424B3 1 jhtagsyf-html4445_424b3.htm JH TAX-ADVANTAGED GLOBAL SHAREHOLDER YIELD FUND_424B3

John_Hancock_Investment_Management_stacked_black
Prospectus Supplement

 

(To Prospectus dated March 1, 2022)

 

Up to 600,000 Shares

 

John Hancock Tax-Advantaged Global Shareholder Yield Fund

 

Common Shares

 

 

 

John Hancock Tax-Advantaged Global Shareholder Yield Fund (the “Fund”) is a diversified, closed-end management investment company. The Fund commenced operations in September 2007 following an initial public offering.

 

Investment Objective. The Fund’s investment objective is to provide total return consisting of a high level of current income and gains and long term capital appreciation. In pursuing its investment objective of total return, the Fund will seek to emphasize high current income. In pursuing its investment objective, the Fund seeks to achieve favorable after-tax returns for its shareholders by seeking to minimize the U.S. federal income tax consequences on income and gains generated by the Fund. There can be no assurance that the Fund will achieve its investment objective.

 

The Offering. John Hancock Investment Management Distributors LLC (the “Distributor”) has entered into a distribution agreement with the Fund, dated March 1, 2021, authorizing it to act as distributor for the Fund’s common shares of beneficial interest, par value $0.01 per share (“Common Shares”), offered by this prospectus supplement (“Prospectus Supplement”) and the accompanying prospectus dated March 1, 2022 (the “Prospectus”). The Distributor also has entered into a dealer agreement, dated March 1, 2021 (the “Dealer Agreement”), with UBS Securities LLC (the “Dealer”) with respect to the Fund relating to the Common Shares offered by this Prospectus Supplement and the Prospectus. In accordance with the terms of the Dealer Agreement, the Fund may offer and sell its Common Shares from time to time through the Dealer as sub-placement agent for the offer and sale of the Common Shares. Under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”), the Fund may not sell any Common Shares at a price below the current net asset value (“NAV”) of such Common Shares, exclusive of any distributing commission or discount.

 

Sales of Common Shares, if any, under this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus may be made in negotiated transactions or transactions that are deemed to be “at the market” as defined in Rule 415 under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”), including sales made directly on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) or sales made to or through a market maker other than on an exchange.

 

The Fund will compensate the Distributor with respect to sales of the Common Shares at a commission rate of 1% of the gross proceeds of the sale of Common Shares. The Distributor will compensate the Dealer out of this commission at a certain percentage rate of the gross proceeds of the sale of Common Shares sold under the Dealer Agreement, with the exact amount of such compensation to be mutually agreed upon by the Distributor and the Dealer from time to time. In connection with the sale of the Common Shares on the Fund’s behalf, the Distributor may be deemed to be an “underwriter” within the meaning of the 1933 Act and the compensation of the Distributor may be deemed to be underwriting commissions or discounts.

 

Investment Strategy. Under normal market conditions, the Fund invests at least 80% of its total assets in a diversified portfolio of dividend-paying securities of issuers located throughout the world. This policy is subject to the requirement that the manager believes at the time of investment that such securities are eligible to pay tax-advantaged dividends. The Fund seeks to produce superior, risk-adjusted returns by using a disciplined, proprietary investment approach that is focused on identifying companies with strong free cash flow and that use their free cash flow to seek to maximize “shareholder yield” through dividend payments, stock repurchases and debt reduction. By assembling a diversified portfolio of securities which, in the aggregate, possess positive growth of free cash flow, high cash dividend yields, share buyback programs and net debt reductions, the Fund seeks to provide shareholders an attractive total return with less volatility than the global equity market as a whole. “Free cash flow” is the cash available for distribution to investors after all planned capital investment and taxes. The Advisor (as defined below) believes that free cash flow is important because it allows a company to pursue opportunities that enhance shareholder value.

 

Investment Advisor and Subadvisor. The Fund’s investment advisor is John Hancock Investment Management LLC (the “Advisor” or “JHIM”) and its subadvisor is Epoch Investment Partners, Inc. (“Epoch” or the “Subadvisor”).

 

 

 

Exchange listing. The Fund’s currently outstanding Common Shares are listed on the NYSE under the symbol “HTY.” Any new Common Shares offered and sold hereby will be listed on the NYSE and trade under this symbol. The NAV of the Common Shares on February 16, 2022 was $6.55 per share. As of February 16, 2022, the last reported sale price per share of Common Shares in the market as of the close of regular trading on the NYSE was $6.58.

 

The Common Shares have traded both at a premium and a discount to NAV. The Fund cannot predict whether Common Shares will trade in the future at a premium or discount to NAV. The provisions of the 1940 Act generally require that the public offering price of common shares (less any underwriting commissions and discounts) must equal or exceed the NAV per share of a company’s common stock (calculated within 48 hours of pricing). The Fund’s issuance of Common Shares may have an adverse effect on prices in the secondary market for the Common Shares by increasing the number of Common Shares available, which may put downward pressure on the market price for the Common Shares. Shares of common stock of closed-end investment companies frequently trade at a discount from NAV, which may increase investors’ risk of loss.

 

Investing in the Common Shares involves certain risks. You could lose all or some of your investment. You should consider carefully these risks together with all of the other information contained in this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus before making a decision to purchase the Fund’s securities. See “Risk Factors” beginning on page 24 of the accompanying Prospectus.

 

Neither the SEC nor any state securities commission has approved or disapproved of these securities or determined whether this Prospectus Supplement or the accompanying Prospectus is truthful or complete. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 

 

You should read this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus, which contain important information, before deciding whether to invest in the Common Shares. You should retain this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus for future reference. A Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”), dated March 1, 2022, as may be supplemented from time to time, containing additional information about the Fund, has been filed with the SEC and is incorporated by reference in its entirety into this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus. This Prospectus Supplement, together with the accompanying Prospectus and SAI, set forth concisely the information about the Fund that you should know before investing. The Table of Contents for the SAI is on page 52 of the accompanying Prospectus. A paper copy of the Registration Statement or SAI may be obtained without charge by visiting the Fund’s website (jhinvestments.com) or by calling 800-225-6020 (toll-free) or electronically from the SEC’s website at sec.gov. Copies of the Fund’s annual report and semi-annual report and other information about the Fund may be obtained upon request by writing to the Fund, by calling 800-225-6020, or by visiting the Fund’s website at jhinvestments.com. You also may obtain a copy of any information regarding the Fund filed with the SEC from the SEC’s website (www.sec.gov). You may also e-mail requests for these documents to publicinfo@sec.gov or make a request in writing to the SEC’s Public Reference Section, Washington, D.C. 20549-0102.

 

The Common Shares do not represent a deposit or obligation of, and are not guaranteed or endorsed by, any bank or other insured depositary institution, and are not federally insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve Board or any other government agency.

 

Prospectus Supplement dated March 1, 2022

 

You should rely only on the information contained in, or incorporated by reference into, this Prospectus Supplement, the accompanying Prospectus and the SAI in making your investment decisions. The Fund has not authorized any person to provide you with different information. If anyone provides you with different or inconsistent information, you should not rely on it. This Prospectus Supplement, which describes the specific terms of this offering including the method of distribution, also adds to and updates information contained in the accompanying Prospectus, the SAI and the documents incorporated by reference into the accompanying Prospectus and the SAI. If the description of this offering varies between this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus or the SAI, you should rely on the information contained in this Prospectus Supplement. The Fund is not making an offer to sell the Common Shares in any jurisdiction where the offer or sale is not permitted. You should assume that the information in this Prospectus Supplement, the accompanying Prospectus and the SAI is accurate only as of the dates on their covers. The Fund’s business, financial condition and prospects may have changed since the date of its description in this Prospectus Supplement or the date of its description in the accompanying Prospectus and SAI.

ii 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Prospectus Supplement

 

PROSPECTUS SUPPLEMENT SUMMARY S-1
SUMMARY OF FUND EXPENSES S-3
CAPITALIZATION S-4
MARKET AND NET ASSET VALUE INFORMATION S-4
THE FUND S-5
USE OF PROCEEDS S-5
PLAN OF DISTRIBUTION S-6
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION S-6
Prospectus  
Prospectus Summary 1
Summary of Fund Expenses 12
Financial Highlights 13
Market and Net Asset Value Information 15
The Fund 15
Use of Proceeds 16
Investment Objective 16
Investment Strategies 16
Risk Factors 24
Management of the Fund 35
Determination of Net Asset Value 38
Distribution Policy 39
Dividend Reinvestment Plan 40
Closed-End Fund Structure 41
U.S. Federal Income Tax Matters 42
Plan of Distribution 45
Description of Capital Structure 46
Certain Provisions in the Declaration of Trust and By-Laws 49
Reports to Shareholders 50
Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm 50
Legal and Regulatory Matters 50
Incorporation by Reference 51
Additional Information 51
Table of Contents of the Statement of Additional Information 52
The Fund’s Privacy Policy 52

 

Until March 26, 2022 (25 days after the date of this Prospectus Supplement), all dealers that buy, sell or trade the Common Shares, whether or not participating in this offering, may be required to deliver the Prospectus and this Prospectus Supplement. This requirement is in addition to the dealers’ obligation to deliver the Prospectus and this Prospectus Supplement when acting as underwriters and with respect to their unsold allotments or subscriptions.

iii 

 

Cautionary Notice Regarding Forward Looking Statements

 

This Prospectus Supplement, the accompanying Prospectus and the SAI contain “forward-looking statements.” Forward-looking statements can be identified by the words “may,” “will,” “intend,” “expect,” “estimate,” “continue,” “plan,” “anticipate,” and similar terms and the negative of such terms. Such forward-looking statements may be contained in this Prospectus Supplement as well as in the accompanying Prospectus and the SAI. By their nature, all forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, and actual results could differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements. Several factors that could materially affect the Fund’s actual results are the performance of the portfolio of securities the Fund holds, the price at which the Common Shares will trade in the public markets and other factors discussed in the Fund’s periodic filings with the SEC. Currently known risk factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the Fund’s expectations include, but are not limited to, the factors described in the “Risk Factors” section of the accompanying Prospectus. You are urged to review carefully those sections for a more detailed discussion of the risks of an investment in the Fund’s securities.

 

Although the Fund believes that the expectations expressed in the Fund’s forward-looking statements are reasonable, actual results could differ materially from those projected or assumed in the Fund’s forward-looking statements. The Fund’s future financial condition and results of operations, as well as any forward-looking statements, are subject to change and are subject to inherent risks and uncertainties, such as those disclosed in the “Risk Factors” section of the accompanying Prospectus. All forward-looking statements contained or incorporated by reference in this Prospectus Supplement, the accompanying Prospectus or the SAI are made as of the date of this Prospectus Supplement, the accompanying Prospectus or the SAI, as the case may be. Except for the Fund’s ongoing obligations under the federal securities laws, the Fund does not intend, and the Fund undertakes no obligation, to update any forward-looking statement. The forward-looking statements contained in this Prospectus Supplement, the accompanying Prospectus and the SAI are excluded from the safe harbor protection provided by section 27A of the 1933 Act.

iv 

 

Prospectus Supplement Summary

 

This is only a summary. You should review the more detailed information elsewhere in this prospectus supplement (“Prospectus Supplement”), the accompanying prospectus (the “Prospectus”), and in the Statement of Additional Information (the “SAI”) prior to making an investment in the Fund. See “Risk Factors” in the accompanying Prospectus.

 

The Fund John Hancock Tax-Advantaged Global Shareholder Yield Fund (the “Fund”) is a diversified, closed-end management investment company. The Fund commenced operations in September 2007 following an initial public offering.
   
Investment Objective The Fund’s investment objective is to provide total return consisting of a high level of current income and gains and long-term capital appreciation. In pursuing its investment objective of total return, the Fund will seek to emphasize high current income. In pursuing its investment objective, the Fund seeks to achieve favorable after-tax returns for its shareholders by seeking to minimize the U.S. federal income tax consequences on income and gains generated by the Fund. There can be no assurance that the Fund will achieve its investment objective. The Fund’s investment objective is fundamental and may not be changed without shareholder approval.
   
The Offering

John Hancock Investment Management Distributors LLC (the “Distributor”) has entered into a distribution agreement with the Fund, dated March 1, 2021, authorizing it to act as distributor for the Fund’s common shares of beneficial interest, par value $0.01 per share (“Common Shares”), offered by this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus dated March 1, 2022. The Distributor also has entered into a dealer agreement, dated March 1, 2021, (the “Dealer Agreement”) with UBS Securities LLC (the “Dealer”) with respect to the Fund relating to the Common Shares offered by this Prospectus Supplement and the Prospectus. In accordance with the terms of the Dealer Agreement, the Fund may offer and sell up to 600,000 Common Shares from time to time through the Dealer as sub-placement agent for the offer and sale of the Common Shares.

 

Offerings of the Common Shares will be subject to the provisions of the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”), which generally require that the public offering price of common shares of a closed-end investment company (exclusive of distribution commissions and discounts) must equal or exceed the net asset value (“NAV”) per share of the company’s common shares (calculated within 48 hours of pricing), absent shareholder approval or under certain other circumstances.

   
  Sales of the Common Shares, if any, under this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus may be made in negotiated transactions or transactions that are deemed to be “at the market” as defined in Rule 415 under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”), including sales made directly on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) or sales made to or through a market maker other than on an exchange. The Common Shares may not be sold through agents, underwriters or dealers without delivery or deemed delivery of a Prospectus and an accompanying Prospectus Supplement describing the method and terms of the offering of Common Shares.
   
Listing and Symbol The Fund’s currently outstanding Common Shares are listed on the NYSE under the symbol “HTY.” Any new Common Shares offered and sold hereby will be listed on the NYSE and trade under this symbol. The NAV of the Common Shares on February 16, 2022 was $6.55 per share. As of February 16, 2022, the last reported sale price per share of Common Shares in the market as of the close of regular trading on the NYSE was $6.58.
S-1 

 

Use of Proceeds The Fund currently intends to invest substantially all of the net proceeds of any sales of Common Shares pursuant to this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus in accordance with its investment objective and policies as described in the accompanying Prospectus under “Investment Objective” and “Investment Strategies” within three months of receipt of such proceeds. Such investments may be delayed up to three months if suitable investments are unavailable at the time or for other reasons, such as market volatility and lack of liquidity in the markets of suitable investments. Pending such investment, the Fund anticipates that it will invest the proceeds in high-quality, short-term debt securities, cash and/or cash equivalents. A delay in the anticipated use of proceeds could lower returns and reduce the Fund’s distribution to the holders of Common Shares (“Common Shareholders”) or result in a distribution consisting principally of a return of capital.
   
Investment Advisor and Subadvisor

The Fund’s investment advisor is John Hancock Investment Management LLC (the “Advisor” or “JHIM”) and its subadvisor is Epoch Investment Partners, Inc. (“Epoch”), the “Subadvisor”).

 

The Advisor is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Manulife Financial Corporation. The Advisor is responsible for overseeing the management of the Fund, including its day-to-day business operations and monitoring Epoch. As of December 31, 2021, the Advisor had total assets under management of approximately $177.8 billion.

 

Epoch, a subadvisor to the Fund, handles the Fund’s portfolio management activities, subject to oversight by the Advisor. Epoch, founded in 2004, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank. As of December 31, 2021, Epoch managed on a worldwide basis approximately $33.73 billion.

 

See “Management of the Fund—The Advisor” and “—The Subadvisor” in the accompanying Prospectus.

   
Risk Factors See “Risk Factors” beginning on page 24 of the accompanying Prospectus for a discussion of factors you should consider carefully before deciding to invest in the Common Shares.
S-2 

 

Summary of Fund Expenses

 

The purpose of the table below is to help you understand all fees and expenses that you, as a Common Shareholder, would bear directly or indirectly. In accordance with SEC requirements, the table below shows the Fund’s expenses as a percentage of its average net assets as of October 31, 2021, and not as a percentage of total assets. By showing expenses as a percentage of average net assets, expenses are not expressed as a percentage of all of the assets in which the Fund invests. The offering costs to be paid or reimbursed by the Fund are not included in the Annual Expenses table below. However, these expenses will be borne by Common Shareholders and may result in a reduction in the NAV of the Common Shares. See “Management of the Fund” and “Dividend Reinvestment Plan” in the accompanying Prospectus. The table and example are based on the Fund’s capital structure as of October 31, 2021.

 

   
Shareholder Transaction Expenses  
Sales load (as a percentage of offering price) (1) 1.00%
Offering expenses (as a percentage of offering price) (2) 0.68%
Dividend Reinvestment Plan fees (3) None

 

Annual Expenses (Percentage of Net Assets Attributable to Common Shares)  
Management fees (4) 0.90%
Other expenses 0.49%
Total Annual Expenses 1.39%
Contractual expense reimbursement (5) (0.01)%
Total annual fund operating expenses after expense reimbursements 1.38%

 

(1)Represents the estimated commission with respect to the Common Shares being sold in this offering. There is no guarantee that there will be any sales of the Common Shares pursuant to this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus. Actual sales of the Common Shares under this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus, if any, may be less than as set forth under “Capitalization” below. In addition, the price per share of any such sale may be greater or less than the price set forth under “Capitalization” below, depending on market price of the Common Shares at the time of any such sale.
(2)Offering costs charged upon sale of the shares, based on the last reported sale price on February 16, 2022.
(3)Participants in the Fund’s dividend reinvestment plan do not pay brokerage charges with respect to Common Shares issued directly by the Fund. However, whenever Common Shares are purchased or sold on the NYSE or otherwise on the open market, each participant will pay a pro rata portion of brokerage trading fees, currently $0.05 per share purchased or sold. Brokerage trading fees will be deducted from amounts to be invested. Shareholders participating in the Plan may buy additional Common Shares of the Fund through the Plan at any time and will be charged a $5 transaction fee plus $0.05 per share brokerage trading fee for each order. See “Distribution Policy” and “Dividend Reinvestment Plan” in the accompanying Prospectus.
(4)See “Management of the Fund—The Advisor” in the accompanying Prospectus.
(5)The Advisor contractually agrees to waive a portion of its management fee and/or reimburse expenses for the Fund and certain other John Hancock funds according to an asset level breakpoint schedule that is based on the aggregate net assets of all the funds participating in the waiver or reimbursement. This waiver is allocated proportionally among the participating funds. During its most recent fiscal year, the Fund’s reimbursement amounted to 0.01% of the Fund’s average daily net assets. This agreement expires on July 31, 2023, unless renewed by mutual agreement of the Fund and the Advisor based upon a determination that this is appropriate under the circumstances at that time.

 

EXAMPLE

The following example illustrates the expenses that Common Shareholders would pay on a $1,000 investment in Common Shares, assuming (i) total annual expenses set forth above, including any reimbursements through their current expiration date; (ii) sales load of 1.00%, (iii) offering expenses of 0.68%; (iv) a 5% annual return; and (v) all distributions are reinvested at NAV:

 

 

1 Year

 

3 Years

 

5 Years

 

10 Years

 
Total Expenses $31 $60 $91 $181

 

The above table and example and the assumption in the example of a 5% annual return are required by regulations of the SEC that are applicable to all investment companies; the assumed 5% annual return is not a prediction of, and does not represent, the projected or actual performance of the Common Shares. For more complete descriptions of certain of the Fund’s costs and expenses, see “Management of the Fund” in the accompanying Prospectus. In addition, while the example assumes reinvestment of all dividends and distributions at NAV, participants in the Fund’s dividend reinvestment plan may receive Common Shares purchased or issued at a price or value different from NAV. See “Distribution Policy” and “Dividend Reinvestment Plan” in the accompanying Prospectus.

 

The example should not be considered a representation of past or future expenses, and the Fund’s actual expenses may be greater or less than those shown. Moreover, the Fund’s actual rate of return may be greater or less than the hypothetical 5% return shown in the example.

S-3 

 

Capitalization

 

The Fund may offer and sell up to 600,000 Common Shares from time to time through the Dealer as sub-placement agent under this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus. Of the 600,000 Common Shares, 243,998 have been issued and 356,002 are unsold. In addition, the Fund has registered, and may take down, additional shares at a later date. There is no guarantee that there will be any sales of the Common Shares pursuant to this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus. The table below assumes that the Fund will sell 356,002 Common Shares at a price of $6.58 per share (the last reported sale price per share of Common Shares in the market as of the close of regular trading on the NYSE on February 16, 2022) Actual sales, if any, of the Common Shares under this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus may be greater or less than $6.58 per share, depending on the market price of the Common Shares at the time of any such sale. To the extent that the market price per share of the Common Shares on any given day is less than the net asset value per share on such day, the Fund will instruct the Dealer not to make any sales on such day.

 

The following table sets forth the Fund’s capitalization:

 

on a historical basis as of October 31, 2021 (audited);

 

on an actual basis as of February 16, 2022 to reflect the sale and reinvestment of Common Shares from November 1, 2021 through February 16, 2022, and the application of the net proceeds from such sale of Common Shares; and

 

on a pro forma as adjusted basis to reflect the assumed sale of 356,002 Common Shares at $6.58 per share (the last reported sale price per share of Common Shares in the market as of the close of regular trading on the NYSE on February 16, 2022), in an offering under this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus, after deducting the assumed commission of $23,425 (representing an estimated commission to the Distributor of 1.00% of the gross proceeds of the sale of Common Shares, of which a certain percentage will be paid to the Dealer in connection with sales of Common Shares effected in this offering) and the offering expenses of $16,896 related to the issuance of Common Shares.

 

 

As of
October 31, 2021
(audited)

 

As of
February 16, 2022
(unaudited)

 

Pro Forma
(unaudited)

 
 

Actual

 

Actual

 

As Adjusted

 
Net assets $70,669,428 $71,472,865 $73,775,037  
Common Shares of beneficial interest outstanding — unlimited number of shares authorized with $0.01 par value 10,917,997 10,917,997 11,273,999  
Paid-in capital $98,502,671 $102,048,103 $104,350,276  
Total distributable earnings (loss) (27,833,243) (30,575,238) (30,575,239)  
Net assets $70,669,428 $71,472,865 $73,775,037  
Net asset value per share $6.47 $6.55 $6.54  

 

Market and Net Asset Value Information

 

The Fund’s currently outstanding Common Shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the symbol “HTY” and commenced trading on the NYSE on September 26, 2007.

 

The Common Shares have traded both at a premium and a discount to their net asset value (“NAV”). The Fund cannot predict whether its shares will trade in the future at a premium or discount to NAV. The provisions of the 1940 Act generally require that the public offering price of common shares (less any underwriting commissions and discounts) must equal or exceed the NAV per share of a company’s common stock (calculated within 48 hours of pricing). The Fund’s issuance of Common Shares may have an adverse effect on prices in the secondary market for Common Shares by increasing the number of Common Shares available, which may put downward pressure on the market price for Common Shares. Shares of common stock of closed-end investment companies frequently trade at a discount from NAV. See “Risk Factors—General Risks—Market Discount Risk” in the accompanying Prospectus.

S-4 

 

The following table sets forth for each of the periods indicated the high and low closing market prices for Common Shares on the NYSE, and the corresponding NAV per share and the premium or discount to NAV per share at which the Common Shares were trading as of such date. NAV is determined once daily as of the close of regular trading on the NYSE (typically 4:00 P.M., Eastern Time). See “Determination of Net Asset Value” in the accompanying Prospectus for information as to the determination of the Fund’s NAV.

 

 

Market Price

 

NAV per Share on
Date of Market Price
High and Low

 

Premium/(Discount) on
Date of Market Price
High and Low

 

Fiscal Quarter Ended

 

High

 

Low

 

High

 

Low

 

High

 

Low

 
January 31, 2020 $7.20 $6.84 $7.76 $7.54 (6.98)% (9.52)%
April 30, 2020 $7.29 $3.86 $7.73 $4.94 (5.69)% (21.86)%
July 31, 2020 $5.66 $4.75 $6.38 $5.52 (10.44)% (14.41)%
October 31, 2020 $5.47 $4.75 $6.32 $5.78 (12.76)% (17.82)%
January 31, 2021 $5.70 $4.85 $5.70 $4.85 (12.97)% (17.52)%
April 30, 2021 $6.51 $5.60 $6.76 $6.38 (3.55)% (12.23)%
July 31, 2021 $6.99 $6.32 $6.98 $6.51 4.95% (6.51)%
October 31, 2021 $6.97 $6.37 $6.79 $6.31 4.34% (1.55)%
January 31, 2022 $6.75 $6.11 $6.69 $6.26 2.20% (3.32)%

 

The last reported sale price, NAV per share and percentage premium to NAV per share of the Common Shares as of February 16, 2022 was $6.58, $6.55 and 0.46% respectively. As of February 16, 2022, the Fund had 10,917,997 Common Shares outstanding and net assets of the Fund were $71,472,865.

 

The Fund

 

The Fund is a diversified, closed-end management investment company registered under the 1940 Act. The Fund was organized on April 23, 2007 as a Massachusetts business trust pursuant to an Agreement and Declaration of Trust (the “Declaration of Trust”). The Fund commenced operations in September 2007 following an initial public offering. On September 25, 2007, the Fund issued an aggregate of 8,750,000 Common Shares of beneficial interest, par value $0.01 per share, pursuant to the initial public offering thereof. On November 14, 2007, the Fund issued an additional 600,000 Common Shares in connection with the exercise by the initial underwriters of an over-allotment option. In addition, the Fund has issued 1,443,998 Common Shares pursuant to the Fund’s equity shelf-offering program during the period from November 1, 2012 to February 16, 2022. The Fund has registered, and may take down, additional shares at a later date. The Fund’s principal office is located at 200 Berkeley Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116 and its phone number is 800-225-6020.

 

The following provides information about the Fund’s outstanding securities as of October 31, 2021.

 

Title of Class

 

Amount
Authorized

 

Amount Held by
the Fund or for
its Account

 

Amount
Outstanding

 
Common Shares Unlimited 0 10,917,997

 

Use of Proceeds

 

Sales of the Common Shares, if any, under this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus may be made in negotiated transactions or transactions that are deemed to be “at the market” as defined in Rule 415 under the 1933 Act, including sales made directly on the NYSE or sales made to or through a market maker other than on an exchange. There is no guarantee that there will be any sales of the Common Shares pursuant to this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus. Actual sales, if any, of the Common Shares under this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus may be less than as set forth in this paragraph. In addition, the price per share of any such sale may be greater or less than the price set forth in this paragraph, depending on the market price of the Common Shares at the time of any such sale. As a result, the actual net proceeds the Fund receives may be more or less than the amount of net proceeds estimated in this Prospectus Supplement. Assuming the sale of all of the Common Shares offered under this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus, at the last reported sale price of $6.58 per share for the Common Shares in the market as of the close of regular trading on the NYSE as of February 16, 2022, the Fund estimates that the net proceeds of this offering will be approximately $2,302,172 after deducting the estimated sales load and the estimated offering expenses payable by the Fund.

S-5 

 

Subject to the remainder of this section, the Fund currently intends to invest substantially all of the net proceeds of any sales of Common Shares pursuant to this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus in accordance with its investment objective and policies as described in the accompanying Prospectus under “Investment Objective” and “Investment Strategies” within three months of receipt of such proceeds. Such investments may be delayed up to three months if suitable investments are unavailable at the time or for other reasons, such as market volatility and lack of liquidity in the markets of suitable investments. Pending such investment, the Fund anticipates that it will invest the proceeds in high-quality, short-term debt securities, cash and/or cash equivalents. A delay in the anticipated use of proceeds could lower returns and reduce the Fund’s distribution to Common Shareholders or result in a distribution consisting principally of a return of capital.

 

Plan of Distribution

 

Under the Dealer Agreement between the Distributor and the Dealer, upon written instructions from the Distributor, the Dealer will use its reasonable best efforts, to sell, as sub-placement agent, the Common Shares under the terms and subject to the conditions set forth in the Dealer Agreement. The Dealer’s solicitation will continue until the Distributor instructs the Dealer to suspend the solicitations and offers. The Distributor will instruct the Dealer as to the amount of Common Shares to be sold by the Dealer. The Distributor may instruct the Dealer not to sell Common Shares if the sales cannot be effected at or above the price designated by the Distributor in any instruction. To the extent that the market price per share of the Common Shares on any given day is less than the NAV per share on such day, the Distributor will instruct the Dealer not to make any sales on such day. The Distributor or the Dealer may suspend the offering of Common Shares upon proper notice and subject to other conditions.

 

The Dealer will provide written confirmation to the Distributor following the close of trading on the day on which Common Shares are sold under the Dealer Agreement. Each confirmation will include the number of shares sold on the preceding day, the net proceeds to the Fund and the compensation payable by the Distributor to the Dealer in connection with the sales.

 

The Fund will compensate the Distributor with respect to sales of the Common Shares at a commission rate of 1.00% of the gross proceeds of the sale of Common Shares. The Distributor will compensate the Dealer for its services in acting as sub-placement agent in the sale of Common Shares out of this commission at a certain percentage rate of the gross proceeds of the sale of Common Shares sold under the Dealer Agreement, with the exact amount of such compensation to be mutually agreed upon by the Distributor and the Dealer from time to time. There is no guarantee that there will be any sales of the Common Shares pursuant to this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus. Actual sales, if any, of the Common Shares under this Prospectus Supplement and the accompanying Prospectus may be greater or less than the price set forth in this paragraph, depending on the market price of Common Shares at the time of any such sale. Assuming the 600,000 Common Shares offered hereby are sold at a market price of $6.58 per share (the last reported sale price per share of Common Shares in the market as of the close of regular trading on the NYSE on February 16, 2022), the Fund estimates that the total expenses for the offering, excluding compensation payable to the Distributor and the Dealer, would be approximately $42,469.

 

Settlement for sales of Common Shares will occur on the second trading day following the date on which such sales are made, in return for payment of the net proceeds to the Fund. There is no arrangement for funds to be received in an escrow, trust or similar arrangement.

 

The Distributor has agreed to provide indemnification and contribution to the Dealer against certain civil liabilities, including liabilities under the 1933 Act.

 

The Dealer Agreement will remain in full force and effect unless terminated by either party upon 30 days’ written notice to the other party.

 

The principal business address of the Dealer is 1285 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.

 

Additional Information

 

This Prospectus Supplement, the accompanying Prospectus, and the SAI do not contain all of the information set forth in the Registration Statement that the Fund has filed with the SEC (file No. 333-251351). The complete Registration Statement may be obtained from the SEC at sec.gov. See the cover page of the accompanying Prospectus for information about how to obtain a paper copy of the Registration Statement or SAI without charge.

S-6 

 

John_Hancock_Investment_Management_stacked_black

John Hancock Tax-Advantaged Global Shareholder Yield Fund

 

Common Shares

 

 

PROSPECTUS SUPPLEMENT

 

 

March 1, 2022

 

Until March 26, 2022 (25 days after the date of this Prospectus Supplement), all dealers that buy, sell or trade the Common Shares, whether or not participating in this offering, may be required to deliver a prospectus and the applicable prospectus supplement. This delivery requirement is in addition to the dealers’ obligation to deliver a prospectus and the applicable prospectus supplement when acting as underwriters and with respect to their unsold allotments or subscriptions.

 

As of January 1, 2021, paper copies of the Fund’s shareholder reports will no longer be sent by mail. Instead, the reports will be made available on a website, and you will be notified and provided with a link each time a report is posted to the website. You may request to receive paper reports from the Fund or from your financial intermediary, free of charge, at any time. You may also request to receive documents through e-delivery.

S-7 

 

 


Base Prospectus Dated March 1, 2022

 

1,000,000 Shares
John Hancock Tax-Advantaged Global Shareholder Yield Fund

 

Common Shares

 

 

John Hancock Tax-Advantaged Global Shareholder Yield Fund (the “Fund” or “fund”) is a diversified, closed-end management investment company. The Fund commenced operations in September 2007 following an initial public offering.

Investment Objective. The Fund’s investment objective is to provide total return consisting of a high level of current income and gains and long term capital appreciation. In pursuing its investment objective of total return, the Fund will seek to emphasize high current income. In pursuing its investment objective, the Fund seeks to achieve favorable after-tax returns for its shareholders by seeking to minimize the U.S. federal income tax consequences on income and gains generated by the Fund. There can be no assurance that the Fund will achieve its investment objective.

The Offering. The Fund may offer, from time to time, in one or more offerings, the Fund’s common shares of beneficial interest, par value $0.01 per share (“Common Shares”). Common Shares may be offered at prices and on terms to be set forth in one or more supplements to this Prospectus (each, a “Prospectus Supplement”). You should read this Prospectus and the applicable Prospectus Supplement carefully before you invest in Common Shares.

Common Shares may be offered directly to one or more purchasers, through agents designated from time to time by the Fund, or to or through underwriters or dealers. The Prospectus Supplement relating to the offering will identify any agents, underwriters or dealers involved in the offer or sale of Common Shares, and will set forth any applicable offering price, sales load, fee, commission or discount arrangement between the Fund and its agents or underwriters, or among its underwriters, or the basis upon which such amount may be calculated, net proceeds and use of proceeds, and the terms of any sale. The Fund may not sell any Common Shares through agents, underwriters or dealers without delivery of a Prospectus Supplement describing the method and terms of the particular offering of the Common Shares.

 

Investment Strategy. Under normal market conditions, the Fund invests at least 80% of its total assets in a diversified portfolio of dividend-paying securities of issuers located throughout the world. This policy is subject to the requirement that the manager believes at the time of investment that such securities are eligible to pay tax-advantaged dividends. The Fund seeks to produce superior, risk-adjusted returns by using a disciplined, proprietary investment approach that is focused on identifying companies with strong free cash flow and that use their free cash flow to seek to maximize “shareholder yield” through dividend payments, stock repurchases and debt reduction. By assembling a diversified portfolio of securities which, in the aggregate, possess positive growth of free cash flow, high cash dividend yields, share buyback programs and net debt reductions, the Fund seeks to provide shareholders an attractive total return with less volatility than the global equity market as a whole. “Free cash flow” is the cash available for distribution to investors after all planned capital investment and taxes. The Advisor (as defined below) believes that free cash flow is important because it allows a company to pursue opportunities that enhance shareholder value.

 

Investment Advisor and Subadvisor. The Fund’s investment advisor is John Hancock Investment Management LLC (the “Advisor” or “JHIM”) and its subadvisor is Epoch Investment Partners, Inc. (“Epoch”), the “Subadvisor”).

Exchange listing. The Fund’s currently outstanding Common Shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the symbol “HTY.” Any new Common Shares offered and sold hereby are expected to be listed on the NYSE and trade under this symbol. As of February 16, 2022, the last reported sale price for the Common Shares was $6.58.

The Common Shares have traded both at a premium and a discount to net asset value (“NAV”). The Fund cannot predict whether Common Shares will trade in the future at a premium or discount to NAV. The provisions of the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended, generally require that the public offering price of common shares (less any underwriting commissions and discounts) must equal or exceed the NAV per share of a company’s common stock (calculated within 48 hours of pricing). The Fund’s issuance of Common Shares may have an adverse effect on prices in the secondary market for

i 

 

the Common Shares by increasing the number of Common Shares available, which may put downward pressure on the market price for the Common Shares. Shares of common stock of closed-end investment companies frequently trade at a discount from NAV, which may increase investors’ risk of loss.

Investing in the Common Shares involves certain risks. You could lose all or some of your investment. You should consider carefully these risks together with all of the other information contained in this Prospectus before making a decision to purchase the Fund’s securities. See “Risk Factors” beginning on page 24.

Neither the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) nor any state securities commission has approved or disapproved of these securities or determined whether this Prospectus is truthful or complete. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 

 

This Prospectus, together with any applicable Prospectus Supplement, sets forth concisely the information about the Fund that a prospective investor should know before investing. You should read this Prospectus and the applicable Prospectus Supplement, which contain important information, before deciding whether to invest in the Common Shares. You should retain the Prospectus and Prospectus Supplement for future reference. A Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”), dated March 1, 2022, containing additional information about the Fund, has been filed with the SEC and is incorporated by reference in its entirety into this Prospectus. The Table of Contents for the SAI is on page 52 of the Prospectus. A paper copy of the Registration Statement or SAI may be obtained without charge by calling 800-225-6020 (toll-free) or electronically from the SEC’s website at sec.gov. Copies of the Fund’s annual report and semi-annual report and other information about the Fund may be obtained upon request by writing to the Fund, by calling 800-225-6020, or by visiting the Fund’s website at https://www.jhinvestments.com/investments/closed-end-fund/international-equity-funds/tax-advantaged-global-shareholder-yield-fund-ce-hty. You also may obtain a copy of any information regarding the Fund filed with the SEC from the SEC’s website (sec.gov).

The Fund’s Common Shares do not represent a deposit or obligation of, and are not guaranteed or endorsed by, any bank or other insured depositary institution, and are not federally insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve Board or any other government agency.

 

Prospectus dated March 1, 2022

ii 

 

You should rely only on the information contained in, or incorporated by reference into, this Prospectus, any related Prospectus Supplement and the SAI in making your investment decisions. The Fund has not authorized any person to provide you with different information. If anyone provides you with different or inconsistent information, you should not rely on it. The Fund is not making an offer to sell the Common Shares in any jurisdiction where the offer or sale is not permitted. You should assume that the information in this Prospectus and any Prospectus Supplement is accurate only as of the dates on their covers. The Fund’s business, financial condition and prospects may have changed since the date of its description in this Prospectus or the date of its description in any Prospectus Supplement.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

PROSPECTUS SUMMARY 1
SUMMARY OF FUND EXPENSES 12
FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS 13
MARKET AND NET ASSET VALUE INFORMATION 15
THE FUND 15
USE OF PROCEEDS 16
INVESTMENT OBJECTIVE 16
INVESTMENT STRATEGIES 16
RISK FACTORS 24
MANAGEMENT OF THE FUND 35
DETERMINATION OF NET ASSET VALUE 38
DISTRIBUTION POLICY 39
DIVIDEND REINVESTMENT PLAN 40
CLOSED-END FUND STRUCTURE 41
U.S. FEDERAL INCOME TAX MATTERS 42
PLAN OF DISTRIBUTION 45
DESCRIPTION OF CAPITAL STRUCTURE 46
CERTAIN PROVISIONS IN THE DECLARATION OF TRUST AND BY-LAWS 49
REPORTS TO SHAREHOLDERS 50
INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM 50
LEGAL AND REGULATORY MATTERS 50
iNCORPORATION BY REFERENCE 51
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 51
TABLE OF CONTENTS OF THE STATEMENT OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 52
THE FUND’S PRIVACY POLICY 52
iii 

Prospectus Summary

This is only a summary. You should review the more detailed information elsewhere in this prospectus (“Prospectus”), in any related supplement to this Prospectus (each, a “Prospectus Supplement”), and in the Statement of Additional Information (the “SAI”) prior to making an investment in the Fund. See “Risk Factors”

 

The Fund                                     John Hancock Tax-Advantaged Global Shareholder Yield Fund (the “Fund”) is a diversified, closed-end management investment company. The Fund commenced operations in September 2007 following an initial public offering.

 

The Fund’s investment advisor is John Hancock Investment Management LLC (the “Advisor” or “JHIM”) and its subadvisor is Epoch Investment Partners, Inc. (“Epoch”).

 

Investment Objective                The Fund’s investment objective is to provide total return consisting of a high level of current income and gains and long term capital appreciation. In pursuing its investment objective of total return, the Fund will seek to emphasize high current income. In pursuing its investment objective, the Fund seeks to achieve favorable after-tax returns for its shareholders by seeking to minimize the U.S. federal income tax consequences on income and gains generated by the Fund. There can be no assurance that the Fund will achieve its investment objective. The Fund’s investment objective is fundamental and may not be changed without shareholder approval.

 

The Offering                              The Fund may offer, from time to time, in one or more offerings, up to 1,000,000 of the Fund’s common shares of beneficial interest, par value $0.01 per share (“Common Shares”), on terms to be determined at the time of the offering. The Common Shares may be offered at prices and on terms to be set forth in one or more Prospectus Supplements. You should read this Prospectus and the applicable Prospectus Supplement carefully before you invest in Common Shares. Common Shares may be offered directly to one or more purchasers, through agents designated from time to time by the Fund, or to or through underwriters or dealers. The Prospectus Supplement relating to the offering will identify any agents, underwriters or dealers involved in the offer or sale of Common Shares, and will set forth any applicable offering price, sales load, fee, commission or discount arrangement between the Fund and its agents or underwriters, or among its underwriters, or the basis upon which such amount may be calculated, net proceeds and use of proceeds, and the terms of any sale. See “Plan of Distribution.” The Fund may not sell any Common Shares through agents, underwriters or dealers without delivery of a Prospectus Supplement describing the method and terms of the particular offering of Common Shares.

 

Listing and Symbol                  The Fund’s currently outstanding Common Shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the symbol “HTY.” Any new Common Shares offered and sold hereby will be listed on the NYSE and trade under this symbol. As of February 16, 2022, the last reported sale price for the Common Shares was $6.58.

 

Investment Strategy                 Under normal market conditions, the Fund invests at least 80% of its total assets in a diversified portfolio of dividend-paying securities of issuers located throughout the world. This policy is subject to the requirement that the manager believes at the time of investment that such securities are eligible to pay tax-advantaged dividends. The Fund seeks to produce superior, risk-adjusted returns by using a disciplined, proprietary investment approach that is focused on identifying companies with strong free cash flow and that use their free cash flow to seek to maximize “shareholder yield” through dividend payments, stock repurchases and debt reduction. By assembling a diversified portfolio of securities which, in the aggregate, possess positive growth of free cash flow, high cash dividend yields, share buyback programs and net debt reductions, the Fund seeks to provide shareholders an attractive total return with less volatility than the global equity market as a whole. “Free cash flow” is the cash available for distribution to investors after all planned capital investment and taxes. The Advisor believes that free cash flow is important because it allows a company to pursue opportunities that enhance shareholder value.

 

The Fund’s investments in securities of U.S. and non-U.S. issuers are expected to vary over time.

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Under normal market conditions, the Fund invests at least 40% of its total assets in securities of non-U.S. issuers. The Fund may invest up to 20% of its total assets in securities issued by companies located in emerging markets when Epoch, the Fund’s subadvisor, believes such companies offer attractive opportunities. Securities held by the Fund may be denominated in both U.S. dollars and non-U.S. currencies. Under normal conditions, the Fund invests in the securities of issuers located in at least three different countries, including the United States, and the actual number of countries represented in the Fund’s portfolio will vary over time. As of the end of the last fiscal year, 10 countries were represented in the Fund’s portfolio. The Fund may not invest more than 25% of its total assets in the securities of issuers in any single industry or group of related industries. The Fund may trade securities actively and may engage in short-term trading strategies.

 

On an overall basis, the Fund seeks to implement an investment strategy designed to minimize the U.S. federal income tax consequences on income and gains generated by the Fund. The Fund seeks to accomplish this primarily by (i) investing in dividend-paying securities that are eligible to pay dividends that qualify for U.S. federal income taxation at rates applicable to long-term capital gain (“tax-advantaged dividends”), and complying with the holding period and other requirements for such favorable tax treatment; and (ii) offsetting any ordinary income and realized short-term capital gain against Fund expenses and realized short-term loss. In this regard, as discussed above, the Fund’s policy described above of investing at least 80% of its total assets in dividend-paying securities of issuers located throughout the world is subject to the requirement that Epoch believes at the time of investment that such securities are eligible to pay tax-advantaged dividends.

 

The Fund invests in global equity securities across a broad range of market capitalizations. The Fund generally invests in companies with a market capitalization (i.e., total market value of a company’s shares) of $500 million or greater at the time of purchase. The Advisor has engaged Epoch to serve as subadvisor to the Fund. Epoch is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund’s portfolio investments. Although the Fund may invest in securities of companies with any capitalization, it may at any given time invest a significant portion of its total assets in companies of one particular market capitalization category when Epoch believes such companies offer attractive opportunities. Epoch seeks to produce superior, risk-adjusted returns by investing in businesses with outstanding risk/reward profiles and a focus on high “shareholder yield.” Shareholder yield refers to the collective financial impact on shareholders from the return of free cash flow through cash dividends, stock repurchases and debt reduction. By assembling a diversified portfolio of securities with these qualities, Epoch believes Fund investors will have the opportunity to realize an attractive total return with less volatility than the global equity market as a whole.

 

Epoch seeks to produce an efficient portfolio on a risk/return basis with a dividend yield that exceeds the dividend yield of the MSCI World Index. The MSCI World Index captures large- and mid- cap representation across 23 developed market countries. With approximately 1,603 constituents, the index covers approximately 85% of the free float-adjusted market capitalization in each country as of December 31, 2021. In selecting securities for the Fund, Epoch utilizes an investment strategy that combines bottom-up stock research and selection with top-down analysis. Epoch looks for companies it believes have solid long-term prospects, attractive valuation comparisons and adequate market liquidity. The equity securities Epoch finds attractive generally have valuations lower than Epoch’s estimate of their fundamental value, as reflected in price-to-cash flow, price-to-book ratios or other stock valuation measures.

 

In selecting securities for the Fund’s portfolio, Epoch focuses on dividend-paying common stocks and to a lesser extent preferred securities that produce an attractive level of tax-advantaged income. Epoch also considers an equity security’s potential for capital appreciation. Epoch generally uses a value approach in selecting the Fund’s equity investments. Epoch evaluates an equity security’s potential value, including the attractiveness of its market valuation, based on the company’s assets and prospects for earnings growth. Investment decisions are made primarily on the basis of fundamental research. Epoch relies upon information provided by, and the expertise of, Epoch’s research staff in making investment decisions. In selecting equity securities, Epoch

 2

considers (among other factors) a company’s cash flow capabilities, dividend prospects and the anticipated U.S. federal income tax treatment of a company’s dividends, the strength of the company’s business franchises and estimates of the company’s net value.

 

Epoch sells or reduces a position in a security when it sees the goals of its investment thesis failing to materialize, or when it believes those goals have been met and the valuation of the company’s shares fully reflect the opportunities once thought unrecognized in share price. The reasons for a determination by Epoch that such goals are not being met include: the economic or competitive environment might be changing; company management’s execution could be disappointing; or in certain cases, management proves to be less than forthright or have an inappropriate assessment of the company’s state and the task at hand.

 

The Fund may seek to enhance the level of dividend income it receives by engaging in dividend capture trading. In a dividend capture trade, the Fund sells a security after having held the security long enough to satisfy the holding period requirements for tax-advantaged dividends, but shortly after the security’s ex-dividend date. The Fund then uses the sale proceeds to purchase one or more other securities that are expected to pay dividends before the next dividend payment date on the security being sold. Through this practice, the Fund may receive more dividend payments over a given period of time than if it held a single security. Receipt of a greater number of dividend payments during a given time period could augment the total amount of dividend income received by the Fund. See “Investment Strategies—Equity Strategy.”

 

Tax-advantaged dividends. Under normal market conditions, the Fund invests primarily in a diversified portfolio of dividend-paying securities of issuers located throughout the world that Epoch believes at the time of investment are eligible to pay tax-advantaged dividends.

 

Tax-advantaged dividends generally include dividends from U.S. and non-U.S. corporations that meet certain specified criteria. The Fund generally can pass the tax treatment of tax-advantaged dividends it receives through to its holders of Common Shares (the “Common Shareholders”). For the Fund to receive tax-advantaged dividends, the Fund must, in addition to other requirements, hold the otherwise qualified security for more than 60 days during the 121-day period beginning 60 days before the ex-dividend date (or, in the case of a preferred security, more than 90 days during the 181-day period beginning 90 days before the ex-dividend date). The “ex-dividend date” is the date that is established by a stock exchange (usually two business days before the record date) whereby the owner of a security at the commencement of such date is entitled to receive the next issued dividend payment for such security, even if the security is sold by such owner on the ex-dividend date or thereafter. In addition, the Fund cannot be obligated to make payments (pursuant to a short sale or otherwise) with respect to substantially similar or related property. For a Common Shareholder to be taxed at the long-term capital gain rates, the Common Shareholder must hold his or her Common Shares for more than 60 days during the 121-day period beginning 60 days before the ex-dividend date. Consequently, short-term investors in the Fund will not realize the benefits of tax-advantaged dividends.

 

There can be no assurance as to the portion of the Fund’s dividends that will be tax-advantaged. Although the Fund invests at least 80% of its assets in equity securities that pay tax-advantaged dividends and to satisfy the holding period and other requirements, a portion of the Fund’s income distributions may be taxable as ordinary income (i.e., income other than tax-advantaged dividends).

 

Other Investments                    The foregoing policies relating to investments in equity securities are the Fund’s primary investment policies. In addition to its primary investment policies, the Fund may invest to a limited extent in other types of securities and engage in certain other investment practices. The Fund may use a variety of derivative instruments (including long and short positions) for hedging purposes, to adjust portfolio characteristics or more generally for purposes of attempting to increase the Fund’s investment return, including put and call options, options on futures contracts, futures and forward contracts and swap agreements (including total return swaps) with respect to securities, indices and currencies. The Fund may invest in securities of other open- and closed-end

 3

investment companies, including exchange-traded funds, to the extent that such investments are consistent with the Fund’s investment objective and policies and permissible under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”). The Fund may lend its portfolio securities. The Fund may invest in debt securities, including below investment-grade debt securities (also known as “junk bonds”). See “Investment Strategies—Additional Investment Practices.” Normally, the Fund invests substantially all of its total assets to meet its investment objective. The Fund may invest the remainder of its assets in other equity securities and fixed-income securities with remaining maturities of less than one year or cash equivalents, or it may hold cash. For temporary defensive purposes, the Fund may depart from its principal investment strategies and invest part or all of its total assets in fixed-income securities with remaining maturities of less than one year, or cash or cash equivalents. During such periods, the Fund may not be able to achieve its investment objective.

 

Investment Advisor and Subadvisor

JHIM, the Fund’s investment advisor, is an indirect principally owned subsidiary of Manulife Financial Corporation. The Advisor is responsible for overseeing the management of the Fund, including its day-to-day business operations and monitoring Epoch. As of December 31, 2021, the Advisor had total assets under management of approximately $177.8 billion.

                

Epoch, the subadvisor to the Fund, handles the Fund’s portfolio management activities, subject to oversight by the Advisor. Epoch, founded in 2004, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank. As of December 31, 2021, Epoch managed on a worldwide basis approximately $33.73 billion.

 

The Advisor also engaged its affiliate Manulife Investment Management (North America) Limited (formerly, John Hancock Asset Management a division of Manulife Asset Management (North America) Limited) to consult from time to time with the Advisor on matters relating to the general application of U.S. federal income tax laws and regulations, compliance and legal issues.

 

See “Management of the Fund—The Advisor” and “—The Subadvisor.”

 

DistributionsThe Fund makes regular quarterly distributions to Common Shareholders which may consist of the Fund’s cash available for distribution and return of capital. “Cash available for distribution” consists of the Fund’s (i) investment company taxable income, which includes among other things, dividend and ordinary income after payment of Fund expenses, the excess of net short-term capital gain over net long-term capital loss, and income from certain hedging and interest rate transactions, (ii) qualified dividend income and (iii) long-term capital gain (gain from the sale of capital assets held longer than one year). The Board of Trustees of the Fund (the “Board”) may modify this distribution policy at any time without obtaining the approval of Common Shareholders.

 

Pursuant to the requirements of the 1940 Act, in the event the Fund makes distributions from sources other than income, a notice will accompany each quarterly distribution with respect to the estimated sources of the distribution made. Such notices will describe the portion, if any, of the quarterly dividend which, in the Fund’s good faith judgment, constitutes long-term capital gain, short-term capital gain, investment company taxable income or a return of capital. The actual character of such dividend distributions for U.S. federal income tax purposes, however, will only be determined finally by the Fund at the close of its fiscal year, based on the Fund’s full year performance and its actual net investment company taxable income and net capital gain for the year, which may result in a recharacterization of amounts distributed during such fiscal year from the characterization in the quarterly estimates.

 

If, for any calendar year, as discussed above, the total distributions made exceed the Fund’s current and accumulated earnings and profits, the excess generally will be treated as a return of capital to each Common Shareholder (up to the amount of the Common Shareholder’s basis in his or her Common Shares) and thereafter as gain from the sale of Common Shares. In each fiscal year the Fund has paid distributions, the Fund’s total distributions exceeded the Fund’s current and accumulated earnings and profits, and such excess was treated as a return of capital to each Common Shareholder. The amount treated as a return of capital reduces the Common

 4

Shareholder’s adjusted basis in his or her Common Shares, thereby increasing his or her potential gain or reducing his or her potential loss on the subsequent sale of his or her Common Shares. Distributions in any year may include a substantial return of capital component. To permit the Fund to maintain more stable distributions, distribution rates are based on projected annual cash available for distribution and return of capital. As a result, the distributions paid by the Fund for any particular quarter may be more or less than the amount of cash available for distribution from that quarterly period. In certain circumstances, the Fund may be required to sell a portion of its investment portfolio to fund distributions. Distributions will reduce the Common Shares’ net asset value (“NAV”).

 

The 1940 Act currently limits the number of times the Fund may distribute long-term capital gain in any tax year, which may increase the variability of the Fund’s distributions and result in certain distributions being comprised more heavily of long-term capital gain eligible for favorable income tax rates. In the future, the Advisor may seek Board approval to implement a managed distribution plan for the Fund. The managed distribution plan would be implemented pursuant to an exemptive order previously granted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), which provides an exemption from Section 19(b) of the 1940 Act and Rule 19b-1 thereunder to permit the Fund to include long-term capital gain as a part of its regular distributions to Common Shareholders more frequently than would otherwise be permitted by the 1940 Act (generally once or twice per year). If the Fund implements a managed distribution plan, it would do so without a vote of the Common Shareholders.

 

Dividend Reinvestment Plan   The Fund has established an automatic dividend reinvestment plan (the “Plan”). Under the Plan, distributions of dividends and capital gains are automatically reinvested in Common Shares of the Fund by Computershare Trust Company, N.A. Every shareholder holding at least one full share of the Fund will be automatically enrolled in the Plan. Shareholders who do not participate in the Plan will receive all distributions in cash. Common Shareholders who intend to hold their Common Shares through a broker or nominee should contact such broker or nominee regarding the Plan. See “Dividend Reinvestment Plan.”

 

Closed-End Fund Structure     Closed-end funds differ from open-end management investment companies (which generally are referred to as “mutual funds”) in that closed-end funds generally list their shares for trading on a securities exchange and do not redeem their shares at the option of the shareholder. Mutual funds do not trade on securities exchanges and issue securities redeemable at the option of the shareholder. The continuous outflows of assets in a mutual fund can make it difficult to manage the fund’s investments. Closed-end funds generally are able to stay more fully invested in securities that are consistent with their investment objectives and also have greater flexibility to make certain types of investments and to use certain investment strategies, such as financial leverage and investments in illiquid securities. Although the Fund has no current intention to do so, the Fund is authorized and reserves the flexibility to utilize leverage through borrowings and/or the issuance of preferred shares, including the issuance of debt securities. The Common Shares are designed primarily for long-term investors; you should not purchase Common Shares if you intend to sell them shortly after purchase.

 

Common shares of closed-end funds frequently trade at prices lower than their NAV. Since inception, the market price of the Common Shares has fluctuated and at times has traded below the Fund’s NAV and at times has traded above the Fund’s NAV. The Fund cannot predict whether in the future the Common Shares will trade at, above or below NAV. In addition to NAV, the market price of the Common Shares may be affected by such factors as the Fund’s dividend stability, dividend levels, which are in turn affected by expenses, and market supply and demand.

In recognition of the possibility that the Common Shares may trade at a discount from their NAV, and that any such discount may not be in the best interest of Common Shareholders, the Board, in consultation with the Advisor, from time to time may review possible actions to reduce any such discount. There can be no assurance that the Board will decide to undertake any of these actions or that, if undertaken, such actions would result in the Common Shares trading at a price equal to or close to NAV per Common Share. In the event that the Fund conducts an offering of new Common Shares and such offering constitutes a “distribution” under Regulation M, the Fund and

 5

certain of its affiliates may be subject to an applicable restricted period that could limit the timing of any repurchases by the Fund.

 

Summary of Risks                     The Fund’s principal risk factors are listed below by general risks, and equity strategy risks. The Fund’s main risks are listed below in alphabetical order, not in order of importance. Before investing, be sure to read the additional descriptions of these risks beginning on page 24 of this Prospectus.

 

General Risks                            Anti-takeover Provisions. The Fund’s Agreement and Declaration of Trust includes provisions that could limit the ability of other persons or entities to acquire control of the Fund or to change the composition of its Board. These provisions may deprive shareholders of opportunities to sell their Common Shares at a premium over the then current market price of the Common Shares. See “Certain Provisions in the Declaration of Trust and By-Laws—Anti-takeover provisions.”

 

Changes in U.S. Law. Changes in the state and U.S. federal laws applicable to the Fund, including changes to state and U.S. federal tax laws, or applicable to the Advisor, the Subadvisor and other securities or instruments in which the Fund may invest, may negatively affect the Fund’s returns to Common Shareholders. The Fund may need to modify its investment strategy in the future in order to satisfy new regulatory requirements or to compete in a changed business environment.

 

Cybersecurity and Operational Risk. Cybersecurity breaches may allow an unauthorized party to gain access to fund assets, customer data, or proprietary information, or cause the Fund or its service providers to suffer data corruption or lose operational functionality. Similar incidents affecting issuers of the Fund’s securities may negatively impact performance. Operational risk may arise from human error, error by third parties, communication errors, or technology failures, among other causes.

 

Defensive Positions Risk. During periods of adverse market or economic conditions, the Fund may temporarily invest all or a substantial portion of its total assets in fixed-income securities with remaining maturities of less than one year, cash or cash equivalents. The Fund will not be pursuing its investment objective in these circumstances and could miss favorable market developments.

 

Distribution Risk. There can be no assurance that quarterly distributions paid by the Fund to shareholders will be maintained at current levels or increase over time. The quarterly distributions shareholders receive from the Fund are derived from the Fund’s dividends and interest income after payment of Fund expenses, net option premiums and net realized gain on equity securities investments. Net realized gain on the Fund’s stock investments will be determined primarily by the direction and movement of the stock market and the particular equity securities held. The Fund’s cash available for distribution may vary widely over the short- and long-term. If, for any calendar year, the total distributions made exceed the current and accumulated earnings and profits, the excess generally will be treated as a return of capital to each Common Shareholder (up to the amount of the Common Shareholder’s basis in his or her Common Shares) and thereafter as gain from the sale of Common Shares. The amount treated as a return of capital reduces the Common Shareholder’s adjusted basis in his or her Common Shares, thereby increasing his or her potential gain or reducing his or her potential loss on the subsequent sale of his or her Common Shares. Distributions in any year may include a substantial return of capital component. Dividends on common stocks are not fixed but are declared at the discretion of the issuer’s board of directors. The Fund’s dividend income will be substantially influenced by the activity level and success of its dividend capture trading program, which may not work as intended.

 

Economic and Market Events Risk. Events in the U.S. and global financial markets, including actions taken by the U.S. Federal Reserve or foreign central banks to stimulate or stabilize economic growth, may at times result in unusually high market volatility, which could negatively impact performance. Reduced liquidity in credit and fixed-income markets could adversely affect

 6

issuers worldwide. Banks and financial services companies could suffer losses if interest rates rise or economic conditions deteriorate.

 

Inflation Risk. Inflation risk is the risk that the purchasing power of assets or income from investments will be worth less in the future as inflation decreases the value of money. As inflation increases, the real value of the Common Shares and distributions thereon can decline.

 

Interest Rate Risk. Interest rate risk is the risk that fixed-income securities such as debt securities and preferred securities will decline in value because of changes in market interest rates. The value of the Fund’s investments in common stock also may be influenced by changes in interest rates. Higher yielding equity securities and equity securities of issuers whose businesses are substantially affected by changes in interest rates may be particularly sensitive to interest rate risk. Recent and potential future changes in government monetary policy may affect the level of interest rates.

 

Investment and Market Risk. An investment in Common Shares is subject to investment and market risk, including the possible loss of the entire principal amount invested. An investment in Common Shares represents an indirect investment in the securities owned by the Fund, which generally are traded on a securities exchange or in the over-the-counter markets. The value of these securities, like other market investments, may move up or down, sometimes rapidly and unpredictably. Common Shares at any point in time may be worth less than the original investment, even after taking into account any reinvestment of dividends and distributions.

Issuer Risk. An issuer of a security may perform poorly and, therefore, the value of its stocks and bonds may decline and the issuer may default on its obligations. Poor performance may be caused by poor management decisions, competitive pressures, breakthroughs in technology, reliance on suppliers, labor problems or shortages, corporate restructurings, fraudulent disclosures or other factors.

 

Leverage Risk. Although the Fund has no current intention to do so, the Fund is authorized and reserves the flexibility to utilize leverage through borrowings and/or the issuance of preferred shares, including the issuance of debt securities. In the event that the Fund determines in the future to use investment leverage, there can be no assurance that such a leveraging strategy will be successful during any period in which it is employed. Leverage creates risks for Common Shareholders, including the likelihood of greater volatility of the NAV and market price of the Common Shares and the risk that fluctuations in distribution rates on any preferred shares or fluctuations in borrowing costs may affect the return to Common Shareholders. To the extent the returns derived from securities purchased with proceeds received from leverage exceeds the cost of leverage, the Fund’s distributions may be greater than if leverage had not been used. Conversely, if the returns from the securities purchased with such proceeds are not sufficient to cover the cost of leverage, the amount available for distribution to Common Shareholders will be less than if leverage had not been used. In the latter case, the Advisor, in its best judgment, may nevertheless determine to maintain the Fund’s leveraged position if it deems such action to be appropriate. The costs of an offering of preferred shares and/or a borrowing program would be borne by Common Shareholders and consequently would result in a reduction of the NAV of Common Shares. In addition, the fee paid to the Advisor is calculated on the basis of the Fund’s average daily gross assets, including proceeds from borrowings and/or the issuance of preferred shares, so the fee will be higher when leverage is utilized, which may create an incentive for the Advisor to employ financial leverage.

 

LIBOR Discontinuation Risk. LIBOR is a measure of the average interest rate at which major global banks can borrow from one another. Following allegations of rate manipulation and concerns regarding its thin liquidity, in July 2017, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, announced that it will stop encouraging banks to provide the quotations needed to sustain LIBOR. The ICE Benchmark Administration Limited, the administrator of LIBOR, ceased publishing most LIBOR maturities, including some US LIBOR maturities, on December 31, 2021, and the remaining and most liquid US LIBOR maturities will cease being published on

 7

June 30, 2023. It is expected that market participants will transition to the use of alternative reference or benchmark rates prior to the applicable LIBOR publication cessation date. However, although regulators have encouraged the development and adoption of alternative rates such as the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, the future utilization of LIBOR or of any particular replacement rate remains uncertain.

 

Management Risk. The Fund is subject to management risk because it relies on Epoch’s ability to pursue the Fund’s investment objective. The Subadvisor applies investment techniques and risk analyses in making investment decisions for the Fund, but there can be no guarantee that it will produce the desired results.

Market Discount Risk. The Common Shares will be offered only when Common Shares of the Fund are trading at a price equal to or above the Fund’s NAV per Common Share plus the per Common Share amount of commissions. As with any security, the market value of the Common Shares may increase or decrease from the amount initially paid for the Common Shares. The Common Shares have traded at both a premium and at a discount to NAV. The shares of closed-end management investment companies frequently trade at a discount from their NAV. This characteristic is a risk separate and distinct from the risk that the Fund’s NAV could decrease as a result of investment activities. Investors bear a risk of loss to the extent that the price at which they sell their shares is lower in relation to the Fund’s NAV than at the time of purchase, assuming a stable NAV.

 

Natural Disasters and Adverse Weather Conditions. Certain areas of the world may be exposed to adverse weather conditions, including hurricanes, earthquakes, typhoons, floods, tidal waves, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, droughts, windstorms, coastal storm surges, heat waves, and rising sea levels, among others. Some countries and regions may not have the infrastructure or resources to respond to natural disasters, making them more economically sensitive to environmental events. Such disasters, and the resulting damage, could have a severe and negative impact on the Fund’s investment portfolio and, in the longer term, could impair the ability of issuers in which the Fund invests to conduct their businesses in the manner normally conducted. Adverse weather conditions also may have a particularly significant negative effect on issuers in the agricultural sector and on insurance companies that insure against the impact of natural disasters.

 

Climate change, which is the result of a change in global or regional climate patterns, may increase the frequency and intensity of such adverse weather conditions, resulting in increased economic impact, and may pose long-term risks to a Fund’s investments. The future impact of climate change is difficult to predict but may include changes in demand for certain goods and services, supply chain disruption, changes in production costs, increased legislation, regulation and international accords, changes in property and security values, availability of natural resources and displacement of peoples.

 

Portfolio Turnover Risk. The Fund may engage in short-term trading strategies, and securities may be sold without regard to the length of time held when, in the opinion of Epoch, investment considerations warrant such action. In addition, the Fund’s dividend capture program also may increase the level of portfolio turnover the Fund experiences. These policies may have the effect of increasing the annual rate of portfolio turnover of the Fund. Higher rates of portfolio turnover likely would result in higher brokerage commissions and may generate short-term capital gain taxable as ordinary income, which may have a negative impact on the Fund’s performance over time. The portfolio turnover rate of the Fund may vary from year to year, as well as within a year.

 

Repurchase agreement risk. The risk of a repurchase agreement transaction is limited to the ability of the seller to pay the agreed-upon sum on the delivery date. In the event of bankruptcy or other default by the seller, the instrument purchased may decline in value, interest payable on the instrument may be lost and there may be possible difficulties and delays in obtaining collateral and delays and expense in liquidating the instrument.

 

 8

Secondary Market for the Common Shares. The issuance of new Common Shares may have an adverse effect on the secondary market for the Common Shares. When the Common Shares are trading at a premium, the Fund may issue new Common Shares. The increase in the amount of the Fund’s outstanding Common Shares resulting from the offering of new Common Shares may put downward pressure on the market price for the Common Shares of the Fund. Common Shares will not be issued at any time when Common Shares are trading at a price lower than a price equal to the Fund’s NAV per Common Share plus the per Common Share amount of commissions.

 

The Fund also issues Common Shares through its dividend reinvestment plan. Common Shares may be issued under the plan at a discount to the market price for such Common Shares, which may put downward pressure on the market price for Common Shares of the Fund.

 

The voting power of current Common Shareholders will be diluted to the extent that such shareholders do not purchase shares in any future Common Share offerings or do not purchase sufficient shares to maintain their percentage interest. In addition, if the proceeds of such offering are unable to be invested as intended, the Fund’s per Common Share distribution may decrease (or may consist of return of capital) and the Fund may not participate in market advances to the same extent as if such proceeds were fully invested as planned.

 

Tax Risk. To qualify for the special tax treatment available to regulated investment companies, the Fund must: (i) derive at least 90% of its annual gross income from certain kinds of investment income; (ii) meet certain asset diversification requirements at the end of each quarter; and (iii) distribute in each taxable year at least 90% of its net investment income (including net interest income and net short term capital gain). If the Fund failed to meet any of these requirements, subject to the opportunity to cure such failures under applicable provisions of the Code, the Fund would be subject to U.S. federal income tax at regular corporate rates on its taxable income, including its net capital gain, even if such income were distributed to its shareholders. All distributions by the Fund from earnings and profits, including distributions of net capital gain (if any), would be taxable to the shareholders as ordinary income. To the extent so designated by the Fund, such distributions generally would be eligible (i) to be treated as qualified dividend income in the case of individual and other noncorporate shareholders and (ii) for the dividends received deduction in the case of corporate shareholders; provided that in each case the shareholder meets the applicable holding period requirements. In addition, in order to requalify for taxation as a regulated investment company, the Fund might be required to recognize unrealized gain, pay substantial taxes and interest, and make certain distributions. See “U.S. Federal Income Tax Matters.”

 

The tax treatment and characterization of the Fund’s distributions may vary significantly from time to time due to the nature of the Fund’s investments. The ultimate tax characterization of the Fund’s distributions in a calendar year may not finally be determined until after the end of that calendar year. The Fund may make distributions during a calendar year that exceed the Fund’s current and accumulated earnings and profits for that year. In such a situation, the excess generally would be treated as a return of capital up to the amount of the Common Shareholder’s tax basis in his or her Common Shares, with any amounts exceeding such basis treated as gain from the sale of his or her Common Shares. The Fund’s income distributions that qualify for favorable tax treatment may be affected by Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) interpretations of the Code and future changes in tax laws and regulations all of which may apply with retroactive effect. See “U.S. Federal Income Tax Matters.”

 

No assurance can be given as to what percentage of the distributions paid on the Common Shares, if any, will consist of tax-advantaged qualified dividend income or long-term capital gain or what the tax rates on various types of income will be in future years. The maximum long-term capital gain tax rate applicable to qualified dividend income is currently 20%, 15%, or 0% for individuals depending on the amount of their taxable income for the year. An additional 3.8% Medicare tax will also apply in the case of some individuals. In addition, it may be difficult to obtain information regarding whether distributions by non-U.S. entities in which the Fund invests should be regarded as qualified dividend income. Furthermore, to receive qualified dividend income

 9

treatment, the Fund must meet holding period and other requirements with respect to the dividend-paying securities in its portfolio, and the shareholder must meet holding period and other requirements with respect to the Common Shares. Holding periods may be affected by certain of the Fund’s transactions in options and other derivatives. See “U.S. Federal Income Tax Matters.”

 

Equity Strategy Risks               Common Stock and Other Equity Securities Risk. The Fund invests primarily in common stocks, and to a lesser extent in preferred securities. Common stock, preferred securities and other equity securities represent equity ownership in a company. Common stocks and similar equity securities are more volatile and more risky than some other forms of investment. The price of equity securities will fluctuate, and can decline and reduce the value of the Fund. Therefore, the value of your investment in the Fund may fluctuate and may be worth less than your initial investment. The price of equity securities fluctuates based on changes in a company’s financial condition, and overall market and economic conditions. The value of equity securities purchased by the Fund could decline if the financial condition of the companies in which the Fund invests declines, or if overall market and economic conditions deteriorate. Even if the Fund invests in high-quality or “blue chip” equity securities, or securities of established companies with large market capitalizations (which generally have strong financial characteristics), the Fund can be negatively impacted by poor overall market and economic conditions.

 

The Fund also may invest in securities that can be exercised for or converted into common stocks (such as convertible preferred securities). Because convertible securities can be converted into equity securities, their values normally will increase or decrease as the values of the underlying equity securities increase or decrease.

 

The Fund maintains substantial exposure to equities and generally does not attempt to time the market. Because of this exposure, the possibility that stock market prices in general will decline over short or extended periods subjects the Fund to unpredictable declines in the value of its investments, as well as periods of poor performance. In addition, common stock prices may be sensitive to rising interest rates, as the costs of capital rise for issuers.


Dividend Strategy Risk.
Epoch may not be able to anticipate the level of dividends that companies will pay in any given timeframe. In accordance with the Fund’s strategies, Epoch attempts to identify and take advantage of opportunities such as the announcement of major corporate actions that may lead to high current dividend income. These situations typically are non-recurring or infrequent, may be difficult to predict and may not result in an opportunity that allows Epoch to fulfill the Fund’s investment objective. In addition, the dividend policies of the Fund’s target companies are heavily influenced by the current economic climate and the favorable U.S. federal tax treatment afforded to dividends.

 

Industry or Sector Risk. The Fund may invest a large percentage of its assets in a particular industry or sector of the economy or invest in a limited number of companies. If a large percentage of the Fund’s assets are closely tied to a single industry or sector of the economy, the performance of the Fund will depend in large part on the performance of that industry or sector. As a result, the value of an investment may fluctuate more widely since it is more susceptible to market, economic, political, regulatory and other conditions and risks affecting that industry or sector than if the Fund invested more broadly across industries and sectors.

 

Illiquid and Restricted Securities Risk. Restricted securities are securities with restrictions on public resale, such as securities offered in accordance with an exemption under Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933 (the “1933 Act”), or commercial paper issued under Section 4(a)(2) of the 1933 Act. Restricted securities are often required to be sold in private sales to institutional buyers, markets for restricted securities may or may not be well developed, and restricted securities can be illiquid. Illiquid and restricted securities may be difficult to value and may involve greater risks than liquid securities. Illiquidity may have an adverse impact on a particular security’s market price and the fund’s ability to sell the security.

 

Large Company Risk. Large-capitalization stocks as a group could fall out of favor with the

 10

market, causing the Fund to underperform investments that focus on small- or medium-capitalization stocks. Larger, more established companies may be slow to respond to challenges and may grow more slowly than smaller companies.

 

For purposes of the investment policies with regard to investments in medium and smaller companies and large companies, the market capitalization of a company is based on its market capitalization at the time the Fund purchases the company’s securities. Market capitalizations of companies change over time.

 

Liquidity Risk. The Fund may invest up to 15% of its net assets in securities for which there is no readily available trading market or which are otherwise illiquid. The extent (if at all) to which a security may be sold or a derivative position closed without negatively impacting its market value may be impaired by reduced market activity or participation, legal restrictions, or other economic and market impediments. Liquidity risk may be magnified in rising interest rate environments due to higher than normal redemption rates. Widespread selling of fixed-income securities to satisfy redemptions during periods of reduced demand may adversely impact the price or salability of such securities. Periods of heavy redemption could cause the fund to sell assets at a loss or depressed value, which could negatively affect performance. Redemption risk is heightened during periods of declining or illiquid markets. Any depositary receipts are subject to most of the risks associated with investing in foreign securities directly because the value of a depositary receipt is dependent upon the market price of the underlying foreign equity security. Depositary receipts are also subject to liquidity risk.

Non-U.S. Investment Risk. As compared to U.S. companies, less information may be publicly available regarding foreign issuers. Non-U.S. securities may be subject to foreign taxes and may be more volatile than U.S. securities. Currency fluctuations and political and economic developments may adversely impact the value of foreign securities. If applicable, depositary receipts are subject to most of the risks associated with investing in foreign securities directly because the value of a depositary receipt is dependent upon the market price of the underlying foreign equity security. Depositary receipts are also subject to liquidity risk. Investments in emerging-market countries are subject to greater levels of non-U.S. investment risk.

Small and Mid-Sized Company Risk. The prices of small and mid-sized company stocks can change more frequently and dramatically than those of large company stocks.

 

Given the risks described above, an investment in Common Shares may not be appropriate for all investors. You should carefully consider your ability to assume these risks before making an investment in the Fund.

 11

SUMMARY OF FUND EXPENSES

The purpose of the table below is to help you understand all fees and expenses that you, as a Common Shareholder, would bear directly or indirectly. In accordance with SEC requirements, the table below shows the Fund’s expenses as a percentage of its average net assets as of October 31, 2021, and not as a percentage of total assets. By showing expenses as a percentage of average net assets, expenses are not expressed as a percentage of all of the assets in which the Fund invests. The offering costs to be paid or reimbursed by the Fund are not included in the Annual Expenses table below. However, these expenses will be borne by Common Shareholders and may result in a reduction in the NAV of the Common Shares. See “Management of the Fund” and “Dividend Reinvestment Plan.” The table and example are based on the Fund’s capital structure as of October 31, 2021.

 

  Shareholder Transaction Expenses  
Sales load (as a percentage of offering price) 1 ____%
Offering expenses (as a percentage of offering price) 1 ____%
Dividend Reinvestment Plan fees 2 None
   
  Annual Expenses (Percentage of Net Assets Attributable to Common Shares)  
Management fees 3 0.90%
Other expenses 0.49%
Total Annual Operating Expenses 1.39%
Contractual expense reimbursement 4 (0.01)%
Total annual fund operating expenses after expense reimbursements 1.38%

 

  1 If Common Shares are sold to or through underwriters, the Prospectus Supplement will set forth any applicable sales load and the estimated offering expenses.
  2 Participants in the Fund’s dividend reinvestment plan do not pay brokerage charges with respect to Common Shares issued directly by the Fund. However, whenever Common Shares are purchased or sold on the NYSE or otherwise on the open market, each participant will pay a pro rata portion of brokerage trading fees, currently $0.05 per share purchased or sold. Brokerage trading fees will be deducted from amounts to be invested. Shareholders participating in the Plan may buy additional Common Shares of the Fund through the Plan at any time and will be charged a $5 transaction fee plus $0.05 per share brokerage trading fee for each order. See “Distribution Policy” and “Dividend Reinvestment Plan” in the accompanying Prospectus.
  3 “Management fee” has been restated to reflect the contractual management fee schedule effective August 6, 2021. See “Management of the Fund—The Advisor.”
  4 The Advisor contractually agrees to waive a portion of its management fee and/or reimburse expenses for the Fund and certain other John Hancock funds according to an asset level breakpoint schedule that is based on the aggregate net assets of all the funds participating in the waiver or reimbursement. This waiver is allocated proportionally among the participating funds. During its most recent fiscal year, the Fund’s reimbursement amounted to 0.01% of the Fund’s average daily net assets. This agreement expires on July 31, 2023, unless renewed by mutual agreement of the Fund and the Advisor based upon a determination that this is appropriate under the circumstances at that time.

 

EXAMPLE

 

The following example illustrates the expenses that Common Shareholders would pay on a $1,000 investment in Common Shares, assuming (i) total annual expenses set forth above, including any reimbursements through their current expiration date; (ii) a 5% annual return; and (iii) all distributions are reinvested at NAV:

 

 

1 Year

 

3 Years

 

5 Years

 

10 Years

 
Total Expenses      $14     $44      $76      $167

The above table and example and the assumption in the example of a 5% annual return are required by regulations of the SEC that are applicable to all investment companies; the assumed 5% annual return is not a prediction of, and does not represent, the projected or actual performance of the Common Shares. For more complete descriptions of certain of the Fund’s costs and expenses, see “Management of the Fund”. In addition, while the example assumes reinvestment of all dividends and distributions at NAV,

 12

participants in the Fund’s dividend reinvestment plan may receive Common Shares purchased or issued at a price or value different from NAV. See “Distribution Policy” and “Dividend Reinvestment Plan.” The example does not include sales load or estimated offering costs, which would cause the expenses shown in the example to increase.

The example should not be considered a representation of past or future expenses, and the Fund’s actual expenses may be greater or less than those shown. Moreover, the Fund’s actual rate of return may be greater or less than the hypothetical 5% return shown in the example.

Financial Highlights

This table details the financial performance of the Common Shares, including total return information showing how much an investment in the Fund has increased or decreased each period (assuming reinvestment of all dividends and distributions).

 

The financial statements of the Fund as of October 31, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017 have been audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (“PwC”), the Fund’s independent registered public accounting firm. The report of PwC, along with the Fund’s financial statements in the Fund’s annual report for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2021, has been incorporated by reference into the SAI. Copies of the Fund’s most recent annual and semi-annual reports are available upon request.

 

Common Shares

 

Period ended 10-31-21 10-31-20 10-31-19 10-31-18 10-31-17 10-31-16 10-31-15 10-31-14
Per share operating performance                
Net asset value, beginning of period $5.78 $7.61 $7.63   $8.90 $8.77 $10.07 $11.44 $12.25
Net investment income1 0.32 0.36 0.42     0.41    0.44      0.52      0.64      0.80
Net realized and unrealized gain (loss) on investments

1.01

(1.55)

0.19

(0.86) 0.66 (0.57) (0.75) (0.36)
Total from investment operations 1.33 (1.19) 0.61   (0.45)   1.10    (0.05)    (0.11)     0.44
Less distributions                
From net investment income (0.32) (0.35) (0.42)    (0.41)   (0.44)     (0.52)     (0.75)     (1.28)
From tax return of capital (0.32) (0.29) (0.22)    (0.41)   (0.54)     (0.76)     (0.53)         —
Total distributions (0.64) (0.64) (0.64)   (0.82)  (0.98)    (1.28)    (1.28)    (1.28)
Anti-dilutive impact of repurchase plan 2,3 0.013        —        —        —        —        —
Anti-dilutive impact of shelf offering        —        —    0.01      0.03      0.02      0.03
Net asset value, end of period $6.47 $5.78 $7.61   $7.63 $8.90   $8.77 $10.07 $11.44
Per share market value, end of period $6.37 $4.75 $6.93   $6.91 $8.97 $10.35   $9.51 $12.59
Total return at net asset value (%)4,5 23.93 (14.79) 9.45   (5.45) 12.95    (1.28)    (0.65)     3.65
Total return at market value (%)4 48.48 (23.10) 10.06 (15.04)  (3.54)   23.37  (14.74)   10.55
Ratios and supplemental data                
Net assets, end of period (in millions) $71 $63 $83      $84     $98       $96     $106     $117
Ratios (as a percentage of average net assets):                 
Expenses before reductions 1.42 1.32 1.35     1.35    1.32      1.32      1.27      1.32
Expenses including reductions 1.42 1.31 1.34     1.34    1.31      1.32      1.26      1.32
Net investment income 4.85 5.57 5.60     4.90    4.96      5.60      6.01      6.60
Portfolio turnover (%) 302 301 260      208     220       253       261       228

 

1

Based on average daily shares outstanding.

2 Less than $0.005 per share.
3 The repurchase plan was completed at an average repurchase price of $6.97 for 24,933 shares and $6.80 for 106,001 shares for the periods ended 10-31-20 and 10-31-19, respectively.

4

 

Total return based on net asset value reflects changes in the fund’s net asset value during each period. Total return based on market value reflects changes in market value. Each figure assumes that distributions from income, capital gains and tax return of capital, if any, were reinvested.

5 Total returns would have been lower had certain expenses not been reduced during the applicable periods.
 13
Period ended     10-31-13  10-31-12
 Per share operating performance    
Net asset value, beginning of period   $11.86 $12.12
Net investment income1     0.54    0.57
Net realized and unrealized gain (loss) on investments    1.12    0.45
Total from investment operations   1.66   1.02
Less distributions to common shareholders    
From net investment income    (0.79)   (0.75)
From tax return of capital    (0.49)   (0.53)
Total distributions   (1.28)  (1.28)
Anti-dilutive impact of shelf offering        0.01
Anti-dilutive impact of repurchase plan        —
Offering costs related to common shares        —
Net asset value, end of period   $12.25 $11.86
Per share market value, end of period   $12.64 $12.37
Total return at net asset value (%)2   15.01 8.49
Total return at market value (%)2 13.78  10.69
Ratios and supplemental data    

Net assets applicable to common shares, end of period (in millions)

     $120     $113
Ratios (as a percentage of average net assets):    
   Expenses     1.37    1.27
   Net investment income     4.52    4.76
Portfolio turnover (%)      126     98
 14

Market and Net Asset Value Information

The Fund’s currently outstanding Common Shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the symbol “HTY” and commenced trading on the NYSE on September 26, 2007.

The Common Shares have traded both at a premium and a discount to their net asset value (“NAV”). The Fund cannot predict whether its shares will trade in the future at a premium or discount to NAV. The provisions of the 1940 Act generally require that the public offering price of common shares (less any underwriting commissions and discounts) must equal or exceed the NAV per share of a company’s common stock (calculated within 48 hours of pricing). The Fund’s issuance of Common Shares may have an adverse effect on prices in the secondary market for Common Shares by increasing the number of Common Shares available, which may put downward pressure on the market price for Common Shares. Shares of common stock of closed-end investment companies frequently trade at a discount from NAV. See “Risk Factors—General Risks—Market Discount Risk” and “—Secondary Market for the Common Shares.”

The following table sets forth for each of the periods indicated the high and low closing market prices for Common Shares on the NYSE, and the corresponding NAV per share and the premium or discount to NAV per share at which the Common Shares were trading as of such date. NAV is determined once daily as of the close of regular trading of the NYSE (typically 4:00 P.M., Eastern Time). See “Determination of Net Asset Value” for information as to the determination of the Fund’s NAV.

 

             
 

Market Price

 

NAV per Share on
Date of Market Price
High and Low

 

Premium/(Discount) on
Date of Market Price
High and Low

 

Fiscal Quarter Ended

 

High

 

Low

 

High

 

Low

 

High

 

Low

 
January 31, 2020 $7.20 $6.84 $7.76 $7.54 (6.98)% (9.52)%
April 30, 2020 $7.29 $3.86 $7.73 $4.94 (5.69)% (21.86)%
July 31, 2020 $5.66 $4.75 $6.38 $5.52 (10.44)% (14.41)%
October 31, 2020 $5.47 $4.75 $6.32 $5.78 (12.76)% (17.82)%
January 31, 2021 $5.70 $4.85 $5.70 $4.85 (12.97)% (17.52)%
April 30, 2021 $6.51 $5.60 $6.76 $6.38 (3.55)% (12.23)%
July 31, 2021 $6.99 $6.32 $6.98 $6.51 4.95% (6.51)%
October 31, 2021 $6.97 $6.37 $6.79 $6.31 4.34% (1.55)%
January 31, 2022 $6.75 $6.11 $6.69 $6.26 2.20% (3.32)%

The last reported sale price, NAV per share and percentage premium to NAV per share of the Common Shares as of February 16, 2022 were $6.58, $6.55 and 0.46%, respectively. As of February 16, 2022, the Fund had 10,917,997 Common Shares outstanding and net assets of the Fund were $71,472,865.

The Fund

The Fund is a diversified, closed-end management investment company registered under the 1940 Act. The Fund was organized on April 23, 2007 as a Massachusetts business trust pursuant to an Agreement and Declaration of Trust (as amended and/or restated from time to time, the “Declaration of Trust”). The Fund commenced operations in September 2007 following an initial public offering. On September 25, 2007, the Fund issued an aggregate of 8,750,000 Common Shares of beneficial interest, par value $0.01 per share, pursuant to the initial public offering thereof. On November 14, 2007, the Fund issued an additional 600,000 Common Shares in connection with the exercise by the initial underwriters of an over-allotment option. The Fund’s principal office is located at 200 Berkeley Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116 and its phone number is 800-225-6020.

The following provides information about the Fund’s outstanding securities as of October 31, 2021.

 

Title of Class

 

Amount
Authorized

 

Amount Held by
the Fund or for
its Account

 

Amount
Outstanding

 
Common Shares Unlimited 0 10,917,997
 15

Use of Proceeds

Subject to the remainder of this section, and unless otherwise specified in a Prospectus Supplement, the Fund currently intends to invest substantially all of the net proceeds of any sales of Common Shares pursuant to this Prospectus in accordance with its investment objective and policies as described under “Investment Objective” and “Investment Strategies” within three months of receipt of such proceeds. Such investments may be delayed up to three months if suitable investments are unavailable at the time or for other reasons, such as market volatility or lack of liquidity in the markets of suitable investments. Pending such investment, the Fund anticipates that it will invest the proceeds in high-quality, short-term debt securities, cash and/or cash equivalents. A delay in the anticipated use of proceeds could lower returns and reduce the Fund’s distribution to Common Shareholders or result in a distribution consisting in part or principally of a return of capital.

 

Investment Objective

The Fund’s investment objective is to provide total return consisting of a high level of current income and gains and long term capital appreciation. In pursuing its investment objective of total return, the Fund will seek to emphasize high current income. In pursuing its investment objective, the Fund seeks to achieve favorable after-tax returns for its shareholders by seeking to minimize the U.S. federal income tax consequences on income and gains generated by the Fund. There can be no assurance that the Fund will achieve its investment objective. The Fund’s investment objective is fundamental and may not be changed without shareholder approval.

 

Investment Strategies

 

Under normal market conditions, the Fund invests at least 80% of its total assets in a diversified portfolio of dividend-paying securities of issuers located throughout the world. This policy is subject to the requirement that the manager believes at the time of investment that such securities are eligible to pay tax-advantaged dividends. The Fund seeks to produce superior, risk-adjusted returns by using a disciplined, proprietary investment approach that is focused on identifying companies with strong free cash flow and that use their free cash flow to seek to maximize “shareholder yield” through dividend payments, stock repurchases and debt reduction. By assembling a diversified portfolio of securities which, in the aggregate, possess positive growth of free cash flow, high cash dividend yields, share buyback programs and net debt reductions, the Fund seeks to provide shareholders an attractive total return with less volatility than the global equity market as a whole. “Free cash flow” is the cash available for distribution to investors after all planned capital investment and taxes. The Advisor believes that free cash flow is important because it allows a company to pursue opportunities that enhance shareholder value.

 

The Fund’s investments in securities of U.S. and non-U.S. issuers are expected to vary over time. Under normal market conditions, the Fund invests at least 40% of its total assets in securities of non-U.S. issuers. The Fund may invest up to 20% of its total assets in securities issued by companies located in emerging markets when Epoch, the Fund’s subadvisor, believes such companies offer attractive opportunities. Securities held by the Fund may be denominated in both U.S. dollars and non-U.S. currencies. The Fund may not invest more than 25% of its total assets in the securities of issuers in any single industry or group of related industries. Under normal conditions, the Fund invests in the securities of issuers located in at least three different countries, including the United States. The actual number of countries represented in the Fund’s portfolio will vary over time and as of the end of the last fiscal year 10 countries were represented. The Fund may trade securities actively and may engage in short-term trading strategies.

On an overall basis, the Fund seeks to implement an investment strategy designed to minimize the U.S. federal income tax consequences on income and gain generated by the Fund. The Fund seeks to accomplish this primarily by (i) investing in dividend-paying securities that are eligible to pay dividends that qualify for U.S. federal income taxation at rates applicable to long-term capital gain (“tax-advantaged dividends”), and complying with the holding period and other requirements for such favorable tax treatment; and (ii) offsetting any ordinary income and realized short-term capital gain against Fund expenses and realized short-term loss. In this regard, as discussed above, the Fund’s policy described above of investing at least 80% of its total assets in dividend-paying securities of issuers located throughout the world is subject to the requirement that Epoch believes at the time of investment that such securities are eligible to pay tax-advantaged dividends. This is a non-fundamental policy that may be changed by the Board without approval of the Common Shareholders following the provision of 60 days’ prior written notice to Common Shareholders.

Equity Strategy

The Fund invests in global equity securities across a broad range of market capitalizations. The Fund generally invests in companies with a market capitalization (i.e., total market value of a company’s shares) of $500 million or greater at the time of purchase. The Advisor has engaged Epoch to serve as subadvisor to the Fund. Epoch handles the Fund’s portfolio management activities, subject to oversight by the Advisor. Although the Fund may invest in securities of companies with any capitalization, it may at any given time

 16

invest a significant portion of its total assets in companies of one particular market capitalization category when Epoch believes such companies offer attractive opportunities. Epoch seeks to produce superior, risk-adjusted returns by investing in businesses with outstanding risk/reward profiles and a focus on high “shareholder yield.” Shareholder yield refers to the collective financial impact on shareholders from the return of free cash flow through cash dividends, stock repurchases and debt reduction. By assembling a diversified portfolio of securities with these qualities, Epoch believes Fund investors will have the opportunity to realize an attractive total return with less volatility than the global equity market as a whole.

 

Epoch seeks to produce an efficient portfolio on a risk/return basis with a dividend yield that exceeds the dividend yield of the MSCI World Index.

The MSCI World Index captures large- and mid- cap representation across 23 developed market countries. With 1,603 constituents, the index covers approximately 85% of the free float-adjusted market capitalization in each country as of December 31, 2021. In selecting securities for the Fund, Epoch utilizes an investment strategy that combines bottom-up stock research and selection with top-down analysis. Epoch looks for companies it believes have solid long-term prospects, attractive valuation comparisons and adequate market liquidity. The equity securities that Epoch finds attractive generally have valuations lower than Epoch’s estimate of their fundamental value, as reflected in price-to-cash flow, price-to-book ratios or other stock valuation measures.

In selecting securities for the Fund’s portfolio, Epoch focuses on dividend-paying common stocks and, to a lesser extent, preferred securities that produce an attractive level of tax-advantaged income. Epoch also considers an equity security’s potential for capital appreciation. Epoch generally uses a value approach in selecting the Fund’s equity investments. Epoch evaluates an equity security’s potential value, including the attractiveness of its market valuation, based on the company’s assets and prospects for earnings growth. Investment decisions are made primarily on the basis of fundamental research. Epoch relies upon information provided by, and the expertise of, Epoch’s research staff in making investment decisions. In selecting equity securities, Epoch considers (among other factors) a company’s cash flow capabilities, dividend prospects and the anticipated U.S. federal income tax treatment of a company’s dividends, the strength of the company’s business franchises and estimates of the company’s net value.

Epoch sells or reduces a position in a security when it sees the goals of its investment thesis failing to materialize, or when it believes those goals have been met and the valuation of the company’s shares fully reflect the opportunities once thought unrecognized in share price. The reasons for a determination by Epoch that such goals are not being met include: the economic or competitive environment might be changing; company management’s execution could be disappointing; or in certain cases, management proves to be less than forthright or have an inappropriate assessment of the company’s state and the task at hand.

Tax-advantaged dividends. Under normal market conditions, the Fund invests primarily in a diversified portfolio of dividend-paying securities of issuers located throughout the world that Epoch believes at the time of investment are eligible to pay tax-advantaged dividends.

Tax-advantaged dividends generally include dividends from domestic corporations and dividends from foreign corporations that meet certain specified criteria. The Fund generally can pass the tax treatment of tax-advantaged dividends it receives through to its Common Shareholders. For the Fund to receive tax-advantaged dividends, the Fund must, in addition to other requirements, hold the otherwise qualified security for more than 60 days during the 121-day period beginning 60 days before the ex-dividend date (or, in the case of preferred securities, more than 90 days during the 181-day period beginning 90 days before the ex-dividend date). The “ex-dividend date” is the date that is established by a stock exchange (usually two business days before the record date) whereby the owner of a security at the commencement of such date is entitled to receive the next issued dividend payment for such security, even if the security is sold by such owner on the ex-dividend date or thereafter. In addition, the Fund cannot be obligated to make payments (pursuant to a short sale or otherwise) with respect to substantially similar or related property. For a Common Shareholder to be taxed at the long-term capital gain rates, the Common Shareholder must hold his or her Common Shares for more than 60 days during the 121-day period beginning 60 days before the ex-dividend date. Consequently, short-term investors in the Fund will not realize the benefits of tax-advantaged dividends.

There can be no assurance as to the portion of the Fund’s dividends that will be tax-advantaged. Although the Fund intends to invest at least 80% of its assets in equity securities that pay tax-advantaged dividends and to satisfy the holding period and other requirements, a portion of the Fund’s income distributions may be taxable as ordinary income (i.e., income other than tax-advantaged dividends).

Dividend capture strategy. The Fund may seek to enhance the level of dividend income it receives by engaging in dividend capture trading. In a dividend capture trade, the Fund sells a security after having held the security long enough to satisfy the holding period requirements for tax-advantaged dividends, but shortly after the security’s ex-dividend date. The Fund then uses the sale proceeds to purchase one or more other securities that are expected to pay dividends before the next dividend payment date on the security being

 17

sold. Through this practice, the Fund may receive more dividend payments over a given period of time than if it held a single security. Receipt of a greater number of dividend payments during a given time period could augment the total amount of dividend income received by the Fund. For example, during the course of a single year, it may be possible through dividend capture trading for the Fund to receive five or more dividend payments on different securities which have been held for the requisite holding period to qualify as a tax-advantaged dividend, whereas it may only have received four payments in a hold strategy. The use of dividend capture strategies will expose the Fund to increased trading costs and the potential for recognizing short-term capital gain or loss on the sale of a security. Also, any net short-term capital gain recognized by the Fund and distributed to shareholders will be taxed to individual shareholders at ordinary U.S. federal income tax rates, whereas if the Fund held the security for more than one year, any gain recognized on the sale of the security and distributed to shareholders would be taxable to individual shareholders at U.S. federal long-term capital gain rates. Consequently, Epoch employs dividend capture trading as a strategy in an attempt to produce a positive net effect on the Fund’s total after-tax return. By complying with applicable holding period and other requirements while engaging in dividend capture trading, the Fund may be able to enhance the level of tax-advantaged dividend income it receives because it will receive more dividend payments qualifying for favorable treatment during the same time period than if it simply held its portfolio securities. The Fund’s ability to benefit from this strategy may be adversely affected by any loss carryforwards the Fund might have.

Other Investments

The foregoing policies relating to investments in equity securities are the Fund’s primary investment policies. In addition to its primary investment policies, the Fund may invest to a limited extent in other types of securities and engage in certain other investment practices. The Fund may use a variety of derivative instruments (including long and short positions) for hedging purposes, to adjust portfolio characteristics or more generally for purposes of attempting to increase the Fund’s investment return, including put and call options, options on futures contracts, futures and forward contracts and swap agreements (including total return swaps) with respect to securities, indices and currencies. The Fund may invest in securities of other open- and closed-end investment companies, including exchange traded funds, to the extent that such investments are consistent with the Fund’s investment objective and policies and permissible under the 1940 Act. The Fund may lend its portfolio securities. The Fund may invest in debt securities, including below investment-grade debt securities (also known as “junk bonds”). See “—Additional Investment Practices.” Normally, the Fund invests substantially all of its total assets to meet its investment objective. The Fund may invest the remainder of its assets in other equity securities and fixed-income securities with remaining maturities of less than one year or cash equivalents, or it may hold cash. For temporary defensive purposes, the Fund may depart from its principal investment strategies and invest part or all of its total assets in fixed-income securities with remaining maturities of less than one year, cash or cash equivalents. During such periods, the Fund may not be able to achieve its investment objective.

 

The Fund may deviate from its principal investment strategies during transition periods, which may include the reassignment of portfolio management, a change in investment objective or strategy, a reorganization or liquidation, or the occurrence of large inflows or outflows.

PORTFOLIO INVESTMENTS

Common stocks

The Fund invests primarily in common stocks. Common stocks represent an ownership interest in an issuer. While offering greater potential for long-term growth, common stocks are more volatile and more risky than some other forms of investment. Common stock prices fluctuate for many reasons, including adverse events, such as an unfavorable earnings report, changes in investors’ perceptions of the financial condition of an issuer or the general condition of the relevant stock market, or when political or economic events affecting the issuers occur. In addition, common stock prices may be sensitive to rising interest rates as the costs of capital rise and borrowing costs increase.

Although common stocks have historically generated higher average returns than fixed-income securities over the long term and particularly during periods of high or rising concerns about inflation, common stocks also have experienced significantly more volatility in returns and may not maintain their real value during inflationary periods. An adverse event, such as an unfavorable earnings report, may depress the value of a particular common stock held by the Fund. Also, the prices of common stocks are sensitive to general movements in the stock market and a drop in the stock market may depress the price of common stocks to which the Fund has exposure. Common stock prices fluctuate for many reasons, including changes in investors’ perceptions of the financial condition of an issuer or the general condition of the relevant stock market, or when political or economic events affecting the issuers occur. In addition, common stock prices may be sensitive to rising interest rates, as the costs of capital rise and borrowing costs increase.

Non-U.S. securities

Typically, the Fund invests at least 40% of its total assets in securities of non-U.S. issuers. The Fund invests in non-U.S. securities, including direct investments in securities of non-U.S. issuers and investments in depositary receipts (such as American Depositary

 18

Receipts) that represent indirect interests in securities of non-U.S. issuers. The Fund is not limited in the amount of assets it may invest in such non-U.S. securities. These investments involve risks not associated with investments in the United States, including the risk of fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, unreliable and untimely information about the issuers and political and economic instability. These risks could result in Epoch misjudging the value of certain securities or in a significant loss in the value of those securities.

The value of non-U.S. securities is affected by changes in currency rates, non-U.S. tax laws (including withholding tax), government policies (in this country or abroad), relations between nations and trading, settlement, custodial and other operational risks. In addition, the costs of investing abroad generally are higher than in the United States, and non-U.S. securities markets may be less liquid, more volatile and less subject to governmental supervision than markets in the United States. As an alternative to holding non-U.S.-traded securities, the Fund may invest in dollar-denominated securities of non-U.S. companies that trade on U.S. exchanges or in the U.S. over-the-counter markets (including depositary receipts as described below, which evidence ownership in underlying non-U.S. securities, and exchange traded funds (“ETFs”) as described below).

Because non-U.S. companies are not subject to uniform accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards, practices and requirements comparable to those applicable to U.S. companies, there may be less publicly available information about a non-U.S. company than about a domestic company. Volume and liquidity in most non-U.S. debt markets is less than in the United States and securities of some non-U.S. companies are less liquid and more volatile than securities of comparable U.S. companies. There generally is less government supervision and regulation of securities exchanges, broker-dealers and listed companies than in the United States. Mail service between the United States and foreign countries may be slower or less reliable than within the United States, thus increasing the risk of delayed settlements of portfolio transactions or loss of certificates for portfolio securities. Payment for securities before delivery may be required. In addition, with respect to certain foreign countries, there is the possibility of expropriation or confiscatory taxation, political or social instability, or diplomatic developments, which could affect investments in those countries. Moreover, individual non-U.S. economies may differ favorably or unfavorably from the U.S. economy in such respects as growth of gross national product, rate of inflation, capital reinvestment, resource self-sufficiency and balance of payments position. Non-U.S. securities markets, while growing in volume and sophistication, generally are not as developed as those in the United States, and securities of some non-U.S. issuers (particularly those located in developing countries) may be less liquid and more volatile than securities of comparable U.S. companies.

The Fund may invest in the securities of non-U.S. issuers in the form of sponsored and unsponsored American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”), Global Depositary Receipts (“GDRs”), and European Depositary Receipts (“EDRs”) (collectively, “Depositary Receipts”), which are certificates evidencing ownership of shares of non-U.S. issuers and are alternatives to purchasing directly the underlying non-U.S. securities in their national markets and currencies. However, such depository receipts continue to be subject to many of the risks associated with investing directly in non-U.S. securities. These risks include foreign exchange risk as well as the political and economic risks associated with the underlying issuer’s country. ADRs, EDRs and GDRs may be sponsored or unsponsored. Unsponsored receipts are established without the participation of the issuer. Unsponsored receipts may involve higher expenses, they may not pass-through voting or other shareholder rights, and they may be less liquid. Less information is normally available on unsponsored receipts.

Emerging markets

The Fund may invest in securities of issuers located in emerging markets. The risks of non-U.S. investments described above apply to an even greater extent to investments in emerging markets. The securities markets of emerging market countries generally are smaller, less developed, less liquid and more volatile than the securities markets of the United States and developed non-U.S. markets. Disclosure and regulatory standards in many respects are less stringent than in the United States and developed non-U.S. markets. There also may be a lower level of monitoring and regulation of securities markets in emerging market countries, and enforcement of existing regulations may be limited. Many emerging market countries have experienced substantial, and in some periods extremely high, rates of inflation for many years. Inflation and rapid fluctuations in inflation rates have had and may continue to have very negative effects on the economies and securities markets of certain emerging market countries. Economies in emerging markets generally are heavily dependent upon international trade and, accordingly, have been and may continue to be affected adversely by trade barriers, exchange controls, managed adjustments in relative currency values and other protectionist measures imposed or negotiated by the countries with which they trade. The economies of these countries also have been and may continue to be adversely affected by economic conditions in the countries in which they trade. The economies of countries with emerging markets also may be predominantly based on only a few industries or dependent on revenues from particular commodities. In addition, custodial services and other costs relating to investment in non-U.S. markets may be more expensive in emerging markets than in many developed non-U.S. markets, which could reduce the Fund’s income from such securities.

 19

TEMPORARY DEFENSIVE STRATEGIES

There may be times when, in the Advisor’s judgment, conditions in the securities market would make pursuit of the Fund’s investment strategy inconsistent with achievement of the Fund’s investment objectives. At such times, the Advisor may employ alternative strategies primarily to seek to reduce fluctuations in the value of the Fund’s assets. In implementing these temporary defensive strategies, depending on the circumstances, the Fund may invest part or all of its total assets in fixed-income securities with remaining maturities of less than one year, cash or cash equivalents. Cash equivalents are highly liquid, short-term securities such as commercial paper, time deposits, certificates of deposit, short-term notes and short-term U.S. government obligations. During such market circumstances, the Fund may not pay tax-advantaged dividends. It is impossible to predict when, or for how long, the Fund may use these alternative strategies.

ADDITIONAL PORTFOLIO INVESTMENTS

Preferred securities

The Fund may invest in preferred securities. Preferred securities, like common stock, represent an equity ownership in an issuer. Generally, preferred securities have a priority of claim over common stock in dividend payments and upon liquidation of the issuer. Unlike common stock, preferred securities do not usually have voting rights. Preferred securities in some instances are convertible into common stock. Although they are equity securities, preferred securities have characteristics of both debt and common stock. Like debt, their promised income is contractually fixed. Like common stock, they do not have rights to precipitate bankruptcy proceedings or collection activities in the event of missed payments. Other equity characteristics are their subordinated position in an issuer’s capital structure and that their quality and value are heavily dependent on the profitability of the issuer rather than on any legal claims to specific assets or cash flows.

Distributions on preferred securities must be declared by the board of directors and may be subject to deferral, and thus they may not be automatically payable. Income payments on preferred securities may be cumulative, causing dividends and distributions to accrue even if not declared by the board or otherwise made payable, or they may be non-cumulative, so that skipped dividends and distributions do not continue to accrue. There is no assurance that dividends on preferred securities in which the Fund invests will be declared or otherwise made payable. The Fund may invest in non-cumulative preferred securities, although Epoch would consider, among other factors, their non-cumulative nature in making any decision to purchase or sell such securities.

Shares of preferred securities have a liquidation value that generally equals the original purchase price at the date of issuance. The market values of preferred securities may be affected by favorable and unfavorable changes impacting the issuers’ industries or sectors, including companies in the utilities and financial services sectors, which are prominent issuers of preferred securities. They also may be affected by actual and anticipated changes or ambiguities in the tax status of the security and by actual and anticipated changes or ambiguities in tax laws, such as changes in corporate and individual income tax rates, and in the dividends received deduction for corporate taxpayers or the characterization of dividends as tax-advantaged as described herein.

Because the claim on an issuer’s earnings represented by preferred securities may become onerous when interest rates fall below the rate payable on the security or for other reasons, the issuer may redeem preferred securities, generally after an initial period of call protection during which the security is not redeemable. Thus, in declining interest rate environments in particular, the Fund’s holdings of higher dividend-paying preferred securities may be reduced and the Fund may be unable to acquire securities paying comparable rates with the redemption proceeds. For the Fund to receive tax-advantaged dividend income on preferred securities, the Fund must hold securities paying an otherwise tax-advantaged dividend for more than 90 days during the associated 180-day period. In addition, as is the case for Common Shares the Fund cannot be obligated to make related payments (pursuant to a short sale or otherwise) with respect to substantially similar or related property. Similar provisions apply to each Common Shareholder’s investment in the Fund as discussed herein.

Derivatives

The Fund does not expect to, but reserves the flexibility to, use a variety of derivative instruments (including both long and short positions) for hedging purposes, to adjust portfolio characteristics, or more generally for purposes of attempting to increase the Fund’s investment return, including, for example, buying and selling call and put options, buying and selling futures contracts and options on futures contracts, and entering into forward contracts and swap agreements (including total return swaps) with respect to securities, indices, and currencies. There can be no assurance that the Fund will enter into any such transaction at any particular time or under any specific circumstances.

The Fund may purchase and sell derivative instruments such as exchange-listed and over-the-counter put and call options on securities, financial futures, equity, fixed-income, interest rate indices and other financial instruments, purchase and sell financial futures contracts and options thereon, and enter into various interest rate transactions such as swaps, caps, floors or collars. The Fund

 20

also may purchase or sell derivative instruments that combine features of these instruments. Derivatives have risks, including the imperfect correlation between the value of such instruments and the underlying assets, the possible default of the other party to the transaction, and illiquidity of the derivative instruments. The ability to use derivatives to benefit the Fund depends, in part, on the Advisor’s or Epoch’s ability to predict market movements correctly, which cannot be assured. Thus, the use of derivatives may result in a loss greater than if they had not been used, may require the Fund to sell or purchase portfolio securities at inopportune times or for prices other than the values the Fund has placed on them, may limit the amount of appreciation the Fund can realize on an investment, or may cause the Fund to hold a security that it might otherwise sell. Additionally, amounts paid by the Fund as premiums and cash or other assets held in margin accounts with respect to derivatives may not otherwise be available to the Fund for investment purposes.

The Advisor is a registered commodity pool operator (“CPO”) under the CEA and is a National Futures Association member firm. The Advisor has claimed an exclusion from CPO registration pursuant to CFTC Rule 4.5 with respect to the Fund.


The regulation of the U.S. and non-U.S. derivatives markets has undergone substantial change in recent years and such change may continue. In particular, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and regulations promulgated or proposed thereunder require many derivatives to be cleared and traded on an exchange, expand entity registration requirements, impose business conduct requirements on dealers that enter into swaps with a pension plan, endowment, retirement plan or government entity, and required banks to move some derivatives trading units to a non-guaranteed affiliate separate from the deposit-taking bank or divest them altogether. Although the CFTC has released final rules relating to clearing, reporting, recordkeeping and registration requirements under the legislation, many of the provisions are subject to further final rule making, and thus their ultimate impact remains unclear. New regulations could, among other things, restrict the Fund’s ability to engage in derivatives transactions (for example, by making certain types of derivatives transactions no longer available to the Fund) and/or increase the costs of such derivatives transactions (for example, by increasing margin or capital requirements), and the Fund may be unable to fully execute its investment strategies as a result. Limits or restrictions applicable to the counterparties with which the Fund engages in derivative transactions also could prevent the Fund from using these instruments or affect the pricing or other factors relating to these instruments, or may change the availability of certain investments.

In addition, new Rule 18f-4 (the “Derivatives Rule”), adopted by the SEC on October 28, 2020, replaces current asset segregation requirements with a new framework for the use of derivatives by registered funds. For funds using a significant amount of derivatives, the Derivatives Rule mandates a fund adopt and/or implement: (i) value at risk (“VaR”)-based limitations on leverage in lieu of asset segregation requirements; (ii) a written derivatives risk management program (a “DRMP”); (iii) new Board oversight responsibilities; and (iv) new reporting and recordkeeping requirements. The Derivatives Rule provides an exception from the requirements to adopt a DRMP, comply with VaR-based limitations and related board oversight and reporting obligations for funds that are “limited derivatives users,” meaning, generally, with derivatives exposure not exceeding 10% of its net assets, excluding certain currency and interest rate hedging transactions. In addition, the Derivatives Rule provides special treatment for reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions and unfunded commitment agreements. Funds will be required to comply with the Derivatives Rule starting on August 19, 2022.

At any time after the date of this prospectus, legislation may be enacted that could negatively affect the assets of the Fund. Legislation or regulation may change the way in which the Fund itself is regulated. The Adviser cannot predict the effects of any new governmental regulation that may be implemented, and there can be no assurance that any new governmental regulation will not adversely affect the Fund’s ability to achieve its investment objectives.

Put options

In certain extraordinary market circumstances, the Fund may purchase put options (including married puts as described herein) when it believes that extra risk is present in the equity market. Put options are contracts that give the holder of the option, in return for a premium, the right to sell to the writer of the option the security/index underlying the option at a specified exercise price at any time during the term of the option. The Fund would use put options as a general hedge against potential declines in equity markets. As the purchaser of index put options, the Fund seeks to benefit from a decline in the market prices of the underlying index, thereby hedging the Fund’s exposure to market risk. The Fund will pay a premium to the seller of the option for the right to receive payments of cash to the extent that the value of the applicable index declines below a fixed price (the exercise price) as of a specified date in the future (the option valuation date). If the index price is above the exercise price of the option as of the option valuation date, the option expires worthless and the Fund will not be able to recover the option premium paid. In buying index put options, the Fund, in effect,

 21

acquires protection against a decline in the value of the applicable index below the exercise price in exchange for the option premium paid. If, at expiration, an index put option purchased by the Fund is exercised, the Fund will receive from the option seller the difference between the cash value of the applicable index and the exercise price of the option. The premium paid, the exercise price and the market value of the applicable index will determine the gain or loss realized by the Fund as the buyer of the index put option.

Debt securities

The Fund may invest to a limited extent in a wide variety of bonds, debentures and similar debt securities of varying maturities and durations issued by corporations and other business entities, including limited liability companies. Debt securities in which the Fund may invest may pay fixed or variable rates of interest. Bonds and other debt securities generally are issued by corporations and other issuers to borrow money from investors. The issuer pays the investor a fixed or variable rate of interest and normally must repay the amount borrowed on or before maturity. Certain debt securities are “perpetual” in that they have no maturity date. The Fund may invest in debt securities of below investment grade quality, commonly known as “junk bonds,” which are considered to be predominantly speculative in nature because of the credit risk of the issuers. Income payments on debt securities received by the Fund will be fully taxable as ordinary income. To the extent the Fund invests in debt securities, such investments will not be eligible for favorable tax treatment. Prices of bonds tend to move inversely with changes in interest rates. Some bonds give the issuer the option to call (redeem) the bonds before their maturity date. If an issuer calls its bond during a time of declining interest rates, the Fund might not benefit from any increase in value as a result of declining interest rates. Failure of an issuer to make timely interest or principal payments, or a decline or perception of a decline in the credit quality of a bond, can cause a bond’s price to fall. The Fund’s investments in preferred stocks and bonds of below investment grade quality, if any, are predominantly speculative because of the credit risk of their issuers. Issuers of below investment grade quality preferred stocks and bonds are more likely to default on their payments of dividends/interest and liquidation value/principal owed to the Fund, and such defaults will reduce the Fund’s NAV and income distributions. The prices of these lower quality preferred stocks and bonds are more sensitive to negative developments than higher rated securities. Adverse business conditions, such as a decline in the issuer’s revenues or an economic downturn, generally lead to a higher non-payment rate.

Exchange traded funds

The Fund may invest in ETFs, which are investment companies that aim to track or replicate a desired index, such as a sector, market or global segment. ETFs are passively or actively managed and their shares are traded on a national exchange or the NASDAQ. ETFs do not sell individual shares directly to investors and only issue their shares in large blocks known as “creation units.” The investor purchasing a creation unit may sell the individual shares on a secondary market. Therefore, the liquidity of ETFs depends on the adequacy of the secondary market. There can be no assurance that an ETF’s investment objective will be achieved, as ETFs based on an index may not replicate and maintain exactly the composition and relative weightings of securities in the index. ETFs are subject to the risks of investing in the underlying securities. The Fund, as a holder of the securities of the ETF, will bear its pro rata portion of the ETF’s expenses, including advisory fees. These expenses are in addition to the direct expenses of the Fund’s own operations.

Other investment companies

The Fund may invest in securities of open- or other closed-end investment companies, including ETFs, to the extent that such investments are consistent with the Fund’s investment objective and policies and permissible under the 1940 Act. The Fund, as a holder of the securities of other investment companies, will bear its pro rata portion of the other investment companies’ expenses, including advisory fees. These expenses are in addition to the direct expenses of the Fund’s own operations. Common Shareholders would therefore be subject to duplicative expenses to the extent the Fund invests in other investment companies. In addition, these other investment companies may utilize leverage, in which case an investment would subject the Fund to additional risks associated with leverage. See “Risk Factors—Leverage Risk.”

Repurchase agreement

The Fund may enter into repurchase agreements. When the Fund enters into a repurchase agreement, it receives collateral which is held in a segregated account by the Fund’s custodian. The collateral amount is marked-to-market and monitored on a daily basis to ensure that the collateral held is in an amount not less than the principal amount of the repurchase agreement plus any accrued interest. In the event of a default by the counterparty, realization of the collateral proceeds could be delayed, during which time the collateral value may decline.

Illiquid securities

The Fund may invest up to 15% of the value of its net assets in illiquid securities. Illiquid securities include securities that have legal or contractual restrictions on resale, securities that cannot be sold or disposed of in seven calendar days or less without the sale or

 22

disposition significantly changing the market value of the investment), and repurchase agreements maturing in more than seven days. Illiquid securities involve the risk that the securities will not be able to be sold at the time desired or at prices approximating the value at which the Fund is carrying the securities.

Other investments

The Fund may use a variety of other investment instruments in pursuing its investment programs. The investments of the Fund may include fixed income securities, sovereign debt, options on foreign currencies and forward foreign currency contracts.

OTHER INVESTMENT POLICIES

The Fund may, but is under no obligation to, from time to time employ a variety of investment techniques, including those described below, to hedge against fluctuations in the price of portfolio securities, to enhance total return or to provide a substitute for the purchase or sale of securities. The Fund’s ability to use any of the techniques described below may be limited by restrictions imposed on its operations in connection with obtaining and maintaining its qualification as a regulated investment company under the Code. Additionally, other factors (such as cost) may make it impractical or undesirable to use any of these investment techniques from time to time.

Borrowing

The Fund has no current intention to borrow for investment purposes or to issue preferred shares. However, it may borrow from banks for extraordinary or emergency purposes. Further, the Fund is authorized and reserves the flexibility to utilize leverage through borrowing and/or the issuance of preferred shares, including the issuance of debt securities, to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act.

Portfolio turnover

The Fund may engage in short-term trading strategies, and securities may be sold without regard to the length of time held when, in the opinion of Epoch, investment considerations warrant such action. In addition, the Fund’s dividend capture program also may increase the level of portfolio turnover that the Fund experiences. These policies may have the effect of increasing the annual rate of portfolio turnover of the Fund. A high turnover rate (100% or more) necessarily involves greater trading costs to the Fund and may result in the realization of net short-term capital gain. The portfolio turnover rate for the Fund for the fiscal years ended October 31, 2021 and October 31, 2020 was 302% and 301%, respectively. If securities are not held for the applicable holding periods, dividends paid on them will not qualify for the advantageous U.S. federal tax rates. See “Investment Strategies” and “U.S. Federal Income Tax Matters.”

Lending of portfolio securities

The Fund may lend portfolio securities to registered broker-dealers, or other institutional investors, under agreements which require that the loans be secured continuously by collateral in cash, cash equivalents, or U.S. Treasury bills or other collateral maintained on a current basis at an amount at least equal to the market value of the securities loaned. The Fund continues to receive the equivalent of the interest or dividends paid by the issuer on the securities loaned as well as the benefit of any increase and the detriment of any decrease in the market value of the securities loaned and also would receive a portion of the investment return on the collateral. The Fund would not have the right to vote any securities having voting rights during the existence of the loan, but would have the right to call the loan in anticipation of an important vote to be taken among holders of the securities or of the giving or withholding of consent on a material matter affecting the investment.

As with other extensions of credit, there are risks of delay in recovery or even loss of rights in the collateral should the borrower of the securities fail financially. In addition, under such circumstances, the Fund may not be able to recover securities loaned. At no time would the value of the securities loaned exceed 33% of the value of the Fund’s total assets. Compensation received by the Fund in connection with securities lending activities will not constitute tax-advantaged qualified dividend income.

Foreign currency transactions

The value of non-U.S. assets as measured in U.S. dollars may be affected favorably or unfavorably by changes in foreign currency rates and exchange control regulations. Currency exchange rates also can be affected unpredictably by intervention by U.S. or foreign governments or central banks, or the failure to intervene, or by currency controls or political developments in the United States or abroad. The Fund may (but is not required to) engage in transactions to hedge against changes in foreign currencies, and will use such hedging techniques when the Advisor or Epoch deems appropriate. Foreign currency exchange transactions may be conducted on a spot (i.e., cash) basis at the spot rate prevailing in the foreign currency exchange market or through entering into derivative currency transactions. Currency futures contracts are exchange-traded and change in value to reflect movements of a currency or a basket of

 23

currencies. Settlement must be made in a designated currency.

Forward foreign currency exchange contracts are individually negotiated and privately traded so they are dependent upon the creditworthiness of the counterparty. Such contracts may be used when a security denominated in a foreign currency is purchased or sold, or when the receipt in a foreign currency of dividend or interest payments on such a security is anticipated. A forward contract can then “lock in” the U.S. dollar price of the security or the U.S. dollar equivalent of such dividend or interest payment, as the case may be.

Additionally, when the Advisor or Epoch believes that the currency of a particular foreign country may suffer a substantial decline against the U.S. dollar, it may enter into a forward contract to sell, for a fixed amount of dollars, the amount of foreign currency approximating the value of some or all of the securities held that are denominated in such foreign currency. The precise matching of the forward contract amounts and the value of the securities involved generally will not be possible. In addition, it may not be possible to hedge against long-term currency changes. Cross-hedging may be performed by using forward contracts in one currency (or basket of currencies) to hedge against fluctuations in the value of securities denominated in a different currency if the Advisor or Epoch determines that there is an established historical pattern of correlation between the two currencies (or the basket of currencies and the underlying currency). Use of a different foreign currency magnifies exposure to foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations. Forward contracts also may be used to shift exposure to foreign currency exchange rate changes from one currency to another. Short-term hedging provides a means of fixing the dollar value of only a portion of portfolio assets. Income or gain earned on any of the Fund’s foreign currency transactions generally will be treated as fully taxable income (i.e., income other than tax-advantaged dividends).

Currency transactions are subject to the risk of a number of complex political and economic factors applicable to the countries issuing the underlying currencies. Furthermore, unlike trading in most other types of instruments, there is no systematic reporting of last sale information with respect to the foreign currencies underlying the derivative currency transactions. As a result, available information may not be complete. In an over-the-counter trading environment, there are no daily price fluctuation limits. There may be no liquid secondary market to close out options purchased or written, or forward contracts entered into, until their exercise, expiration or maturity. There also is the risk of default by, or the bankruptcy of, the financial institution serving as counterparty.

ESG Integration

The manager may consider ESG factors that it deems relevant or additive, along with other material factors and analysis, when managing the fund. ESG factors may include, but are not limited to, matters regarding board diversity, climate change policies, and supply chain and human rights policies. The portion of the Fund's investments for which the manager considers these ESG factors may vary, and could increase or decrease over time. The ESG characteristics utilized in the fund’s investment process may change over time, and different ESG characteristics may be relevant to different investments.

Risk Factors

The principal risks of investing in the Fund are summarized in the Prospectus Summary above. Below are descriptions of the principal factors that may play a role in shaping the Fund’s overall risk profile. The descriptions appear in alphabetical order by general risks, and equity strategy risks, not in order of importance. For further details about the Fund’s risks, including additional risk factors that are not discussed in this Prospectus because they are considered non-principal risk factors, see the Fund’s SAI.

General Risks

 

Cybersecurity and operational risk

 

With the increased use of technologies, such as mobile devices and “cloud”-based service offerings and the dependence on the internet and computer systems to perform necessary business functions, the Fund’s service providers are susceptible to operational and information or cybersecurity risks that could result in losses to the Fund and its shareholders. Intentional cybersecurity breaches include unauthorized access to systems, networks, or devices (such as through “hacking” activity or “phishing”); infection from computer viruses or other malicious software code; and attacks that shut down, disable, slow, or otherwise disrupt operations, business processes, or website access or functionality. Cyber-attacks can also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as causing denial-of-service attacks on the service providers’ systems or websites rendering them unavailable to intended users or via “ransomware” that renders the systems inoperable until appropriate actions are taken. In addition, unintentional incidents can occur, such as the inadvertent release of confidential information (possibly resulting in the violation of applicable privacy laws).

 

A cybersecurity breach could result in the loss or theft of customer data or funds, loss or theft of proprietary information or corporate data, physical damage to a computer or network system, or costs associated with system repairs. Such incidents could cause the Fund, the advisor, a manager, or other service providers to incur regulatory penalties, reputational damage, additional compliance costs, or

 24

financial loss. In addition, such incidents could affect issuers in which the Fund invests, and thereby cause the Fund’s investments to lose value.

 

Cyber-events have the potential to affect materially the Fund and the Advisor’s relationships with accounts, shareholders, clients, customers, employees, products, and service providers. The Fund has established risk management systems reasonably designed to seek to reduce the risks associated with cyber-events. There is no guarantee that the Fund will be able to prevent or mitigate the impact of any or all cyber-events.

 

The Fund is 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 service providers, counterparties, or other third parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or system failures.

 

In addition, other disruptive events, including (but not limited to) natural disasters and public health crises (such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic), may adversely affect the Fund’s ability to conduct business, in particular if the Fund’s employees or the employees of its service providers are unable or unwilling to perform their responsibilities as a result of any such event. Even if the Fund’s employees and the employees of its service providers are able to work remotely, those remote work arrangements could result in the Fund’s business operations being less efficient than under normal circumstances, could lead to delays in its processing of transactions, and could increase the risk of cyber-events.

DEFENSIVE POSITIONS RISK

During periods of adverse market or economic conditions, the Fund may temporarily invest all or a substantial portion of its total assets in fixed-income securities with remaining maturities of less than one year, cash or cash equivalents. The Fund will not be pursuing its investment objective in these circumstances and could miss favorable market developments.

DISTRIBUTION RISK

There can be no assurance that quarterly distributions paid by the Fund to shareholders will be maintained at current levels or increase over time. The quarterly distributions shareholders receive from the Fund are derived from the Fund’s dividends and interest income after payment of Fund expenses, net option premiums, net realized gains on equity securities investments and return of capital. Net realized gain on the Fund’s stock investments will be determined primarily by the direction and movement of the stock market and the equity securities held. The Fund’s cash available for distribution may vary widely over the short- and long-term. If, for any calendar year, the total distributions made exceed the Fund’s net investment taxable income and net capital gain, the excess generally will be treated as a return of capital to each Common Shareholder (up to the amount of the Common Shareholder’s basis in his or her Common Shares) and thereafter as gain from the sale of Common Shares. The amount treated as a return of capital reduces the Common Shareholder’s adjusted basis in his or her Common Shares, thereby increasing his or her potential gain or reducing his or her potential loss on the subsequent sale of his or her Common Shares. Distributions in any year may include a substantial return of capital component. Dividends on common stocks are not fixed but are declared at the discretion of the issuer’s board of directors. The Fund’s dividend income will be substantially influenced by the activity level and success of its dividend capture trading program, which may not work as intended.

ECONOMIC AND MARKET EVENTS RISK

Events in certain sectors historically have resulted, and may in the future result, in an unusually high degree of volatility in the financial markets, both domestic and foreign. These events have included, but are not limited to: bankruptcies, corporate restructurings, and other similar events; governmental efforts to limit short selling and high frequency trading; measures to address U.S. federal and state budget deficits; social, political, and economic instability in Europe; economic stimulus by the Japanese central bank; dramatic changes in energy prices and currency exchange rates; and China’s economic slowdown. Interconnected global economies and financial markets increase the possibility that conditions in one country or region might adversely impact issuers in a different country or region. Both domestic and foreign equity markets have experienced increased volatility and turmoil, with issuers that have exposure to the real estate, mortgage, and credit markets particularly affected. Financial institutions could suffer losses as interest rates rise or economic conditions deteriorate.

In addition, relatively high market volatility and reduced liquidity in credit and fixed-income markets may adversely affect many issuers worldwide. Actions taken by the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) or foreign central banks to stimulate or stabilize economic growth, such as interventions in currency markets, could cause high volatility in the equity and fixed-income markets. Reduced liquidity may result in less money being available to purchase raw materials, goods, and services from emerging markets, which may, in turn, bring down the prices of these economic staples. It may also result in emerging-market issuers having more difficulty

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obtaining financing, which may, in turn, cause a decline in their securities prices.

In addition, while interest rates have been historically low in recent years in the United States and abroad, any decision by the Fed to adjust the target Fed funds rate, among other factors, could cause markets to experience continuing high volatility. A significant increase in interest rates may cause a decline in the market for equity securities. Also, regulators have expressed concern that rate increases may contribute to price volatility. These events and the possible resulting market volatility may have an adverse effect on the fund.

Political turmoil within the United States and abroad may also impact the fund. Although the U.S. government has honored its credit obligations, it remains possible that the United States could default on its obligations. While it is impossible to predict the consequences of such an unprecedented event, it is likely that a default by the United States would be highly disruptive to the U.S. and global securities markets and could significantly impair the value of the fund’s investments. Similarly, political events within the United States at times have resulted, and may in the future result, in a shutdown of government services, which could negatively affect the U.S. economy, decrease the value of many fund investments, and increase uncertainty in or impair the operation of the U.S. or other securities markets. In recent years, the U.S. renegotiated many of its global trade relationships and imposed or threatened to impose significant import tariffs. These actions could lead to price volatility and overall declines in U.S. and global investment markets.

Uncertainties surrounding the sovereign debt of a number of European Union (EU) countries and the viability of the EU have disrupted and may in the future disrupt markets in the United States and around the world. If one or more countries leave the EU or the EU dissolves, the world’s securities markets likely will be significantly disrupted. On January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) left the EU, commonly referred to as “Brexit,” and the UK ceased to be a member of the EU. Following a transition period during which the EU and the UK Government engaged in a series of negotiations regarding the terms of the UK’s future relationship with the EU, the EU and UK Government signed an agreement on December 30, 2020 regarding the economic relationship between the UK and the EU. This agreement became effective on a provisional basis on January 1, 2021 and formally entered into force on May 1, 2021. While the full impact of Brexit is unknown, Brexit has already resulted in volatility in European and global markets. There remains significant market uncertainty regarding Brexit’s ramifications, and the range and potential implications of possible political, regulatory, economic, and market outcomes are difficult to predict. This uncertainty may affect other countries in the EU and elsewhere, and may cause volatility within the EU, triggering prolonged economic downturns in certain countries within the EU. Despite the influence of the lockdowns, and the economic bounce back, Brexit has had a material impact on the UK’s economy. Additionally, trade between the UK and the EU did not benefit from the global rebound in trade in 2021, and remained at the very low levels experienced at the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020, highlighting Brexit’s potential long-term effects on the UK economy.

In addition, Brexit may create additional and substantial economic stresses for the UK, including a contraction of the UK economy and price volatility in UK stocks, decreased trade, capital outflows, devaluation of the British pound, wider corporate bond spreads due to uncertainty and declines in business and consumer spending as well as foreign direct investment. Brexit may also adversely affect UK-based financial firms that have counterparties in the EU or participate in market infrastructure (trading venues, clearing houses, settlement facilities) based in the EU. Additionally, the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is likely to continue to stretch the resources and deficits of many countries in the EU and throughout the world, increasing the possibility that countries may be unable to make timely payments on their sovereign debt. These events and the resulting market volatility may have an adverse effect on the performance of the fund.

A widespread health crisis such as a global pandemic could cause substantial market volatility, exchange trading suspensions and closures, which may lead to less liquidity in certain instruments, industries, sectors or the markets generally, and may ultimately affect fund performance. For example, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted and may continue to result in significant disruptions to global business activity and market volatility due to disruptions in market access, resource availability, facilities operations, imposition of tariffs, export controls and supply chain disruption, among others. The impact of a health crisis and other epidemics and pandemics that may arise in the future, could affect the global economy in ways that cannot necessarily be foreseen at the present time. A health crisis may exacerbate other pre-existing political, social and economic risks. Any such impact could adversely affect the fund’s performance, resulting in losses to your investment.

The United States responded to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and resulting economic distress with fiscal and monetary stimulus packages. In late March 2020, the government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, a stimulus package providing for over $2.2 trillion in resources to small businesses, state and local governments, and individuals adversely impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In late December 2020, the government also passed a spending bill that included

 26

$900 billion in stimulus relief for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Further, in March 2021, the government passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill to accelerate the United States’ recovery from the economic and health effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In addition, in mid-March 2020 the Fed cut interest rates to historically low levels and promised unlimited and open-ended quantitative easing, including purchases of corporate and municipal government bonds. The Fed also enacted various programs to support liquidity operations and funding in the financial markets, including expanding its reverse repurchase agreement operations, adding $1.5 trillion of liquidity to the banking system, establishing swap lines with other major central banks to provide dollar funding, establishing a program to support money market funds, easing various bank capital buffers, providing funding backstops for businesses to provide bridging loans for up to four years, and providing funding to help credit flow in asset-backed securities markets. The Fed extended credit to small- and medium-sized businesses.

As the Fed “tapers” or reduces the amount of securities it purchases pursuant to quantitative easing, and/or if the Fed raises the federal funds rate, there is a risk that interest rates will rise, which could expose fixed-income and related markets to heightened volatility and could cause the value of a fund’s investments, and the fund’s net asset value (NAV), to decline, potentially suddenly and significantly. As a result, the fund may experience high redemptions and, as a result, increased portfolio turnover, which could increase the costs that the fund incurs and may negatively impact the fund’s performance.

Political and military events, including in North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Ukraine, and other areas of the Middle East, and nationalist unrest in Europe and South America, also may cause market disruptions.

In addition, there is a risk that the prices of goods and services in the United States and many foreign economies may decline over time, known as deflation. Deflation may have an adverse effect on stock prices and creditworthiness and may make defaults on debt more likely. If a country’s economy slips into a deflationary pattern, it could last for a prolonged period and may be difficult to reverse. Further, there is a risk that the present value of assets or income from investments will be less in the future, known as inflation. Inflation rates may change frequently and drastically as a result of various factors, including unexpected shifts in the domestic or global economy, and a fund’s investments may be affected, which may reduce a fund’s performance. Further, inflation may lead to the rise in interest rates, which may negatively affect the value of debt instruments held by the fund, resulting in a negative impact on a fund’s performance. Generally, securities issued in emerging markets are subject to a greater risk of inflationary or deflationary forces, and more developed markets are better able to use monetary policy to normalize markets.

ESG INTEGRATION RISK

The manager may consider ESG factors that it deems relevant or additive, along with other material factors and analysis, when managing the fund. The portion of the Fund’s investments for which the manager considers these ESG factors may vary, and could increase or decrease over time. ESG factors may include, but are not limited to, matters regarding board diversity, climate change policies, and supply chain and human rights policies. The ESG characteristics utilized in the fund’s investment process may change over time, and different ESG characteristics may be relevant to different investments. Incorporating ESG criteria and making investment decisions based on certain ESG characteristics, as determined by the manager, carries the risk that the fund may perform differently, including underperforming, funds that do not utilize ESG criteria or an ESG investment strategy.

INFLATION RISK

Inflation risk is the risk that the purchasing power of assets or income from investments will be worth less in the future as inflation decreases the value of money. As inflation increases, the real value of Common Shares and distributions thereon can decline.

INTEREST RATE RISK

Fixed-income securities are affected by changes in interest rates. When interest rates decline, the market value of the fixed-income securities generally can be expected to rise. Conversely, when interest rates rise, the market value of fixed-income securities generally can be expected to decline. Recent and potential future changes in government monetary policy may affect interest rates.

The longer a fixed-income security's duration, the more sensitive it will be to changes in interest rates. Similarly, a fund with a longer average portfolio duration will be more sensitive to changes in interest rates than a fund with a shorter average portfolio duration. Duration is a measure used to determine the sensitivity of a security's price to changes in interest rates that incorporates a security's yield, coupon, final maturity, and call features, among other characteristics. All other things remaining equal, for each one percentage point increase in interest rates, the value of a portfolio of fixed-income investments would generally be expected to decline by one percent for every year of the portfolio's average duration above zero. For example, the price of a bond fund with an average duration of eight years would be expected to fall approximately 8% if interest rates rose by one percentage point. The maturity of a security,

 27

another commonly used measure of price sensitivity, measures only the time until final payment is due, whereas duration takes into account the pattern of all payments of interest and principal on a security over time, including how these payments are affected by prepayments and by changes in interest rates, as well as the time until an interest rate is reset (in the case of variable-rate securities).

The fixed-income securities market has been and may continue to be negatively affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As with other serious economic disruptions, governmental authorities and regulators responded with significant fiscal and monetary policy changes, including considerably lowering interest rates, which, in some cases could result in negative interest rates. These actions, including their possible unexpected or sudden reversal or potential ineffectiveness, could further increase volatility in securities and other financial markets and reduce market liquidity. To the extent the fund has a bank deposit or holds a debt instrument with a negative interest rate to maturity, the fund would generate a negative return on that investment. Similarly, negative rates on investments by money market funds and similar cash management products could lead to losses on investments, including on investments of the fund's uninvested cash.

INVESTMENT AND MARKET RISK

An investment in Common Shares is subject to investment and market risk, including the possible loss of the entire principal amount invested. An investment in Common Shares represents an indirect investment in the securities owned by the Fund, which generally are traded on a securities exchange or in the over-the-counter markets. The value of these securities, like other market investments, may move up or down, sometimes rapidly and unpredictably. Common Shares at any point in time may be worth less than the original investment, even after taking into account any reinvestment of dividends and distributions.

LEVERAGE RISK

Although the Fund has no current intention to do so, the Fund is authorized and reserves the flexibility to utilize leverage through borrowings and/or the issuance of preferred shares, including the issuance of debt securities. In the event that the Fund determines in the future to utilize investment leverage, there can be no assurance that such a leveraging strategy will be successful during any period in which it is employed. Leverage creates risks for Common Shareholders, including the likelihood of greater volatility of the NAV and market price of the Common Shares and the risk that fluctuations in distribution rates on any preferred shares or fluctuations in borrowing costs may affect the return to Common Shareholders. To the extent the returns derived from securities purchased with proceeds received from leverage exceeds the cost of leverage, the Fund’s distributions may be greater than if leverage had not been used. Conversely, if the returns from the securities purchased with such proceeds are not sufficient to cover the cost of leverage, the amount available for distribution to Common Shareholders will be less than if leverage had not been used. In the latter case, the Advisor, in its best judgment, may nevertheless determine to maintain the Fund’s leveraged position if it deems such action to be appropriate. The costs of an offering of preferred shares and/or a borrowing program would be borne by Common Shareholders and consequently would result in a reduction of the NAV of Common Shares. In addition, the fee paid to the Advisor is calculated on the basis of the Fund’s average daily gross assets, including proceeds from borrowings and/or the issuance of preferred shares, so the fee will be higher when leverage is utilized, which may create an incentive for the Advisor to employ financial leverage. In this regard, holders of preferred shares do not bear the investment advisory fee. Rather, Common Shareholders bear the portion of the investment advisory fee attributable to the assets purchased with the proceeds of the preferred shares offering.

LIBOR DISCONTINUATION RISK

Certain debt securities, derivatives and other financial instruments may utilize LIBOR as the reference or benchmark rate for interest rate calculations. However, following allegations of manipulation and concerns regarding liquidity, in July 2017 the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, announced that it will cease its active encouragement of banks to provide the quotations needed to sustain LIBOR. The ICE Benchmark Administration Limited, the administrator of LIBOR, ceased publishing most LIBOR maturities, including some US LIBOR maturities, on December 31, 2021, and the remaining and most liquid US LIBOR maturities will cease being published on June 30, 2023. It is expected that market participants will transition to the use of alternative reference or benchmark rates prior to the applicable LIBOR publication cessation date. However, although regulators have encouraged the development and adoption of alternative rates such as the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”), the future utilization of LIBOR or of any particular replacement rate remains uncertain.

 

Although the transition process away from LIBOR has become increasingly well-defined in advance of the anticipated discontinuation dates, the impact on certain debt securities, derivatives and other financial instruments remains uncertain. It is expected that market participants will amend financial instruments referencing LIBOR to include fallback provisions and other measures that contemplate the discontinuation of LIBOR or other similar market disruption events, but neither the effect of the transition process nor the viability of such measures is known. To facilitate the transition of legacy derivatives contracts referencing LIBOR, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, Inc. launched a protocol to incorporate fallback provisions. However, there are obstacles to converting

 28

certain longer term securities and transactions to a new benchmark or benchmarks and the effectiveness of one alternative reference rate versus multiple alternative reference rates in new or existing financial instruments and products has not been determined. Certain proposed replacement rates to LIBOR, such as SOFR, which is a broad measure of secured overnight US Treasury repo rates, are materially different from LIBOR, and changes in the applicable spread for financial instruments transitioning away from LIBOR will need to be made to accommodate the differences. Furthermore, the risks associated with the expected discontinuation of LIBOR and transition to replacement rates may be exacerbated if an orderly transition to an alternative reference rate is not completed in a timely manner.

 

As market participants transition away from LIBOR, LIBOR’s usefulness may deteriorate. The transition process may lead to increased volatility and illiquidity in markets that currently rely on LIBOR to determine interest rates. LIBOR’s deterioration may adversely affect the liquidity and/or market value of securities that use LIBOR as a benchmark interest rate, including securities and other financial instruments held by the fund. Further, the utilization of an alternative reference rate, or the transition process to an alternative reference rate, may adversely affect the fund’s performance.

MANAGEMENT RISK

The Fund is subject to management risk because it relies on Epoch’s ability to pursue the Fund’s investment objective. The Subadvisor applies investment techniques and risk analyses in making investment decisions for the Fund, but there can be no guarantee that it will produce the desired results. The Subadvisor’s securities selections and other investment decisions might produce a loss or cause the Fund to underperform when compared to other funds with similar investment goals. If one or more key individuals leave the employ of the Subadvisor, then the Subadvisor may not be able to hire qualified replacements, or may require an extended time to do so. This could prevent the Fund from achieving its investment objective.

MARKET DISCOUNT RISK

The Common Shares will be offered only when Common Shares of the Fund are trading at a price equal to or above the Fund’s NAV per Common Share plus the per Common Share amount of commissions. As with any security, the market value of the Common Shares may increase or decrease from the amount initially paid for the Common Shares. The Common Shares have traded at both a premium and at a discount to NAV. The shares of closed-end management investment companies frequently trade at a discount from their NAV. This characteristic is a risk separate and distinct from the risk that the Fund’s NAV could decrease as a result of investment activities. Investors bear a risk of loss to the extent that the price at which they sell their shares is lower in relation to the Fund’s NAV than at the time of purchase, assuming a stable NAV.

 

NATURAL DISASTERS AND ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS

 

Certain areas of the world may be exposed to adverse weather conditions, such as major natural disasters and other extreme weather events, including hurricanes, earthquakes, typhoons, floods, tidal waves, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, droughts, windstorms, coastal storm surges, heat waves, and rising sea levels, among others. Some countries and regions may not have the infrastructure or resources to respond to natural disasters, making them more economically sensitive to environmental events. Such disasters, and the resulting damage, could have a severe and negative impact on the Fund’s investment portfolio and, in the longer term, could impair the ability of issuers in which the Fund invests to conduct their businesses in the manner normally conducted. Adverse weather conditions also may have a particularly significant negative effect on issuers in the agricultural sector and on insurance companies that insure against the impact of natural disasters.

 

Climate change, which is the result of a change in global or regional climate patterns, may increase the frequency and intensity of such adverse weather conditions, resulting in increased economic impact, and may pose long-term risks to the Fund’s investments. The future impact of climate change is difficult to predict but may include changes in demand for certain goods and services, supply chain disruption, changes in production costs, increased legislation, regulation and international accords, changes in property and security values, availability of natural resources and displacement of peoples.

PORTFOLIO TURNOVER RISK

The Fund may engage in short-term trading strategies, and securities may be sold without regard to the length of time held when, in the opinion of Epoch, investment considerations warrant such action. In addition, the Fund’s dividend capture program also may increase the level of portfolio turnover the Fund experiences. These policies may have the effect of increasing the annual rate of portfolio turnover of the Fund. Higher rates of portfolio turnover likely would result in higher brokerage commissions and may generate short-term capital gain taxable as ordinary income, which may have a negative impact on the Fund’s performance over time.

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SECONDARY MARKET FOR THE COMMON SHARES

The issuance of new Common Shares may have an adverse effect on the secondary market for the Common Shares. When the Common Shares are trading at a premium, the Fund may issue new Common Shares. The increase in the amount of the Fund’s outstanding Common Shares resulting from the offering of new Common Shares may put downward pressure on the market price for the Common Shares of the Fund. Common Shares will not be issued at any time when Common Shares are trading at a price lower than a price equal to the Fund’s NAV per Common Share plus the per Common Share amount of commissions.

The Fund also issues Common Shares through its dividend reinvestment plan. Common Shares may be issued under the plan at a discount to the market price for such Common Shares, which may put downward pressure on the market price for Common Shares of the Fund.

The voting power of current Common Shareholders will be diluted to the extent that such shareholders do not purchase shares in any future Common Share offerings or do not purchase sufficient shares to maintain their percentage interest. In addition, if the proceeds of such offering are unable to be invested as intended, the Fund’s per Common Share distribution may decrease (or may consist of return of capital) and the Fund may not participate in market advances to the same extent as if such proceeds were fully invested as planned.

TAX RISK

To qualify for the special tax treatment available to regulated investment companies, the Fund must: (i) derive at least 90% of its annual gross income from certain kinds of investment income; (ii) meet certain asset diversification requirements at the end of each quarter; and (iii) distribute in each taxable year at least 90% of its net investment income (including net interest income and net short term capital gain). If the Fund failed to meet any of these requirements, subject to the opportunity to cure such failures under applicable provisions of the Code, the Fund would be subject to U.S. federal income tax at regular corporate rates on its taxable income, including its net capital gain, even if such income were distributed to its shareholders. All distributions by the Fund from earnings and profits, including distributions of net capital gain (if any), would be taxable to the shareholders as ordinary income. Such distributions generally would be eligible (i) to be treated as qualified dividend income in the case of individual and other noncorporate shareholders and (ii) for the dividends received deduction in the case of corporate shareholders; provided that in each case the shareholder meets the applicable holding period requirements. In addition, in order to requalify for taxation as a regulated investment company, the Fund might be required to recognize unrealized gain, pay substantial taxes and interest, and make certain distributions. See “U.S. Federal Income Tax Matters.”

The tax treatment and characterization of the Fund’s distributions may vary significantly from time to time due to the nature of the Fund’s investments. The ultimate tax characterization of the Fund’s distributions in a calendar year may not finally be determined until after the end of that calendar year. The Fund may make distributions during a calendar year that exceed the Fund’s current and accumulated earnings and profits for that year. In such a situation, the excess generally would be treated as a return of capital up to the amount of the Common Shareholder’s tax basis in his or her Common Shares, with any amounts exceeding such basis treated as gain from the sale of his or her Common Shares. The Fund’s income distributions that qualify for favorable tax treatment may be affected by Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) interpretations of the Code and future changes in tax laws and regulations. See “U.S. Federal Income Tax Matters.”

No assurance can be given as to what percentage of the distributions paid on the Common Shares, if any, will consist of tax-advantaged qualified dividend income or long-term capital gain or what the tax rates on various types of income will be in future years. In addition, it may be difficult to obtain information regarding whether distributions by non-U.S. entities in which the Fund invests should be regarded as qualified dividend income. Furthermore, to receive qualified dividend income treatment, the Fund must meet holding period and other requirements with respect to the dividend-paying securities in its portfolio, and the shareholder must meet holding period and other requirements with respect to the Common Shares. Holding periods may be affected by certain of the Fund’s transactions in options and other derivatives. See “U.S. Federal Income Tax Matters.”

CHANGES IN U.S. LAW

Changes in the state and U.S. federal laws applicable to the Fund, including changes to state and U.S. federal tax laws, or applicable to the Advisor, the Subadvisor and other securities or instruments in which the Fund may invest, may negatively affect the Fund’s returns to Common Shareholders. The Fund may need to modify its investment strategy in the future in order to satisfy new regulatory requirements or to compete in a changed business environment.

ANTI-TAKEOVER PROVISIONS

The Declaration of Trust includes provisions that could limit the ability of other persons or entities to acquire control of the Fund or to change the composition of its Board. These provisions may deprive shareholders of opportunities to sell their Common Shares at a

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premium over the then current market price of the Common Shares. See “Certain Provisions in the Declaration of Trust and By-Laws—Anti-takeover provisions.”

COMMON STOCK AND OTHER EQUITY SECURITIES RISK

The Fund invests primarily in common stocks, which represent an ownership interest in a company. The Fund also can invest in securities that can be exercised for or converted into common stocks (such as convertible preferred stock). Common stocks and similar equity securities are more volatile and more risky than some other forms of investment. Therefore, the value of your investment in the Fund may fluctuate and may be worth less than your initial investment. Common stock prices fluctuate for many reasons, including changes in investors’ perceptions of the financial condition of an issuer, the general condition of the relevant stock market or when political or economic events affecting the issuers occur. In addition, common stock prices may be sensitive to rising interest rates, as the costs of capital rise for issuers. Because convertible securities can be converted into equity securities, their values will normally increase or decrease as the values of the underlying equity securities increase or decrease.

CURRENCY RISK

Currency risk is the risk that fluctuations in exchange rates may adversely affect the U.S. dollar value of the Fund’s investments. Currency risk includes both the risk that currencies in which the Fund’s investments are traded, or currencies in which the Fund has taken an active investment position, will decline in value relative to the U.S. dollar and, in the case of hedging positions, that the U.S. dollar will decline in value relative to the currency being hedged. Currency rates in foreign countries may fluctuate significantly for a number of reasons, including the forces of supply and demand in the non-U.S. exchange markets, actual or perceived changes in interest rates, intervention (or the failure to intervene) by U.S. or foreign governments or central banks or currency controls or political developments in the United States or abroad. All funds with foreign currency holdings and/or that invest or trade in securities denominated in foreign currencies or related derivative instruments may be adversely affected by changes in foreign currency exchange rates. Derivative foreign currency transactions (such as futures, forwards and swaps) also may involve leveraging risk, in addition to currency risk. Leverage may disproportionately increase the Fund’s portfolio losses and reduce opportunities for gain when interest rates, stock prices or currency rates are changing.

DIVIDEND STRATEGY RISK

Epoch may not be able to anticipate the level of dividends that companies will pay in any given timeframe. In accordance with the Fund’s strategies, Epoch attempts to identify and exploit opportunities such as the announcement of major corporate actions that may lead to high current dividend income. These situations typically are non-recurring or infrequent, may be difficult to predict and may not result in an opportunity that allows Epoch to fulfill the Fund’s investment objective. In addition, the dividend policies of the Fund’s target companies are heavily influenced by the current economic climate and the favorable U.S. federal tax treatment afforded to dividends.


EMERGING MARKETS RISK

The Fund may invest up to 20% of its total assets in the securities of issuers based in countries with “emerging market” economies. Investments in the securities of issuers based in countries with “emerging market” economies are subject to greater levels of risk and uncertainty than investments in more-developed non-U.S. markets, since emerging market securities may present market, credit, currency, liquidity, legal, political and other risks greater than, or in addition to, the risks of investing in developed non-U.S. countries. These risks include: high currency exchange-rate fluctuations; increased risk of default (including both government and private issuers); greater social, economic and political uncertainty and instability (including the risk of war); more substantial governmental involvement in the economy; less governmental supervision and regulation of the securities markets and participants in those markets; controls on foreign investment and limitations on repatriation of invested capital and on the Fund’s ability to exchange local currencies for U.S. dollars; unavailability of currency hedging techniques in certain emerging market countries; the fact that companies in emerging market countries may be newly organized, smaller and less seasoned; the difference in, or lack of, auditing and financial reporting requirements or standards, which may result in the unavailability of material information about issuers; different clearance and settlement procedures, which may be unable to keep pace with the volume of securities transactions or otherwise make it difficult to engage in such transactions; difficulties in obtaining and/or enforcing legal judgments against non-U.S. companies and non-U.S. persons, including company directors and officers, in non-U.S. jurisdictions; and significantly smaller market capitalizations of emerging market issuers.

In addition, shareholders of emerging market issuers, such as the Fund, often have limited rights and few practical remedies in emerging markets. Finally, the risks associated with investments in emerging markets often are significant, and vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and company to company.

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EUROPEAN MARKETS RISK

Countries in Europe may be significantly affected by fiscal and monetary controls implemented by the European Union (“EU”) and European Economic and Monetary Union (“EMU”), which require member countries to comply with restrictions on inflation rates, deficits, interest rates, debt levels and fiscal and monetary controls. Decreasing imports or exports, changes in governmental or other regulations on trade, changes in the exchange rate of the Euro, the default or threat of default by one or more EU member countries on its sovereign debt, and/or an economic recession in one or more EU member countries may have a significant adverse effect on the economies of other EU member countries and major trading partners outside Europe.

In recent years, the European financial markets have experienced volatility and adverse trends due to concerns about economic downturns, rising government debt levels and the possible default of government debt in several European countries, including Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Several countries, including Greece and Italy, have agreed to multi-year bailout loans from the European Central Bank, the IMF, and other institutions. A default or debt restructuring by any European country, such as the restructuring of Greece’s outstanding sovereign debt, can adversely impact holders of that country’s debt and sellers of credit default swaps linked to that country’s creditworthiness, which may be located in countries other than those listed above, and can affect exposures to other EU countries and their financial companies as well. The manner in which the EU and EMU responded to the global recession and sovereign debt issues raised questions about their ability to react quickly to rising borrowing costs and the potential default by Greece and other countries of their sovereign debt and revealed a lack of cohesion in dealing with the fiscal problems of member states. To address budget deficits and public debt concerns, a number of European countries have imposed strict austerity measures and comprehensive financial and labor market reforms, which could increase political or social instability. Many European countries continue to suffer from high unemployment rates.

Uncertainties surrounding the sovereign debt of a number of European Union (EU) countries and the viability of the EU have impacted and may continue to disrupt markets in the United States and around the world. If one or more countries leave the EU or the EU dissolves, securities markets would likely be significantly disrupted. On January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) left the EU, commonly referred to as “Brexit,” and the UK ceased to be a member of the EU. Following a transition period during which the EU and the UK Government engaged in a series of negotiations regarding the terms of the UK’s future relationship with the EU, the EU and the UK Government signed an agreement on December 30, 2020 regarding the economic relationship between the UK and the EU. This agreement became effective on a provisional basis on January 1, 2021. There remains significant market uncertainty regarding Brexit’s ramifications, and the range and potential implications of possible political, regulatory, economic, and market outcomes are difficult to predict. This uncertainty may affect other countries in the EU and elsewhere, and may cause volatility within the EU, triggering prolonged economic downturns in certain countries within the EU. It is also possible that various countries within the UK, such as Scotland or Northern Ireland, could seek to separate and remain a part of the EU. Other secessionist movements including countries seeking to abandon the Euro or withdraw from the EU may cause volatility and uncertainty in the EU.


The UK has one of the largest economies in Europe and is a major trading partner with the other EU countries and the United States. Brexit might negatively affect The City of London’s economy, which is heavily dominated by financial services, as banks might be forced to move staff and comply with two separate sets of rules or lose business to banks in Continental Europe. In addition, Brexit may create additional and substantial economic stresses for the UK, including a contraction of the UK economy and price volatility in UK stocks, decreased trade, capital outflows, devaluation of the British pound, wider corporate bond spreads due to uncertainty and declines in business and consumer spending as well as foreign direct investment. Further, the UK’s departure from the EU would potentially cause volatility within the EU, which could trigger prolonged economic downturns in certain European countries or spark additional member states to contemplate departing the EU (thereby exacerbating political instability in the region). Brexit may also adversely affect UK-based financial firms that have counterparties in the EU or participate in market infrastructure (trading venues, clearing houses, settlement facilities) based in the EU. These events and the resulting market volatility may have an adverse effect on the performance of the fund.

 

Investing in the securities of Eastern European issuers is highly speculative and involves risks not usually associated with investing in the more developed markets of Western Europe. Securities markets of Eastern European countries typically are less efficient and have lower trading volume, lower liquidity, and higher volatility than more developed markets. Eastern European economies also may be particularly susceptible to disruption in the international credit market due to their reliance on bank related inflows of capital.

To the extent that the Fund invests in European securities, it may be exposed to these risks through its direct investments in such securities, including sovereign debt, or indirectly through investments in money market funds and financial institutions with significant investments in such securities.

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GREATER CHINA RISK

Although they are larger and/or more established than many emerging markets, the markets of the Greater China region function in many ways as emerging markets, and carry the high levels of risks associated with emerging market economies. In addition, there are risks particular to the region, including less developed trading markets, acute political risks such as possible negative repercussions resulting from China’s relationship with Taiwan or Hong Kong, and restrictions on monetary repatriation or other adverse government actions. In addition, investments in Taiwan could be adversely affected by its political relationship with China and because Taiwan does not exercise the same level of control over its economy as the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) does with respect to Mainland China’s economy, changes to its political and economic relationship with the PRC could adversely impact a fund’s investments.

Further, the attitude of the PRC toward growth and capitalism is uncertain, and the markets of Hong Kong and Mainland China could be hurt significantly by any government interference or any material change in government policy. For example, a government may restrict investment in companies or industries considered important to national interests, or intervene in the financial markets, such as by imposing trading restrictions, or banning or curtailing short selling. A small number of companies and industries may represent a relatively large portion of the Greater China market as a whole. All of these factors combined mean that the fund is more likely to experience greater price volatility and lower liquidity than a portfolio that invests substantially in equity securities of U.S. issuers.

HONG KONG STOCK CONNECT PROGRAM (STOCK CONNECT ) RISK.

 

Trading in China A-Shares listed and traded on certain Chinese stock exchanges through Stock Connect, a mutual market access program designed to, among other things, enable foreign investment in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) via brokers in Hong Kong, is subject to both a number of restrictions imposed by Chinese securities regulations and local exchange listing rules as well as certain risks. Securities listed on Stock Connect may lose purchase eligibility, which could adversely affect the fund’s performance. Trading through Stock Connect is subject to trading, clearance, and settlement procedures that may continue to develop as the program matures. Any changes in laws, regulations and policies applicable to Stock Connect may affect China A-Share prices. These risks are heightened by the underdeveloped state of the PRC’s investment and banking systems in general.

 

ILLIQUID AND RESTRICTED SECURITIES RISK

 

Restricted securities are securities with restrictions on public resale, such as securities offered in accordance with an exemption under Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933 (the “1933 Act”), or commercial paper issued under Section 4(a)(2) of the 1933 Act. Restricted securities are often required to be sold in private sales to institutional buyers, markets for restricted securities may or may not be well developed, and restricted securities can be illiquid. The extent (if at all) to which a security may be sold or a derivative position closed without negatively impacting its market value may be impaired by reduced market activity or participation, legal restrictions or other economic and market impediments. Funds with principal investment strategies that involve investments in securities of companies with smaller market capitalizations, foreign securities, derivatives, or securities with substantial market and/or credit risk tend to have the greatest exposure to liquidity risk. Exposure to liquidity risk may be heightened for funds that invest in securities of emerging markets and related derivatives that are not widely traded, and that may be subject to purchase and sale restrictions.

 

The capacity of traditional dealers to engage in fixed-income trading has not kept pace with the bond market’s growth. As a result, dealer inventories of corporate bonds, which indicate the ability to “make markets,” i.e., buy or sell a security at the quoted bid and ask price, respectively, are at or near historic lows relative to market size. Because market makers provide stability to fixed-income markets, the significant reduction in dealer inventories could lead to decreased liquidity and increased volatility, which may become exacerbated during periods of economic or political stress.

INDUSTRY OR SECTOR RISK

The Fund may invest a large percentage of its assets in a particular industry or sector of the economy or invest in a limited number of companies. If a large percentage of the Fund’s assets are closely tied to a single sector of the economy, the Fund will be far less diversified than the broad securities markets and it may cause the Fund to underperform other sectors. For example, utilities can be hurt by higher interest costs in connection with capital construction programs, costs associated with environmental and other regulations and the effects of economic declines, surplus capacity and increased competition. In addition, telecommunication services are subject to government regulation of rates of return and services that may be offered and can be significantly affected by intense competition. This means that the Fund may be more volatile than other, non-concentrated funds, and the values of the Fund’s investments may go up and down more rapidly. In addition, if the Fund invests in a particular industry or sector, it is particularly

 33

susceptible to the impact of market, economic, political, regulatory, and other conditions and risks affecting that industry or sector. From time to time, a small number of companies may represent a large portion of a single industry or sector or a group of related industries or sectors as a whole.

ISSUER RISK

An issuer of a security may perform poorly and, therefore, the value of its stocks and bonds may decline and the issuer may default on its obligations. Poor performance may be caused by poor management decisions, competitive pressures, breakthroughs in technology, reliance on suppliers, labor problems or shortages, corporate restructurings, fraudulent disclosures or other factors.

LARGE COMPANY RISK

Larger, more established companies may be unable to respond quickly to new competitive challenges such as changes in technology and consumer tastes. Many larger companies also may not be able to attain the high growth rate of successful smaller companies, especially during extended periods of economic expansion.

For purposes of the two investment policies with regard to investments in medium and smaller companies and large companies, the market capitalization of a company is based on its capitalization at the time the Fund purchases the company’s securities. Market capitalizations of companies change over time. The Fund is not obligated to sell a company’s security simply because, subsequent to its purchase, the company’s market capitalization has changed to be outside the capitalization range for the Fund.

LIQUIDITY RISK

The Fund may invest up to 15% of its net assets in securities for which there is no readily available trading market or which are otherwise illiquid. The extent (if at all) to which a security may be sold or a derivative position closed without negatively impacting its market value may be impaired by reduced market activity or participation, legal restrictions or other economic and market impediments. Funds with principal investment strategies that involve investments in securities of companies with smaller market capitalizations, foreign securities, derivatives, or securities with substantial market and/or credit risk tend to have the greatest exposure to liquidity risk. Exposure to liquidity risk may be heightened for funds that invest in securities of emerging markets and related derivatives that are not widely traded, and that may be subject to purchase and sale restrictions.

 

The capacity of traditional dealers to engage in fixed-income trading has not kept pace with the bond market’s growth. As a result, dealer inventories of corporate bonds, which indicate the ability to “make markets,” i.e., buy or sell a security at the quoted bid and ask price, respectively, are at or near historic lows relative to market size. Because market makers provide stability to fixed-income markets, the significant reduction in dealer inventories could lead to decreased liquidity and increased volatility, which may become exacerbated during periods of economic or political stress.

NON-U.S. INVESTMENT RISK

Funds that invest in securities traded principally in securities markets outside the United States are subject to additional and more varied risks, as the value of non-U.S. securities may change more rapidly and extremely than the value of U.S. securities. Less information may be publicly available regarding non-U.S. issuers. Non-U.S. securities may be subject to non-U.S. taxes any may be more volatile than U.S. securities. Currency fluctuations and political and economic developments may adversely impact the value of foreign securities. The securities markets of many foreign countries are relatively small, with a limited number of companies representing a small number of industries. Additionally, issuers of non-U.S. securities may not be subject to the same degree of regulation as U.S. issuers. Reporting, accounting and auditing standards of foreign countries differ, in some cases significantly, from U.S. standards. There generally are higher commission rates on non-U.S. portfolio transactions, transfer taxes, higher custodial costs and the possibility that non-U.S. taxes will be charged on dividends and interest payable on non-U.S. securities, some or all of which may not be reclaimable. Also, adverse changes in investment or exchange control regulations (which may include suspension of the ability to transfer currency or assets from a country), political changes or diplomatic developments could adversely affect the Fund’s investments. In the event of nationalization, expropriation, confiscatory taxation, or other confiscation, the Fund could lose a substantial portion of, or its entire investment in, a non-U.S. security. Some of the non-U.S. securities risks also are applicable to funds that invest a material portion of their assets in securities of non-U.S. issuers traded in the United States.

If applicable, depositary receipts are subject to most of the risks associated with investing in foreign securities directly because the value of a depositary receipt is dependent upon the market price of the underlying foreign equity security. Depositary receipts are also subject to liquidity risk.

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REPURCHASE AGREEMENT RISK

 

The risk of a repurchase agreement transaction is limited to the ability of the seller to pay the agreed-upon sum on the delivery date. In the event of bankruptcy or other default by the seller, the instrument purchased may decline in value, interest payable on the instrument may be lost and there may be possible difficulties and delays in obtaining collateral and delays and expense in liquidating the instrument. If an issuer of a repurchase agreement fails to repurchase the underlying obligation, the loss, if any, would be the difference between the repurchase price and the underlying obligation’s market value. The fund might also incur certain costs in liquidating the underlying obligation. Moreover, if bankruptcy or other insolvency proceedings are commenced with respect to the seller, realization upon the underlying obligation might be delayed or limited.

SMALL AND MID-SIZED COMPANY RISK

Market risk and liquidity risk may be pronounced for securities of companies with mid-sized market capitalizations and are particularly pronounced for securities of companies with smaller market capitalizations. These companies may have limited product lines, markets or financial resources or they may depend on a few key employees. The securities of companies with medium and smaller market capitalizations may trade less frequently and in lesser volume than more widely held securities, and their value may fluctuate more sharply than those securities. They also may trade in the over-the-counter market or on a regional exchange, or may otherwise have limited liquidity. Investments in less-seasoned companies with medium and smaller market capitalizations may present greater opportunities for growth and capital appreciation, but also involve greater risks than customarily are associated with more established companies with larger market capitalizations. For purposes of the fund’s investment policies, the market capitalization of a company is based on its capitalization at the time the fund purchases the company’s securities. These risks apply to all funds that invest in the securities of companies with smaller market capitalizations, each of which primarily makes investments in companies with small-or mid-sized market capitalizations. Market capitalizations of companies change over time. The fund is not obligated to sell a company’s security simply because, subsequent to its purchase, the company’s market capitalization has changed to be outside the capitalization range, if any, in effect for the fund.

Given the risks described above, an investment in Common Shares may not be appropriate for all investors. You should carefully consider your ability to assume these risks before making an investment in the Fund.

 

Management of The Fund

TRUSTEES

The overall management of the Fund, including supervision of the duties performed by the Advisor, Epoch, is the responsibility of the Board, under the laws of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the 1940 Act. The Trustees are responsible for the Fund’s overall management, including adopting the investment and other policies of the Fund, electing and replacing officers and selecting and supervising the Fund’s Advisor and Subadvisor. The names and business addresses of the Trustees and officers of the Fund and their principal occupations and other affiliations during the past five years, as well as a description of committees of the Board, are set forth under “Those Responsible for Management” in the SAI.

A discussion regarding the basis for the Trustees’ approval of the Advisory Agreement and the Subadvisory Agreement (each, as defined below) is available in the Fund’s most recent annual shareholder report for the fiscal year ended October 31.

THE ADVISOR

The Advisor, John Hancock Investment Management LLC, is a Delaware limited liability company whose principal offices are located at 200 Berkeley Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116 and serves as the Fund’s investment advisor. The Advisor is registered with the SEC as an investment advisor under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (the “Advisers Act”).

Founded in 1968, the Advisor is an indirect principally owned subsidiary of John Hancock Life Insurance Company (U.S.A.), a subsidiary of Manulife Financial Corporation (“Manulife Financial” or the “Company”). Manulife Financial is the holding company of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company (the “Life Company”) and its subsidiaries. John Hancock Life Insurance Company (U.S.A.) and its subsidiaries (“John Hancock”) today offer a broad range of financial products and services, including whole, term, variable, and universal life insurance, as well as college savings products, mutual funds, fixed and variable annuities, long-term care insurance and various forms of business insurance.

The Advisor’s parent company has been helping individuals and institutions work toward their financial goals since 1862. The Advisor offers investment solutions managed by institutional money managers, taking a disciplined team approach to portfolio

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management and research, leveraging the expertise of seasoned investment professionals. The Advisor has been managing closed-end funds since 1971. As of December 31, 2021, the Advisor had total assets under management of approximately $177.8 billion.

 

Subject to general oversight by the Board, the Advisor manages and supervises the investment operations and business affairs of the Fund. The Advisor selects, contracts with and compensates one or more subadvisors to manage all or a portion of the Fund’s portfolio assets, subject to oversight by the Advisor. In this role, the Advisor has supervisory responsibility for managing the investment and reinvestment of the Fund, as described in further detail below. The Advisor is responsible for developing overall investment strategies for the Fund and overseeing and implementing the Fund’s continuous investment program and provides a variety of advisory oversight and investment research services. The Advisor also provides management and transition services associated with certain fund events (e.g., strategy, portfolio manager or subadvisor changes) and coordinates and oversees services provided under other agreements.

The Advisor has ultimate responsibility to oversee a subadvisor and recommend to the Board of Trustees its hiring, termination, and replacement. In this capacity, the Advisor, among other things: (i) monitors on a daily basis the compliance of the subadvisor with the investment objectives and related policies of the fund; (ii) monitors significant changes that may impact the subadvisor’s overall business and regularly performs due diligence reviews of the subadvisor; (iii) reviews the performance of the subadvisor; and (iv) reports periodically on such performance to the Board of Trustees. The Advisor employs a team of investment professionals who provide these ongoing research and monitoring services.

The Advisor has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fee and/or reimburse expenses for certain funds of the John Hancock group of funds complex, including the fund (the participating portfolios). The waiver equals, on an annualized basis, 0.01% of that portion of the aggregate net assets of all the participating portfolios that exceeds $75 billion but is less than or equal to $125 billion; 0.0125% of that portion of the aggregate net assets of all the participating portfolios that exceeds $125 billion but is less than or equal to $150 billion; 0.0150% of that portion of the aggregate net assets of all the participating portfolios that exceeds $150 billion but is less than or equal to $175 billion; 0.0175% of that portion of the aggregate net assets of all the participating portfolios that exceeds $175 billion but is less than or equal to $200 billion; 0.0200% of that portion of the aggregate net assets of all the participating portfolios that exceeds $200 billion but is less than or equal to $225 billion; and 0.0225% of that portion of the aggregate net assets of all the participating portfolios that exceeds $225 billion. The amount of the reimbursement is calculated daily and allocated among all the participating portfolios in proportion to the daily net assets of each fund. During the year ended October 31, 2021, this waiver amounted to 0.01% of the fund’s average daily net assets. This arrangement expires on July 31, 2023, unless renewed by mutual agreement of the fund and the Advisor based upon a determination that this is appropriate under the circumstances at that time.


Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Operating primarily as John Hancock in the United States and Manulife elsewhere, it provides financial protection products and advice, insurance, as well as wealth and asset management services through its extensive network of solutions for individuals, groups and institutions. Its global headquarters are in Toronto, Canada, and it trades as ‘MFC’ on the Toronto Stock Exchange, New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”), and the Philippine Stock Exchange, and under ‘945’ in Hong Kong. Manulife Financial Corporation can be found on the Internet at manulife.com.

Advisory Agreement. The Fund entered into an investment management contract dated July 1, 2009 (the “Advisory Agreement”) with the Advisor. As compensation for its advisory services under the Advisory Agreement, the Advisor receives a fee from the Fund, calculated and paid daily, at an annual rate of the Fund’s average daily gross assets. “Gross assets” means total assets of the Fund, including any form of investment leverage, minus all accrued expenses incurred in the normal course of operations, but not excluding any liabilities or obligations attributable to investment leverage obtained through (i) indebtedness of any type (including, without limitation, borrowing through a credit facility/commercial paper program or other forms of borrowings or the issuance of debt securities), (ii) the issuance of preferred shares or other similar preference securities, and/or (iii) any other means.

Pursuant to the Advisory Agreement and subject to the general supervision of the Trustees, the Advisor selects, contracts with, and compensates the Subadvisor to manage the investments and determine the composition of the assets of the Fund. The Advisor does not itself manage any of the Fund’s portfolio assets but has ultimate responsibility to oversee the Subadvisor and recommend their hiring, termination and replacement. In this capacity, the Advisor monitors the Subadvisor’s management of the Fund’s investment operations in accordance with the investment objectives and related investment policies of the Fund, reviews the performance of the Subadvisor and reports periodically on such performance to the Board.

Service Agreement. The Fund entered into a management-related service contract dated July 1, 2009 and re-executed on January 1, 2014 (the “Service Agreement”) with JHIM, under which the Fund receives Non-Advisory Services. These “Non-Advisory Services” include, but are not limited to, legal, tax, accounting, valuation, financial reporting and performance, compliance, service provider

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oversight, portfolio and cash management, project management office, EDGAR conversion and filing, graphic design, and other services that are not investment advisory in nature. JHIM is reimbursed for its costs in providing Non-Advisory Services to the Fund under the Service Agreement.

Consulting Agreement. The Advisor entered into a consulting agreement dated September 21, 2007 (“Consulting Agreement”) with its affiliate Manulife Investment Management (North America) Limited (formerly, John Hancock Asset Management a Division of Manulife Asset Management (North America) Limited) (“Manulife IM (NA)”). Manulife IM (NA) is located at 200 Bloor Street East, Toronto, ON, Canada, M4W1EW. Manulife IM (NA) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Manulife Financial, a publicly traded company based in Toronto, Canada. Manulife IM (NA) has been an investment advisor since 1979 and manages registered investment companies. As of December 31, 2021, Manulife IM (NA) had approximately $16.69 billion in assets under management.

Under the Consulting Agreement and as the Advisor may request from time to time, Manulife IM (NA) consults with the Advisor on matters relating to the application of U.S. federal income tax laws and regulations to the operations of the Fund and assists the Advisor with compliance monitoring and the implementation and use of compliance systems and in addressing and legal and regulatory matters related to the Fund. Manulife IM (NA) does not have any day-to-day portfolio management responsibilities or regularly provide investment advice to the Advisor regarding the Fund and its portfolio. In return for its consulting and other services, the Advisor (and not the Fund) pays Manulife IM (NA) a fee.

THE SUBADVISOR

The Advisor entered into a Subadvisory Agreement dated June 27, 2013 with Epoch (the “Epoch Agreement”). Epoch handles the Fund’s portfolio management activities, subject to oversight by the Advisor. Epoch, founded in 2004, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank. As of December 31, 2021, Epoch managed on a worldwide basis approximately $33.73 billion for mutual funds and institutional investors such as pension plans, endowments and foundations. Epoch is located at 1 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017.

Under the terms of the Epoch Agreement, Epoch is responsible for implementing the Fund’s investment equity strategy on a day-to-day basis, all subject to the supervision and direction of the Board and the Advisor. For services rendered by Epoch under the Epoch Agreement, the Advisor (and not the Fund) pays Epoch a fee.

PORTFOLIO MANAGERS

Below are lists of the Fund’s investment management team at the Subadvisor, listed in alphabetical order, which include a brief summary of their business careers during the past five years. The Epoch portfolio managers are jointly and primarily responsible for the day-to-day investment management of the Fund’s portfolio. These portfolio managers are employed by the Subadvisor. For more details about these individuals, including information about their compensation, other accounts they manage and any investments they may have in the Fund, see the SAI.

William W. Priest, CFA

Founder, Executive Chairman, Co-Chief Investment Officer and Portfolio Manager,

Epoch Investment Partners, Inc. since 2004

Co-managing partner and portfolio manager

Began business career in 1965

Managed the Fund since 2007

John Tobin, Ph.D., CFA

Managing Director, Portfolio Manager, and Senior Research Analyst

Epoch Investment Partners, Inc. since 2012

Began business career in 1981

Managed the Fund since 2014

 

Kera Van Valen, CFA

Managing Director, Portfolio Manager and Senior Research Analyst
Epoch Investment Partners, Inc. since 2005

Began business career in 2001

Managed the Fund since 2014

Michael A. Welhoelter, CFA

Managing Director, Co-CIO, Portfolio Manager, Head of Risk Management

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Epoch Investment Partners, Inc. since 2005

Began business career in 1986

Managed the Fund since 2007

CUSTODIAN AND TRANSFER AGENT

The Fund’s portfolio securities are held pursuant to a custodian agreement between the Fund and State Street Bank and Trust Company (“State Street” or the “Custodian”), State Street Financial Center, One Lincoln Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02111. Under the custodian agreement, State Street performs custody, foreign custody manager and fund accounting services.

Computershare Shareowner Services, LLC, P.O. Box 505000, Louisville, KY 40233 is the transfer agent, dividend paying agent and registrar of the Fund.

Determination of Net Asset Value

The Fund’s net asset value per Common Share (“NAV”) is normally determined each business day at the close of regular trading on the NYSE (typically 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, on each business day that the NYSE is open) by dividing the Fund’s net assets by the number of Common Shares outstanding. In case of emergency or other disruption resulting in the NYSE not opening for trading or the NYSE closing at a time other than the regularly scheduled close, the NAV may be determined as of the regularly scheduled close of the NYSE pursuant to the Fund’s Valuation Policies and Procedures. The time at which shares and transactions are priced and until which orders are accepted may vary to the extent permitted by the Securities and Exchange Commission and applicable regulations. On holidays or other days when the NYSE is closed, the NAV is not calculated. Trading of securities that are primarily listed on foreign exchanges may take place on weekends and U.S. business holidays on which the Fund’s NAV is not calculated. Consequently, the Fund’s portfolio securities may trade and the NAV of the Fund’s Common Shares may be significantly affected on days when a shareholder will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund’s Common Shares.

 

Portfolio securities are valued by various methods that are generally described below. Portfolio securities also may be fair valued by the Fund’s Pricing Committee in certain instances pursuant to procedures established by the Trustees. Equity securities are generally valued at the last sale price or, for certain markets, the official closing price as of the close of the relevant exchange. Securities not traded on a particular day are valued using last available bid prices. A security that is listed or traded on more than one exchange is typically valued at the price on the exchange where the security was acquired or most likely will be sold. In certain instances, the Pricing Committee may determine to value equity securities using prices obtained from another exchange or market if trading on the exchange or market on which prices are typically obtained did not open for trading as scheduled, or if trading closed earlier than scheduled, and trading occurred as normal on another exchange or market. Equity securities traded principally in foreign markets are typically valued using the last sale price or official closing price in the relevant exchange or market, as adjusted by an independent pricing vendor to reflect fair value. On any day a foreign market is closed and the NYSE is open, any foreign securities will typically be valued using the last price or official closing price obtained from the relevant exchange on the prior business day adjusted based on information provided by an independent pricing vendor to reflect fair value. Debt obligations are typically valued based on evaluated prices provided by an independent pricing vendor. The value of securities denominated in foreign currencies is converted into U.S. dollars at the exchange rate supplied by an independent pricing vendor. Forward foreign currency contracts are valued at the prevailing forward rates which are based on foreign currency exchange spot rates and forward points supplied by an independent pricing vendor. Exchange-traded options are valued at the mid-price of the last quoted bid and ask prices. Futures contracts whose settlement prices are determined as of the close of the NYSE are typically valued based on the settlement price while other futures contracts are typically valued at the last traded price on the exchange on which they trade. Foreign equity index futures that trade in the electronic trading market subsequent to the close of regular trading may be valued at the last traded price in the electronic trading market as of the close of the NYSE, or may be fair valued based on fair value adjustment factors provided by an independent pricing vendor in order to adjust for events that may occur between the close of foreign exchanges or markets and the close of the NYSE. Swaps and unlisted options are generally valued using evaluated prices obtained from an independent pricing vendor. Shares of open-end investment companies that are not exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) held by the Fund are valued based on the NAVs of such other investment companies.

 

Pricing vendors may use matrix pricing or valuation models that utilize certain inputs and assumptions to derive values, including transaction data, broker-dealer quotations, credit quality information, general market conditions, news, and other factors and assumptions. The Fund may receive different prices when it sells odd-lot positions than it would receive for sales of institutional round lot positions. Pricing vendors generally value securities assuming orderly transactions of institutional round lot sizes, but the Fund may hold or transact in such securities in smaller, odd lot sizes.

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The Pricing Committee engages in oversight activities with respect to the Fund’s pricing vendors, which includes, among other things, monitoring significant or unusual price fluctuations above predetermined tolerance levels from the prior day, back-testing of pricing vendor prices against actual trades, conducting periodic due diligence meetings and reviews, and periodically reviewing the inputs, assumptions and methodologies used by these vendors. Nevertheless, market quotations, official closing prices, or information furnished by a pricing vendor could be inaccurate, which could lead to a security being valued incorrectly.

 

If market quotations, official closing prices, or information furnished by a pricing vendor are not readily available or are otherwise deemed unreliable or not representative of the fair value of such security because of market- or issuer-specific events, a security will be valued at its fair value as determined in good faith by the Trustees. The Trustees are assisted in their responsibility to fair value securities by the Fund’s Pricing Committee, and the actual calculation of a security’s fair value may be made by the Pricing Committee acting pursuant to the procedures established by the Trustees. In certain instances, therefore, the Pricing Committee may determine that a reported valuation does not reflect fair value, based on additional information available or other factors, and may accordingly determine in good faith the fair value of the assets, which may differ from the reported valuation.

 

Fair value pricing of securities is intended to help ensure that the Fund’s NAV reflects the fair market value of the Fund’s portfolio securities as of the close of regular trading on the NYSE (as opposed to a value that no longer reflects market value as of such close). The use of fair value pricing has the effect of valuing a security based upon the price the Fund might reasonably expect to receive if it sold that security in an orderly transaction between market participants, but does not guarantee that the security can be sold at the fair value price. Further, because of the inherent uncertainty and subjective nature of fair valuation, a fair valuation price may differ significantly from the value that would have been used had a readily available market price for the investment existed and these differences could be material.

 

Regarding the Fund’s investment in an open-end investment company that is not an ETF, which (as noted above) is valued at such investment company’s NAV, the prospectus for such investment company explains the circumstances and effects of fair value pricing for that investment company.

 

Distribution Policy

The Fund makes regular quarterly distributions to Common Shareholders which may consist of the Fund’s cash available for distribution and return of capital. “Cash available for distribution” consists of the Fund’s (i) investment company taxable income, which includes among other things, dividend and ordinary income after payment of Fund expenses, the excess of net short-term capital gain over net long-term capital loss, and income from certain hedging and interest rate transactions, (ii) qualified dividend income and (iii) long-term capital gain (gain from the sale of capital assets held longer than one year). The Board may modify this distribution policy at any time without obtaining the approval of Common Shareholders.

Expenses of the Fund are accrued each day. To the extent that the Fund’s net investment income for any year exceeds the total quarterly distributions paid during the year, the Fund may make a special distribution at or near year-end of such excess amount as may be required. If it does, over time, all of the Fund’s investment company taxable income will be distributed.

If, for any calendar year, as discussed above, the total distributions made exceed the Fund’s net investment taxable income and net capital gain, the excess generally will be treated as a return of capital to each Common Shareholder (up to the amount of the Common Shareholder’s basis in his or her Common Shares) and thereafter as gain from the sale of Common Shares. In each fiscal year the Fund has paid distributions, the Fund’s total distributions exceeded the Fund’s net investment taxable income and net capital gain, and such excess was treated as a return of capital to each Common Shareholder. The amount treated as a return of capital reduces the Common Shareholder’s adjusted basis in his or her Common Shares, thereby increasing his or her potential gain or reducing his or her potential loss on the subsequent sale of his or her Common Shares. Distributions in any year may include a substantial return of capital component.

Pursuant to the requirements of the 1940 Act, in the event the Fund makes distributions from sources other than income, a notice will accompany each quarterly distribution with respect to the estimated source of the distribution made. Such notices will describe the portion, if any, of the quarterly dividend which, in the Fund’s good faith judgment, constitutes long-term capital gain, short-term capital gain, investment company taxable income or a return of capital. The actual character of such dividend distributions for U.S. federal income tax purposes, however, will only be determined finally by the Fund at the close of its fiscal year, based on the Fund’s full year performance and its actual net investment company taxable income and net capital gain for the year, which may result in a recharacterization of amounts distributed during such fiscal year from the characterization in the quarterly estimates.

At least annually, the Fund intends to distribute any net capital gain (which is the excess of net long-term capital gain over net short-term capital loss) or, alternatively, to retain all or a portion of the year’s net capital gain and pay U.S. federal income tax on the

 39

retained gain. As provided under U.S. federal tax law, if the Fund retains net capital gain, Common Shareholders of record as of the end of the Fund’s taxable year will include their attributable share of the retained gain in their income for the year as a long-term capital gain, and will be entitled to a tax credit or refund for the tax deemed paid on their behalf by the Fund. The Fund may treat the cash value of tax credit and refund amounts in connection with retained capital gain as a substitute for equivalent cash distributions.

The tax treatment and characterization of the Fund’s distributions may vary substantially from time to time because of the varied nature of the Fund’s investments. Distributions in any year may include a substantial return of capital component. A return of capital is a distribution to Common Shareholders that is not attributable to the Fund’s earnings but, represents a return of part of the Common Shareholder’s investment. If the Fund’s distributions exceed the Fund’s current and accumulated earnings and profits, such excess will be treated first as a return of capital to the extent of the shareholder’s tax basis in Common Shares (thus reducing a shareholder’s adjusted tax basis in his or her Common Shares), and thereafter as capital gain assuming Common Shares are held as a capital asset. Upon the sale of Common Shares, a shareholder generally will recognize capital gain or loss equal to the difference between the amount realized on the sale and the shareholder’s adjusted tax basis in Common Shares sold. For example, in year one, a Common Shareholder purchased 100 shares of the Fund at $10 per Share. In year two, the Common Shareholder received a $1-per-share return of capital distribution, which reduced the basis in each share by $1, to give the Common Shareholder an adjusted basis of $9 per share. In year three, the Common Shareholder sells the 100 shares for $15 per Share. Assuming no other transactions during this period, a Common Shareholder would have a capital gain in year three of $6 per share ($15 minus $9) for a total capital gain of $600. Under the 1940 Act, for any distribution that includes amounts from sources other than net income (calculated on a book basis), the Fund is required to provide Common Shareholders a written statement regarding the components of such distribution. Such a statement will be provided at the time of any distribution believed to include any such amounts.

The 1940 Act currently limits the number of times the Fund may distribute long-term capital gain in any tax year, which may increase the variability of the Fund’s distributions and result in certain distributions being comprised more heavily of long-term capital gain eligible for favorable income tax rates. In the future, the Advisor may seek Board approval to implement a managed distribution plan for the Fund. The managed distribution plan would be implemented pursuant to an exemptive order previously granted by the SEC, which provides an exemption from Section 19(b) of the 1940 Act and Rule 19b-1 thereunder to permit the Fund to include long-term capital gain as a part of its regular distributions to Common Shareholders more frequently than would otherwise be permitted by the 1940 Act (generally once or twice per year). If the Fund implements a managed distribution plan, it would do so without a vote of the Common Shareholders.

The distributions paid by the Fund for any particular quarter may be more or less than the amount of cash available for distribution from that quarterly period. In certain circumstances, the Fund may be required to sell a portion of its investment portfolio to fund distributions. Distributions will reduce the Common Shares’ NAV.

 

Common Shareholders may automatically reinvest some or all of their distributions in additional Common Shares under the Fund’s dividend reinvestment plan. See “Dividend Reinvestment Plan.”

 

Dividend Reinvestment Plan

Pursuant to the Fund’s Dividend Reinvestment Plan (the “Plan”), distributions of dividends and capital gain are automatically reinvested in Common Shares by Computershare Trust Company, N.A. (the “Plan Agent”). Every shareholder holding at least one full share of the Fund is automatically enrolled in the Plan. Shareholders who do not participate in the Plan will receive all distributions in cash.

If the Fund declares a dividend or distribution payable either in cash or in Common Shares and the market price of shares on the payment date for the distribution or dividend equals or exceeds the Fund’s NAV per share, the Fund will issue Common Shares to participants at a value equal to the higher of NAV or 95% of the market price. The number of additional Common Shares to be credited to each participant’s account will be determined by dividing the dollar amount of the distribution or dividend by the higher of NAV or 95% of the market price. If the market price is lower than NAV, or if dividends or distributions are payable only in cash, then participants will receive Common Shares purchased by the Plan Agent on participants’ behalf on the NYSE or otherwise on the open market. If the market price exceeds NAV before the Plan Agent has completed its purchases, the average per share purchase price may exceed NAV, resulting in fewer Common Shares being acquired than if the Fund had issued new Common Shares.

There are no brokerage charges with respect to Common Shares issued directly by the Fund. However, whenever shares are purchased or sold on the NYSE or otherwise on the open market, each participant will pay a pro rata portion of brokerage trading fees, currently $0.05 per share purchased or sold. Brokerage trading fees will be deducted from amounts to be invested.

The reinvestment of dividends and net capital gain distributions does not relieve participants of any income tax that may be payable on such dividends or distributions even though cash is not received by the participant.

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Shareholders participating in the Plan may buy additional Common Shares of the Fund through the Plan at any time in amounts of at least $50 per investment, up to a maximum of $10,000, with a total calendar year limit of $100,000. Shareholders will be charged a $5 transaction fee plus $0.05 per share brokerage trading fee for each order. Purchases of additional shares of the Fund will be made on the open market. Shareholders who elect to utilize monthly electronic fund transfers to buy additional shares of the Fund will be charged a $2 transaction fee plus $0.05 per share brokerage trading fee for each automatic purchase. Shareholders also can sell Fund shares held in the Plan account at any time by contacting the Plan Agent by telephone, in writing or by visiting the Plan Agent’s website at www.computershare.com/investor. The Plan Agent will mail a check (less applicable brokerage trading fees) on settlement date. Pursuant to regulatory changes, effective September 5, 2017, the settlement date is changed from three business days after the shares have been sold to two business days after the shares have been sold. If shareholders choose to sell shares through their stockbroker, they will need to request that the Plan Agent electronically transfer those shares to their stockbroker through the Direct Registration System.

Shareholders participating in the Plan may elect to receive all distributions in cash by withdrawing from the Plan at any time by contacting the Plan Agent by telephone, in writing or by visiting the Plan Agent’s website at www.computershare.com/investor. Such termination will be effective immediately if the notice is received by the Plan Agent prior to any dividend or distribution record date; otherwise, such termination will be effective on the first trading day after the payment date for such dividend or distribution, with respect to any subsequent dividend or distribution. If you withdraw, your shares will be credited to your account; or, if you wish, the Plan Agent will sell your full and fractional shares and send you the proceeds, less a transaction fee of $5.00 and less brokerage trading fees of $0.05 per share. If a shareholder does not maintain at least one whole share of common stock in the Plan account, the Plan Agent may terminate such shareholder’s participation in the Plan after written notice. Upon termination, shareholders will be sent a check for the cash value of any fractional share in the Plan account, less any applicable broker commissions and taxes.

Shareholders who hold at least one full share of the Fund may join the Plan by notifying the Plan Agent by telephone, in writing or by visiting the Plan Agent’s website at www.computershare.com/investor. If received in proper form by the Plan Agent before the record date of a dividend, the election will be effective with respect to all dividends paid after such record date. If you wish to participate in the Plan and your shares are held in the name of a brokerage firm, bank or other nominee, please contact your nominee to see if it will participate in the Plan for you. If you wish to participate in the Plan, but your brokerage firm, bank or other nominee is unable to participate on your behalf, you will need to request that your shares be re-registered in your own name, or you will not be able to participate. The Plan Agent will administer the Plan on the basis of the number of shares certified from time to time by you as representing the total amount registered in your name and held for your account by your nominee.

Experience under the Plan may indicate that changes are desirable. Accordingly, the Fund and the Plan Agent reserve the right to amend or terminate the Plan. Participants generally will receive written notice at least 90 days before the effective date of any amendment. In the case of termination, participants will receive written notice at least 90 days before the record date for the payment of any dividend or distribution by the Fund.

All correspondence or additional information about the Plan should be directed to Computershare Trust Company, N.A., (Telephone: 800-852-0218 (within the United States and Canada), 201-680-6578 (International Telephone Inquiries), and 201-680-6610 (For the Hearing Impaired (TDD)).

 

Closed-End Fund Structure

Closed-end funds differ from open-end management investment companies (which generally are referred to as “mutual funds”) in that closed-end funds generally list their shares for trading on a securities exchange and do not redeem their shares at the option of the shareholder. Mutual funds do not trade on securities exchanges and issue securities redeemable at the option of the shareholder. The continuous outflows of assets in a mutual fund can make it difficult to manage the Fund’s investments. Closed-end funds generally are able to stay more fully invested in securities that are consistent with their investment objectives and also have greater flexibility to make certain types of investments and to use certain investment strategies, such as financial leverage and investments in illiquid securities. The Common Shares are designed primarily for long-term investors; you should not purchase Common Shares if you intend to sell them shortly after purchase.

Common shares of closed-end funds frequently trade at prices lower than their NAV. Since inception, the market price of the Common Shares has fluctuated and at times has traded below the Fund’s NAV and at times has traded above the Fund’s NAV. The Fund cannot predict whether in the future the Common Shares will trade at, above or below NAV. In addition to NAV, the market price of the Common Shares may be affected by such factors as the Fund’s dividend stability, dividend levels, which are in turn affected by expenses, and market supply and demand.

In recognition of the possibility that Common Shares may trade at a discount from their NAV, and that any such discount may not be

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in the best interest of Common Shareholders, the Board, in consultation with the Advisor, from time to time may review possible actions to reduce any such discount. There can be no assurance that the Board will decide to undertake any of these actions or that, if undertaken, such actions would result in Common Shares trading at a price equal to or close to NAV per Common Share. In the event that the Fund conducts an offering of new Common Shares and such offering constitutes a “distribution” under Regulation M, the Fund and certain of its affiliates may be subject to an applicable restricted period that could limit the timing of any repurchases by the Fund.

 

U.S. Federal Income Tax Matters

The following discussion of U.S. federal income tax matters is based on the advice of K&L Gates LLP, counsel to the Fund. The Fund has elected to be treated and to qualify each year as a regulated investment company (a “RIC”) under the Code. Accordingly, the Fund intends to satisfy certain requirements relating to sources of its income and diversification of its total assets and to distribute substantially all of its net income and net short-term capital gain (after reduction by net long-term capital loss and any available capital loss carryforwards) in accordance with the timing requirements imposed by the Code, so as to maintain its RIC status and to avoid paying U.S. federal income or excise tax thereon. To the extent it qualifies for treatment as a RIC and satisfies the above-mentioned distribution requirements, the Fund will not be subject to U.S. federal income tax on income paid to its shareholders in the form of dividends or capital gain distributions.

 

For U.S. federal income tax purposes, distributions paid out of the Fund’s current or accumulated earnings and profits will, except in the case of distributions of qualified dividend income and capital gain dividends described below, be taxable as ordinary dividend income. Certain income distributions paid by the Fund (whether paid in cash or reinvested in additional Fund shares) to individual taxpayers are taxed at rates applicable to net long-term capital gains (maximum rates of 20%, l5%, or 0% for individuals depending on the amount of their taxable income for the year). This tax treatment applies only if certain holding period requirements and other requirements are satisfied by the shareholder and the dividends are attributable to qualified dividend income received by the Fund itself. For this purpose, “qualified dividend income” means dividends received by the Fund from United States corporations and “qualified foreign corporations,” provided that the Fund satisfies certain holding period and other requirements in respect of the stock of such corporations. There can be no assurance as to what portion of the Fund’s dividend distributions will qualify for favorable treatment as qualified dividend income. An additional 3.8% Medicare tax will also apply in the case of some individuals.

At least annually, the Fund intends to distribute any net capital gain (which is the excess of net long-term capital gain over net short-term capital loss) or, alternatively, to retain all or a portion of the year’s net capital gain and pay U.S. federal income tax on the retained gain. As provided under U.S. federal tax law, if the Fund retains net capital gain, Common Shareholders of record as of the end of the Fund’s taxable year will include their attributable share of the retained gain in their income for the year as long-term capital gain (regardless of holding period in Common Shares), and will be entitled to a tax credit or refund for the tax paid on their behalf by the Fund. Common Shareholders of record for the retained capital gain also will be entitled to increase their tax basis in their Common Shares by 79% of the allocated gain. Distributions of the Fund’s net capital gain (“capital gain distributions”), if any, are taxable to Common Shareholders as long-term capital gain, regardless of their holding period in Common Shares. Distributions of the Fund’s net realized short-term capital gain will be taxable as ordinary income.

If, for any calendar year, the Fund’s total distributions exceed the Fund’s current and accumulated earnings and profits, the excess will be treated as a return of capital to each Common Shareholder (up to the amount of the Common Shareholder’s basis in his or her Common Shares) and thereafter as gain from the sale of Common Shares (assuming Common Shares are held as a capital asset). In each fiscal year the Fund has paid distributions, the Fund’s total distributions exceeded the Fund’s current and accumulated earnings and profits, and such excess was treated as a return of capital to each Common Shareholder. The amount treated as a return of capital reduces the Common Shareholder’s adjusted basis in his or her Common Shares, thereby increasing his or her potential gain or reducing his or her potential loss on the subsequent sale or other disposition of his or her Common Shares. See below for a summary of the current maximum tax rates applicable to long-term capital gain (including capital gain distributions). A corporation that owns Fund shares may be eligible for the dividends received deduction (“DRD”) with respect to a portion of the distributions it receives from the Fund, provided the Fund designates the eligible portion and the corporate shareholder satisfies certain holding period requirements. Fund distributions that are attributable to qualified dividend income received by the Fund from certain domestic corporations may be designated by the Fund as being eligible for the DRD.

 

For federal income tax purposes, the Fund is generally permitted to carry forward a net capital loss incurred in any taxable year for an unlimited period to offset net capital gains, if any, during its taxable years following the year of the loss. Capital losses carried forward will retain their character as either short-term or long-term capital losses. To the extent subsequent net capital gains are offset by such losses, they would not result in federal income tax liability to the Fund and would not be distributed as such to shareholders.

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To qualify as a RIC for income tax purposes, the Fund must derive at least 90% of its annual gross income from dividends, interest, payments with respect to securities loans, gains from the sale or other disposition of stock, securities or foreign currencies, or other income (including, but not limited to, gain from options, futures or forward contracts) derived with respect to its business of investing in stock, securities and currencies, and net income derived from an interest in a qualified publicly traded partnership. A “qualified publicly traded partnership” is a publicly traded partnership that meets certain requirements with respect to the nature of its income. To qualify as a RIC, the Fund must also satisfy certain requirements with respect to the diversification of its assets. The Fund must have, at the close of each quarter of the taxable year, at least 50% of the value of its total assets represented by cash, cash items, U.S. government securities, securities of other regulated investment companies, and other securities that, in respect of any one issuer, do not represent more than 5% of the value of the assets of the Fund nor more than 10% of the voting securities of that issuer. In addition, at those times not more than 25% of the value of the Fund’s assets can be invested in securities (other than U.S. government securities or the securities of other regulated investment companies) of any one issuer, or of two or more issuers, which the Fund controls and which are engaged in the same or similar trades or businesses or related trades or businesses, or of one or more qualified publicly traded partnerships. If the Fund fails to meet the annual gross income test described above, the Fund will nevertheless be considered to have satisfied the test if (i) (a) such failure is due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect and (b) the Fund reports the failure, and (ii) the Fund pays an excise tax equal to the excess non-qualifying income. If the Fund fails to meet the asset diversification test described above with respect to any quarter, the Fund will nevertheless be considered to have satisfied the requirements for such quarter if the Fund cures such failure within 6 months and either (i) such failure is de minimis or (ii) (a) such failure is due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect and (b) the Fund reports the failure and pays an excise tax.

As a RIC, the Fund generally will not be subject to federal income tax on its investment company taxable income (as that term is defined in the Code, but without regard to the deduction for dividends paid) and net capital gain (the excess of net long-term capital gain over net short-term capital loss), if any, that it distributes in each taxable year to its shareholders, provided that it distributes at least the sum of 90% of its investment company taxable income and 90% of its net tax-exempt interest income for such taxable year. The Fund intends to distribute to its shareholders, at least annually, substantially all of its investment company taxable income, net tax-exempt income and net capital gain. In order to avoid incurring a nondeductible 4% federal excise tax obligation, the Code requires that the Fund distribute (or be deemed to have distributed) by December 31 of each calendar year an amount at least equal to the sum of (i) 98% of its ordinary income for such year, (ii) 98.2% of its capital gain net income (which is the excess of its realized net long-term capital gain over its realized net short-term capital loss), generally computed on the basis of the one-year period ending on October 31 of such year, after reduction by any available capital loss carryforwards and (iii) 100% of any ordinary income and capital gain net income from the prior year (as previously computed) that were not paid out during such year and on which the Fund paid no U.S. federal income tax.

If the Fund does not qualify as a RIC for any taxable year, the Fund’s taxable income will be subject to corporate income taxes, and all distributions from earnings and profits, including distributions of net capital gain (if any), will be taxable to the shareholder as ordinary income. Such distributions generally would be eligible (i) to be treated as qualified dividend income in the case of individual and other non-corporate shareholders and (ii) for the DRD in the case of corporate shareholders. In addition, in order to requalify for taxation as a RIC, the Fund may be required to recognize unrealized gain, pay substantial taxes and interest, and make certain distributions.

Certain of the Fund’s investment practices are subject to special and complex U.S. federal income tax provisions that may, among other things, (i) convert dividends that would otherwise constitute qualified dividend income into ordinary income, (ii) treat dividends that would otherwise be eligible for the corporate DRD as ineligible for such treatment, (iii) disallow, suspend or otherwise limit the allowance of certain loss or deductions, (iv) convert long-term capital gain into short-term capital gain or ordinary income, (v) convert an ordinary loss or deduction into a capital loss (the deductibility of which is more limited), (vi) cause the Fund to recognize income or gain without a corresponding receipt of cash, (vii) adversely affect when a purchase or sale of stock or securities is deemed to occur, (viii) adversely alter the characterization of certain complex financial transactions, and (ix) produce income that will not qualify as good income for purposes of the income requirement that applies to RICs. While it may not always be successful in doing so, the Fund will seek to avoid or minimize the adverse tax consequences of its investment practices.

The Fund may recognize gain (but not loss) from a constructive sale of certain “appreciated financial positions” if the Fund enters into a short sale, offsetting notional principal contract, or forward contract transaction with respect to the appreciated position or substantially identical property. Appreciated financial positions subject to this constructive sale treatment include interests (including options and forward contracts and short sales) in stock and certain other instruments. Constructive sale treatment does not apply if the transaction is closed out not later than thirty days after the end of the taxable year in which the transaction was initiated, and the underlying appreciated securities position is held unhedged for at least the next sixty days after the hedging transaction is closed.

Gain or loss from a short sale of property generally is considered as capital gain or loss to the extent the property used to close the short sale constitutes a capital asset in the Fund’s hands. Except with respect to certain situations where the property used to close a

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short sale has a long-term holding period on the date the short sale is entered into, gain on short sales generally are short-term capital gain. A loss on a short sale will be treated as a long-term capital loss if, on the date of the short sale, “substantially identical property” has been held by the Fund for more than one year. In addition, entering into a short sale may result in suspension of the holding period of “substantially identical property” held by the Fund.

Gain or loss on a short sale generally will not be realized until such time as the short sale is closed. However, as described above in the discussion of constructive sales, if the Fund holds a short sale position with respect to securities that have appreciated in value, and it then acquires property that is the same as or substantially identical to the property sold short, the Fund generally will recognize gain on the date it acquires such property as if the short sale were closed on such date with such property. Similarly, if the Fund holds an appreciated financial position with respect to securities and then enters into a short sale with respect to the same or substantially identical property, the Fund generally will recognize gain as if the appreciated financial position were sold at its fair market value on the date it enters into the short sale. The subsequent holding period for any appreciated financial position that is subject to these constructive sale rules will be determined as if such position were acquired on the date of the constructive sale.

Currently, certain dividend distributions paid by the Fund (whether paid in cash or reinvested in additional Common Shares) to individual taxpayers are taxed at rates applicable to net long-term capital gain (currently 20%, 15%, or 0% for individuals depending on the amount of their taxable income for the year). This tax treatment applies only if certain holding period and other requirements are satisfied by the Common Shareholder, as discussed below, and the dividends are attributable to qualified dividend income received by the Fund itself. For this purpose, “qualified dividend income” means dividends received by the Fund from U.S. corporations and “qualified foreign corporations,” provided that the Fund satisfies certain holding period and other requirements in respect of the stock of such corporations. An additional 3.8% Medicare tax will also apply in the case of some individuals.

Subject to certain exceptions, a “qualified foreign corporation” is any foreign corporation that is either (i) incorporated in a possession of the United States (the “possessions test”), or (ii) eligible for benefits of a comprehensive income tax treaty with the United States that the Secretary of the Treasury determines is satisfactory for these purposes and which includes an exchange of information program (the “treaty test”). Subject to the same exceptions, a foreign corporation that does not satisfy either the possessions test or the treaty test will still be considered a “qualified foreign corporation” with respect to any dividend paid by such corporation if the stock with respect to which such dividend is paid is readily tradable on an established securities market in the United States. The Treasury Department has issued a notice stating that common or ordinary stock, or an ADR in respect of such stock, is considered “readily tradable” if it is listed on a national securities exchange that is registered under section 6 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), or on the Nasdaq system. Foreign corporations that are passive foreign investment companies (as defined by the Code) will not be “qualified foreign corporations.”

In order for qualified dividends paid by the Fund to a Common Shareholder to be taxable at long-term capital gain rates, the Common Shareholder must hold his or her Common Shares for more than 60 days during the 121-day period beginning 60 days before the ex-dividend date. For dividends the Fund receives to qualify for tax-advantaged treatment, the Fund must hold securities paying qualified dividend income for more than 60 days during the 121-day period beginning 60 days before the ex-dividend date (or more than 90 days during the associated 181-day period, in the case of certain preferred securities). In addition, neither a Common Shareholder nor the Fund can be obligated to make related payments (pursuant to a short sale or otherwise) with respect to positions in any security that is substantially similar or related property with respect to his or her Common Shares or such stock, respectively. Gain on option positions treated as short-term and other short-term capital gain, interest income and non-qualified dividends are not eligible for the lower tax rate. There can be no assurance as to what portion of the Fund’s dividend distributions will qualify for favorable treatment as qualified dividend income. The Fund’s investment program and the tax treatment of Fund distributions may be affected by the IRS’s interpretations of the Code and future changes in tax laws and regulations.

The Fund will inform Common Shareholders of the source and tax status of all distributions promptly after the close of each calendar year.

Selling Common Shareholders generally will recognize gain or loss in an amount equal to the difference between the amount realized on the sale and the Common Shareholder’s adjusted tax basis in the Common Shares sold. If Common Shares are held as a capital asset, the gain or loss will be a capital gain or loss. The maximum tax rate applicable to net capital gain recognized by individuals and other non-corporate taxpayers is (i) the same as the maximum ordinary income tax rate for gain recognized on the sale of capital assets held for one year or less (currently 37%), or (ii) for gain recognized on the sale of capital assets held for more than one year (as well as any capital gain distributions), 20%, 15%, or 0% for individuals depending on the amount of their taxable income for the year. An additional 3.8% Medicare tax will also apply in the case of some individuals.

Any loss on a disposition of Common Shares held for six months or less will be treated as a long-term capital loss to the extent of any capital gain distributions received with respect to those Common Shares. For purposes of determining whether Common Shares have been held for six months or less, the holding period is suspended for any periods during which the Common Shareholder’s risk of loss

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is diminished as a result of holding one or more other positions in substantially similar or related property, or through certain options or short sales. Any loss realized on a sale or exchange of Common Shares will be disallowed to the extent those Common Shares are replaced by other Common Shares within a period of 61 days beginning 30 days before and ending 30 days after the date of disposition of Common Shares (whether through the reinvestment of distributions or otherwise). In that event, the basis of the replacement Common Shares will be adjusted to reflect the disallowed loss.

An investor should be aware that, if Common Shares are purchased shortly before the record date for any taxable distribution (including a capital gain distribution), the purchase price likely will reflect the value of the distribution and the investor then would receive a taxable distribution that is likely to reduce the trading value of such Common Shares, in effect resulting in a taxable return of some of the purchase price.

Taxable distributions to certain individuals and certain other non-corporate Common Shareholders, including those who have not provided their correct taxpayer identification number and other required certifications, may be subject to “backup” U.S. federal income tax withholding at the fourth lowest rate of tax applicable to a single individual (24%). Backup withholding is not an additional tax. Any amounts withheld may be refunded or credited against such shareholder’s U.S. federal income tax liability, if any, provided that the required information is furnished to the Internal Revenue Service.

An investor also should be aware that the benefits of the reduced tax rate applicable to long-term capital gain and qualified dividend income may be impacted by the application of the alternative minimum tax to individual shareholders.

The Fund’s investments in non-U.S. securities may be subject to foreign withholding taxes on dividends, interest, or capital gain, which will decrease the Fund’s yield. Foreign withholding taxes may be reduced under income tax treaties between the United States and certain foreign jurisdictions.

Depending on the number of non-U.S. shareholders in the Fund, however, such reduced foreign withholding tax rates may not be available for investments in certain jurisdictions.

The foregoing briefly summarizes some of the important U.S. federal income tax consequences to Common Shareholders of investing in Common Shares, reflects the U.S. federal tax law as of the date of this Prospectus, and does not address special tax rules applicable to certain types of investors, such as corporate and non-U.S. investors. A more complete discussion of the tax rules applicable to the Fund and the Common Shareholders can be found in the SAI that is incorporated by reference into this Prospectus. Unless otherwise noted, this discussion assumes that an investor is a U.S. person and holds Common Shares as a capital asset. This discussion is based upon current provisions of the Code, the regulations promulgated thereunder, and judicial and administrative ruling authorities, all of which are subject to change or differing interpretations by the courts or the IRS retroactively or prospectively. Investors should consult their tax advisors regarding other U.S. federal, state or local tax considerations that may be applicable in their particular circumstances, as well as any proposed tax law changes.

 

Plan of Distribution

The Fund may sell the Common Shares being offered under this Prospectus in any one or more of the following ways: (i) directly to purchasers; (ii) through agents; (iii) to or through underwriters; or (iv) through dealers. The Prospectus Supplement relating to the offering will identify any agents, underwriters or dealers involved in the offer or sale of Common Shares, and will set forth any applicable offering price, sales load, fee, commission or discount arrangement between the Fund and its agents or underwriters, or among its underwriters, or the basis upon which such amount may be calculated, net proceeds and use of proceeds, and the terms of any sale.

The Fund may distribute Common Shares from time to time in one or more transactions at: (i) a fixed price or prices, which may be changed; (ii) market prices prevailing at the time of sale; (iii) prices related to prevailing market prices; or (iv) negotiated prices; provided, however, that in each case the offering price per Common Share (less any underwriting commission or discount) must equal or exceed the NAV per Common Share.

The Fund from time to time may offer its Common Shares through or to certain broker-dealers, including UBS Securities LLC, that have entered into selected dealer agreements relating to at-the-market offerings.

The Fund may directly solicit offers to purchase Common Shares, or the Fund may designate agents to solicit such offers. The Fund will, in a Prospectus Supplement relating to such offering, name any agent that could be viewed as an underwriter under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and describe any commissions the Fund must pay. Any such agent will be acting on a best efforts basis for the period of its appointment or, if indicated in the applicable Prospectus Supplement or other offering materials, on a firm commitment basis. Agents, dealers and underwriters may be customers of, engage in transactions with, or perform services for the Fund in the ordinary course of business.

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If any underwriters or agents are used in the sale of Common Shares in respect of which this Prospectus is delivered, the Fund will enter into an underwriting agreement or other agreement with them at the time of sale to them, and the Fund will set forth in the Prospectus Supplement relating to such offering their names and the terms of the Fund’s agreement with them.

If a dealer is utilized in the sale of Common Shares in respect of which this Prospectus is delivered, the Fund will sell such Common Shares to the dealer, as principal. The dealer may then resell such Common Shares to the public at varying prices to be determined by such dealer at the time of resale.

The Fund may engage in at-the-market offerings to or through a market maker or into an existing trading market, on an exchange or otherwise, in accordance with Rule 415(a)(4) under the Securities Act. An at-the-market offering may be through an underwriter or underwriters acting as principal or agent for the Fund.

Agents, underwriters and dealers may be entitled under agreements which they may enter into with the Fund to indemnification by the Fund against certain civil liabilities, including liabilities under the Securities Act, and may be customers of, engage in transactions with or perform services for the Fund in the ordinary course of business.

In order to facilitate the offering of Common Shares, any underwriters may engage in transactions that stabilize, maintain or otherwise affect the price of Common Shares or any other Common Shares the prices of which may be used to determine payments on the Common Shares. Specifically, any underwriters may over-allot in connection with the offering, creating a short position for their own accounts. In addition, to cover over-allotments or to stabilize the price of Common Shares or of any such other Common Shares, the underwriters may bid for, and purchase, Common Shares or any such other Common Shares in the open market. Finally, in any offering of Common Shares through a syndicate of underwriters, the underwriting syndicate may reclaim selling concessions allowed to an underwriter or a dealer for distributing Common Shares in the offering if the syndicate repurchases previously distributed Common Shares in transactions to cover syndicate short positions, in stabilization transactions or otherwise. Any of these activities may stabilize or maintain the market price of Common Shares above independent market levels. Any such underwriters are not required to engage in these activities and may end any of these activities at any time.

The Fund may enter into derivative transactions with third parties, or sell Common Shares not covered by this Prospectus to third parties in privately negotiated transactions. If the applicable Prospectus Supplement indicates, in connection with those derivatives, the third parties may sell Common Shares covered by this Prospectus and the applicable Prospectus Supplement or other offering materials, including in short sale transactions. If so, the third parties may use Common Shares pledged by the Fund or borrowed from the Fund or others to settle those sales or to close out any related open borrowings of securities, and may use Common Shares received from the Fund in settlement of those derivatives to close out any related open borrowings of securities. The third parties in such sale transactions will be underwriters and, if not identified in this Prospectus, will be identified in the applicable Prospectus Supplement or other offering materials (or a post-effective amendment).

The Fund or one of the Fund’s affiliates may loan or pledge Common Shares to a financial institution or other third party that in turn may sell Common Shares using this Prospectus. Such financial institution or third party may transfer its short position to investors in Common Shares or in connection with a simultaneous offering of other Common Shares offered by this Prospectus or otherwise.

The maximum amount of compensation to be received by any member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. will not exceed 8% of the initial gross proceeds from the sale of any security being sold with respect to each particular offering of Common Shares made through a single Prospectus Supplement.

Any underwriter, agent or dealer utilized in the initial offering of Common Shares will not confirm sales to accounts over which it exercises discretionary authority without the prior specific written approval of its customer.

 

Description of Capital Structure

The Fund is a business trust established under the laws of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts by the Declaration of Trust dated and filed with the Secretary of The Commonwealth on April 23, 2007, as may be amended from time to time. The Declaration of Trust provides that the Board may authorize separate classes of shares of beneficial interest. The Board has authorized an unlimited number of Common Shares. The Fund holds annual meetings of Common Shareholders in compliance with the requirements of the NYSE.

COMMON SHARES

The Declaration of Trust permits the Fund to issue an unlimited number of full and fractional Common Shares of beneficial interest, $0.01 par value per share. Each Common Share represents an equal proportionate interest in the assets of the Fund with each other Common Share in the Fund. Holders of Common Shares will be entitled to the payment of distributions when, and if declared by the

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Fund. The 1940 Act or the terms of any future borrowings or issuance of preferred shares may limit the payment of distributions to the holders of Common Shares. Each whole Common Share is entitled to one vote and each fractional Common Share is entitled to a proportionate fractional vote as to matters on which it is entitled to vote pursuant to the terms of the Declaration of Trust. Upon liquidation of the Fund, after paying or adequately providing for the payment of all liabilities of the Fund and the liquidation preference with respect to any outstanding preferred shares, and upon receipt of such releases, indemnities and refunding agreements as they deem necessary for their protection, the Board may distribute the remaining assets of the Fund among the holders of Common Shares. The Declaration of Trust provides that Common Shareholders are not liable for any liabilities of the Fund, and requires inclusion of a clause to that effect in agreements entered into by the Fund and, in coordination with the Fund’s by-laws (the “By-laws”), indemnifies shareholders against any such liability. Although shareholders of a business trust established under Massachusetts law, in certain limited circumstances, may be held personally liable for the obligations of the business trust as though they were general partners, the provisions of the Declaration of Trust and By-laws described in the foregoing sentence make the likelihood of such personal liability remote. The Fund will not issue Common Share certificates.

The Fund has no current intention to borrow money or to issue preferred shares. However, if at some future time there are any borrowings or preferred shares outstanding, subject to certain exceptions, the Fund might not be permitted to declare any cash distribution on its Common Shares, unless at the time of such declaration, (i) all accrued distributions on preferred shares and accrued interest on borrowings, if any, have been paid and (ii) the value of the Fund’s total assets (determined after deducting the amount of any such distribution), less all liabilities and indebtedness of the Fund not represented by senior securities, is at least 300% of the aggregate amount of any securities representing indebtedness and at least 200% of the aggregate amount of any securities representing indebtedness plus the aggregate liquidation value of the outstanding preferred shares. In addition to the requirements of the 1940 Act, the Fund may be required to comply with other asset coverage requirements under a credit facility or as a condition of the Fund obtaining a rating of preferred shares from a nationally recognized statistical rating organization (a “Rating Agency”). These requirements may include an asset coverage test more stringent than under the 1940 Act. This limitation on the Fund’s ability to make distributions on its Common Shares could in certain circumstances impair the ability of the Fund to maintain its qualification for taxation as a RIC for U.S. federal income tax purposes. If the Fund were in the future to borrow money or issue preferred shares, it would intend, however, to the extent possible, to reduce borrowings or purchase or redeem preferred shares from time to time to maintain compliance with such asset coverage requirements and may pay special distributions to the holders of the preferred shares in certain circumstances in connection with any potential impairment of the Fund’s status as a RIC. Depending on the timing of any such redemption or repayment, the Fund may be required to pay a premium in addition to the liquidation preference of the preferred shares to the holders thereof.

The Fund has no present intention of offering additional Common Shares, except as described herein. Other offerings of its Common Shares, if made, will require approval of the Board. Any additional offering will not be sold at a price per Common Share below the then current NAV (exclusive of underwriting discounts and commissions) except in connection with an offering to existing Common Shareholders or with the consent of a majority of the Fund’s outstanding Common Shares. Common Shares have no preemptive rights.

CREDIT FACILITY

The Fund has no current intention to utilize leverage through borrowing. However, in the event the Fund borrows, the Fund may enter into definitive agreements with respect to a credit facility in an amount not to exceed the limits permitted under the 1940 Act. Such a facility is not expected to be convertible into any other securities of the Fund, outstanding amounts are expected to be prepayable by the Fund prior to final maturity without significant penalty and there are not expected to be any sinking fund or mandatory retirement provisions. Outstanding amounts would be payable at maturity or such earlier times as required by the agreement. The Fund may be required to prepay outstanding amounts under the facility or incur a penalty rate of interest in the event of the occurrence of certain events of default. The Fund would be expected to indemnify the lenders under the facility against liabilities they may incur in connection with the facility. The Fund may be required to pay commitment fees under the terms of any such facility.

In addition, the Fund expects that such a credit facility would contain covenants that, among other things, likely will limit the Fund’s ability to pay dividends in certain circumstances, incur additional debt, change its fundamental investment policies and engage in certain transactions, including mergers and consolidations, and may require asset coverage ratios in addition to those required by the 1940 Act. The Fund may be required to pledge its assets and to maintain a portion of its total assets in cash or high-grade securities as a reserve against interest or principal payments and expenses. The Fund expects that any credit facility would have customary covenant, negative covenant and default provisions. There can be no assurance that the Fund will enter into an agreement for a credit facility on terms and conditions representative of the foregoing, or that additional material terms will not apply. If entered into, any such credit facility may in the future be replaced or refinanced by one or more credit facilities having substantially different terms. In addition, new Rule 18f-4 may impact how the Fund uses leverage and certain borrowings and other investments, but the Fund is not required to comply with those requirements until August 19, 2022. See “Hedging, Derivative and Other Strategic Transactions Risk” for additional information.

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REPURCHASE OF SHARES AND OTHER DISCOUNT MEASURES

In recognition of the possibility that Common Shares might trade at a discount to NAV and that any such discount may not be in the interest of the Fund’s shareholders, the Board, in consultation with the Advisor, from time to time may review possible actions to help reduce any such discount. The Board, in consultation with the Advisor, may review the possibility of open market repurchases and/or tender offers for the Common Shares and consider such factors as the market price of the Common Shares, the NAV of the Common Shares, the liquidity of the assets of the Fund, effect on the Fund’s expenses, whether such transactions would impair the Fund’s status as a RIC or result in a failure to comply with applicable asset coverage requirements, general economic conditions and such other events or conditions, which may have a material effect on the Fund’s ability to consummate such transactions. There are no assurances that the Board will, in fact, decide to undertake either of these actions or, if undertaken, that such actions will result in the Common Shares trading at a price which is equal to or approximates their NAV.

In the event that the Fund conducts an offering of new Common Shares and such offering constitutes a “distribution” under Regulation M, the Fund and certain of its affiliates may be subject to an applicable restricted period that could limit the timing of any repurchases by the Fund.

PREFERRED SHARES

The Declaration of Trust authorizes the issuance of an unlimited number of shares of beneficial interest with preference rights, including preferred shares (“Preferred Shares”), having no par value per share or such other amount as the Board may establish, in one or more series, with rights as determined by the Board, by action of the Board without the approval of the Common Shareholders. The Board has no current intention to issue Preferred Shares.

Under the requirements of the 1940 Act, the Fund must, immediately after the issuance of any Preferred Shares, have an “asset coverage” of at least 200%. Asset coverage means the ratio which the value of the total assets of the Fund, less all liability and indebtedness not represented by senior securities (as defined in the 1940 Act), bears to the aggregate amount of senior securities representing indebtedness of the Fund, if any, plus the aggregate liquidation preference of the Preferred Shares. If the Fund seeks a rating of the Preferred Shares, asset coverage requirements, in addition to those set forth in the 1940 Act, may be imposed. The liquidation value of the Preferred Shares is expected to equal their aggregate original purchase price plus redemption premium, if any, together with any accrued and unpaid dividends thereon (on a cumulative basis), whether or not earned or declared. The terms of the Preferred Shares, including their dividend rate, voting rights, liquidation preference and redemption provisions, will be determined by the Board (subject to applicable law and the Declaration of Trust) if and when it authorizes the Preferred Shares. The Fund may issue Preferred Shares that provide for the periodic redetermination of the dividend rate at relatively short intervals through an auction or remarketing procedure, although the terms of the Preferred Shares also may enable the Fund to lengthen such intervals. At times, the dividend rate as redetermined on the Fund’s Preferred Shares may approach or exceed the Fund’s return after expenses on the investment of proceeds from the Preferred Shares and the Fund’s leveraged capital structure would result in a lower rate of return to Common Shareholders than if the Fund were not so structured.

In the event of any voluntary or involuntary liquidation, dissolution or winding up of the Fund, the terms of any Preferred Shares may entitle the holders of Preferred Shares to receive a preferential liquidating distribution (expected to equal the original purchase price per share plus redemption premium, if any, together with accrued and unpaid dividends, whether or not earned or declared and on a cumulative basis) before any distribution of assets is made to holders of Common Shares. After payment of the full amount of the liquidating distribution to which they are entitled, the holders of Preferred Shares would not be entitled to any further participation in any distribution of assets by the Fund.

Under the 1940 Act, if at any time dividends on the Preferred Shares are unpaid in an amount equal to two full years’ dividends thereon, the holders of all outstanding Preferred Shares, voting as a class, will be allowed to elect a majority of the Fund’s Trustees until all dividends in default have been paid or declared and set apart for payment. In addition, if required by the Rating Agency rating the Preferred Shares or if the Board determines it to be in the best interests of the Common Shareholders, issuance of the Preferred Shares may result in more restrictive provisions than required by the 1940 Act being imposed. In this regard, holders of the Preferred Shares may be entitled to elect a majority of the Board in other circumstances, for example, if one payment on the Preferred Shares is in arrears.

If the Fund were to issue Preferred Shares, it is expected that the Fund would seek a credit rating for the Preferred Shares from a Rating Agency. In that case, as long as Preferred Shares are outstanding, the composition of its portfolio would reflect guidelines established by such Rating Agency. Although, as of the date hereof, no such Rating Agency has established guidelines relating to any such Preferred Shares, based on previous guidelines established by such Rating Agencies for the securities of other issuers, the Fund anticipates that the guidelines with respect to the Preferred Shares would establish a set of tests for portfolio composition and asset coverage that supplement (and in some cases are more restrictive than) the applicable requirements under the 1940 Act. Although, at

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this time, no assurance can be given as to the nature or extent of the guidelines, which may be imposed in connection with obtaining a rating of the Preferred Shares, the Fund currently anticipates that such guidelines will include asset coverage requirements, which are more restrictive than those under the 1940 Act, restrictions on certain portfolio investments and investment practices, requirements that the Fund maintain a portion of its total assets in short-term, high-quality, fixed-income securities and certain mandatory redemption requirements relating to the Preferred Shares. No assurance can be given that the guidelines actually imposed with respect to the Preferred Shares by such Rating Agency will be more or less restrictive than as described in this Prospectus.

Certain Provisions in the Declaration of Trust and By-Laws

Under Massachusetts law, shareholders, in certain circumstances, could be held personally liable for the obligations of the Fund. However, the Declaration of Trust contains an express disclaimer of shareholder liability for debts or obligations of the Fund. The By-laws further provide for indemnification out of the assets and property of the Fund for all loss and expense of any shareholder held personally liable for the obligations of the Fund. In addition, at the request of the shareholder, the Fund will assume the defense of any claim against a shareholder for personal liability. Thus, the risk of a shareholder incurring financial loss on account of shareholder liability is limited to circumstances in which the Fund would be unable to meet its obligations. The Fund believes that the likelihood of such circumstances is remote.

The Declaration of Trust provides that the Trustees may amend the Declaration of Trust without Common Shareholder approval to change the name of the Fund, to make other changes as do not have a materially adverse effect on the rights or interests of shareholders, or if the Trustees deem it necessary to conform the Declaration to any applicable law. The Declaration of Trust, however, prohibits amendments that impair the exemption from personal liability of the shareholders, Trustees, officers, employees and agents of the Fund or permit assessments upon shareholders.

The Declaration of Trust and By-laws provide that the Trustees have the power, to the exclusion of shareholders, to make, alter or repeal any of the By-laws, except for any By-law that requires a vote of the shareholders to be amended, adopted or repealed by the terms of the Declaration of Trust, By-laws or applicable law. This provision of the Declaration of Trust cannot be amended or repealed except by the vote of such required number of shares.

The Declaration of Trust also places certain limitations on the ability of a shareholder to sue the Fund or bring a derivative action on behalf of the Fund, except with respect to claims arising under the U.S. federal securities laws. Such limitations include, but are not limited to: (a) the power of the Trustees, in the exercise of their good faith business judgment, to dismiss or terminate any such action, suit, proceeding, dispute, claim or demand; (b) if a shareholder brings a claim in a jurisdiction other than as specified in the Declaration of Trust, the shareholder may be required to reimburse all expenses incurred by the Fund or any other person in effecting a change of venue; (c) shareholders are required to make a pre-suit demand upon the Trustees to bring a derivative action, unless the demanding shareholder(s) make a specific showing that irreparable nonmonetary injury to the Fund that the shareholder(s) could not reasonably have prevented would otherwise result; (d) the Trustees may, in their sole discretion, submit the question of whether to proceed with a derivative action claim to a vote of shareholders of the Fund; and (e) any diminution in the value of a shareholder’s shares, or any other claim arising out of or relating to an allegation regarding the actions, inaction, or omissions of or by the Trustees, the Fund’s officers, or the Adviser is a legal claim belonging only to the Fund and not to the shareholders individually.

The Declaration of Trust also places limitations on the forum in which claims against or on behalf of the Fund may be heard. Claims against the Fund are required to be brought in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, or to the extent such court does not have jurisdiction then such actions and/or claims shall be brought in the Superior Court of Suffolk County for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

ANTI-TAKEOVER PROVISIONS

The Declaration of Trust and By-laws include provisions that could have the effect of limiting the ability of other entities or persons to acquire control of the Fund or to change the composition of its Board and could have the effect of depriving Common Shareholders of an opportunity to sell their Common Shares at a premium over prevailing market prices by discouraging a third party from seeking to obtain control of the Fund. These provisions may have the effect of discouraging attempts to acquire control of the Fund, which attempts could have the effect of increasing the expenses of the Fund and interfering with the normal operation of the Fund. They provide, however, the advantage of potentially requiring persons seeking control of the Fund to negotiate with its management regarding the price to be paid and facilitating the continuity of the Fund’s investment objectives and policies. The Board has considered and approved the following anti-takeover provisions. The following is only a summary and is qualified in its entirety by reference to the Declaration of Trust and By-laws on file with the SEC.

The number of Trustees is currently twelve, but by action of a majority of the Trustees, the Board may from time to time be increased or decreased. The Board is divided into three classes of Trustees serving staggered three-year term, with the terms of one class

 49

expiring at each annual meeting of shareholders or special meeting in lieu thereof. This provision could delay for up to two years the replacement of a majority of the Board. If the Fund issues Preferred Shares, the Fund may establish a separate class for the Trustees elected by the holders of the Preferred Shares. Subject to applicable provisions of the 1940 Act, vacancies on the Board may be filled by a majority action of the remaining Trustees. Such provisions may work to delay a change in the majority of the Board.

 

Generally, the Declaration of Trust requires a vote by holders of at least two-thirds of the Common Shares and Preferred Shares, if any, voting separately, except as described below and in the Declaration of Trust, to authorize: (i) a conversion of the Fund from a closed-end to an open-end investment company; (ii) a merger or consolidation of the Fund with any other corporation, association, trust or other organization, including a series or class of such other organization; (iii) a sale, lease or exchange of all or substantially all of the Fund’s assets; or (iv) a removal of a Trustee. With respect to (i) through (iii), if such transaction is recommended by the Trustees, then the affirmative vote of the majority of the outstanding voting securities is required; provided that when only a particular class is affected (or, in the case of removing a Trustee, when the Trustee has been elected by only one class), only the required vote of the particular class will be required. However, with respect to (iv) above, if there are Preferred Shares outstanding, all shares vote as a single class.

 

Additionally, the Fund’s By-laws contain certain provisions that may tend to make a change of control of the Fund more difficult. For example, the By-laws (i) require a shareholder to give written advance notice and other information to the Fund of the shareholder’s nominees for Trustees and proposals for other business to be considered at annual shareholders’ meetings (or special meetings in lieu of annual shareholders’ meetings); (ii) require any such notice by a shareholder be accompanied by certain information as provided in the By-laws; (iii) provide that Trustees may be nominated by shareholders only at an annual meeting of the Fund or special meeting in lieu of an annual meeting; (iv) prohibit shareholders from acting by written consent or requiring that the Fund call a special meeting of shareholders, except in limited circumstances set forth in the By-laws and Declaration of Trust, and from proposing other business at a special meeting of shareholders; (v) reserve to the Board the exclusive power to adopt, alter, or repeal any provision of the By-laws or to make new By-laws, except where the Declaration of Trust, By-laws or applicable law would additionally require a shareholder vote to effect such adoption, alteration or repeal; and (vi) provide that Trustees and officers are entitled to indemnification and that the Fund may pay or reimburse expenses of Trustees and officers. The foregoing description of the By-laws is qualified in its entirety by the full text of the Amended and Restated By-laws effective as of September 27, 2013, last amended March 10, 2016.

POTENTIAL CONVERSION TO OPEN-END FUND

The Fund may be converted to an open-end management investment company at any time if approved by each of the following: (i) a majority of the Trustees then in office, (ii) the holders of not less than 75% of the Fund’s outstanding shares entitled to vote thereon and (iii) by such vote or votes of the holders of any class or classes or series of shares as may be required by the 1940 Act. In the event of conversion, the Common Shares would cease to be listed on the NYSE or other national securities exchange or market system. The Board believes, however, that the closed-end structure is desirable, given the Fund’s investment objective and policies. Investors should assume, therefore, that it is unlikely that the Board would vote to convert the Fund to an open-end management investment company. Shareholders of an open-end management investment company may require the company to redeem their shares at any time (except in certain circumstances as authorized by or under the 1940 Act) at their NAV, less such redemption charge, if any, as might be in effect at the time of a redemption. The Fund would expect to pay all such redemption requests in cash, but intends to reserve the right to pay redemption requests in a combination of cash or securities. If such partial payment in securities were made, investors may incur brokerage costs in converting such securities to cash. If the Fund were converted to an open-end fund, it is likely that new Common Shares would be sold at NAV plus a sales load.

Reports to Shareholders

The Fund makes available to its shareholders unaudited semi-annual and audited annual reports, including a list of investments held.

 

Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

 

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, who has offices at 101 Seaport Boulevard, Suite 500, Boston, Massachusetts 02210, is the independent registered public accounting firm for the Fund and audits the Fund’s financial statements.

LEGAL AND REGULATORY MATTERS

 

There are no legal proceedings to which the Fund, the Advisor, or any of its affiliates is a party that are likely to have a material

 50

adverse effect on the Fund, or the ability of the Advisor to perform its contract with the Fund.

iNCORPORATION BY rEFERENCE

 

As noted above, this Prospectus is part of a registration statement filed with the SEC. Pursuant to the final rule and form amendments adopted by the SEC on April 8, 2020 to implement certain provisions of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, including General Instruction A.2 of Form N-2, the Fund is permitted to ”incorporate by reference” the information filed with the SEC, which means that the Fund can disclose important information to you by referring you to those documents. The information incorporated by reference is considered to be part of this Prospectus, and later information that the Fund files with the SEC will automatically update and supersede this information.

 

The documents listed below, and any reports and other documents subsequently filed with the SEC pursuant to Rule 30(b)(2) under the 1940 Act and Sections 13(a), 13(c), 14 or 15(d) of the Exchange Act, prior to the termination of the offering will be incorporated by reference into this Prospectus and deemed to be part of this Prospectus from the date of the filing of such reports and documents:

 

- The Fund’s Statement of Additional Information, dated March 1, 2022, filed with this Prospectus;

- The Fund’s Annual Report on Form N-CSR, filed on December 17, 2021;

- The Fund’s description of Common Shares on Form 8-A, filed on April 23, 2007

 

You may obtain copies of any information incorporated by reference into this Prospectus, at no charge, by calling 800-225-6020 (toll-free), from the Fund’s website https://www.jhinvestments.com/investments/closed-end-fund/international-equity-funds/tax-advantaged-global-shareholder-yield-fund-ce-hty, or from the SEC’s website at sec.gov. The Fund’s periodic reports filed pursuant to Section 30(b)(2) of the 1940 Act and Sections 13 and 15(d) of the Exchange Act, as well as this Prospectus and the Statement of Additional Information, are available on the Fund’s website https://www.jhinvestments.com/investments/closed-end-fund/international-equity-funds/tax-advantaged-global-shareholder-yield-fund-ce-hty. The SEC maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC, and you also may obtain a copy of any information regarding the Fund filed with the SEC from the SEC’s website (sec.gov).

 

Additional information

 

The Fund has entered into contractual arrangements with various parties that provide services to the Fund, including, among others, the Advisor, Subadvisor, Custodian, and transfer agent, as described above and in the SAI. Fund shareholders are not parties to, or intended or “third-party” beneficiaries of, any of these contractual arrangements. These contractual arrangements are not intended to, nor do they, create in any individual shareholder or group of shareholders any right, either directly or on behalf of the fund, to either: (a) enforce such contracts against the service providers; or (b) seek any remedy under such contracts against the service providers.

 

This prospectus provides information concerning the Fund that you should consider in determining whether to purchase shares of the Fund. Each of this prospectus, the SAI, or any contract that is an exhibit to the Fund’s registration statement, is not intended to, nor does it, give rise to an agreement or contract between the Fund and any investor. Each such document also does not give rise to any contract or create rights in any individual shareholder, group of shareholders, or other person. The foregoing disclosure should not be read to suggest any waiver of any rights conferred by federal or state securities laws.

This Prospectus and the SAI do not contain all of the information set forth in the Registration Statement that the Fund has filed with the SEC (file No. 333-251351). The complete Registration Statement may be obtained from the SEC at www.sec.gov. See the cover page of this Prospectus for information about how to obtain a paper copy of the Registration Statement or SAI without charge.

 51

Table of Contents of the Statement of Additional Information

 

 

Page

 
Organization of the Fund 2
Additional Investment Policies and Risks 2
Investment Restrictions 15
Portfolio Turnover 16
Those Responsible for Management 16
Shareholders of the Fund 25
Investment Advisory and Other Services 25
Determination of Net Asset Value 31
Brokerage Allocation 32
Additional Information Concerning Taxes 34
Other Information 40
Custodian and Transfer Agent 40
Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm 40
Reports to Shareholders 41
Incorporation by Reference 41
Codes of Ethics 41
Additional Information 41
Appendix A: Description of Bond Ratings A-1
Appendix B: Proxy voting policies and procedures B-1

 

The Fund’s Privacy Policy

The Fund is committed to maintaining the privacy of its shareholders and to safeguarding their non-public personal information. The following information is provided to help you understand what personal information the Fund collects, how the Fund protects that information and why, in certain cases, the Fund may share information with select other parties.

Generally, the Fund does not receive any non-public personal information relating to its shareholders, although certain non-public personal information of its shareholders may become available to the Fund. The Fund does not disclose any non-public personal information about its shareholders or former shareholders to anyone, except as permitted by law (which includes disclosure to employees necessary to service your account). The Fund may share information with unaffiliated third parties that perform various required services, such as transfer agents, custodians and broker/dealers.

The Fund restricts access to non-public personal information about its shareholders to employees of the Fund’s investment advisor and its affiliates with a legitimate business need for the information. The Fund maintains physical, electronic and procedural safeguards designed to protect the non-public personal information of its shareholders.

 52

 

 

1,000,000 Shares

John Hancock Tax-Advantaged Global Shareholder Yield Fund

Common Shares

 

PROSPECTUS

 

March 1, 2022

 

 

JOHN HANCOCK TAX-ADVANTAGED GLOBAL SHAREHOLDER YIELD FUND

Statement of Additional Information

 

March 1, 2022

200 Berkeley Street

Boston, Massachusetts 02116

800-225-6020

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Organization of the Fund 2
Additional Investment Policies and Risks 2
Investment Restrictions 15
Portfolio Turnover 16
Those Responsible for Management 16
Shareholders of the Fund 25
Investment Advisory and Other Services 25
Determination of Net Asset Value 31
Brokerage Allocation 32
Additional Information Concerning Taxes 34
Other Information 40
Custodian and Transfer Agent 40
Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm 40
Reports to Shareholders 41
Incorporation by Reference 41
Codes of Ethics 41
Additional Information 41
Appendix A: Description of Bond Ratings A-1
Appendix B: Proxy Voting Policies and Procedures B-1

This Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”) is not a prospectus and is authorized for distribution to prospective investors only if preceded or accompanied by the prospectus of John Hancock Tax-Advantaged Global Shareholder Yield Fund (the “Fund”) dated March 1, 2022 (the “Prospectus”) and any related supplement thereto (“Prospectus Supplements”), which are incorporated herein by reference. This SAI should be read in conjunction with such Prospectus and any related Prospectus Supplements, copies of which may be obtained without charge by contacting your financial intermediary or calling the Fund at 800-225-6020.

 

Capitalized terms used in this SAI and not otherwise defined have the meanings given them in the Fund’s Prospectus and any related Prospectus Supplements.

Organization of the Fund

The Fund is a diversified, closed-end management investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”). The Fund was organized on April 23, 2007 as a Massachusetts business trust pursuant to an Agreement and Declaration of Trust (the “Declaration of Trust”).

John Hancock Investment Management LLC (the “Advisor” or “JHIM”) is the Fund’s investment advisor and is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) as an investment advisor under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (the “Advisers Act”). The Advisor is responsible for overseeing the management of the Fund, including its day-to-day business operations and monitoring the subadvisor. The Advisor has been managing closed-end funds since 1971.

Founded in 1968, the Advisor is an indirect principally owned subsidiary of John Hancock Life Insurance Company (U.S.A.), a subsidiary of Manulife Financial Corporation (“Manulife Financial” or the “Company”). John Hancock Life Insurance Company (U.S.A.) and its subsidiaries (“John Hancock”) today offer a broad range of financial products, including life insurance, annuities, investments, 401(k) plans, college savings plans, and certain forms of business insurance. Additional information about John Hancock may be found on the Internet at johnhancock.com.

The Advisor’s parent company has been helping individuals and institutions work toward their financial goals since 1862. The Advisor offers investment solutions managed by institutional money managers, taking a disciplined team approach to portfolio management and research, leveraging the expertise of seasoned investment professionals.

Manulife Financial is a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Operating as Manulife in Canada and Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, the Manulife Financial group of companies offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services to millions of clients. It also provides asset management services to institutional customers through its extensive network of employees, agents, and distribution partners.

The Fund’s subadvisor is Epoch Investment Partners, Inc. (“Epoch”), the “Subadvisor”). Epoch is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund’s portfolio investments. Epoch, founded in 2004 is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.

Additional Investment Policies and Risks

The principal strategies and risks of investing in the Fund are described in the Prospectus. Unless otherwise stated in the Prospectus or this SAI, the investment objective and policies of the Fund may be changed without shareholder approval. The Fund may invest in the instruments below in accordance with its principal and non-principal investment strategies, and such instruments and investment policies apply to the Fund, but only if and to the extent that such policies are consistent with and permitted by the Fund’s investment objective and policies. The Fund may also have indirect exposure to the instruments described below through derivative contracts.

Additional Regulatory Limitations on the Use of Derivatives

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) has adopted regulations that subject registered investment companies and/or their investment advisors to regulation by the CFTC if the registered investment company invests more than a prescribed level of its NAV in commodity futures, options on commodities or commodity futures, swaps, or other financial instruments regulated under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”) (“commodity interests”), or if the registered investment company markets itself as providing investment exposure to such commodity interests. The Advisor is registered as a commodity pool operator (“CPO”) under the CEA and is a National Futures Association member firm; however, the Advisor does not act in the capacity of a registered CPO with respect to the Fund.

Although the Advisor is a registered commodity pool operator (“CPO”) under the CEA and is a National Futures Association member firm, the Advisor has claimed an exemption from CPO registration pursuant to CFTC Rule 4.5 with respect to the Fund. To remain eligible for this exemption, the Fund must comply with certain limitations, including limits on trading in commodity interests, and restrictions on the manner in which the Fund markets its commodity interests trading activities. These limitations may restrict the Fund’s ability to pursue its investment strategy, increase the costs of implementing its strategy, increase its expenses and/or adversely affect its total return.

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Please see “Risk of Additional Government Regulation of Derivatives” for more information regarding governmental regulations of derivatives and similar transactions.

Equity Investments

As described in the Prospectus, the Fund invests primarily in common stocks.

Preferred Securities

The Fund may invest in preferred securities of both U.S. and non-U.S. issuers. Under normal market conditions, the Fund expects, with respect to that portion of its total assets invested in preferred securities, to invest only in preferred securities of investment grade quality as determined by S&P, Fitch or Moody’s or, if unrated, determined to be of comparable quality by Epoch, the subadvisor to the Fund. The foregoing credit quality policies apply only at the time a security is purchased, and the Fund is not required to dispose of a security in the event of a downgrade of an assessment of credit quality or the withdrawal of a rating. Preferred securities involve credit risk, which is the risk that a preferred security will decline in price, or fail to pay dividends when expected, because the issuer experiences a decline in its financial status. In addition to credit risk, investment in preferred securities involves certain other risks as more fully described in the Prospectus.

Repurchase Agreements, Reverse Repurchase Agreements, and Sale-Buybacks.

Repurchase agreements are arrangements involving the purchase of an obligation and the simultaneous agreement to resell the same obligation on demand or at a specified future date and at an agreed-upon price. A repurchase agreement can be viewed as a loan made by a fund to the seller of the obligation with such obligation serving as collateral for the seller’s agreement to repay the amount borrowed with interest. Repurchase agreements provide the opportunity to earn a return on cash that is only temporarily available. Repurchase agreements may be entered with banks, brokers, or dealers. However, a repurchase agreement will only be entered with a broker or dealer if the broker or dealer agrees to deposit additional collateral should the value of the obligation purchased decrease below the resale price.


Generally, repurchase agreements are of a short duration, often less than one week but on occasion for longer periods. Securities subject to repurchase agreements will be valued every business day and additional collateral will be requested if necessary so that the value of the collateral is at least equal to the value of the repurchase obligation, including the interest accrued thereon.

 

A subadvisor shall engage in a repurchase agreement transaction only with those banks or broker dealers who meet the subadvisor’s quantitative and qualitative criteria regarding creditworthiness, asset size and collateralization requirements. The Advisor also may engage in repurchase agreement transactions on behalf of the fund. The counterparties to a repurchase agreement transaction are limited to a:

 

Federal Reserve System member bank;
primary government securities dealer reporting to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Market Reports Division;
or
broker dealer that reports U.S. government securities positions to the Federal Reserve Board.


A fund also may participate in repurchase agreement transactions utilizing the settlement services of clearing firms that meet the subadvisor’s creditworthiness requirements.

 

The Advisor and the subadvisor will continuously monitor repurchase agreement transactions to ensure that the collateral held with respect to a repurchase agreement equals or exceeds the amount of the obligation.

 

The risk of a repurchase agreement transaction is limited to the ability of the seller to pay the agreed-upon sum on the delivery date. In the event of bankruptcy or other default by the seller, the instrument purchased may decline in value, interest payable on the instrument may be lost and there may be possible difficulties and delays in obtaining collateral and delays and expense in liquidating the instrument. If an issuer of a repurchase agreement fails to repurchase the underlying obligation, the loss, if any, would be the difference between the repurchase price and the underlying obligation’s market value. A fund also might incur certain costs in liquidating the underlying obligation. Moreover, if bankruptcy or other insolvency proceedings are commenced with respect to the seller, realization upon the underlying obligation might be delayed or limited.

3 

Under a reverse repurchase agreement, the Fund sells a debt security and agrees to repurchase it at an agreed-upon time and at an agreed-upon price. The Fund retains record ownership of the security and the right to receive interest and principal payments thereon. At an agreed-upon future date, the Fund repurchases the security by remitting the proceeds previously received, plus interest. The difference between the amount the Fund receives for the security and the amount it pays on repurchase is payment of interest. In certain types of agreements, there is no agreed-upon repurchase date and interest payments are calculated daily, often based on the prevailing overnight repurchase rate. A reverse repurchase agreement may be considered a form of leveraging and may, therefore, increase fluctuations in a fund’s NAV per share. Subject to the requirements noted under “Risk of Additional Government Regulation of Derivatives” and “Use of Segregated and Other Special Accounts,” a Fund will cover its repurchase agreement transactions by maintaining in a segregated custodial account cash, Treasury bills, other U.S. government securities, or other liquid assets having an aggregate value at least equal to the amount of such commitment to repurchase including accrued interest, until payment is made.

 

The Fund may effect simultaneous purchase and sale transactions that are known as “sale-buybacks.” A sale-buyback is similar to a reverse repurchase agreement, except that in a sale-buyback, the counterparty that purchases the security is entitled to receive any principal or interest payments made on the underlying security pending settlement of the Fund’s repurchase of the underlying security. The Fund’s obligations under a sale-buyback typically would be offset by liquid assets equal in value to the amount of the Fund’s forward commitment to repurchase the subject security.

 

Foreign Repurchase Agreements. Foreign repurchase agreements involve an agreement to purchase a foreign security and to sell that security back to the original seller at an agreed-upon price in either U.S. dollars or foreign currency. Unlike typical U.S. repurchase agreements, foreign repurchase agreements may not be fully collateralized at all times. The value of a security purchased may be more or less than the price at which the counterparty has agreed to repurchase the security. In the event of default by the counterparty, a fund may suffer a loss if the value of the security purchased is less than the agreed-upon repurchase price, or if it is unable to successfully assert a claim to the collateral under foreign laws. As a result, foreign repurchase agreements may involve higher credit risks than repurchase agreements in U.S. markets, as well as risks associated with currency fluctuations. In addition, as with other emerging market investments, repurchase agreements with counterparties located in emerging markets, or relating to emerging markets, may involve issuers or counterparties with lower credit ratings than typical U.S. repurchase agreements.

 

Under a reverse repurchase agreement, a fund sells a debt security and agrees to repurchase it at an agreed-upon time and at an agreed-upon price. The fund retains record ownership of the security and the right to receive interest and principal payments thereon. At an agreed-upon future date, the fund repurchases the security by remitting the proceeds previously received, plus interest. The difference between the amount the fund receives for the security and the amount it pays on repurchase is payment of interest. In certain types of agreements, there is no agreed-upon repurchase date and interest payments are calculated daily, often based on the prevailing overnight repurchase rate. A reverse repurchase agreement may be considered a form of leveraging and may, therefore, increase fluctuations in a fund’s NAV per share. A fund may be required to cover its repurchase agreement transactions by maintaining in a segregated custodial account cash, Treasury bills, other U.S. government securities, or other liquid assets having an aggregate value at least equal to the amount of such commitment to repurchase including accrued interest, until payment is made.

 

A fund may effect simultaneous purchase and sale transactions that are known as “sale-buybacks.” A sale-buyback is similar to a reverse repurchase agreement, except that in a sale-buyback, the counterparty that purchases the security is entitled to receive any principal or interest payments made on the underlying security pending settlement of the fund’s repurchase of the underlying security. A fund’s obligations under a sale-buyback typically would be offset by liquid assets equal in value to the amount of the fund’s forward commitment to repurchase the subject security.

Cash Equivalents Risk

The Fund may invest in cash equivalents to invest daily cash balances or for temporary defensive purposes. Cash equivalents are highly liquid, short-term securities such as commercial paper, time deposits, certificates of deposit, short-term notes and short-term U.S. Government obligations and may include Cash Management Portfolio, an affiliated money market fund that invests in such short-term securities.

 

Cybersecurity and Operational Risk.

 

With the increased use of technologies, such as mobile devices and “cloud”-based service offerings and the dependence on the internet and computer systems to perform necessary business functions, the Fund’s service providers are susceptible to operational and information or cybersecurity risks that could result in losses to the fund and its shareholders. Cybersecurity breaches are either intentional or unintentional events that allow an unauthorized party to gain access to

4 

Fund assets, customer data, or proprietary information, or cause the Fund or a Fund service provider to suffer data corruption or lose operational functionality. Intentional cybersecurity incidents include: unauthorized access to systems, networks, or devices (such as through “hacking” activity or “phishing”); infection from computer viruses or other malicious software code; and attacks that shut down, disable, slow, or otherwise disrupt operations, business processes, or website access or functionality. Cyberattacks can also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as causing denial-of-service attacks on the service providers’ systems or websites rendering them unavailable to intended users or via “ransomware” that renders the systems inoperable until appropriate actions are taken. In addition, unintentional incidents can occur, such as the inadvertent release of confidential information.

 

A cybersecurity breach could result in the loss or theft of customer data or funds, loss or theft of proprietary information or corporate data, physical damage to a computer or network system, or costs associated with system repairs, any of which could have a substantial impact on the Fund. For example, in a denial of service, Fund shareholders could lose access to their electronic accounts indefinitely, and employees of the Advisor, Subadvisor, or the Fund’s other service providers may not be able to access electronic systems to perform critical duties for the Fund, such as trading, NAV calculation, shareholder accounting, or fulfilment of Fund share purchases and redemptions. Cybersecurity incidents could cause the Fund, the Advisor, Subadvisor, or other service provider to incur regulatory penalties, reputational damage, compliance costs associated with corrective measures, or financial loss. They may also result in violations of applicable privacy and other laws. In addition, such incidents could affect issuers in which the Fund invests, thereby causing the Fund’s investments to lose value.

 

Cyber-events have the potential to materially affect the Fund and the Advisor’s relationships with accounts, shareholders, clients, customers, employees, products, and service providers. The Fund has established risk management systems reasonably designed to seek to reduce the risks associated with cyber-events. There is no guarantee that the Fund will be able to prevent or mitigate the impact of any or all cyber-events.

 

The Fund is 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 service providers, counterparties, or other third parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or system failures.

 

The Advisor, the subadvisor, and their affiliates have established risk management or operational failure systems that seek to reduce operational and cybersecurity risks, and business continuity plans in the event of a cybersecurity breach or operational failure. However, there are inherent limitations in such plans, including that certain risks have not been identified, and there is no guarantee that such efforts will succeed, especially since none of the Advisor, the Subadvisor, or their affiliates controls the cybersecurity or operational systems of the Fund’s third-party service providers (including the Fund’s custodian), or those of the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.

 

In addition, other disruptive events, including (but not limited to) natural disasters and public health crises (such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic), may adversely affect the Fund’s ability to conduct business, in particular if the Fund’s employees or the employees of its service providers are unable or unwilling to perform their responsibilities as a result of any such event. Even if the Fund’s employees and the employees of its service providers are able to work remotely, those remote work arrangements could result in the Fund’s business operations being less efficient than under normal circumstances, could lead to delays in its processing of transactions, and could increase the risk of cyber-events.

 

Derivatives Risk

The Fund may use a variety of derivative instruments (including both long and short positions) for hedging purposes, to adjust portfolio characteristics or more generally for purposes of attempting to increase the Fund’s investment return, including, for example, by buying and selling call and put options, buying and selling futures contracts and options on futures contracts and entering into forward contracts and swap agreements (including total return swaps) with respect to securities, indices and currencies. There can be no assurance that the Fund will enter into any such transaction at any particular time or under any specific circumstances.

The Fund may purchase and sell derivative instruments such as exchange-listed and over-the-counter put and call options on securities, financial futures, equity, fixed-income, interest rate indices and other financial instruments, purchase and sell financial futures contracts and options thereon and enter into various interest rate transactions such as swaps, caps, floors or collars. The Fund also may enter into derivative instruments or transactions that combine features of these instruments. Derivatives have risks, including the imperfect correlation between the value of such instruments and the underlying assets, the possible default of the other party to the transaction and illiquidity of the derivative instruments. The ability to use derivatives successfully depends, in part, on the Advisor’s or the Subadvisor’s ability to predict market movements correctly, which cannot be assured. Thus, the use of derivatives may result in losses greater than if they had not been used, may require the Fund to sell or purchase portfolio securities at inopportune times or for prices other than the values the

5 

Fund has placed on them, may limit the amount of appreciation the Fund can realize on an investment or may cause the Fund to hold a security that it might otherwise sell. Additionally, amounts paid by the Fund as premiums and cash or other assets held in margin accounts with respect to derivatives may not otherwise be available to the Fund for investment purposes.

 

ESG Integration Risk

The manager considers ESG factors that it deems relevant or additive, along with other material factors and analysis, when managing the fund. The portion of the Fund’s investments for which the manager considers these ESG factors may vary, and could increase or decrease over time. In certain situations, the extent to which these ESG factors may be applied according to the manager’s integrated investment process may not include U.S. Treasuries, government securities, or other asset classes. ESG factors may include, but are not limited to, matters regarding board diversity, climate change policies, and supply chain and human rights policies. Incorporating ESG criteria and making investment decisions based on certain ESG characteristics, as determined by the manager, carries the risk the fund may perform differently, including underperforming, funds that do not utilize ESG criteria or an ESG investment strategy. Integration of ESG factors into the fund’s investment process may result in a manager making different investments for the fund than for a fund with a similar investment universe and/or investment style that does not incorporate such considerations in its investment strategy or processes, and the fund’s investment performance may be affected. Because ESG factors are one of many considerations for the fund, the manager may nonetheless include companies with low ESG scores or exclude companies with high ESG scores in the fund’s investments.

The ESG characteristics utilized in the fund’s investment process may change over time, and different ESG characteristics may be relevant to different investments. Although the manager has established its own structure to oversee ESG integration in accordance with the fund’s investment objective and strategies, successful integration of ESG factors will depend on the manager’s skill in researching, identifying, and applying these factors, as well as on the availability of relevant data. The method of evaluating ESG factors and subsequent impact on portfolio composition, performance, proxy voting decisions and other factors, is subject to the interpretation of the manager in accordance with the fund’s investment objective and strategies. ESG factors may be evaluated differently by different managers, and may not carry the same meaning to all investors and managers. The manager may employ active shareowner engagement to raise ESG issues with the management of select portfolio companies. The regulatory landscape with respect to ESG investing in the United States is evolving and any future rules or regulations may require the fund to change its investment process with respect to ESG integration.

Exchange-Traded Funds Risk

The Fund may invest in shares of exchange-traded funds (collectively, “ETFs”), which are designed to provide investment results corresponding to an index. These indexes may be either broad-based, sector or international and may include Standard & Poor’s Depositary Receipts (“SPDRs”), DIAMONDS, NASDAQ-100 Index Tracking Stock (also referred to as “NASDAQ-100 Shares”) and iShares exchange-traded funds (“iShares”), such as iShares Russell 2000 Growth Index Fund and HOLDRS (Holding Company Depositary Receipts). ETFs usually are units of beneficial interest in an investment trust or represent undivided ownership interests in a portfolio of securities, in each case with respect to a portfolio of all or substantially all of the component securities of, and in substantially the same weighting as, the relevant benchmark index. The benchmark indices of SPDRs, DIAMONDS and NASDAQ-100 Shares are the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the NASDAQ-100 Index, respectively. The benchmark index for iShares varies, generally corresponding to the name of the particular iShares fund. ETFs are designed to provide investment results that generally correspond to the price and yield performance of the component securities (or commodities) of the benchmark index. ETFs are listed on an exchange and trade in the secondary market on a per-share basis.

Investments in ETFs generally are subject to limits in the 1940 Act on investments in other investment companies. The values of ETFs are subject to change as the values of their respective component securities (or commodities) fluctuate according to market volatility. Investments in ETFs that are designed to correspond to an equity index involve certain inherent risks generally associated with investments in a broadly based portfolio of common stocks, including the risk that the general level of stock prices may decline, thereby adversely affecting the value of ETFs invested in by the Fund. Moreover, the Fund’s investments in ETFs may not exactly match the performance of a direct investment in the respective indices to which they are intended to correspond due to the temporary unavailability of certain index securities in the secondary market or other extraordinary circumstances, such as discrepancies with respect to the weighting of securities.

Typically, ETF programs bear their own operational expenses, which are deducted from the dividends paid to investors. To the extent that the Fund invests in ETFs, the Fund must bear these expenses in addition to the expenses of its own operation.

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Greater China Region Risk

Investments in the Greater China region are subject to special risks, such as less developed or less efficient trading markets, restrictions on monetary repatriation and possible seizure, nationalization or expropriation of assets. Taiwan’s history of political contention with China has resulted in ongoing tensions between the two countries and, at times, threats of military conflict. Investments in Taiwan could be adversely affected by its political and economic relationship with China. In addition, the willingness of the government of the PRC to support the Mainland China and Hong Kong economies and markets is uncertain, and changes in government policy could significantly affect the markets in both Hong Kong and China. For example, a government may restrict investment in companies or industries considered important to national interests, or intervene in the financial markets, such as by imposing trading restrictions, or banning or curtailing short selling. The PRC also maintains strict currency controls and imposes repatriation restrictions in order to achieve economic, trade and political objectives and regularly intervenes in the currency market. The imposition of currency controls and repatriation restrictions may negatively impact the performance and liquidity of a fund as capital may become trapped in the PRC. Chinese yuan currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. A small number of companies and industries may generally represent a relatively large portion of the Greater China market. Consequently, a fund may experience greater price volatility and significantly lower liquidity than a portfolio invested solely in equity securities of U.S. issuers. These companies and industries also may be subject to greater sensitivity to adverse political, economic or regulatory developments generally affecting the market (see ”Risk Factors – Foreign Securities”).

To the extent a fund invests in securities of Chinese issuers, it may be subject to certain risks associated with variable interest entities (“VIEs”). VIEs are widely used by China-based companies where China restricts or prohibits foreign ownership in certain sectors, including telecommunications, technology, media, and education. In a typical VIE structure, a shell company is set up in an offshore jurisdiction and enters into contractual arrangements with a China-based operating company. The VIE lists on a U.S. exchange and investors then purchase the stock issued by the VIE. The VIE structure is designed to provide investors with economic exposure to the Chinese company that replicates equity ownership, without providing actual equity ownership.

VIE structures do not offer the same level of investor protections as direct ownership and investors may experience losses if VIE structures are altered, contractual disputes emerge, or the legal status of the VIE structure is prohibited under Chinese law. Additionally, significant portions of the Chinese securities markets may also become rapidly illiquid, as Chinese issuers have the ability to suspend the trading of their equity securities, and have shown a willingness to exercise that option in response to market volatility and other events.

The legal status of the VIE structure remains uncertain under Chinese law. There is risk that the Chinese government may cease to tolerate such VIE structures at any time or impose new restrictions on the structure, in each case either generally or with respect to specific issuers. If new laws, rules or regulations relating to VIE structures are adopted, investors, including a fund, could suffer substantial, detrimental, and possibly permanent losses with little or no recourse available.

In addition, VIEs may be delisted if they do not meet U.S. accounting standards and auditor oversight requirements. Delisting would significantly decrease the liquidity and value of the securities of these companies, decrease the ability of a fund to invest in such securities and may increase the expenses of a fund if it is required to seek alternative markets in which to invest in such securities.

Restrictions on Investments.


There may be unexpected restrictions on investments in companies located in certain foreign countries. For example, on November 12, 2020, the President of the United States signed an Executive Order prohibiting U.S. persons from purchasing or investing in publicly-traded securities of companies identified by the U.S. government as “Communist Chinese military companies” or in instruments that are derivative of, or are designed to provide investment exposure to, such securities. In addition, to the extent that a fund holds such a security, one or more fund intermediaries may decline to process customer orders with respect to such fund unless and until certain representations are made by the fund or the prohibited holdings are divested. As a result of forced sales of a security, or inability to participate in an investment the manager otherwise believes is attractive, a fund may incur losses.

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Hong Kong Stock Connect Program and Bond Connect Program Risk.

The fund may invest in eligible renminbi-denominated class A shares of equity securities that are listed and traded on certain Chinese stock exchanges (“China A-Shares”) through Stock Connect, a mutual market access program designed to, among others, enable foreign investment in the PRC; and in renminbi-denominated bonds issued in the PRC by Chinese credit, government and quasi-governmental issuers (“RMB Bonds”), which are available on the CIBM to eligible foreign investors through, among others, the “Mutual Bond Market Access between Mainland China and Hong Kong” (“Bond Connect”) program.


Trading in China A-Shares through Stock Connect and bonds through Bond Connect is subject to certain restrictions and risks. The fund’s investment in China A-Shares may only be traded through Stock Connect and is not otherwise transferable. The list of securities eligible to be traded on either program may change from time to time. Securities listed on either program may lose purchase eligibility, which could adversely affect the fund’s performance. While Stock Connect is not subject to individual investment quotas, daily and aggregate investment quotas apply to all Stock Connect participants, which may restrict or preclude the funds ability to invest in China A-Shares. For example, these quota limitations require that buy orders for China A-Shares be rejected once the remaining balance of the relevant quota drops to zero or the daily quota is exceeded (although the fund will be permitted to sell China A-Shares regardless of the quota balance). These limitations may restrict the fund from investing in China A-Shares on a timely basis, which could affect the fund’s ability to effectively pursue its investment strategy. Investment quotas are also subject to change. Bond Connect is not subject to investment quotas. Chinese regulations prohibit over-selling of China A-Shares. If the fund intends to sell China A-shares it holds, it must transfer those securities to the accounts of the funds participant broker before the market opens. As a result, the fund may not be able to dispose of its holdings of China A-Shares in a timely manner.

 

Stock Connect also is generally available only on business days when both the exchange on which China A-Shares are offered and the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong are open and when banks in both markets are open on the corresponding settlement days. Therefore, an investment in China A-Shares through Stock Connect may subject the fund to a risk of price fluctuations on days where Chinese stock markets are open, but Stock Connect is not operating. Similarly, Bond Connect is only available on days when markets in both China and Hong Kong are open, which may limit the fund’s ability to trade when it would be otherwise attractive to do so. Stock Connect launched in November 2014 and Bond Connect launched in July 2017. Therefore, trading through Stock Connect and Bond Connect is subject to trading, clearance, and settlement procedures that may continue to develop as the programs mature, which could pose risks to the fund. Bond Connect is relatively new and its effects on the CIBM are uncertain. In addition, the trading, settlement and information technology systems required for non-Chinese investors in Bond Connect are relatively new. In the event of systems malfunctions or extreme market conditions, trading via Bond Connect could be disrupted. In addition, the rules governing the operation of Stock Connect and Bond Connect may be subject to further interpretation and guidance. There can be no assurance as to the programs’ continued existence or whether future developments regarding the programs may restrict or adversely affect the fund’s investments or returns. Additionally, the withholding tax treatment of dividends, interest, and capital gains payable to overseas investors may be subject to change. Furthermore, there is currently no specific formal guidance by the PRC tax authorities on the treatment of income tax and other tax categories payable in respect of trading in CIBM by eligible foreign institutional investors via Bond Connect. Any changes in PRC tax law, future clarifications thereof, and/or subsequent retroactive enforcement by the PRC tax authorities of any tax may result in a material loss to the fund. Stock Connect and Bond Connect regulations provide that investors, such as the fund, enjoy the rights and benefits of equities purchased through Stock Connect and bonds purchased through Bond Connect. However, the nominee structure under Stock Connect requires that China A-Shares be held through the HKSCC as nominee on behalf of investors. For investments via Bond Connect, the relevant filings, registration with People’s Bank of China, and account opening have to be carried out via an onshore settlement agent, offshore custody agent, registration agent, or other third parties (as the case may be). As such, the fund is subject to the risks of default or errors on the part of such third parties. While the funds ownership of China A-Shares will be reflected on the books of the custodian’s records, the fund will only have beneficial rights in such A-Shares. The precise nature and rights of the fund as the beneficial owner of the equities through the HKSCC as nominee is not well defined under the law of the PRC. Although the China Securities Regulatory Commission has issued guidance indicating that participants in Stock Connect will be able to exercise rights of beneficial owners in the PRC, the exact nature and methods of enforcement of the rights and interests of the fund under PRC law is uncertain. In particular, the courts may consider that the nominee or custodian as registered holder of China A-Shares, has full ownership over the securities rather than the fund as the underlying beneficial owner. The HKSCC, as nominee holder, does not guarantee the title to China A-Shares held through it and is under no obligation to enforce title or other rights associated with ownership on behalf of beneficial owners. Consequently, title to these securities, or the rights associated with them, such as participation in corporate actions or shareholder meetings, cannot be assured. While certain aspects of the Stock Connect trading process are

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subject to Hong Kong law, PRC rules applicable to share ownership will apply. In addition, transactions using Stock Connect are not subject to the Hong Kong investor compensation fund, which means that the fund will be unable to make monetary claims on the investor compensation fund that it might otherwise be entitled to with respect to investments in Hong Kong securities. Other risks associated with investments in PRC securities apply fully to China A-Shares purchased through Stock Connect. Similarly, in China, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority Central Money Markets Unit holds Bond Connect securities on behalf of ultimate investors (such as the fund) in accounts maintained with a China-based custodian (either the China Central Depository & Clearing Co. or the Shanghai Clearing House). This recordkeeping system subjects the fund to various risks, including the risk that the fund may have a limited ability to enforce rights as a bondholder and the risks of settlement delays and counterparty default of the Hong Kong sub-custodian. In addition, enforcing the ownership rights of a beneficial holder of Bond Connect securities is untested and courts in China have limited experience in applying the concept of beneficial ownership. China A-Shares traded via Stock Connect and bonds trading through Bond Connect are subject to various risks associated with the legal and technical framework of Stock Connect and Bond Connect, respectively. In the event that the relevant systems fail to function properly, trading through Stock Connect or Bond Connect could be disrupted. In the event of high trade volume or unexpected market conditions, Stock Connect and Bond Connect may be available only on a limited basis, if at all. Both the PRC and Hong Kong regulators are permitted, independently of each other, to suspend Stock Connect in response to certain market conditions. Similarly, in the event that the relevant Mainland Chinese authorities suspend account opening or trading on the CIBM via Bond Connect, the fund’s ability to invest in 41. Chinese bonds will be adversely affected and limited. In such event, the fund’s ability to achieve its investment objective will be negatively affected and, after exhausting other trading alternatives, the fund may suffer substantial losses as a result.

 

Illiquid and Restricted Securities Risk. Restricted securities are securities with restrictions on public resale, such as securities offered in accordance with an exemption under Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933 (the “1933 Act”), or commercial paper issued under Section 4(a)(2) of the 1933 Act. Restricted securities are often required to be sold in private sales to institutional buyers, markets for restricted securities may or may not be well developed, and restricted securities can be illiquid. The extent (if at all) to which a security may be sold or a derivative position closed without negatively impacting its market value may be impaired by reduced market activity or participation, legal restrictions or other economic and market impediments. Funds with principal investment strategies that involve investments in securities of companies with smaller market capitalizations, foreign securities, derivatives, or securities with substantial market and/or credit risk tend to have the greatest exposure to liquidity risk. Exposure to liquidity risk may be heightened for funds that invest in securities of emerging markets and related derivatives that are not widely traded, and that may be subject to purchase and sale restrictions.

 

The capacity of traditional dealers to engage in fixed-income trading has not kept pace with the bond market’s growth. As a result, dealer inventories of corporate bonds, which indicate the ability to “make markets,” i.e., buy or sell a security at the quoted bid and ask price, respectively, are at or near historic lows relative to market size. Because market makers provide stability to fixed-income markets, the significant reduction in dealer inventories could lead to decreased liquidity and increased volatility, which may become exacerbated during periods of economic or political stress.

 

LIBOR Discontinuation Risk. Certain debt securities, derivatives and other financial instruments may utilize LIBOR as the reference or benchmark rate for interest rate calculations. However, following allegations of manipulation and concerns regarding liquidity, in July 2017 the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, announced that it will cease its active encouragement of banks to provide the quotations needed to sustain LIBOR. The ICE Benchmark Administration Limited, the administrator of LIBOR, ceased publishing most LIBOR maturities, including some US LIBOR maturities, on December 31, 2021, and the remaining and most liquid US LIBOR maturities will cease being published on June 30, 2023. It is expected that market participants will transition to the use of alternative reference or benchmark rates prior to the applicable LIBOR publication cessation date. However, although regulators have suggested alternative rates such as the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”), the future utilization of LIBOR or of any particular replacement rate remains uncertain.

 

Although the transition process away from LIBOR has become increasingly well-defined in advance of the anticipated discontinuation dates, the impact on certain debt securities, derivatives and other financial instruments remains uncertain. It is expected that market participants will amend financial instruments referencing LIBOR to include fallback provisions and other measures that contemplate the discontinuation of LIBOR or other similar market disruption events, but neither the effect of the transition process nor the viability of such measures is known. To facilitate the transition of legacy derivatives contracts referencing LIBOR, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, Inc. launched a protocol to incorporate fallback provisions. However, there are obstacles to converting certain longer term securities and transactions to a new benchmark or benchmarks and the effectiveness of one alternative reference rate versus multiple alternative reference rates in new or existing financial instruments and products has not been determined. Certain proposed

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replacement rates to LIBOR, such as SOFR, which is a broad measure of secured overnight US Treasury repo rates, are materially different from LIBOR, and changes in the applicable spread for financial instruments transitioning away from LIBOR will need to be made to accommodate the differences. Furthermore, the risks associated with the expected discontinuation of LIBOR and transition to replacement rates may be exacerbated if an orderly transition to an alternative reference rate is not completed in a timely manner.

 

As market participants transition away from LIBOR, LIBOR’s usefulness may deteriorate. The transition process may lead to increased volatility and illiquidity in markets that currently rely on LIBOR to determine interest rates. LIBOR’s deterioration may adversely affect the liquidity and/or market value of securities that use LIBOR as a benchmark interest rate, including securities and other 46. financial instruments held by the fund. Further, the utilization of an alternative reference rate, or the transition process to an alternative reference rate, may adversely affect the fund’s performance.

 

Market Events Risk

 

Events in certain sectors historically have resulted, and may in the future result, in an unusually high degree of volatility in the financial markets, both domestic and foreign. These events have included, but are not limited to: bankruptcies, corporate restructurings, and other similar events; governmental efforts to limit short selling and high frequency trading; measures to address U.S. federal and state budget deficits; social, political, and economic instability in Europe; economic stimulus by the Japanese central bank; dramatic changes in energy prices and currency exchange rates; and China’s economic slowdown. Interconnected global economies and financial markets increase the possibility that conditions in one country or region might adversely impact issuers in a different country or region. Both domestic and foreign equity markets have experienced increased volatility and turmoil, with issuers that have exposure to the real estate, mortgage, and credit markets particularly affected. Financial institutions could suffer losses as interest rates rise or economic conditions deteriorate.

 

In addition, relatively high market volatility and reduced liquidity in credit and fixed-income markets may adversely affect many issuers worldwide. Actions taken by the U.S. Federal Reserve (the “Fed”) or foreign central banks to stimulate or stabilize economic growth, such as interventions in currency markets, could cause high volatility in the equity and fixed-income markets. Reduced liquidity may result in less money being available to purchase raw materials, goods, and services from emerging markets, which may, in turn, bring down the prices of these economic staples. It may also result in emerging-market issuers having more difficulty obtaining financing, which may, in turn, cause a decline in their securities prices.

In addition, while interest rates have been historically low in recent years in the United States and abroad, any decision by the Fed to adjust the target Fed funds rate, among other factors, could cause markets to experience continuing high volatility. A significant increase in interest rates may cause a decline in the market for equity securities. Also, regulators have expressed concern that rate increases may contribute to price volatility. These events and the possible resulting market volatility may have an adverse effect on the fund.

Political turmoil within the United States and abroad may also impact the fund. Although the U.S. government has honored its credit obligations, it remains possible that the United States could default on its obligations. While it is impossible to predict the consequences of such an unprecedented event, it is likely that a default by the United States would be highly disruptive to the U.S. and global securities markets and could significantly impair the value of the fund’s investments. Similarly, political events within the United States at times have resulted, and may in the future result, in a shutdown of government services, which could negatively affect the U.S. economy, decrease the value of many fund investments, and increase uncertainty in or impair the operation of the U.S. or other securities markets. In recent years, the U.S. renegotiated many of its global trade relationships and imposed or threatened to impose significant import tariffs. These actions could lead to price volatility and overall declines in U.S. and global investment markets.

Uncertainties surrounding the sovereign debt of a number of EU countries and the viability of the EU have disrupted and may in the future disrupt markets in the United States and around the world. If one or more countries leave the EU or the EU dissolves, the world’s securities markets likely will be significantly disrupted. On January 31, 2020, the UK left the EU, commonly referred to as “Brexit,” and the UK ceased to be a member of the EU. Following a transition period during which the EU and the UK Government engaged in a series of negotiations regarding the terms of the UK’s future relationship with the EU, the EU and the UK Government signed an agreement on December 30, 2020 regarding the economic relationship between the UK and the EU. This agreement became effective on a provisional basis on January 1, 2021 and formally entered into force on May 1, 2021. While the full impact of Brexit is unknown, Brexit has already resulted in volatility in European and global markets. There remains significant market uncertainty regarding Brexit’s

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ramifications, and the range and potential implications of possible political, regulatory, economic, and market outcomes are difficult to predict. This uncertainty may affect other countries in the EU and elsewhere, and may cause volatility within the EU, triggering prolonged economic downturns in certain countries within the EU. Despite the influence of the lockdowns, and the economic bounce back, Brexit has had a material impact on the UK’s economy. Additionally, trade between the UK and the EU did not benefit from the global rebound in trade in 2021, and remained at the very low levels experienced at the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020, highlighting Brexit’s potential long-term effects on the UK economy.

In addition, Brexit may create additional and substantial economic stresses for the UK, including a contraction of the UK economy and price volatility in UK stocks, decreased trade, capital outflows, devaluation of the British pound, wider corporate bond spreads due to uncertainty and declines in business and consumer spending as well as foreign direct investment. Brexit may also adversely affect UK-based financial firms that have counterparties in the EU or participate in market infrastructure (trading venues, clearing houses, settlement facilities) based in the EU. Additionally, the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is likely to continue to stretch the resources and deficits of many countries in the EU and throughout the world, increasing the possibility that countries may be unable to make timely payments on their sovereign debt. These events and the resulting market volatility may have an adverse effect on the performance of the fund.

A widespread health crisis such as a global pandemic could cause substantial market volatility, exchange trading suspensions and closures, which may lead to less liquidity in certain instruments, industries, sectors or the markets generally, and may ultimately affect fund performance. For example, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted and may continue to result in significant disruptions to global business activity and market volatility due to disruptions in market access, resource availability, facilities operations, imposition of tariffs, export controls and supply chain disruption, among others. The impact of a health crisis and other epidemics and pandemics that may arise in the future, could affect the global economy in ways that cannot necessarily be foreseen at the present time. A health crisis may exacerbate other pre-existing political, social and economic risks. Any such impact could adversely affect the fund’s performance, resulting in losses to your investment.

The United States responded to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and resulting economic distress with fiscal and monetary stimulus packages. In late March 2020, the government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, a stimulus package providing for over $2.2 trillion in resources to small businesses, state and local governments, and individuals adversely impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In late December 2020, the government also passed a spending bill that included $900 billion in stimulus relief for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Further, in March 2021, the government passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill to accelerate the United States’ recovery from the economic and health effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In addition, in mid-March 2020 the Fed cut interest rates to historically low levels and promised unlimited and open-ended quantitative easing, including purchases of corporate and municipal government bonds. The Fed also enacted various programs to support liquidity operations and funding in the financial markets, including expanding its reverse repurchase agreement operations, adding $1.5 trillion of liquidity to the banking system, establishing swap lines with other major central banks to provide dollar funding, establishing a program to support money market funds, easing various bank capital buffers, providing funding backstops for businesses to provide bridging loans for up to four years, and providing funding to help credit flow in asset-backed securities markets. The Fed also extended credit to small- and medium-sized businesses.

As the Fed “tapers” or reduces the amount of securities it purchases pursuant to quantitative easing, and/or if the Fed raises the federal funds rate, there is a risk that interest rates will rise, which could expose fixed-income and related markets to heightened volatility and could cause the value of a fund’s investments, and the fund’s NAV, to decline, potentially suddenly and significantly. As a result, the fund may experience high redemptions and, as a result, increased portfolio turnover, which could increase the costs that the Fund incurs and may negatively impact the fund’s performance.

Political and military events, including in North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Ukraine, and other areas of the Middle East, and nationalist unrest in Europe and South America, also may cause market disruptions.

In addition, there is a risk that the prices of goods and services in the United States and many foreign economies may decline over time, known as deflation. Deflation may have an adverse effect on stock prices and creditworthiness and may make defaults on debt more likely. If a country’s economy slips into a deflationary pattern, it could last for a prolonged period and may be difficult to reverse. Further, there is a risk that the present value of assets or income from

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investments will be less in the future, known as inflation. Inflation rates may change frequently and drastically as a result of various factors, including unexpected shifts in the domestic or global economy, and a fund’s investments may be affected, which may reduce a fund’s performance. Further, inflation may lead to the rise in interest rates, which may negatively affect the value of debt instruments held by the fund, resulting in a negative impact on a fund’s performance. Generally, securities issued in emerging markets are subject to a greater risk of inflationary or deflationary forces, and more developed markets are better able to use monetary policy to normalize markets.

Multinational Companies Risk. To the extent that the Fund invests in the securities of companies with foreign business operations, it may be riskier than funds that focus on companies with primarily U.S. operations. Multinational companies may face certain political and economic risks, such as foreign controls over currency exchange; restrictions on monetary repatriation; possible seizure, nationalization or expropriation of assets; and political, economic or social instability. These risks are greater for companies with significant operations in developing countries.

 

Negative Interest Rates

Certain countries have recently experienced negative interest rates on deposits and debt instruments have traded at negative yields. A negative interest rate policy is an unconventional central bank monetary policy tool where nominal target interest rates are set with a negative value (i.e., below zero percent) intended to help create self-sustaining growth in the local economy. Negative interest rates may become more prevalent among non-U.S. issuers, and potentially within the U.S. For example, if a bank charges negative interest, instead of receiving interest on deposits, a depositor must pay the bank fees to keep money with the bank.

These market conditions may increase a Fund’s exposures to interest rate risk. To the extent a Fund has a bank deposit or holds a debt instrument with a negative interest rate to maturity, the Fund would generate a negative return on that investment. While negative yields can be expected to reduce demand for fixed-income investments trading at a negative interest rate, investors may be willing to continue to purchase such investments for a number of reasons including, but not limited to, price insensitivity, arbitrage opportunities across fixed-income markets or rules-based investment strategies. If negative interest rates become more prevalent in the market, it is expected that investors will seek to reallocate assets to other income-producing assets such as investment grade and high-yield debt instruments, or equity investments that pay a dividend. This increased demand for higher yielding assets may cause the price of such instruments to rise while triggering a corresponding decrease in yield and the value of debt instruments over time.

Pooled Investment Vehicles Risk

The Fund reserves the right to invest up to 10% of its total assets, calculated at the time of purchase, in the securities of pooled investment vehicles (e.g., investment companies, exchange-traded funds, or private funds), including other investment companies unaffiliated with the Advisor. The Fund will indirectly bear its proportionate share of any management fees paid by pooled investment vehicles in which it invests in addition to the advisory fee paid by the Fund. Please refer to “Cash Equivalents” for additional information about investment in other investment companies. The 10% limitation does not apply to the Fund’s investment in money market funds and certain other pooled investment vehicles (e.g., investments made in a collateral trust or another vehicle, as permitted by SEC exemptive order or regulatory guidance). If the Fund invests in Cash Management Portfolio, an affiliated money market fund, the management fee paid on such investment will be credited against the Fund’s management fee.

 

Risk of Additional Government Regulation of Derivatives.

 

The regulation of the U.S. and non-U.S. derivatives markets has undergone substantial change in recent years and such change may continue. In particular, new Rule 18f-4 (the “Derivatives Rule”), adopted by the SEC on October 28, 2020, replaces the asset segregation regime of Investment Company Act Release No. 10666 (Release 10666) and related stated guidance with a new framework for the use of derivatives by registered funds. For funds using a significant amount of derivatives, the Derivatives Rule mandates a fund adopt and/or implement: (i) value at risk (“VaR”)-based limitations on leverage in lieu of asset segregation requirements; (ii) a written derivatives risk management program (a “DRMP”); (iii) new Board oversight responsibilities, and (iv) new reporting and recordkeeping requirements. The Derivative Rule provides an exception from the requirements to adopt a DRMP, comply with VaR-based limitations and related board oversight and reporting obligations for funds that are “limited derivatives users,” meaning, generally, with derivatives exposure up to 10% of its net assets, excluding certain currency and interest rate hedging transactions. In addition, the Derivatives Rule provides special treatment for reverse repurchase agreements, similar financing transactions and unfunded commitment agreements. On August 19, 2022, the SEC will rescind Release 10666 and withdraw letters and similar guidance addressing a fund’s use of derivatives and require funds to satisfy the requirements of the Derivatives Rule.

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Unless a Fund elects to comply early with the Derivatives Rule, a Fund may continue to engage in certain asset segregation practices in accordance with Release 10666 and related staff letters and guidance until August 19, 2022.

 

It is possible that additional government regulation of various types of derivative instruments, including futures, options on futures and swap agreements, may limit or prevent a fund from using such instruments as part of its investment strategy, which could negatively impact the fund. While many provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act have yet to either be fully implemented or are subject to phase-in periods, any regulatory or legislative activity may not necessarily have a direct, immediate effect upon a fund, it is possible that, upon implementation of these measures or any future measures, they could potentially limit or completely restrict the ability of a fund to use these instruments as a part of its investment strategy, increase the costs of using these instruments or make them less effective. New position limits imposed on a fund or its counterparty may impact the fund’s ability to invest in futures, options, and swaps in a manner that efficiently meets its investment objective.

Securities Lending Risk

 

As described in the Prospectus, the Fund may lend a portion of its portfolio securities to broker-dealers or other institutional borrowers. Loans are made only to organizations whose credit quality or claims paying ability is considered by the Advisor or Epoch to be at least investment grade. All securities loans are collateralized on a continuous basis by cash, cash equivalents (such as money market instruments) or other liquid securities held by the custodian and maintained in an amount at least equal to the market value of the securities loaned. The Fund may receive loan fees in connection with loans that are collateralized by securities or on loans of securities for which there is special demand. The Fund may also seek to earn income on securities loans by reinvesting cash collateral in securities consistent with its investment objective and policies, seeking to invest at rates that are higher than the “rebate” rate that it normally will pay to the borrower with respect to such cash collateral. Any such reinvestment will be subject to the investment policies, restrictions and risk considerations described in the Prospectus and in this SAI. Compensation received by the Fund in connection with securities lending activities will not constitute tax-advantaged qualified dividend income.

Securities loans may result in delays in recovering, or a failure of the borrower to return, the loaned securities. The defaulting borrower ordinarily would be liable to the Fund for any losses resulting from such delays or failures, and the collateral provided in connection with the loan normally would also be available for that purpose. Securities loans normally may be terminated by either the Fund or the borrower at any time. Upon termination and the return of the loaned securities, the Fund would be required to return the related cash or securities collateral to the borrower and it may be required to liquidate longer term portfolio securities in order to do so. To the extent that such securities have decreased in value, this may result in the Fund realizing a loss at a time when it would not otherwise do so. The Fund also may incur losses if it is unable to reinvest cash collateral at rates higher than applicable rebate rates paid to borrowers and related administrative costs. These risks are substantially the same as those incurred through investment leverage and will be subject to the investment policies, restrictions and risk considerations described in the Prospectus and in this SAI.

The Fund will receive amounts equivalent to any interest or other distributions paid on securities while they are on loan, and the Fund will not be entitled to exercise voting or other beneficial rights on loaned securities. The Fund will exercise its right to terminate loans and thereby regain these rights whenever the Advisor considers it to be in the Fund’s interest to do so, taking into account the related loss of reinvestment income and other factors.

Short Sales Risk

The Fund may sell a security short if it owns at least an equal amount of the security sold short or another security convertible or exchangeable for an equal amount of the security sold short without payment of further compensation (a short sale against-the-box).

Purchasing securities to close out the short position can itself cause the price of the securities to rise further, thereby exacerbating the loss. Short-selling exposes the Fund to unlimited risk with respect to that security due to the lack of an upper limit on the price to which an instrument can rise. Although the Fund reserves the right to utilize short sales, Epoch is under no obligation to utilize short sales at all.

Temporary Investments Risk

There may be times when, in the Advisor’s judgment, conditions in the securities market would make pursuit of the Fund’s investment strategy inconsistent with achievement of the Fund’s investment objectives. At such times, the Advisor may employ alternative strategies primarily to seek to reduce fluctuations in the value of the Fund’s assets. In implementing

13 

these temporary defensive strategies, depending on the circumstances, the Fund may invest part or all of its total assets in fixed-income securities with remaining maturities of less than one year, cash or cash equivalents. Cash equivalents are highly liquid, short-term securities such as commercial paper, time deposits, certificates of deposit, short-term notes and short-term U.S. government obligations.

 

Use of Segregated and Other Special Accounts Risk

 

As noted under “Risk of Additional Government Regulation of Derivatives”, on October 28, 2020, the SEC announced it would rescind Release 10666. However, unless the Fund elects to comply early with the Derivatives Rule, the Fund may continue to engage in certain asset segregation practices in accordance with Release 10666 and related staff letters and guidance until August 19, 2022, as described in this subsection.

 

Use of extensive hedging and other strategic transactions by the Fund will require, among other things, that the Fund post collateral with counterparties or clearinghouses and/or segregate cash or other liquid assets with its custodian, or a designated subcustodian, to the extent that the Fund’s obligations are not otherwise “covered” through ownership of the underlying security, financial instrument or currency.

 

In general, either the full amount of any obligation by the Fund to pay or deliver securities or assets under a transaction or series of transactions must be covered at all times by (a) holding the securities, instruments or currency required to meet the Fund’s obligations under such transactions or series of transactions, or (b) subject to any regulatory restrictions, segregating an amount of cash or other liquid assets at least equal to the current amount of the obligation. The segregated assets cannot be sold or transferred unless equivalent assets are substituted in their place or it is no longer necessary to segregate them. Some examples of cover requirements are set forth below.

 

Call Options. A call option on securities written by the Fund will require the Fund to hold the securities subject to the call (or securities convertible into the needed securities without additional consideration) or to segregate cash or other liquid assets sufficient to purchase and deliver the securities if the call is exercised. A call option sold by the Fund on an index will require the Fund to own portfolio securities that correlate with the index or to segregate cash or other liquid assets equal to its obligations under the option.

 

Put Options. A put option on securities written by the Fund will require the Fund to segregate cash or other liquid assets equal to the exercise price.

 

OTC Options. OTC options entered into by the Fund, including those on securities, currency, financial instruments or indices, and OTC-issued and exchange-listed index options generally will provide for cash settlement, although the Fund will not be required to do so. As a result, when the Fund sells these instruments it will segregate an amount of cash or other liquid assets equal to its obligations under the options. OTC-issued and exchange-listed options sold by the Fund other than those described above generally settle with physical delivery, and the Fund will segregate an amount of cash or liquid high grade debt securities equal to the full value of the option. OTC options settling with physical delivery or with an election of either physical delivery or cash settlement will be treated the same as other options settling with physical delivery.

 

Currency Contracts. Except when the Fund enters into a forward contract in connection with the purchase or sale of a security denominated in a foreign currency or for other non-speculative purposes, which requires no segregation, a currency contract that obligates the Fund to buy or sell a foreign currency generally will require the Fund to hold an amount of that currency or liquid securities denominated in that currency equal to the Fund’s obligations or to segregate cash or other liquid assets equal to the amount of the Fund’s obligations.

 

Futures Contracts and Options on Futures Contracts. In the case of a futures contract or an option on a futures contract, the Fund must deposit initial margin and, in some instances, daily variation margin, in addition to segregating assets sufficient to meet its obligations under the contract. These assets may consist of cash, cash equivalents, liquid debt, equity securities or other acceptable assets.

 

Swaps. The Fund will calculate the net amount, if any, of its obligations relating to swaps on a daily basis and will segregate an amount of cash or other liquid assets having an aggregate value at least equal to this net amount.

 

Caps, Floors and Collars. Caps, floors and collars require segregation of assets with a value equal to the Fund’s net obligation, if any.

14 

Hedging and other strategic transactions may be covered by means other than those described above when consistent with applicable regulatory policies. The Fund also may enter into offsetting transactions so that its combined position, coupled with any segregated assets, equals its net outstanding obligation. The Fund could purchase a put option, for example, if the exercise price of that option is the same or higher than the exercise price of a put option sold by the Fund. In addition, if it holds a futures contract or a forward contract, the Fund could, instead of segregating assets, purchase a put option on the same futures contract or forward contract with an exercise price as high as or higher than the price of the contract held. Other hedging and strategic transactions also may be offset in combinations. If the offsetting transaction terminates on or after the time the primary transaction terminates, no segregation is required, but if it terminates prior to that time, assets equal to any remaining obligation would need to be segregated.

Investment Restrictions

The investment policies and strategies of the Fund described in this SAI and the Prospectus, except for the investment objective of the Fund and the nine investment restrictions designated as fundamental policies under this caption, are not fundamental and may be changed by the Board of Trustees of the Fund (the “Board”) without shareholder approval.

Fundamental Investment Restrictions

As referred to above, the following nine investment restrictions of the Fund are designated as fundamental policies and as such cannot be changed without the approval of the holders of a majority of the Fund’s outstanding voting securities, which as used in this SAI means the lesser of (a) 67% of the shares of the Fund present or represented by proxy at a meeting if the holders of more than 50% of the outstanding shares are present or represented at the meeting or (b) more than 50% of outstanding shares of the Fund. As a matter of fundamental policy, the Fund may not:

(1)Borrow money, except as permitted by the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”). The 1940 Act currently requires that any indebtedness incurred by a closed-end investment company have an asset coverage of at least 300% at the time of borrowing;
(2)Issue senior securities, as defined in the 1940 Act, other than (i) preferred shares which immediately after issuance will have asset coverage of at least 200%, (ii) indebtedness which immediately after issuance will have asset coverage of at least 300%, or (iii) the borrowings permitted by investment restriction (1) above. The 1940 Act currently defines “senior security” as any bond, debenture, note or similar obligation or instrument constituting a security and evidencing indebtedness and any stock of a class having priority over any other class as to distribution of assets or payment of dividends. Debt and equity securities issued by a closed-end investment company meeting the foregoing asset coverage provisions are excluded from the general 1940 Act prohibition on the issuance of senior securities;
(3)Purchase securities on margin (but the Fund may obtain such short-term credits as may be necessary for the clearance of purchases and sales of securities). The purchase of investment assets with the proceeds of a permitted borrowing or securities offering will not be deemed to be the purchase of securities on margin;
(4)Underwrite securities issued by other persons, except insofar as it may technically be deemed to be an underwriter under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, in selling or disposing of a portfolio investment;
(5)Make loans to other persons, except by (a) the acquisition of loans, loan interests, debt securities and other obligations in which the Fund is authorized to invest in accordance with its investment objective and policies, (b) entering into repurchase agreements and (c) lending its portfolio securities;
(6)Purchase or sell real estate, although it may purchase and sell securities which are secured by interests in real estate and securities of issuers which invest or deal in real estate. The Fund reserves the freedom of action to hold and to sell real estate acquired as a result of the ownership of securities;
(7)Purchase or sell physical commodities or contracts for the purchase or sale of physical commodities. Physical commodities do not include futures contracts with respect to securities, securities indices, currency or other financial instruments;
(8)With respect to 75% of its total assets, invest more than 5% of its total assets in the securities of a single issuer or purchase more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of a single issuer, except obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities and except securities of other investment companies; and
(9)Invest 25% or more of its total assets in any single industry or group of industries (other than securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government or its agencies or instrumentalities).
15 

In regard to restriction (1), the Fund may borrow money as a temporary measure for extraordinary or emergency purposes, including the payment of dividends and the settlement of securities transactions which otherwise might require untimely dispositions of Fund securities. The 1940 Act currently requires that the Fund have 300% asset coverage at the time of borrowing with respect to all borrowings other than temporary borrowings.

In regard to restriction (5)(c), the value of the securities loaned by the Fund may not exceed 33⅓% of its total assets.

In regard to restriction (8), when determining the issuer of a municipal security, each state, each political subdivision, agency, and instrumentality of each state and each multi-state agency of which such state is a member is considered a separate issuer. In the event that securities are backed only by assets and revenues of a particular instrumentality, facility or subdivision, such entity is considered the issuer.

For purposes of construing restriction (9), securities of the U.S. Government, its agencies, or instrumentalities are not considered to represent industries. Municipal obligations backed by the credit of a governmental entity also are not considered to represent industries.

Whenever an investment policy or investment restriction set forth in the Prospectus or this SAI states a maximum percentage of assets that may be invested in any security or other asset or describes a policy regarding quality standards, such percentage limitation or standard shall be determined immediately after and as a result of the Fund’s acquisition of such security or asset. Accordingly, any later increase or decrease resulting from a change in values, assets or other circumstances or any subsequent rating change made by a rating agency (or as determined by the Subadvisor if the security is not rated by a rating agency) will not compel the Fund to dispose of such security or other asset. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Fund must always be in compliance with the borrowing policies set forth above.

Non-fundamental Investment Restrictions

The Fund has adopted the following non-fundamental investment policy, which may be changed by the Board without approval of the Fund’s shareholders. As a matter of non-fundamental policy, the Fund may not make short sales of securities or maintain a short position, unless at all times when a short position is open the Fund either owns an equal amount of such securities or owns securities convertible into or exchangeable, without payment of any further consideration, for securities of the same issue as, and equal in amount to, the securities sold short.

Upon the Board’s approval, the Fund may invest more than 10% of its total assets in one or more other management investment companies (or may invest in affiliated investment companies) to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act and rules thereunder.

 

Portfolio Turnover

 

The Fund’s annual rate of portfolio turnover may vary from year to year as well as within a year. A high rate of portfolio turnover (100% or more) generally involves correspondingly greater brokerage commission expenses, which must be borne directly by the Fund. Portfolio turnover is calculated by dividing the lesser of purchases or sales of Fund securities during the fiscal year by the monthly average of the value of the Fund’s securities. (Excluded from the computation are all securities, including options, with maturities at the time of acquisition of one year or less.) The portfolio turnover rate for the Fund for the fiscal years ended October 31, 2021 and October 31, 2020 was 302% and 301%, respectively.

 

Those Responsible for Management

 

The business of the Fund is managed by the Board, including certain Trustees who are not “interested persons” (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Fund (the “Independent Trustees”). The Trustees elect officers who are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Fund and who execute policies formulated by the Trustees. Several of the Trustees and officers of the Fund also are officers or directors of the Advisor, or officers or directors of its affiliates. Each Trustee oversees the Fund and other funds in the John Hancock Fund Complex (as defined below).

 

The tables below present certain information regarding the Trustees and officers of the Fund, including their principal occupations which, unless specific dates are shown, are of at least five years’ duration. In addition, the table includes information concerning other directorships held by each Trustee in other registered investment companies or publicly traded companies. Information is listed separately for each Trustee who is an “interested person” (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Fund (each a “Non-Independent Trustee”) and the Independent Trustees. As of October 31, 2021, the John Hancock Fund Complex consisted of 191 funds (including separate series of series mutual funds). The address of each Trustee and officer of the Fund is 200 Berkeley Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116.

16 

The Board is divided into three staggered term classes, with the term of one class expiring each year, and no term continuing for longer than three years after the applicable election. Should a Trustee in a class wish to serve an additional term, he or she must stand for re-election. Classifying the Trustees in this manner may prevent replacement of a majority of the Trustees for a period of up to two years. The Board consists of eleven members. Each of the three staggered term classes is composed of three or five Trustees.

 

Non-Independent Trustees

Name

(Birth Year)

Position(s) with

the Fund1

Principal Occupation(s) and Other

Directorships During the Past 5 Years

Number of Funds in John Hancock Fund Complex Overseen by Trustee
       
Andrew G. Arnott2
(1971)
Trustee
(since 2017) President
(Since 2014)

Head of Wealth and Asset Management, United States and Europe, for John Hancock and Manulife (since 2018); Director and Executive Vice President, John Hancock Investment Management LLC (since 2005, including prior positions); Director and Executive Vice President, John Hancock Variable Trust Advisers LLC (since 2006, including prior positions); President, John Hancock Investment Management Distributors LLC (since 2004, including prior positions); President of various trusts within the John Hancock Fund Complex (since 2007, including prior positions).

 

Trustee of various trusts within the John Hancock Fund Complex (since 2017).

191
       
Marianne Harrison‌2
(1963)

Trustee

(since 2018)

President and CEO, John Hancock (since 2017); President and CEO, Manulife Canadian Division (2013–2017); Member, Board of Directors, Boston Medical Center (since 2021); Member, Board of Directors, CAE Inc. (since 2019); Member, Board of Directors, MA Competitive Partnership Board (since 2018); Member, Board of Directors, American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) (since 2018); Member, Board of Directors, Communitech, an industry-led innovation center that fosters technology companies in Canada (2017 - 2019); Member, Board of Directors, Manulife Assurance Canada (2015-2017); Board Member, St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation (2014-2017); Member, Board of Directors, Manulife Bank of Canada (2013-2017); Member, Standing Committee of the Canadian Life & Health Assurance Association (2013-2017); Member, Board of Directors, John Hancock USA, John Hancock Life & Health, John Hancock New York (2012 – 2013).

 

Trustee of various trusts within the John Hancock Fund Complex (since 2018).

191
17 
Independent Trustees

Name

(Birth Year)

Position(s) with

the Fund1

Principal Occupation(s) and Other

Directorships During the Past 5 Years

Number of Funds in John Hancock Fund Complex Overseen by

Trustee

       
James R. Boyle
(1959)

Trustee

(since 2015)3

Foresters Financial, Chief Executive Officer (2018-2022) and board member (2017-2022). Manulife Financial and John Hancock, more than 20 years, retiring in 2012 as Chief Executive Officer, John Hancock and Senior Executive Vice President, Manulife Financial.

 

Trustee of various trusts within the John Hancock Fund Complex (2005–2014 and since 2015).

191
       

Peter S. Burgess

(1942)

Trustee

(since 2012)

Consultant (financial, accounting, and auditing matters) (since 1999); Certified Public Accountant; Partner, Arthur Andersen (independent public accounting firm) (prior to 1999); Director, Lincoln Educational Services Corporation (2004-2021); Director, Symetra Financial Corporation (2010–2016); Director, PMA Capital Corporation (2004–2010).

 

Trustee of various trusts within the John Hancock Fund Complex (since 2005).

191
       

William H. Cunningham

(1944)

Trustee

(since 2007)

Professor, University of Texas, Austin, Texas (since 1971); former Chancellor, University of Texas System and former President of the University of Texas, Austin, Texas; Chairman (since 2009) and Director (since 2006), Lincoln National Corporation (insurance); Director, Southwest Airlines (since 2000).

 

Trustee of various trusts within the John Hancock Fund Complex (since 1986).

191
       

Grace K. Fey

(1946)

Trustee

(since 2012)

Chief Executive Officer, Grace Fey Advisors (since 2007); Director and Executive Vice President, Frontier Capital Management Company (1988–2007); Director, Fiduciary Trust (since 2009).

 

Trustee of various trusts within the John Hancock Fund Complex (since 2008).

191
       

Deborah C. Jackson

(1952)

Trustee

(since 2008)

President, Cambridge College, Cambridge, Massachusetts (since 2011); Board of Directors, Amwell Corporation (since 2020); Board of Directors, Massachusetts Women’s Forum (2018-2020); Board of Directors, National Association of Corporate Directors/New England (2015-2020); Board of Directors, Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts (2014-2017); Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay (2002–2011); Board of Directors of Eastern Bank Corporation (since 2001); Board of Directors of Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation (since 2001); Board of Directors of American Student Assistance Corporation (1996–2009); Board of Directors of Boston Stock Exchange (2002–2008); Board of Directors of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare (health benefits company) (2007–2011).

 

Trustee of various trusts within the John Hancock Fund Complex (since 2008).

191
18 
Independent Trustees
Name
(Birth Year)

Position(s) with
the Fund1

Principal Occupation(s) and Other

Directorships During the Past 5 Years

Number of Funds in John Hancock Fund Complex Overseen by

Trustee

Hassell H. McClellan
(1945
)
Trustee
(since 2012) and Chairperson of the Board
(since 2017)
Director/Trustee, Virtus Funds (2008-2020); Director, The Barnes Group (2010-2021); Associate Professor, The Wallace E. Carroll School of Management, Boston College (retired 2013). 191
    Trustee (since 2005) and Chairperson of the Board (since 2017) of various trusts within the John Hancock Fund Complex.  
       
Steven R. Pruchansky
(1944)
Trustee
(since 2007) and Vice Chairperson of the Board
(since 2012)
Managing Director, Pru Realty (since 2017); Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Greenscapes of Southwest Florida, Inc. (2014-2020); Director and President, Greenscapes of Southwest Florida, Inc. (until 2000); Member, Board of Advisors, First American Bank (until 2010); Managing Director, Jon James, LLC (real estate) (since 2000); Partner, Right Funding, LLC (2014-2017); Director, First Signature Bank & Trust Company (until 1991); Director, Mast Realty Trust (until 1994); President, Maxwell Building Corp. (until 1991). 191
       
    Trustee (since 1992), Chairperson of the Board (2011–2012), and Vice Chairperson of the Board (since 2012) of various trusts within the John Hancock Fund Complex.  
       
Frances G. Rathke
(1960)
Trustee
(since 2020)
Director, Audit Committee Chair, Oatly Group AB (plant-based drink company) (since 2021); Director, Audit Committee Chair and Compensation Committee Member, Green Mountain Power Corporation (since 2016); Director, Treasurer and Finance & Audit Committee Chair, Flynn Center for Performing Arts (since 2016); Director, Audit Committee Chair and Compensation Committee Member, Planet Fitness (since 2016); Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. (2003-retired 2015). 191
       
    Trustee of various trusts within the John Hancock Fund Complex (since 2020).  
       
Gregory A. Russo
(1949)
Trustee
(since 2008)
Director and Audit Committee Chairman (2012-2020), and Member, Audit Committee and Finance Committee (2011-2020), NCH Healthcare System, Inc. (holding company for multi-entity healthcare system); Director and Member (2012-2018), and Finance Committee Chairman (2014-2018), The Moorings, Inc. (nonprofit continuing care community); Vice Chairman, Risk & Regulatory Matters, KPMG LLP (KPMG) (2002–2006); Vice Chairman, Industrial Markets, KPMG (1998–2002); Chairman and Treasurer, Westchester County, New York, Chamber of Commerce (1986–1992); Director, Treasurer and Chairman of Audit and Finance Committees, Putnam Hospital Center (1989–1995); Director and Chairman of Fundraising Campaign, United Way of Westchester and Putnam Counties, New York (1990–1995). 191
       
    Trustee of various trusts within the John Hancock Fund Complex (since 2008).  

  

(1)Mr. Boyle, Dr. Cunningham, Ms. Fey, Dr. McClellan and Mr. Russo serve as Trustees for a term expiring in 2023; Mr. Burgess, Ms. Harrison and Ms. Rathke serve as Trustees for a term expiring in 2024. Mr. Arnott, Ms. Jackson and Mr. Pruchansky serve as
19 

 

 Trustees for a term expiring in 2025.
(2)The Trustee is a Non-Independent Trustee due to his position with the Advisor and certain of its affiliates.
(3)Mr. Boyle served as Trustee at various time periods prior to 2015.

 

Correspondence intended for any of the Trustees may be sent to the attention of the individual Trustee or to the Board c/o the Secretary of the Fund at 200 Berkeley Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116-2805. All communications addressed to the Board or individual Trustee will be logged and sent to the Board or individual Trustee. The Secretary may determine not to forward any letter to Trustees that does not relate to the business of the Fund.

Principal Officers who are not Trustees

The following table presents information regarding the current principal officers of the Fund who are not Trustees, including their principal occupations which, unless specific dates are shown, are of at least five years’ duration. Each of the officers is an affiliated person of the Advisor. All of the officers listed are officers or employees of the Advisor or its affiliates. All of the officers also are officers of all of the other funds for which the Advisor serves as investment advisor.

Principal Officers
Name Position with  
(Birth Year) the Fund1 Principal Occupation(s) During Past 5 Years
Charles A. Rizzo
(1957
)
Chief Financial Officer (since 2007) Vice President, John Hancock Financial Services (since 2008); Senior Vice President, John Hancock Investment Management LLC and John Hancock Variable Trust Advisers LLC (since 2008); Chief Financial Officer of various trusts within the John Hancock Fund Complex (since 2007).
Salvatore Schiavone (1965) Treasurer (2007-2009 and since 2010, including prior positions) Assistant Vice President, John Hancock Financial Services (since 2007); Vice President, John Hancock Investment Management LLC and John Hancock Variable Trust Advisers LLC (since 2007); Treasurer of various trusts within the John Hancock Fund Complex (since 2007, including prior positions).
Christopher (Kit) Sechler (1973) Secretary and Chief Legal Officer (Since 2018); Assistant Secretary (2009-2018) Vice President and Deputy Chief Counsel, John Hancock Investment Management (since 2015); Assistant Vice President and Senior Counsel (2009–2015), John Hancock Investment Management; Assistant Secretary of John Hancock Investment Management LLC and John Hancock Variable Trust Advisers LLC (since 2009); Chief Legal Officer and Secretary of various trusts within the John Hancock Fund Complex (since 2009, including prior positions).
Trevor Swanberg
(1979
)
Chief Compliance Officer (since 2020) Chief Compliance Officer, John Hancock Investment Management LLC and John Hancock Variable Trust Advisers LLC (since 2020); Deputy Chief Compliance Officer, John Hancock Investment Management LLC and John Hancock Variable Trust Advisers LLC (2019–2020); Assistant Chief Compliance Officer, John Hancock Investment Management LLC and John Hancock Variable Trust Advisers LLC (2016–2019); Vice President, State Street Global Advisors (2015–2016); Chief Compliance Officer of various trusts within the John Hancock Fund Complex (since 2016, including prior positions).

 

1Each officer holds office for an indefinite term until his or her successor is duly elected and qualified or until he or she dies, retires, resigns, is removed or becomes disqualified.

 

Additional Information about the Trustees

 

In addition to the description of each Trustee’s Principal Occupation(s) and Other Directorships set forth above, the following provides further information about each Trustee’s specific experience, qualifications, attributes or skills with respect to the Fund. The information in this section should not be understood to mean that any of the Trustees is an “expert” within the meaning of the U.S. federal securities laws.

 

There are no specific required qualifications for Board membership. The Board believes that the different perspectives, viewpoints, professional experience, education, and individual qualities of each Trustee represent a diversity of experiences and a variety of complementary skills. Each Trustee has experience as a Trustee of the Fund, as well as experience as a Trustee of other John Hancock funds. It is the Trustees’ belief that this allows the Board, as a whole, to oversee the business of the Fund in a manner consistent with the best interests of the Fund’s shareholders. When considering potential nominees

20 

to fill vacancies on the Board, and as part of its annual self-evaluation, the Board reviews the mix of skills and other relevant experiences of the Trustees.

 

Independent Trustees

 

James R. Boyle — Mr. Boyle has high-level executive, financial, operational, governance, regulatory and leadership experience in the financial services industry, including in the development and management of registered investment companies, variable annuities, retirement and insurance products. Mr. Boyle is the former President and CEO of a large international fraternal life insurance company and is the former President and CEO of multi-line life insurance and financial services companies. Mr. Boyle began his career as a Certified Public Accountant with Coopers & Lybrand. He is a member of the Contracts, Legal and Risk Committee.

Peter S. Burgess — As a financial consultant, Certified Public Accountant, and former partner in a major international public accounting firm, Mr. Burgess has experience in the auditing of financial services companies and mutual funds. He also has experience as a director of publicly traded operating companies.

William H. Cunningham — Mr. Cunningham has management and operational oversight experience as a former Chancellor and President of a major university. Mr. Cunningham regularly teaches a graduate course in corporate governance at the law school and at the Red McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. He also has oversight and corporate governance experience as a current and former director of a number of operating companies, including an insurance company.


Grace K. Fey — Ms. Fey has significant governance, financial services, and asset management industry expertise based on her extensive non-profit board experience, as well as her experience as a consultant to non-profit and corporate boards, and as a former director and executive of an investment management firm.

Deborah C. Jackson — Ms. Jackson has leadership, governance, management, and operational oversight experience as the lead director of a large bank, president of a college, and as the former chief executive officer of a major charitable organization. She also has expertise in financial services matters and oversight and corporate governance experience as a current and former director of various other corporate organizations, including an insurance company, a regional stock exchange, a telemedicine company, and non-profit entities.

Hassell H. McClellan — As a former professor of finance and policy in the graduate management department of a major university, a current director of a public company, and as a former director of several privately held companies, Mr. McClellan has experience in corporate and financial matters. He also has experience as a director of other investment companies not affiliated with the Trust.

Steven R. Pruchansky Mr. Pruchansky has entrepreneurial, executive and financial experience as a senior officer and chief executive of business in the retail, service and distribution companies and a current and former director of real estate and banking companies.

 

Frances G. Rathke — Through her former positions in senior financial roles, as a former certified public accountant, and as a consultant on strategic and financial matters, Ms. Rathke has experience as a leader overseeing, conceiving, implementing, and analyzing strategic and financial growth plans, and financial statements. Ms. Rathke also has experience in the auditing of financial statements and related materials. In addition, she has experience as a director of various organizations, including a publicly traded company and a non-profit entity.


Gregory A. Russo — As a retired Certified Public Accountant, Mr. Russo served as a partner and Global Vice Chairman in a major independent registered public accounting firm, as well as a member of its geographic boards of directors and International Executive Team. As a result of Mr. Russo’s diverse global responsibilities, he possesses accounting, finance and executive operating experience.

Non-Independent Trustees

Andrew G. Arnott — Through his positions as Executive Vice President of John Hancock Financial Services; Director and Executive Vice President of the Advisor and an affiliated investment advisor, John Hancock Variable Trust Advisers LLC; President of John Hancock Investment Management Distributors LLC; and President of the John Hancock Fund Complex, Mr. Arnott has experience in the management of investments, registered investment companies, variable annuities and retirement products, enabling him to provide management input to the Board.

21 

Marianne Harrison — Through her position as President and CEO, John Hancock, and previous experience as President and CEO, Manulife Canadian Division, President and General Manager for John Hancock Long-Term Care Insurance, and Executive Vice President and Controller for Manulife, Ms. Harrison has experience as a strategic business builder expanding product offerings and distribution, enabling her to provide management input to the Board.

 

Duties of Trustees; Committee Structure

The Fund is organized as a Massachusetts business trust. Under the Declaration of Trust, the Trustees are responsible for managing the affairs of the Fund, including the appointment of advisors and subadvisors. Each Trustee has the experience, skills, attributes or qualifications described above (see “—Principal Occupation(s) and Other Directorships” and “—Additional Information about the Trustees” above). The Board appoints officers who assist in managing the day-to-day affairs of the Fund. The Board met 5 times during the latest fiscal year.

 

The Board has appointed an Independent Trustee as Chairperson. The Chairperson presides at meetings of the Trustees and may call meetings of the Board and any Board committee whenever he deems it necessary. The Chairperson participates in the preparation of the agenda for meetings of the Board and the identification of information to be presented to the Board with respect to matters to be acted upon by the Board. The Chairperson also acts as a liaison with the Fund’s management, officers, attorneys, and other Trustees generally between meetings. The Chairperson may perform such other functions as may be requested by the Board from time to time. The Board has also designated a Vice Chairperson to serve in the absence of the Chairperson. Except for any duties specified in this SAI or pursuant to the Fund’s Declaration of Trust or Amended and Restated By-Laws (the “By-Laws), or as assigned by the Board, the designation of a Trustee as Chairperson or Vice Chairperson does not impose on that Trustee any duties, obligations or liability that are greater than the duties, obligations or liability imposed on any other Trustee, generally. The Board has designated a number of standing committees as further described below, each of which has a Chairperson. The Board also may designate working groups or ad hoc committees as it deems appropriate.

 

The Board believes that this leadership structure is appropriate because it allows the Board to exercise informed and independent judgment over matters under its purview, and it allocates areas of responsibility among committees or working groups of Trustees and the full Board in a manner that enhances effective oversight. The Board considers leadership by an Independent Trustee as Chairperson to be integral to promoting effective independent oversight of the Fund’s operations and meaningful representation of the shareholders’ interests. The Board also believes that having a super-majority of Independent Trustees is appropriate and in the best interest of the Fund’s shareholders. Nevertheless, the Board also believes that having interested persons serve on the Board brings corporate and financial viewpoints that are, in the Board’s view, helpful elements in its decision-making process. In addition, the Board believes that Messrs. Arnott and Boyle and Ms. Harrison, as current or former executives of the Advisor (or of its parent company, MFC), and of other affiliates of the Advisor, provide the Board with the perspective of the Advisor in managing and sponsoring the Fund. The leadership structure of the Board may be changed, at any time and in the discretion of the Board, including in response to changes in circumstances or the characteristics of the Fund.

 

Board Committees

The Board has established an Audit Committee; Compliance Committee; Contracts, Legal & Risk Committee; Nominating and Governance Committee; and Investment Committee.


Audit Committee.
The Board has a standing Audit Committee composed solely of Independent Trustees (Messrs. Burgess and Cunningham, and Ms. Rathke). Mr. Burgess serves as Chairperson of this Committee. This Committee met 4 times during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2021, to review the internal and external accounting and auditing procedures of the Fund and, among other things, to consider the selection of an independent registered public accounting firm for the Fund, to approve all significant services proposed to be performed by its independent registered public accounting firm and to consider the possible effect of such services on its independence.

Compliance Committee. The Board also has a standing Compliance Committee (Mses. Fey and Jackson). This Committee reviews and makes recommendations to the full Board regarding certain compliance matters relating to the Fund. Ms. Fey serves as Chairperson of this Committee. This Committee met 4 times during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2021.

Contracts, Legal & Risk Committee. The Board also has a standing Contracts, Legal & Risk Committee (Messrs. Boyle, Pruchansky and Russo). This Committee oversees the initiation, operation, and renewal of the various contracts between the funds and other entities. These contracts include advisory and subadvisory agreements, custodial and transfer agency agreements and arrangements with other service providers. The Committee also reviews the significant legal affairs of the funds, as well as any significant regulatory and legislative actions or proposals affecting or relating to the funds or their

22 

service providers. The Committee also assists the Board in its oversight role with respect to the processes pursuant to which the Advisor and the Subadvisor identify, manage and report the various risks that affect or could affect the funds. Mr. Russo serves as Chairperson of this Committee. The Contracts, Legal & Risk Committee held 4 meetings during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2021.

Nominating and Governance Committee. The Board also has a Nominating and Governance Committee composed of all of the Independent Trustees. This Committee will consider nominees recommended by Trust shareholders. Nominations should be forwarded to the attention of the Secretary of the Trust at 200 Berkeley Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116. Any shareholder nomination must be submitted in compliance with all of the pertinent provisions of Rule 14a-8 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), in order to be considered by this Committee. This Committee met 5 times during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2021.

Investment Committee. The Board also has an Investment Committee composed of all of the Trustees. The Investment Committee has four subcommittees with the Trustees divided among the four subcommittees (each an “Investment Sub- Committee”). Ms. Jackson, Messrs. Boyle, Cunningham, and Pruchansky serve as Chairpersons of the Investment Sub-Committees. Each Investment Sub-Committee reviews investment matters relating to a particular group of funds in the John Hancock Fund Complex and coordinates with the full Board regarding investment matters. The Investment Committee met 5 times during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2021.

 

Annually, the Board evaluates its performance and that of its Committees, including the effectiveness of the Board’s Committee structure.

Risk Oversight

 

As a registered investment company, the Fund is subject to a variety of risks, including investment risks (such as, among others, market risk, credit risk and interest rate risk), financial risks (such as, among others, settlement risk, liquidity risk and valuation risk), compliance risks, and operational risks. As a part of its overall activities, the Board oversees the Fund’s risk management activities that are implemented by the Advisor, the Fund’s Chief Compliance Officer (“CCO”) and other service providers to the Fund. The Advisor has primary responsibility for the Fund’s risk management on a day-to-day basis as a part of its overall responsibilities. The Fund’s Subadvisor, subject to oversight of the Advisor, is primarily responsible for managing investment and financial risks as a part of its day-to-day investment responsibilities, as well as operational and compliance risks at its firm. The Advisor and the CCO also assist the Board in overseeing compliance with investment policies of the Fund and regulatory requirements, and monitor the implementation of the various compliance policies and procedures approved by the Board as a part of its oversight responsibilities.

 

The Advisor identifies to the Board the risks that it believes may affect the Fund and develops processes and controls regarding such risks. However, risk management is a complex and dynamic undertaking and it is not always possible to comprehensively identify and/or mitigate all such risks at all times since risks are at times impacted by external events. In discharging its oversight responsibilities, the Board considers risk management issues throughout the year with the assistance of its various Committees as described below. Each Committee meets at least quarterly and presents reports to the Board, which may prompt further discussion of issues concerning the oversight of the Fund’s risk management. The Board as a whole also reviews written reports or presentations on a variety of risk issues as needed and may discuss particular risks that are not addressed in the Committee process.

 

The Board has established an Investment Committee, which consists of four Investment Sub-Committees. Each Investment Sub-Committee assists the Board in overseeing the significant investment policies of the Fund and the performance of its subadvisor. The Advisor monitors these policies and subadvisor activities and may recommend changes in connection with the Fund to the relevant Investment Sub-Committee in response to subadvisor requests or other circumstances. On at least a quarterly basis, the Investment Sub-Committee reviews reports from the Advisor regarding the Fund’s investment performance, which include information about investment and financial risks and how they are managed, and from the CCO or his/her designee regarding subadvisor compliance matters. In addition, the Investment Sub-Committee meets periodically with the portfolio managers of the Fund’s subadvisor to receive reports regarding management of the Fund, including with respect to risk management processes.

 

The Audit Committee assists the Board in reviewing with the independent auditors, at various times throughout the year, matters relating to the Fund’s financial reporting. In addition, this Committee oversees the process of the Fund’s valuation of its portfolio securities, assisted by the Fund’s Pricing Committee (composed of officers of the Fund), which calculates fair value determinations pursuant to procedures adopted by the Board.

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The Compliance Committee assists the Board in overseeing the activities of the Fund’s CCO with respect to the compliance programs of the Fund, the Advisor, the subadvisor, and certain of the Fund’s other service providers (the distributor and transfer agent). This Committee and the Board receive and consider periodic reports from the CCO throughout the year, including the CCO’s annual written report, which, among other things, summarizes material compliance issues that arose during the previous year and any remedial action taken to address these issues, as well as any material changes to the compliance programs

 

The Contracts, Legal & Risk Committee assists the Board in its oversight role with respect to the processes pursuant to which the Advisor and the subadvisor identify, assess, manage and report the various risks that affect or could affect the Fund. This Committee reviews reports from the Fund’s Advisor on a periodic basis regarding the risks facing the Fund, and makes recommendations to the Board concerning risks and risk oversight matters as the Committee deems appropriate. This Committee also coordinates with the other Board Committees regarding risks relevant to the other Committees, as appropriate.

 

In addressing issues regarding the Fund’s risk management between meetings, appropriate representatives of the Advisor communicate with the Chairperson of the Board, the relevant Committee Chair, or the Fund’s CCO, who is directly accountable to the Board. As appropriate, the Chairperson of the Board, the Committee Chairs and the Trustees confer among themselves, with the Fund’s CCO, the Advisor, other service providers, external fund counsel, and counsel to the Independent Trustees, to identify and review risk management issues that may be placed on the full Board’s agenda and/or that of an appropriate Committee for review and discussion.

 

In addition, in its annual review of the Fund’s advisory, subadvisory and distribution agreements, the Board reviews information provided by the Advisor, the subadvisor and the distributor relating to their operational capabilities, financial condition, risk management processes and resources.

 

The Advisor also has its own, independent interest in risk management. In this regard, the Advisor has appointed a Risk and Investment Operations Committee, consisting of senior personnel from each of the Advisor’s functional departments. This Committee reports periodically to the Board and the Contracts, Legal & Risk Committee on risk management matters. The Advisor’s risk management program is part of the overall risk management program of John Hancock, the Advisor’s parent company. John Hancock’s Chief Risk Officer supports the Advisor’s risk management program, and at the Board’s request will report on risk management matters.

 

Compensation of Trustees

 

The Fund pays fees to its Independent Trustees. Trustees also are reimbursed for travel and other out-of-pocket expenses. Each Independent Trustee receives in the aggregate from the Fund and the other closed-end funds in the John Hancock Fund Complex an annual retainer of $40,000.

 

The following table provides information regarding the compensation paid by the Fund and the other investment companies in the John Hancock Fund Complex to the Independent Trustees for their services during the Fund’s fiscal year ended October 31, 2021.

 

Compensation Table1

 

Independent Trustees Fund John Hancock Fund Complex
Charles L. Bardelis2 $4,000 $420,000
James R. Boyle $4,000 $420,000
Peter S. Burgess $4,000 $440,000
William H. Cunningham $4,000 $420,000
Grace K. Fey $4,000 $440,000
Deborah C. Jackson $4,000 $420,000
Hassell H. McClellan $4,000 $560,000
James M. Oates3 $2,000 $199,000
Steven R. Pruchansky $4,000 $420,000
Frances G. Rathke $4,000 $395,000
Gregory A. Russo $4,000         $440,000
Non-Independent Trustees    
Andrew G. Arnott $0 $0
Marianne Harrison $0 $0
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1  The Trust does not have a pension or retirement plan for any of its Trustees or officers.
2  Retired from the Board effective as of December 31, 2021
3  Retired from the Board effective as of April 30, 2021

Trustee Ownership of Shares of John Hancock Funds

 

The table below sets forth the aggregate dollar range of equity securities beneficially owned by the Trustees in the Fund and in all John Hancock funds overseen by each Trustee as of December 31, 2021. The information as to beneficial ownership is based on statements furnished to the Fund by the Trustees. Each of the Trustees has all voting and investment powers with respect to the shares indicated.

 

Trustees               Fund                     John Hancock Fund Complex       
Independent Trustees    
James R. Boyle $10,001-$50,000 Over $100,000
Peter S. Burgess $10,001-$50,000 Over $100,000
William H. Cunningham $10,001-$50,000 Over $100,000
Grace K. Fey              $1-$10,000 Over $100,000
Deborah C. Jackson               $1-$10,000                         Over $100,000
Hassell H. McClellan $10,001-$50,000 Over $100,000
Steven R. Pruchansky $10,001-$50,000 Over $100,000
Frances G. Rathke $10,001-$50,000 Over $100,000
Gregory A. Russo $10,001-$50,000 Over $100,000

Non-Independent Trustees

   
Andrew G. Arnott None Over $100,000
Marianne Harrison None Over $100,000

 

Shareholders of the Fund

 

As of February 1, 2022, the officers and Trustees of the Fund as a group owned beneficially less than 1% of the outstanding shares of the Fund.

To the best knowledge of the Fund, the shareholders (principal holders) listed below owned more than 5% of the fund’s shares as of February 1, 2022. Information related to these shareholders is as of the date indicated and may be different as of February 1, 2022. A shareholder who owns beneficially more than 25% of a fund is deemed to be a control person of that fund and can determine the outcome of a shareholder meeting with respect to a proposal directly affecting that share class.

 

Name and Address
of Owner
Amount Percent
First Trust Portfolios LP
120 East Liberty Drive, Suite 400
Wheaton, IL 60187
2,105,266 19.25%1

Sit Investment Associates, Inc.

3300 IDS Center

80 South Eighth Street

Minneapolis, MN 55402

1,099,678 9.99%2

1 Based on a Schedule 13G filing dated January 21, 2022

2 Based on a Schedule 13G filing dated February 11, 2021

Investment Advisory and Other Services

A discussion regarding the basis for the Trustees’ approval of the Advisory Agreement and the Subadvisory Agreements is available in the Fund’s most recent shareholder report for the fiscal year ended October 31.

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THE ADVISOR

The Advisor is a Delaware limited liability company whose principal offices are located at 200 Berkeley Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116 and serves as the Fund’s investment advisor. The Advisor is registered with the SEC as an investment advisor under the Advisers Act.

Founded in 1968, the Advisor is an indirect principally owned subsidiary of John Hancock Life Insurance Company (U.S.A.), a subsidiary of Manulife Financial Corporation (“Manulife Financial” or the “Company”). Manulife Financial is the holding company of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company (the “Life Company”) and its subsidiaries. John Hancock Life Insurance Company (U.S.A.) and its subsidiaries (“John Hancock”) today offer a broad range of financial products and services, including whole, term, variable, and universal life insurance, as well as college savings products, mutual funds, fixed and variable annuities, long-term care insurance and various forms of business insurance. Additional information about John Hancock may be found on the Internet at johnhancock.com.

The Advisor has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fee and/or reimburse expenses for certain funds of the John Hancock group of funds complex, including the fund (the participating portfolios). This waiver is based upon aggregate net assets of all the participating portfolios. The amount of the reimbursement is calculated daily and allocated among all the participating portfolios in proportion to the daily net assets of each fund. During the year ended October 31, 2021, this waiver amounted to 0.01% of the fund’s average daily net assets. This arrangement expires on July 31, 2023, unless renewed by mutual agreement of the fund and the Advisor based upon a determination that this is appropriate under the circumstances at that time.

The Advisor’s parent company has been helping individuals and institutions work toward their financial goals since 1862. The Advisor offers investment solutions managed by institutional money managers, taking a disciplined team approach to portfolio management and research, leveraging the expertise of seasoned investment professionals. The Advisor has been managing closed-end funds since 1971. As of December 31, 2021, the Advisor had total assets under management of approximately $177.8 billion.

 

Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Operating primarily as John Hancock in the United States and Manulife elsewhere, it provides financial protection products and advice, insurance, as well as wealth and asset management services through its extensive network of solutions for individuals, groups and institutions. Its global headquarters are in Toronto, Canada, and it trades as ‘MFC’ on the Toronto Stock Exchange, New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”), and the Philippine Stock Exchange, and under ‘945’ in Hong Kong. Manulife Financial Corporation can be found on the Internet at manulife.com.

The Advisor serves as investment advisor to the Fund and is responsible for monitoring the Subadvisor’s services to the Fund.

Advisory Agreement. The Fund has entered into an investment management contract dated July 1, 2009 (the “Advisory Agreement”) with the Advisor. As compensation for its advisory services under the Advisory Agreement, the Advisor receives a fee from the Fund, calculated and paid daily, at an annual rate of the Fund’s average daily gross assets.

The following table shows the advisory fee that the Fund incurred and paid to the Advisor for the last three fiscal years ended October 31, 2021, October 31, 2020, and October 31, 2019.

 

October 31, 2021 October 31, 2020 October 31, 2019
$674,141 $680,079 $790,988

Pursuant to the Advisory Agreement and subject to the general supervision of the Trustees, the Advisor selects, contracts with, and compensates the Subadvisor to manage the investments and determine the composition of the assets of the Fund; provided, that any contract with the Subadvisor (a “Subadvisory Agreement”) shall be in compliance with and approved as required by the 1940 Act, except for such exemptions therefrom as may be granted to the Fund or the Advisor. The Advisor monitors the Subadvisor’s management of the Fund’s investment operations in accordance with the investment objectives and related investment policies of the Fund, reviews the performance of the Subadvisor’s and reports periodically on such performance to the Board.

Pursuant to the Advisory Agreement, the Advisor has entered into a Subadvisory Agreement with Epoch to provide day-to-day portfolio management of the Fund and to implement the Fund’s portfolio management strategies and investment objective. The Advisory Agreement provides that the Advisor may terminate any Subadvisory Agreement entered into and directly assume any functions performed by the Subadvisor, upon approval of the Board.

26 

The Fund pays all expenses of its organization, operations and business.

The Advisory Agreement had an initial period of two years and continues from year to year so long as such continuance is approved at least annually: (i) by the vote of a majority of the Independent Trustees; and (ii) either by the Board or by the vote of a majority of the outstanding shares of the Fund.

The Advisory Agreement may be terminated at any time without penalty upon sixty (60) days’ written notice by the Board or the Advisor, as applicable, or by the vote of the majority of the outstanding shares of the Fund. The Advisory Agreement will terminate automatically in the event of its assignment. The Subadvisory Agreement terminates automatically upon the termination of the Advisory Agreement.

The Advisory Agreement provides that, in the absence of willful misfeasance, bad faith, gross negligence or reckless disregard of its obligations or duties to the Fund under such agreements on the part of the Advisor, the Advisor shall not be liable to the Fund or to any shareholder for any loss sustained in connection with the purchase, holding, redemption or sale of any security on behalf of the Fund.

Service Agreement. The Fund has entered into a management-related service contract dated July 1, 2009 and re-executed on June 30, 2020 (the “Service Agreement”) with JHIM, under which the Fund receives Non-Advisory Services. These “Non-Advisory Services” include, but are not limited to, legal, tax, accounting, valuation, financial reporting and performance, compliance, service provider oversight, portfolio and cash management, project management office, EDGAR conversion and filing, graphic design, and other services that are not investment advisory in nature.

 

JHIM is reimbursed by the Fund for its costs in providing Non-Advisory Services to the Fund under the Service Agreement. The following table shows the expenses incurred by JHIM in providing services under the Services Agreement for the last three fiscal years ended October 31, 2021, October 31, 2020 and October 31, 2019.

 

October 31, 2021 October 31, 2020 October 31, 2019
$10,998 $12,566 $18,331

The Service Agreement had an initial period of two years and continues from year to year so long as such continuance is specifically approved at least annually by a majority of the Board and a majority of the Independent Trustees. The Fund or JHIM may terminate the Service Agreement at any time without penalty upon 60 days’ written notice to the other party. The Service Agreement may be amended by mutual written agreement of the parties, without obtaining shareholder approval.

JHIM is not liable for any error of judgment or mistake of law or for any loss suffered by the Fund in connection with the matters to which the Service Agreement relates, except losses resulting from willful misfeasance, bad faith or negligence by JHIM in the performance of its duties or from reckless disregard by JHIM of its obligations under the Service Agreement.

Consulting Agreement. The Advisor entered into a consulting agreement dated September 21, 2007 (“Consulting Agreement”) with its affiliate Manulife Investment Management (North America) Limited (formerly, John Hancock Asset Management a Division of Manulife Asset Management (North America) Limited) (“Manulife IM (NA)”). Manulife IM (NA) is located at 200 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4W1EW. Manulife IM (NA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Manulife Financial, a publicly traded company based in Toronto, Canada. Manulife IM (NA) has been an investment advisor since 1979 and manages registered investment companies. As of December 31, 2021, Manulife IM (NA) had approximately $16.69 billion in assets under management.

Under the Consulting Agreement and as the Advisor may request from time to time, Manulife IM (NA) consults with the Advisor on matters relating to the application of U.S. federal income tax laws and regulations to the operations of the Fund and assists the Advisor with compliance monitoring and the implementation and use of compliance systems and in addressing and legal and regulatory matters related to the Fund. Manulife IM (NA) does not have any day-to-day portfolio management responsibilities or regularly provide investment advice to the Advisor regarding the Fund and its portfolio. In return for its consulting and other services, the Advisor (and not the Fund) pays Manulife IM (NA) a fee.

THE SUBADVISOR

Subadvisory Agreement. The Advisor has entered into a Subadvisory Agreement dated June 27, 2013 with the Subadvisor (the “Subadvisory Agreement”). The Subadvisor handles the Fund’s portfolio management activities, subject to oversight by the Advisor. The Subadvisor, founded in 2004, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Toronto-Dominion Bank. As of

27 

December 31, 2021, the Subadvisor managed on a worldwide basis more than $33.73 billion for mutual funds and institutional investors such as pension plans, endowments and foundations. The Subadvisor is located at 1 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017.

Under the terms of the Subadvisory Agreement, the Subadvisor is responsible for implementing the Fund’s investment equity strategy on a day-to-day basis, all subject to the supervision and direction of the Board and the Advisor. For services rendered by the Subadvisor under the Subadvisory Agreement, the Advisor (and not the Fund) pays the Subadvisor a fee.

The Subadvisory Agreement had an initial period of two years and continues from year to year so long as such continuance is approved at least annually: (i) by the Board or by the holders of a majority of its outstanding voting securities and (ii) by a majority of the Trustees who are not “interested persons” (as defined in the 1940 Act) of any party to the Subadvisory Agreement. The Subadvisory Agreement terminates automatically in the event of its assignment or upon termination of the Advisory Agreement and may be terminated without penalty upon 60 days’ written notice at the option of the Advisor, the Subadvisor, by the Board or by a vote of a majority of the Fund’s outstanding shares. As discussed above, the Advisor may terminate the Subadvisory Agreement and directly assume responsibility for the services provided by the Subadvisor upon approval by the Board without the need for approval of the shareholders of the Fund.

The Subadvisory Agreement provides that in the absence of willful misfeasance, bad faith, gross negligence or reckless disregard for its obligations and duties thereunder, the Subadvisor is not liable for any error or judgment or mistake of law or for any loss suffered by the Fund.

PORTFOLIO MANAGERS

 

The Subadvisor handles the Fund’s portfolio management activities, subject to oversight by the Advisor. The individuals jointly and primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund’s portfolio are listed below.

The following table presents information regarding accounts other than the Fund for which each portfolio manager has day-to-day management responsibilities. Accounts are grouped into three categories: (i) other investment companies, (ii) other pooled investment vehicles, and (iii) other accounts. To the extent that any of these accounts pay advisory fees based on account performance, information on those accounts is specifically broken out. In addition, any assets denominated in foreign currencies have been converted into U.S. dollars using the exchange rates as of the applicable date. Also shown below the chart is each portfolio manager’s investment in the Fund.

The following tables reflect approximate information as of October 31, 2021:

 

Portfolio Manager

 

Other Registered
Investment Companies

 

Other Pooled Investment
Vehicles

 

Other Accounts

 

Number of
Accounts

 

Total Assets ($millions)

 

Number of
Accounts

 

Total Assets ($millions)

 

Number of
Accounts

 

Total Assets ($millions)

 
William W. Priest, CFA 7 $5,624 24 $8,204 79 $8,120
  (0)* ($0)* (1)* ($65)* (6)* ($329)*
Kera Van Valen, CFA 6 $5,545 12 $2,784 14 $3,759
  (0)* ($0)* (0)* ($0)* (0)* ($0)*
John Tobin, Ph.D., CFA 6 $5,545 12 $2,784 14 $3,759
  (0)* ($0)* (0)* ($0)* (0)* ($0)*
Michael A. Welhoelter, CFA 8 $8,234 28 $8,981 81 $8,233
  (0)* ($0)* (1)* ($65)* (6)* ($329)*

*Note: (*) represents the number and value of accounts, within the total accounts that are subject to a performance-based advisory fee.

Portfolio Manager Ownership of Shares of the Fund

 

For purposes of these tables, “similarly managed accounts” include all accounts that are managed (i) by the same portfolio managers that are jointly and primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund; and (ii) with an investment style, objective, policies and strategies substantially similar to those that are used to manage the Fund.

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Portfolio Manager

Range of Beneficial

Ownership in the Fund

 

Range of Beneficial

Ownership in Similarly Managed Accounts

 
Epoch    
William W. Priest, CFA $100,001-$500,000 None
John Tobin, Ph.D., CFA None $100,001-$150,000
Kera Van Valen, CFA None $0-$50,000
Michael A. Welhoelter, CFA None $50,001-$100,000

  

POTENTIAL CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

 

In Epoch’s view, conflicts of interest may arise in managing the Fund’s portfolio investments, on the one hand, and the portfolios of Epoch’s other clients and/or accounts (together “Accounts”), on the other. Set forth below is a brief description of some of the material conflicts that may arise and Epoch’s policy or procedure for handling them. Although Epoch has designed such procedures to prevent and address conflicts, there is no guarantee that such procedures will detect every situation in which a conflict arises.

The management of multiple Accounts inherently means there may be competing interests for the portfolio management team’s time and attention. Epoch seeks to minimize this by utilizing one investment approach (i.e., classic value investing), and by managing all Accounts on a product specific basis. Thus, all large cap value Accounts, whether they be fund accounts, institutional accounts or individual accounts are managed using the same investment discipline, strategy and proprietary investment model as the Fund.


If the portfolio management team identifies a limited investment opportunity that may be suitable for more than one Account, the Fund may not be able to take full advantage of that opportunity. However, Epoch has adopted procedures for allocating portfolio transactions across Accounts so that each Account is treated fairly. First, all orders are allocated among portfolios of the same or similar mandates at the time of trade creation/ initial order preparation. Factors affecting allocations include availability of cash to existence of client imposed trading restrictions or prohibitions, and the tax status of the account. The only changes to the allocations made at the time of the creation of the order, are if there is a partial fill for an order. Depending upon the size of the execution, Epoch may choose to allocate the executed shares through pro-rata breakdown, or on a random basis. As with all trade allocations each Account generally receives pro rata allocations of any new issue or IPO security that is appropriate for its investment objective. Permissible reasons for excluding an account from an otherwise acceptable IPO or new issue investment include the account having FINRA restricted person status, lack of available cash to make the purchase, or a client imposed trading prohibition on IPOs or on the business of the issuer.

 

With respect to securities transactions for the Accounts, Epoch determines which broker to use to execute each order, consistent with its duty to seek best execution. Epoch will bunch or aggregate like orders where to do so will be beneficial to the Accounts. However, with respect to certain Accounts, Epoch may be limited by the client with respect to the selection of brokers or may be instructed to direct trades through a particular broker. In these cases, Epoch may place separate, non-simultaneous, transactions for the Fund and another Account, which may temporarily affect the market price of the security or the execution of the transaction to the detriment one or the other.

 

Conflicts of interest may arise when members of the portfolio management team transact personally in securities investments made or to be made for the Fund or other Accounts. To address this, Epoch has adopted a written Code of Ethics designed to prevent and detect personal trading activities that may interfere or conflict with client interests (including Fund shareholders’ interests) or its current investment strategy. The Code of Ethics generally requires that most transactions in securities by Epoch’s Access Persons and their spouses, whether or not such securities are purchased or sold on behalf of the Accounts, be cleared prior to execution by appropriate approving parties and compliance personnel. Securities transactions for Access Persons’ personal accounts also are subject to monthly reporting requirements, and annual and quarterly certification requirements. Access Person is defined to include persons who have access to non-public information about client securities transactions, portfolio recommendations or holdings, and thus covers all of Epoch’s full-time employees except those whose job functions are solely clerical. In addition, no access person, including an investment person, shall be permitted to effect a short term trade (i.e. to purchase and subsequently sell within 21 calendar days for single name single securities or 7 days for an EFT, or to sell and subsequently purchase within 21 calendar days) of securities which (i) are issued by a mutual fund which is advised or sub-advised by Epoch, or (ii) are the same (or equivalent) securities purchased or sold by or on behalf of the advisory accounts unless and until the advisory accounts have effected a transaction which is the same as the access person’s contemplated transaction. Finally, orders for proprietary accounts (i.e., accounts of a Sub-Advisor’s principals, affiliates or employees or their immediate family which

29 

are managed by Epoch) are subject to written trade allocation procedures designed to ensure fair treatment to client accounts.

 

Proxy voting for the Fund and the other Accounts’ securities holdings also may pose certain conflicts. Epoch has identified the following areas of concern: (1) Where Epoch manages the assets of a publicly traded company, and also holds that company’s or an affiliated company’s securities in one or more Accounts; (2) Where Epoch manages the assets of a proponent of a shareholder proposal for a company whose securities are in one or more Accounts; and (3) Where Epoch had a client relationship with an individual who is a corporate director, or a candidate for a corporate directorship of a public company whose securities are in one or more client portfolios. Epoch’s proxy policies provide for various methods of dealing with these and any other conflict scenarios subsequently identified, including notifying clients and seeking their consent or instructions on how to vote, and deferring to the recommendation of an independent third party where a conflict exists.

 

Epoch manages some Accounts under performance based fee arrangements. Epoch recognizes that this type of incentive compensation creates the risk for potential conflicts of interest. This structure may create an inherent pressure to allocate investments having a greater potential for higher returns to accounts of those clients paying the higher performance fee. To prevent conflicts of interest associated with managing accounts with different compensation structures, Epoch generally requires portfolio decisions to be made on a product specific basis. Epoch also requires pre-allocation of all client orders based on specific fee-neutral criteria set forth above. Additionally, Epoch requires average pricing of all aggregated orders. Finally, Epoch has adopted a policy prohibiting Portfolio Managers (and all employees) from placing the investment interests of one client or a group of clients with the same investment objectives above the investment interests of any other client or group of clients with the same or similar investment objectives.

 

Compensation

 

Epoch seeks to maintain a compensation program that is competitively positioned to attract, retain and motivate all employees. Epoch employees receive a base salary and an annual performance bonus, which is reviewed and determined annually by Epoch’s Operating Committee with input from the employee’s supervisor and Epoch’s Human Resources Department. The level of compensation for each employee is based on a number of factors including individual performance, firm performance and marketplace compensation analysis and information.


A portion of senior employees’ annual performance bonus is deferred, typically with a three-year vesting schedule, and invested in Epoch-managed investment vehicles Units and TD Restricted Stock Units.

 

Investment team members are compensated based on the performance of their strategy, their Operating Committee reviews product performance, including risk-adjusted returns over one- and three-year periods in assessing an investment professional’s performance and compensation. Each portfolio manager and analyst’s security selection and weighting recommendations are also reviewed on an annual basis.

A portion of deferred compensation payable to senior employees is invested into Epoch managed vehicles and a portion is in the form of TD RSU’s, both of which will be subject to a three-year vesting schedule.

 

Other Services

Proxy voting

The Fund’s proxy voting policies and procedures (the “Fund’s Procedures”) delegate to Epoch the responsibility to vote all proxies relating to securities held by the Fund in accordance with Epoch’s proxy voting policies and procedures. Epoch has a duty to vote such proxies in the best interests of the Fund and its shareholders. Complete descriptions of the Fund’s Procedures and the proxy voting procedures of Epoch are set forth in Appendix B to this SAI.

It is possible that conflicts of interest could arise for Epoch when voting proxies. Such conflicts could arise, for example, when Epoch or its affiliate has a client or other business relationship with the issuer of the security being voted or with a third party that has an interest in the vote. A conflict of interest also could arise when the Fund, its investment advisor or principal underwriter or any of their affiliates has an interest in the vote.

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In the event that Epoch becomes aware of a material conflict of interest, the Fund’s Procedures generally require Epoch to follow any conflicts procedures that may be included in Epoch’s proxy voting procedures. The conflict procedures generally will include one or more of the following:

(a)voting pursuant to the recommendation of a third party voting service;
(b)voting pursuant to pre-determined voting guidelines; or
(c)referring voting to a special compliance or oversight committee.

The specific conflicts procedures of Epoch are set forth in Epoch’s proxy voting procedures included in Appendix B. While these conflicts procedures may reduce, they will not necessarily eliminate, any influence on proxy voting of conflicts of interest.

Although Epoch has a duty to vote all proxies on behalf of the Fund, it is possible that Epoch may not be able to vote proxies under certain circumstances. For example, it may be impracticable to translate in a timely manner voting materials that are written in a foreign language or to travel to a foreign country when voting in person rather than by proxy is required. In addition, if the voting of proxies for shares of a security prohibits Epoch from trading the shares in the marketplace for a period of time, Epoch may determine that it is not in the best interests of the Fund to vote the proxies. Epoch also may choose not to recall securities that have been lent in order to vote proxies for shares of the security since the Fund would lose security lending income if the securities were recalled.

Information regarding how the Fund voted proxies relating to portfolio securities during the most recent 12-month period ended June 30th is available (i) without charge, on jhinvestments.com and (ii) on the SEC’s website at sec.gov.

 

Determination of Net Asset Value

 

The Fund’s net asset value per Common Share (“NAV”) is normally determined each business day at the close of regular trading on the NYSE (typically 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, on each business day that the NYSE is open) by dividing the Fund’s net assets by the number of Common Shares outstanding. In case of emergency or other disruption resulting in the NYSE not opening for trading or the NYSE closing at a time other than the regularly scheduled close, the NAV may be determined as of the regularly scheduled close of the NYSE pursuant to the Fund’s Valuation Policies and Procedures. The time at which shares and transactions are priced and until which orders are accepted may vary to the extent permitted by the Securities and Exchange Commission and applicable regulations. On holidays or other days when the NYSE is closed, the NAV is not calculated. Trading of securities that are primarily listed on foreign exchanges may take place on weekends and U.S. business holidays on which the Fund’s NAV is not calculated. Consequently, the Fund’s portfolio securities may trade and the NAV of the Fund’s Common Shares may be significantly affected on days when a shareholder will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund’s Common Shares.

Portfolio securities are valued by various methods that are generally described below. Portfolio securities also may be fair valued by the Fund’s Pricing Committee in certain instances pursuant to procedures established by the Trustees. Equity securities are generally valued at the last sale price or, for certain markets, the official closing price as of the close of the relevant exchange. Securities not traded on a particular day are valued using last available bid prices. A security that is listed or traded on more than one exchange is typically valued at the price on the exchange where the security was acquired or most likely will be sold. In certain instances, the Pricing Committee may determine to value equity securities using prices obtained from another exchange or market if trading on the exchange or market on which prices are typically obtained did not open for trading as scheduled, or if trading closed earlier than scheduled, and trading occurred as normal on another exchange or market. Equity securities traded principally in foreign markets are typically valued using the last sale price or official closing price in the relevant exchange or market, as adjusted by an independent pricing vendor to reflect fair value. On any day a foreign market is closed and the NYSE is open, any foreign securities will typically be valued using the last price or official closing price obtained from the relevant exchange on the prior business day adjusted based on information provided by an independent pricing vendor to reflect fair value. Debt obligations are typically valued based on evaluated prices provided by an independent pricing vendor. The value of securities denominated in foreign currencies is converted into U.S. dollars at the exchange rate supplied by an independent pricing vendor. Forward foreign currency contracts are valued at the prevailing forward rates which are based on foreign currency exchange spot rates and forward points supplied by an independent pricing vendor. Exchange-traded options are valued at the mid-price of the last quoted bid and ask prices. Futures contracts whose settlement prices are determined as of the close of the NYSE are typically valued based on the settlement price while other futures contracts are typically valued at the last traded price on the exchange on which they trade. Foreign equity index futures that trade in the electronic trading market subsequent to the close of regular trading may be valued at the last traded price in the electronic trading market as of the close of the NYSE, or may be fair valued based on fair value adjustment factors provided by an independent pricing vendor in order to

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adjust for events that may occur between the close of foreign exchanges or markets and the close of the NYSE. Swaps and unlisted options are generally valued using evaluated prices obtained from an independent pricing vendor. Shares of open-end investment companies that are not exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) held by the Fund are valued based on the NAVs of such other investment companies.

 

Pricing vendors may use matrix pricing or valuation models that utilize certain inputs and assumptions to derive values, including transaction data, broker-dealer quotations, credit quality information, general market conditions, news, and other factors and assumptions. The Fund may receive different prices when it sells odd-lot positions than it would receive for sales of institutional round lot positions. Pricing vendors generally value securities assuming orderly transactions of institutional round lot sizes, but the Fund may hold or transact in such securities in smaller, odd lot sizes.

 

The Pricing Committee engages in oversight activities with respect to the Fund’s pricing vendors, which includes, among other things, monitoring significant or unusual price fluctuations above predetermined tolerance levels from the prior day, back-testing of pricing vendor prices against actual trades, conducting periodic due diligence meetings and reviews, and periodically reviewing the inputs, assumptions and methodologies used by these vendors. Nevertheless, market quotations, official closing prices, or information furnished by a pricing vendor could be inaccurate, which could lead to a security being valued incorrectly.

 

If market quotations, official closing prices, or information furnished by a pricing vendor are not readily available or are otherwise deemed unreliable or not representative of the fair value of such security because of market- or issuer-specific events, a security will be valued at its fair value as determined in good faith by the Trustees. The Trustees are assisted in their responsibility to fair value securities by the Fund’s Pricing Committee, and the actual calculation of a security’s fair value may be made by the Pricing Committee acting pursuant to the procedures established by the Trustees. In certain instances, therefore, the Pricing Committee may determine that a reported valuation does not reflect fair value, based on additional information available or other factors, and may accordingly determine in good faith the fair value of the assets, which may differ from the reported valuation.

 

Fair value pricing of securities is intended to help ensure that the Fund’s NAV reflects the fair market value of the Fund’s portfolio securities as of the close of regular trading on the NYSE (as opposed to a value that no longer reflects market value as of such close). The use of fair value pricing has the effect of valuing a security based upon the price the Fund might reasonably expect to receive if it sold that security in an orderly transaction between market participants, but does not guarantee that the security can be sold at the fair value price. Further, because of the inherent uncertainty and subjective nature of fair valuation, a fair valuation price may differ significantly from the value that would have been used had a readily available market price for the investment existed and these differences could be material.

 

Regarding the Fund’s investment in an open-end investment company that is not an ETF, which (as noted above) is valued at such investment company’s NAV, the prospectus for such investment company explains the circumstances and effects of fair value pricing for that investment company.

 

Brokerage Allocation

Pursuant to the Subadvisory Agreement, the Subadvisor is responsible for placing all orders for the purchase and sale of portfolio securities of the Fund. The Subadvisor has no formula for the distribution of the Fund’s brokerage business; rather they place orders for the purchase and sale of securities with the primary objective of obtaining the most favorable overall results for the Fund and the Subadvisor’s other clients. The cost of securities transactions for the Fund primarily consists of brokerage commissions or dealer or underwriter spreads. Fixed-income securities and money market instruments generally are traded on a net basis and normally do not involve either brokerage commissions or transfer taxes.

Occasionally, securities may be purchased directly from the issuer. For securities traded primarily in the OTC market, the Subadvisor will, where possible, deal directly with dealers who make a market in the securities unless better prices and execution are available elsewhere. Such dealers usually act as principals for their own account.

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Brokerage Commissions Paid

The following table shows the aggregate amount of brokerage commissions paid by the Fund for the last three fiscal years ended October 31, 2021, October 31, 2020, and October 31, 2019.

 

October 31, 2021

October 31, 2020

October 31, 2019

$127,178 $134,639 $142,323

 

No brokerage commissions paid by the Fund during the last three fiscal years were to any broker that: (i) is an affiliated person of the Fund; (ii) is an affiliated person of an affiliated person of the Fund; or (iii) has an affiliated person that is an affiliated person of the Fund, Advisor, Subadvisor, or principal underwriter.

Selection of Brokers or Dealers to Effect Trades

 

Epoch works primarily with well-known established brokers, choosing them based on the quality and capability of the research and execution services. This enhances Epoch’s investment research, portfolio management and trading capabilities (collectively referred to as the “Services”), the ability to execute the order at the best price, financial stability and many other factors relevant to trading in domestic and international markets. Epoch currently does not engage in certain transactions that can lead to heightened counterparty or credit risk such as swap transactions, prime brokerage or repurchase agreements. Transactions are executed by the approved broker and settled directly with the client’s custodian.

New brokers are approved by the Broker Approval and Monitoring Committee after the completion of a due diligence review to determine that the broker does not present an unusually high reputational, financial or operational risk to Epoch’s clients. Epoch maintains a list of approved brokers which is coded within the Trading System (“Charles River Investment Management System” or “CRIMS”). CRIMS restricts users from executing trades with brokers who are not on the approved broker list. Access to add or delete brokers from CRIMS is limited to certain members of the Operations Department. Periodic broker review surveys are conducted with the portfolio managers, traders and analysts to assess the quality of service delivered by the brokers. The results of these reviews are assessed and related rankings analyzed to determine whether any amendments to the approved broker list are required. These reviews are performed semi-annually.

Epoch recognizes the impact of transaction costs on the performance of client portfolios. To evaluate these costs, Epoch currently uses transaction cost analysis tools from Investment Technologies Group (ITG) and FX Transparency. These platforms provide a number of ways to evaluate the cost and effectiveness of trading for client portfolios.

Soft Dollar Considerations

 

Consistent with its policy of seeking best execution for its Clients when selecting broker-dealers to conduct transactions, Epoch may receive brokerage or research products and services that fall within the “safe harbor” established by Section 28(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Epoch will only utilize soft-dollar credits, including commission sharing credits, to pay for brokerage or research products and services that are eligible under the Section 28(e) safe-harbor, or for which a documented and reasonable mixed-use allocation can be performed. No soft-dollar credit arrangement or credit sharing arrangement may be entered into without the prior approval of the CCO and the relevant Investment Personnel. Epoch will not utilize soft-dollar credits to correct trade errors, nor will the Firm make pre-commitments of trading volume to broker-dealers.

Certain clients require that their accounts be custodied at broker-dealers that do not generate soft dollar commissions or otherwise limit Epoch’s ability to generate soft dollar commissions for their accounts. Such accounts will not pay commissions for soft dollar research but will benefit from the soft dollar research paid for by other accounts managed by Epoch.

Trade Aggregation by the Subadvisor

Epoch typically manages client accounts based on a model portfolio which is designed to achieve the investment objectives of the strategy chosen by the client. Epoch conducts transactions in client accounts to reasonably match the model portfolios daily, weekly, monthly, or as needed. Epoch may not conduct transactions on behalf of clients in the wrap fee programs as frequently as Epoch do on behalf of other clients for several reasons, including that certain transactions for the client accounts in the wrap fee programs may be de minimis due to the wrap fee programs’ lower minimum account balances. Epoch places orders for accounts that have directed it to use a specific broker, such as accounts in the wrap fee programs,

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after trading for other accounts has begun or has been completed. Because of directed brokerage agreements with wrap sponsors, Epoch is unable to aggregate wrap or managed account transactions with orders for other accounts advised or managed by Epoch. When a model change occurs, Epoch may place orders for its institutional relationships before placing orders in SMA/Wrap and UMA relationships. Model changes are communicated to its service provider intraday for trading. When a change to a strategy model occurs, and where the strategy is on more than one wrap or managed account program, the service provider will use a rotation list in order to determine the sequencing of order placement among the wrap or managed account sponsors.

Affiliated Underwriting Transactions by the Subadvisor

The Board has approved procedures in conformity with Rule 10f-3 under the 1940 Act whereby the Fund may purchase securities that are offered in underwritings in which an affiliate of the Advisor or Subadvisor participates. These procedures prohibit the Fund from directly or indirectly benefiting an Advisor or Subadvisor affiliate in connection with such underwritings. In addition, for underwritings where an Advisor or Subadvisor affiliate participates as a principal underwriter, certain restrictions may apply that could, among other things, limit the amount of securities that the Fund could purchase.

Commission Recapture Program

The Board has approved the Fund’s participation in a commission recapture program. Commission recapture is a form of institutional discount brokerage that returns commission dollars directly to the Fund. It provides a way to gain control over the commission expenses incurred by the Subadvisor, which can be significant over time and thereby reduces expenses, improves cash flow and conserves assets. The Fund can derive commission recapture dollars from both equity trading commissions and fixed-income (commission equivalent) spreads. From time to time, the Board reviews whether participation in the recapture program is in the best interests of the Fund.

Additional Information Concerning Taxes

The following discussion of U.S. federal income tax matters is based on the advice of K&L Gates LLP counsel to the Fund. The Fund intends to elect to be treated and to qualify each year as a regulated investment company (“RIC”) under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”).

To qualify as a RIC for income tax purposes, the Fund must derive at least 90% of its annual gross income from dividends, interest, payments with respect to securities loans, gains from the sale or other disposition of stock, securities or foreign currencies, or other income (including, but not limited to, gains from options, futures or forward contracts) derived with respect to its business of investing in stock, securities and currencies, and net income derived from an interest in a qualified publicly traded partnership. A “qualified publicly traded partnership” is a publicly traded partnership that meets certain requirements with respect to the nature of its income. To qualify as a RIC, the Fund must also satisfy certain requirements with respect to the diversification of its assets. The Fund must have, at the close of each quarter of the taxable year, at least 50% of the value of its total assets represented by cash, cash items, U.S. government securities, securities of other regulated investment companies, and other securities that, in respect of any one issuer, do not represent more than 5% of the value of the assets of the Fund nor more than 10% of the voting securities of that issuer. In addition, at those times not more than 25% of the market value (or fair value if market quotations are unavailable) of the Fund’s assets can be invested in securities (other than United States government securities or the securities of other regulated investment companies) of any one issuer, or of two or more issuers, which the Fund controls and which are engaged in the same or similar trades or businesses or related trades or businesses, or of one or more qualified publicly traded partnerships. If the Fund fails to meet the annual gross income test described above, the Fund will nevertheless be considered to have satisfied the test if (i) (a) such failure is due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect and (b) the Fund reports the failure pursuant to Treasury Regulations to be adopted, and (ii) the Fund pays an excise tax equal to the excess non-qualifying income. If the Fund fails to meet the asset diversification test described above with respect to any quarter, the Fund will nevertheless be considered to have satisfied the requirements for such quarter if the Fund cures such failure within 6 months and either (i) such failure is de minimis or (ii) (a) such failure is due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect and (b) the Fund reports the failure and pays an excise tax.

As a RIC, the Fund generally will not be subject to U.S. federal income tax on its investment company taxable income (as that term is defined in the Code, but without regard to the deductions for dividends paid) and net capital gain (the excess of net long-term capital gain over net short-term capital loss), if any, that it distributes in each taxable year to its shareholders; provided that it distributes at least the sum of 90% of its investment company taxable income and 90% of its net tax-exempt interest income for such taxable year. The Fund intends to distribute to its shareholders, at least annually, substantially all of its investment company taxable income, net tax-exempt interest income and net capital gain. In order to avoid incurring a nondeductible 4% U.S. federal excise tax obligation, the Code requires that the Fund distribute (or be

34 

deemed to have distributed) by December 31 of each calendar year an amount at least equal to the sum of (i) 98% of its ordinary income for such year, (ii) 98.2% of its capital gain net income (which is the excess of its realized net long-term capital gain over its realized net short-term capital loss), generally computed on the basis of the one-year period ending on October 31 of such year, after reduction by any available capital loss carryforwards and (iii) 100% of any ordinary income and capital gain net income from the prior year (as previously computed) that were not paid out during such year and on which the Fund paid no U.S. federal income tax. Under current law, provided that the Fund qualifies as a RIC for U.S. federal income tax purposes, the Fund should not be liable for any income, corporate excise or franchise tax in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

 

If the Fund does not qualify as a RIC or fails to satisfy the 90% distribution requirement for any taxable year, subject to the opportunity to cure such failures under applicable provisions of the Code as described above, the Fund’s taxable income will be subject to corporate income taxes, and distributions from earnings and profits, including distributions of net capital gain (if any), will generally constitute ordinary dividend income for U.S. federal income tax purposes. To the extent so designated by the Fund, such distributions generally would be eligible (i) to be treated as qualified dividend income in the case of individual and other noncorporate shareholders and (ii) for the dividends received deduction (“DRD”) in the case of corporate shareholders. In addition, in order to requalify for taxation as a RIC, the Fund may be required to recognize unrealized gains, pay substantial taxes and interest, and make certain distributions.

For U.S. federal income tax purposes, distributions paid out of the Fund’s current or accumulated earnings and profits will, except in the case of distributions of qualified dividend income and capital gain dividends described below, be taxable as ordinary dividend income. Certain income distributions paid by the Fund (whether paid in cash or reinvested in additional Fund shares) to individual taxpayers are taxed at rates applicable to net long-term capital gains (maximum rates of 20%, 15%, or 0% for individuals depending on the amount of their taxable income for the year). This tax treatment applies only if certain holding period requirements and other requirements are satisfied by the shareholder and the dividends are attributable to qualified dividend income received by the Fund itself. For this purpose, “qualified dividend income” means dividends received by the Fund from United States corporations and “qualified foreign corporations,” provided that the Fund satisfies certain holding period and other requirements in respect of the stock of such corporations. There can be no assurance as to what portion of the Fund’s dividend distributions will qualify for favorable treatment as qualified dividend income. An additional 3.8% Medicare tax will also apply in the case of some individuals.

Shareholders receiving any distribution from the Fund in the form of additional shares pursuant to the dividend reinvestment plan will be treated as receiving a taxable distribution in an amount equal to the fair market value of the shares received, determined as of the reinvestment date.

Dividends of investment company taxable income appropriately reported by the Fund and received by corporate shareholders of the Fund will qualify for the DRD to the extent of the amount of qualifying dividends received by the Fund from domestic corporations for the taxable year. A dividend received by the Fund will not be treated as a qualifying dividend (i) to the extent the stock on which the dividend is paid is considered to be “debt-financed” (generally, acquired with borrowed funds), (ii) if the Fund fails to meet certain holding period requirements for the stock on which the dividend is paid or (iii) to the extent that the Fund is under an obligation (pursuant to a short sale or otherwise) to make related payments with respect to positions in substantially similar or related property. Moreover, the DRD may be disallowed or reduced if the corporate shareholder fails to satisfy the foregoing requirements with respect to its shares of the Fund or by application of the Code.

Distributions of net capital gain, if any, reported as capital gains dividends are taxable to a shareholder as long-term capital gains, regardless of how long the shareholder has held Fund shares. A distribution of an amount in excess of the Fund’s current and accumulated earnings and profits will be treated by a shareholder as a return of capital which is applied against and reduces the shareholder’s basis in his or her shares. To the extent that the amount of any such distribution exceeds the shareholder’s basis in his or her shares, the excess will be treated by the shareholder as gain from a sale or exchange of the shares. Distributions of gains from the sale of investments that the Fund owned for one year or less will be taxable as ordinary income.

The Fund may elect to retain its net capital gain or a portion thereof for investment and be taxed at corporate rates on the amount retained. In such case, it may designate the retained amount as undistributed capital gains in a notice to its shareholders who will be treated as if each received a distribution of his pro rata share of such gain, with the result that each shareholder will (i) be required to report his pro rata share of such gain on his tax return as long-term capital gain, (ii) receive a refundable tax credit for his pro rata share of tax paid by the Fund on the gain and (iii) increase the tax basis for his shares by an amount equal to the deemed distribution less the tax credit.

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Selling shareholders generally will recognize gain or loss in an amount equal to the difference between the shareholder’s adjusted tax basis in the shares sold and the sale proceeds. If the shares are held as a capital asset, the gain or loss will be a capital gain or loss. The current maximum tax rate applicable to net capital gains recognized by individuals and other non-corporate taxpayers is (i) the same as the maximum ordinary income tax rate for gains recognized on the sale of capital assets held for one year or less, or (ii) for gains recognized on the sale of capital assets held for more than one year (as well as certain capital gain distributions) 20%, 15%, or 0% for individuals depending on the amount of their taxable income for the year. An additional 3.8% Medicare tax will also apply in the case of some individuals.

Any loss realized upon the sale or exchange of Fund shares with a holding period of six months or less will be treated as a long-term capital loss to the extent of any capital gain distributions received (or amounts designated as undistributed capital gains) with respect to such shares. In addition, all or a portion of a loss realized on a sale or other disposition of Fund shares may be disallowed under “wash sale” rules to the extent the shareholder acquires other shares of the Fund (whether through the reinvestment of distributions or otherwise) within a period of 61 days beginning 30 days before and ending 30 days after the date of disposition of the Common Shares. Any disallowed loss will result in an adjustment to the shareholder’s tax basis in some or all of the other shares acquired.

Sales charges paid upon a purchase of shares cannot be taken into account for purposes of determining gain or loss on a sale of the shares before the 91st day after their purchase to the extent a sales charge is reduced or eliminated in a subsequent acquisition of shares of the Fund (or of another fund), on or before January 31 of the calendar year following the calendar year in which the sale of the shares occurs, pursuant to the reinvestment or exchange privilege. Any disregarded amounts will result in an adjustment to the shareholder’s tax basis in some or all of any other shares acquired.

For federal income tax purposes, the Fund is generally permitted to carry forward a net capital loss incurred in any taxable year, for an unlimited period to offset net capital gains, if any, during its taxable years following the year of the loss. Capital losses carried forward from taxable years beginning on or after December 23, 2010 will retain their character as either short-term or long-term capital losses. To the extent subsequent net capital gains are offset by such losses, they would not result in federal income tax liability to the Fund and would not be distributed as such to shareholders.

 

Below are the capital loss carryforwards available to the fund as of October 31, 2021 to the extent provided by regulations, to offset future net realized capital gains:

 

Fund Short-term Losses Long-term Losses Total
John Hancock Tax-Advantaged Global Shareholder Yield Fund $0 $18,671,891 $18,671,891

Certain net investment income received by an individual having adjusted gross income in excess of $200,000 (or $250,000 for married individuals filing jointly) will be subject to a tax of 3.8%. Undistributed net investment income of trusts and estates in excess of a specified amount will also be subject to this tax. Dividends and capital gains distributed by the Fund, and gain realized on redemption of Fund shares, will constitute investment income of the type subject to this tax.

Dividends and distributions on the Fund’s shares generally are subject to U.S. federal income tax as described herein to the extent they do not exceed the Fund’s realized income and gains, even though such dividends and distributions may economically represent a return of a particular shareholder’s investment. Such distributions are likely to occur in respect of shares purchased at a time when the Fund’s net asset value reflects gains that are either unrealized, or realized but not distributed. Such realized gains may be required to be distributed even when the Fund’s net asset value also reflects unrealized losses. Certain distributions declared in October, November or December to shareholders of record of such month and paid in the following January will be taxed to shareholders as if received on December 31 of the year in which they were declared. In addition, certain other distributions made after the close of a taxable year of the Fund may be “spilled back” and treated as paid by the Fund (except for purposes of the non-deductible 4% U.S. federal excise tax) during such taxable year. In such case, shareholders will be treated as having received such dividends in the taxable year in which the distributions were actually made.

The Fund will inform shareholders of the source and tax status of all distributions promptly after the close of each calendar year.

Legislation passed by Congress in 2008 requires the Fund (or its administrative agent) to report to the IRS and furnish to shareholders the cost basis information and holding period for the Fund’s shares purchased on or after January 1, 2012, and repurchased by the Fund on or after that date. The Fund will permit shareholders to elect from among several permitted

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cost basis methods. In the absence of an election, the Fund will use a default cost basis method. The cost basis method a shareholder elects may not be changed with respect to a repurchase of shares after the settlement date of the repurchase. Shareholders should consult with their tax advisors to determine the best permitted cost basis method for their tax situation and to obtain more information about how the new cost basis reporting rules apply to them.

The benefits of the reduced tax rates applicable to long-term capital gains and qualified dividend income may be impacted by the application of the alternative minimum tax to individual shareholders.

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

The Fund may recognize gain (but not loss) from a constructive sale of certain “appreciated financial positions” if the Fund enters into a short sale, offsetting notional principal contract, or forward contract transaction with respect to the appreciated position or substantially identical property. Appreciated financial positions subject to this constructive sale treatment include interests (including options and forward contracts and short sales) in stock and certain other instruments. Constructive sale treatment does not apply if the transaction is closed out not later than thirty days after the end of the taxable year in which the transaction was initiated, and the underlying appreciated securities position is held unhedged for at least the next sixty days after the hedging transaction is closed.

Gain or loss from a short sale of property generally is considered as capital gain or loss to the extent the property used to close the short sale constitutes a capital asset in the Fund’s hands. Except with respect to certain situations where the property used to close a short sale has a long-term holding period on the date the short sale is entered into, gains on short sales generally are short-term capital gains. A loss on a short sale will be treated as a long-term capital loss if, on the date of the short sale, “substantially identical property” has been held by the Fund for more than one year. In addition, entering into a short sale may result in suspension of the holding period of “substantially identical property” held by the Fund.

Gain or loss on a short sale generally will not be realized until such time as the short sale is closed. However, as described above in the discussion of constructive sales, if the Fund holds a short sale position with respect to securities that have appreciated in value, and it then acquires property that is the same as or substantially identical to the property sold short, the Fund generally will recognize gain on the date it acquires such property as if the short sale were closed on such date with such property. Similarly, if the Fund holds an appreciated financial position with respect to securities and then enters into a short sale with respect to the same or substantially identical property, the Fund generally will recognize gain as if the appreciated financial position were sold at its fair market value on the date it enters into the short sale. The subsequent holding period for any appreciated financial position that is subject to these constructive sale rules will be determined as if such position were acquired on the date of the constructive sale.

The Fund’s transactions in futures contracts and options will be subject to special provisions of the Code that, among other things, may affect the character of gains and losses realized by the Fund (i.e., may affect whether gains or losses are ordinary or capital, or short-term or long-term), may accelerate recognition of income to the Fund and may defer Fund losses. These rules could, therefore, affect the character, amount and timing of distributions to shareholders. These provisions also (a) will require the Fund to mark-to-market certain types of the positions in its portfolio (i.e., treat them as if they were closed out), and (b) may cause the Fund to recognize income without receiving cash with which to make distributions in amounts necessary to satisfy the 90% distribution requirement for qualifying to be taxed as a RIC and the distribution requirement for avoiding excise taxes. The Fund will monitor its transactions, will make the appropriate tax elections and will make the appropriate entries in its books and records when it acquires any futures contract, option or hedged investment in order to mitigate the effect of these rules and prevent disqualification of the Fund from being taxed as a RIC.

Further, certain of the Fund’s investment practices are subject to special and complex U.S. federal income tax provisions that may, among other things, (i) convert dividends that would otherwise constitute qualified dividend income into short-term capital gain or ordinary income taxed at the higher rate applicable to ordinary income, (ii) treat dividends that would otherwise be eligible for the corporate dividends received deduction as ineligible for such treatment, (iii) disallow, suspend or otherwise limit the allowance of certain losses or deductions, (iv) convert long-term capital gain into short-term capital gain or ordinary income, (v) convert an ordinary loss or deduction into a capital loss (the deductibility of which is more limited), (vi) cause the Fund to recognize income or gain without a corresponding receipt of cash, (vii) adversely affect the time as to when a purchase or sale of stock or securities is deemed to occur, (viii) adversely alter the characterization of certain complex financial transactions, and (ix) produce income that will not qualify as good income for purposes of the 90% annual gross income requirement described above. While it may not always be successful in doing so, the Fund will seek to avoid or minimize any adverse tax consequences of its investment practices.

37 

Dividends and interest received, and gains realized, by the Fund on non-U.S. securities may be subject to income, withholding or other taxes imposed by foreign countries and United States possessions (collectively “foreign taxes”) that would reduce the return on its securities. Tax conventions between certain countries and the United States, however, may reduce or eliminate foreign taxes, and many foreign countries do not impose taxes on capital gains in respect of investments by U.S. investors. Depending on the number of non-U.S. shareholders in the Fund, however, such reduced foreign withholding tax rates may not be available for investments in certain jurisdictions.

The Fund may invest in the stock of “passive foreign investment companies” (“PFICs”). A PFIC is any foreign corporation (with certain exceptions) that, in general, meets either of the following tests: (1) at least 75% of its gross income is passive or (2) an average of at least 50% of its assets produce, or are held for the production of, passive income. Under certain circumstances, the Fund will be subject to U.S. federal income tax on a portion of any “excess distribution” received on the stock of a PFIC or of any gain from disposition of that stock (collectively “PFIC income”), plus interest thereon, even if the Fund distributes the PFIC income as a taxable dividend to its shareholders. The balance of the PFIC income will be included in the Fund’s investment company taxable income and, accordingly, will not be taxable to it to the extent it distributes that income to its shareholders.

If the Fund invests in a PFIC and elects to treat the PFIC as a “qualified electing fund” (“QEF”), then in lieu of the foregoing tax and interest obligation, the Fund will be required to include in income each year its pro rata share of the QEF’s annual ordinary earnings and net capital gain—which it may have to distribute to satisfy the distribution requirement and avoid imposition of the excise tax—even if the QEF does not distribute those earnings and gain to the Fund. In most instances it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to make this election because of certain of its requirements.

The Fund may elect to “mark-to-market” its stock in any PFIC. “Marking-to-market,” in this context, means including in ordinary income each taxable year the excess, if any, of the fair market value of a PFIC’s stock over the Fund’s adjusted basis therein as of the end of that year. Pursuant to the election, the Fund also would be allowed to deduct (as an ordinary, not capital, loss) the excess, if any, of its adjusted basis in PFIC stock over the fair market value thereof as of the taxable year-end, but only to the extent of any net mark-to-market gains (reduced by any prior deductions) with respect to that stock included by the Fund for prior taxable years under the election. The Fund’s adjusted basis in each PFIC’s stock with respect to which it has made this election will be adjusted to reflect the amounts of income included and deductions taken thereunder. The reduced rates for “qualified dividend income” are not applicable to (i) dividends paid by a foreign corporation that is a PFIC, (ii) income inclusions from a QEF election with respect to a PFIC, and (iii) ordinary income from a “mark-to-market” election with respect to a PFIC.

Under Section 988 of the Code, gains or losses attributable to fluctuations in exchange rates between the time the Fund accrues income or receivables or expenses or other liabilities denominated in a non-U.S. currency and the time the Fund actually collects such income or receivables or pays such liabilities generally are treated as ordinary income or loss. Similarly, gains or losses on non-U.S. currency forward contracts and the disposition of debt securities denominated in a non-U.S. currency, to the extent attributable to fluctuations in exchange rate between the acquisition and disposition dates, also are treated as ordinary income or loss.

If, at the end of the fiscal year, more than 50% of the value of the total assets of the Fund is represented by direct investments in stock or securities of non-U.S. corporations, the Fund may make an election that allows shareholders whose income from the Fund is subject to U.S. taxation at the graduated rates applicable to U.S. citizens, residents or domestic corporations to claim a foreign tax credit or deduction (but not both) on their U.S. income tax return. In such a case, the amounts of qualified foreign income taxes paid by the Fund would be treated as additional income to Fund shareholders from non-U.S. sources and as foreign taxes paid by Fund shareholders. If the Fund’s investments in stock or securities of non-U.S. corporations do not meet the 50% threshold requirement, such election will not be available to the Fund. Investors should consult their tax advisors for further information relating to the foreign tax credit and deduction, which are subject to certain restrictions and limitations (including a holding period requirement applied at both the Fund and shareholder level imposed by the Code).


If a shareholder realizes a loss on disposition of the Fund’s shares of $2 million or more in any single taxable year (or $4 million or more in any combination of taxable years in which the transaction is entered into and the five succeeding taxable years) for an individual shareholder, corporation or Trust or $10 million or more in any single taxable year (or $20 million or more in any combination of taxable years in which the transaction is entered into and the five succeeding taxable years) for a corporate shareholder, the shareholder must file with the IRS a disclosure statement on Form 8886. Direct shareholders of portfolio securities are in many cases excepted from this reporting requirement, but under current guidance, shareholders of a RIC are not excepted. Future guidance may extend the current exception from this reporting requirement to shareholders of most or all RICs. The fact that a loss is reportable under these regulations does not affect the legal determination of whether the taxpayer’s treatment of the loss is proper. Shareholders should consult their tax

38 

advisers to determine the applicability of these regulations in light of their individual circumstances.

Amounts paid by the Fund to individuals and certain other shareholders who have not provided the Fund with their correct taxpayer identification number (“TIN”) and certain certifications required by the IRS as well as shareholders with respect to whom the Fund has received certain information from the IRS or a broker may be subject to “backup” withholding of U.S. federal income tax arising from the Fund’s taxable dividends and other distributions as well as the gross proceeds of sales of shares, at a rate of 24%. An individual’s TIN generally is his or her social security number. Backup withholding is not an additional tax. Any amounts withheld under the backup withholding rules from payments made to a shareholder may be refunded or credited against such shareholder’s U.S. federal income tax liability, if any; provided that the required information is furnished to the IRS.

Distributions will not be subject to backup withholding to the extent they are subject to the withholding tax on foreign persons described in the next paragraph.

Dividend distributions are in general subject to a U.S. withholding tax of 30% when paid to a nonresident alien individual, foreign estate or trust, a foreign corporation, or a foreign partnership (“foreign shareholder”). Persons who are resident in a country, such as the U.K., that has an income tax treaty with the U.S. may be eligible for a reduced withholding rate (upon filing of appropriate forms), and are urged to consult their tax advisors regarding the applicability and effect of such a treaty. Distributions of capital gain dividends paid by the Fund to a foreign shareholder, and any gain realized upon the sale of Fund shares by such a shareholder, will ordinarily not be subject to U.S. taxation, unless the recipient or seller is a nonresident alien individual who is present in the United States for more than 182 days during the taxable year. Such distributions and sale proceeds may be subject, however, to backup withholding, unless the foreign investor certifies his non-U.S. residency status. Also, foreign shareholders with respect to whom income from the Fund is “effectively connected” with a U.S. trade or business carried on by such shareholder will in general be subject to U.S. federal income tax on a net basis on the income derived from the Fund at the graduated rates applicable to U.S. citizens, residents or domestic corporations, whether such income is received in cash or reinvested in shares, and, in the case of a foreign corporation, also may be subject to a branch profits tax. Properly-designated dividends are generally exempt from U.S. federal withholding tax where they are (i) “interest-related dividends” paid in respect of the Fund’s “qualified net interest income” (generally, the Fund’s U.S. source interest income, other than certain contingent interest and interest from obligations of a corporation or partnership in which the Fund is at least a 10% shareholder, reduced by expenses that are allocable to such income) or (ii) “short-term capital gain dividends” paid in respect of the Fund’s “qualified short-term gains” (generally, the excess of the Fund’s net short-term capital gain over the Fund’s long-term capital loss for such taxable year). Depending on its circumstances, the Fund may designate all, some or none of its potentially eligible dividends as such interest-related dividends or as short-term capital gain dividends and/or treat such dividends, in whole or in part, as ineligible for this exemption from withholding. The Fund’s capital gain distributions will also be exempt from such withholding. Again, foreign shareholders who are residents in a country with an income tax treaty with the United States may obtain different tax results, and are urged to consult their tax advisors.

 

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), imposes a 30% U.S. withholding tax on certain U.S. source payments, including interest (even if the interest is otherwise exempt from the withholding rules described above), dividends and other fixed or determinable annual or periodical income (“Withholdable Payments”), if paid to a foreign financial institution, unless such institution registers with the IRS and enters into an agreement with the IRS or with a governmental authority in its own jurisdiction to collect and provide substantial information regarding U.S. account holders, including certain account holders that are foreign entities with U.S. owners, with such institution, or such institution is otherwise deemed to be compliant with, or is exempt from, FATCA. The legislation also generally imposes a withholding tax of 30% on Withholdable Payments made to a non-financial foreign entity unless such entity provides the withholding agent with a certification that it does not have any substantial U.S. owners or a certification identifying the direct and indirect substantial U.S. owners of the entity. These withholding and reporting requirements will generally apply to income payments made after June 30, 2014. A withholding tax that would apply to the gross proceeds from the disposition of certain investment property and that was scheduled to go into effect in 2019 would be eliminated by proposed regulations (having immediate effect while pending). Non-U.S. shareholders are urged to consult with their own tax advisors regarding the possible implications of this legislation on their investment in the Fund.

The foregoing briefly summarizes some of the important U.S. federal income tax consequences to Common Shareholders of investing in Common Shares, reflects U.S. federal tax law as of the date of this SAI, and does not address special tax rules applicable to certain types of investors, such as corporate and non-U.S. investors. Unless otherwise noted, this discussion assumes that an investor is a United States person and holds Common Shares as a capital asset. This discussion is based upon present provisions of the Code, the regulations promulgated thereunder, and judicial and administrative ruling authorities, all of which are subject to change or differing interpretations by the courts or the IRS retroactively or

39 

prospectively. Investors should consult their tax advisors regarding other U.S. federal, state or local tax considerations that may be applicable to their particular circumstances, as well as any proposed tax law changes.

 

Other Information

The Fund is an organization of the type commonly known as a “Massachusetts business trust.” Under Massachusetts law, shareholders of such a trust may, in certain circumstances, be held personally liable as partners for the obligations of the trust. The Declaration of Trust contains an express disclaimer of shareholder liability in connection with Fund property or the acts, obligations or affairs of the Fund. The Declaration of Trust, together with the Fund’s By-laws, also provides for indemnification out of Fund property of any shareholder held personally liable for the claims and liabilities to which a shareholder may become subject by sole reason of being or having been a shareholder. Thus, the risk of a shareholder incurring financial loss on account of shareholder liability is limited to circumstances in which the Fund itself is unable to meet its obligations. The Fund has been advised by its counsel that the risk of any shareholder incurring any liability for the obligations of the Fund is remote.

The Declaration of Trust provides that the Trustees will not be liable for errors of judgment or mistakes of fact or law; but nothing in the Declaration of Trust protects a Trustee against any liability to the Fund or its shareholders to which he or she would otherwise be subject by reason of willful misfeasance, bad faith, gross negligence, or reckless disregard of the duties involved in the conduct of his or her office. Voting rights are not cumulative with respect to the election of Trustees, which means that the holders of more than 50% of the shares voting for the election of Trustees can elect 100% of the Trustees and, in such event, the holders of the remaining less than 50% of the shares voting on the matter will not be able to elect any Trustees.

The Declaration of Trust provides that the Fund will comply with Section 16 of the 1940 Act. Pursuant to Section 16(c), no person shall serve as a Trustee if shareholders holding two-thirds of the outstanding shares have removed him from that office either by a written declaration filed with the Fund’s custodian or by votes cast at a meeting called for that purpose. The Declaration of Trust further provides that the Trustees of the Fund shall promptly call a meeting of the shareholders for the purpose of voting upon a question of removal of any such Trustee or Trustees when requested in writing to do so by the record holders of not less than 10% of the outstanding shares.

Effective January 22, 2016, the Board of Trustees of the Fund amended and restated in its entirety the Declaration of Trust. The amendments to the Declaration of Trust include, among other changes, provisions that: (i) clarify certain duties, responsibilities, and powers of the Trustees; (ii) clarify that, other than as provided under federal securities laws, the shareholders may only bring actions involving the Fund derivatively; (iii) provide that any action brought by a shareholder related to the Fund will be brought in Massachusetts state or federal court, and that, if a claim is brought in a different jurisdiction and subsequently changed to a Massachusetts venue, the shareholder will be required to reimburse the Fund for such expenses; and (iv) clarify that shareholders are not intended to be third-party beneficiaries of Fund contracts. The foregoing description of the Declaration of Trust is qualified in its entirety by the full text of the Declaration of Trust, effective as of January 22, 2016, which is available by writing to the Secretary of the Fund at 200 Berkeley Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116, and also on the SEC’s and Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ websites.

Custodian and Transfer Agent

 

The Fund’s portfolio securities are held pursuant to a custodian agreement between the Fund and State Street Bank and Trust Company (“State Street”), State Street Financial Center, One Lincoln Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02111. Under the custodian agreement, State Street performs custody, foreign custody manager and fund accounting services.

 

Computershare Shareowner Services, LLC, P.O. Box 505000, Louisville, KY 40233 is the transfer agent, dividend paying agent and registrar of the Fund.

 

Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

The financial statements of the Fund for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2021, including the related financial highlights that appear in the Prospectus have been audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (“PwC”), independent registered public accounting firm, as indicated in their report with respect thereto, and are incorporated herein by reference.

PwC is the independent registered public accounting firm for the Fund, providing audit services, tax return preparation, and assistance and consultation with respect to the preparation of filings with the SEC.

40 

Reports to Shareholders

The financial statements of the Fund for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2021 are incorporated herein by reference from the Fund’s most recent Annual Report to Shareholders filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) on Form N-CSR pursuant to Rule 30b2-1 under the 1940 Act.

 

Incorporation by Reference

 

As noted above, this SAI is part of a registration statement filed with the SEC. Pursuant to the final rule and form amendments adopted by the SEC on April 8, 2020 to implement certain provisions of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, including General Instruction A.2 of Form N-2, the Fund is permitted to “incorporate by reference” the information filed with the SEC, which means that the Fund can disclose important information to you by referring you to those documents. The information incorporated by reference is considered to be part of this SAI, and later information that the Fund files with the SEC will automatically update and supersede this information.

 

The documents listed below, and any reports and other documents subsequently filed with the SEC pursuant to Rule 30(b)(2) under the 1940 Act and Sections 13(a), 13(c), 14 or 15(d) of the Exchange Act, prior to the termination of the offering will be incorporated by reference into this SAI and deemed to be part of this SAI from the date of the filing of such reports and documents:

 

-The Fund’s Prospectus, dated March 1, 2022, filed with this SAI;
-The Fund’s Annual Report on Form N-CSR, filed on December 17, 2021;
-The Fund’s description of Common Shares on Form 8-A, filed on April 23, 2007.

 

You may obtain copies of any information incorporated by reference into this SAI, at no charge, by calling 800-225 6020 (toll-free), from the Fund’s website https://www.jhinvestments.com/investments/closed-end-fund/international-equity-funds/tax-advantaged-global-shareholder-yield-fund-ce-hty, or from the SEC’s website at sec.gov. The Fund’s periodic reports filed pursuant to Section 30(b)(2) of the 1940 Act and Sections 13 and 15(d) of the Exchange Act, as well as the Prospectus and the Statement of Additional Information, are available on the Fund’s website https://www.jhinvestments.com/investments/closed-end-fund/international-equity-funds/tax-advantaged-global-shareholder-yield-fund-ce-hty. The SEC maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC, and you also may obtain a copy of any information regarding the Fund filed with the SEC from the SEC’s website (sec.gov).

 

Codes of Ethics

The Fund, the Advisor, the Subadvisor and the principal underwriter each have adopted Codes of Ethics that comply with Rule 17j-1 under the 1940 Act. Each Code of Ethics permits personnel subject to that Code of Ethics to invest in securities, including securities that may be purchased or held by the Fund.

These Codes of Ethics can be reviewed and copied at the SEC’s Public Reference Room in Washington, D.C. Information regarding the operation of the Public Reference Room may be obtained by calling the SEC at 202-942-8090. These Codes of Ethics also are available on the EDGAR Database on the SEC’s website at sec.gov. Copies of these Codes of Ethics may be obtained, after paying a duplicating fee, by electronic request at the following e-mail address: public info@sec.gov, or by writing the SEC’s Public Reference Section, Washington, D.C. 20549-1520.

 

Additional Information

The Fund’s Prospectus, any related Prospectus Supplements, and this SAI do not contain all of the information set forth in the Registration Statement that the Fund has filed with the SEC. The complete Registration Statement may be obtained from the SEC upon payment of the fee prescribed by its Rules and Regulations.

41 

John Hancock Tax-Advantaged Global Shareholder Yield Fund

 

Statement of Additional Information

 

March 1, 2022

 

Investment Advisor

John Hancock Investment Management LLC

200 Berkeley Street

Boston, Massachusetts 02116

800-225-6020

 

Subadvisor

Epoch Investment Partners, Inc.

1 Vanderbilt Avenue

New York, NY 10017

 

Custodian

State Street Bank and Trust Company

State Street Financial Center

One Lincoln Street

Boston, Massachusetts 02111

 

Transfer Agent
Computershare Shareowner Services, LLC

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P.O. Box 505000
Louisville, KY 40233

 

Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

101 Seaport Boulevard, Suite 500

Boston, Massachusetts 02210

43 

APPENDIX A - DESCRIPTION OF BOND RATINGS

 

DESCRIPTIONS OF CREDIT RATING SYMBOLS AND DEFINITIONS

The ratings of Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. (“Moody’s”), Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services (“S&P Global Ratings”) and Fitch Ratings (“Fitch”) represent their respective opinions as of the date they are expressed and not statements of fact as to the quality of various long-term and short-term debt instruments they undertake to rate. It should be emphasized that ratings are general and are not absolute standards of quality. Consequently, debt instruments with the same maturity, coupon and rating may have different yields while debt instruments of the same maturity and coupon with different ratings may have the same yield.

 

Ratings do not constitute recommendations to buy, sell, or hold any security, nor do they comment on the adequacy of market price, the suitability of any security for a particular investor, or the tax-exempt nature or taxability of any payments of any security.

 

IN GENERAL

Moody’s. Ratings assigned on Moody’s global long-term and short-term rating scales are forward-looking opinions of the relative credit risks of financial obligations issued by non-financial corporates, financial institutions, structured finance vehicles, project finance vehicles, and public sector entities.

Note that the content of this Appendix A, to the extent that it relates to the ratings determined by Moody’s, is derived directly from Moody’s electronic publication of “Ratings Symbols and Definitions” which is available at: https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_79004.

 

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

 

Issue ratings are an assessment of default risk but may incorporate an assessment of relative seniority or ultimate recovery in the event of default. Junior obligations are typically rated lower than senior obligations, to reflect the lower priority in bankruptcy.

 

Note that the content of this Appendix A, to the extent that it relates to the ratings determined by S&P Global Ratings, is derived directly from S&P Global Ratings’ electronic publication of “S&P’s Global Ratings Definitions,” which is available at: https://www.standardandpoors.com/en_US/web/guest/article/-/view/sourceId/504352.

 

Fitch. Fitch’s opinions are forward looking and include Fitch’s views of future performance. In many cases, these views on future performance may include forecasts, which may in turn (i) be informed by non-disclosable management projections, (ii) be based on a trend (sector or wider economic cycle) at a certain stage in the cycle, or (iii) be based on historical performance. As a result, while ratings may include cyclical considerations and attempt to assess the likelihood of repayment at “ultimate/final maturity,” material changes in economic conditions and expectations (for a particular issuer) may result in a rating change.

 

The terms “investment grade” and “speculative grade” have established themselves over time as shorthand to describe the categories ‘AAA’ to ‘BBB’ (investment grade) and ‘BB’ to ‘D’ (speculative grade). The terms investment grade and speculative grade are market conventions and do not imply any recommendation or endorsement of a specific security for investment purposes. Investment grade categories indicate relatively low to

A-1 

moderate credit risk, while ratings in the speculative categories either signal a higher level of credit risk or that a default has already occurred. For the convenience of investors, Fitch may also include issues relating to a rated issuer that are not and have not been rated on its web page. Such issues are also denoted as ‘NR’.

 

Note that the content of this Appendix A, to the extent that it relates to the ratings determined by Fitch, is derived directly from Fitch’s electronic publication of “Definitions of Ratings and Other Forms of Opinion” which is available at: https://www.fitchratings.com/products/rating-definitions.

 

GENERAL PURPOSE RATINGS

LONG-TERM ISSUE RATINGS

MOODY’S GLOBAL LONG-TERM RATING SCALE

Long-term ratings are assigned to issuers or obligations with an original maturity of one year or more and reflect both on the likelihood of a default or impairment on contractual financial obligations and the expected financial loss suffered in the event of default or impairment.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Note: Addition of a Modifier 1, 2 or 3: Moody’s appends numerical modifiers 1, 2 and 3 to each generic rating classification from Aa through Caa. The modifier 1 indicates that the obligation ranks in the higher end of its generic rating category; the modifier 2 indicates a mid-range ranking; and the modifier 3 indicates a ranking in the lower end of that generic rating category. Additionally, a “(hyb)” indicator is appended to all ratings of hybrid securities issued by banks, insurers, finance companies, and securities firms. By their terms, hybrid securities allow for the omission of scheduled dividends, interest, or principal payments, which can potentially result in impairment if such an omission occurs. Hybrid securities may also be subject to contractually allowable write-downs of principal that could result in impairment.

 

Together with the hybrid indicator, the long-term obligation rating assigned to a hybrid security is an expression of the relative credit risk associated with that security.

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S&P GLOBAL RATINGS LONG-TERM ISSUE CREDIT RATINGS

Long-term ratings are assigned to issuers or obligations with an original maturity of one year or more and reflect both on the likelihood of a default or impairment on contractual financial obligations and the expected financial loss suffered in the event of default or impairment

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

 

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

 

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

 

BBB: An obligation rated ‘BBB’ exhibits adequate protection parameters. However, adverse economic conditions or changing circumstances are more likely to weaken the obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitments on the obligation.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

FITCH CORPORATE FINANCE OBLIGATIONS – LONG-TERM RATING SCALES

Ratings of individual securities or financial obligations of a corporate issuer address relative vulnerability to default on an ordinal scale. In addition, for financial obligations in corporate finance, a measure of recovery given default on that liability is also included in the rating assessment. This notably applies to covered bond ratings, which incorporate both an indication of the probability of default and of the recovery given a default of this debt instrument.

 

AAA: Highest credit quality. ‘AAA’ ratings denote the lowest expectation of credit risk. They are assigned only in cases of exceptionally strong capacity for payment of financial commitments. This capacity is highly unlikely to be adversely affected by foreseeable events.

 

AA: Very high credit quality. ‘AA’ ratings denote expectations of very low credit risk. They indicate very strong capacity for payment of financial commitments. This capacity is not significantly vulnerable to foreseeable events.

 

A: High credit quality. ‘A’ ratings denote expectations of low credit risk. The capacity for payment of financial commitments is considered strong. This capacity may, nevertheless, be more vulnerable to adverse business or economic conditions than is the case for higher ratings.

 

BBB: Good credit quality. ‘BBB’ ratings indicate that expectations of credit risk are currently low. The capacity for payment of financial commitments is considered adequate but adverse business or economic conditions are more likely to impair this capacity.

 

BB: Speculative. ‘BB’ ratings indicate an elevated vulnerability to credit risk, particularly in the event of adverse changes in business or economic conditions over time; however, business or financial alternatives may be available to allow financial commitments to be met.

 

B: Highly speculative. ‘B’ ratings indicate that material credit risk is present.

 

CCC: Substantial credit risk. “CCC” ratings indicate that substantial credit risk is present.

 

CC: Very high levels of credit risk. “CC” ratings indicate very high levels of credit risk.

 

C: Exceptionally high levels of credit risk. “C” indicates exceptionally high levels of credit risk.

 

Corporate finance defaulted obligations typically are not assigned ‘RD’ or ‘D’ ratings but are instead rated in the ‘CCC’ to ‘C’ rating categories, depending on their recovery prospects and other relevant characteristics. This approach better aligns obligations that have comparable overall expected loss but varying vulnerability to default and loss.

 

Note: Addition of a Plus (+) or minus (-) sign: Within rating categories, Fitch may use modifiers. The modifiers “+” or “-” may be appended to a rating to denote relative status within major rating categories. For example, the rating category ‘AA’ has three notch-specific rating levels (‘AA+’; ‘AA’; ‘AA-’; each a rating level). Such suffixes

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are not added to ‘AAA’ ratings and ratings below the ‘CCC’ category. For the short-term rating category of ‘F1’, a ‘+’ may be appended. For Viability Ratings, the modifiers ‘+’ or ‘-’ may be appended to a rating to denote relative status within categories from ‘aa’ to ‘ccc’.

 

CORPORATE AND TAX-EXEMPT COMMERCIAL PAPER RATINGS

SHORT-TERM ISSUE RATINGS

MOODY’S GLOBAL SHORT-TERM RATING SCALE

Ratings assigned on Moody’s global long-term and short-term rating scales are forward-looking opinions of the relative credit risks of financial obligations issued by non-financial corporates, financial institutions, structured finance vehicles, project finance vehicles, and public sector entities. Short-term ratings are assigned to obligations with an original maturity of thirteen months or less and reflect both the likelihood of a default or impairment on contractual financial obligations and the expected financial loss suffered in the event of default or impairment.

Moody’s employs the following designations to indicate the relative repayment ability of rated issuers:

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

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

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

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

The following table indicates the long-term ratings consistent with different short-term ratings when such long-term ratings exist. (Note: Structured finance short-term ratings are usually based either on the short-term rating of a support provider or on an assessment of cash flows available to retire the financial obligation).

 

 

 

S&P GLOBAL RATINGS’ SHORT-TERM ISSUE CREDIT RATINGS

S&P Global Ratings’ short-term ratings are generally assigned to those obligations considered short-term in the

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relevant market. Short-term ratings are also used to indicate the creditworthiness of an obligor with respect to put features on long-term obligations. Medium term notes are assigned long-term ratings. Ratings are graded into several categories, ranging from ‘A’ for the highest-quality obligations to ‘D’ for the lowest. These categories are as follows:

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

 

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

 

A-3: A short-term obligation rated ‘A-3’ exhibits adequate protection parameters. However, adverse economic conditions or changing circumstances are more likely to weaken an obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitments on the obligation.

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

FITCH’S SHORT-TERM ISSUER OR OBLIGATION RATINGS

 

A short-term issuer or obligation rating is based in all cases on the short-term vulnerability to default of the rated entity and relates to the capacity to meet financial obligations in accordance with the documentation governing the relevant obligation. Short-term deposit ratings may be adjusted for loss severity. Short-term deposit ratings may be adjusted for loss severity. Short-Term Ratings are assigned to obligations whose initial maturity is viewed as “short term” based on market convention. Typically, this means up to 13 months for corporate, sovereign, and structured obligations, and up to 36 months for obligations in U.S. public finance markets.

 

F1: Highest short-term credit quality. Indicates the strongest intrinsic capacity for timely payment of financial commitments; may have an added (“+”) to denote any exceptionally strong credit feature.

 

F2: Good short-term credit quality. Good intrinsic capacity for timely payment of financial commitments.

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F3: Fair short-term credit quality. The intrinsic capacity for timely payment of financial commitments is adequate.

 

B: Speculative short-term credit quality. Minimal capacity for timely payment of financial commitments, plus heightened vulnerability to near term adverse changes in financial and economic conditions.

 

C: High short-term default risk. Default is a real possibility.

 

RD: Restricted default. Indicates an entity that has defaulted on one or more of its financial commitments, although it continues to meet other financial obligations. Typically applicable to entity ratings only.

 

D: Default. Indicates a broad-based default event for an entity, or the default of a short-term obligation.

 

TAX-EXEMPT NOTE RATINGS

MOODY’S U.S. MUNICIPAL SHORT-TERM DEBT RATINGS

While the global short-term ‘prime’ rating scale is applied to US municipal tax-exempt commercial A-8 paper, these programs are typically backed by external letters of credit or liquidity facilities and their short-term prime ratings usually map to the long-term rating of the enhancing bank or financial institution and not to the municipality’s rating. Other short-term municipal obligations, which generally have different funding sources for repayment, are rated using two additional short-term rating scales (i.e., the MIG and VMIG scale discussed below).

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Variable Municipal Investment Grade (VMIG) ratings of demand obligations with unconditional liquidity support are mapped from the short-term debt rating (or counterparty assessment) of the support provider, or the underlying obligor in the absence of third party liquidity support, with VMIG 1 corresponding to P-1, VMIG 2 to P-2, VMIG 3 to P-3 and SG to not prime. For example, the VMIG rating for an industrial revenue bond with Company XYZ as the underlying obligor would normally have the same numerical modifier as Company XYZ’s prime rating. Transitions of VMIG ratings of demand obligations with conditional liquidity support, as shown in the diagram below, differ from transitions on the Prime scale to reflect the risk that external liquidity support will terminate if the issuer’s long-term rating drops below investment grade.

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

* For VRDBs supported with conditional liquidity support, short-term ratings transition down at higher long-term ratings to reflect the risk of termination of liquidity support as a result of a downgrade below investment grade.

VMIG ratings of VRDBs with unconditional liquidity support reflect the short-term debt rating (or counterparty assessment) of the liquidity support provider with VMIG 1 corresponding to P-1, VMIG 2 to P-2, VMIG 3 to P-3 and SG to not prime.

 

For more complete discussion of these rating transitions, please see Annex B of Moody’s Methodology titled Variable Rate Instruments Supported by Conditional Liquidity Facilities.

 

S&P GLOBAL RATINGS’ MUNICIPAL SHORT-TERM NOTE RATINGS

 

MUNICIPAL SHORT-TERM NOTE RATINGS

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Note rating symbols are as follows:

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

 

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

 

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

 

D: ‘D’ is assigned upon failure to pay the note when due, completion of a distressed exchange offer, or the filing of a bankruptcy petition or the taking of similar action and where default on an obligation is a virtual certainty, for example due to automatic stay provisions.

 

FITCH PUBLIC FINANCE RATINGS

See FITCH SHORT-TERM ISSUER OR OBLIGATIONS RATINGS above.

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APPENDIX B

PROXY VOTING POLICIES OF THE ADVISOR, THE JOHN HANCOCK FUNDS AND THE SUBADVISOR

JOHN HANCOCK INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT LLC

 

PROXY VOTING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

 

Overview

The SEC adopted Rule 206(4)-6 under the Advisers Act, which requires investment advisers with voting authority to adopt and implement written policies and procedures that are reasonably designed to ensure that the investment adviser votes client securities in the best interest of clients. The procedures must include how the investment adviser addresses material conflicts that may arise between the interests of the investment adviser and those of its clients. The Advisers are registered investment advisers under the Advisers Act and serve as the investment advisers to the Funds. The Advisers generally retain one or more sub-advisers to manage the assets of the Funds, including voting proxies with respect to a Fund’s portfolio securities. From time to time, however, the Advisers may elect to manage directly the assets of a Fund, including voting proxies with respect to such Fund’s portfolio securities, or a Fund’s Board may otherwise delegate to the Advisers authority to vote such proxies. Rule 206(4)-6 under the Advisers Act requires that a registered investment adviser adopt and implement written policies and procedures reasonably designed to ensure that it votes proxies with respect to a client’s securities in the best interest of the client.

Firms are required by Advisers Act Rule 204-2(c)(2) to maintain records of their voting policies and procedures, a copy of each proxy statement that the investment adviser receives regarding client securities, a record of each vote cast by the investment adviser on behalf of a client, a copy of any document created by the investment adviser that was material to making a decision how to vote proxies on behalf of a client, and a copy of each written client request for information on how the adviser voted proxies on behalf of the client, as well as a copy of any written response by the investment adviser to any written or oral client request for information on how the adviser voted that client’s proxies.

Investment companies must disclose information about the policies and procedures used to vote proxies on the investment company’s portfolio securities and must file the fund’s proxy voting record with the SEC annually on Form N-PX.

Pursuant thereto, the Advisers have adopted and implemented these proxy voting policies and procedures (the “Proxy Procedures”).

 

 

Policy

It is the Advisers’ policy to comply with Rule 206(4)-6 and Rule 204-2(c)(2) under the Advisers Act as described above. In general, the Advisers delegate proxy voting decisions to the sub-advisers managing the funds. If an instance occurs where a conflict of interest arises between the shareholders and a particular sub-adviser, however, the Adviser retains the right to influence and/or direct the conflicting proxy voting decisions.

 

 

Regulatory Requirement
Rule 206(4)-6 under the Advisers Act

 

Reporting
Form N-PX
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Advisers will provide the Board with notice and a copy of any amendments or revisions to the Procedures and will report quarterly to the Board all material changes to these Proxy Procedures.

 

The CCO’s annual written compliance report to the Board will contain a summary of material changes to the Proxy Procedures during the period covered by the report.

 

If the Advisers or the Designated Person vote any proxies in a manner inconsistent with either these Proxy Procedures or a Fund’s proxy voting policies and procedures, the CCO will provide the Board with a report detailing such exceptions.

 

 

Procedure

Fiduciary Duty

 

The Advisers have a fiduciary duty to vote proxies on behalf of a Fund in the best interest of the Fund and its shareholders.

 

Voting of Proxies - Advisers

 

The Advisers will vote proxies with respect to a Fund’s portfolio securities when authorized to do so by the Fund and subject to the Fund’s proxy voting policies and procedures and any further direction or delegation of authority by the Fund’s Board. The decision on how to vote a proxy will be made by the person(s) to whom the Advisers have from time to time delegated such responsibility (the “Designated Person”). The Designated Person may include the Fund’s portfolio manager(s) or a Proxy Voting Committee, as described below.

 

When voting proxies with respect to a Fund’s portfolio securities, the following standards will apply:

 

•    The Designated Person will vote based on what it believes is in the best interest of the Fund and its shareholders and in accordance with the Fund’s investment guidelines.

 

•    Each voting decision will be made independently. To assist with the analysis of voting issues and/or to carry out the actual voting process the Designated Person may enlist the services of (1) reputable professionals (who may include persons employed by or otherwise associated with the Advisers or any of its affiliated persons) or (2) independent proxy evaluation services such as Institutional Shareholder Services. However, the ultimate decision as to how to vote a proxy will remain the responsibility of the Designated Person.

 

•    The Advisers believe that a good management team of a company will generally act in the best interests of the company. Therefore, the Designated Person will take into consideration as a key factor in voting proxies with respect to securities of a company that are held by the Fund the quality of the company’s management. In general, the Designated Person will vote as recommended by company management except in situations where the Designated Person believes such recommended vote is not in the best interests of the Fund and its shareholders.

 

•    As a general principle, voting with respect to the same portfolio securities held by more than one Fund should be consistent among those Funds having substantially the same investment mandates.

 

•    The Advisers will provide the Fund, from time to time in accordance with the Fund’s proxy voting policies and procedures and any applicable laws and regulations, a record of the Advisers’ voting of proxies with respect to the Fund’s portfolio securities.

 

Material Conflicts of Interest

 

In carrying out its proxy voting responsibilities, the Advisers will monitor and resolve potential material conflicts (“Material Conflicts”) between the interests of (a) a Fund and (b) the Advisers or any of its affiliated persons. Affiliates of the Advisers include Manulife Financial Corporation and its subsidiaries. Material Conflicts may arise, for example, if a proxy vote relates to matters involving any of these companies or other issuers in which the Advisers or any of their affiliates has a substantial equity or other interest.

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If the Advisers or a Designated Person become aware that a proxy voting issue may present a potential Material Conflict, the issue will be referred to the Advisers’ Legal Department and/or the Office of the CCO. If the Legal Department and/or the Office of the CCO, as applicable determines that a potential Material Conflict does exist, a Proxy Voting Committee will be appointed to consider and resolve the issue. The Proxy Voting Committee may make any determination that it considers reasonable and may, if it chooses, request the advice of an independent, third-party proxy service on how to vote the proxy.

 

Voting Proxies of Underlying Funds of a Fund of Funds

 

The Advisers or the Designated Person will vote proxies with respect to the shares of a Fund tha