Conflicts of Interest. BFA wants you to know that it has relationships with certain entities that may give rise to conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest. These entities are BFA’s affiliates, including BlackRock and The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., and each of their affiliates, directors, partners, trustees, managing members, officers and employees (collectively, the “Affiliates”).
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The activities of BFA and the Affiliates in the management of, or their interest in, their own accounts and other accounts they manage, may present conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA and the Affiliates provide investment management services to other funds and discretionary managed accounts that may follow an investment program similar to that of the Fund. BFA and the Affiliates are involved worldwide with a broad spectrum of financial services and asset management activities and may engage in the ordinary course of business in activities in which their interests or the interests of their clients may conflict with those of the Fund. BFA or one or more of the Affiliates acts, or may act, as an investor, investment banker, research provider, investment manager, commodity pool operator, commodity trading advisor, financier, underwriter, adviser, market maker, trader, prime broker, lender, agent or principal, and have other direct and indirect interests in securities, currencies, commodities, derivatives and other instruments in which the Fund may directly or indirectly invest. Thus, it is likely that the Fund will have multiple business relationships with and will invest in, engage in transactions with, make voting decisions with respect to, or obtain services from, entities for which BFA or an Affiliate seeks to perform investment banking or other services.
BFA or one or more Affiliates may engage in proprietary trading and advise accounts and funds that have investment objectives similar to those of the Fund and/or that engage in and compete for transactions in the same types of securities, currencies and other instruments as the Fund, including in securities issued by other open-end and closed-end investment companies, which may include investment companies that are affiliated with the Fund and BFA, to the extent permitted under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”). The trading activities of BFA and these Affiliates are carried out without reference to positions held directly or indirectly by the Fund and may result in BFA or an Affiliate having positions in certain securities that are adverse to those of the Fund.
No Affiliate is under any obligation to share any investment opportunity, idea or strategy with the Fund. As a result, an Affiliate may compete with the Fund for appropriate investment opportunities. As a result of this and several other factors, the results of the Fund's investment activities may differ from those of an Affiliate and of other accounts managed by an Affiliate, and it is possible that the Fund could sustain losses during periods in which one or more Affiliates and other accounts achieve profits on their trading for proprietary or other accounts. The opposite result is also possible.
The Fund may, from time to time, enter into transactions in which BFA’s or an Affiliate’s clients have an interest adverse to the Fund. Furthermore, transactions undertaken by Affiliate-advised clients may adversely impact the Fund. Transactions by one or more Affiliate-advised clients or BFA may have the effect of diluting or otherwise disadvantaging the values, prices or investment strategies of the Fund.
The Fund's activities may be limited because of regulatory restrictions applicable to one or more Affiliates and/or their internal policies designed to comply with such restrictions. In addition, the Fund may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies with which an Affiliate has developed or is trying to develop investment banking relationships or in which an Affiliate has significant debt or
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equity investments or other interests. The Fund also may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies for which an Affiliate provides or may in the future provide research coverage. An Affiliate may have business relationships with, and purchase, distribute or sell services or products from or to, distributors, consultants or others who recommend the Fund or who engage in transactions with or for the Fund, and may receive compensation for such services. The Fund may also make brokerage and other payments to Affiliates in connection with the Fund's portfolio investment transactions.
Pursuant to a securities lending program approved by the Board, the Fund has retained an Affiliate of BFA to serve as the securities lending agent for the Fund to the extent that the Fund participates in the securities lending program. For these services, the lending agent may receive a fee from the Fund, including a fee based on the returns earned on the Fund’s investment of the cash received as collateral for any loaned securities. BFA may receive compensation for managing the reinvestment of cash collateral. In addition, one or more Affiliates may be among the entities to which the Fund may lend its portfolio securities under the securities lending program.
The activities of BFA or the Affiliates may give rise to other conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA has adopted policies and procedures designed to address these potential conflicts of interest. See the Fund's SAI for further information.
Shareholder Information
Additional shareholder information, including how to buy and sell shares of the Fund, is available free of charge by calling toll-free: 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or visiting our website at www.iShares.com.
Buying and Selling Shares. Shares of the Fund may be acquired or redeemed directly from the Fund only in Creation Units or multiples thereof, as discussed in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus. Only an Authorized Participant (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section below) may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. Once created, shares of the Fund generally trade in the secondary market in amounts less than a Creation Unit.
Shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange for trading during the trading day. Shares can be bought and sold throughout the trading day like shares of other publicly traded companies. The Trust does not impose any minimum investment for shares of the Fund purchased on an exchange or otherwise in the secondary market. The Fund's shares trade under the trading symbol “DEZU.”
Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange or other secondary market involves two types of costs that may apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you may incur a brokerage commission and other charges. The commission is frequently a fixed amount and may be a significant proportional cost for investors seeking to buy or sell small amounts of shares. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread,” that is, any difference between the bid price and the ask price. The spread varies over time for shares of the Fund based on the Fund’s trading volume and market liquidity, and is generally lower if the Fund
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has high trading volume and market liquidity, and higher if the Fund has little trading volume and market liquidity (which is often the case for funds that are newly launched or small in size). The Fund's spread may also be impacted by the liquidity of the underlying securities held by the Fund, particularly for newly launched or smaller funds or in instances of significant volatility of the underlying securities.
The Board has adopted a policy of not monitoring for frequent purchases and redemptions of Fund shares (“frequent trading”) that appear to attempt to take advantage of a potential arbitrage opportunity presented by a lag between a change in the value of the Fund’s portfolio securities after the close of the primary markets for the Fund’s portfolio securities and the reflection of that change in the Fund’s NAV (“market timing”), because the Fund sells and redeems its shares directly through transactions that are in-kind and/or for cash, subject to the conditions described below under Creations and Redemptions. The Board has not adopted a policy of monitoring for other frequent trading activity because shares of the Fund are listed for trading on a national securities exchange.
The national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed is open for trading Monday through Friday and is closed on weekends and the following holidays: 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’s primary Listing Exchange is BATS.
Although the SEC has granted an exemptive order to the Trust permitting registered investment companies and unit investment trusts that enter into a participation agreement with the Trust (“Investing Funds”) to invest in iShares Funds beyond the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act subject to certain terms and conditions, the exemptive order is not applicable to the Fund. Accordingly, Investing Funds must adhere to the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act when investing in the Fund.
Book Entry. Shares of the Fund are held in book-entry form, which means that no stock certificates are issued. The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) or its nominee is the record owner of all outstanding shares of the Fund and is recognized as the owner of all shares for all purposes.
Investors owning shares of the Fund are beneficial owners as shown on the records of DTC or its participants. DTC serves as the securities depository for shares of the Fund. DTC participants include securities brokers and dealers, banks, trust companies, clearing corporations and other institutions that directly or indirectly maintain a custodial relationship with DTC. As a beneficial owner of shares, you are not entitled to receive physical delivery of stock certificates or to have shares registered in your name, and you are not considered a registered owner of shares. Therefore, to exercise any right as an owner of shares, you must rely upon the procedures of DTC and its participants. These procedures are the same as those that apply to any other securities that you hold in book-entry or “street name” form.
Share Prices. The trading prices of the Fund’s shares in the secondary market generally differ from the Fund’s daily NAV and are affected by market forces such as the supply of and demand for ETF shares and shares of underlying securities held by
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the Fund, economic conditions and other factors. Information regarding the intraday value of shares of the Fund, also known as the “indicative optimized portfolio value” (“IOPV”), is disseminated every 15 seconds throughout each trading day by the national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed or by market data vendors or other information providers. The IOPV is based on the current market value of the securities or other assets and/or cash required to be deposited in exchange for a Creation Unit. The IOPV does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities or other instruments held by the Fund at a particular point in time or the best possible valuation of the current portfolio. Therefore, the IOPV should not be viewed as a “real-time” update of the Fund's NAV, which is computed only once a day. The IOPV is generally determined by using both current market quotations and/or price quotations obtained from broker-dealers and other market intermediaries that may trade in the portfolio securities or other assets held by the Fund. The quotations of certain Fund holdings may not be updated during U.S. trading hours if such holdings do not trade in the United States. The Fund is not involved in, or responsible for, the calculation or dissemination of the IOPV and makes no representation or warranty as to its accuracy.
Determination of Net Asset Value. The NAV of the Fund normally is determined once daily Monday through Friday, generally as of the regularly scheduled close of business of the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) (normally 4:00 p.m., Eastern time) on each day that the NYSE is open for trading, based on prices at the time of closing, provided that (a) any Fund assets or liabilities denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar are translated into U.S. dollars at the prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers (as detailed below) and (b) U.S. fixed-income assets may be valued as of the announced closing time for trading in fixed-income instruments in a particular market or exchange. The NAV of the Fund is calculated by dividing the value of the net assets of the Fund (i.e., the value of its total assets, which includes the values of the Underlying Fund shares in which the Fund invests, less total liabilities) by the total number of outstanding shares of the Fund, generally rounded to the nearest cent.
The value of the securities and other assets and liabilities held by the Fund are determined pursuant to valuation policies and procedures approved by the Board. The Fund's assets and liabilities are valued on the basis of market quotations, when readily available.
Equity investments and investments in the Underlying Fund are valued at market value, which is generally determined using the last reported official closing price or last trading price on the exchange or market on which the security is primarily traded at the time of valuation.
The Fund may invest in non-U.S. securities. Foreign currency exchange rates with respect to the underlying securities are generally determined as of 4:00 p.m., London time. The Fund may also invest in foreign currency forward contracts, which are generally valued as of 4:00 p.m., Eastern time. Non-U.S. securities held by the Fund may trade on weekends or other days when the Fund does not price its shares. As a result, the Fund’s NAV may change on days when Authorized Participants (as defined in
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the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus) will not be able to purchase or redeem Fund shares.
Generally, trading in non-U.S. securities, U.S. government securities, money market instruments and certain fixed-income securities is substantially completed each day at various times prior to the close of business on the NYSE. The values of such securities used in computing the NAV of the Fund are determined as of such times.
When market quotations are not readily available or are believed by BFA to be unreliable, the Fund’s investments are valued at fair value. Fair value determinations are made by BFA in accordance with policies and procedures approved by the Trust's Board. BFA may conclude that a market quotation is not readily available or is unreliable if a security or other asset or liability does not have a price source due to its lack of liquidity, if a market quotation differs significantly from recent price quotations or otherwise no longer appears to reflect fair value, where the security or other asset or liability is thinly traded, or where there is a significant event subsequent to the most recent market quotation. A “significant event” is an event that, in the judgment of BFA, is likely to cause a material change to the closing market price of the asset or liability held by the Fund. Non-U.S. securities whose values are affected by volatility that occurs in U.S. markets for related or highly correlated assets (e.g., American Depositary Receipts, Global Depositary Receipts or ETFs) on a trading day after the close of non-U.S. securities markets may be fair valued.
Fair value represents a good faith approximation of the value of an asset or liability. The fair value of an asset or liability held by the Fund is the amount the Fund might reasonably expect to receive from the current sale of that asset or the cost to extinguish that liability in an arm’s-length transaction. Valuing the Fund’s investments using fair value pricing will result in prices that may differ from current market valuations and that may not be the prices at which those investments could have been sold during the period in which the particular fair values were used. Use of fair value prices and certain current market valuations could result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the Fund’s NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund’s performance and the performance of the Underlying Index.
The value of assets or liabilities denominated in non-U.S. currencies will be converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. Use of a rate different from the rate used by the Index Provider may adversely affect the Fund’s ability to track the Underlying Index.
Dividends and Distributions
General Policies. Dividends from net investment income, if any, generally are declared and paid at least once a year by the Fund. Distributions of net realized securities gains, if any, generally are declared and paid once a year, but the Trust may make distributions on a more frequent basis for the Fund. The Trust reserves the right to declare special distributions if, in its reasonable discretion, such action is necessary or advisable to preserve its status as a regulated investment company (“RIC”) or to avoid imposition of income or excise taxes on undistributed income or realized gains.
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Dividends and other distributions on shares of the Fund are distributed on a pro rata basis to beneficial owners of such shares. Dividend payments are made through DTC participants and indirect participants to beneficial owners then of record with proceeds received from the Fund.
Dividend Reinvestment Service. No dividend reinvestment service is provided by the Trust. Broker-dealers may make available the DTC book-entry Dividend Reinvestment Service for use by beneficial owners of the Fund for reinvestment of their dividend distributions. Beneficial owners should contact their broker to determine the availability and costs of the service and the details of participation therein. Brokers may require beneficial owners to adhere to specific procedures and timetables. If this service is available and used, dividend distributions of both income and realized gains will be automatically reinvested in additional whole shares of the Fund purchased in the secondary market.
Taxes. As with any investment, you should consider how your investment in shares of the Fund will be taxed. The tax information in this Prospectus is provided as general information, based on current law. You should consult your own tax professional about the tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund.
Unless your investment in Fund shares is made through a tax-exempt entity or tax-deferred retirement account, such as an IRA, you need to be aware of the possible tax consequences when the Fund makes distributions or you sell Fund shares.
Taxes on Distributions. Distributions from the Fund’s net investment income (other than qualified dividend income), including distributions of income from securities lending and distributions out of the Fund’s net short-term capital gains, if any, are taxable to you as ordinary income. Distributions by the Fund of net long-term capital gains in excess of net short-term capital losses (capital gain dividends) are taxable to you as long-term capital gains, regardless of how long you have held the Fund’s shares. Distributions by the Fund that qualify as qualified dividend income are taxable to you at long-term capital gain rates. Long-term capital gains and qualified dividend income are generally eligible for taxation at a maximum rate of 15% for non-corporate shareholders with incomes below approximately $400,000 ($450,000 if married and filing jointly), adjusted annually for inflation, and 20% for individuals with any income above these amounts that is net long-term capital gain or qualified dividend income. In addition, a 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax is imposed on “net investment income,” including, but not limited to, interest, dividends, and net gain, of U.S. individuals with income exceeding $200,000 (or $250,000 if married and filing jointly) and of estates and trusts.
Dividends will be qualified dividend income to you if they are attributable to qualified dividend income received by the Fund. Generally, qualified dividend income includes dividend income from taxable U.S. corporations and qualified non-U.S. corporations, provided that the Fund satisfies certain holding period requirements in respect of the stock of such corporations and has not hedged its position in the stock in certain ways. Substitute dividends received by the Fund with respect to dividends paid on securities lent out will not be qualified dividend income. For this purpose, a qualified non-U.S. corporation means any non-U.S. corporation that is eligible for benefits under a comprehensive income tax treaty with the United States, which includes an exchange
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of information program, or if the stock with respect to which the dividend was paid is readily tradable on an established United States securities market. The term excludes a corporation that is a passive foreign investment company.
Dividends received by the Fund from a real estate investment trust (“REIT”) or another RIC generally are qualified dividend income only to the extent such dividend distributions are made out of qualified dividend income received by such REIT or RIC. It is expected that dividends received by the Fund from a REIT and distributed to a shareholder generally will be taxable to the shareholder as ordinary income.
For a dividend to be treated as qualified dividend income, the dividend must be received with respect to a share of stock held without being hedged by the Fund, and with respect to a share of the Fund held without being hedged by you, for 61 days during the 121-day period beginning at 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.
In general, your distributions are subject to U.S. federal income tax for the year when they are paid. Certain distributions paid in January, however, may be treated as paid on December 31 of the prior year.
Short term capital gains earned by an Underlying Fund will be ordinary income when distributed to the Fund and will not be offset by the Fund's capital losses. Because the Fund is expected to invest in the Underlying Fund, the Fund's realized losses on sales of shares of the Underlying Fund may be indefinitely or permanently deferred as “wash sales.”
If the Fund’s distributions exceed current and accumulated earnings and profits, all or a portion of the distributions made in the taxable year may be recharacterized as a return of capital to shareholders. Distributions in excess of the Fund’s minimum distribution requirements, but not in excess of the Fund’s earnings and profits, will be taxable to shareholders and will not constitute nontaxable returns of capital. A return of capital distribution generally will not be taxable but will reduce the shareholder’s cost basis and result in a higher capital gain or lower capital loss when those shares on which the distribution was received are sold. Once a shareholder's cost basis is reduced to zero, further distributions will be treated as capital gain, if the shareholder holds shares of the Fund as capital assets.
If you are neither a resident nor a citizen of the United States or if you are a non-U.S. entity, the Fund’s ordinary income dividends (which include distributions of net short-term capital gains) will generally be subject to a 30% U.S. withholding tax, unless a lower treaty rate applies, provided that withholding tax will generally not apply to any gain or income realized by a non-U.S. shareholder in respect of any distributions of long-term capital gains or upon the sale or other disposition of shares of the Fund.
A 30% withholding tax is currently imposed on U.S.-source dividends, interest and other income items and will be imposed on proceeds from the sale of property producing U.S.-source dividends and interest paid after December 31, 2018, to (i) foreign financial institutions, including non-U.S. investment funds, unless they agree to collect and disclose to the IRS information regarding their direct and indirect U.S.
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account holders and (ii) certain other foreign entities, unless they certify certain information regarding their direct and indirect U.S. owners. To avoid withholding, foreign financial institutions will need to (i) enter into agreements with the IRS that state that they will provide the IRS information, including the names, addresses and taxpayer identification numbers of direct and indirect U.S. account holders, comply with due diligence procedures with respect to the identification of U.S. accounts, report to the IRS certain information with respect to U.S. accounts maintained, agree to withhold tax on certain payments made to non-compliant foreign financial institutions or to account holders who fail to provide the required information, and determine certain other information concerning their account holders, or (ii) in the event that an applicable intergovernmental agreement and implementing legislation are adopted, provide local revenue authorities with similar account holder information. Other foreign entities may need to report the name, address, and taxpayer identification number of each substantial U.S. owner or provide certifications of no substantial U.S. ownership unless certain exceptions apply.
Dividends, interest and capital gains earned by the Underlying Fund with respect to non-U.S. positions may give rise to withholding and other taxes imposed by non-U.S. countries. Tax conventions between certain countries and the United States may reduce or eliminate such taxes. If more than 50% of the total assets of the Underlying Fund at the close of a year consists of non-U.S. stocks or securities (and 50% of the total assets of the Fund at the close of the year consists of foreign securities, or, at the close of each quarter, shares of the Underlying Fund), the Fund may “pass through” to you certain non-U.S. income taxes (including withholding taxes) paid by the Fund or the Underlying Fund. This means that you would be considered to have received as an additional dividend your share of such non-U.S. taxes, but you may be entitled to either a corresponding tax deduction in calculating your taxable income, or, subject to certain limitations, a credit in calculating your U.S. federal income tax.
If your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending arrangement, you may lose the ability to use foreign tax credits passed through by the Fund or to treat Fund dividends paid while the shares are held by the borrower as qualified dividend income. In addition, you may lose the ability to use foreign tax credits passed through by the Fund if your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending agreement.
For purposes of foreign tax credits for U.S. shareholders of the Fund, foreign capital gains taxes may not produce associated foreign source income, thereby limiting a U.S. person's ability to use such credits.
If you are a resident or a citizen of the United States, by law, back-up withholding at a 28% rate will apply to your distributions and proceeds if you have not provided a taxpayer identification number or social security number and made other required certifications.
Taxes When Shares are Sold. Currently, any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares is generally treated as a long-term gain or loss if the shares have been held for more than one year. Any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares held for one year or less is generally treated as short-term gain or loss, except
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that any capital loss on the sale of shares held for six months or less is treated as long-term capital loss to the extent that capital gain dividends were paid with respect to such shares. Any such capital gains, including from sales of Fund shares or from capital gain dividends, are included in “net investment income” for purposes of the 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax mentioned above.
The foregoing discussion summarizes some of the consequences under current U.S. federal tax law of an investment in the Fund. It is not a substitute for personal tax advice. You may also be subject to state and local taxation on Fund distributions and sales of shares. Consult your personal tax advisor about the potential tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund under all applicable tax laws.
Creations and Redemptions. Prior to trading in the secondary market, shares of the Fund are “created” at NAV by market makers, large investors and institutions only in block-size Creation Units of 50,000 shares or multiples thereof. Each “creator” or authorized participant has entered into an agreement with the Fund's distributor, BlackRock Investments, LLC (the “Distributor”), an affiliate of BFA (an “Authorized Participant”).
A creation transaction, which is subject to acceptance by the transfer agent, generally takes place when an Authorized Participant deposits into the Fund a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) and a specified amount of cash approximating the holdings of the Fund in exchange for a specified number of Creation Units. To the extent practicable, the composition of such portfolio generally corresponds pro rata to the holdings of the Fund. However, creation and redemption baskets may differ.
Similarly, shares can be redeemed only in Creation Units, generally for a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities and other portfolio holdings for which cash may be substituted) held by the Fund and a specified amount of cash. Redeeming holders will receive cash in respect to the pro rata value of the forward contract and NDFs held by the Fund to the extent attributable to the creation unit being redeemed. Except when aggregated in Creation Units, shares are not redeemable by the Fund.
The prices at which creations and redemptions occur are based on the next calculation of NAV after a creation or redemption order is received in an acceptable form under the authorized participant agreement.
Only an Authorized Participant may create or redeem Creation Units directly with the Fund.
In the event of a system failure or other interruption, including disruptions at market makers or Authorized Participants, orders to purchase or redeem Creation Units either may not be executed according to the Fund's instructions or may not be executed at all, or the Fund may not be able to place or change orders.
To the extent the Fund engages in in-kind transactions, the Fund intends to comply with the U.S. federal securities laws in accepting securities for deposit and satisfying redemptions with redemption securities by, among other means, assuring that any securities accepted for deposit and any securities used to satisfy redemption requests will be sold in transactions that would be exempt from registration under the Securities
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Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”). Further, an Authorized Participant that is not a “qualified institutional buyer,” as such term is defined under Rule 144A of the 1933 Act, will not be able to receive restricted securities eligible for resale under Rule 144A.
Creations and redemptions must be made through a firm that is either a member of the Continuous Net Settlement System of the National Securities Clearing Corporation or a DTC participant that has executed an agreement with the Distributor with respect to creations and redemptions of Creation Unit aggregations. Information about the procedures regarding creation and redemption of Creation Units (including the cut-off times for receipt of creation and redemption orders) is included in the Fund's SAI.
Because new shares may be created and issued on an ongoing basis, at any point during the life of the Fund a “distribution,” as such term is used in the 1933 Act, may be occurring. Broker-dealers and other persons are cautioned that some activities on their part may, depending on the circumstances, result in their being deemed participants in a distribution in a manner that could render them statutory underwriters subject to the prospectus delivery and liability provisions of the 1933 Act. Any determination of whether one is an underwriter must take into account all the relevant facts and circumstances of each particular case.
Broker-dealers should also note that dealers who are not “underwriters” but are participating in a distribution (as contrasted to ordinary secondary transactions), and thus dealing with shares that are part of an “unsold allotment” within the meaning of Section 4(a)(3)(C) of the 1933 Act, would be unable to take advantage of the prospectus delivery exemption provided by Section 4(a)(3) of the 1933 Act. For delivery of prospectuses to exchange members, the prospectus delivery mechanism of Rule 153 under the 1933 Act is available only with respect to transactions on a national securities exchange.
Costs Associated with Creations and Redemptions. Authorized Participants are charged standard creation and redemption transaction fees to offset transfer and other transaction costs associated with the issuance and redemption of Creation Units. The standard creation and redemption transaction fees are set forth in the table below. The standard creation transaction fee is charged to the Authorized Participant on the day such Authorized Participant creates a Creation Unit, and is the same regardless of the number of Creation Units purchased by the Authorized Participant on the applicable business day. Similarly, the standard redemption transaction fee is charged to the Authorized Participant on the day such Authorized Participant redeems a Creation Unit, and is the same regardless of the number of Creation Units redeemed by the Authorized Participant on the applicable business day. Creations and redemptions for cash (when cash creations and redemptions (in whole or in part) are available or specified) are also subject to an additional charge (up to the maximum amounts shown in the table below). This charge is intended to compensate for brokerage, tax, foreign exchange, execution, price movement and other costs and expenses related to cash transactions. Investors who use the services of a broker or other financial intermediary to acquire or dispose of Fund shares may pay fees for such services.
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The following table shows, as of December 30, 2015, the approximate value of one Creation Unit, standard fees and maximum additional charges for creations and redemptions (as described above):
Approximate
Value of a
Creation Unit
  Creation
Unit Size
  Standard
Creation/
Redemption
Transaction Fee
  Maximum Additional
Charge for
Creations*
  Maximum Additional
Charge for
Redemptions*
$1,250,000   50,000   $100   3.0%   2.0%

* As a percentage of the net asset value per Creation Unit, inclusive, in the case of redemptions, of the standard redemption transaction fee.
Householding. Householding is an option available to certain Fund investors. Householding is a method of delivery, based on the preference of the individual investor, in which a single copy of certain shareholder documents can be delivered to investors who share the same address, even if their accounts are registered under different names. Please contact your broker-dealer if you are interested in enrolling in householding and receiving a single copy of prospectuses and other shareholder documents, or if you are currently enrolled in householding and wish to change your householding status.
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Distribution
The Distributor or its agent distributes Creation Units for the Fund on an agency basis. The Distributor does not maintain a secondary market in shares of the Fund. The Distributor has no role in determining the policies of the Fund or the securities that are purchased or sold by the Fund. The Distributor’s principal address is 1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540.
BFA or its Affiliates make payments to broker-dealers, registered investment advisers, banks or other intermediaries (together, “intermediaries”) related to marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems, or their making shares of the Fund and certain other iShares funds available to their customers generally and in certain investment programs. Such payments, which may be significant to the intermediary, are not made by the Fund. Rather, such payments are made by BFA or its Affiliates from their own resources, which come directly or indirectly in part from fees paid by the iShares funds complex. Payments of this type are sometimes referred to as revenue-sharing payments. A financial intermediary may make decisions about which investment options it recommends or makes available, or the level of services provided, to its customers based on the payments it is eligible to receive. Therefore, such payments to an intermediary create conflicts of interest between the intermediary and its customers and may cause the intermediary to recommend the Fund or other iShares funds over another investment. More information regarding these payments is contained in the Fund's SAI. Please contact your salesperson or other investment professional for more information regarding any such payments his or her firm may receive from BFA or its Affiliates.
Financial Highlights
Financial highlights for the Fund are not available because, as of the effective date of this Prospectus, the Fund has not commenced operations and therefore has no financial highlights to report.
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Index Provider
MSCI is a provider of investment decision support tools to investors globally. MSCI products and services include indices, portfolio risk and performance analytics, and governance tools. MSCI is not affiliated with the Trust, BFA, State Street, the Distributor or any of their respective affiliates.
BFA or its Affiliates have entered into a license agreement with the Index Provider to use the Underlying Index. BFA or its Affiliates sublicense rights in the Underlying Index to the Trust at no charge.
Disclaimers
The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by MSCI or any affiliate of MSCI. Neither MSCI nor any other party makes any representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the advisability of investing in funds generally or in the Fund particularly or the ability of the Underlying Index to track general stock market performance. MSCI is the licensor of certain trademarks, service marks and trade names of MSCI and of the Underlying Index, which is determined, composed and calculated by MSCI without regard to the issuer of the Fund or the Fund. MSCI has no obligation to take the needs of the issuer of the Fund or the owners of the Fund into consideration in determining, composing or calculating the Underlying Index. MSCI is not responsible for, and has not participated in, the determination of the timing of, prices at, or quantities of the Fund to be issued or in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the Fund is redeemable for cash. Neither MSCI nor any other party has any obligation or liability to owners of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of the Fund.
ALTHOUGH MSCI SHALL OBTAIN INFORMATION FOR INCLUSION IN OR FOR USE IN THE CALCULATION OF THE INDEXES FROM SOURCES WHICH MSCI CONSIDERS RELIABLE, NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY GUARANTEES THE ACCURACY AND/OR THE COMPLETENESS OF THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN. NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY MAKES ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO RESULTS TO BE OBTAINED BY LICENSEE, LICENSEE'S CUSTOMERS AND COUNTERPARTIES, OWNERS OF THE FUND, OR ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY FROM THE USE OF THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN IN CONNECTION WITH THE RIGHTS LICENSED HEREUNDER OR FOR ANY OTHER USE. NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY MAKES ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, AND MSCI HEREBY EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE WITH RESPECT TO THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN. WITHOUT LIMITING ANY OF THE FOREGOING, IN NO EVENT SHALL MSCI OR ANY OTHER PARTY HAVE ANY LIABILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, CONSEQUENTIAL OR ANY OTHER DAMAGES (INCLUDING LOST PROFITS) EVEN IF NOTIFIED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
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Shares of the Fund are not sponsored, endorsed or promoted by BATS. BATS makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of the shares of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the ability of the Fund to track the total return performance of the Underlying Index or the ability of the Underlying Index to track stock market performance. BATS is not responsible for, nor has it participated in, the determination of the compilation or the calculation of the Underlying Index, nor in the determination of the timing of, prices of, or quantities of shares of the Fund to be issued, nor in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the shares are redeemable. BATS has no obligation or liability to owners of the shares of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of the shares of the Fund.
BATS does not guarantee the accuracy and/or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. BATS makes no warranty, express or implied, as to results to be obtained by the Trust on behalf of the Fund as licensee, licensee’s customers and counterparties, owners of the shares of the Fund, or any other person or entity from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein in connection with the rights licensed as described herein or for any other use. BATS makes no express or implied warranties and hereby expressly disclaims all warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose with respect to the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall BATS have any liability for any direct, indirect, special, punitive, consequential or any other damages (including lost profits) even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
The past performance of the Underlying Index is not a guide to future performance. BFA and its Affiliates do not guarantee the accuracy or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein and BFA and its Affiliates shall have no liability for any errors, omissions or interruptions therein. BFA and its Affiliates make no warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or to any other person or entity, as to results to be obtained by the Fund from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall BFA or its Affiliates have any liability for any special, punitive, direct, indirect or consequential damages (including lost profits), even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
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For more information visit www.iShares.com or call 1-800-474-2737
Copies of the Prospectus, SAI and other information can be found on our website at www.iShares.com. For more information about the Fund, you may request a copy of the SAI. The SAI provides detailed information about the Fund and is incorporated by reference into this Prospectus. This means that the SAI, for legal purposes, is a part of this Prospectus.
If you have any questions about the Trust or shares of the Fund or you wish to obtain the SAI free of charge, please:
Call: 1-800-iShares or 1-800-474-2737 (toll free)
Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Eastern time)
Email: iSharesETFs@blackrock.com
Write: c/o BlackRock Investments, LLC
1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540
Information about the Fund (including the SAI) can be reviewed and copied at the SEC's Public Reference Room in Washington, D.C., and information on the operation of the Public Reference Room may be obtained by calling the SEC at 1-202-551-8090. Reports and other information about the Fund are available on the EDGAR database on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov, and copies of this information may be obtained, after paying a duplicating fee, by electronic request at the following e-mail address: publicinfo@sec.gov, or by writing to the SEC's Public Reference Section, Washington, D.C. 20549-1520.
No person is authorized to give any information or to make any representations about the Fund and its shares not contained in this Prospectus and you should not rely on any other information. Read and keep this Prospectus for future reference.
©2015 BlackRock, Inc. All rights reserved. iSHARES® and BLACKROCK® are registered trademarks of BFA and its Affiliates. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.
Investment Company Act File No.: 811-09729
IS-P-DEZU-1215


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December 29, 2015
2015 Prospectus
►  iShares Adaptive Currency Hedged MSCI Japan ETF | DEWJ | BATS
The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has not approved or disapproved these securities or passed upon the adequacy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 


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“MSCI Japan Adaptive Hedge to USD Index” is a servicemark of MSCI Inc. and has been licensed for use for certain purposes by BlackRock Fund Advisors or its affiliates. iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates. The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold, or promoted by MSCI Inc., nor does MSCI Inc. make any representation regarding the advisability of investing in the Fund.
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iSHARES® ADAPTIVE CURRENCY
HEDGED MSCI JAPAN ETF
Ticker: DEWJ Stock Exchange: BATS
Investment Objective
The iShares Adaptive Currency Hedged MSCI Japan ETF (the “Fund”) seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of large- and mid-capitalization Japanese equities while dynamically hedging currency risk for a U.S. dollar based investor.
Fees and Expenses
The following table describes the fees and expenses that you will incur if you own shares of the Fund. The investment advisory agreement between iShares Trust (the “Trust”) and BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”) (formerly, Barclays Global Fund Advisors (“BGFA”)) (the “Investment Advisory Agreement”) provides that BFA will pay all operating expenses of the Fund, except interest expenses, taxes, brokerage expenses, future distribution fees or expenses, and extraordinary expenses. The Fund may also pay “Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses.” Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses reflect the Fund's pro rata share of the fees and expenses incurred by investing in other investment companies. As the Fund has not commenced operations prior to the date of the Fund’s prospectus (the “Prospectus”), Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses are based on an estimate of the Fund’s allocation to other investment companies for the current fiscal year. The impact of Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses will be included in the total returns of the Fund. Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses are not used to calculate the Fund's net asset value per share (“NAV”). BFA, the investment adviser to the Fund, has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees in an amount equal to the Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any, attributable to investments by the Fund in iShares MSCI Japan ETF (“EWJ” or the “Underlying Fund”) until December 31, 2020. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to December 31, 2020 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA. In addition, with respect to the Fund, BFA has agreed to reduce the management fee on assets attributable to the Fund's investments in EWJ (and those assets used to hedge the currencies in which securities in EWJ are denominated against the U.S. dollar) such that the management fee is equal to the total annual fund operating expenses after fee waiver of EWJ until December 31, 2020. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to December 31, 2020 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA.
You may also incur usual and customary brokerage commissions and other charges when buying or selling shares of the Fund, which are not reflected in the Example that follows:
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Annual Fund Operating Expenses
(ongoing expenses that you pay each year as a
percentage of the value of your investments)
Management
Fees
  Distribution and
Service (12b-1)
Fees
  Other
Expenses
  Acquired Fund Fees
and Expenses
  Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
  Fee Waiver   Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
After
Fee Waiver
0.62%   None   None   0.47%   1.09%   (0.62)%   0.47%
Example. This Example is intended to help you compare the cost of owning shares of the Fund with the cost of investing in other funds. The Example assumes that you invest $10,000 in the Fund for the time periods indicated and then sell all of your shares at the end of those periods. The Example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions, your costs would be:
  1 Year   3 Years    
  $48   $151    
Portfolio Turnover. The Fund and the Underlying Fund in which the Fund principally invests, the iShares MSCI Japan ETF, may pay transaction costs, such as commissions, when they buy and sell securities (or “turn over” their portfolios). A higher portfolio turnover rate for the Fund or the Underlying Fund may indicate higher transaction costs and cause the Fund or the Underlying Fund to incur increased expenses. These expenses, which are not reflected in Annual Fund Operating Expenses or in the Example (except costs to the Underlying Fund included as part of Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses), affect the Fund's performance. To the extent the Underlying Fund incurs costs from high portfolio turnover, such costs may have a negative effect on the performance of the Fund.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the MSCI Japan Adaptive
Hedge to USD Index (the “Underlying Index”), which has been developed by MSCI Inc. (the “Index Provider” or “MSCI”) as an equity benchmark for stocks traded primarily on the Tokyo Stock Exchange with the foreign currency exposure of the securities included in the Underlying Index dynamically hedged against the U.S. dollar determined systematically by four currency risk indicators: carry, momentum, value, and volatility. The Underlying Index may include large-, mid- or small-capitalization companies. Components primarily include consumer discretionary, financials and industrials companies. The components of the Underlying Index, and the degree to which these components represent certain industries, are likely to change over time.
As of its inception date, the Fund intends to seek to achieve its investment objective by investing a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund.
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BFA uses a “passive” or indexing approach to try to achieve the Fund’s investment objective. Unlike many investment companies, the Fund does not try to “beat” the index it tracks and does not seek temporary defensive positions when markets decline or appear overvalued.
Indexing may eliminate the chance that the Fund will substantially outperform the Underlying Index but also may reduce some of the risks of active management, such as poor security selection. Indexing seeks to achieve lower costs and better after-tax performance by keeping portfolio turnover low in comparison to actively managed investment companies.
BFA uses a representative sampling indexing strategy to manage the Fund and the Underlying Fund. “Representative sampling” is an indexing strategy that involves investing in a representative sample of securities or other instruments comprising the Underlying Index. The securities selected are expected to have, in the aggregate, investment characteristics (based on factors such as market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of the Underlying Index. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may or may not hold all of the securities and other components of its Underlying Index.
The Fund generally will invest at least 90% of its assets in the component securities (including indirect investments through the Underlying Fund) and other instruments of the Underlying Index and in investments that have economic characteristics that are substantially identical to the
component securities of the Underlying Index (i.e., depositary receipts representing securities of the Underlying Index) and may invest up to 10% of its assets in certain futures, options and swap contracts, cash and cash equivalents, including shares of money market funds advised by BFA or its affiliates, as well as in securities not included in the Underlying Index, but which BFA believes will help the Fund track the Underlying Index. Components of the Underlying Index include equity securities and foreign currency forward contracts (both deliverable and non-deliverable) designed to hedge against non-U.S. currency fluctuations. The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the Underlying Index before the fees and expenses of the Fund.
In order to replicate the “hedging” component of the Underlying Index, which attempts to mitigate currency risk, the Fund intends to enter into foreign currency forward contracts designed to offset the Fund’s holdings in component securities denominated in a non-U.S. dollar currency. A foreign currency forward contract is a contract between two parties to buy or sell a specified amount of a specific currency in the future at an agreed upon exchange rate. The Fund’s exposure to foreign currency forward contracts is based on the exposure of the Fund to the component securities and a hedge ratio (“Hedge Ratio”), as calculated by MSCI.
The Underlying Index applies a methodology, based on the Hedge Ratio, that sells the total value or a portion of the total value of each non-U.S. dollar currency in which the securities of the Underlying Index are denominated in the form of a one-month currency contract to create a
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“hedge” against fluctuations in the relative value of the currencies in relation to the U.S. dollar. The Hedge Ratio is based on four commonly used indicators for measuring currency risk, which are equally weighted and include: value (relative purchasing power between the foreign currency and the U.S. dollar based on exchange rates over a long-term average), momentum (relative price momentum of the foreign currency compared against the U.S. dollar over the previous six months), carry (differences in short-term interest rates between the foreign currency and the U.S. dollar over a long-term average), and volatility (relative price volatility of the foreign currency based on the currency’s one-month average against its six-month average). The overall effect, since the four indicators are equally weighted, is that each foreign currency represented by constituent weights in the Underlying Index can be unhedged, 25% hedged, 50% hedged, 75% hedged or fully hedged relative to the U.S. dollar.
The hedge (based on the Hedge Ratio) is reset on a monthly basis by MSCI and will not be adjusted intra-month based on movement in the value of the underlying equity securities and/or currencies, or based on the four indicators. The Underlying Index may therefore be slightly “over-hedged” (if equity values decline) or “under-hedged” (if the equity values increase) between the month-end rebalances. The Underlying Index is therefore intended to have higher returns than an equivalent unhedged investment when the component currencies are weakening relative to the U.S. dollar. Conversely, the Underlying Index is therefore intended to have lower returns than an equivalent unhedged
investment when the component currencies are strengthening relative to the U.S. dollar.
While the use of foreign currency forward contracts, based on the Hedge Ratio, is designed to minimize the impact of the strengthening or weakening of a foreign currency on Fund returns, it does not necessarily eliminate the Fund’s exposure to the component currencies. The return of the foreign currency forward contracts may not perfectly offset the actual fluctuations between the component currencies and the U.S. dollar.
The Fund may use non-deliverable forward (“NDF”) contracts to execute its hedging transactions. An NDF is a contract where there is no physical settlement of two currencies at maturity. Rather, based on the strengthening or weakening of the currencies, a net cash settlement will be made by one party to the other.
The Fund may lend securities representing up to one-third of the value of the Fund's total assets (including the value of any collateral received).
The Underlying Index is calculated by the Index Provider, which is independent of the Fund and BFA. The Index Provider determines the composition and relative weightings of the securities and currency forwards in the Underlying Index and publishes information regarding the market value of the Underlying Index.
Industry Concentration Policy. The Fund will concentrate its investments (i.e., hold 25% or more of its total assets) in a particular industry or group of industries to approximately the same extent that the Underlying Index is concentrated. For purposes of this
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limitation, securities of the U.S. government (including its agencies and instrumentalities) and repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.
Summary of Principal Risks
As with any investment, you could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund's performance could trail that of other investments. The Fund is subject to the principal risks noted below (either directly or through its investments in the Underlying Fund), any of which may adversely affect the Fund's NAV, trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective.
Asset Class Risk. Securities and other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund's portfolio may underperform in comparison to the general financial markets, a particular financial market or other asset classes.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section of the Prospectus) may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that act as Authorized Participants. To the extent that these institutions exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation and/or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units (as defined below), Fund shares may trade at a discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts and/or delisting.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class.
Consumer Discretionary Sector Risk. The consumer discretionary sector may be affected by changes in domestic and international economies, exchange and interest rates, competition, consumers' disposable income, consumer preferences, social trends and marketing campaigns.
Currency Hedging Risk. When a derivative is used as a hedge against a position that the Fund holds, any loss generated by the derivative generally should be substantially offset by gains on the hedged investment, and vice versa. While hedging can reduce or eliminate losses, it can also reduce or eliminate gains. Hedges are sometimes subject to imperfect matching between the derivative and its reference asset, and there can be no assurance that the calculation methodology for the currency hedging or the Fund’s hedging transactions, if implemented, will be effective. Currency hedging activity exposes the Fund to credit risk due to counterparty exposure, which risk will be higher to the extent that the Fund trades with a single counterparty or small number of counterparties.
In seeking to track the performance of the Underlying Index, the Fund will attempt to hedge the currency exposure of non-U.S. dollar denominated securities held in its portfolio (held directly or indirectly through its
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investment in the Underlying Fund) by investing in foreign currency forward contracts, which may include both physically-settled forward contracts and NDFs. NDFs may be less liquid than deliverable forward currency contracts. A lack of liquidity in NDFs of the hedged currency could result in the Fund being unable to structure its hedging transactions as intended. In addition, BFA may seek to limit the size of the Fund in order to attempt to reduce the likelihood of a situation where the Fund is unable to obtain sufficient liquidity in an underlying currency hedge to implement its investment objective.
Foreign currency forward contracts, including NDFs, do not eliminate movements in the value of non-U.S. currencies and securities but rather allow the Fund to establish a fixed rate of exchange for a future point in time. Exchange rates may be volatile and may change quickly and unpredictably in response to both global economic developments and economic conditions in a geographic region in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests. In addition, in order to minimize transaction costs, or for other reasons, the Fund’s exposure to the Japanese yen may not be fully hedged to the extent indicated by the Hedge Ratio, as determined by the indicators described in the Fund's principal investment strategies. In addition, each currency's hedge is reset on a monthly basis and will not be adjusted during the month based on movement in the value of the component securities or currencies. As a result, the Underlying Index may be “over-hedged” or “under-hedged” between month-end rebalances.
Furthermore, while the Fund is designed to hedge against currency fluctuations, it is possible that a degree of currency exposure may remain even at the time a hedging transaction is implemented. As a result, the Fund may not be able to structure its hedging transactions as anticipated or its hedging transactions may not successfully reduce the currency risk included in the Fund’s portfolio. The effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy will in general be affected by the volatility of both the Underlying Index and the volatility of the U.S. dollar relative to the Japanese yen, measured on an aggregate basis. Increased volatility in either or both the Underlying Index and the U.S. dollar relative to the Japanese yen will generally reduce the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy as calculated by MSCI. The effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy may also in general be affected by interest rates. Significant differences between U.S. dollar interest rates and foreign currency interest rates may impact the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy.
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's NAVs are determined in U.S. dollars, the Fund's NAV could decline if the Japanese yen depreciates against the U.S. dollar and/or the Fund's attempt to hedge currency exposure to the Japanese yen is unsuccessful. Generally, an increase in the value of the U.S. dollar against a foreign currency will reduce the value of a security denominated in that foreign currency. In addition, fluctuations in the exchange rates of currencies could affect the economy or particular business operations of companies in a geographic region, including securities in which the Fund or the Underlying
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Fund invests, causing an adverse impact on the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund’s investments in the affected region and the United States. As a result, investors have the potential for losses regardless of the length of time they intend to hold Fund shares. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the value of an investment in the Fund may change quickly and without warning, which could have a significant negative impact on the Fund.
Cyber Security Risk. Failures or breaches of the electronic systems of the Fund and the Underlying Fund, the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's adviser, and the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests have the ability to cause disruptions and negatively impact the Fund’s business operations, potentially resulting in financial losses to the Fund and its shareholders. While the Fund has established business continuity plans and risk management systems seeking to address system breaches or failures, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cyber security plans and systems of the Fund’s service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
Derivatives Risk. The Fund will use currency forwards and NDFs to hedge the currency exposure resulting from investments in the foreign currency-denominated securities held by the Fund and the Underlying Fund. The Fund’s use of these instruments, like investments in other derivatives, may
reduce the Fund’s returns, increase volatility and/or result in losses due to credit risk or ineffective hedging strategies. Volatility is defined as the characteristic of a security, a currency, an index or a market, to fluctuate significantly in price within a defined time period. Currency forwards, like other derivatives, are also subject to counterparty risk, which is the risk that the other party in the transaction will not fulfill its contractual obligation. A risk of the Fund’s use of derivatives is that the fluctuations in their values may not correlate perfectly with the Japanese yen. The possible lack of a liquid secondary market for derivatives and the resulting inability of the Fund to sell or otherwise close a derivatives position could expose the Fund to losses and could make derivatives more difficult for the Fund to value accurately. The Fund could also suffer losses related to its derivatives positions as a result of unanticipated market movements, which losses are potentially unlimited. BFA’s use of derivatives is not intended to predict the direction of securities prices, currency exchange rates, interest rates and other economic factors, which could cause the Fund’s derivatives positions to lose value. Derivatives may give rise to a form of leverage and may expose the Fund to greater risk and increase its costs. The U.S. and certain other countries have adopted or are in the process of adopting regulatory reforms affecting the derivatives markets. These regulations may make derivatives more costly, may limit the availability of derivatives, and may otherwise adversely affect the value and performance of derivatives.
Equity Securities Risk. Equity securities are subject to changes in
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value, and their values may be more volatile than those of other asset classes.
Financials Sector Risk. Performance of companies in the financials sector may be adversely impacted by many factors, including, among others, government regulations, economic conditions, credit rating downgrades, changes in interest rates, and decreased liquidity in credit markets. The impact of more stringent capital requirements, recent or future regulation of any individual financial company, or recent or future regulation of the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. In recent years, cyber attacks and technology malfunctions and failures have become increasingly frequent in this sector and have caused significant losses.
Geographic Risk. A natural or other disaster could occur in a geographic region in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests, which could affect the economy or particular business operations of companies in the specific geographic region, causing an adverse impact on the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's investments in the affected region.
Index-Related Risk. There is no guarantee that the Fund will achieve a high degree of correlation to the Underlying Index and therefore achieve its investment objective. Market disruptions and regulatory restrictions could have an adverse effect on the Fund’s ability to adjust its exposure to the required levels in order to track the Underlying Index. Errors in index data, index computations and/or the construction of the Underlying Index in accordance with its methodology may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index
Provider for a period of time or at all, which may have an adverse impact on the Fund and its shareholders.
Industrials Sector Risk. The industrials sector may be adversely affected by changes in the supply of and demand for products and services, product obsolescence, claims for environmental damage or product liability and general economic conditions, among other factors.
Investment in Underlying Fund Risk. The Fund expects to invest a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund, so the Fund’s investment performance is likely to be directly related to the performance of the Underlying Fund. The Fund’s NAV will change with changes in the value of the Underlying Fund and other instruments in which the Fund invests based on their market valuations. An investment in the Fund will entail more costs and expenses than a direct investment in the Underlying Fund, including as a result of the currency hedging activity conducted by the Fund.
As the Fund’s allocation to the Underlying Fund changes from time to time, or to the extent that the expense ratio of the Underlying Fund changes, the weighted average operating expenses borne by the Fund may increase or decrease.
Issuer Risk. Fund performance depends on the performance of individual securities and other instruments to which the Fund and the Underlying Fund have exposure. Changes in the financial condition or credit rating of an issuer of those securities or counterparty on other instruments may cause the value of the securities or instruments to decline.
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Lack of Natural Resources Risk. The Fund invests in Japan, which has few natural resources. Any fluctuation or shortage in the commodity markets could have a negative impact on Japanese securities.
Management Risk. As the Fund may not fully replicate the Underlying Index, it is subject to the risk that BFA's investment strategy may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns.
Market Trading Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund face numerous market trading risks, including the potential lack of an active market for their shares, losses from trading in secondary markets, losses due to ineffective currency hedges, periods of high volatility and disruptions in the creation/redemption process. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV.
Mid-Capitalization Companies Risk. Compared to large-capitalization companies, mid-capitalization companies may be less stable and more susceptible to adverse developments, and their securities may be more volatile and less liquid.
Model Risk. Neither the Fund nor BFA can offer assurances that the allocation and hedging model used to calculate the Underlying Index will achieve its intended results.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying
securities held by the Fund or the Underlying Fund trade on foreign exchanges that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of such an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”).
Non-Diversification Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may invest a large percentage of their respective assets in securities issued by or representing a small number of issuers. As a result, the Fund's performance may depend on the performance of a small number of issuers.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks associated with investing in those non-U.S. markets, such as heightened risks of inflation or nationalization. The Fund may lose money due to political, economic and geographic events affecting issuers of non-U.S. securities or non-U.S. markets. In addition, non-U.S. securities markets may trade a small number of securities and may be unable to respond effectively to increases in trading volume, potentially making prompt liquidation of holdings difficult or impossible at times. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are specifically exposed to Asian Economic Risk.
Operational Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are exposed to operational risk arising from a number of factors, including but not limited to
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human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund’s and the Underlying Fund's service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund, the Underlying Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate for those risks that they are intended to address.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are not actively managed and BFA does not attempt to take defensive positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund invest in countries whose economies are heavily dependent upon trading with key partners. Any reduction in this trading may have an adverse impact on the Fund's investments. Through its portfolio companies' trading partners, the Fund and the Underlying Fund are specifically exposed to Asian Economic Risk, European Economic Risk and U.S. Economic Risk.
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. The Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's investment in developed country issuers may subject the Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, economic and other risks specific to developed countries. Developed countries tend to represent a significant portion of the global economy and have generally experienced slower economic growth than some less developed countries. Many developed countries experienced a significant economic slowdown during the financial crisis that
began in 2007. In addition, developed countries may be impacted by changes to the economic health of certain key trading partners, regulatory burdens, debt burdens and the price or availability of certain commodities.
Risk of Investing in Japan. The Japanese economy may be subject to considerable degrees of economic, political and social instability, which could have a negative impact on Japanese securities. Since the year 2000, Japan’s economic growth rate has remained relatively low, and it may remain low in the future. In addition, Japan is subject to the risk of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons and tsunamis, which could negatively affect the Fund or the Underlying Fund.
Securities Lending Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund and the Underlying Fund may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund and the Underlying Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund.
Security Risk. Some countries and regions in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests have experienced security concerns, such as terrorism or strained international relations. Incidents involving a country's or region's security may cause uncertainty in these markets and may adversely affect their economies and
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the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's investments.
Tax Risk. Because the Fund is expected to invest in the Underlying Fund, the Fund’s realized losses on sales of shares of the Underlying Fund may be indefinitely or permanently deferred as “wash sales.” Distributions of short-term capital gains by the Underlying Fund will be recognized as ordinary income by the Fund and would not be offset by the Fund’s capital loss carryforwards, if any. Capital loss carryforwards of the Underlying Fund, if any, would not offset net capital gains of the Fund. Each of these effects is caused by the Fund’s investment in the Underlying Fund and may result in distributions to Fund shareholders being of higher magnitudes and less likely to qualify for lower capital gain tax rates than if the Fund were to invest otherwise directly in the securities and other instruments comprising the Underlying Index. The Fund is expected to invest in derivatives. The federal income tax treatment of a derivative may not be as favorable as a direct investment in an underlying asset. Derivatives may produce taxable income and taxable realized gain. Derivatives may adversely affect the timing, character and amount of income the Fund realizes from its investments. As a result, a larger portion of the Fund’s distributions may be treated as ordinary income rather than as capital gains. In addition, certain derivatives are subject to mark-to-market or straddle provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Internal Revenue Code”). If such provisions are applicable, there could be an increase (or decrease) in the amount of taxable dividends paid by the Fund. Income from swaps is generally taxable.
In addition, the tax treatment of certain derivatives, such as swaps, is unsettled and may be subject to future legislation, regulation or administrative pronouncements issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”).
Tracking Error Risk. Tracking error is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities (including shares of the Underlying Fund) and other instruments held in the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences (including differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the Fund’s valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the Fund’s NAV), differences in transaction and hedging costs and forward rates achieved, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or other distributions, changes to the Underlying Index and the cost to the Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. These risks may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions in the affected securities and/or foreign exchange markets. In addition, tracking error may result because the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not, and because the Fund accepts creations and redemptions during time periods between which it is able to adjust its currency hedges, whereas the Underlying Index does not adjust its hedging during these periods. To the extent that the Fund seeks its investment objective through investments in the Underlying Fund, the
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Fund may experience increased tracking error. The potential for increased tracking error may result from investments in the Underlying Fund due to, among other things, differences in the composition of the investment portfolio of the Underlying Fund as compared to the index tracked by the Underlying Fund and differences in the Fund’s valuation of the Underlying Fund and the foreign currency forward contracts (each valued as of the close of the New York Stock Exchange, typically 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time) and the valuation of the securities in the Underlying Index (generally valued as of each security’s local market close) and the foreign currency forward contracts in the Underlying Index (generally valued at 4:00 p.m., London time).
Valuation Risk. The price the Fund and the Underlying Fund could receive upon sale of a security or unwind of a
financial instrument or other asset may differ from the Fund's valuation of the security or other instrument or asset and from the value used by the Underlying Index, particularly for securities or other instruments that trade in low volume or volatile markets or that are valued using a fair value methodology. In addition, the value of the securities or other instruments in the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's portfolio may change on days when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's shares.
Performance Information
As of the date of the Prospectus, the Fund has been in operation for less than one full calendar year and therefore does not report its performance information.
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Management
Investment Adviser. BlackRock Fund Advisors.
Portfolio Managers. Matthew Goff, Diane Hsiung, Jennifer Hsui, Orlando Montalvo and Greg Savage (the “Portfolio Managers”) are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager supervises a portfolio management team. Mr. Goff, Ms. Hsiung, Ms. Hsui, Mr. Montalvo and Mr. Savage have been Portfolio Managers of the Fund since its inception.
Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares
The Fund is an ETF. Individual shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange. Most investors will buy and sell shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer. The price of Fund shares is based on market price, and because ETF shares trade at market prices rather than at NAV, shares may trade at a price greater than NAV (a premium) or less than NAV (a discount). The Fund will only issue or redeem shares that have been aggregated into blocks of 50,000 shares or multiples thereof (“Creation Units”) to Authorized Participants who have entered into agreements with the Fund's distributor. The Fund generally will issue or redeem Creation Units in return for a designated portfolio of securities (and an amount of cash) that the Fund specifies each day.
Tax Information
The Fund intends to make distributions that may be taxable to you as ordinary income or capital gains, unless you are investing through a tax-deferred arrangement such as a 401(k) plan or an individual retirement account (“IRA”), in which case, your distributions generally will be taxed when withdrawn.
Payments to Broker-Dealers and other Financial Intermediaries
If you purchase shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary (such as a bank), BFA or other related companies may pay the intermediary for marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems or other services related to the sale or promotion of the Fund. These payments may create a conflict of interest by 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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More Information About the Fund
This Prospectus contains important information about investing in the Fund. Please read this Prospectus carefully before you make any investment decisions. Additional information regarding the Fund is available at www.iShares.com.
BFA is the investment adviser to the Fund. Shares of the Fund are listed for trading on BATS Exchange, Inc. (“BATS”). The market price for a share of the Fund may be different from the Fund’s most recent NAV.
ETFs are funds that trade like other publicly traded securities. The Fund is designed to track an index. Similar to shares of an index mutual fund, each share of the Fund represents an ownership interest in an underlying portfolio of securities and other instruments intended to track a market index. Unlike shares of a mutual fund, which can be bought and redeemed from the issuing fund by all shareholders at a price based on NAV, shares of the Fund may be purchased or redeemed directly from the Fund at NAV solely by Authorized Participants. Also unlike shares of a mutual fund, shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange and trade in the secondary market at market prices that change throughout the day.
The Fund invests in a particular segment of the securities markets and seeks to track the performance of a currency hedged securities index that generally is not representative of the market as a whole. The Fund is designed to be used as part of broader asset allocation strategies. Accordingly, an investment in the Fund should not constitute a complete investment program.
An index is a financial calculation, based on a grouping of financial instruments, that is not an investment product, while the Fund is an actual investment portfolio. The performance of the Fund and the Underlying Index may vary for a number of reasons, including transaction costs, non-U.S. currency valuations, asset valuations, corporate actions (such as mergers and spin-offs), timing variances and differences between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index resulting from the Fund's use of representative sampling or from legal restrictions (such as diversification requirements) that apply to the Fund but not to the Underlying Index. “Tracking error” is the divergence of the performance (return) of the Fund's portfolio from that of the Underlying Index. BFA expects that, over time, the Fund’s tracking error will not exceed 5%. Because the Fund uses a representative sampling indexing strategy, it can be expected to have a larger tracking error than if it used a replication indexing strategy. “Replication” is an indexing strategy in which a fund invests in substantially all of the securities in its underlying index in approximately the same proportions as in the underlying index.
An investment in the Fund is not a bank deposit and it is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency, BFA or any of its affiliates.
The Fund's investment objective and the Underlying Index may be changed without shareholder approval.
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A Further Discussion of Principal Risks
The Fund is subject to various risks, including the principal risks noted below, any of which may adversely affect the Fund’s NAV, trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. The Fund may be exposed to these risks directly, or indirectly through the Fund's investments in the Underlying Fund. You could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund could underperform other investments.
Asian Economic Risk. Many Asian economies have experienced rapid growth and industrialization in recent years, but there is no assurance that this growth rate will be maintained. Other Asian economies, however, have experienced high inflation, high unemployment, currency devaluations and restrictions, and over-extension of credit. During the global recession that began in 2007, many of the export-driven Asian economies experienced the effects of the economic slowdown in the United States and Europe, and certain Asian governments implemented stimulus plans, low-interest rate monetary policies and currency devaluations. Economic events in any one Asian country may have a significant economic effect on the entire Asian region, as well as on major trading partners outside Asia. Any adverse event in the Asian markets may have a significant adverse effect on some or all of the economies of the countries in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests. Many Asian countries are subject to political risk, including corruption and regional conflict with neighboring countries. In addition, many Asian countries are subject to social and labor risks associated with demands for improved political, economic and social conditions. These risks, among others, may adversely affect the value of the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's investments.
Asset Class Risk. The securities or other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's portfolio may underperform in comparison to other securities or indexes that track other countries, groups of countries, regions, industries, groups of industries, markets, asset classes or sectors. Various types of securities and currencies as well as indexes may experience cycles of outperformance and underperformance in comparison to the general financial markets depending upon a number of factors, including, among other things, inflation, interest rates, productivity, global demand for local products or resources, regulation and governmental controls. This may cause the Fund to underperform other investment vehicles that invest in different asset classes.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that act as Authorized Participants. To the extent that these institutions exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation and/or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units, Fund shares may trade at a discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts and/or delisting.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's
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investments are concentrated in the securities of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class. The Fund may be more adversely affected by the underperformance of those securities, may experience increased price volatility and may be more susceptible to adverse economic, market, political or regulatory occurrences affecting those securities than a fund that does not concentrate its investments.
Consumer Discretionary Sector Risk. The success of consumer product manufacturers and retailers is tied closely to the performance of domestic and international economies, interest rates, exchange rates, competition, consumer confidence, changes in demographics and consumer preferences. Companies in the consumer discretionary sector depend heavily on disposable household income and consumer spending, and may be strongly affected by social trends and marketing campaigns. These companies may be subject to severe competition, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability.
Currency Hedging Risk. When a derivative is used as a hedge against a position that the Fund holds, any loss generated by the derivative generally should be substantially offset by gains on the hedged investment, and vice versa. While hedging can reduce or eliminate losses, it can also reduce or eliminate gains. Hedges are sometimes subject to imperfect matching between the derivative and its reference asset, and there can be no assurance that the Fund’s hedging transactions, if implemented, will be effective. Currency hedging activity exposes the Fund to credit risk due to counterparty exposure, which risk will be higher to the extent that the Fund trades with a single counterparty or small number of counterparties. In seeking to track the performance of the Underlying Index, the Fund will attempt to hedge the currency exposure of non-U.S. dollar denominated securities held in its portfolio (held directly or indirectly through its investment in the Underlying Fund) by investing in foreign currency forward contracts, which may include both physically-settled forward contracts and NDFs. NDFs may be less liquid than deliverable forward currency contracts. A lack of liquidity in NDFs of the hedged currency could result in the Fund being unable to structure its hedging transactions as intended. In addition, BFA may seek to limit the size of the Fund in order to attempt to reduce the likelihood of a situation where the Fund is unable to obtain sufficient liquidity in an underlying currency hedge to implement its investment objective.
There is no assurance that the Fund’s hedging strategy will be effective in hedging fluctuations in the value of the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar. The effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy will in general be affected by the volatility of both the Underlying Index and the volatility of the U.S. dollar relative to the Japanese yen, measured on an aggregate basis. Increased volatility will generally reduce the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy as calculated by MSCI. The effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy may also be affected by interest rates. Significant differences between U.S. dollar interest rates and foreign currency interest rates may impact the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy. In addition, the currency hedging carried out by the Fund may result in lower returns than those generated through direct investments in the securities comprising the Underlying Index or in the index tracked by the Underlying Fund when the local
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currency appreciates against the U.S. dollar.
Foreign currency forward contracts, including NDFs, do not eliminate movements in the value of non-U.S. currencies and securities but rather allow the Fund to establish a fixed rate of exchange for a future point in time. Exchange rates may be volatile and may change quickly and unpredictably in response to both global economic developments and economic conditions in a geographic region in which the Fund invests. In addition, in order to minimize transaction costs, or for other reasons, the Fund’s exposure to the Japanese yen may not be fully hedged to the extent indicated by the Hedge Ratio, as determined by the indicators described in the Fund's principal investment strategies or the hedge may not be effective due to counterparty failures or otherwise. Governments from time to time intervene in the currency markets, directly and by regulation, in order to influence prices. From time to time, governments may adopt policies designed to directly influence foreign exchange rates with respect to their currency. As a result, the Fund may not be able to structure its hedging transactions as anticipated or its hedging transactions may not successfully reduce the currency risk included in the Fund’s portfolio in a way that tracks the Underlying Index. To the extent the Fund enters into over-the-counter derivative transactions or other instruments to pursue its currency hedging strategy, the Fund will be subject to counterparty risk as well as market or liquidity risk with respect to these transactions. In addition, the Fund’s currency hedging activities may involve frequent trading of currency instruments, which may increase transaction costs and cause the Fund’s return to deviate from the Underlying Index.
Investors, such as the Fund, seeking to trade in foreign currencies may have limited access to certain currency markets due to a variety of factors, including government regulations, adverse tax treatment, exchange controls, currency convertibility issues and lack of market liquidity. These limitations and restrictions may impact the availability, liquidity and pricing of the financial instruments that are necessary for the Fund to hedge exposure to the currency markets. If the Fund’s ability to enter into contracts to purchase or sell the currency of a non-U.S. market in which the Fund invests is impaired, the Fund may not be able to achieve its investment objective. In addition, these foreign currency hedging instruments often involve derivative investments and, therefore, expose the Fund to the risks described under “Derivatives Risk.”
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's NAVs are determined on the basis of the U.S. dollar, investors may lose money if the Japanese yen depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of the local currency and/or the Fund’s attempt to hedge currency exposure to the Japanese yen is unsuccessful. Similarly, because the Fund seeks to hedge currency risk in accordance with the Underlying Index, investors may not share in appreciation in the securities comprising the Underlying Index to the extent that such appreciation is due to increases in the value of the underlying currency. In addition, fluctuations in the exchange rates of currencies could affect the economy or particular business operations of companies in a geographic region in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests, causing an adverse impact on the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund’s investments in the affected region and the United States that is separate from the value of the underlying currency and, therefore, unmitigated by the hedging strategy
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used by the Fund. If this is the case, investors may experience better performance with a fund that is unhedged from a currency perspective than one that is hedged or partially hedged from a currency perspective, as is the case with the Fund. As a result, investors in the Fund have the potential for losses regardless of the length of time they intend to hold Fund shares and regardless of the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging transactions. The performance of the Fund may be materially better or worse than the performance of the Underlying Fund due primarily to the Fund's attempt to hedge its foreign currency exposure. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the value of an investment in the Fund may change quickly and without warning, which could have a significant negative impact on the Fund.
Cyber Security Risk. With the increased use of technologies such as the Internet to conduct business, the Fund, the Underlying Fund, Authorized Participants, service providers and the relevant listing exchange are susceptible to operational, information security and related “cyber” risks both directly and through their service providers. Similar types of cyber security risks are also present for issuers of securities in which the Fund and the Underlying Fund invest, which could result in material adverse consequences for such issuers, and may cause the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's investment in such portfolio companies to lose value. Unlike many other types of risks faced by the Fund and the Underlying Fund, these risks typically are not covered by insurance. In general, cyber incidents can result from deliberate attacks or unintentional events. Cyber attacks include, but are not limited to, gaining unauthorized access to digital systems (e.g., through “hacking” or malicious software coding) for purposes of misappropriating assets or sensitive information, corrupting data, or causing operational disruption. Cyber attacks may also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as causing denial-of-service attacks on websites (i.e., efforts to make network services unavailable to intended users). Cyber security failures by or breaches of the systems of the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's adviser, distributor and other service providers (including, but not limited to, index providers, fund accountants, custodians, transfer agents and administrators), market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund and the Underlying Fund invest, have the ability to cause disruptions and impact business operations, potentially resulting in: financial losses, interference with the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's ability to calculate its NAV, disclosure of confidential trading information, impediments to trading, submission of erroneous trades or erroneous creation or redemption orders, the inability of the Fund,  the Underlying Fund or their service providers to transact business, violations of applicable privacy and other laws, regulatory fines, penalties, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensation costs, or additional compliance costs. In addition, 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 or the Underlying Fund inaccessible or inaccurate or incomplete. Substantial costs may be incurred by the Fund or the Underlying Fund in order to resolve or prevent cyber incidents in the future. While the Fund and the Underlying Fund has established business continuity plans in the event of, and risk management systems to prevent, such cyber attacks, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems,
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including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cyber security plans and systems put in place by service providers to the Fund, issuers in which the Fund invests, market makers or Authorized Participants. The Fund and its shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result.
Derivatives Risk. The Fund will use currency forwards and NDFs to hedge the currency exposure resulting from investments in foreign currency-denominated securities. The Fund’s use of these instruments, like investments in other derivatives, may reduce the Fund’s returns, increase volatility and/or result in losses due to credit risk or ineffective hedging strategies. Volatility is defined as the characteristic of a security, a currency, an index or a market, to fluctuate significantly in price within a defined period. Currency forwards, like other derivatives, are also subject to counterparty risk, which is the risk that the other party in the transaction will not fulfill its contractual obligation. A risk of the Fund’s use of derivatives is that the fluctuations in their values may not correlate perfectly with the currency or currencies being hedged. The possible lack of a liquid secondary market for derivatives and the resulting inability of the Fund to sell or otherwise close a derivatives position could expose the Fund to losses and could make derivatives more difficult for the Fund to value accurately. The Fund could also suffer losses related to its derivatives positions as a result of unanticipated market movements, which losses are potentially unlimited. BFA’s use of derivatives is not intended to predict the direction of securities prices, currency exchange rates, interest rates and other economic factors, which could cause the Fund’s derivatives positions to lose value. Derivatives may give rise to a form of leverage and may expose the Fund to greater risk and increase its costs. The U.S. and certain other countries have adopted or are in the process of adopting regulatory reforms affecting the derivatives markets. These regulations may make derivatives more costly, may limit the availability of derivatives, and may otherwise adversely affect the value and performance of derivatives.
Equity Securities Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund each invest in equity securities, which are subject to changes in value that may be attributable to market perception of a particular issuer or to general stock market fluctuations that affect all issuers. Investments in equity securities may be more volatile than investments in other asset classes.
European Economic Risk. The Economic Monetary Union of the European Union (the “EU”) requires compliance with restrictions on inflation rates, deficits, interest rates and debt levels, as well as fiscal and monetary controls, each of which may significantly affect every country in Europe. Decreasing imports or exports, changes in governmental or EU regulations on trade, changes in the exchange rate of the euro (the common currency of certain EU countries), the default or threat of default by an EU member country on its sovereign debt (including, without limitation, the default by Greece) and/or an economic recession in an EU member country may have a significant adverse effect on the economies of EU member countries and their trading partners. The European financial markets have experienced volatility and adverse trends in recent years due to concerns about economic downturns or rising government debt levels in several European countries, including Greece, Ireland, Italy,
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Portugal and Spain. These events have adversely affected the exchange rate of the euro and may continue to significantly affect European countries.
Responses to financial problems by European governments, central banks and others, including austerity measures and reforms, may not produce the desired results, may result in social unrest and may limit future growth and economic recovery or have other unintended consequences. Further defaults or restructurings by governments and other entities of their debt could have additional adverse effects on economies, financial markets and asset valuations around the world. In addition, one or more countries may abandon the euro and/or withdraw from the EU, including, with respect to the latter, the United Kingdom, which is a significant market in the global economy.
The occurrence of terrorist incidents throughout Europe also could impact financial markets. The impact of these events is not clear but could be significant and far-reaching and adversely affect the value of the Fund.
Financials Sector Risk. Companies in the financials sector of an economy are subject to extensive governmental regulation and intervention, which may adversely affect the scope of their activities, the prices they can charge, the amount of capital they must maintain and, potentially, their size. Governmental regulation may change frequently and may have significant adverse consequences for companies in the financials sector, including effects not intended by such regulation. The impact of recent or future regulation in various countries of any individual financial company or of the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. Certain risks may impact the value of investments in the financials sector more severely than those of investments outside this sector, including the risks associated with companies that operate with substantial financial leverage. Companies in the financials sector may also be adversely affected by increases in interest rates and loan losses, decreases in the availability of money or asset valuations, credit rating downgrades and adverse conditions in other related markets. Insurance companies, in particular, may be subject to severe price competition and/or rate regulation, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability. During the financial crisis that began in 2007, the deterioration of the credit markets impacted a broad range of mortgage, asset-backed, auction rate, sovereign debt and other markets, including U.S. and non-U.S. credit and interbank money markets, thereby affecting a wide range of financial institutions and markets. During the financial crisis, a number of large financial institutions failed, merged with stronger institutions or had significant government infusions of capital. Instability in the financial markets caused certain financial companies to incur large losses. Some financial companies experienced declines in the valuations of their assets, took actions to raise capital (such as the issuance of debt or equity securities), or even ceased operations. Some financial companies borrowed significant amounts of capital from government sources. Those actions caused the securities of many financial companies to decline in value. The financials sector is particularly sensitive to fluctuations in interest rates. The financials sector is also a target for cyber attacks and may experience technology malfunctions and disruptions. In recent years, cyber attacks and technology failures have become increasingly frequent and have reportedly caused losses.
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Geographic Risk. Some of the companies in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests are located in parts of the world that have historically been prone to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, droughts, floods, hurricanes or tsunamis, and are economically sensitive to environmental events. Any such event may adversely impact the economies of these geographic areas, causing an adverse impact on the value of the Fund.
Index-Related Risk. The Fund seeks to achieve a return which corresponds generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Underlying Index as published by the Index Provider. There is no assurance that the Index Provider or any agents that may act on its behalf will compile the Underlying Index accurately, or that the Underlying Index will be determined, composed or calculated accurately. While the Index Provider provides descriptions of what the Underlying Index is designed to achieve, neither the Index Provider nor its agents provide any warranty or accept any liability in relation to the quality, accuracy or completeness of the Underlying Index or its related data, and they do not guarantee that the Underlying Index will be in line with the Index Provider’s methodology. BFA’s mandate as described in this Prospectus is to manage the Fund consistently with the Underlying Index provided by the Index Provider to BFA. Consequently, BFA does not provide any warranty or guarantee against the Index Provider’s or others’ errors. Errors in respect of the quality, accuracy and completeness of the data used to compile the Underlying Index may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, particularly where the indices are less commonly used as benchmarks by funds or managers. Therefore, gains, losses or costs associated with errors of the Index Provider or its agents will generally be borne by the Fund and its shareholders. For example, during a period where the Fund’s Underlying Index contains incorrect constituents, the Fund would have market exposure to such constituents and would be underexposed to the Underlying Index’s other constituents. Such errors may negatively or positively impact the Fund and its shareholders. Any gains due to the Index Provider’s or others’ errors will be kept by the Fund and its shareholders and any losses resulting from the Index Provider’s or others’ errors will be borne by the Fund and its shareholders.
Apart from scheduled rebalances, the Index Provider or its agents may carry out additional ad hoc rebalances to the Underlying Index in order, for example, to correct an error in the selection of index constituents. When the Underlying Index is rebalanced and the Fund in turn rebalances its portfolio to attempt to increase the correlation between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index, any transaction costs and market exposure arising from such portfolio rebalancing will be borne directly by the Fund and its shareholders. Therefore, errors and additional ad hoc rebalances carried out by the Index Provider to the Underlying Index may increase the costs to and the tracking error risk of the Fund.
Similar risks exist for the Underlying Fund in tracking its benchmark, which may result in the Fund's performance deviating from the return of the Underlying Index.
Industrials Sector Risk. The value of securities issued by companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by supply and demand related to their specific products or services and industrials sector products in general. The products of
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manufacturing companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction. Government regulations, world events, economic conditions and exchange rates may adversely affect the performance of companies in the industrials sector. Companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. The industrials sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors. Companies in the industrials sector, particularly aerospace and defense companies, may also be adversely affected by government spending policies because companies involved in this sector rely to a significant extent on government demand for their products and services.
Investment in Underlying Fund Risk. The Fund expects to invest a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund, so the Fund’s investment performance is likely to be directly related to the performance of the Underlying Fund. The Fund may also invest in other funds, including money market funds. The Fund’s NAV will change with changes in the value of the Underlying Fund and other instruments in which the Fund invests based on their market valuations. An investment in the Fund will entail more direct and indirect costs and expenses than a direct investment in the Underlying Fund, including as a result of the currency hedging activity conducted by the Fund. For example, the Fund indirectly pays a portion of the expenses (including operating expenses and management fees) incurred by the Underlying Fund, although some of such fees will be offset by the fee waiver by BFA.
An investor in the Fund may receive taxable gains from portfolio transactions by the Underlying Fund, as well as taxable gains from transactions in shares of the Underlying Fund held by the Fund. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may also hold common portfolio securities.
As the Fund's allocations to the Underlying Fund change from time to time, or to the extent that the expense ratio of the Underlying Fund changes, the weighted average operating expenses borne by the Fund may increase or decrease.
The Fund will seek to hedge the currency exposure of the instruments held by the Underlying Fund. The indirect nature of the holdings may make the hedging more difficult to achieve and the Fund may be unable to accurately hedge currency exposure inherent in the Underlying Fund.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities and other instruments to which the Fund or the Underlying Fund has exposure. Any issuer of these securities or counterparty on other instruments may perform poorly, causing the value of its securities or instruments to decline. Poor performance may be caused by poor management decisions, competitive pressures, changes in technology, expiration of patent protection, disruptions in supply, labor problems or shortages, corporate restructurings, fraudulent disclosures, credit deterioration of the issuer or other factors. Issuers may, in times of distress or at their own discretion, decide to reduce or eliminate dividends, which may also cause their stock prices to decline.
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Lack of Natural Resources Risk. Japan is an island state with few natural resources and limited land area and is reliant on imports for its commodity needs. Any fluctuations or shortages in the commodity markets could have a negative impact on the Japanese economy.
Management Risk. The Fund may not fully replicate the Underlying Index and may hold securities and other instruments not included in the Underlying Index. As a result, the Fund is subject to the risk that BFA’s investment strategy, the implementation of which is subject to a number of constraints, may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund could lose money due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during market downturns. Securities or other instruments may decline in value due to factors affecting markets generally or particular asset classes or industries represented in the markets. The value of a security or other instrument may decline due to general market conditions, economic trends or events that are not specifically related to the issuer of the security or asset or due to factors that affect a particular industry or group of industries. During a general market downturn, multiple asset classes may be negatively affected.
Market Trading Risk
Absence of Active Market. Although shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund are listed for trading on one or more stock exchanges, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained by market makers or Authorized Participants.
Risk of Secondary Listings. The Fund's and the Underlying Fund's shares may be listed or traded on U.S. and non-U.S. stock exchanges other than the U.S. stock exchange where the Fund's primary listing is maintained. There can be no assurance that the Fund’s and the Underlying Fund's shares will continue to trade on any such stock exchange or in any market or that the Fund’s and the Underlying Fund's shares will continue to meet the requirements for listing or trading on any exchange or in any market. The Fund's and the Underlying Fund's shares may be less actively traded in certain markets than in others, and investors are subject to the execution and settlement risks and market standards of the market where they or their broker direct their trades for execution. Certain information available to investors who trade Fund shares on a U.S. stock exchange during regular U.S. market hours may not be available to investors who trade in other markets, which may result in secondary market prices in such markets being less efficient.
Secondary Market Trading Risk. Shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund may trade in the secondary market at times when the Fund and the Underlying Fund do not accept orders to purchase or redeem shares. At such times, shares may trade in the secondary market with more significant premiums or discounts than might be experienced at times when the Fund and the Underlying Fund accept purchase and redemption orders. If the Fund purchases shares of the Underlying Fund at a time when the market price of Underlying Fund shares is at a premium to their NAV or sells Underlying Fund shares when their market price is at a discount to their NAV, the Fund may incur losses.
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Secondary market trading in Fund shares may be halted by a stock exchange because of market conditions or for other reasons. In addition, trading in Fund shares on a stock exchange or in any market may be subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to “circuit breaker” rules on the stock exchange or market.
Shares of the Fund, similar to shares of other issuers listed on a stock exchange, may be sold short and are therefore subject to the risk of increased volatility and price decreases associated with being sold short.
Shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund May Trade at Prices Other Than NAV. Shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund each trade on stock exchanges at prices at, above or below the Fund’s most recent NAV. The NAV of the Fund and the Underlying Fund are calculated at the end of each business day and fluctuate with changes in the market value of the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's holdings. The trading price of each of the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's shares fluctuates continuously throughout trading hours based on both market supply of and demand for their shares and the underlying value of their portfolio holdings or NAV. As a result, the trading prices of the Fund’s and the Underlying Fund's shares may deviate significantly from NAV during periods of market volatility. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV. However, because shares can be created and redeemed in Creation Units at NAV, BFA believes that large discounts or premiums to the NAV of the Fund or the Underlying Fund, as applicable, are not likely to be sustained over the long term (unlike shares of many closed-end funds, which frequently trade at appreciable discounts from, and sometimes at premiums to, their NAVs). However, BFA may seek to limit the size of the Fund in order to attempt to mitigate the likelihood of a situation where the Fund is unable to obtain sufficient liquidity in an underlying currency hedge to implement its investment objective, including by recommending that the Fund limit purchases of Fund shares through Creation Unit transactions. If the Fund elects to impose limitations on creation transactions, Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium to NAV in the secondary market. While the creation/redemption feature is designed to make it more likely that the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's shares normally will trade on stock exchanges at prices close to the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's next calculated NAV, exchange prices are not expected to correlate exactly with the NAV due to timing reasons, supply and demand imbalances and other factors. In addition, disruptions to creations and redemptions, including disruptions at market makers, Authorized Participants, or market participants, and during periods of significant market volatility, may result in trading prices for shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund that differ significantly from its NAV.
Costs of Buying or Selling Fund Shares. Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange involves two types of costs that apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you will likely incur a brokerage commission and other charges. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread”; that is, the difference between what investors are willing to pay for Fund shares (the “bid” price) and the price at which they are willing to sell Fund shares (the “ask” price). There may also be regulatory and other charges that are incurred as a result of trading
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activity. Because of the costs inherent in buying or selling Fund shares, frequent trading may detract significantly from investment results and an investment in Fund shares may not be advisable for investors who anticipate regularly making small investments through a brokerage account.
Mid-Capitalization Companies Risk. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies may be more volatile than those of large-capitalization companies and, therefore, the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's share price may be more volatile than that of funds that invest a larger percentage of their assets in stocks issued by large-capitalization companies. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies are also more vulnerable than those of large-capitalization companies to adverse business or economic developments, and the stocks of mid-capitalization companies may be less liquid, making it difficult for the Fund to buy and sell them. In addition, mid-capitalization companies generally have less diverse product lines than large-capitalization companies and are more susceptible to adverse developments related to their products.
Model Risk. Neither the Fund nor BFA can offer assurances that the allocation and hedging model used to calculate the Underlying Index will achieve its intended results.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund trade on foreign exchanges that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Non-Diversification Risk. The Fund is classified as “non-diversified.” This means that the Fund may invest a large percentage of its assets in securities issued by or representing a small number of issuers. As a result, the Fund may be more susceptible to the risks associated with these particular issuers or to a single economic, political or regulatory occurrence affecting these issuers.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks of investing in the markets where such issuers are located, including heightened risks of inflation or nationalization and market fluctuations caused by economic and political developments. As a result of investing in non-U.S. securities, the Fund may be subject to increased risk of loss caused by any of the factors listed below:
Lower levels of liquidity and market efficiency;
Greater securities price volatility;
Exchange rate fluctuations and exchange controls;
Less availability of public information about issuers;
Limitations on foreign ownership of securities;
Imposition of withholding or other taxes;
Imposition of restrictions on the expatriation of the funds or other assets of the Fund;
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Higher transaction and custody costs and delays in settlement procedures;
Difficulties in enforcing contractual obligations;
Lower levels of regulation of the securities markets;
Weaker accounting, disclosure and reporting requirements; and
Legal principles relating to corporate governance, directors’ fiduciary duties and liabilities and stockholders’ rights in markets in which the Fund invests may differ and/or may not be as extensive or protective as those that apply in the United States.
Operational Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are exposed to operational risk arising from a number of factors, including but not limited to human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund’s and the Underlying Fund's service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund, the Underlying Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate for those risks that they are intended to address.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are not actively managed and may be affected by a general decline in market segments related to the Underlying Index. The Fund invests in securities and other instruments included in, or representative of, the Underlying Index, regardless of their investment merits. BFA generally does not attempt to take defensive positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. The Japanese economy is heavily dependent on international trade and has been adversely affected by trade tariffs, other protectionist measures and rising commodity prices. Japanese economic growth has generally been dependent on the U.S. and Chinese economies, with trade increasing with China in recent years.
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. Investment in developed country issuers may subject the Fund or the Underlying Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, economic and other risks specific to developed countries. Developed countries generally tend to rely on services sectors (e.g., the financial services sector) as the primary means of economic growth. A prolonged slowdown in services sectors is likely to have a negative impact on economies of certain developed countries. Many developed countries experienced a significant economic slowdown during the financial crisis that began in 2007. In the past, certain developed countries have been targets of terrorism. Acts of terrorism in developed countries or against their interests may cause uncertainty in the financial markets and adversely affect the performance of the issuers to which the Fund or the Underlying Fund has exposure. Heavy regulation of certain markets, including labor and product markets, may have an adverse effect on certain issuers. Such regulations may negatively affect economic growth or cause prolonged periods of recession. Many developed countries are heavily indebted and face rising healthcare and retirement expenses. In addition, price fluctuations of certain commodities and regulations impacting the import of commodities may negatively affect developed country economies.
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Risk of Investing in Japan. Japan may be subject to political, economic, nuclear, and labor risks, among others. Any of these risks, individually or in the aggregate, can impact an investment made in Japan.
Economic Risk. The growth of Japan's economy has recently lagged that of its Asian neighbors and other major developed economies. Since the year 2000, Japan’s economic growth rate has remained relatively low, and it may remain low in the future. The Japanese economy is heavily dependent on international trade and has been adversely affected by trade tariffs, other protectionist measures, competition from emerging economies and the economic conditions of its trading partners. Japan is also heavily dependent on oil imports, and higher commodity prices could therefore have a negative impact on the Japanese economy.
Political Risk. Historically, Japan has had unpredictable national politics and may experience frequent political turnover. Future political developments may lead to changes in policy that might adversely affect the Fund’s investments. In addition, China has become an important trading partner with Japan. Japan's political relationship with China, however, has become strained. Should political tension increase, it could adversely affect the Japanese economy and destabilize the region as a whole.
Large Government Debt Risk. The Japanese economy faces several concerns, including a financial system with large levels of nonperforming loans, over-leveraged corporate balance sheets, extensive cross-ownership by major corporations, a changing corporate governance structure, and large government deficits. These issues may cause a slowdown of the Japanese economy.
Currency Risk. The Japanese yen has fluctuated widely at times and any increase in its value may cause a decline in exports that could weaken the Japanese economy. The Japanese government has, in the past, intervened in the currency markets to attempt to maintain or reduce the value of the yen. Japanese intervention in the currency markets could cause the value of the yen to fluctuate sharply and unpredictably and could cause losses to investors.
Nuclear Energy Risk. The nuclear power plant catastrophe in Japan in March 2011 may have long-term effects on the Japanese economy and its nuclear energy industry, the extent of which are currently unknown.
Labor Risk. Japan has an aging workforce and has experienced a significant population decline in recent years. Japan’s labor market appears to be undergoing fundamental structural changes, as a labor market traditionally accustomed to lifetime employment adjusts to meet the need for increased labor mobility, which may adversely affect Japan’s economic competitiveness.
Securities Lending Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund and the Underlying Fund, as applicable, may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund and the Underlying Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for the loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund or the Underlying Fund. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (“BTC”), the Fund’s
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securities lending agent, will take into account the tax impact to shareholders of substitute payments for dividends when managing the Fund’s securities lending program.
Security Risk. Japan's relations with its neighbors, particularly China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, have at times been strained due to territorial disputes, historical animosities and defense concerns. Most recently, the Japanese government has shown concern over the increased nuclear and military activity by North Korea and China. Strained relations may cause uncertainty in the Japanese markets and adversely affect the overall Japanese economy and the Fund's investments in times of crisis.
Tax Risk. Because the Fund is expected to invest in the Underlying Fund, the Fund’s realized losses on sales of shares of the Underlying Fund may be indefinitely or permanently deferred as “wash sales.” Distributions of short-term capital gains by the Underlying Fund will be recognized as ordinary income by the Fund and would not be offset by the Fund’s capital loss carryforwards, if any. Capital loss carryforwards of the Underlying Fund, if any, would not offset net capital gains of the Fund. Each of these effects is caused by the Fund’s investment in the Underlying Fund and may result in distributions to Fund shareholders being of higher magnitudes and less likely to qualify for lower capital gain tax rates than if the Fund were to invest directly in the securities and other instruments comprising the Underlying Index. The Fund is expected to invest in derivatives. The federal income tax treatment of a derivative may not be as favorable as a direct investment in an underlying asset. Derivatives may produce taxable income and taxable realized gain. Derivatives may adversely affect the timing, character and amount of income the Fund realizes from its investments. As a result, a larger portion of the Fund’s distributions may be treated as ordinary income rather than as capital gains. In addition, certain derivatives are subject to mark-to-market or straddle provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. If such provisions are applicable, there could be an increase (or decrease) in the amount of taxable dividends paid by the Fund. Income from swaps is generally taxable. In addition, the tax treatment of certain derivatives, such as swaps, is unsettled and may be subject to future legislation, regulation or administrative pronouncements issued by the IRS.
Tracking Error Risk. Tracking error is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities (including shares of the Underlying Fund) and other instruments held in the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences (including differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the Fund’s valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the Fund’s NAV), differences in transaction and hedging costs and forward rates achieved, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or other distributions, tax gains or losses, changes to the Underlying Index and the cost to the Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. These risks may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions in the affected securities and/or foreign exchange markets. In addition, tracking error may result because the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not, and because the Fund accepts creations and redemptions during time periods between which it is able to adjust its currency
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hedges, whereas the Underlying Index does not adjust its hedging during these periods. To the extent that the Fund seeks its investment objective through investments in the Underlying Fund, the Fund may experience increased tracking error. The potential for increased tracking error may result from investments in the Underlying Fund due to, among other things, differences in the composition of the investment portfolio of the Underlying Fund as compared to the index tracked by the Underlying Fund and differences in the Fund’s valuation of the Underlying Fund and the foreign currency forward contracts (each valued as of the close of the New York Stock Exchange, typically 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time) and the valuation of the securities in the Underlying Index (generally valued as of each security’s local market close) and the foreign currency forward contracts in the Underlying Index (generally valued at 4:00 p.m., London time).
U.S. Economic Risk. The United States is a significant, and in some cases the most significant, trading partner of, or foreign investor in countries in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests and the economies of these countries may be particularly affected by changes in the U.S. economy. A decrease in U.S. imports, new trade regulations, changes in the U.S. dollar exchange rate or an economic slowdown in the United States may have a material adverse effect on economies of those countries and, as a result, securities to which the Fund or the Underlying Fund have exposure.
Valuation Risk. The sale price the Fund could receive for a security or unwind of a financial instrument or other asset may differ from the Fund's valuation of the security or other instrument or asset and from the value used by the Underlying Index, particularly for securities or other instruments that trade in low volume or volatile markets, or that are valued using a fair value methodology. Because non-U.S. exchanges may be open on days when the Fund does not price its shares, the value of the securities or other instruments in the Fund’s portfolio may change on days when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund’s or Underlying Fund's shares. In addition, for purposes of calculating the Fund's NAV, the value of assets denominated in non-U.S. currencies is converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. This conversion may result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the Fund's NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund's performance and the performance of the Underlying Index.
A Further Discussion of Other Risks
The Fund may also be subject to certain other risks associated with its investments and investment strategies either directly or indirectly through the Fund's investments in the Underlying Fund.
Consumer Staples Sector Risk. The consumer staples sector may be affected by the regulation of various product components and production methods, marketing campaigns and other factors affecting consumer demand. Tobacco companies, in particular, may be adversely affected by new laws, regulations and litigation. The consumer staples sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors.
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Healthcare Sector Risk. The profitability of companies in the healthcare sector is affected by the following factors, among others: extensive government regulations, restrictions on government reimbursement for medical expenses, rising costs of medical products and services, pricing pressure, an increased emphasis on outpatient services, limited number of products, industry innovation, changes in technologies and other market developments. A number of issuers in the healthcare industry have recently merged or otherwise experienced consolidation. The effects of this trend toward consolidation are unknown and may be far-reaching. Many healthcare companies are heavily dependent on patent protection. The expiration of a company’s patents may adversely affect that company’s profitability. Many healthcare companies are subject to extensive litigation based on product liability and similar claims. Healthcare companies are subject to competitive forces that may make it difficult to raise prices and, in fact, may result in price discounting. Many new products in the healthcare sector may be subject to regulatory approvals. The process of obtaining such approvals may be long and costly, and such efforts ultimately may be unsuccessful. Companies in the healthcare sector may be thinly capitalized and may be susceptible to product obsolescence.
Information Technology Sector Risk. Information technology companies face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on profit margins. Like other technology companies, information technology companies may have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or personnel. The products of information technology companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments, frequent new product introduction, unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. Companies in the information technology sector are heavily dependent on patent and intellectual property rights. The loss or impairment of these rights may adversely affect the profitability of these companies.
Materials Sector Risk. Companies in the materials sector may be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, exchange rates, import controls, increased competition, depletion of resources, technical advances, labor relations and government regulations, among other factors. Also, companies in the materials sector are at risk of liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. Production of materials may exceed demand as a result of market imbalances or economic downturns, leading to poor investment returns.
Telecommunications Sector Risk. The telecommunications sector of a country's economy is often subject to extensive government regulation. The costs of complying with governmental regulations, delays or failure to receive required regulatory approvals, or the enactment of new regulatory requirements may negatively affect the business of telecommunications companies. Government actions around the world, specifically in the area of pre-marketing clearance of products and prices, can be arbitrary and unpredictable. Companies in the telecommunications sector may encounter distressed cash flows due to the need to commit substantial capital to meet increasing competition, particularly in developing new products and services using new technology. Technological innovations may make the products and services of certain telecommunications companies obsolete. Telecommunications providers are generally
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required to obtain franchises or licenses in order to provide services in a given location. Licensing and franchise rights in the telecommunications sector are limited, which may provide an advantage to certain participants. Limited availability of such rights, high barriers to market entry and regulatory oversight, among other factors, have led to consolidation of companies within the sector, which could lead to further regulation or other negative effects in the future.
Portfolio Holdings Information
A description of the Trust's policies and procedures with respect to the disclosure of the Fund’s portfolio securities is available in the Fund's Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”). The top holdings of the Fund can be found at www.iShares.com. Fund fact sheets provide information regarding the Fund's top holdings and may be requested by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737).
A Further Discussion of Principal Investment Strategies
Overview
The Fund allocates and reallocates its assets among direct investments in securities and other instruments, and in investments in the Underlying Fund consistent with the allocation and reallocation of securities in the Underlying Index as determined by the Index Provider. The Fund will invest in foreign currency forward contracts designed to hedge non-U.S. currency fluctuations, based on MSCI’s calculation methodology, inherent in the securities in the Underlying Index. In addition, the Fund may borrow, lend its portfolio securities to brokers, dealers and financial institutions, and may invest the collateral in certain short-term instruments, either directly or through one or more money market funds, as described in greater detail in the Fund’s SAI.
The Underlying Fund
The Fund will invest a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund, so the Fund’s investment performance is likely to be directly related to the performance of the Underlying Fund. The Fund’s NAV will change with changes in the value of the Underlying Fund and other securities in which the Fund invests, subject to the impact of currency hedges, which may cause the Fund to outperform or underperform the return of the Underlying Fund. An investment in the Fund will entail more direct and indirect costs and expenses than a direct investment in the Underlying Fund. The Underlying Fund invests in non-U.S. securities without implementing a hedge of the local currency risk. This strategy is subject to additional risks, as described in this Prospectus and in the Fund’s SAI.
BFA is not required to invest the Fund’s assets in any particular underlying fund, including the Underlying Fund, or allocate any particular percentage of the Fund’s assets to any particular underlying fund, including the Underlying Fund. As of its inception date, the Fund intends to initially invest in the Underlying Fund and in currency hedges.
The Underlying Fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the MSCI Japan Index. The MSCI Japan Index is a servicemark of the Index Provider and has been licensed for use for
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certain purposes by BFA or its affiliates. The Underlying Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold, or promoted by the Index Provider and the Index Provider makes no representation regarding the advisability of investing in the Underlying Fund or the Fund.
In managing the Underlying Fund, BFA uses a representative sampling index strategy. Representative sampling is an indexing strategy that involves investing in a representative sample of securities that collectively have an investment profile similar to a specified benchmark index. Securities selected for the Underlying Fund are expected to have, in the aggregate, investment characteristics (based on factors such as market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of the applicable underlying index. The Underlying Fund may or may not hold all of the securities that are included in its underlying index and may hold certain securities or other instruments that are not included in its underlying index or in the Underlying Index.
Management
Investment Adviser. As investment adviser, BFA has overall responsibility for the general management and administration of the Trust. BFA provides an investment program for the Fund and manages the investment of the Fund’s assets. In managing the Fund, BFA may draw upon the research and expertise of its asset management affiliates with respect to certain portfolio securities. In seeking to achieve the Fund's investment objective, BFA uses teams of portfolio managers, investment strategists and other investment specialists. This team approach brings together many disciplines and leverages BFA’s extensive resources.
Pursuant to the Investment Advisory Agreement between BFA and the Trust (entered into on behalf of the Fund), BFA is responsible for substantially all expenses of the Fund, except interest expenses, taxes, brokerage expenses, future distribution fees or expenses and extraordinary expenses.
For its investment advisory services to the Fund, BFA will be paid a management fee from the Fund based on a percentage of the Fund's average daily net assets, at an annual rate of 0.62%. BFA has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees in an amount equal to the Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any, attributable to investments by the Fund in EWJ until December 31, 2020. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to December 31, 2020 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA. In addition, with respect to the Fund, BFA has agreed to reduce the management fee on assets attributable to the Fund's investments in EWJ (and those assets used to hedge the currencies in which securities in EWJ are denominated against the U.S. dollar) such that the management fee is equal to the total annual fund operating expenses after fee waiver of EWJ until December 31, 2020. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to December 31, 2020 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA. In addition, BFA may from time to time voluntarily waive and/or reimburse fees or expenses in order to limit Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses (excluding Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any). Any such voluntary waiver or reimbursement may be eliminated by BFA at any time.
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BFA is located at 400 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. It is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc. (“BlackRock”). As of September 30, 2015, BFA and its affiliates provided investment advisory services for assets in excess of $4.51 trillion. BFA and its affiliates trade and invest for their own accounts in the types of securities in which the Fund may also invest.
A discussion regarding the basis for the Trust's Board of Trustees' (the “Board”) approval of the Investment Advisory Agreement with BFA will be available in the Fund's annual report for the period ending August 31.
Portfolio Managers. Matthew Goff, Diane Hsiung, Jennifer Hsui, Orlando Montalvo and Greg Savage are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager is responsible for various functions related to portfolio management, including, but not limited to, investing cash inflows, coordinating with members of his or her portfolio management team to focus on certain asset classes, implementing investment strategy, researching and reviewing investment strategy and overseeing members of his or her portfolio management team that have more limited responsibilities.
Matthew Goff has been employed by BFA and BTC (formerly, Barclays Global Investors, N.A. (“BGI”)) as a portfolio manager since 2008. Prior to that, Mr. Goff was a portfolio manager from 2007 to 2008 for US Trust, a product manager from 2006 to 2007 for Iris Financial Solutions and a product manager from 2003 to 2006 for MSCI Barra. Mr. Goff has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since its inception.
Diane Hsiung has been employed by BFA and BTC as a senior portfolio manager since 2007. Prior to that, Ms. Hsiung was a portfolio manager from 2002 to 2006 for BGFA and BGI. Ms. Hsiung has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since its inception.
Jennifer Hsui has been employed by BFA and BTC as a senior portfolio manager since 2007. Prior to that, Ms. Hsui was a portfolio manager from 2006 to 2007 for BGFA and BGI. Ms. Hsui has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since its inception.
Orlando Montalvo has been employed by BFA and BTC as a senior portfolio manager since 2009. Prior to that, Mr. Montalvo was a senior portfolio manager from 2005 to 2009 for BGFA and BGI. Mr. Montalvo has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since its inception.
Greg Savage has been employed by BFA and BTC as a senior portfolio manager since 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Savage was a portfolio manager from 2001 to 2006 for BGFA and BGI. Mr. Savage has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since its inception.
The Fund's SAI provides additional information about the Portfolio Managers' compensation, other accounts managed by the Portfolio Managers and the Portfolio Managers' ownership (if any) of shares in the Fund.
Administrator, Custodian and Transfer Agent. State Street Bank and Trust Company (“State Street”) is the administrator, custodian and transfer agent for the Fund.
Conflicts of Interest. BFA wants you to know that it has relationships with certain entities that may give rise to conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest. These entities are BFA’s affiliates, including BlackRock and The PNC Financial
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Services Group, Inc., and each of their affiliates, directors, partners, trustees, managing members, officers and employees (collectively, the “Affiliates”).
The activities of BFA and the Affiliates in the management of, or their interest in, their own accounts and other accounts they manage, may present conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA and the Affiliates provide investment management services to other funds and discretionary managed accounts that may follow an investment program similar to that of the Fund. BFA and the Affiliates are involved worldwide with a broad spectrum of financial services and asset management activities and may engage in the ordinary course of business in activities in which their interests or the interests of their clients may conflict with those of the Fund. BFA or one or more of the Affiliates acts, or may act, as an investor, investment banker, research provider, investment manager, commodity pool operator, commodity trading advisor, financier, underwriter, adviser, market maker, trader, prime broker, lender, agent or principal, and have other direct and indirect interests in securities, currencies, commodities, derivatives and other instruments in which the Fund may directly or indirectly invest. Thus, it is likely that the Fund will have multiple business relationships with and will invest in, engage in transactions with, make voting decisions with respect to, or obtain services from, entities for which BFA or an Affiliate seeks to perform investment banking or other services.
BFA or one or more Affiliates may engage in proprietary trading and advise accounts and funds that have investment objectives similar to those of the Fund and/or that engage in and compete for transactions in the same types of securities, currencies and other instruments as the Fund, including in securities issued by other open-end and closed-end investment companies, which may include investment companies that are affiliated with the Fund and BFA, to the extent permitted under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”). The trading activities of BFA and these Affiliates are carried out without reference to positions held directly or indirectly by the Fund and may result in BFA or an Affiliate having positions in certain securities that are adverse to those of the Fund.
No Affiliate is under any obligation to share any investment opportunity, idea or strategy with the Fund. As a result, an Affiliate may compete with the Fund for appropriate investment opportunities. As a result of this and several other factors, the results of the Fund's investment activities may differ from those of an Affiliate and of other accounts managed by an Affiliate, and it is possible that the Fund could sustain losses during periods in which one or more Affiliates and other accounts achieve profits on their trading for proprietary or other accounts. The opposite result is also possible.
The Fund may, from time to time, enter into transactions in which BFA’s or an Affiliate’s clients have an interest adverse to the Fund. Furthermore, transactions undertaken by Affiliate-advised clients may adversely impact the Fund. Transactions by one or more Affiliate-advised clients or BFA may have the effect of diluting or otherwise disadvantaging the values, prices or investment strategies of the Fund.
The Fund's activities may be limited because of regulatory restrictions applicable to one or more Affiliates and/or their internal policies designed to comply with such restrictions. In addition, the Fund may invest in securities of, or engage in other
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transactions with, companies with which an Affiliate has developed or is trying to develop investment banking relationships or in which an Affiliate has significant debt or equity investments or other interests. The Fund also may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies for which an Affiliate provides or may in the future provide research coverage. An Affiliate may have business relationships with, and purchase, distribute or sell services or products from or to, distributors, consultants or others who recommend the Fund or who engage in transactions with or for the Fund, and may receive compensation for such services. The Fund may also make brokerage and other payments to Affiliates in connection with the Fund's portfolio investment transactions.
Pursuant to a securities lending program approved by the Board, the Fund has retained an Affiliate of BFA to serve as the securities lending agent for the Fund to the extent that the Fund participates in the securities lending program. For these services, the lending agent may receive a fee from the Fund, including a fee based on the returns earned on the Fund’s investment of the cash received as collateral for any loaned securities. BFA may receive compensation for managing the reinvestment of cash collateral. In addition, one or more Affiliates may be among the entities to which the Fund may lend its portfolio securities under the securities lending program.
The activities of BFA or the Affiliates may give rise to other conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA has adopted policies and procedures designed to address these potential conflicts of interest. See the Fund's SAI for further information.
Shareholder Information
Additional shareholder information, including how to buy and sell shares of the Fund, is available free of charge by calling toll-free: 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or visiting our website at www.iShares.com.
Buying and Selling Shares. Shares of the Fund may be acquired or redeemed directly from the Fund only in Creation Units or multiples thereof, as discussed in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus. Only an Authorized Participant (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section below) may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. Once created, shares of the Fund generally trade in the secondary market in amounts less than a Creation Unit.
Shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange for trading during the trading day. Shares can be bought and sold throughout the trading day like shares of other publicly traded companies. The Trust does not impose any minimum investment for shares of the Fund purchased on an exchange or otherwise in the secondary market. The Fund's shares trade under the trading symbol “DEWJ.”
Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange or other secondary market involves two types of costs that may apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you may incur a brokerage commission and other charges. The commission is frequently a fixed amount and may be a significant proportional cost for investors seeking to buy or sell small amounts of shares. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread,” that is, any difference between the
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bid price and the ask price. The spread varies over time for shares of the Fund based on the Fund’s trading volume and market liquidity, and is generally lower if the Fund has high trading volume and market liquidity, and higher if the Fund has little trading volume and market liquidity (which is often the case for funds that are newly launched or small in size). The Fund's spread may also be impacted by the liquidity of the underlying securities held by the Fund, particularly for newly launched or smaller funds or in instances of significant volatility of the underlying securities.
The Board has adopted a policy of not monitoring for frequent purchases and redemptions of Fund shares (“frequent trading”) that appear to attempt to take advantage of a potential arbitrage opportunity presented by a lag between a change in the value of the Fund’s portfolio securities after the close of the primary markets for the Fund’s portfolio securities and the reflection of that change in the Fund’s NAV (“market timing”), because the Fund sells and redeems its shares directly through transactions that are in-kind and/or for cash, subject to the conditions described below under Creations and Redemptions. The Board has not adopted a policy of monitoring for other frequent trading activity because shares of the Fund are listed for trading on a national securities exchange.
The national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed is open for trading Monday through Friday and is closed on weekends and the following holidays: 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’s primary listing exchange is BATS.
Although the SEC has granted an exemptive order to the Trust permitting registered investment companies and unit investment trusts that enter into a participation agreement with the Trust (“Investing Funds”) to invest in iShares Funds beyond the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act subject to certain terms and conditions, the exemptive order is not applicable to the Fund. Accordingly, Investing Funds must adhere to the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act when investing in the Fund.
Book Entry. Shares of the Fund are held in book-entry form, which means that no stock certificates are issued. The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) or its nominee is the record owner of all outstanding shares of the Fund and is recognized as the owner of all shares for all purposes.
Investors owning shares of the Fund are beneficial owners as shown on the records of DTC or its participants. DTC serves as the securities depository for shares of the Fund. DTC participants include securities brokers and dealers, banks, trust companies, clearing corporations and other institutions that directly or indirectly maintain a custodial relationship with DTC. As a beneficial owner of shares, you are not entitled to receive physical delivery of stock certificates or to have shares registered in your name, and you are not considered a registered owner of shares. Therefore, to exercise any right as an owner of shares, you must rely upon the procedures of DTC and its participants. These procedures are the same as those that apply to any other securities that you hold in book-entry or “street name” form.
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Share Prices. The trading prices of the Fund’s shares in the secondary market generally differ from the Fund’s daily NAV and are affected by market forces such as the supply of and demand for ETF shares and shares of underlying securities held by the Fund, economic conditions and other factors. Information regarding the intraday value of shares of the Fund, also known as the “indicative optimized portfolio value” (“IOPV”), is disseminated every 15 seconds throughout each trading day by the national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed or by market data vendors or other information providers. The IOPV is based on the current market value of the securities or other assets and/or cash required to be deposited in exchange for a Creation Unit. The IOPV does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities or other instruments held by the Fund at a particular point in time or the best possible valuation of the current portfolio. Therefore, the IOPV should not be viewed as a “real-time” update of the Fund's NAV, which is computed only once a day. The IOPV is generally determined by using both current market quotations and/or price quotations obtained from broker-dealers and other market intermediaries that may trade in the portfolio securities or other assets held by the Fund. The quotations of certain Fund holdings may not be updated during U.S. trading hours if such holdings do not trade in the United States. The Fund is not involved in, or responsible for, the calculation or dissemination of the IOPV and makes no representation or warranty as to its accuracy.
Determination of Net Asset Value. The NAV of the Fund normally is determined once daily Monday through Friday, generally as of the regularly scheduled close of business of the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) (normally 4:00 p.m., Eastern time) on each day that the NYSE is open for trading, based on prices at the time of closing, provided that (a) any Fund assets or liabilities denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar are translated into U.S. dollars at the prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers (as detailed below) and (b) U.S. fixed-income assets may be valued as of the announced closing time for trading in fixed-income instruments in a particular market or exchange. The NAV of the Fund is calculated by dividing the value of the net assets of the Fund (i.e., the value of its total assets, which includes the values of the Underlying Fund shares in which the Fund invests, less total liabilities) by the total number of outstanding shares of the Fund, generally rounded to the nearest cent.
The value of the securities and other assets and liabilities held by the Fund are determined pursuant to valuation policies and procedures approved by the Board. The Fund's assets and liabilities are valued on the basis of market quotations, when readily available.
Equity investments and investments in the Underlying Fund are valued at market value, which is generally determined using the last reported official closing price or last trading price on the exchange or market on which the security is primarily traded at the time of valuation.
The Fund may invest in non-U.S. securities. Foreign currency exchange rates with respect to the underlying securities are generally determined as of 4:00 p.m., London time. The Fund may also invest in foreign currency forward contracts, which are generally valued as of 4:00 p.m., Eastern time. Non-U.S. securities held by the Fund
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may trade on weekends or other days when the Fund does not price its shares. As a result, the Fund’s NAV may change on days when Authorized Participants (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus) will not be able to purchase or redeem Fund shares.
Generally, trading in non-U.S. securities, U.S. government securities, money market instruments and certain fixed-income securities is substantially completed each day at various times prior to the close of business on the NYSE. The values of such securities used in computing the NAV of the Fund are determined as of such times.
When market quotations are not readily available or are believed by BFA to be unreliable, the Fund’s investments are valued at fair value. Fair value determinations are made by BFA in accordance with policies and procedures approved by the Trust's Board. BFA may conclude that a market quotation is not readily available or is unreliable if a security or other asset or liability does not have a price source due to its lack of liquidity, if a market quotation differs significantly from recent price quotations or otherwise no longer appears to reflect fair value, where the security or other asset or liability is thinly traded, or where there is a significant event subsequent to the most recent market quotation. A “significant event” is an event that, in the judgment of BFA, is likely to cause a material change to the closing market price of the asset or liability held by the Fund. Non-U.S. securities whose values are affected by volatility that occurs in U.S. markets for related or highly correlated assets (e.g., American Depositary Receipts, Global Depositary Receipts or ETFs) on a trading day after the close of non-U.S. securities markets may be fair valued.
Fair value represents a good faith approximation of the value of an asset or liability. The fair value of an asset or liability held by the Fund is the amount the Fund might reasonably expect to receive from the current sale of that asset or the cost to extinguish that liability in an arm’s-length transaction. Valuing the Fund’s investments using fair value pricing will result in prices that may differ from current market valuations and that may not be the prices at which those investments could have been sold during the period in which the particular fair values were used. Use of fair value prices and certain current market valuations could result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the Fund’s NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund’s performance and the performance of the Underlying Index.
The value of assets or liabilities denominated in non-U.S. currencies will be converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. Use of a rate different from the rate used by the Index Provider may adversely affect the Fund’s ability to track the Underlying Index.
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Dividends and Distributions
General Policies. Dividends from net investment income, if any, generally are declared and paid at least once a year by the Fund. Distributions of net realized securities gains, if any, generally are declared and paid once a year, but the Trust may make distributions on a more frequent basis for the Fund. The Trust reserves the right to declare special distributions if, in its reasonable discretion, such action is necessary or advisable to preserve its status as a regulated investment company (“RIC”) or to avoid imposition of income or excise taxes on undistributed income or realized gains.
Dividends and other distributions on shares of the Fund are distributed on a pro rata basis to beneficial owners of such shares. Dividend payments are made through DTC participants and indirect participants to beneficial owners then of record with proceeds received from the Fund.
Dividend Reinvestment Service. No dividend reinvestment service is provided by the Trust. Broker-dealers may make available the DTC book-entry Dividend Reinvestment Service for use by beneficial owners of the Fund for reinvestment of their dividend distributions. Beneficial owners should contact their broker to determine the availability and costs of the service and the details of participation therein. Brokers may require beneficial owners to adhere to specific procedures and timetables. If this service is available and used, dividend distributions of both income and realized gains will be automatically reinvested in additional whole shares of the Fund purchased in the secondary market.
Taxes. As with any investment, you should consider how your investment in shares of the Fund will be taxed. The tax information in this Prospectus is provided as general information, based on current law. You should consult your own tax professional about the tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund.
Unless your investment in Fund shares is made through a tax-exempt entity or tax-deferred retirement account, such as an IRA, you need to be aware of the possible tax consequences when the Fund makes distributions or you sell Fund shares.
Taxes on Distributions. Distributions from the Fund’s net investment income (other than qualified dividend income), including distributions of income from securities lending and distributions out of the Fund’s net short-term capital gains, if any, are taxable to you as ordinary income. Distributions by the Fund of net long-term capital gains in excess of net short-term capital losses (capital gain dividends) are taxable to you as long-term capital gains, regardless of how long you have held the Fund’s shares. Distributions by the Fund that qualify as qualified dividend income are taxable to you at long-term capital gain rates. Long-term capital gains and qualified dividend income are generally eligible for taxation at a maximum rate of 15% for non-corporate shareholders with incomes below approximately $400,000 ($450,000 if married and filing jointly), adjusted annually for inflation, and 20% for individuals with any income above these amounts that is net long-term capital gain or qualified dividend income. In addition, a 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax is imposed on “net investment income,” including, but not limited to, interest, dividends, and net gain, of U.S. individuals with income exceeding $200,000 (or $250,000 if married and filing jointly) and of estates and trusts.
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Dividends will be qualified dividend income to you if they are attributable to qualified dividend income received by the Fund. Generally, qualified dividend income includes dividend income from taxable U.S. corporations and qualified non-U.S. corporations, provided that the Fund satisfies certain holding period requirements in respect of the stock of such corporations and has not hedged its position in the stock in certain ways. Substitute dividends received by the Fund with respect to dividends paid on securities lent out will not be qualified dividend income. For this purpose, a qualified non-U.S. corporation means any non-U.S. corporation that is eligible for benefits under a comprehensive income tax treaty with the United States, which includes an exchange of information program, or if the stock with respect to which the dividend was paid is readily tradable on an established United States securities market. The term excludes a corporation that is a passive foreign investment company. Under current IRS guidance, the United States has a comprehensive income tax treaty with Japan.
Dividends received by the Fund from a real estate investment trust (“REIT”) or another RIC generally are qualified dividend income only to the extent such dividend distributions are made out of qualified dividend income received by such REIT or RIC. It is expected that dividends received by the Fund from a REIT and distributed to a shareholder generally will be taxable to the shareholder as ordinary income.
For a dividend to be treated as qualified dividend income, the dividend must be received with respect to a share of stock held without being hedged by the Fund, and with respect to a share of the Fund held without being hedged by you, for 61 days during the 121-day period beginning at 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.
In general, your distributions are subject to U.S. federal income tax for the year when they are paid. Certain distributions paid in January, however, may be treated as paid on December 31 of the prior year.
Short term capital gains earned by an Underlying Fund will be ordinary income when distributed to the Fund and will not be offset by the Fund's capital losses. Because the Fund is expected to invest in the Underlying Fund, the Fund's realized losses on sales of shares of the Underlying Fund may be indefinitely or permanently deferred as “wash sales.”
If the Fund’s distributions exceed current and accumulated earnings and profits, all or a portion of the distributions made in the taxable year may be recharacterized as a return of capital to shareholders. Distributions in excess of the Fund’s minimum distribution requirements, but not in excess of the Fund’s earnings and profits, will be taxable to shareholders and will not constitute nontaxable returns of capital. A return of capital distribution generally will not be taxable but will reduce the shareholder’s cost basis and result in a higher capital gain or lower capital loss when those shares on which the distribution was received are sold. Once a shareholder's cost basis is reduced to zero, further distributions will be treated as capital gain, if the shareholder holds shares of the Fund as capital assets.
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If you are neither a resident nor a citizen of the United States or if you are a non-U.S. entity, the Fund’s ordinary income dividends (which include distributions of net short-term capital gains) will generally be subject to a 30% U.S. withholding tax, unless a lower treaty rate applies, provided that withholding tax will generally not apply to any gain or income realized by a non-U.S. shareholder in respect of any distributions of long-term capital gains or upon the sale or other disposition of shares of the Fund.
A 30% withholding tax is currently imposed on U.S.-source dividends, interest and other income items and will be imposed on proceeds from the sale of property producing U.S.-source dividends and interest paid after December 31, 2018, to (i) foreign financial institutions, including non-U.S. investment funds, unless they agree to collect and disclose to the IRS information regarding their direct and indirect U.S. account holders and (ii) certain other foreign entities, unless they certify certain information regarding their direct and indirect U.S. owners. To avoid withholding, foreign financial institutions will need to (i) enter into agreements with the IRS that state that they will provide the IRS information, including the names, addresses and taxpayer identification numbers of direct and indirect U.S. account holders, comply with due diligence procedures with respect to the identification of U.S. accounts, report to the IRS certain information with respect to U.S. accounts maintained, agree to withhold tax on certain payments made to non-compliant foreign financial institutions or to account holders who fail to provide the required information, and determine certain other information concerning their account holders, or (ii) in the event that an applicable intergovernmental agreement and implementing legislation are adopted, provide local revenue authorities with similar account holder information. Other foreign entities may need to report the name, address, and taxpayer identification number of each substantial U.S. owner or provide certifications of no substantial U.S. ownership unless certain exceptions apply.
Dividends, interest and capital gains earned by the Underlying Fund with respect to non-U.S. positions may give rise to withholding and other taxes imposed by non-U.S. countries. Tax conventions between certain countries and the United States may reduce or eliminate such taxes. If more than 50% of the total assets of the Underlying Fund at the close of a year consists of non-U.S. stocks or securities (and 50% of the total assets of the Fund at the close of the year consists of foreign securities, or, at the close of each quarter, shares of the Underlying Fund), the Fund may “pass through” to you certain non-U.S. income taxes (including withholding taxes) paid by the Fund or the Underlying Fund. This means that you would be considered to have received as an additional dividend your share of such non-U.S. taxes, but you may be entitled to either a corresponding tax deduction in calculating your taxable income, or, subject to certain limitations, a credit in calculating your U.S. federal income tax.
If your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending arrangement, you may lose the ability to use foreign tax credits passed through by the Fund or to treat Fund dividends paid while the shares are held by the borrower as qualified dividend income. In addition, you may lose the ability to use foreign tax credits passed through by the Fund if your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending agreement.
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For purposes of foreign tax credits for U.S. shareholders of the Fund, foreign capital gains taxes may not produce associated foreign source income, thereby limiting a U.S. person's ability to use such credits.
If you are a resident or a citizen of the United States, by law, back-up withholding at a 28% rate will apply to your distributions and proceeds if you have not provided a taxpayer identification number or social security number and made other required certifications.
Taxes When Shares are Sold. Currently, any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares is generally treated as a long-term gain or loss if the shares have been held for more than one year. Any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares held for one year or less is generally treated as short-term gain or loss, except that any capital loss on the sale of shares held for six months or less is treated as long-term capital loss to the extent that capital gain dividends were paid with respect to such shares. Any such capital gains, including from sales of Fund shares or from capital gain dividends, are included in “net investment income” for purposes of the 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax mentioned above.
The foregoing discussion summarizes some of the consequences under current U.S. federal tax law of an investment in the Fund. It is not a substitute for personal tax advice. You may also be subject to state and local taxation on Fund distributions and sales of shares. Consult your personal tax advisor about the potential tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund under all applicable tax laws.
Creations and Redemptions. Prior to trading in the secondary market, shares of the Fund are “created” at NAV by market makers, large investors and institutions only in block-size Creation Units of 50,000 shares or multiples thereof. Each “creator” or authorized participant has entered into an agreement with the Fund's distributor, BlackRock Investments, LLC (the “Distributor”), an affiliate of BFA (an “Authorized Participant”).
A creation transaction, which is subject to acceptance by the transfer agent, generally takes place when an Authorized Participant deposits into the Fund a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) and a specified amount of cash approximating the holdings of the Fund in exchange for a specified number of Creation Units. To the extent practicable, the composition of such portfolio generally corresponds pro rata to the holdings of the Fund. However, creation and redemption baskets may differ.
Similarly, shares can be redeemed only in Creation Units, generally for a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities and other portfolio holdings for which cash may be substituted) held by the Fund and a specified amount of cash. Redeeming holders will receive cash in respect to the pro rata value of the forward contract and NDFs held by the Fund to the extent attributable to the creation unit being redeemed. Except when aggregated in Creation Units, shares are not redeemable by the Fund.
The prices at which creations and redemptions occur are based on the next calculation of NAV after a creation or redemption order is received in an acceptable form under the authorized participant agreement.
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Only an Authorized Participant may create or redeem Creation Units directly with the Fund.
In the event of a system failure or other interruption, including disruptions at market makers or Authorized Participants, orders to purchase or redeem Creation Units either may not be executed according to the Fund's instructions or may not be executed at all, or the Fund may not be able to place or change orders.
To the extent the Fund engages in in-kind transactions, the Fund intends to comply with the U.S. federal securities laws in accepting securities for deposit and satisfying redemptions with redemption securities by, among other means, assuring that any securities accepted for deposit and any securities used to satisfy redemption requests will be sold in transactions that would be exempt from registration under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”). Further, an Authorized Participant that is not a “qualified institutional buyer,” as such term is defined under Rule 144A of the 1933 Act, will not be able to receive restricted securities eligible for resale under Rule 144A.
Creations and redemptions must be made through a firm that is either a member of the Continuous Net Settlement System of the National Securities Clearing Corporation or a DTC participant that has executed an agreement with the Distributor with respect to creations and redemptions of Creation Unit aggregations. Information about the procedures regarding creation and redemption of Creation Units (including the cut-off times for receipt of creation and redemption orders) is included in the Fund's SAI.
Because new shares may be created and issued on an ongoing basis, at any point during the life of the Fund a “distribution,” as such term is used in the 1933 Act, may be occurring. Broker-dealers and other persons are cautioned that some activities on their part may, depending on the circumstances, result in their being deemed participants in a distribution in a manner that could render them statutory underwriters subject to the prospectus delivery and liability provisions of the 1933 Act. Any determination of whether one is an underwriter must take into account all the relevant facts and circumstances of each particular case.
Broker-dealers should also note that dealers who are not “underwriters” but are participating in a distribution (as contrasted to ordinary secondary transactions), and thus dealing with shares that are part of an “unsold allotment” within the meaning of Section 4(a)(3)(C) of the 1933 Act, would be unable to take advantage of the prospectus delivery exemption provided by Section 4(a)(3) of the 1933 Act. For delivery of prospectuses to exchange members, the prospectus delivery mechanism of Rule 153 under the 1933 Act is available only with respect to transactions on a national securities exchange.
Costs Associated with Creations and Redemptions. Authorized Participants are charged standard creation and redemption transaction fees to offset transfer and other transaction costs associated with the issuance and redemption of Creation Units. The standard creation and redemption transaction fees are set forth in the table below. The standard creation transaction fee is charged to the Authorized Participant on the day such Authorized Participant creates a Creation Unit, and is the same regardless of the number of Creation Units purchased by the Authorized Participant on
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the applicable business day. Similarly, the standard redemption transaction fee is charged to the Authorized Participant on the day such Authorized Participant redeems a Creation Unit, and is the same regardless of the number of Creation Units redeemed by the Authorized Participant on the applicable business day. Creations and redemptions for cash (when cash creations and redemptions (in whole or in part) are available or specified) are also subject to an additional charge (up to the maximum amounts shown in the table below). This charge is intended to compensate for brokerage, tax, foreign exchange, execution, price movement and other costs and expenses related to cash transactions. Investors who use the services of a broker or other financial intermediary to acquire or dispose of Fund shares may pay fees for such services.
The following table shows, as of December 30, 2015, the approximate value of one Creation Unit, standard fees and maximum additional charges for creations and redemptions (as described above):
Approximate
Value of a
Creation Unit
  Creation
Unit Size
  Standard
Creation/
Redemption
Transaction Fee
  Maximum Additional
Charge for
Creations*
  Maximum Additional
Charge for
Redemptions*
$1,250,000   50,000   $100   3.0%   2.0%

* As a percentage of the net asset value per Creation Unit, inclusive, in the case of redemptions, of the standard redemption transaction fee.
Householding. Householding is an option available to certain Fund investors. Householding is a method of delivery, based on the preference of the individual investor, in which a single copy of certain shareholder documents can be delivered to investors who share the same address, even if their accounts are registered under different names. Please contact your broker-dealer if you are interested in enrolling in householding and receiving a single copy of prospectuses and other shareholder documents, or if you are currently enrolled in householding and wish to change your householding status.
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Distribution
The Distributor or its agent distributes Creation Units for the Fund on an agency basis. The Distributor does not maintain a secondary market in shares of the Fund. The Distributor has no role in determining the policies of the Fund or the securities that are purchased or sold by the Fund. The Distributor’s principal address is 1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540.
BFA or its Affiliates make payments to broker-dealers, registered investment advisers, banks or other intermediaries (together, “intermediaries”) related to marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems, or their making shares of the Fund and certain other iShares funds available to their customers generally and in certain investment programs. Such payments, which may be significant to the intermediary, are not made by the Fund. Rather, such payments are made by BFA or its Affiliates from their own resources, which come directly or indirectly in part from fees paid by the iShares funds complex. Payments of this type are sometimes referred to as revenue-sharing payments. A financial intermediary may make decisions about which investment options it recommends or makes available, or the level of services provided, to its customers based on the payments it is eligible to receive. Therefore, such payments to an intermediary create conflicts of interest between the intermediary and its customers and may cause the intermediary to recommend the Fund or other iShares funds over another investment. More information regarding these payments is contained in the Fund's SAI. Please contact your salesperson or other investment professional for more information regarding any such payments his or her firm may receive from BFA or its Affiliates.
Financial Highlights
Financial highlights for the Fund are not available because, as of the effective date of this Prospectus, the Fund has not commenced operations and therefore has no financial highlights to report.
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Index Provider
MSCI is a provider of investment decision support tools to investors globally. MSCI products and services include indices, portfolio risk and performance analytics, and governance tools. MSCI is not affiliated with the Trust, BFA, State Street, the Distributor or any of their respective affiliates.
BFA or its Affiliates have entered into a license agreement with the Index Provider to use the Underlying Index. BFA or its Affiliates sublicense rights in the Underlying Index to the Trust at no charge.
Disclaimers
The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by MSCI or any affiliate of MSCI. Neither MSCI nor any other party makes any representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the advisability of investing in funds generally or in the Fund particularly or the ability of the Underlying Index to track general stock market performance. MSCI is the licensor of certain trademarks, service marks and trade names of MSCI and of the Underlying Index, which is determined, composed and calculated by MSCI without regard to the issuer of the Fund or the Fund. MSCI has no obligation to take the needs of the issuer of the Fund or the owners of the Fund into consideration in determining, composing or calculating the Underlying Index. MSCI is not responsible for, and has not participated in, the determination of the timing of, prices at, or quantities of the Fund to be issued or in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the Fund is redeemable for cash. Neither MSCI nor any other party has any obligation or liability to owners of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of the Fund.
ALTHOUGH MSCI SHALL OBTAIN INFORMATION FOR INCLUSION IN OR FOR USE IN THE CALCULATION OF THE INDEXES FROM SOURCES WHICH MSCI CONSIDERS RELIABLE, NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY GUARANTEES THE ACCURACY AND/OR THE COMPLETENESS OF THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN. NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY MAKES ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO RESULTS TO BE OBTAINED BY LICENSEE, LICENSEE'S CUSTOMERS AND COUNTERPARTIES, OWNERS OF THE FUND, OR ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY FROM THE USE OF THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN IN CONNECTION WITH THE RIGHTS LICENSED HEREUNDER OR FOR ANY OTHER USE. NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY MAKES ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, AND MSCI HEREBY EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE WITH RESPECT TO THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN. WITHOUT LIMITING ANY OF THE FOREGOING, IN NO EVENT SHALL MSCI OR ANY OTHER PARTY HAVE ANY LIABILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, CONSEQUENTIAL OR ANY OTHER DAMAGES (INCLUDING LOST PROFITS) EVEN IF NOTIFIED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
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Shares of the Fund are not sponsored, endorsed or promoted by BATS. BATS makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of the shares of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the ability of the Fund to track the total return performance of the Underlying Index or the ability of the Underlying Index to track stock market performance. BATS is not responsible for, nor has it participated in, the determination of the compilation or the calculation of the Underlying Index, nor in the determination of the timing of, prices of, or quantities of shares of the Fund to be issued, nor in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the shares are redeemable. BATS has no obligation or liability to owners of the shares of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of the shares of the Fund.
BATS does not guarantee the accuracy and/or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. BATS makes no warranty, express or implied, as to results to be obtained by the Trust on behalf of the Fund as licensee, licensee’s customers and counterparties, owners of the shares of the Fund, or any other person or entity from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein in connection with the rights licensed as described herein or for any other use. BATS makes no express or implied warranties and hereby expressly disclaims all warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose with respect to the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall BATS have any liability for any direct, indirect, special, punitive, consequential or any other damages (including lost profits) even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
The past performance of the Underlying Index is not a guide to future performance. BFA and its Affiliates do not guarantee the accuracy or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein and BFA and its Affiliates shall have no liability for any errors, omissions or interruptions therein. BFA and its Affiliates make no warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or to any other person or entity, as to results to be obtained by the Fund from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall BFA or its Affiliates have any liability for any special, punitive, direct, indirect or consequential damages (including lost profits), even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
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For more information visit www.iShares.com or call 1-800-474-2737
Copies of the Prospectus, SAI and other information can be found on our website at www.iShares.com. For more information about the Fund, you may request a copy of the SAI. The SAI provides detailed information about the Fund and is incorporated by reference into this Prospectus. This means that the SAI, for legal purposes, is a part of this Prospectus.
If you have any questions about the Trust or shares of the Fund or you wish to obtain the SAI free of charge, please:
Call: 1-800-iShares or 1-800-474-2737 (toll free)
Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Eastern time)
Email: iSharesETFs@blackrock.com
Write: c/o BlackRock Investments, LLC
1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540
Information about the Fund (including the SAI) can be reviewed and copied at the SEC's Public Reference Room in Washington, D.C., and information on the operation of the Public Reference Room may be obtained by calling the SEC at 1-202-551-8090. Reports and other information about the Fund are available on the EDGAR database on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov, and copies of this information may be obtained, after paying a duplicating fee, by electronic request at the following e-mail address: publicinfo@sec.gov, or by writing to the SEC's Public Reference Section, Washington, D.C. 20549-1520.
No person is authorized to give any information or to make any representations about the Fund and its shares not contained in this Prospectus and you should not rely on any other information. Read and keep this Prospectus for future reference.
©2015 BlackRock, Inc. All rights reserved. iSHARES® and BLACKROCK® are registered trademarks of BFA and its Affiliates. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.
Investment Company Act File No.: 811-09729
IS-P-DEWJ-1215


Table of Contents
iShares® Trust
Statement of Additional Information
Dated December 29, 2015
This Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”) is not a prospectus. It should be read in conjunction with the current prospectus (the “Prospectus”) for the following fund of iShares Trust (the “Trust”):
Fund   Ticker   Stock Exchange
iShares Adaptive Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF (the “Fund”)   DEFA   BATS
The Fund invests its assets in individual securities, including shares of other iShares funds that, in turn, invest in equities and/or short-term instruments based on an index (each, an “Underlying Fund” and collectively, the “Underlying Funds”), as well as in currency hedging instruments. BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA” or the “Investment Adviser”), an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc., serves as investment adviser to the Fund and also serves as investment adviser to each of the Underlying Funds. References to the investments and risks of the Fund, unless otherwise indicated, should be understood as references to the investments and risks of both the Fund and the related Underlying Fund.
The Prospectus for the Fund is dated December 29, 2015, as amended and supplemented from time to time. Capitalized terms used herein that are not defined have the same meaning as in the Prospectus, unless otherwise noted. A copy of the Prospectus for the Fund may be obtained without charge by writing to the Trust’s distributor, BlackRock Investments, LLC (the “Distributor”), 1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540, calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or visiting www.iShares.com. The Fund's Prospectus is incorporated by reference into this SAI.
References to the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “Investment Company Act” or the “1940 Act”), or other applicable law, will include any rules promulgated thereunder and any guidance, interpretations or modifications by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), SEC staff or other authority with appropriate jurisdiction, including court interpretations, and exemptive, no action or other relief or permission from the SEC, SEC staff or other authority.
iShares® is a registered trademark of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates.

 


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TABLE OF CONTENTS
  Page
General Description of the Trust and the Fund 1
Exchange Listing and Trading 1
Investment Strategies and Risks 2
Borrowing 3
Currency Transactions 3
Derivatives 4
Diversification Status 4
Futures, Options on Futures and Securities Options 4
Hedging 6
Illiquid Securities 6
Investments in Underlying Funds and Other Investment Companies 6
Lending Portfolio Securities 6
Non-U.S. Securities 7
Regulation Regarding Derivatives 8
Repurchase Agreements 9
Reverse Repurchase Agreements 9
Securities of Investment Companies 9
Short-Term Instruments and Temporary Investments 10
Swap Agreements 10
Tracking Stocks 10
Future Developments 10
General Considerations and Risks 10
Borrowing Risk 10
National Closed Market Trading Risk 11
Operational Risk 11
Risk of Derivatives 11
Risk of Equity Securities 11
Risk of Futures and Options Transactions 11
Risk of Swap Agreements 12
Risk of Investing in Non-U.S. Equity Securities 12
Risk of Investing in Mid-Capitalization Companies 12
Volatility Risk 13
Risk of Investing in Asia 13
Risk of Investing in Australasia 13
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries 14
Risk of Investing in Europe 14
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  Page
Risk of Investing in Japan 15
U.S. Economic Trading Partners Risk 15
Risk of Investing in the Capital Goods Industry Group 15
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Discretionary Sector 16
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Staples Sector 16
Risk of Investing in the Energy Sector 16
Risk of Investing in the Financials Sector 17
Risk of Investing in the Healthcare Sector 17
Risk of Investing in the Industrials Sector 18
Risk of Investing in the Information Technology Sector 18
Risk of Investing in the Materials Sector 18
Risk of Investing in the Technology Sector 19
Risk of Investing in the Telecommunications Sector 19
Risk of Investing in the Utilities Sector 19
Proxy Voting Policy 20
Portfolio Holdings Information 20
Construction and Maintenance of the Underlying Index 21
The MSCI Indexes 21
MSCI EAFE Adaptive Hedge to USD Index 23
Investment Restrictions 24
Continuous Offering 26
Management 27
Trustees and Officers 27
Committees of the Board of Trustees 33
Remuneration of Trustees 38
Control Persons and Principal Holders of Securities 39
Potential Conflicts of Interest 39
Investment Advisory, Administrative and Distribution Services 45
Investment Adviser 45
Portfolio Managers 46
Codes of Ethics 49
Anti-Money Laundering Requirements 49
Administrator, Custodian and Transfer Agent 49
Distributor 50
Payments by BFA and its Affiliates 50
Determination of Net Asset Value 51
Brokerage Transactions 54
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  Page
Additional Information Concerning the Trust 56
Shares 56
Termination of the Trust or the Fund 57
DTC as Securities Depository for Shares of the Fund 57
Creation and Redemption of Creation Units 58
General 58
Fund Deposit 58
Cash Purchase Method 59
Role of the Authorized Participant 59
Purchase Orders 59
Timing of Submission of Purchase Orders 60
Acceptance of Orders for Creation Units 60
Issuance of a Creation Unit 60
Costs Associated with Creation Transactions 61
Redemption of Creation Units 61
Cash Redemption Method 62
Costs Associated with Redemption Transactions 62
Placement of Redemption Orders 62
Taxation on Creations and Redemptions of Creation Units 64
Taxes 65
Regulated Investment Company Qualifications 65
Taxation of RICs 65
Excise Tax 66
Net Capital Loss Carryforwards 66
Taxation of U.S. Shareholders 66
Sales of Shares 67
Back-Up Withholding 68
Sections 351 and 362 68
Taxation of Certain Derivatives 68
Qualified Dividend Income 68
Corporate Dividends Received Deduction 69
Excess Inclusion Income 69
Non-U.S. Investments 69
Passive Foreign Investment Companies 70
Reporting 70
Other Taxes 71
Taxation of Non-U.S. Shareholders 71
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General Description of the Trust and the Fund
The Trust currently consists of more than 255 investment series or portfolios. The Trust was organized as a Delaware statutory trust on December 16, 1999 and is authorized to have multiple series or portfolios. The Trust is an open-end management investment company registered with the SEC under the 1940 Act. The offering of the Trust’s shares is registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”). This SAI relates solely to the Fund.
The Fund is managed by BFA, an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc., and generally seeks to track the investment results of the specific benchmark index identified in the Fund's Prospectus (the “Underlying Index”).
The Fund offers and issues shares at their net asset value per share (“NAV”) only in aggregations of a specified number of shares (each, a “Creation Unit”), generally in exchange for a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) included in its Underlying Index (the “Deposit Securities”), together with the deposit of a specified cash payment (the “Cash Component”). Shares of the Fund are listed for trading on BATS Exchange, Inc. (“BATS” or the “Listing Exchange”), a national securities exchange. Shares of the Fund are traded in the secondary market and elsewhere at market prices that may be at, above or below the Fund's NAV. Shares are redeemable only in Creation Units by Authorized Participants (as defined in the Portfolio Holdings Information section of this SAI), and, generally, in exchange for portfolio securities and a Cash Component. Creation Units typically are a specified number of shares, generally 50,000 or multiples thereof.
The Trust reserves the right to permit or require that creations and redemptions of shares are effected fully or partially in cash. Shares may be issued in advance of receipt of Deposit Securities, subject to various conditions, including a requirement that the Authorized Participant maintain with the Trust a cash deposit equal to at least 105% and up to 115%, which percentage BFA may change from time to time, of the market value of the omitted Deposit Securities. The Trust may use such cash deposit at any time to purchase Deposit Securities. See the Creation and Redemption of Creation Units section of this SAI. Transaction fees and other costs associated with creations or redemptions that include a cash portion may be higher than the transaction fees and other costs associated with in-kind creations or redemptions. In all cases, conditions with respect to creations and redemptions of shares and fees will be limited in accordance with the requirements of SEC rules and regulations applicable to management investment companies offering redeemable securities.
Exchange Listing and Trading
A discussion of exchange listing and trading matters associated with an investment in the Fund is contained in the Shareholder Information section of the Fund's Prospectus. The discussion below supplements, and should be read in conjunction with, that section of the Prospectus.
Shares of the Fund are listed for trading, and trade throughout the day, on the Listing Exchange and in other secondary markets. Shares of the Fund may also be listed on certain non-U.S. exchanges. There can be no assurance that the requirements of the Listing Exchange necessary to maintain the listing of shares of the Fund will continue to be met. The Listing Exchange may, but is not required to, remove the shares of the Fund from listing if, among other things: (i) following the initial 12-month period beginning upon the commencement of trading of Fund shares, there are fewer than 50 record and/or beneficial owners of shares of the Fund for 30 or more consecutive trading days, (ii) the value of the Underlying Index on which the Fund is based is no longer calculated or available, or (iii) any other event shall occur or condition shall exist that, in the opinion of the Listing Exchange, makes further dealings on the Listing Exchange inadvisable. The Listing Exchange will also remove shares of the Fund from listing and trading upon termination of the Fund.
As in the case of other publicly-traded securities, when you buy or sell shares through a broker, you may incur a brokerage commission determined by that broker, as well as other charges.
In order to provide additional information regarding the indicative value of shares of the Fund, the Listing Exchange or a market data vendor disseminates information every 15 seconds through the facilities of the Consolidated Tape Association, or through other widely disseminated means, an updated “indicative optimized portfolio value” (“IOPV”) for the Fund as
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calculated by an information provider or market data vendor. The Trust is not involved in or responsible for any aspect of the calculation or dissemination of the IOPV and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the IOPV.
An IOPV has a securities component and a cash component. The securities values included in an IOPV are the values of the Deposit Securities for the Fund. While the IOPV reflects the current value of the Deposit Securities required to be deposited in connection with the purchase of a Creation Unit, it does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities held by the Fund at a particular point in time because the current portfolio of the Fund may include securities that are not a part of the current Deposit Securities. Therefore, the Fund’s IOPV disseminated during the Listing Exchange trading hours should not be viewed as a real-time update of the Fund’s NAV, which is calculated only once a day.
The cash component included in an IOPV consists of estimated accrued interest, dividends and other income, less expenses. If applicable, each IOPV also reflects unhedged changes in currency exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and the applicable currency.
The Trust reserves the right to adjust the share prices of the Fund in the future to maintain convenient trading ranges for investors. Any adjustments would be accomplished through stock splits or reverse stock splits, which would have no effect on the net assets of the Fund or an investor's equity interest in the Fund.
Investment Strategies and Risks
As of its inception date, the Fund intends to seek to achieve its investment objective by investing a substantial portion of its assets in one Underlying Fund, the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF. The Fund may also invest in securities and other instruments that comprise the Underlying Index and in investments that provide substantially similar exposure to securities in the Underlying Index. The Fund also will seek to track the currency hedging transactions embedded in the Underlying Index by entering into currency forward contracts. The Fund operates as an index fund and will not be actively managed. Adverse performance of a security or currency hedging transaction in the Fund’s portfolio will ordinarily not result in the elimination of the security or currency hedging transaction from the Fund’s portfolio.
The Fund engages in representative sampling, which is investing in a sample of securities selected by BFA to have a collective investment profile similar to that of the securities or other instruments comprising the Underlying Index. Securities selected have aggregate investment characteristics (based on market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability, earnings valuation and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of the Underlying Index. A fund that uses representative sampling generally does not hold all of the securities that are in its underlying index.
Although the Fund does not seek leveraged returns, certain instruments used by the Fund may have a leveraging effect as described below.
The Fund generally will invest at least 90% of its assets in the component securities (including indirect investments through the Underlying Fund) and other instruments of the Underlying Index and in investments that have economic characteristics that are substantially identical to the component securities of the Underlying Index (i.e., depositary receipts representing securities of the Underlying Index) and may invest up to 10% of its assets in certain futures, options and swap contracts, cash and cash equivalents, including shares of money market funds advised by BFA or its affiliates, as well as in securities not included in the Underlying Index, but which BFA believes will help the Fund track the Underlying Index. Components of the Underlying Index include equity securities and foreign currency forward contracts (both deliverable and non-deliverable) designed to hedge against non-U.S. currency fluctuations. The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the Underlying Index before the fees and expenses of the Fund.
In order to replicate the “hedging” component of the Underlying Index, which attempts to mitigate currency risk, the Fund intends to enter into foreign currency forward contracts designed to offset the Fund’s holdings in component securities denominated in a non-U.S. dollar currency. A foreign currency forward contract is a contract between two parties to buy or sell a specified amount of a specific currency in the future at an agreed upon exchange rate. The Fund’s exposure to foreign currency forward contracts is based on the exposure of the Fund to the component securities and a hedge ratio (“Hedge Ratio”), as calculated by MSCI.
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The Underlying Index applies a methodology, based on the Hedge Ratio, that sells the total value or a portion of the total value of each non-U.S. dollar currency in which the securities of the Underlying Index are denominated in the form of a one-month currency contract to create a “hedge” against fluctuations in the relative value of the currencies in relation to the U.S. dollar. The Hedge Ratio is based on four commonly used indicators for measuring currency risk, which are equally weighted and include: value (relative purchasing power between the foreign currency and the U.S. dollar based on exchange rates over a long-term average), momentum (relative price momentum of the foreign currency compared against the U.S. dollar over the previous six months), carry (differences in short-term interest rates between the foreign currency and the U.S. dollar over a long-term average ), and volatility (relative price volatility of the foreign currency based on the currency’s one-month average against its six-month average). The overall effect, since the four indicators are equally weighted, is that each foreign currency represented by constituent weights in the Underlying Index can be unhedged, 25% hedged, 50% hedged, 75% hedged or fully hedged relative to the U.S. dollar.
The hedge (based on the Hedge Ratio) is reset by MSCI on a monthly basis and will not be adjusted intra-month based on movement in the value of the underlying equity securities and/or currencies, or based on the four indicators. The Underlying Index may therefore be slightly “over-hedged” (if equity values decline) or “under-hedged” (if the equity values increase) between the month-end rebalances. The Underlying Index is therefore intended to have higher returns than an equivalent unhedged investment when the component currencies are weakening relative to the U.S. dollar. Conversely, the Underlying Index is therefore intended to have lower returns than an equivalent unhedged investment when the component currencies are strengthening relative to the U.S. dollar.
While the use of foreign currency forwards contracts, based on the Hedge Ratio, is designed to minimize the impact of the strengthening or weakening of a foreign currency on Fund returns, it does not necessarily eliminate the Fund’s exposure to the component currencies. The return of the foreign currency forward contracts may not perfectly offset the actual fluctuations between the component currencies and the U.S. dollar.
The Fund may use non-deliverable forward (“NDF”) contracts to execute its hedging transactions. An NDF is a contract where there is no physical settlement of two currencies at maturity. Rather, based on the relative strengthening or weakening of the currencies, a net cash settlement will be made by one party to the other.
Set forth below is more detailed information regarding types of instruments in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund may invest, strategies BFA may employ in pursuit of the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's investment objective and related risks.
Borrowing.  The Fund may borrow for temporary or emergency purposes, including to meet payments due from redemptions or to facilitate the settlement of securities or other transactions. Under normal market conditions, any borrowing by the Fund will not exceed 10% of the Fund’s net assets; however, the Fund generally does not intend to borrow money.
The purchase of securities while borrowings are outstanding may have the effect of leveraging the Fund. The incurrence of leverage increases the Fund’s exposure to risk, and borrowed funds are subject to interest costs that will reduce net income. Purchasing securities while borrowings are outstanding creates special risks, such as the potential for greater volatility in the net asset value of Fund shares and in the yield on the Fund’s portfolio. In addition, the interest expenses from borrowings may exceed the income generated by the Fund’s portfolio and, therefore, the amount available (if any) for distribution to shareholders as dividends may be reduced. BFA may determine to maintain outstanding borrowings if it expects that the benefits to the Fund’s shareholders will outweigh the current reduced return.
Certain types of borrowings by the Fund must be made from a bank or may result in the Fund being subject to covenants in credit agreements relating to asset coverage, portfolio composition requirements and other matters. It is not anticipated that observance of such covenants would impede BFA’s management of the Fund’s portfolio in accordance with the Fund’s investment objectives and policies. However, a breach of any such covenants not cured within the specified cure period may result in acceleration of outstanding indebtedness and require the Fund to dispose of portfolio investments at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so.
Currency Transactions.  The Fund expects to engage in currency transactions for the purpose of hedging against declines in the value of the Fund's assets that are denominated in a non-U.S. currency. The Fund may also enter into physically-settled non-U.S. currency forwards, and non-U.S. currency futures contracts and spot currency transactions to facilitate local securities settlements or to protect against currency exposure in connection with its distributions to shareholders. As described above, reliance on physically-settled foreign currency may require the Fund to set aside a greater amount of liquid
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assets than would generally be required if the fund were relying on cash-settled foreign currency forward contracts or NDFs. This would also generally be true if the Fund were to use other types of physically-settled currency contracts to track the Underlying Index, facilitate local securities settlements or protect against currency exposure.
Foreign exchange transactions may involve a significant degree of risk and the markets in which foreign exchange transactions are effected may be highly volatile, highly specialized and highly technical. Significant changes, including changes in liquidity and prices, can occur in such markets within very short periods of time, often within minutes. Foreign exchange trading risks include, but are not limited to, exchange rate risk, counterparty risk, maturity gap, interest rate risk, and potential interference by foreign governments through regulation of local exchange markets, foreign investment or particular transactions in non-U.S. currency. If BFA utilizes foreign exchange transactions at an inappropriate time or judges market conditions, trends or correlations incorrectly, foreign exchange transactions may not serve their intended purpose of improving the correlation of the Fund's return with the performance of its Underlying Index and may lower the Fund’s return. The Fund could experience losses if the value of its currency forwards and other currency transactions positions were poorly correlated with its other investments or with its other currency hedges or if it could not close out its positions because of an illiquid market or otherwise. In addition, the Fund could incur transaction costs, including trading commissions, in connection with non-U.S. currency transactions and costs related to investment opportunities due to the fact it will be required to set aside liquid assets equal to its obligations under its currency forwards in order to satisfy applicable requirements under the 1940 Act. Similarly, because the Fund seeks to hedge currency risk in accordance with the Underlying Index, investors will not share in appreciation in the securities comprising the Underlying Index to the extent that such appreciation is due to increases in the currency value of the underlying securities.
Derivatives.  The Fund may use instruments referred to as derivatives. Derivatives are financial instruments the value of which is derived from another security, a commodity (such as gold or oil), a currency or an index (a measure of value or rates, such as the S&P 500 Index or the prime lending rate). Derivatives allow the Fund to increase or decrease the level of risk to which the Fund is exposed more quickly and efficiently than transactions in other types of instruments. The Fund may use derivatives for hedging purposes. The Fund may also use derivatives for speculative purposes to seek to enhance returns. The use of a derivative is speculative if the Fund is primarily seeking to achieve gains, rather than to offset the risk of other positions. When the Fund invests in a derivative for speculative purposes, the Fund will be fully exposed to the risks of loss of that derivative, which may sometimes be greater than the derivative’s cost. Unless otherwise permitted, the Fund may not use any derivatives to gain exposure to an asset or class of assets that it would be prohibited by its investment restrictions from purchasing directly.
Diversification Status.  The Fund is classified as “non-diversified.” A non-diversified fund is a fund that is not limited by the 1940 Act with regard to the percentage of its assets that may be invested in the securities of a single issuer. The securities of a particular issuer (or securities of issuers in particular industries) may dominate the underlying index of such a fund and, consequently, the fund’s investment portfolio. This may adversely affect the fund’s performance or subject the fund’s shares to greater price volatility than that experienced by more diversified investment companies.
The Fund intends to maintain the required level of diversification and otherwise conduct its operations so as to qualify as a regulated investment company (“RIC”) for purposes of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Internal Revenue Code”), and to relieve the Fund of any liability for U.S. federal income tax to the extent that its earnings are distributed to shareholders, provided that the Fund satisfies a minimum distribution requirement. Compliance with the diversification requirements of the Internal Revenue Code may limit the investment flexibility of the Fund and may make it less likely that the Fund will meet its investment objective.
Futures, Options on Futures and Securities Options.  Futures contracts and options on futures may be used by the Fund to simulate investment in its Underlying Index, to facilitate trading or to reduce transaction costs. The Fund may enter into futures contracts and options that are traded on a U.S. or non-U.S. futures exchange. The Fund does not currently intend to use futures or options on futures for speculative purposes. The Fund intends to use futures and options on futures in accordance with Rule 4.5 of the CFTC promulgated under the CEA. BFA, with respect to the Fund, has claimed an exclusion from the definition of the term “commodity pool operator” in accordance with Rule 4.5 so that BFA, in respect of the Fund, is not subject to registration or regulation as a commodity pool operator under the CEA. See the Regulation Regarding Derivatives section of this SAI for more information.
Futures contracts provide for the future sale by one party and purchase by another party of a specified amount of a specific instrument or index at a specified future time and at a specified price. Stock index contracts are based on investments that
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reflect the market value of common stock of the firms included in the investments. The Fund may enter into futures contracts to purchase securities indexes when BFA anticipates purchasing the underlying securities and believes prices will rise before the purchase will be made. Upon entering into a futures contract, the Fund will be required to deposit with the broker an amount of cash or cash equivalents known as “initial margin,” which is in the nature of a performance bond or good faith deposit on the contract and is returned to the Fund upon termination of the futures contract, assuming all contractual obligations have been satisfied. Subsequent payments, known as “variation margin,” to and from the broker will be made daily as the price of the instrument or index underlying the futures contract fluctuates, making the long and short positions in the futures contract more or less valuable, a process known as “marking-to-market.” At any time prior to the expiration of a futures contract, the Fund may elect to close the position by taking an opposite position, which will operate to terminate the Fund’s existing position in the contract. To the extent required by law, the Fund will segregate liquid assets in an amount equal to its delivery obligations under the futures contracts. An option on a futures contract, as contrasted with the direct investment in such a contract, gives the purchaser the right, in return for the premium paid, to assume a position in the underlying futures contract at a specified exercise price at any time prior to the expiration date of the option. Upon exercise of an option, the delivery of the futures position by the writer of the option to the holder of the option will be accompanied by delivery of the accumulated balance in the writer’s futures margin account that represents the amount by which the market price of the futures contract exceeds (in the case of a call) or is less than (in the case of a put) the exercise price of the option on the futures contract. The potential for loss related to the purchase of an option on a futures contract is limited to the premium paid for the option plus transaction costs. Because the value of the option is fixed at the point of sale, there are no daily cash payments by the purchaser to reflect changes in the value of the underlying contract; however, the value of the option changes daily and that change would be reflected in the NAV of the Fund. The potential for loss related to writing call options is unlimited. The potential for loss related to writing put options is limited to the agreed upon price per share, also known as the “strike price,” less the premium received from writing the put. The Fund may purchase and write put and call options on futures contracts that are traded on an exchange as a hedge against changes in value of its portfolio securities, or in anticipation of the purchase of securities, and may enter into closing transactions with respect to such options to terminate existing positions. There is no guarantee that such closing transactions can be effected.
Securities options may be used by the Fund to obtain access to securities in the Underlying Index or to dispose of securities in the Underlying Index at favorable prices, to invest cash in a securities index that offers similar exposure to that provided by the Underlying Index or otherwise to achieve the Fund’s objective of tracking the Underlying Index. A