485BPOS 1 s118182_485bpos.htm 485BPOS

 

FORM N-1A

 

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

  REGISTRATION STATEMENT UNDER THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933 [X]  
           
    Pre-Effective Amendment No. [   ]    
    Post-Effective Amendment No. 142 [X]    
           
    and/or  
           
  REGISTRATION STATEMENT UNDER THE INVESTMENT COMPANY ACT OF 1940 [X]  
           
    Amendment No. 144 [X]    

  

(Check appropriate box or boxes)

 

EXCHANGE LISTED FUNDS TRUST

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Charter)

 

10900 Hefner Pointe Drive

Suite 207

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73120

(Address of Principal Executive Offices, Zip Code)

 

(405) 778-8377

(Registrant’s Telephone Number, including Area Code)

 

J. Garrett Stevens

Exchange Listed Funds Trust

10900 Hefner Pointe Drive

Suite 207

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73120

(Name and Address of Agent for Service)

 

Copy to:

Christopher Menconi

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

1111 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Washington, DC 20004

 

It is proposed that this filing will become effective (check appropriate box):

 

  Immediately upon filing pursuant to paragraph (b)
  On (date) pursuant to paragraph (b)
  60 days after filing pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)
  On (date) pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)
  75 days after filing pursuant to paragraph (a)(2)
  On (date) pursuant to paragraph (a)(2) of Rule 485.

 

If appropriate, check the following box:

 

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

 

 

 

Exchange Listed Funds Trust

 

Prospectus

 

May 10, 2019

 

QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap ETF (Ticker Symbol: QRFT)

QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap Momentum ETF (Ticker Symbol: AMOM)

 

Principal Listing Exchange for the Funds: NYSE Arca, Inc.

 

Neither the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) nor any state securities commission has approved or disapproved of these securities or passed upon the accuracy or adequacy of this Prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 

Beginning on January 1, 2021, as permitted by regulations adopted by the SEC, paper copies of the Funds’ shareholder reports will no longer be sent by mail, unless you specifically request paper copies of the reports from your financial intermediary, such as a broker-dealer or bank. Instead, the reports will be made available on a website, and you will be notified by mail each time a report is posted and provided with a website link to access the report.

 

If you already elected to receive shareholder reports electronically, you will not be affected by this change and you need not take any action. Please contact your financial intermediary to elect to receive shareholder reports and other Fund communications electronically.

 

You may elect to receive all future reports in paper free of charge. Please contact your financial intermediary to inform them that you wish to continue receiving paper copies of your shareholder reports and for details about whether your election to receive reports in paper will apply to all funds held with your financial intermediary.

 

 

About This Prospectus

 

This Prospectus has been arranged into different sections so that you can easily review this important information. For detailed information about the Funds, please see:

 

  Page
Fund Summaries 1
Qraft AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap ETF 1
Qraft AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap Momentum ETF 7
Summary Information About Purchasing and Selling Shares, Taxes and Financial Intermediary Compensation 13
Additional Principal Investment Strategies Information 13
Additional Principal Risk Information 14
Portfolio Holdings 19
Fund Management 19
Portfolio Managers 20
Buying and Selling Fund Shares 20
Distribution and Service Plan 22
Dividends, Distributions and Taxes 22
Additional Information 26
Financial Highlights 27
How to Obtain More Information About the Funds Back Cover

 

 

Fund Summary – QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap ETF

 

Investment Objective

 

The QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap ETF (the “Fund”) seeks capital appreciation.

 

Fees and Expenses

 

This table describes the fees and expenses that you may pay if you buy and hold shares of the Fund. This table and the Example below do not include the brokerage commissions that investors may pay on their purchases and sales of shares.

 

Annual Fund Operating Expenses

(expenses that you pay each year as a percentage of the value of your investment)

Management Fee 0.75%
Distribution and Service (12b-1) Fees 0.00%
Other Expenses1 0.00%
Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses 0.75%

 

1Other Expenses are based on estimated amounts for the current fiscal year.

 

Example

 

This Example is intended to help you compare the cost of investing in the Fund with the cost of investing in other funds. The Example assumes that you invest $10,000 in the Fund for the time periods indicated and then sell all of your shares at the end of those periods. The Example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions your cost would be:

 

1 Year 3 Years
$77 $240

 

Portfolio Turnover

 

The Fund pays transaction costs, such as commissions, when it buys and sells securities (or “turns over” its portfolio). A higher portfolio turnover rate may indicate higher transaction costs and may result in higher taxes when shares of the Fund are held in a taxable account. These costs, which are not reflected in annual fund operating expenses or in the example, affect the Fund’s performance. Because the Fund is new, portfolio turnover information is not yet available.

 

Principal Investment Strategies

 

The Fund is an actively-managed exchange-traded fund (“ETF”) that seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing at least 80% of its net assets, plus the amounts of any borrowings for investment purposes, in securities of U.S.-listed large capitalization companies. The Fund defines large capitalization companies as companies having a market capitalization in excess of $4 billion at the time of purchase. The Fund will invest in equity securities of such companies, including common stock, American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”) and Global Depositary Receipts (“GDRs”). The Fund’s adviser, Exchange Traded Concepts, LLC (the “Adviser”) uses an investment process based on a proprietary artificial intelligence security selection process that extracts patterns from analyzing data, as discussed below, developed by QRAFT Technologies, Inc. (“Qraft”). Qraft is a South Korea-based provider of artificial intelligence investment systems and currently offers services to various financial institutions in Korea. The Adviser has licensed Qraft’s proprietary artificial intelligence security selection process for the management of the Fund.

 

1


In pursuing the Fund’s investment objective, the Adviser consults a database generated by Qraft’s AI Quantitative Investment System (“AQUA”), which automatically selects and weights portfolios of companies to provide a balanced exposure to five main factors affecting the U.S. market (the “Five Factors”): quality (generally, a company’s profitability), size (market capitalization), value (comparison of a company’s market value versus its book value), momentum (a security’s recent price returns compared to the overall market over time), and volatility (a security’s systematic risk as compared to the market as a whole) (the “U.S. Large Cap Database”). In creating the U.S. Large Cap Database, AQUA utilizes automated data feed and data processing using deep learning technologies (i.e., exposure to and processing of large amounts of data). First, on a monthly basis, AQUA automatically sends queries to and collects from various data vendors company fundamental data (such as historical stock prices and other financial information) of all companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ as well as macroeconomic data. AQUA then processes and stores newly received data with stored historical data. AQUA processes such data first by creating five indices each representing one of the Five Factors of companies in the top 20% of U.S.-listed companies based on market capitalization. Then, AQUA compresses such data over the last 60 month period and, using deep learning technologies, evaluates how each individual factor would change and/or affect a company over time and identifies 300 to 350 companies that have the greatest potential to outperform their U.S. large cap peers over the next three-month period. AQUA estimates a weighting for each such company based on its potential for maximum return as compared to other companies, and the final portfolios are then delivered to the U.S. Large Cap Database for use by the Adviser. AQUA repeats such processes on the first business day of every month and the Adviser makes or changes investments in the Fund based on the newly generated information.

 

The Fund expects to hold 300 to 350 companies in its portfolio. While it is anticipated that the Adviser will purchase and sell securities based on recommendations by the U.S. Large Cap Database, the Adviser has full discretion over investment decisions for the Fund. Therefore, the Adviser has full decision-making power not only if it identifies a potential technical issue or error with the U.S. Large Cap Database, but also if it believes that the recommended portfolio does not further the Fund’s investment objective or fails to take into account company events such as corporate actions, mergers and spin-offs. Additionally, the Adviser has discretion over the amount of cash maintained in the Fund’s portfolio and the reinvestment of dividends in the Fund’s portfolio, subject to the Fund’s distribution requirements as a regulated investment company for federal income tax purposes. See “Federal Income Taxes” in the Fund’s Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”) for a more complete discussion. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Fund limits the weighting of a single company to 10% and no more than 40% of the Fund’s assets may be invested in securities with a more than 5% weighting in the Fund’s portfolio. Because the U.S. Large Cap Database is adjusted on a monthly basis, the Adviser expects that the Fund will frequently purchase and sell shares of securities.

 

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While investing in a particular market sector is not a strategy of the Fund, its portfolio may be significantly invested in one or more sectors as a result of the security selection decisions made pursuant to its strategy. Currently, the Fund expects to invest a significant portion of its assets in the securities of companies in the health care sector, although this may change from time to time. The Fund is non-diversified and may invest a greater percentage of its assets in a particular issuer than a diversified fund.

 

Principal Risks

 

As with all funds, a shareholder is subject to the risk that his or her investment could lose money. An investment in the Fund is not a bank deposit and is not insured or guaranteed by the FDIC or any government agency. The principal risks affecting shareholders’ investments in the Fund are set forth below.

 

Common Stock Risk. Common stock holds the lowest priority in the capital structure of a company, and therefore takes the largest share of the company’s risk and its accompanying volatility. The value of the common stock held by the Fund may fall due to general market and economic conditions, perceptions regarding the industries in which the issuers of securities held by the Fund participate, or facts relating to specific companies in which the Fund invests.

 

Depositary Receipt Risk. ADRs and GDRs are subject to the risks associated with investing directly in foreign securities. In addition, investments in ADRs and GDRs may be less liquid than the underlying shares in their primary trading market.

 

Issuer-Specific Risk. Fund performance depends on the performance of individual securities to which the Fund has exposure. Issuer-specific events, including changes in the financial condition of an issuer, can have a negative impact on the value of the Fund.

 

Large Capitalization Risk. Returns on investments in securities of large companies could trail the returns on investments in securities of smaller and mid-sized companies.

 

Limited Authorized Participants, Market Makers and Liquidity Providers Risk. Because the Fund is an ETF, only a limited number of institutional investors (known as “Authorized Participants”) are authorized to purchase and redeem shares directly from the Fund. In addition, there may be a limited number of market makers and/or liquidity providers in the marketplace. To the extent either of the following events occur, shares of the Fund may trade at a material discount to their net asset value (“NAV”) per share and possibly face delisting: (i) Authorized Participants exit the business or otherwise become unable to process creation and/or redemption orders and no other Authorized Participants step forward to perform these services, or (ii) market makers and/or liquidity providers exit the business or significantly reduce their business activities and no other entities step forward to perform their functions.

 

3

 

Management Risk. The Fund is actively-managed and may not meet its investment objective based on the Adviser’s success or failure to implement investment strategies for the Fund. The Fund’s principal investment strategies are dependent upon the use of Qraft’s proprietary artificial intelligence security selection process and, as a result, the Adviser’s skill in understanding and utilizing such process. The achievement of the investment objective of the Fund cannot be guaranteed and the Adviser’s management of the Fund may not produce the intended results.

 

Market Risk. The market price of a security or instrument could decline, sometimes rapidly or unpredictably, due to general market conditions that are not specifically related to a particular company, such as real or perceived adverse economic or political conditions throughout the world, changes in the general outlook for corporate earnings, changes in interest or currency rates or adverse investor sentiment generally. The market value of a security may also decline because of factors that affect a particular industry or industries, such as labor shortages or increased production costs and competitive conditions within an industry.

 

Models and Data Risk. The Fund relies heavily on a proprietary artificial intelligence selection model as well as data and information supplied by third parties that are utilized by such model. To the extent the model does not perform as designed or as intended, the Fund’s strategy may not be successfully implemented and the Fund may lose value. If the model or data are incorrect or incomplete, any decisions made in reliance thereon may lead to the inclusion or exclusion of securities that would have been excluded or included had the model or data been correct and complete.

 

New/Smaller Fund Risk. A new or smaller fund is subject to the risk that its performance may not represent how the fund is expected to or may perform in the long term. In addition, new funds have limited operating histories for investors to evaluate and new and smaller funds may not attract sufficient assets to achieve investment and trading efficiencies. There can be no assurance that the Fund will achieve an economically viable size, in which case it could ultimately liquidate. The Fund may be liquidated by the Board of Trustees without a shareholder vote. In a liquidation, shareholders of the Fund will receive an amount equal to the Fund’s NAV, after deducting the costs of liquidation, including the transaction costs of disposing of the Fund’s portfolio investments. Receipt of a liquidation distribution may have negative tax consequences for shareholders. Additionally, during the Fund’s liquidation all or a portion of the Fund’s portfolio may be invested in a manner not consistent with its investment objective and investment policies.

 

Non-Diversification Risk. The Fund is non-diversified, meaning that, as compared to a diversified fund, it can invest a greater percentage of its assets in securities issued by or representing a small number of issuers. As a result, the performance of these issuers can have a substantial impact on the Fund’s performance. However, the Fund intends to comply with certain diversification requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Internal Revenue Code”) to qualify for tax treatment as a regulated investment company. See “Federal Income Taxes” in the Fund’s SAI for a more complete discussion.

 

4

 

Operational Risk. The Fund and its service providers may experience disruptions that arise from human error, processing and communications errors, counterparty or third-party errors, technology or systems failures, any of which may have an adverse impact on the Fund.

 

Portfolio Turnover Risk. The Fund’s investment strategy is expected to result in high portfolio turnover, which may result in increased transaction costs and may lower Fund performance.

 

Sector Focus Risk. The Fund may invest a significant portion of its assets in one or more sectors and thus will be more susceptible to the risks affecting those sectors. While the Fund’s sector exposure is expected to vary over time, the Fund anticipates that it may be subject to some or all of the risks described below. The list below is not a comprehensive list of the sectors to which the Fund may have exposure over time and should not be relied on as such. 

 

Health Care Sector Risk. Companies in the health care sector are subject to extensive government regulation and their profitability can be significantly affected by restrictions on government reimbursement for medical expenses, rising costs of medical products and services, pricing pressure (including price discounting), limited product lines, an increased emphasis on the delivery of health care through outpatient services, loss or impairment of intellectual property rights and litigation regarding product or service liability.

 

Trading Risk. Shares of the Fund may trade on NYSE Arca, Inc. (the “Exchange”) above or below their NAV. The NAV of shares of the Fund will fluctuate with changes in the market value of the Fund’s holdings. In addition, although the Fund’s shares are currently listed on the Exchange, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for shares will develop or be maintained. Trading in Fund shares may be halted due to market conditions or for reasons that, in the view of the Exchange, make trading in shares of the Fund inadvisable.

 

Performance Information

 

The Fund is new and therefore has no performance history. Once the Fund has completed a full calendar year of operations, a bar chart and table will be included that will provide some indication of the risks of investing in the Fund by comparing the Fund’s return to a broad measure of market performance.

 

Investment Adviser

 

Exchange Traded Concepts, LLC serves as the investment adviser to the Fund.

 

Portfolio Managers

 

Andrew Serowik, Portfolio Manager of the Adviser, has served as a portfolio manager of the Fund since its inception in 2019.

 

5

 

Travis Trampe, Portfolio Manager of the Adviser, has served as a portfolio manager of the Fund since its inception in 2019.

 

For important information about the purchase and sale of shares of the Fund and tax information, please turn to “Summary Information about Purchasing and Selling Shares, Taxes, and Financial Intermediary Compensation” on page 13 of the Prospectus.

 

6

 

Fund Summary – QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap Momentum ETF

 

Investment Objective

 

The QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap Momentum ETF (the “Fund”) seeks capital appreciation.

 

Fees and Expenses

 

This table describes the fees and expenses that you may pay if you buy and hold shares of the Fund. This table and the Example below do not include the brokerage commissions that investors may pay on their purchases and sales of shares.

 

Annual Fund Operating Expenses

(expenses that you pay each year as a percentage of the value of your investment)

Management Fee 0.75%
Distribution and Service (12b-1) Fees 0.00%
Other Expenses1 0.00%
Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses 0.75%

 

1Other Expenses are based on estimated amounts for the current fiscal year.

 

Example

 

This Example is intended to help you compare the cost of investing in the Fund with the cost of investing in other funds. The Example assumes that you invest $10,000 in the Fund for the time periods indicated and then sell all of your shares at the end of those periods. The Example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions your cost would be:

 

1 Year 3 Years
$77 $240

 

Portfolio Turnover

 

The Fund pays transaction costs, such as commissions, when it buys and sells securities (or “turns over” its portfolio). A higher portfolio turnover rate may indicate higher transaction costs and may result in higher taxes when shares of the Fund are held in a taxable account. These costs, which are not reflected in annual fund operating expenses or in the example, affect the Fund’s performance. Because the Fund is new, portfolio turnover information is not yet available.

 

7

 

Principal Investment Strategies

 

The Fund is an actively-managed exchange-traded fund (“ETF”) that seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing at least 80% of its net assets, plus the amounts of any borrowings for investment purposes, in securities of U.S.-listed large capitalization companies. The Fund defines large capitalization companies as companies having a market capitalization in excess of $4 billion at the time of purchase. The Fund will invest in equity securities of such companies, including common stock, American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”) and Global Depositary Receipts (“GDRs”). The Fund’s adviser, Exchange Traded Concepts, LLC (the “Adviser”) uses an investment process based on a proprietary artificial intelligence security selection process that extracts patterns from analyzing data, as discussed below, developed by QRAFT Technologies, Inc. (“Qraft”). Qraft is a South Korea-based provider of artificial intelligence investment systems and currently offers services to various financial institutions in Korea. The Adviser has licensed Qraft’s proprietary artificial intelligence security selection process for the management of the Fund.

 

In pursuing the Fund’s investment objective, the Adviser consults a database generated by Qraft’s AI Quantitative Investment System (“AQUA”), which automatically selects and weights portfolios of U.S. large cap companies to provide exposure to a portfolio of 50 companies that have had higher residual returns relative to their similar-sized peers (based on market capitalization) over a rolling 3 to 36 month period. A stock’s “residual return” equals its total return after removal of market, size and value risks factored into portfolio construction under conventional portfolio management. Use of “residual momentum” rather than conventional momentum to construct a portfolio is based on the stock management theory that stocks with higher residual returns have the potential to perform better and more consistently over time than conventional momentum stocks. AQUA’s AI system finds a period within those 3 to 36 months that resulted in the best performance of stocks in the past and ranks those stocks by their residual returns (the “Momentum Database”). AQUA then uses a proprietary statistical analysis method to calculate and identify a set of parameters that contributed to the stocks’ outperformance during the period. AQUA then assigns weightings to stocks within the Momentum Database to select a portfolio of investments that, based on AQUA’s analysis, are expected to perform well in the future under the assumption that the same optimal parameters will occur or continue in the future. AQUA re-calculates these parameters and weightings every six months.

 

In creating the eligible universe for the Momentum Database, AQUA utilizes automated data feed and data processing using deep learning technologies (i.e., exposure to and processing large amounts of data). First, every two months, AQUA automatically sends queries to and collects from various data vendors company fundamental data (such as historical stock prices and other financial information) of all companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ as well as macroeconomic data. AQUA processes and stores newly received data with stored historical data. AQUA analyzes the historical price data of the top 20% of U.S.-listed companies based on market capitalization. The final portfolios are then delivered to the Momentum Database for use by the Adviser. AQUA repeats such processes on the first business day of January, March, May, July, September, and November, and the Adviser makes or changes investments in the Fund based on the newly generated information.

 

8

 

While it is anticipated that the Adviser will purchase and sell securities based on recommendations of the Momentum Database, the Adviser has full discretion over investment decisions for the Fund. Therefore, the Adviser has full decision-making power not only if it identifies a potential technical issue or error with the Momentum Database, but also if it believes that the recommended portfolio does not further the Fund’s investment objective or fails to take into account company events such as corporate actions, mergers and spin-offs. Additionally, the Adviser has discretion over the amount of cash maintained in the Fund’s portfolio and the reinvestment of dividends in the Fund’s portfolio, subject to the Fund’s distribution requirements as a regulated investment company for federal income tax purposes. See “Federal Income Taxes” in the Fund’s Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”) for a more complete discussion. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Fund limits the weighting of a single company to 10% and no more than 40% of the Fund’s assets may be invested in securities with a more than 5% weighting in the Fund’s portfolio. Due to frequency of the adjustment of the portfolios in the Momentum Database, the Adviser expects that the Fund will frequently purchase and sell shares of securities.

 

While investing in a particular market sector is not a strategy of the Fund, its portfolio may be significantly invested in one or more sectors as a result of the security selection decisions made pursuant to its strategy. Currently, the Fund expects to invest a significant portion of its assets in the securities of companies in the information technology sector, although this may change from time to time. The Fund is non-diversified and may invest a greater percentage of its assets in a particular issuer than a diversified fund.

 

Principal Risks

 

As with all funds, a shareholder is subject to the risk that his or her investment could lose money. An investment in the Fund is not a bank deposit and is not insured or guaranteed by the FDIC or any government agency. The principal risks affecting shareholders’ investments in the Fund are set forth below.

 

Common Stock Risk. Common stock holds the lowest priority in the capital structure of a company, and therefore takes the largest share of the company’s risk and its accompanying volatility. The value of the common stock held by the Fund may fall due to general market and economic conditions, perceptions regarding the industries in which the issuers of securities held by the Fund participate, or facts relating to specific companies in which the Fund invests.

 

Depositary Receipt Risk. ADRs and GDRs are subject to the risks associated with investing directly in foreign securities. In addition, investments in ADRs and GDRs may be less liquid than the underlying shares in their primary trading market.

 

Issuer-Specific Risk. Fund performance depends on the performance of individual securities to which the Fund has exposure. Issuer-specific events, including changes in the financial condition of an issuer, can have a negative impact on the value of the Fund.

 

9

 

Large Capitalization Risk. Returns on investments in securities of large companies could trail the returns on investments in securities of smaller and mid-sized companies.

 

Limited Authorized Participants, Market Makers and Liquidity Providers Risk. Because the Fund is an exchange-traded fund (“ETF”), only a limited number of institutional investors (known as “Authorized Participants”) are authorized to purchase and redeem shares directly from the Fund. In addition, there may be a limited number of market makers and/or liquidity providers in the marketplace. To the extent either of the following events occur, shares of the Fund may trade at a material discount to their net asset value (“NAV”) per share and possibly face delisting: (i) Authorized Participants exit the business or otherwise become unable to process creation and/or redemption orders and no other Authorized Participants step forward to perform these services, or (ii) market makers and/or liquidity providers exit the business or significantly reduce their business activities and no other entities step forward to perform their functions.

 

Management Risk. The Fund is actively-managed and may not meet its investment objective based on the Adviser’s success or failure to implement investment strategies for the Fund. The Fund’s principal investment strategies are dependent upon the use of Qraft’s proprietary artificial intelligence security selection process and, as a result, the Adviser’s skill in understanding and utilizing such processes. The achievement of the investment objective of the Fund cannot be guaranteed and the Adviser’s management of the Fund may not produce the intended results.

 

Market Risk. The market price of a security or instrument could decline, sometimes rapidly or unpredictably, due to general market conditions that are not specifically related to a particular company, such as real or perceived adverse economic or political conditions throughout the world, changes in the general outlook for corporate earnings, changes in interest or currency rates or adverse investor sentiment generally. The market value of a security may also decline because of factors that affect a particular industry or industries, such as labor shortages or increased production costs and competitive conditions within an industry.

 

Models and Data Risk. The Fund relies heavily on a proprietary artificial intelligence selection model as well as data and information supplied by third parties that are utilized by such model. To the extent the model does not perform as designed or as intended, the Fund’s strategy may not be successfully implemented and the Fund may lose value. If the model or data are incorrect or incomplete, any decisions made in reliance thereon may lead to the inclusion or exclusion of securities that would have been excluded or included had the model or data been correct and complete.

 

New/Smaller Fund Risk. A new or smaller fund is subject to the risk that its performance may not represent how the fund is expected to or may perform in the long term. In addition, new funds have limited operating histories for investors to evaluate and new and smaller funds may not attract sufficient assets to achieve investment and trading efficiencies. There can be no assurance that the Fund will achieve an economically viable size, in which case it could ultimately liquidate. The Fund may be liquidated by the Board of Trustees without a shareholder vote. In a liquidation, shareholders of the Fund will receive an amount equal to the Fund’s NAV, after deducting the costs of liquidation, including the transaction costs of disposing of the Fund’s portfolio investments. Receipt of a liquidation distribution may have negative tax consequences for shareholders. Additionally, during the Fund’s liquidation all or a portion of the Fund’s portfolio may be invested in a manner not consistent with its investment objective and investment policies.

 

10

 

Non-Diversification Risk. The Fund is non-diversified, meaning that, as compared to a diversified fund, it can invest a greater percentage of its assets in securities issued by or representing a small number of issuers. As a result, the performance of these issuers can have a substantial impact on the Fund’s performance. However, the Fund intends to comply with certain diversification requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Code to qualify for tax treatment as a regulated investment company. See “Federal Income Taxes” in the Fund’s SAI for a more complete discussion.

 

Operational Risk. The Fund and its service providers may experience disruptions that arise from human error, processing and communications errors, counterparty or third-party errors, technology or systems failures, any of which may have an adverse impact on the Fund.

 

Portfolio Turnover Risk. The Fund’s investment strategy is expected to result in high portfolio turnover, which may result in increased transaction costs and may lower Fund performance.

 

Sector Focus Risk. The Fund may invest a significant portion of its assets in one or more sectors and thus will be more susceptible to the risks affecting those sectors. While the Fund’s sector exposure is expected to vary over time, the Fund anticipates that it may be subject to some or all of the risks described below. The list below is not a comprehensive list of the sectors to which the Fund may have exposure over time and should not be relied on as such. 

 

Information Technology Sector Risk. The Fund is subject to the risk that market or economic factors impacting technology companies and companies that rely heavily on technology advances could have a major effect on the value of the Fund’s investments. The value of stocks of technology companies and companies that rely heavily on technology is particularly vulnerable to rapid changes in technology product cycles, rapid product obsolescence, government regulation and competition, both domestically and internationally, including competition from foreign competitors with lower production costs.

 

Trading Risk. Shares of the Fund may trade on NYSE Arca, Inc. (the “Exchange”) above or below their NAV. The NAV of shares of the Fund will fluctuate with changes in the market value of the Fund’s holdings. In addition, although the Fund’s shares are currently listed on the Exchange, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for shares will develop or be maintained. Trading in Fund shares may be halted due to market conditions or for reasons that, in the view of the Exchange, make trading in shares of the Fund inadvisable.

 

Performance Information

 

The Fund is new and therefore has no performance history. Once the Fund has completed a full calendar year of operations, a bar chart and table will be included that will provide some indication of the risks of investing in the Fund by comparing the Fund’s return to a broad measure of market performance.

 

11

 

Investment Adviser

 

Exchange Traded Concepts, LLC serves as the investment adviser to the Fund.

 

Portfolio Manager

 

Andrew Serowik, Portfolio Manager of the Adviser, has served as a portfolio manager of the Fund since its inception in 2019.

 

Travis Trampe, Portfolio Manager of the Adviser, has served as a portfolio manager of the Fund since its inception in 2019.

 

For important information about the purchase and sale of shares of the Fund and tax information, please turn to “Summary Information about Purchasing and Selling Shares, Taxes, and Financial Intermediary Compensation” on page 13 of the Prospectus.

 

12

 

Summary Information About Purchasing and Selling Shares, Taxes and Financial Intermediary Compensation

 

Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares

 

Each of the QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap ETF and QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap Momentum ETF (each a “Fund,” and together, the “Funds”) will issue (or redeem) shares to certain institutional investors (typically market makers or other broker-dealers) only in large blocks of at least 25,000 shares known as “Creation Units.” Creation Unit transactions are typically conducted in exchange for the deposit or delivery of a portfolio of securities closely approximating the holdings of the Fund and a specified amount of cash. Individual shares may only be purchased and sold on a national securities exchange through a broker-dealer. You can purchase and sell individual shares of each Fund throughout the trading day like any publicly traded security. Each Fund’s shares are listed on the Exchange. The price of each Fund’s shares is based on market price, and because exchange-traded fund shares trade at market prices rather than NAV, shares may trade at a price greater than NAV (premium) or less than NAV (discount). Except when aggregated in Creation Units, each Fund’s shares are not redeemable securities.

 

Tax Information

 

Distributions made by the Funds may be taxable as ordinary income, qualified dividend income, or long-term capital gains, unless you are investing through a tax-advantaged arrangement, such as a 401(k) plan or individual retirement account. In that case, you may be taxed when you take a distribution from such account, depending on the type of account, the circumstances of your distribution, and other factors.

 

Payments to Broker-Dealers and Other Financial Intermediaries

 

If you purchase shares of the Funds through a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary (such as a bank), each Fund and its related companies may pay the intermediary for the sale of Fund shares and related services. These payments may create a conflict of interest by influencing the broker-dealer or other intermediary and your salesperson to recommend a Fund over another investment. Ask your salesperson or visit your financial intermediary’s web site for more information.

 

Additional Principal Investment Strategies Information

 

Each Fund is an actively managed ETF and uses an active investment strategy to seek to meet its investment objective. The Adviser, subject to the oversight of the Board, has discretion on a daily basis to manage each Fund’s portfolio in accordance with the Fund’s investment objective and investment policies. Each Fund’s investment objective is a non-fundamental investment policy and may be changed without shareholder approval. Each Fund’s policy to invest at least 80% of its net assets, plus the amount of any borrowings for investment purposes, in securities of U.S. large capitalization companies may be changed without shareholder approval, upon 60 days’ notice to shareholders.

 

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Each Fund may lend portfolio securities to certain creditworthy borrowers. Securities lending involves exposure to certain risks, including operational risk (i.e., the risk of losses resulting from problems in the settlement and accounting process), “gap” risk (i.e., the risk of a mismatch between the return on cash collateral reinvestments and the fees a Fund has agreed to pay a borrower), and credit, legal, counterparty and market risk. In the event a borrower does not return a Fund’s securities as agreed, the Fund may experience losses if the proceeds received from liquidating the collateral do not at least equal the value of the loaned security at the time the collateral is liquidated plus the transaction costs incurred in purchasing replacement securities.

 

In response to actual or perceived adverse market, economic, political, or other conditions, each Fund may (but will not necessarily), without notice, depart from its principal investment strategies by temporarily investing for defensive purposes. Temporary defensive positions may include, but are not limited to, cash, cash equivalents, U.S. government securities, repurchase agreements collateralized by such securities, money market funds, and high-quality debt investments. If a Fund invests for defensive purposes, it may not achieve its investment objective. In addition, the defensive strategy may not work as intended.

 

Additional Principal Risk Information

 

The following section provides additional information regarding the principal risks of the Funds. Risk information is applicable to each Fund unless otherwise noted.

 

Common Stock Risk. Common stock holds the lowest priority in the capital structure of a company, and therefore takes the largest share of the company’s risk and its accompanying volatility. Holders of common stocks incur more risk than holders of preferred stocks and debt obligations because common stockholders, as owners of the issuer, generally have inferior rights to receive payments from the issuer in comparison with the rights of creditors or holders of debt obligations or preferred stocks. Further, unlike debt securities, which typically have a stated principal amount payable at maturity (whose value, however, is subject to market fluctuations prior thereto), or preferred stocks, which typically have a liquidation preference and which may have stated optional or mandatory redemption provisions, common stocks have neither a fixed principal amount nor a maturity. An adverse event, such as an unfavorable earnings report, may depress the value of a particular common stock. Also, prices of common stocks are susceptible to general stock market fluctuations and economic conditions and to volatile increases and decreases in value as market confidence and perceptions change. These investor perceptions are based on various and unpredictable factors, including expectations regarding government, economic, monetary and fiscal policies; inflation and interest rates; economic expansion or contraction; and global or regional political, economic or banking crises.

 

Depositary Receipt Risk. ADRs and GDRs are subject to the risks associated with investing directly in foreign securities. ADRs are dollar-denominated depositary receipts typically issued by an American bank or trust company that evidence an ownership interest in a security or pool of securities issued by a foreign corporation. ADRs are listed and traded in the United States and designed for use in the U.S. securities markets. GDRs are similar to ADRs, but are shares of foreign-based corporations generally issued by international banks in one or more markets around the world. GDRs are tradable both in the United States and in Europe and are designed for use throughout the world. ADRs and GDRs are subject to the risks associated with investing directly in foreign securities. In addition, investments in ADRs and GDRs may be less liquid than the underlying shares in their primary trading market and GDRs, many of which are issued by companies in emerging markets, may be more volatile.

 

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Issuer-Specific Risk. Changes in the financial condition of an issuer, changes in specific economic or political conditions that affect a particular type of security or issuer, and changes in general economic or political conditions can affect a security’s or instrument’s value. The value of securities of smaller, less well-known issuers can be more volatile than that of larger issuers. Issuer-specific events can have a negative impact on the value of a Fund.

 

Large-Capitalization Risk. Returns on investments in securities of large companies could trail the returns on investments in securities of smaller and mid-sized companies. The securities of large-capitalization companies may also be relatively mature compared to smaller companies and therefore subject to slower growth during times of economic expansion. Large-capitalization companies may also be unable to respond quickly to new competitive challenges, such as changes in technology and consumer tastes.

 

Limited Authorized Participants, Market Makers and Liquidity Providers Risk. Only an Authorized Participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with a Fund. Each Fund has a limited number of financial institutions that may act as Authorized Participants. In addition, there may be a limited number of market makers and/or liquidity providers in the marketplace. To the extent either of the following events occur, a Fund’s shares may trade at a material discount to NAV and possibly face delisting: (i) Authorized Participants exit the business or otherwise become unable to process creation and/or redemption orders and no other Authorized Participants step forward to perform these services, or (ii) market makers and/or liquidity providers exit the business or significantly reduce their business activities and no other entities step forward to perform their functions. An active trading market for shares of a Fund may not develop or be maintained, and, particularly during times of market stress, Authorized Participants or market makers may step away from their respective roles in making a market in shares of a Fund and in executing purchase or redemption orders. This could, in turn, lead to variances between the market price of a Fund’s shares and the value of its underlying securities.

 

Management Risk. Each Fund is actively-managed and may not meet its investment objective based on the Adviser’s success or failure to implement investment strategies for the Fund. While each Fund’s investment program was designed with a view to achieving a Fund’s investment objective, there can be no assurance or guarantee that a Fund will achieve its stated investment objective over short- or long-term market cycles. Various legislative, regulatory, or tax restrictions, policies or developments may affect the success of a Fund’s investment program and investment techniques utilized by a Fund.

 

Market Risk. An investment in the Funds involves risks similar to those of investing in any fund of equity securities, such as market fluctuations caused by such factors as economic and political developments, changes in interest rates and perceived trends in securities prices. The values of equity securities could decline generally or could underperform other investments. Different types of equity securities tend to go through cycles of out-performance and under-performance in comparison to the general securities markets. In addition, securities may decline in value due to factors affecting a specific issuer, market or securities markets generally.

 

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Models and Data Risk. Each Fund relies heavily on a proprietary artificial intelligence selection model as well as data and information supplied by third parties that are utilized by such model. To the extent the model does not perform as designed or as intended, each Fund’s strategy may not be successfully implemented and a Fund may lose value. If the model or data are incorrect or incomplete, any decisions made in reliance thereon may lead to the inclusion or exclusion of securities that would have been excluded or included had the model or data been correct and complete. The use of predictive models has inherent risks. For example, such models may incorrectly forecast future behavior, leading to potential losses. In addition, in unforeseen or certain low-probability scenarios (often involving a market disruption of some kind), such models may produce unexpected results, which can result in losses for the Fund. Furthermore, because predictive models are usually constructed based on historical data supplied by third parties, the success of relying on such models may depend heavily on the accuracy and reliability of the supplied historical data.

 

New/Smaller Fund Risk. A new or smaller fund’s performance may not represent how the fund is expected to or may perform in the long term if and when it becomes larger and has fully implemented its investment strategies. Investment positions may have a disproportionate impact (negative or positive) on performance in new and smaller funds. New and smaller funds may also require a period of time before they are fully invested in securities that meet their investment objectives and policies and achieve a representative portfolio composition. Fund performance may be lower or higher during this “ramp-up” period, and may also be more volatile, than would be the case after the fund is fully invested. Similarly, a new or smaller Fund’s investment strategy may require a longer period of time to show returns that are representative of the strategy. New funds have limited performance histories for investors to evaluate and new and smaller funds may not attract sufficient assets to achieve investment and trading efficiencies. If a new or smaller Fund were to fail to successfully implement its investment strategies or achieve its investment objective, performance may be negatively impacted. Further, when a fund’s size is small, the fund may experience low trading volumes and wide bid/ask spreads. In addition, the fund may face the risk of being delisted if the fund does not meet certain conditions of the listing exchange. If the fund were to be required to delist from the listing exchange, the value of the fund may rapidly decline and performance may be negatively impacted. There can be no assurance that a Fund will achieve an economically viable size. Any of the foregoing may result in a Fund being liquidated. The Fund may be liquidated by the Board of Trustees without a shareholder vote. In a liquidation, shareholders of a Fund will receive an amount equal to the Fund’s NAV, after the deducting the costs of liquidation, including the transaction costs of disposing of the Fund’s portfolio investments. Receipt of a liquidation distribution may have negative tax consequences for shareholders. Additionally, during a Fund’s liquidation all or a portion of the Fund’s portfolio may be invested in a manner not consistent with its investment objective and investment policies.

 

Non-Diversification Risk. Each Fund is considered to be non-diversified, which means that it may invest more of its assets in the securities of a single issuer or a smaller number of issuers than if it were a diversified fund. As a result, each Fund may be more exposed to the risks associated with and developments affecting an individual issuer or a smaller number of issuers than a fund that invests more widely. This may increase a Fund’s volatility and cause the performance of a relatively smaller number of issuers to have a greater impact on the Fund’s performance. However, each Fund intends to comply with certain diversification requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Code to qualify for tax treatment as a regulated investment company. See “Federal Income Taxes” in the Funds’ SAI for a more complete discussion.

 

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Operational Risk. Your ability to transact in shares or the valuation of your investment may be negatively impacted because of the operational risks arising from factors such as processing errors and human errors, inadequate or failed internal or external processes, failures in systems and technology, changes in personnel, and errors caused by third party service providers or trading counterparties. Although each Fund attempts to minimize such failures through controls and oversight, it is not possible to identify all of the operational risks that may affect the Fund or to develop processes and controls that completely eliminate or mitigate the occurrence of such failures. Each Fund and its shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result.

 

Portfolio Turnover Risk. High portfolio turnover may result in increased transaction costs and, to the extent a Fund does not dispose of securities through an in-kind redemption, may also result in a substantial amount of distributions from the Fund to be characterized as short-term capital gain distributions. Short-term capital gain distributions from a Fund are subject to tax at ordinary income tax rates and are to be reported by shareholders as ordinary income on their U.S. federal income tax returns. These factors may lower Fund performance.

 

Sector Focus Risk. Each Fund may invest a significant portion of its assets in one or more sectors and thus will be more susceptible to the risks affecting those sectors. While each Fund’s sector exposure is expected to vary over time, each Fund anticipates that it may be subject to some or all of the risks described below. The list below is not a comprehensive list of the sectors to which the Funds may have exposure over time and should not be relied on as such. 

 

Health Care Sector Risk (QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap ETF only). Companies in the health care sector are subject to extensive government regulation and their profitability can be significantly affected by restrictions on government reimbursement for medical expenses, rising costs of medical products and services, pricing pressure (including price discounting), limited product lines and an increased emphasis on the delivery of health care through outpatient services. Companies in the health care sector are heavily dependent on obtaining and defending patents, which may be time consuming and costly, and the expiration of patents may also adversely affect the profitability of these companies. Health care companies are also subject to extensive litigation based on product liability and similar claims. In addition, their products can become obsolete due to industry innovation, changes in technologies or other market developments. Many new products in the health care sector require significant research and development and may be subject to regulatory approvals, all of which may be time consuming and costly with no guarantee that any product will come to market.

 

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Information Technology Sector Risk (QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap Momentum ETF only). The Fund is subject to the risk that market or economic factors impacting technology companies and companies that rely heavily on technology advances could have a major effect on the value of the Fund’s investments. The value of stocks of technology companies and companies that rely heavily on technology is particularly vulnerable to rapid changes in technology product cycles, rapid product obsolescence, the loss of patent, copyright and trademark protections, government regulation and competition, both domestically and internationally, including competition from foreign competitors with lower production costs. Technology companies and companies that rely heavily on technology, especially those of smaller, less-seasoned companies, tend to be more volatile than the overall market. Technology companies are heavily dependent on patent and intellectual property rights, the loss or impairment of which may adversely affect profitability. Additionally, companies in the technology sector may face dramatic and often unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel.

 

Trading Risk. Although the shares of each Fund are listed for trading on a listing exchange, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained. Secondary market trading in a Fund’s shares may be halted by a listing exchange because of market conditions or for other reasons. In addition, trading in a Fund’s shares is subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to “circuit breaker” rules. There can be no assurance that the requirements necessary to maintain the listing of the shares will continue to be met or will remain unchanged.

 

Shares of a Fund may trade at, above or below their most recent NAV. The per share NAV of each Fund is calculated at the end of each business day and fluctuates with changes in the market value of a Fund’s holdings since the prior most recent calculation. The trading prices of a Fund’s shares will fluctuate continuously throughout trading hours based on market supply and demand. The trading prices of a Fund’s shares may deviate significantly from NAV during periods of market volatility. These factors, among others, may lead to a Fund’s shares trading at a premium or discount to NAV. However, given that shares can be created and redeemed only in Creation Units at NAV (unlike shares of many closed-end funds, which frequently trade at appreciable discounts from, and sometimes at premiums to, their NAVs), the Adviser does not believe that large discounts or premiums to NAV will exist for extended periods of time. While the creation/redemption feature is designed to make it likely that a Fund’s shares normally will trade close to its NAV, exchange prices are not expected to correlate exactly with NAV due to timing reasons as well as market supply and demand factors. In addition, disruptions to creations and redemptions or the existence of extreme volatility may result in trading prices that differ significantly from NAV. If a shareholder purchases at a time when the market price of a Fund is at a premium to its NAV or sells at time when the market price is at a discount to the NAV, the shareholder may sustain losses.

 

Investors buying or selling shares in the secondary market will pay brokerage commissions or other charges imposed by brokers as determined by that broker. Brokerage commissions are often a fixed amount and may be a significant proportional cost for investors seeking to buy or sell relatively small amounts of shares. In addition, secondary market investors will also incur the cost of the difference between the price that an investor is willing to pay for shares (the “bid” price) and the price at which an investor is willing to sell shares (the “ask” price). This difference in bid and ask prices is often referred to as the “spread” or “bid/ask spread.” The bid/ask spread varies over time for shares based on trading volume and market liquidity, and is generally lower if a Fund’s shares have more trading volume and market liquidity and higher if a Fund’s shares have little trading volume and market liquidity. Further, increased market volatility may cause increased bid/ask spreads. Due to the costs of buying or selling shares, including bid/ask spreads, frequent trading of shares may significantly reduce investment results and an investment in shares may not be advisable for investors who anticipate regularly making small investments.

 

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Portfolio Holdings

 

As actively-managed ETFs, each Fund’s full portfolio holdings are made available daily on the Fund’s website. A description of each Fund’s policies and procedures with respect to the disclosure of the Fund’s portfolio securities is available in the Funds’ SAI.

 

Fund Management

 

Adviser. Exchange Traded Concepts, LLC, or the Adviser, an Oklahoma limited liability company, is located at 10900 Hefner Pointe Drive, Suite 207, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73120, its primary place of business, and 295 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10017. The Adviser was formed in 2009 and provides investment advisory services to other exchange-traded funds. Under an investment advisory agreement between the Trust, on behalf of the Funds, and the Adviser, the Adviser provides investment advisory services to the Funds. The Adviser is responsible for, among other things, trading portfolio securities on behalf of the Funds, including selecting broker-dealers to execute purchase and sale transactions or in connection with any rebalancing or reconstitution of a Fund’s portfolio, subject to the supervision of the Board. The Adviser also arranges for transfer agency, custody, fund administration and accounting, and other non-distribution related services necessary for the Funds to operate. The Adviser administers each Fund’s business affairs, provides office facilities and equipment and certain clerical, bookkeeping and administrative services, and provides its officers and employees to serve as officers or Trustees of the Trust. For the services it provides to the Funds, each Fund pays the Adviser a fee, which is calculated daily and paid monthly, at an annual rate of 0.75% of the average daily net assets of the Fund.

 

Under the investment advisory agreement, the Adviser has agreed to pay all expenses incurred by the Funds except for the advisory fee, interest, taxes, brokerage commissions and other expenses incurred in placing orders for the purchase and sale of securities and other investment instruments, acquired fund fees and expenses, extraordinary expenses, and distribution fees and expenses paid by a Fund under any distribution plan adopted pursuant to Rule 12b-1 under the 1940 Act (the “Excluded Expenses”).

 

Pursuant to an SEC exemptive order and subject to the conditions of that order, the Adviser may, with Board approval but without shareholder approval, change or select new sub-advisers, materially amend the terms of an agreement with a sub-adviser (including an increase in its fee), or continue the employment of a sub-adviser after an event that would otherwise cause the automatic termination of services. Shareholders will be notified of any sub-adviser changes.

 

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A discussion regarding the basis for the Board’s approval of the investment advisory agreement with the Adviser will be available in the Funds’ first Annual or Semi-Annual Report to Shareholders.

 

Fund Sponsor. QRAFT Technologies, Inc. is the Funds’ sponsor. The Adviser has entered into an agreement with Qraft whereby the Qraft assumes the obligation of the Adviser to pay all expenses of the Funds, except Excluded Expenses. Qraft will also provide marketing support for the Funds including, but not limited to, distributing each Fund’s materials and providing the Funds with access to and the use of Qraft’s other marketing capabilities, including communications through print and electronic media. For its services, Qraft is entitled to a fee from the Adviser, which is calculated daily and paid monthly, based on a percentage of the average daily net assets of each Fund.

 

Portfolio Managers

 

Andrew Serowik and Travis Trampe are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Funds.

 

Mr. Serowik joined the Adviser from Goldman Sachs in May 2018. He began his career at Spear, Leeds & Kellogg, continuing with Goldman after its acquisition of SLK. During his career of more than 18 years at the combined companies, he held various roles, including managing the global Quant ETF Strats team and One Delta ETF Strats. He designed and developed systems for portfolio risk calculation, algorithmic ETF trading, and execution monitoring, with experience across all asset classes. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance.

 

Mr. Trampe joined the Adviser in May 2018 and has over 17 years of investment management experience, including over 10 years as portfolio manager for passive and active strategies including fully replicated, optimized and swap-based funds for Invesco PowerShares, FocusShares and other sponsors. He has extensive knowledge in trading, research, and analysis within US and Global Equity markets, including UCITS. He was responsible for building internal portfolio management capabilities, trading and infrastructure and daily operations. He graduated with Highest Distinction Honors from the Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and a minor in Mathematics.

 

The SAI provides additional information about the portfolio managers’ compensation, other accounts managed, and ownership of Fund shares.

 

Buying and Selling Fund Shares

 

Shares of each Fund are listed for trading on the Exchange. When you buy or sell shares of a Fund on the secondary market, you will pay or receive the market price. You may incur customary brokerage commissions and charges and may pay some or all of the spread between the bid and the offered price in the secondary market on each leg of a round trip (purchase and sale) transaction. The shares of a Fund will trade on the Exchange at prices that may differ to varying degrees from the daily NAV of such shares. A “Business Day” with respect to a Fund is any day on which the Exchange is open for business. The Exchange is generally open Monday through Friday and is closed on weekends and the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

 

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NAV per share for each Fund is computed by dividing the value of the net assets of the Fund (i.e., the value of its total assets less total liabilities) by its total number of shares outstanding. Expenses and fees, including management and distribution fees, if any, are accrued daily and taken into account for purposes of determining NAV. NAV is determined each business day, normally as of the close of regular trading of the New York Stock Exchange (ordinarily 4:00 p.m., Eastern time).

 

The Exchange (or market data vendors or other information providers) will disseminate, every fifteen seconds during the regular trading day, an intraday value of shares of a Fund, also known as the “intraday indicative value,” or IIV. The IIV calculations are estimates of the value of a Fund’s NAV per share and are based on the current market value of the securities and/or cash required to be deposited in exchange for a Creation Unit. Premiums and discounts between the IIV and the market price may occur. The IIV does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities held by a Fund at a particular point in time or the best possible valuation of the current portfolio. Therefore, it should not be viewed as a “real-time” update of the NAV per share of a Fund, which is calculated only once a day. The quotations of certain holdings of a Fund may not be updated during U.S. trading hours if such holdings do not trade in the United States. Neither the Funds, the Adviser, nor any of their affiliates are involved in, or responsible for, the calculation or dissemination of the IIV and make no warranty as to their accuracy.

 

When determining NAV, the value of a Fund’s portfolio securities is based on market prices of the securities, which generally means a valuation obtained from an exchange or other market (or based on a price quotation or other equivalent indication of the value supplied by an exchange or other market) or a valuation obtained from an independent pricing service. If a security’s market price is not readily available or does not otherwise accurately reflect the fair value of the security, the security will be valued by another method that the Trust’s Valuation Committee believes will better reflect fair value in accordance with the Trust’s valuation policies and procedures, which were approved by the Board. Fair value pricing may be used in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to, situations when the value of a security in a Fund’s portfolio has been materially affected by events occurring after the close of the market on which the security is principally traded but prior to the close of the Exchange (such as in the case of a corporate action or other news that may materially affect the price of a security) or trading in a security has been suspended or halted. Accordingly, a Fund’s NAV may reflect certain portfolio securities’ fair values rather than their market prices.

 

Fair value pricing involves subjective judgments and it is possible that a fair value determination for a security will materially differ from the value that could be realized upon the sale of the security.

 

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Frequent Purchases and Redemptions of Fund Shares

 

The Funds do not impose any restrictions on the frequency of purchases and redemptions of Creation Units; however, each Fund reserves the right to reject or limit purchases at any time as described in the SAI. When considering that no restriction or policy was necessary, the Board evaluated the risks posed by arbitrage and market timing activities, such as whether frequent purchases and redemptions would interfere with the efficient implementation of a Fund’s investment strategy, or whether they would cause a Fund to experience increased transaction costs. The Board considered that, unlike traditional mutual funds, shares of each Fund are issued and redeemed only in large quantities of shares known as Creation Units available only from the Funds directly to Authorized Participants, and that most trading in the Funds occurs on the Exchange at prevailing market prices and does not involve the Funds directly. Given this structure, the Board determined that it is unlikely that trading due to arbitrage opportunities or market timing by shareholders would result in negative impact to a Fund or its shareholders. In addition, frequent trading of shares of a Fund done by Authorized Participants and arbitrageurs is critical to ensuring that the market price remains at or close to NAV.

 

Distribution and Service Plan

 

Each Fund has adopted a Distribution and Service Plan in accordance with Rule 12b-1 under the 1940 Act pursuant to which payments of up to 0.25% of a Fund’s average daily net assets may be made for the sale and distribution of its shares. However, the Board has determined that no payments pursuant to the Distribution and Service Plan will be made for at least the first twelve (12) months of operation. Thereafter, 12b-1 fees may only be imposed after approval by the Board. Because these fees, if imposed, would be paid out of a Fund’s assets on an on-going basis, if payments are made in the future, these fees will increase the cost of your investment and may cost you more than paying other types of sales charges.

 

Dividends, Distributions and Taxes

 

Fund Distributions

 

Each Fund pays out dividends from its net investment income at least annually and distributes its net capital gains, if any, to investors at least annually.

 

Dividend Reinvestment Service

 

Brokers may make available to their customers who own shares of a Fund the Depository Trust Company book-entry dividend reinvestment service. If this service is available and used, dividend distributions of both income and capital gains will automatically be reinvested in additional whole shares of the applicable Fund purchased on the secondary market. Without this service, investors would receive their distributions in cash. To determine whether the dividend reinvestment service is available and whether there is a commission or other charge for using this service, consult your broker. Brokers may require a Fund’s shareholders to adhere to specific procedures and timetables.

 

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Tax Information

 

The following is a summary of some important U.S. federal income tax issues that affect each Fund and its shareholders. The summary is based on current tax laws, which may be changed by legislative, judicial or administrative action. You should not consider this summary to be a comprehensive explanation of the tax treatment of the Funds, or the tax consequences of an investment in the Funds. More information about taxes is located in the SAI.

 

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”) made significant changes to the U.S. federal income tax rules for taxation of individuals and corporations, generally effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017. Many of the changes applicable to individuals are temporary and only apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2026. There are only minor changes with respect to the specific rules applicable to a regulated investment company, such as a Fund. The Tax Act, however, makes numerous other changes to the tax rules that may affect shareholders and the Funds. You are urged to consult with your own tax advisor regarding how the Tax Act affects your investment in the Funds.

 

You are urged to consult your tax adviser regarding specific questions as to federal, state, and local income taxes, including specific guidance regarding the impact of the Tax Act on the tax effects of your investment in the Fund.

 

Tax Status of the Funds

 

Each Fund intends to qualify for the special tax treatment afforded to regulated investment companies under the Internal Revenue Code. If a Fund maintains its qualification as a regulated investment company and meets certain minimum distribution requirements, then each Fund is generally not subject to tax at the fund level on income and gains from investments that are timely distributed to shareholders. However, if a Fund fails to qualify as a regulated investment company or to meet minimum distribution requirements it would result (if certain relief provisions were not available) in fund-level taxation and consequently a reduction in income available for distribution to shareholders.

 

Unless you are a tax-exempt entity or your investment in shares of a Fund is made through a tax-deferred retirement account, such as an individual retirement account, you need to be aware of the possible tax consequences when each Fund makes distributions, you sell your shares and you purchase or redeem Creation Units (institutional investors only).

 

Tax Status of Distributions

 

Each Fund intends to distribute for each year substantially all of its net investment income and net capital gains income.

 

Dividends and distributions are generally taxable to you whether you receive them in cash or reinvest them in additional shares.

 

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The income dividends you receive from a Fund may be taxed as either ordinary income or “qualified dividend income.” Dividends that are reported by the Funds as qualified dividend income are generally taxable to non-corporate shareholders at a maximum tax rate currently set at 20% (lower rates apply to individuals in lower tax brackets). Qualified dividend income generally is income derived from dividends paid to a Fund by U.S. corporations or certain foreign corporations that are either incorporated in a U.S. possession or eligible for tax benefits under certain U.S. income tax treaties. In addition, dividends that a Fund receives in respect of stock of certain foreign corporations may be qualified dividend income if that stock is readily tradable on an established U.S. securities market. For such dividends to be taxed as qualified dividend income to a non-corporate shareholder, a Fund must satisfy certain holding period requirements with respect to the underlying stock and the non-corporate shareholder must satisfy holding period requirements with respect to his or her ownership of a Fund’s shares. Holding periods may be suspended for these purposes for stock that is hedged.

 

Distributions of a Fund’s short-term capital gains are generally taxable as ordinary income. Distributions of a Fund’s net capital gain (the excess of the Fund’s net long-term capital gains over its net short-term capital losses) are taxable as long-term capital gains regardless of how long you have owned your shares. For non-corporate shareholders, long-term capital gains are generally taxable at a maximum tax rate currently set at 20% (lower rates apply to individuals in lower tax brackets).

 

U.S. individuals with income exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 if married and filing jointly) are subject to a 3.8% Medicare contribution tax on all or a portion of their “net investment income,” which includes interest, dividends, and certain capital gains (including certain capital gain distributions and capital gains realized on the sale of shares of a Fund). This 3.8% tax also applies to all or a portion of the undistributed net investment income of certain shareholders that are estates and trusts.

 

Corporate shareholders may be entitled to a dividends-received deduction for the portion of dividends they receive from a Fund that are attributable to dividends received by a Fund from U.S. corporations, subject to certain limitations.

 

Distributions paid in January but declared by a Fund in October, November or December of the previous year payable to shareholders of record in such a month may be taxable to you in the previous year.

 

You should note that if you purchase shares of a Fund just before a distribution, the purchase price would reflect the amount of the upcoming distribution. In this case, you would be taxed on the entire amount of the distribution received, even though, as an economic matter, the distribution simply constitutes a return of your investment. This is known as “buying a dividend” and should be avoided by taxable investors.

 

A Fund (or your broker) will inform you of the amount of your ordinary income dividends, qualified dividend income, and net capital gain distributions shortly after the close of each calendar year.

 

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Tax Status of Share Transactions. Each sale of a Fund’s shares or redemption of Creation Units will generally be a taxable event to you. Any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of a Fund’s shares is generally treated as a long-term gain or loss if such shares have been held for more than twelve months. Any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of a Fund’s shares held for twelve months or less is generally treated as short-term gain or loss. Any capital loss on the sale of shares of a Fund held for six months or less is treated as long-term capital loss to the extent distributions of long-term capital gain were paid (or treated as paid) with respect to such shares. Any loss realized on a sale will be disallowed to the extent shares of a Fund are acquired, including through reinvestment of dividends, within a 61-day period beginning 30 days before and ending 30 days after the disposition of such shares. For tax purposes, an exchange of shares for shares of a different fund is the same as a sale.

 

A person who exchanges securities for Creation Units generally will recognize gain or loss from the exchange. The gain or loss will be equal to the difference between (i) the market value of the Creation Units at the time of the exchange plus any cash received in the exchange and (ii) the exchanger’s aggregate basis in the securities surrendered plus any cash paid for the Creation Units. A person who exchanges Creation Units for securities will generally recognize a gain or loss equal to the difference between (i) the exchanger’s basis in the Creation Units and (ii) the aggregate market value of the securities and the amount of cash received. The Internal Revenue Service, however, may assert that a loss that is realized upon an exchange of securities for Creation Units may not be currently deducted under the rules governing “wash sales” (for a person who does not mark-to-market their holdings), or on the basis that there has been no significant change in economic position.

 

Each Fund may include cash when paying the redemption price for Creation Units in addition to, or in place of, the delivery of a basket of securities. Each Fund may be required to sell portfolio securities in order to obtain the cash needed to distribute redemption proceeds. This may cause a Fund to recognize investment income and/or capital gains or losses that it might not have recognized if it had completely satisfied the redemption in-kind. As a result, each Fund may be less tax efficient if it includes such a cash payment than if the in-kind redemption process was used.

 

To the extent a Fund invests in foreign securities, it may be subject to foreign withholding taxes with respect to dividends or interest the Fund received from sources in foreign countries. If more than 50% of the total assets of a Fund consist of foreign securities, the Fund will be eligible to elect to treat some of those taxes as a distribution to shareholders, which may allow shareholders to offset some of their U.S. federal income tax. A Fund (or your broker) will notify you if it makes such an election and provide you with the information necessary to reflect foreign taxes paid on your income tax return.

 

Non-U.S. Investors. If you are a nonresident alien individual or a foreign corporation, trust or estate, (i) a Fund’s ordinary income dividends will generally be subject to a 30% U.S. withholding tax, unless a lower treaty rate applies, but (ii) gains from the sale or other disposition of shares of a Fund generally are not subject to U.S. taxation, unless you are a nonresident alien individual who is physically present in the U.S. for 183 days or more per year. A Fund may, under certain circumstances, report all or a portion of a dividend as an “interest-related dividend” or a “short-term capital gain dividend,” which would generally be exempt from this 30% U.S. withholding tax, provided certain other requirements are met. Different tax consequences may result if you are a foreign shareholder engaged in a trade or business within the United States or if you are a foreign shareholder entitled to claim the benefits of a tax treaty.

 

25

 

Backup Withholding. A Fund (or financial intermediaries, such as brokers, through which shareholders own shares of a Fund) generally is required to withhold and to remit to the U.S. Treasury a percentage of the taxable distributions and the sale or redemption proceeds paid to any shareholder who fails to properly furnish a correct taxpayer identification number, who has under-reported dividend or interest income, or who fails to certify that he, she or it is not subject to such withholding.

 

The foregoing discussion summarizes some of the consequences under current U.S. federal income tax law of an investment in the Funds. It is not a substitute for personal tax advice. Consult your personal tax advisor about the potential tax consequences of an investment in the Funds under all applicable tax laws.

 

Additional Information

 

Investments by Other Registered Investment Companies

 

For purposes of the 1940 Act, each Fund is treated as a registered investment company. Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act restricts investments by investment companies in the securities of other investment companies, including shares of the Funds. The SEC has issued an exemptive order on which the Trust relies permitting registered investment companies to invest in exchange-traded funds offered by the Trust, including the Funds, beyond the limits of Section 12(d)(1) subject to certain terms and conditions, including that such registered investment companies enter into an agreement with the Trust.

 

Continuous Offering

 

The method by which Creation Units are purchased and traded may raise certain issues under applicable securities laws. Because new Creation Units are issued and sold by each Fund on an ongoing basis, at any point a “distribution,” as such term is used in the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), may occur. Broker-dealers and other persons are cautioned that some activities on their part may, depending on the circumstances, result in their being deemed participants in a distribution in a manner which could render them statutory underwriters and subject them to the Prospectus delivery and liability provisions of the Securities Act.

 

For example, a broker-dealer firm or its client may be deemed a statutory underwriter if it takes Creation Units after placing an order with the distributor, breaks them down into individual shares, and sells such shares directly to customers, or if it chooses to couple the creation of a supply of new shares with an active selling effort involving solicitation of secondary market demand for shares of a Fund. A determination of whether one is an underwriter for purposes of the Securities Act must take into account all the facts and circumstances pertaining to the activities of the broker-dealer or its client in the particular case, and the examples mentioned above should not be considered a complete description of all the activities that could lead to categorization as an underwriter.

 

26

 

Broker-dealer firms should also note that dealers who are not “underwriters” but are effecting transactions in shares of a Fund, whether or not participating in the distribution of shares of such Fund, are generally required to deliver a prospectus. This is because the prospectus delivery exemption in Section 4(a)(3) of the Securities Act is not available with respect to such transactions as a result of Section 24(d) of the 1940 Act. As a result, broker dealer-firms should note that dealers who are not underwriters but are participating in a distribution (as contrasted with ordinary secondary market transactions) and thus dealing with shares of a Fund that are part of an over-allotment within the meaning of Section 4(a)(3)(a) of the Securities Act would be unable to take advantage of the prospectus delivery exemption provided by Section 4(a)(3) of the Securities Act. Firms that incur a prospectus delivery obligation with respect to shares of a Fund are reminded that under Rule 153 under the Securities Act, a prospectus delivery obligation under Section 5(b)(2) of the Securities Act owed to an exchange member in connection with a sale on the Exchange is satisfied by the fact that such Fund’s Prospectus is available on the SEC’s electronic filing system. The prospectus delivery mechanism provided in Rule 153 is only available with respect to transactions on an exchange.

 

Premium/Discount Information

 

The Funds are new and therefore do not have any information regarding how often shares traded on the Exchange at a price above (i.e., at a premium) or below (i.e., at a discount) the NAV of each Fund. This information will be available, however, at www.qraftaietf.com after the Funds’ shares have traded on the Exchange for a full calendar quarter.

 

Financial Highlights

 

No financial highlights information is available for the Funds because they are new and have not commenced operations.

 

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Exchange Listed Funds Trust

10900 Hefner Pointe Drive, Suite 207

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73120

 

ANNUAL/SEMI-ANNUAL REPORTS TO SHAREHOLDERS

 

Additional information about each Fund’s investments will be available in the Funds’ annual and semi-annual reports to shareholders. In the annual report, when available, you will find a discussion of the market conditions and investment strategies that significantly affected each Fund’s performance during its last fiscal year.

 

STATEMENT OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (SAI)

 

The SAI provides more detailed information about the Funds. The SAI is incorporated by reference into, and is thus legally a part of, this Prospectus.

 

HOUSEHOLDING

 

Householding is an option available to certain Fund investors. Householding is a method of delivery, based on the preference of the individual investor, in which a single copy of certain shareholder documents can be delivered to investors who share the same address, even if their accounts are registered under different names. Please contact your broker-dealer if you are interested in enrolling in householding and receiving a single copy of prospectuses and other shareholder documents, or if you are currently enrolled in householding and wish to change your householding status.

 

HOW TO OBTAIN MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE FUNDS

 

To request a free copy of the latest annual or semi-annual report (when available), the SAI, or to request additional information about the Funds or to make other inquiries, please contact us as follows:

 

Call:

1-855-973-7880

Monday through Friday

8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Eastern time)

Write:

Exchange Listed Funds Trust

10900 Hefner Pointe Drive, Suite 207

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73120

       
Visit: www.qraftaietf.com    

 

The SAI and other information are also available from a financial intermediary (such as a broker-dealer or bank) through which the Fund’s shares may be purchased or sold.

 

INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

 

Reports and other information about the Funds are available in the EDGAR Database at http://www.sec.gov, and copies of this information also may be obtained, after paying a duplicating fee, by emailing the SEC at publicinfo@sec.gov.

 

The Trust’s Investment Company Act file number: 811-22700

 

 

STATEMENT OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

 

QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap ETF

 

Ticker Symbol: QRFT

 

QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap Momentum ETF

 

TICKER sYMBOL: AMOM

 

(THE “FUNDS”)

 

each, a series of EXCHANGE LISTED FUNDS TRUST (the “Trust”)

 

May 10, 2019

 

Principal Listing Exchange for the Funds: NYSE Arca, Inc.

 

Investment Adviser: 

Exchange Traded Concepts, LLC

 

This Statement of Additional Information (the “SAI”) is not a prospectus. The SAI should be read in conjunction with the Funds’ prospectus, dated May 10, 2019, as may be revised from time to time (the “Prospectus”). Capitalized terms used herein that are not defined have the same meaning as in the Prospectus, unless otherwise noted. A copy of the Prospectus may be obtained without charge by writing the Funds’ distributor, Foreside Fund Services, LLC, at Three Canal Plaza, Suite 100, Portland, Maine 04101, by visiting the Funds’ website at www.qraftaietf.com, or by calling toll-free 1-855-973-7880.

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE TRUST 1
INFORMATION ABOUT INVESTMENT POLICIES, PERMITTED INVESTMENTS, AND RELATED RISKS 1
INVESTMENT RESTRICTIONS 16
EXCHANGE LISTING AND TRADING 18
MANAGEMENT OF THE TRUST 19
CODES OF ETHICS 24
PROXY VOTING POLICIES 25
INVESTMENT ADVISORY AND OTHER SERVICES 25
THE PORTFOLIO MANAGERS 26
THE DISTRIBUTOR 26
THE ADMINISTRATORS 28
THE CUSTODIAN 28
THE TRANSFER AGENT 28
COMPLIANCE SERVICES 28
LEGAL COUNSEL 28
INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM 28
PORTFOLIO HOLDINGS DISCLOSURE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES 28
DESCRIPTION OF SHARES 29
LIMITATION OF TRUSTEES’ LIABILITY 29
BROKERAGE TRANSACTIONS 29
PORTFOLIO TURNOVER RATE 31
BOOK ENTRY ONLY SYSTEM 31
CONTROL PERSONS AND PRINCIPAL HOLDERS OF SECURITIES 32
PURCHASE AND REDEMPTION OF SHARES IN CREATION UNITS 32
DETERMINATION OF NET ASSET VALUE 39
DIVIDENDS AND DISTRIBUTIONS 40
FEDERAL INCOME TAXES 40
FINANCIAL STATEMENTS 47
EXHIBIT A: PROXY VOTING POLICY AND PROCEDURES A-1

 

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GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE TRUST

 

Exchange Listed Funds Trust (formerly, Exchange Traded Concepts Trust II) (the “Trust”) is an open-end management investment company consisting of multiple investment series. This SAI relates to the QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap ETF and the QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap Momentum ETF (each, a “Fund” and together, the “Funds”). The Trust was organized as a Delaware statutory trust on July 17, 2009. The Trust is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”), as an open-end management investment company, and the offering of each Fund’s shares is registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”). Exchange Traded Concepts, LLC (the “Adviser”) serves as the investment adviser to the Funds. The investment objective of each Fund is to seek capital appreciation.

 

Each Fund offers and issues shares at its net asset value (“NAV”) only in aggregations of a specified number of shares (each, a “Creation Unit”). Each Fund generally offers and issues shares in exchange for a basket of securities closely approximating the holdings of the Fund (“Deposit Securities”) together with the deposit of a specified cash payment (“Cash Component”). The Trust reserves the right to permit or require the substitution of a “cash in lieu” amount (“Deposit Cash”) to be added to the Cash Component to replace any Deposit Security. Each Fund’s shares are listed on NYSE Arca, Inc. (the “Exchange”) and trade on the Exchange at market prices. These prices may differ from the shares’ NAV per share. Each Fund’s shares are redeemable only in Creation Unit aggregations, and generally in exchange for portfolio securities and a specified cash payment. A Creation Unit of each Fund consists of at least 25,000 shares.

 

INFORMATION ABOUT INVESTMENT POLICIES, PERMITTED INVESTMENTS, AND RELATED RISKS

 

Each Fund’s principal investment strategies and principal risks are described in the Prospectus.

 

An investment in a Fund should be made with an understanding that the value of a Fund’s portfolio securities may fluctuate in accordance with changes in the financial condition of the issuers of the portfolio securities, the value of securities generally and other factors. An investment in a Fund should also be made with an understanding of the risks inherent in an investment in securities, including the risk that the financial condition of issuers may become impaired or that the general condition of the securities markets may deteriorate (either of which may cause a decrease in the value of the portfolio securities and thus in the value of shares of a Fund). Securities are susceptible to general market fluctuations and to volatile increases and decreases in value as market confidence in and perceptions of their issuers change. These investor perceptions are based on various and unpredictable factors including expectations regarding government, economic, monetary and fiscal policies, inflation and interest rates, economic expansion or contraction, and global or regional political, economic and banking crises.

 

NON-DIVERSIFICATION

 

Each Fund is classified as a non-diversified investment company under the 1940 Act. A “non-diversified” classification means that a Fund is not limited by the 1940 Act with regard to the percentage of its assets that may be invested in the securities of a single issuer. This means that each Fund may invest a greater portion of its assets in the securities of a single issuer than a diversified fund. The securities of a particular issuer may constitute a greater portion of a Fund’s portfolio. This may have an adverse effect on a Fund’s performance or subject a Fund’s shares to greater price volatility than more diversified investment companies. Moreover, in pursuing its objective, each Fund may hold the securities of a single issuer in an amount exceeding 10% of the market value of the outstanding securities of the issuer, subject to restrictions imposed by the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Internal Revenue Code”). In particular, as a Fund’s size grows and its assets increase, it will be more likely to hold more than 10% of the securities of a single issuer if the issuer has a relatively small public float.

 

The following are descriptions of the permitted investments and investment practices and the associated risk factors. Each Fund will only invest in any of the following instruments or engage in any of the following investment practices if such investment or activity is consistent with the Fund’s investment objective and permitted by the Fund’s stated investment policies. A discussion of the risks associated with an investment in each Fund is contained in the Prospectus. The discussion below supplements, and should be read in conjunction with, these sections.

 

1

 

EQUITY SECURITIES

 

Equity securities represent ownership interests in a company and include common stocks, preferred stocks, warrants to acquire common stock, and securities convertible into common stock. Investments in equity securities in general are subject to market risks that may cause their prices to fluctuate over time. Fluctuations in the value of equity securities in which a Funds invests will cause the NAV of a Fund to fluctuate.

 

Common Stocks. Common stocks represent units of ownership in a company. Common stocks usually carry voting rights and earn dividends. Unlike preferred stocks, which are described below, dividends on common stocks are not fixed but are declared at the discretion of the company’s board of directors. Holders of common stocks incur more risk than holders of preferred stocks and debt obligations because common stockholders, as owners of the issuer, have generally inferior rights to receive payments from the issuer in comparison with the rights of creditors of, or holders of debt obligations or preferred stocks issued by, the issuer. Further, unlike debt securities which typically have a stated principal amount payable at maturity (whose value, however, will be subject to market fluctuations prior thereto), or preferred stocks which typically have a liquidation preference and which may have stated optional or mandatory redemption provisions, common stocks have neither a fixed principal amount nor a maturity. Common stock values are subject to market fluctuations as long as the common stock remains outstanding.

 

Preferred Stocks. Preferred stocks are also units of ownership in a company. Preferred stocks normally have preference over common stock in the payment of dividends and the liquidation of the company. However, in all other respects, preferred stocks are subordinated to the liabilities of the issuer. Unlike common stocks, preferred stocks are generally not entitled to vote on corporate matters. Types of preferred stocks include adjustable-rate preferred stock, fixed dividend preferred stock, perpetual preferred stock, and sinking fund preferred stock. Generally, the market values of preferred stock with a fixed dividend rate and no conversion element varies inversely with interest rates and perceived credit risk.

 

Convertible Securities. Convertible securities are securities that may be exchanged for, converted into, or exercised to acquire a predetermined number of shares of the issuer’s common stock at a fund’s option during a specified time period (such as convertible preferred stocks, convertible debentures and warrants). A convertible security is generally a fixed income security that is senior to common stock in an issuer’s capital structure, but is usually subordinated to similar non-convertible securities. In exchange for the conversion feature, many corporations will pay a lower rate of interest on convertible securities than debt securities of the same corporation. In general, the market value of a convertible security is at least the higher of its “investment value” (i.e., its value as a fixed income security) or its “conversion value” (i.e., its value upon conversion into its underlying common stock).

 

Convertible securities are subject to the same risks as similar securities without the convertible feature. The price of a convertible security is more volatile during times of steady interest rates than other types of debt securities. The price of a convertible security tends to increase as the market value of the underlying stock rises, whereas it tends to decrease as the market value of the underlying common stock declines.

 

Rights and Warrants. A right is a privilege granted to existing shareholders of a corporation to subscribe to shares of a new issue of common stock before it is issued. Rights normally have a short life of usually two to four weeks, are freely transferable and entitle the holder to buy the new common stock at a lower price than the public offering price. Warrants are securities that are usually issued together with a debt security or preferred stock and that give the holder the right to buy proportionate amount of common stock at a specified price. Warrants are freely transferable and are traded on major exchanges. Unlike rights, warrants normally have a life that is measured in years and entitles the holder to buy common stock of a company at a price that is usually higher than the market price at the time the warrant is issued. Corporations often issue warrants to make the accompanying debt security more attractive.

 

An investment in warrants and rights may entail greater risks than certain other types of investments. Generally, rights and warrants do not carry the right to receive dividends or exercise voting rights with respect to the underlying securities, and they do not represent any rights in the assets of the issuer. In addition, their value does not necessarily change with the value of the underlying securities, and they cease to have value if they are not exercised on or before their expiration date. Investing in rights and warrants increases the potential profit or loss to be realized from the investment as compared with investing the same amount in the underlying securities.

 

2

 

Master Limited Partnerships (“MLPs”). MLPs are limited partnerships or limited liability companies, whose partnership units or limited liability interests are listed and traded on a U.S. securities exchange, and are treated as publicly traded partnerships for federal income tax purposes. To qualify to be treated as a partnership for tax purposes, an MLP must receive at least 90% of its income from qualifying sources as set forth in Section 7704(d) of the Internal Revenue. These qualifying sources include activities such as the exploration, development, mining, production, processing, refining, transportation, storage and marketing of mineral or natural resources. MLPs generally have two classes of owners, the general partner and limited partners. MLPs that are formed as limited liability companies generally have two analogous classes of owners, the managing member and the members. For purposes of this section, references to general partners also apply to managing members and references to limited partners also apply to members. The general partner is typically owned by a major energy company, an investment fund, the direct management of the MLP or is an entity owned by one or more of such parties. The general partner may be structured as a private or publicly traded corporation or other entity. The general partner typically controls the operations and management of the MLP through an equity interest of as much as 2% in the MLP plus, in many cases, ownership of common units and subordinated units. Limited partners own the remainder of the MLP through ownership of common units and have a limited role in the MLP’s operations and management.

 

MLPs are typically structured such that common units and general partner interests have first priority to receive quarterly cash distributions up to an established minimum amount (“minimum quarterly distributions” or “MQD”). Common and general partner interests also accrue arrearages in distributions to the extent the MQD is not paid. Once common and general partner interests have been paid, subordinated units receive distributions of up to the MQD; however, subordinated units do not accrue arrearages. Distributable cash in excess of the MQD paid to both common and subordinated units is distributed to both common and subordinated units generally on a pro rata basis. The general partner is also eligible to receive incentive distributions if the general partner operates the business in a manner which results in distributions paid per common unit surpassing specified target levels. As the general partner increases cash distributions to the limited partners, the general partner receives an increasingly higher percentage of the incremental cash distributions. A common arrangement provides that the general partner can reach a tier where it receives 50% of every incremental dollar paid to common and subordinated unit holders. These incentive distributions encourage the general partner to streamline costs, increase capital expenditures and acquire assets in order to increase the partnership’s cash flow and raise the quarterly cash distribution in order to reach higher tiers.

 

General partner interests of MLPs are typically retained by an MLP’s original sponsors, such as its founders, corporate partners, entities that sell assets to the MLP and investors such as us. A holder of general partner interests can be liable under certain circumstances for amounts greater than the amount of the holder’s investment in the general partner interest. General partner interests often confer direct board participation rights and in many cases, operating control, over the MLP. These interests themselves are not publicly traded, although they may be owned by publicly traded entities. General partner interests receive cash distributions, typically 2% of the MLP’s aggregate cash distributions, which are contractually defined in the partnership agreement. In addition, holders of general partner interests typically hold incentive distribution rights (“IDRs”), which provide them with a larger share of the aggregate MLP cash distributions as the distributions to limited partner unit holders are increased to prescribed levels. General partner interests generally cannot be converted into common units. The general partner interest can be redeemed by the MLP if the MLP unitholders choose to remove the general partner, typically with a supermajority vote by limited partner unitholders.

 

Royalty Trusts. A royalty trust generally acquires an interest in natural resource companies or chemical companies and distributes the income it receives to the investors of the royalty trust. A sustained decline in demand for crude oil, natural gas and refined petroleum products could adversely affect income and royalty trust revenues and cash flows. Factors that could lead to a decrease in market demand include a recession or other adverse economic conditions, an increase in the market price of the underlying commodity, higher taxes or other regulatory actions that increase costs, or a shift in consumer demand for such products. A rising interest rate environment could adversely impact the performance of royalty trusts. Rising interest rates could limit the capital appreciation of royalty trusts because of the increased availability of alternative investments at more competitive yields.

 

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General Risks of Investing in Stocks. While investing in stocks allows investors to participate in the benefits of owning a company, such investors must accept the risks of ownership. Unlike bondholders, who have preference to a company’s earnings and cash flow, preferred stockholders, followed by common stockholders in order of priority, are entitled only to the residual amount after a company meets its other obligations. For this reason, the value of a company’s stock will usually react more strongly to actual or perceived changes in the company’s financial condition or prospects than its debt obligations. Stockholders of a company that fares poorly can lose money.

 

Stock markets tend to move in cycles with short or extended periods of rising and falling stock prices. The value of a company’s stock may fall because of:

 

Factors that directly relate to that company, such as decisions made by its management or lower demand for the company’s products or services;

Factors affecting an entire industry, such as increases in production costs; and

Changes in general financial market conditions that are relatively unrelated to the company or its industry, such as changes in interest rates, currency exchange rates or inflation rates.

 

Because preferred stock is generally junior to debt securities and other obligations of the issuer, deterioration in the credit quality of the issuer will cause greater changes in the value of a preferred stock than in a more senior debt security with similar stated yield characteristics.

 

Small- and Medium-Sized Companies. Investors in small- and medium-sized companies typically take on greater risk and price volatility than they would by investing in larger, more established companies. This increased risk may be due to the greater business risks of their small or medium size, limited markets and financial resources, narrow product lines and frequent lack of management depth. The securities of small- and medium-sized companies are often traded in the over-the-counter market and might not be traded in volumes typical of securities traded on a national securities exchange. Thus, the securities of small and medium capitalization companies are likely to be less liquid, and subject to more abrupt or erratic market movements, than securities of larger, more established companies.

 

Large-Sized Companies. Investments in large capitalization companies may go in and out of favor based on market and economic conditions and may underperform other market segments. Some large capitalization companies may be unable to respond quickly to new competitive challenges, such as changes in technology and consumer tastes, and may not be able to attain the high growth rate of successful smaller companies, especially during extended periods of economic expansion. As such, returns on investments in stocks of large capitalization companies could trail the returns on investments in stocks of small and mid-capitalization companies.

 

FOREIGN SECURITIES

 

Foreign Issuers. Each Fund may invest a portion of its assets in securities of issuers located outside the United States directly, or in financial instruments that are indirectly linked to the performance of foreign issuers. Examples of such financial instruments include depositary receipts, which are described further below, “ordinary shares,” and “New York shares” issued and traded in the United States. Ordinary shares are shares of foreign issuers that are traded abroad and on a United States exchange. New York shares are shares that a foreign issuer has allocated for trading in the United States. American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”), ordinary shares, and New York shares all may be purchased with and sold for U.S. dollars, which protects a Fund from the foreign settlement risks described below.

 

Investing in foreign companies may involve risks not typically associated with investing in United States companies. The U.S. dollar value of securities of foreign issuers and of distributions in foreign currencies from such securities, can change significantly when foreign currencies strengthen or weaken relative to the U.S. dollar. Foreign securities markets generally have less trading volume and less liquidity than United States markets, and prices in some foreign markets can be very volatile compared to those of domestic securities. Therefore, either Fund’s investment in foreign securities may be less liquid and subject to more rapid and erratic price movements than comparable securities listed for trading on U.S. exchanges. Non-U.S. equity securities may trade at price/earnings multiples higher than comparable U.S. securities and such levels may not be sustainable. There may be less government supervision and regulation of foreign stock exchanges, brokers, banks and listed companies abroad than in the U.S. Moreover, settlement practices for transactions in foreign markets may differ from those in U.S. markets. Such differences may include delays beyond periods customary in the U.S. and practices, such as delivery of securities prior to receipt of payment, which increase the likelihood of a failed settlement, which can result in losses to a Fund. The value of non-U.S. investments and the investment income derived from them may also be affected unfavorably by changes in currency exchange control regulations. Foreign brokerage commissions, custodial expenses and other fees are also generally higher than for securities traded in the U.S. This may cause a Fund to incur higher portfolio transaction costs than domestic equity funds. Fluctuations in exchange rates may also affect the earning power and asset value of the foreign entity issuing a security, even one denominated in U.S. dollars. Dividend and interest payments may be repatriated based on the exchange rate at the time of disbursement, and restrictions on capital flows may be imposed. Many foreign countries lack uniform accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards comparable to those that apply to United States companies, and it may be more difficult to obtain reliable information regarding a foreign issuer’s financial condition and operations. In addition, the costs of foreign investing, including withholding taxes, brokerage commissions, and custodial fees, generally are higher than for United States investments.

 

4

 

Investing in companies located abroad carries political and economic risks distinct from those associated with investing in companies located in the United States. Foreign investment may be affected by actions of foreign governments adverse to the interests of United States investors, including the possibility of expropriation or nationalization of assets, confiscatory taxation, restrictions on United States investment, or on the ability to repatriate assets or to convert currency into U.S. dollars. There may be a greater possibility of default by foreign governments or foreign-government sponsored enterprises. Losses and other expenses may be incurred in converting between various currencies in connection with purchases and sales of foreign securities. Investments in foreign countries also involve a risk of local political, economic, or social instability, military action or unrest, or adverse diplomatic developments.

 

Investing in companies domiciled in emerging market countries may be subject to greater risks than investments in developed countries. These risks include: (i) less social, political, and economic stability; (ii) greater illiquidity and price volatility due to smaller or limited local capital markets for such securities, or low or non-existent trading volumes; (iii) foreign exchanges and broker-dealers may be subject to less scrutiny and regulation by local authorities; (iv) local governments may decide to seize or confiscate securities held by foreign investors and/or local governments may decide to suspend or limit an issuer’s ability to make dividend or interest payments; (v) local governments may limit or entirely restrict repatriation of invested capital, profits, and dividends; (vi) capital gains may be subject to local taxation, including on a retroactive basis; (vii) issuers facing restrictions on dollar or euro payments imposed by local governments may attempt to make dividend or interest payments to foreign investors in the local currency; (viii) investors may experience difficulty in enforcing legal claims related to the securities and/or local judges may favor the interests of the issuer over those of foreign investors; (ix) bankruptcy judgments may only be permitted to be paid in the local currency; (x) limited public information regarding the issuer may result in greater difficulty in determining market valuations of the securities, and (xi) lax financial reporting on a regular basis, substandard disclosure, and differences in accounting standards may make it difficult to ascertain the financial health of an issuer.

 

Depositary Receipts. Either Fund’s investment in securities of foreign companies may be in the form of depositary receipts or other securities convertible into securities of foreign issuers. ADRs are dollar-denominated receipts representing interests in the securities of a foreign issuer, which securities may not necessarily be denominated in the same currency as the securities into which they may be converted. ADRs are receipts typically issued by United States banks and trust companies which evidence ownership of underlying securities issued by a foreign corporation. Generally, ADRs in registered form are designed for use in domestic securities markets and are traded on exchanges or over-the-counter in the United States. American Depositary Shares (ADSs) are U.S. dollar-denominated equity shares of a foreign-based company available for purchase on an American stock exchange. ADSs are issued by depository banks in the United States under an agreement with the foreign issuer, and the entire issuance is called an ADR and the individual shares are referred to as ADSs. Global Depositary Receipts (“GDRs”), European Depositary Receipts (“EDRs”), and International Depositary Receipts (“IDRs”) are similar to ADRs in that they are certificates evidencing ownership of shares of a foreign issuer, however, GDRs, EDRs, and IDRs may be issued in bearer form and denominated in other currencies, and are generally designed for use in specific or multiple securities markets outside the U.S. EDRs, for example, are designed for use in European securities markets while GDRs are designed for use throughout the world. Depositary receipts will not necessarily be denominated in the same currency as their underlying securities.

 

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All Depositary Receipts generally must be sponsored. However, a Fund may invest in unsponsored Depositary Receipts under certain limited circumstances. The issuers of unsponsored Depositary Receipts are not obligated to disclose material information in the United States, and, therefore, there may be less information available regarding such issuers and there may not be a correlation between such information and the market value of the Depositary Receipts.

 

DEBT-RELATED INVESTMENTS

 

Debt securities include securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. Government, its agencies, instrumentalities, and political subdivisions, foreign governments, their authorities, agencies, instrumentalities, and political subdivisions, supra-national agencies, corporate debt securities, master-demand notes, Yankee dollar and Eurodollar bank certificates of deposit, time deposits, bankers’ acceptances, commercial paper and other notes, inflation-indexed securities, and other debt securities. Debt securities may be investment grade securities or high yield securities.

 

Debt and other fixed income securities include fixed and floating rate securities of any maturity. Fixed rate securities pay a specified rate of interest or dividends. Floating rate securities pay a rate that is adjusted periodically by reference to a specified index or market rate. Fixed and floating rate securities include securities issued by federal, state, local, and foreign governments and related agencies, and by a wide range of private issuers, and generally are referred to in this SAI as “fixed income securities.” Indexed bonds are a type of fixed income security whose principal value and/or interest rate is adjusted periodically according to a specified instrument, index, or other statistic (e.g., another security, inflation index, currency, or commodity).

 

Holders of fixed income securities are exposed to both market and credit risk. Market risk (or “interest rate risk”) relates to changes in a security’s value as a result of changes in interest rates. In general, the values of fixed income securities increase when interest rates fall and decrease when interest rates rise. Given the historically low interest rate environment, risks associated with rising rates are heightened. Credit risk relates to the ability of an issuer to make payments of principal and interest. Obligations of issuers are subject to bankruptcy, insolvency and other laws that affect the rights and remedies of creditors.

 

Because interest rates vary, the future income of a fund that invests in fixed income securities cannot be predicted with certainty. The future income of a fund that invests in indexed securities also will be affected by changes in those securities’ indices over time (e.g., changes in inflation rates, currency rates, or commodity prices).

 

Bonds. A bond is an interest-bearing security issued by a company, governmental unit or, in some cases, a non-U.S. entity. The issuer of a bond has a contractual obligation to pay interest at a stated rate on specific dates and to repay principal (the bond’s face value) periodically or on a specified maturity date. Bonds generally are used by corporations and governments to borrow money from investors.

 

An issuer may have the right to redeem or “call” a bond before maturity, in which case the investor may have to reinvest the proceeds at lower market rates. Most bonds bear interest income at a “coupon” rate that is fixed for the life of the bond. The value of a fixed-rate bond usually rises when market interest rates fall and falls when market interest rates rise. Accordingly, a fixed-rate bond’s yield (income as a percent of the bond’s current value) may differ from its coupon rate as its value rises or falls. Other types of bonds bear income at an interest rate that is adjusted periodically. Because of their adjustable interest rates, the value of “floating-rate” or “variable-rate” bonds fluctuates much less in response to market interest rate movements than the value of fixed-rate bonds. Generally, prices of higher quality issues tend to fluctuate less with changes in market interest rates than prices of lower quality issues and prices of longer maturity issues tend to fluctuate more than prices of shorter maturity issues. Bonds may be senior or subordinated obligations. Senior obligations generally have the first claim on a corporation’s earnings and assets and, in the event of liquidation, are paid before subordinated obligations. Bonds may be unsecured (backed only by the issuer’s general creditworthiness) or secured (backed by specified collateral).

 

The investment return of corporate bonds reflects interest on the security and changes in the market value of the security. The market value of a corporate bond may be affected by the credit rating of the corporation, the corporation’s performance and perceptions of the corporation in the market place. There is a risk that the issuers of the bonds may not be able to meet their obligations on interest or principal payments at the time called for by the bond.

 

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U.S. Government Securities. Securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. Government or its agencies or instrumentalities include U.S. Treasury securities, which are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Treasury and which differ only in their interest rates, maturities, and times of issuance. U.S. Treasury bills have initial maturities of one-year or less; U.S. Treasury notes have initial maturities of one to ten years; and U.S. Treasury bonds generally have initial maturities of greater than ten years. Certain U.S. government securities are issued or guaranteed by agencies or instrumentalities of the U.S. Government including, but not limited to, obligations of U.S. Government agencies or instrumentalities such as Fannie Mae, the Government National Mortgage Association (“Ginnie Mae”), the Small Business Administration, the Federal Farm Credit Administration, the Federal Home Loan Banks, Banks for Cooperatives (including the Central Bank for Cooperatives), the Federal Land Banks, the Federal Intermediate Credit Banks, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Commodity Credit Corporation, the Federal Financing Bank, the Student Loan Marketing Association, the National Credit Union Administration and the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (“Farmer Mac”).

 

Some obligations issued or guaranteed by U.S. Government agencies and instrumentalities, including, for example, Ginnie Mae pass-through certificates, are supported by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Treasury. Other obligations issued by or guaranteed by federal agencies, such as those securities issued by Fannie Mae, are supported by the discretionary authority of the U.S. Government to purchase certain obligations of the federal agency, while other obligations issued by or guaranteed by federal agencies, such as those of the Federal Home Loan Banks, are supported by the right of the issuer to borrow from the U.S. Treasury, while the U.S. Government provides financial support to such U.S. Government-sponsored federal agencies, no assurance can be given that the U.S. Government will always do so, since the U.S. Government is not so obligated by law. U.S. Treasury notes and bonds typically pay coupon interest semi-annually and repay the principal at maturity.

 

On September 7, 2008, the U.S. Treasury announced a federal takeover of Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, placing the two federal instrumentalities in conservatorship. Under the takeover, the U.S. Treasury agreed to acquire $1 billion of senior preferred stock of each instrumentality and obtained warrants for the purchase of common stock of each instrumentality (the “Senior Preferred Stock Purchase Agreement” or “Agreement”). Under the Agreement, the U.S. Treasury pledged to provide up to $200 billion per instrumentality as needed, including the contribution of cash capital to the instrumentalities in the event their liabilities exceed their assets. This was intended to ensure that the instrumentalities maintain a positive net worth and meet their financial obligations, preventing mandatory triggering of receivership. On December 24, 2009, the U.S. Treasury announced that it was amending the Agreement to allow the $200 billion cap on the U.S. Treasury’s funding commitment to increase as necessary to accommodate any cumulative reduction in net worth over the next three years. As a result of this Agreement, the investments of holders of mortgage-backed securities and other obligations issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are protected.

 

The total public debt of the United States as a percentage of gross domestic product has grown rapidly since the beginning of the 2008-2009 financial downturn. Although high debt levels do not necessarily indicate or cause economic problems, they may create certain systemic risks if sound debt management practices are not implemented. A high national debt can raise concerns that the U.S. Government will not be able to make principal or interest payments when they are due. This increase has also necessitated the need for the U.S. Congress to negotiate adjustments to the statutory debt limit to increase the cap on the amount the U.S. Government is permitted to borrow to meet its existing obligations and finance current budget deficits. In August 2011, S&P lowered its long term sovereign credit rating on the U.S. In explaining the downgrade at that time, S&P cited, among other reasons, controversy over raising the statutory debt limit and growth in public spending. Continuing controversy or ongoing uncertainty regarding the statutory debt ceiling negotiations may impact the U.S. long-term sovereign credit rating and may cause market uncertainty. As a result, market prices and yields of securities supported by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government may be adversely affected.

 

U.S. Treasury Obligations. U.S. Treasury obligations consist of bills, notes and bonds issued by the U.S. Treasury and separately traded interest and principal component parts of such obligations that are transferable through the federal book-entry system known as Separately Traded Registered Interest and Principal Securities (“STRIPS”) and Treasury Receipts (“TRs”).

 

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Receipts. Interests in separately traded interest and principal component parts of U.S. Government obligations that are issued by banks or brokerage firms and are created by depositing U.S. Government obligations into a special account at a custodian bank. The custodian holds the interest and principal payments for the benefit of the registered owners of the certificates or receipts. The custodian arranges for the issuance of the certificates or receipts evidencing ownership and maintains the register. TRs and STRIPS are interests in accounts sponsored by the U.S. Treasury. Receipts are sold as zero coupon securities.

 

U.S. Government Zero Coupon Securities. STRIPS and receipts are sold as zero coupon securities, that is, fixed income securities that have been stripped of their unmatured interest coupons. Zero coupon securities are sold at a (usually substantial) discount and redeemed at face value at their maturity date without interim cash payments of interest or principal. The amount of this discount is accreted over the life of the security, and the accretion constitutes the income earned on the security for both accounting and tax purposes. Because of these features, the market prices of zero coupon securities are generally more volatile than the market prices of securities that have similar maturity but that pay interest periodically. Zero coupon securities are likely to respond to a greater degree to interest rate changes than are non-zero coupon securities with similar maturity and credit qualities.

 

U.S. Government Agencies. Some obligations issued or guaranteed by agencies of the U.S. Government are supported by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Treasury, others are supported by the right of the issuer to borrow from the U.S. Treasury, while still others are supported only by the credit of the instrumentality. Guarantees of principal by agencies or instrumentalities of the U.S. Government may be a guarantee of payment at the maturity of the obligation so that in the event of a default prior to maturity there might not be a market and thus no means of realizing on the obligation prior to maturity. Guarantees as to the timely payment of principal and interest do not extend to the value or yield of these securities nor to the value of a Fund’s shares.

 

Ratings. An investment grade rating means the security or issuer is rated investment-grade by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Group, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. (“S&P”), Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. (“Moody’s”), Fitch Ratings, Ltd. (“Fitch”) or another nationally recognized statistical rating organization, or is unrated but considered to be of equivalent quality by the investment adviser, as applicable. Bonds rated Baa by Moody’s or BBB by S&P or above are considered “investment grade” securities; bonds rated Baa are considered medium grade obligations which lack outstanding investment characteristics and have speculative characteristics; and bonds rated BBB are regarded as having adequate capacity to pay principal and interest.

 

When-Issued Securities. A when-issued security is one whose terms are available and for which a market exists, but which has not been issued. When a fund engages in when-issued transactions, it relies on the other party to consummate the sale. If the other party fails to complete the sale, the fund may miss the opportunity to obtain the security at a favorable price or yield.

 

When purchasing a security on a when-issued basis, a fund assumes the rights and risks of ownership of the security, including the risk of price and yield changes. At the time of settlement, the market value of the security may be more or less than the purchase price. The yield available in the market when the delivery takes place also may be higher than those obtained in the transaction itself. Because the fund does not pay for the security until the delivery date, these risks are in addition to the risks associated with its other investments.

 

Decisions to enter into “when-issued” transactions will be considered on a case-by-case basis when necessary to maintain continuity in a company’s index membership. If a fund enters into such transactions directly, it will segregate cash or liquid securities equal in value to commitments for the when-issued transactions. A fund will segregate additional liquid assets daily so that the value of such assets is equal to the amount of the commitments.

 

REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT TRUSTS (“REITs”)

 

A REIT is a corporation or business trust (that would otherwise be taxed as a corporation) which meets the definitional requirements of the Internal Revenue Code. The Internal Revenue Code permits a qualifying REIT to deduct from taxable income the dividends paid, thereby effectively eliminating corporate level federal income tax and making the REIT a pass-through vehicle for federal income tax purposes. To meet the definitional requirements of the Internal Revenue Code, a REIT must, among other things: invest substantially all of its assets in interests in real estate (including mortgages and other REITs), cash and government securities; derive most of its income from rents from real property or interest on loans secured by mortgages on real property; and, in general, distribute annually 90% or more of its otherwise taxable income to shareholders.

 

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REITs are sometimes informally characterized as Equity REITs and Mortgage REITs. An Equity REIT invests primarily in the fee ownership or leasehold ownership of land and buildings; a Mortgage REIT invests primarily in mortgages on real property, which may secure construction, development or long-term loans.

 

REITs may be affected by changes in underlying real estate values, which may have an exaggerated effect to the extent that REITs in which a Fund invests may concentrate investments in particular geographic regions or property types. Additionally, rising interest rates may cause investors in REITs to demand a higher annual yield from future distributions, which may in turn decrease market prices for equity securities issued by REITs. Rising interest rates also generally increase the costs of obtaining financing, which could cause the value of a Fund’s investments to decline. During periods of declining interest rates, certain Mortgage REITs may hold mortgages that the mortgagors elect to prepay, which prepayment may diminish the yield on securities issued by such Mortgage REITs. In addition, Mortgage REITs may be affected by the ability of borrowers to repay when due the debt extended by the REIT and Equity REITs may be affected by the ability of tenants to pay rent.

 

Certain REITs have relatively small market capitalization, which may tend to increase the volatility of the market price of securities issued by such REITs. Furthermore, REITs are dependent upon specialized management skills, have limited diversification and are, therefore, subject to risks inherent in operating and financing a limited number of projects. By investing in REITs indirectly through a Fund, a shareholder will bear not only his or her proportionate share of the expenses of such Fund, but also, indirectly, similar expenses of the REITs. REITs depend generally on their ability to generate cash flow to make distributions to shareholders.

 

In addition to these risks, Equity REITs may be affected by changes in the value of the underlying property owned by the trusts, while Mortgage REITs may be affected by the quality of any credit extended. Further, Equity and Mortgage REITs are dependent upon management skills and generally may not be diversified. Equity and Mortgage REITs are also subject to heavy cash flow dependency defaults by borrowers and self-liquidation. In addition, Equity and Mortgage REITs could possibly fail to qualify for tax free pass-through of income under the Internal Revenue Code or to maintain their exemptions from registration under the 1940 Act. The above factors may also adversely affect a borrower’s or a lessee’s ability to meet its obligations to the REIT. In the event of default by a borrower or lessee, the REIT may experience delays in enforcing its rights as a mortgagee or lessor and may incur substantial costs associated with protecting its investments.

 

REPURCHASE AGREEMENTS

 

A repurchase agreement is an agreement under which a Fund acquires a financial instrument (e.g., a security issued by the U.S. Government or an agency thereof, a banker’s acceptance or a certificate of deposit) from a seller, subject to resale to the seller at an agreed upon price and date (normally, the next Business Day). A repurchase agreement may be considered a loan collateralized by securities. The resale price reflects an agreed upon interest rate effective for the period the instrument is held by a Fund and is unrelated to the interest rate on the underlying instrument.

 

In these repurchase agreement transactions, the securities acquired by a Fund (including accrued interest earned thereon) must have a total value in excess of the value of the repurchase agreement and are held by the Fund’s Custodian until repurchased. No more than an aggregate of 15% of a Fund’s net assets will be invested in illiquid securities, including repurchase agreements having maturities longer than seven days and securities subject to legal or contractual restrictions on resale, or for which there are no readily available market quotations.

 

The use of repurchase agreements involves certain risks. For example, if the other party to the agreement defaults on its obligation to repurchase the underlying security at a time when the value of the security has declined, a Fund may incur a loss upon disposition of the security. If the other party to the agreement becomes insolvent and subject to liquidation or reorganization under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code or other laws, a court may determine that the underlying security is collateral for a loan by a Fund not within the control of such Fund and, therefore, such Fund may not be able to substantiate its interest in the underlying security and may be deemed an unsecured creditor of the other party to the agreement.

 

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BORROWING

 

Each Fund may borrow money for investment purposes. Borrowing for investment purposes is one form of leverage. Leveraging investments, by purchasing securities with borrowed money, is a speculative technique that increases investment risk, but also increases investment opportunity. Because substantially all of a Fund’s assets will fluctuate in value, whereas the interest obligations on borrowings may be fixed, the NAV of a Fund will increase more when a Fund’s portfolio assets increase in value and decrease more when a Fund’s portfolio assets decrease in value than would otherwise be the case. Moreover, interest costs on borrowings may fluctuate with changing market rates of interest and may partially offset or exceed the returns on the borrowed funds. Under adverse conditions, a Fund might have to sell portfolio securities to meet interest or principal payments at a time when investment considerations would not favor such sales. Each Fund intends to use leverage during periods when the Adviser believes that a Fund’s investment objective would be furthered.

 

Each Fund may also borrow money to facilitate management of its portfolio by enabling a Fund to meet redemption requests when the liquidation of portfolio instruments would be inconvenient or disadvantageous. Such borrowing is not for investment purposes and will be repaid by the borrowing Fund promptly. As required by the 1940 Act, the borrowing Fund must maintain continuous asset coverage (total assets, including assets acquired with borrowed funds, less liabilities exclusive of borrowings) of 300% of all amounts borrowed. If, at any time, the value of the borrowing Fund’s assets should fail to meet this 300% coverage test, such Fund, within three days (not including Sundays and holidays), will reduce the amount of its borrowings to the extent necessary to meet this 300% coverage requirement. Maintenance of this percentage limitation may result in the sale of portfolio securities at a time when investment considerations otherwise indicate that it would be disadvantageous to do so.

 

LENDING PORTFOLIO SECURITIES

 

Each Fund may lend portfolio securities to certain creditworthy borrowers. The borrowers provide collateral that is maintained in an amount at least equal to the current market value of the securities loaned. A Fund may terminate a loan at any time and obtain the return of the securities loaned. A Fund receives the value of any interest or cash or non-cash distributions paid on the loaned securities. Distributions received on loaned securities in lieu of dividend payments (i.e., substitute payments) would not be considered qualified dividend income.

 

With respect to loans that are collateralized by cash, the borrower will be entitled to receive a fee based on the amount of cash collateral. A Fund is compensated by the difference between the amount earned on the reinvestment of cash collateral and the fee paid to the borrower. In the case of collateral other than cash, a Fund is compensated by a fee paid by the borrower equal to a percentage of the market value of the loaned securities. Any cash collateral may be reinvested in certain short-term instruments either directly on behalf of the lending Fund or through one or more joint accounts or money market funds, which may include those managed by the Adviser.

 

A Fund may pay a portion of the interest or fees earned from securities lending to a borrower as described above, and to one or more securities lending agents approved by the Board of Trustees (the “Board”) who administer the lending program for the Funds in accordance with guidelines approved by the Board. In such capacity, the lending agent causes the delivery of loaned securities from a Fund to borrowers, arranges for the return of loaned securities to a Fund at the termination of a loan, requests deposit of collateral, monitors the daily value of the loaned securities and collateral, requests that borrowers add to the collateral when required by the loan agreements, and provides recordkeeping and accounting services necessary for the operation of the program.

 

Securities lending involves exposure to certain risks, including operational risk (i.e., the risk of losses resulting from problems in the settlement and accounting process), “gap” risk (i.e., the risk of a mismatch between the return on cash collateral reinvestments and the fees a Fund has agreed to pay a borrower), and credit, legal, counterparty and market risk. In the event a borrower does not return a Fund’s securities as agreed, such Fund may experience losses if the proceeds received from liquidating the collateral do not at least equal the value of the loaned security at the time the collateral is liquidated plus the transaction costs incurred in purchasing replacement securities.

 

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REVERSE REPURCHASE AGREEMENTS

 

Each Fund may enter into reverse repurchase agreements, which involve the sale of securities with an agreement to repurchase the securities at an agreed-upon price, date and interest payment and have the characteristics of borrowing. The securities purchased with the funds obtained from the agreement and securities collateralizing the agreement will have maturity dates no later than the repayment date. Generally, the effect of such transactions is that a Fund can recover all or most of the cash invested in the portfolio securities involved during the term of the reverse repurchase agreement, while in many cases a Fund is able to keep some of the interest income associated with those securities. Such transactions are only advantageous if a Fund has an opportunity to earn a greater rate of interest on the cash derived from these transactions than the interest cost of obtaining the same amount of cash. Opportunities to realize earnings from the use of the proceeds equal to or greater than the interest required to be paid may not always be available and the Funds intend to use the reverse repurchase technique only when the Adviser believes it will be advantageous to the Funds. The use of reverse repurchase agreements may exaggerate any interim increase or decrease in the value of a Fund’s assets. A Fund’s exposure to reverse repurchase agreements will be covered by securities having a value equal to or greater than such commitments. Under the 1940 Act, reverse repurchase agreements are considered borrowings. Although there is no limit on the percentage of total assets a Fund may invest in reverse repurchase agreements, the use of reverse repurchase agreements is not a principal strategy of either Fund.

 

OTHER SHORT-TERM INSTRUMENTS

 

In addition to repurchase agreements, each Fund may invest in short-term instruments, including money market instruments, on an ongoing basis to provide liquidity or for other reasons. Money market instruments are generally short-term investments that may include but are not limited to: (i) shares of money market funds; (ii) obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. Government, its agencies or instrumentalities (including government-sponsored enterprises); (iii) negotiable certificates of deposit (“CDs”), bankers’ acceptances, fixed time deposits and other obligations of U.S. and foreign banks (including foreign branches) and similar institutions; (iv) commercial paper rated at the date of purchase “Prime-1” by Moody’s or “A-1” by S&P, or if unrated, of comparable quality as determined by the Adviser; (v) non-convertible corporate debt securities (e.g., bonds and debentures) with remaining maturities at the date of purchase of not more than 397 days and that satisfy the rating requirements set forth in Rule 2a-7 under the 1940 Act; and (vi) short-term U.S. dollar-denominated obligations of foreign banks (including U.S. branches) that, in the opinion of the Adviser, are of comparable quality to obligations of U.S. banks which may be purchased by a Fund. Any of these instruments may be purchased on a current or a forward-settled basis. Time deposits are non-negotiable deposits maintained in banking institutions for specified periods of time at stated interest rates. Bankers’ acceptances are time drafts drawn on commercial banks by borrowers, usually in connection with international transactions.

 

INVESTMENT COMPANIES

 

Each Fund may invest in the securities of other investment companies, including money market funds, subject to applicable limitations under Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act.  Pursuant to Section 12(d)(1), a Fund may invest in the securities of another investment company (the “acquired company”) provided that the Fund, immediately after such purchase or acquisition, does not own in the aggregate:  (i) more than 3% of the total outstanding voting stock of the acquired company; (ii) securities issued by the acquired company having an aggregate value in excess of 5% of the value of the total assets of the Fund; or (iii) securities issued by the acquired company and all other investment companies (other than Treasury stock of the Fund) having an aggregate value in excess of 10% of the value of the total assets of the Fund.   To the extent allowed by law or regulation, a Fund may invest its assets in securities of investment companies that are money market funds in excess of the limits discussed above.

 

If a Fund invests in and, thus, is a shareholder of, another investment company, the Fund’s shareholders will indirectly bear the Fund’s proportionate share of the fees and expenses paid by such other investment company, including advisory fees, in addition to both the management fees payable directly by the Fund to such Fund’s own investment adviser and the other expenses that the Fund bears directly in connection with its own operations.

 

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Consistent with the restrictions discussed above, a Fund may invest in different types of investment companies from time to time, including business development companies (“BDCs”).  A BDC is a less common type of investment company that more closely resembles an operating company than a typical investment company.  BDCs generally focus on investing in, and providing managerial assistance to, small, developing, financially troubled, private companies or other companies that may have value that can be realized over time and with managerial assistance.  Similar to an operating company, a BDC’s total annual operating expense ratio typically reflects all of the operating expenses incurred by the BDC, and is generally greater than the total annual operating expense ratio of a mutual fund that does not bear the same types of operating expenses.  However, as a shareholder of a BDC, a Fund does not directly pay for a portion of all of the operating expenses of the BDC, just as a shareholder of a computer manufacturer does not directly pay for the cost of labor associated with producing such computers. As a result, the fees and expenses of a Fund that invests in a BDC will be effectively overstated by an amount equal to the “Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses.” Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses are not included as an operating expense of a fund in the fund’s financial statements, which more accurately reflect the fund’s actual operating expenses.

 

Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act restricts investments by registered investment companies in securities of other registered investment companies, including the Funds. The acquisition of shares of a Fund by registered investment companies is subject to the restrictions of Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act, except as may be permitted by exemptive rules under the 1940 Act or as permitted by an exemptive order obtained by the Trust that permits registered investment companies to invest in the Funds beyond the limits of Section 12(d)(1), subject to certain terms and conditions, including that the registered investment company enter into an agreement with either Fund regarding the terms of the investment.

 

FUTURES CONTRACTS, OPTIONS AND SWAP AGREEMENTS

 

Each Fund may utilize futures contracts, options contracts and swap agreements. The SEC has proposed a rule related to the use of derivatives and financial commitment transactions (including short sales, described below) by registered investment companies, such as the Funds. Whether and when this proposed rule will be adopted and its potential effects on the Funds are unclear, although they could be substantial and adverse to the Funds. The regulation of these types of transactions in the United States is a rapidly changing area of law and is subject to ongoing modification by government, self-regulatory and judicial action.

 

Futures Contracts. Futures contracts generally provide for the future sale by one party and purchase by another party of a specified commodity or security at a specified future time and at a specified price. Index futures contracts are settled daily with a payment by one party to the other of a cash amount based on the difference between the level of the index specified in the contract from one day to the next. Futures contracts are standardized as to maturity date and underlying instrument and are traded on futures exchanges.

 

A Fund is required to make a good faith margin deposit in cash or U.S. government securities with a broker or custodian to initiate and maintain open positions in futures contracts. A margin deposit is intended to assure completion of the contract (delivery or acceptance of the underlying commodity or payment of the cash settlement amount) if it is not terminated prior to the specified delivery date. Brokers may establish deposit requirements which are higher than the exchange minimums. Futures contracts are customarily purchased and sold on margin deposits which may range upward from less than 5% of the value of the contract being traded.

 

After a futures contract position is opened, the value of the contract is marked to market daily. If the futures contract price changes to the extent that the margin on deposit does not satisfy margin requirements, payment of additional “variation” margin will be required. Conversely, change in the contract value may reduce the required margin, resulting in a repayment of excess margin to the contract holder. Variation margin payments are made to and from the futures broker for as long as the contract remains open. In such case, a Fund would expect to earn interest income on its margin deposits. Closing out an open futures position is done by taking an opposite position (“buying” a contract which has previously been “sold,” or “selling” a contract previously “purchased”) in an identical contract to terminate the position. Brokerage commissions are incurred when a futures contract position is opened or closed.

 

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Options. Each Fund may purchase and sell put and call options. A call option gives a holder the right to purchase a specific security or an index at a specified price (“exercise price”) within a specified period of time. A put option gives a holder the right to sell a specific security or an index at a specified price within a specified period of time. The initial purchaser of a call option pays the “writer,” i.e., the party selling the option, a premium which is paid at the time of purchase and is retained by the writer whether or not such option is exercised. The Funds may purchase put options to hedge their portfolios against the risk of a decline in the market value of securities held and may purchase call options to hedge against an increase in the price of securities it is committed to purchase. The Funds may write put and call options along with a long position in options to increase their ability to hedge against a change in the market value of the securities they hold or are committed to purchase.

 

Options may relate to particular securities and may or may not be listed on a national securities exchange and issued by the Options Clearing Corporation. Options trading is a highly specialized activity that entails greater than ordinary investment risk. Options on particular securities may be more volatile than the underlying securities, and therefore, on a percentage basis, an investment in options may be subject to greater fluctuation than an investment in the underlying securities themselves.

 

Restrictions on the Use of Futures and Options. Under Rule 4.5 of the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”), the investment adviser of a registered investment company may claim exclusion from registration as a commodity pool operator only if the registered investment company that it advises uses futures contracts solely for “bona fide hedging purposes” or limits its use of futures contracts for non-bona fide hedging purposes such that (i) the aggregate initial margin and premiums required to establish non-bona fide hedging positions with respect to futures contracts do not exceed 5% of the liquidation value of the registered investment company’s portfolio, or (ii) the aggregate “notional value” of the non-bona fide hedging commodity interests do not exceed 100% of the liquidation value of the registered investment company’s portfolio (taking into account unrealized profits and unrealized losses on any such positions). The Adviser has claimed exclusion on behalf of the Funds under Rule 4.5. Rule 4.5 effectively limits a Fund’s use, and its investment in funds that make use of futures, options on futures, swaps, or other commodity interests. The Funds currently intend to comply with the terms of Rule 4.5 so as to avoid regulation as a commodity pool, and as a result, the ability of the Funds to utilize, or invest in funds that utilize, futures, options on futures, swaps, or other commodity interests may be limited in accordance with the terms of the rule.

 

Risks of Futures and Options Transactions. Positions in futures contracts and options may be closed out only on an exchange which provides a secondary market therefore. However, there can be no assurance that a liquid secondary market will exist for any particular futures contract or option at any specific time. Thus, it may not be possible to close a futures or options position. In the event of adverse price movements, a Fund would continue to be required to make daily cash payments to maintain its required margin. In such situations, if a Fund has insufficient cash, it may have to sell portfolio securities to meet daily margin requirements at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so. In addition, a Fund may be required to make delivery of the instruments underlying futures contracts it has sold.

 

Each Fund will minimize the risk that it will be unable to close out a futures or options contract by only entering into futures and options for which there appears to be a liquid secondary market.

 

The risk of loss in trading futures contracts or uncovered call options in some strategies (e.g., selling uncovered index futures contracts) is potentially unlimited. The risk of a futures position may still be large as traditionally measured due to the low margin deposits required. In many cases, a relatively small price movement in a futures contract may result in immediate and substantial loss or gain to the investor relative to the size of a required margin deposit.

 

Utilization of futures transactions by a Fund involves the risk of loss by a Fund of margin deposits in the event of bankruptcy of a broker with whom such Fund has an open position in the futures contract or option.

 

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

 

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Swap Agreements. The Funds may enter into swap agreements; including interest rate, index, and total return swap agreements. Swap agreements are contracts between parties in which one party agrees to make periodic payments to the other party based on the change in market value or level of a specified rate, index or asset. In return, the other party agrees to make payments to the first party based on the return of a different specified rate, index or asset. Swap agreements will usually be done on a net basis, i.e., where the two parties make net payments with a Fund receiving or paying, as the case may be, only the net amount of the two payments. The net amount of the excess, if any, of a Fund’s obligations over its entitlements with respect to each swap is accrued on a daily basis and an amount of cash or equivalents having an aggregate value at least equal to the accrued excess is maintained by the Funds.

 

In a total return swap transaction, one party agrees to pay the other party an amount equal to the total return on a defined underlying asset or a non-asset reference during a specified period of time. The underlying asset might be a security or basket of securities, and the non-asset reference could be a securities index. In return, the other party would make periodic payments based on a fixed or variable interest rate or on the total return from a different underlying asset or non-asset reference. The payments of the two parties could be made on a net basis.

 

Options on Swaps.  An option on a swap agreement, or a “swaption,” is a contract that gives a counterparty the right (but not the obligation) to enter into a new swap agreement or to shorten, extend, cancel or otherwise modify an existing swap agreement, at some designated future time on specified terms. In return, the purchaser pays a “premium” to the seller of the contract. The seller of the contract receives the premium and bears the risk of unfavorable changes on the underlying swap. The Funds may write (sell) and purchase put and call swaptions. The Funds may also enter into swaptions on either an asset-based or liability-based basis, depending on whether such Fund is hedging its assets or its liabilities. The Funds may write (sell) and purchase put and call swaptions to the same extent it may make use of standard options on securities or other instruments. The Funds may enter into these transactions primarily to preserve a return or spread on a particular investment or portion of its holdings, as a duration management technique, to protect against an increase in the price of securities such Fund anticipates purchasing at a later date, or for any other purposes, such as for speculation to increase returns. Swaptions are generally subject to the same risks involved in a Fund’s use of options.

 

Risks of Swap Agreements. The risk of loss with respect to swaps generally is limited to the net amount of payments that a Fund is contractually obligated to make. Swap agreements are subject to the risk that the swap counterparty will default on its obligations. If such a default occurs, a Fund will have contractual remedies pursuant to the agreements related to the transaction, but such remedies may be subject to bankruptcy and insolvency laws which could affect a Fund’s rights as a creditor (e.g., a Fund may not receive the net amount of payments that it contractually is entitled to receive).

 

The use of interest-rate and index swaps is a highly specialized activity that involves investment techniques and risks different from those associated with ordinary portfolio security transactions. These transactions generally do not involve the delivery of securities or other underlying assets or principal.

 

Total return swaps could result in losses if the underlying asset or reference does not perform as anticipated. Total return swaps can have the potential for unlimited losses. A Fund may lose money in a total return swap if the counterparty fails to meet its obligations.

 

SHORT SALES

 

Each Fund may engage in short sales that are either “uncovered” or “against the box.” A short sale is “against the box” if at all times during which the short position is open, a Fund owns at least an equal amount of the securities or securities convertible into, or exchangeable without further consideration for, securities of the same issue as the securities that are sold short. A short sale against the box is a taxable transaction to each Fund with respect to the securities that are sold short.

 

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Uncovered short sales are transactions under which a Fund sells a security it does not own. To complete such a transaction, a Fund must borrow the security to make delivery to the buyer. Such Fund then is obligated to replace the security borrowed by purchasing the security at the market price at the time of the replacement. The price at such time may be more or less than the price at which the security was sold by a Fund. Until the security is replaced, a Fund is required to pay the lender amounts equal to any dividends or interest that accrue during the period of the loan. To borrow the security, a Fund also may be required to pay a premium, which would increase the cost of the security sold. The proceeds of the short sale will be retained by the broker, to the extent necessary to meet margin requirements, until the short position is closed out.

 

Until a Fund closes its short position or replaces the borrowed security, such Fund may: (a) segregate cash or liquid securities at such a level that the amount segregated plus the amount deposited with the broker as collateral will equal the current value of the security sold short; or (b) otherwise cover its short position.

 

RECENT MARKET CIRCUMSTANCES

 

Since the financial crisis that started in 2008, the U.S. and many foreign economies continue to experience its after-effects. Conditions in the U.S. and many foreign economies have resulted, and may continue to result, in certain instruments experiencing unusual liquidity issues, increased price volatility and, in some cases, credit downgrades and increased likelihood of default. These events have reduced the willingness and ability of some lenders to extend credit, and have made it more difficult for some borrowers to obtain financing on attractive terms, if at all. In some cases, traditional market participants have been less willing to make a market in some types of debt instruments, which has affected the liquidity of those instruments. During times of market turmoil, investors tend to look to the safety of securities issued or backed by the U.S. Treasury, causing the prices of these securities to rise and the yields to decline. Reduced liquidity in fixed income and credit markets may negatively affect many issuers worldwide. In addition, global economies and financial markets are becoming increasingly interconnected, which increases the possibilities that conditions in one country or region might adversely impact issuers in a different country or region. A rise in protectionist trade policies, and the possibility of changes to some international trade agreements, could affect the economies of many nations in ways that cannot necessarily be foreseen at the present time.

 

In response to the financial crisis, the U.S. and other governments and the Federal Reserve and certain foreign central banks have taken steps to support financial markets. In some countries where economic conditions are recovering, such countries are nevertheless perceived as still fragile. Withdrawal of government support, failure of efforts in response to the crisis, or investor perception that such efforts are not succeeding, could adversely impact the value and liquidity of certain securities. The severity or duration of adverse economic conditions may also be affected by policy changes made by governments or quasi-governmental organizations, including changes in tax laws. The impact of new financial regulation legislation on the markets and the practical implications for market participants may not be fully known for some time. Regulatory changes are causing some financial services companies to exit long-standing lines of business, resulting in dislocations for other market participants. In addition, the contentious domestic political environment, as well as political and diplomatic events within the United States and abroad, such as the U.S. Government’s inability at times to agree on a long-term budget and deficit reduction plan, the threat of a federal government shutdown and threats not to increase the federal government’s debt limit, may affect investor and consumer confidence and may adversely impact financial markets and the broader economy, perhaps suddenly and to a significant degree. The U.S. Government has recently reduced federal corporate income tax rates, and future legislative, regulatory and policy changes may result in more restrictions on international trade, less stringent prudential regulation of certain players in the financial markets, and significant new investments in infrastructure and national defense. Markets may react strongly to expectations about the changes in these policies, which could increase volatility, especially if the markets’ expectations for changes in government policies are not borne out.

 

Changes in market conditions will not have the same impact on all types of securities. Interest rates have been unusually low in recent years in the United States and abroad. Because there is little precedent for this situation, it is difficult to predict the impact of a significant rate increase on various markets. For example, because investors may buy securities or other investments with borrowed money, a significant increase in interest rates may cause a decline in the markets for those investments. Because of the sharp decline in the worldwide price of oil, there is a concern that oil producing nations may withdraw significant assets now held in U.S. Treasuries, which could force a substantial increase in interest rates. Regulators have expressed concern that rate increases may cause investors to sell fixed income securities faster than the market can absorb them, contributing to price volatility. In addition, there is a risk that the prices of goods and services in the U.S. and many foreign economies may decline over time, known as deflation (the opposite of inflation). 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. The precise details and the resulting impact of the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union (“EU”), commonly referred to as “Brexit,” are not yet known. The effect on the United Kingdom’s economy will likely depend on the nature of trade relations with the EU and other major economies following its exit, which are matters being negotiated. The outcomes may cause increased volatility and have a significant adverse impact on world financial markets, other international trade agreements, and the United Kingdom and European economies, as well as the broader global economy for some time.

 

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The impact of these and similar types of developments in the near- and long-term is unknown and could have additional adverse effects on economies, financial markets and asset valuations around the world.

 

CYBER SECURITY RISK

 

Investment companies, such as the Funds, and their service providers may be subject to operational and information security risks resulting from cyber-attacks. Cyber-attacks include, among other behaviors, stealing or corrupting data maintained online or digitally, denial of service attacks on websites, the unauthorized release of confidential information or various other forms of cyber-security breaches. Cyber-attacks affecting the Funds or the Adviser, custodian, transfer agent, intermediaries and other third-party service providers may adversely impact the Funds. For instance, cyber-attacks may interfere with the processing of shareholder transactions, impact a Fund’s ability to calculate its NAV, cause the release of private shareholder information or confidential company information, impede trading, subject a Fund to regulatory fines or financial losses, and cause reputational damage. A Fund may also incur additional costs for cyber-security risk management purposes.  Similar types of cyber-security risks are also present for issuers of securities in which a Fund invests, which could result in material adverse consequences for such issuers, and may cause a Fund’s investment in such portfolio companies to lose value.

 

INVESTMENT RESTRICTIONS

 

The Trust has adopted the following investment restrictions as fundamental policies with respect to each Fund. These restrictions cannot be changed with respect to a Fund without the approval of the holders of a majority of such Fund’s outstanding voting securities. For these purposes, a “majority of outstanding voting securities” means the vote of the lesser of: (1) 67% or more of the voting securities of a Fund present at the meeting if the holders of more than 50% of such Fund’s outstanding voting securities are present or represented by proxy; or (2) more than 50% of the outstanding voting securities of a Fund.

 

Except with the approval of a majority of the outstanding voting securities, each Fund may not:

 

1. Concentrate its investments in an industry or group of industries (i.e., invest more than 25% or more of its net assets in the securities of companies in a particular industry or group of industries). For purposes of this limitation, securities of the U.S. Government (including its agencies and instrumentalities), repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities and securities of state or municipal governments and their political subdivisions are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.

 

2.Borrow money or issue senior securities (as defined under the 1940 Act), except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act, the rules and regulations thereunder or any exemption therefrom, as such statute, rules or regulations may be amended or interpreted from time to time.

 

3.Make loans, except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act, the rules and regulations thereunder or any exemption therefrom, as such statute, rules or regulations may be amended or interpreted from time to time.

 

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4.Purchase or sell commodities or real estate, except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act, the rules and regulations thereunder or any exemption therefrom, as such statute, rules or regulations may be amended or interpreted from time to time.

 

5.Underwrite securities issued by other persons, except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act, the rules and regulations thereunder or any exemption therefrom, as such statute, rules or regulations may be amended or interpreted from time to time.

 

In addition to the investment restrictions adopted as fundamental policies as set forth above, each Fund has the following non-fundamental policies, which may be changed without a shareholder vote.

 

1.A Fund will not hold illiquid assets in excess of 15% of its net assets. An illiquid asset is any asset which may not be sold or disposed of in the ordinary course of business within seven days at approximately the value at which a Fund has valued the investment.

 

2.Under normal circumstances, each Fund will invest at least 80% of its net assets, plus the amount of any borrowings for investment purposes, in securities of U.S.-listed large capitalization companies.

 

If a percentage limitation is adhered to at the time of investment or contract, a later increase or decrease in percentage resulting from any change in value or total or net assets will not result in a violation of such restriction, except that the percentage limitations with respect to the borrowing of money and illiquid securities will be observed continuously. If the percentage of a Fund’s net assets invested in illiquid securities exceeds 15% due to market activity or changes in such Fund’s portfolio, such Fund will take appropriate measures to reduce its holdings of illiquid securities.

 

The following descriptions of certain provisions of the 1940 Act may assist investors in understanding the above policies and restrictions:

 

Concentration. The SEC has defined concentration as investing more than 25% of an investment company’s net assets in a particular industry or group of industries, with certain exceptions.

 

Borrowing. The 1940 Act presently allows a fund to borrow from any bank (including pledging, mortgaging or hypothecating assets) in an amount up to 33 1/3% of its total assets (not including temporary borrowings not in excess of 5% of its total assets).

 

Senior Securities. Senior securities may include any obligation or instrument issued by a fund evidencing indebtedness. The 1940 Act generally prohibits funds from issuing senior securities, although it does not treat certain transactions as senior securities, such as certain borrowings, short sales, reverse repurchase agreements, firm commitment agreements and standby commitments, with appropriate earmarking or segregation of assets to cover such obligation.

 

Lending. Under the 1940 Act, a fund may only make loans if expressly permitted by its investment policies. Each Fund’s current investment policy on lending is as follows: a Fund may not make loans if, as a result, more than 33 1/3% of its total assets would be lent to other parties, except that a Fund may: (i) purchase or hold debt instruments in accordance with its investment objective and policies; (ii) enter into repurchase agreements; and (iii) engage in securities lending as described in its SAI.

 

Underwriting. Under the 1940 Act, underwriting securities involves a fund purchasing securities directly from an issuer for the purpose of selling (distributing) them or participating in any such activity either directly or indirectly.

 

Real Estate. The 1940 Act does not directly restrict an investment company’s ability to invest in real estate, but does require that every investment company have a fundamental investment policy governing such investments. A Fund will not purchase or sell real estate, except that, to the extent permitted by applicable law, a Fund may purchase marketable securities issued by companies which own or invest in real estate (including REITs).

 

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Commodities. A Fund will not purchase or sell physical commodities or commodities contracts, except that a Fund may purchase: (i) marketable securities issued by companies which own or invest in commodities or commodities contracts; and (ii) commodities contracts relating to financial instruments, such as financial futures contracts and options on such contracts.

 

EXCHANGE LISTING AND TRADING

 

A discussion of exchange listing and trading matters associated with an investment in the Funds is contained in the Prospectus. The discussion below supplements, and should be read in conjunction with, the Prospectus.

 

The shares of the Funds are approved for listing and trading on the Exchange. The shares of each Fund trade on the Exchange at prices that may differ to some degree from their NAV. There can be no assurance that the requirements of the Exchange necessary to maintain the listing of shares of the Funds will continue to be met.

 

The Exchange will consider the suspension of trading in, and will initiate delisting procedures of, the shares of the Fund under any of the following circumstances: (1) following the initial twelve-month period beginning upon the commencement of trading of the Fund, there are fewer than 50 record and/or beneficial holders of the shares of the Fund; (2) the intraday indicative value (“IIV”) is no longer calculated or available or the disclosed portfolio is not made available to all market participants at the same time; (3) the Fund has failed to file any filings required by the SEC or the Exchange is aware that the Trust is not in compliance with the conditions of any exemptive order or no-action relief granted by the SEC to the Trust with respect to the fund; (4) if any of the continued listing requirements set forth in the Exchange’s rules are not continuously maintained; (5) if the Exchange files separate proposals under Section 19(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) and any of the statements regarding (a) the description of the portfolio or reference asset, (b) limitations on portfolio holdings or reference assets, or (c) the applicability of the Exchange listing rules specified in such proposals are not continuously maintained; or (6) such other event occurs or condition exists that, in the opinion of the Exchange, makes further dealings on the Exchange inadvisable. If the IIV of the Fund is not being disseminated as required by Exchange rules, the Exchange may halt trading during the day in which such interruption occurs. If the interruption persists past the trading day in which it occurred, the Exchange will halt trading in the Fund’s shares. In addition, the Exchange will remove the shares from listing and trading upon termination of the Trust or the Fund.

 

The Exchange (or market data vendors or other information providers) will disseminate, every fifteen seconds during the regular trading day, an IIV relating to each Fund. The IIV calculations are estimates of the value of a Fund’s IIV per share and are based on the current market value of the securities and/or cash required to be deposited in exchange for a Creation Unit. Premiums and discounts between the IIV and the market price may occur. The IIV does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities held by a Fund at a particular point in time or the best possible valuation of the current portfolio. Therefore, it should not be viewed as a “real-time” update of the NAV per share of a Fund, which is calculated only once a day. The quotations of certain Fund holdings may not be updated during U.S. trading hours if such holdings do not trade in the United States. Neither the Funds, the Adviser, nor any of their affiliates are involved in, or responsible for, the calculation or dissemination of such IIVs and make no warranty as to their accuracy.

 

The Trust reserves the right to adjust the share price of a Fund in the future to maintain convenient trading ranges for investors. Any adjustments would be accomplished through stock splits or reverse stock splits, which would have no effect on the net assets of a Fund.

 

As in the case of other publicly traded securities, brokers’ commissions on transactions will be based on negotiated commission rates at customary levels.

 

The base and trading currencies of the Funds is the U.S. dollar. The base currency is the currency in which a Fund’s NAV per share is calculated and the trading currency is the currency in which shares of the Funds are listed and traded on the Exchange.

 

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MANAGEMENT OF THE TRUST

 

Board Responsibilities. The management and affairs of the Trust and its series, including the Funds described in this SAI, are overseen by the Trust’s Board. The Board elects the officers of the Trust who are responsible for administering the day-to-day operations of the Trust and the Funds. The Board has approved contracts, as described below, under which certain companies provide essential services to the Trust.

 

Like most funds, the day-to-day business of the Trust, including the management of risk, is performed by third party service providers, such as the Adviser, the Distributor and the Trust’s administrators. The Trustees are responsible for overseeing the Trust’s service providers and, thus, have oversight responsibility with respect to risk management performed by those service providers. Risk management seeks to identify and address risks, i.e., events or circumstances that could have material adverse effects on the business, operations, shareholder services, investment performance or reputation of the Funds. The Funds and their service providers employ a variety of processes, procedures and controls to identify various of those possible events or circumstances, to lessen the probability of their occurrence and/or to mitigate the effects of such events or circumstances if they do occur. Each service provider is responsible for one or more discrete aspects of the Trust’s business (e.g., the Adviser is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Funds’ portfolio investments) and, consequently, for managing the risks associated with that business. The Board has emphasized to the Funds’ service providers the importance of maintaining vigorous risk management.

 

The Trustees’ role in risk oversight begins before the inception of the Funds, at which time certain of the Funds’ service providers present the Board with information concerning the investment objectives, strategies, and risks of the Funds as well as proposed investment limitations for the Funds. Additionally, the Adviser provides the Board with an overview of, among other things, its investment philosophy, brokerage practices and compliance infrastructure. Thereafter, the Board continues its oversight function as various personnel, including the Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer, as well as personnel of the Adviser, and other service providers, such as the Funds’ independent accountants, make periodic reports to the Audit Committee or to the Board with respect to various aspects of risk management. The Board and the Audit Committee oversee efforts by management and service providers to manage risks to which the Funds may be exposed.

 

The Board is responsible for overseeing the nature, extent and quality of the services provided to the Funds by the Adviser and receives information about those services at its regular meetings. In addition, on an annual basis, in connection with its consideration of whether to renew the investment advisory agreement with the Adviser, the Board meets with the Adviser to review such services. Among other things, the Board regularly considers the Adviser’s adherence to the Funds’ investment restrictions and compliance with various Fund policies and procedures and with applicable securities regulations. The Board also reviews information about the Funds’ performance and the Funds’ investments, including, for example, portfolio holdings schedules.

 

The Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer reports regularly to the Board to review and discuss compliance issues and Fund and Adviser risk assessments. At least annually, the Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer provides the Board with a report reviewing the adequacy and effectiveness of the Trust’s policies and procedures and those of its service providers, including the Adviser. The report addresses the operation of the policies and procedures of the Trust and each service provider since the date of the last report; any material changes to the policies and procedures since the date of the last report; any recommendations for material changes to the policies and procedures; and any material compliance matters since the date of the last report.

 

The Board receives reports from the Funds’ service providers regarding operational risks and risks related to the valuation and liquidity of portfolio securities. The Board also has established a Valuation Committee that is responsible for implementing the Trust’s Pricing Procedures and providing reports to the Board concerning investments for which market quotations are not readily available. Annually, the independent registered public accounting firm reviews with the Audit Committee its audit of the Funds’ financial statements, focusing on major areas of risk encountered by the Funds and noting any significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in the Funds’ internal controls. Additionally, in connection with its oversight function, the Board oversees Fund management’s implementation of disclosure controls and procedures, which are designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed by the Trust in its periodic reports with the SEC are recorded, processed, summarized, and reported within the required time periods. The Board also oversees the Trust’s internal controls over financial reporting, which comprise policies and procedures designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of the Trust’s financial reporting and the preparation of the Trust’s financial statements.

 

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From their review of these reports and discussions with the Adviser, the Chief Compliance Officer, the independent registered public accounting firm and other service providers, the Board and the Audit Committee learn in detail about the material risks of the Funds, thereby facilitating a dialogue about how management and service providers identify and mitigate those risks.

 

The Board recognizes that not all risks that may affect the Funds can be identified and/or quantified, that it may not be practical or cost-effective to eliminate or mitigate certain risks, that it may be necessary to bear certain risks (such as investment-related risks) to achieve the Funds’ goals, and that the processes, procedures and controls employed to address certain risks may be limited in their effectiveness. Moreover, reports received by the Trustees as to risk management matters are typically summaries of the relevant information. Most of the Funds’ investment management and business affairs are carried out by or through the Adviser and other service providers each of which has an independent interest in risk management but whose policies and the methods by which one or more risk management functions are carried out may differ from the Funds’ and each other’s in the setting of priorities, the resources available or the effectiveness of relevant controls. As a result of the foregoing and other factors, the Board’s ability to monitor and manage risk, as a practical matter, is subject to limitations.

 

Members of the Board. There are four members of the Board, three of whom are not interested persons of the Trust, as that term is defined in the 1940 Act (“Independent Trustees”). Richard Hogan, the sole interested Trustee, serves as Chairman of the Board, and David Mahle serves as the Trust’s Lead Independent Trustee. As Lead Independent Trustee, Mr. Mahle acts as a spokesperson for the Independent Trustees in between meetings of the Board, serves as a liaison for the Independent Trustees with the Trust’s service providers, officers, and legal counsel to discuss ideas informally, and participates as needed in setting the agenda for meetings of the Board and separate meetings or executive sessions of the Independent Trustees. The Board is comprised of a super-majority (i.e., 67 percent or more) of Independent Trustees. The Trust has determined its leadership structure is appropriate given the specific characteristics and circumstances of the Trust. The Trust made this determination in consideration of, among other things, the fact that the Independent Trustees of the Trust constitute a super-majority of the Board, the number of Independent Trustees that constitute the Board, the amount of assets under management in the Trust, and the number of funds overseen by the Board. The Board also believes that its leadership structure facilitates the orderly and efficient flow of information to the Independent Trustees from Fund management.

 

Trustees. Set forth below is information about each of the persons currently serving as a Trustee of the Trust. The address of each Trustee of the Trust is c/o Exchange Listed Funds Trust, 10900 Hefner Pointe Drive, Suite 207, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73120.

 

Name and Year of Birth Position(s) Held with the Trust Term of Office and Length of Time Served(1) Principal Occupation(s) During Past 5 Years Number of Portfolios in Fund Complex(2) Overseen By Trustee Other Directorships Held by Trustee
Interested Trustee

Richard Hogan 

(1961)

 

Trustee and Secretary Since 2012 Director, Exchange Traded Concepts, LLC 2011-present; Private Investor 2002-present; Secretary, Exchange Traded Concepts Trust 2011-present; Managing Member, Yorkville ETF Advisors 2011-2016. 7 Board Member of Peconic Land Trust of Suffolk County, NY.

 

 

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Name and Year of Birth Position(s) Held with the Trust Term of Office and Length of Time Served(1) Principal Occupation(s) During Past 5 Years Number of Portfolios in Fund Complex(2) Overseen By Trustee Other Directorships Held by Trustee
Independent Trustees

Timothy J. Jacoby 

(1952)

 

Trustee Since 2014 Senior Partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP, Private Equity/Hedge Fund/Mutual Fund Services Practice — 2000-2014. 18

Exchange Traded Concepts Trust (11) — Trustee; Edward Jones Money Market Fund— Trustee; Source ETF Trust — Trustee (2014-2015).

 

David M. Mahle
(1944)

 

Trustee Since 2012 Consultant, Jones Day 2012- present; Of Counsel, Jones Day 2008-2011; Partner, Jones Day 1988-2008; Simplon International, Ltd., 2012 to present — Director. 18 Exchange Traded Concepts Trust (11) — Trustee; Source ETF Trust — Trustee (2014-2015).

Kurt Wolfgruber 

(1950)

 

Trustee Since 2012 Amherst Asset Management, 2010 to present — Independent Advisor; President, Oppenheimer Funds, Inc., 2007 to 2009. 18

Director, New Mountain Finance Corp.; Exchange Traded Concepts Trust (11) — Trustee; Source ETF Trust — Trustee (2014-2015).

 

(1) Each Trustee shall serve during the continued life of the Trust until he or she dies, resigns, is declared bankrupt or incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction, or is removed. 

(2) The Fund Complex includes each series of the Trust and of Exchange Traded Concepts Trust.

 

Individual Trustee Qualifications. The Trust has concluded that each of the Trustees should serve on the Board because of their ability to review and understand information about the Funds provided to them by management, to identify and request other information they may deem relevant to the performance of their duties, to question management and other service providers regarding material factors bearing on the management and administration of the Funds, and to exercise their business judgment in a manner that serves the best interests of the Funds’ shareholders. The Trust has concluded that each of the Trustees should serve as a Trustee based on their own experience, qualifications, attributes and skills as described below.

 

The Trust has concluded that Mr. Hogan should serve as a Trustee because of his 26+ years of experience in senior level ETF management which began at Spear, Leeds & Kellogg (“SLK”) in 1987, becoming a Limited Partner in 1990 and a Managing Director in 1992. As Managing Director of the Index Derivatives Group, he established trading operations in Chicago, Singapore and London as well as other satellite operations and nurtured Exchange Traded Funds (“ETFs”) as a Specialist in SPDRs, WEBS, Sector SPDRs, iShares and other ETFs. Mr. Hogan became a Managing Director of Goldman Sachs when SLK was merged and played a critical role in combining the ETF operations of SLK, Goldman and Hull Trading (a prior Goldman acquisition). He has worked closely with Exchange staff, issuers, index providers and others in conceiving, designing, developing, launching, marketing and trading new ETFs, and championed the idea of a fixed income ETF. Mr. Hogan is a Founder and Director of the Adviser.

 

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The Trust has concluded that Mr. Jacoby should serve as a Trustee because of the experience he has gained from over 25 years in or serving the investment management industry. Until his retirement in June 2014, Mr. Jacoby served as a partner at the audit and professional services firm Deloitte & Touche LLP, where he had worked since 2000, providing various services to asset management firms that manage mutual funds, hedge funds and private equity funds. Prior to that, Mr. Jacoby held various senior positions at financial services firms. Additionally, he served as a partner at Ernst & Young LLP. Mr. Jacoby is a Certified Public Accountant.

 

The Trust has concluded that Mr. Mahle should serve as a Trustee because of the experience he has gained as an attorney in the investment management industry of a major law firm, representing exchange-traded funds and other investment companies as well as their sponsors and advisers and his knowledge and experience in investment management law and the financial services industry. Mr. Mahle is also a professor of law at Fordham Law School, where he lectures on investment companies and investment adviser regulations.

 

The Trust has concluded that Mr. Wolfgruber should serve as a Trustee because of his experience as President and Chief Investment Officer of OppenheimerFunds, Inc. where he was employed from 2000 to 2009. Mr. Wolfgruber was responsible for the oversight of sales, marketing, trading, risk management and the investment process of ten investment teams which, together, managed over $200 billion across domestic and international asset classes. Mr. Wolfgruber has been involved in investment management for over 35 years with previous experience as a research analyst, portfolio manager and team and business leader at JP Morgan Investment Management from 1974 to 2000. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst.

 

In its periodic assessment of the effectiveness of the Board, the Board considers the complementary individual skills and experience of the individual Trustees primarily in the broader context of the Board’s overall composition so that the Board, as a body, possesses the appropriate (and appropriately diverse) skills and experience to oversee the business of the Funds.

 

Officers. Set forth below is information about each of the persons currently serving as officers of the Trust. The address of J. Garrett Stevens, Richard Hogan, and James J. Baker, Jr. is c/o Exchange Listed Funds Trust, 10900 Hefner Pointe Drive, Suite 207, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73120, the address of Christopher W. Roleke is Foreside Management Services, LLC, 10 High Street, Suite 302, Boston, Massachusetts 02110, and the address of Patrick Keniston is Foreside Fund Officer Services, LLC, 3 Canal Plaza, Suite 100, Portland, Maine 04101.

 

Name and Year of Birth 

Position(s) Held with 

the Trust 

Term of Office and Length of Time Served1

Principal Occupation(s) 

During Past 5 Years 

J. Garrett Stevens
(1979)
President Since 2012 Investment Advisor/Vice President, T.S. Phillips Investments, Inc. 2000 -2011; Chief Executive Officer and Secretary. Exchange Traded Concepts Trust 2009 - 2011; Chief Executive Officer, Exchange Traded Concepts, LLC 2009-present; President, Exchange Traded Concepts Trust 2011-present.
Richard Hogan
(1961)
Trustee and Secretary Since 2012 Director, Exchange Traded Concepts, LLC 2011-present; Private Investor 2002-present; Secretary, Exchange Traded Concepts Trust 2011-present; Managing Member, Yorkville ETF Advisors 2011-2016.

Christopher W. Roleke 

(1972) 

Treasurer Since 2012 Managing Director/Fund Principal Financial Officer, Foreside Management Services, LLC 2011-Present.
James J. Baker Jr.
(1951)
Assistant Treasurer Since 2015 Exchange Traded Concepts, LLC, 2011 to present — Managing Partner; Yorkville ETF Advisors, 2012 to 2016 — Managing Partner; Goldman Sachs, 2000 to 2011 — Vice President.

 

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Name and Year of Birth 

Position(s) Held with 

the Trust 

Term of Office and Length of Time Served1

Principal Occupation(s) 

During Past 5 Years 

Patrick Keniston 

(1964) 

Chief Compliance Officer Since 2017 Managing Director, Foreside Fund Officer Services, LLC 2008-present.

1 Each officer serves at the pleasure of the Board of Trustees.

 

Trust Committees. The Board has established the following standing committees, which are chaired by and comprised of Independent Trustees:

 

Audit Committee. The Board has an Audit Committee that is composed of each of the Independent Trustees of the Trust. Mr. Jacoby serves as Chair. The Audit Committee operates under a written charter approved by the Board. The principal responsibilities of the Audit Committee include: recommending which firm to engage as the Funds’ independent registered public accounting firm and whether to terminate this relationship; reviewing the independent registered public accounting firm’s compensation, the proposed scope and terms of its engagement, and the firm’s independence; pre-approving audit and non-audit services provided by the Funds’ independent registered public accounting firm to the Trust and certain other affiliated entities; serving as a channel of communication between the independent registered public accounting firm and the Trustees; reviewing the results of each external audit, including any qualifications in the independent registered public accounting firm’s opinion, any related management letter, management’s responses to recommendations made by the independent registered public accounting firm in connection with the audit, reports submitted to the Committee by the internal auditing department of the Trust’s administrators that are material to the Trust as a whole, if any, and management’s responses to any such reports; reviewing the Funds’ audited financial statements and considering any significant disputes between the Trust’s management and the independent registered public accounting firm that arose in connection with the preparation of those financial statements; considering, in consultation with the independent registered public accounting firm and the Trust’s senior internal accounting executive, if any, the independent registered public accounting firms’ report on the adequacy of the Trust’s internal financial controls; reviewing, in consultation with the Funds’ independent registered public accounting firm, major changes regarding auditing and accounting principles and practices to be followed when preparing the Funds’ financial statements; and other audit related matters. The Audit Committee meets periodically, as necessary, and met seven (7) times during the most recently completed fiscal period.

 

Governance and Nominating Committee. The Board has a standing Governance and Nominating Committee that is composed of each of the Independent Trustees of the Trust. Mr. Mahle serves as Chair. The Governance and Nominating Committee operates under a written charter approved by the Board. The principal responsibility of the Governance and Nominating Committee is to consider, recommend and nominate candidates to fill vacancies on the Trust’s Board, if any. The Governance and Nominating Committee generally will not consider nominees recommended by shareholders. The Governance and Nominating Committee meets periodically, as necessary, and met one (1) time during the most recently completed fiscal period.

 

In addition to the foregoing standing committees of the Board, the Trust has a Valuation Committee that may be comprised of representatives from the Adviser, representatives from the Trust’s administrator and/or members of the Board of Trustees. The Valuation Committee operates under procedures approved by the Board. The Valuation Committee is responsible for the valuation and revaluation of any portfolio investments for which market quotations or prices are not readily available. The Valuation Committee meets periodically, as necessary.

 

Ownership of Fund Shares. If applicable, the following table shows the dollar range of each Trustee’s “beneficial ownership” of shares of the Funds and each other series of the Trust as of the end of the most recently completed calendar year. Dollar amount ranges disclosed are established by the SEC. “Beneficial ownership” is determined in accordance with Rule 16a-1(a)(2) under the Exchange Act. As of December 31, 2018, the Trustees and officers own less than 1% of the outstanding shares of the Trust.

 

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Name 

QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap ETF 

QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap Momentum ETF

Aggregate Dollar Range of Shares  

of the Trust 

Interested Trustee
Stevens None None None
Independent Trustees
Jacoby None None None
Mahle None None None
Wolfgruber None None None

 

Trustee Compensation. Effective October 1, 2018, as compensation for service on the Trust’s Board, each Independent Trustee is entitled to receive a $40,000 annual base fee, as well as a $3,000 fee for each in-person meeting and a $1,000 fee for each telephonic meeting. In addition, Mr. Jacoby is entitled to a $5,000 annual fee for his service as Audit Committee chair, and Mr. Mahle is entitled to a $5,000 annual fee for his service as Lead Independent Trustee. Prior to October 1, 2018, as compensation for service on the Trust’s Board, each Independent Trustee was entitled to receive a $35,000 base fee, as well as a $2,500 fee for each in-person meeting and a $1,000 fee for each telephonic meeting. In addition, Mr. Jacoby was entitled to a $5,000 annual fee for his service as Audit Committee chair.

 

The following table sets forth the fees paid to the Trustees for the fiscal period ended April 30, 2019. Independent Trustee fees are paid from the unitary fee paid to the Adviser by the Funds. Trustee compensation does not include reimbursed out-of-pocket expenses in connection with attendance at meetings.

 

Name Aggregate Compensation Pension or Retirement Benefits Accrued as Part of Fund Expenses Estimated Annual Benefits Upon Retirement Total Compensation from the Trust and Fund Complex1
Interested Trustee
Stevens $0 n/a n/a $0 for service on () board
Independent Trustees
Jacoby $67,250 n/a n/a $135,000 for service on (2) boards
Mahle $64,250 n/a n/a $129,500 for service on (2) boards
Wolfgruber $58,000 n/a n/a $117,000 for service on (2) boards
1 The Fund complex includes each series of the Trust and Exchange Traded Concepts Trust.

 

CODES OF ETHICS

 

The Trust, the Adviser and Foreside Financial Group LLC (on behalf of the Distributor and its affiliates) have each adopted a code of ethics pursuant to Rule 17j-1 of the 1940 Act (each, a “Code of Ethics” and collectively, the “Codes of Ethics”). The Codes of Ethics are designed to prevent affiliated persons of the Trust, the Adviser and Foreside Financial Group (on behalf of the Distributor, Foreside Management Services, LLC, and Foreside Compliance Services, LLC) from engaging in deceptive, manipulative or fraudulent activities in connection with securities held or to be acquired by the Funds. These codes of ethics permit, subject to certain conditions, personnel of each of those entities to invest in securities, including those that may be purchased or held by the Funds.

 

There can be no assurance that the Codes of Ethics will be effective in preventing such activities. Each Code of Ethics, filed as exhibits to this registration statement, may be examined at the office of the SEC in Washington, D.C. or on the Internet at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.

 

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PROXY VOTING POLICIES

 

The Board has delegated the responsibility to vote proxies for securities held in each Fund’s portfolio to the Adviser. Proxies for the portfolio securities are voted in accordance with the Adviser’s proxy voting policies and procedures, which are set forth in Exhibit A to this SAI. Information regarding how each Fund voted proxies relating to its portfolio securities during the most recent twelve-month period ended June 30 is available: (1) without charge by calling toll-free 1-855-973-7880, and (2) on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.

 

INVESTMENT ADVISORY AND OTHER SERVICES

 

Adviser. Exchange Traded Concepts, LLC (“ETC”), an Oklahoma limited liability company located at 10900 Hefner Pointe Drive, Suite 207, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73120, its primary place of business, and 295 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10017, serves as the investment adviser to the Funds. The Adviser is majority owned by Cottonwood ETF Holdings LLC.

 

The Trust and the Adviser have entered into an investment advisory agreement (the “Advisory Agreement”) with respect to the Funds. Under the Advisory Agreement, the Adviser provides investment advisory services to the Funds. The Adviser is responsible for, among other things, trading portfolio securities on behalf of the Fund, including selecting broker-dealers to execute purchase and sale transactions, subject to the supervision of the Board. The Adviser also arranges for transfer agency, custody, fund administration and accounting, and other non-distribution related services necessary for the Funds to operate. The Adviser administers the Funds’ business affairs, provides office facilities and equipment and certain clerical, bookkeeping and administrative services, and provides its officers and employees to serve as officers or Trustees of the Trust.

 

For the services the Adviser provides, each Fund pays the Adviser a fee, which is calculated daily and paid monthly, at an annual rate as follows:

 

QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap ETF 0.75%
   
QRAFT AI- Enhanced U.S. Large Cap Momentum ETF 0.75%

 

Under the Advisory Agreement, the Adviser has agreed to pay all expenses incurred by the Trust except for the advisory fee, interest, taxes, brokerage commissions and other expenses incurred in placing or settlement of orders for the purchase and sale of securities and other investment instruments, acquired fund fees and expenses, accrued deferred tax liability, extraordinary expenses, and distribution fees and expenses paid by the Trust under any distribution plan adopted pursuant to Rule 12b-1 under the 1940 Act.

 

After the initial two-year term, the continuance of the Advisory Agreement must be specifically approved at least annually: (i) by the vote of the Trustees or by a vote of the shareholders of the Funds; and (ii) by the vote of a majority of the Trustees who are not parties to the Advisory Agreement or “interested persons” or of any party thereto, cast in person at a meeting called for the purpose of voting on such approval. The Advisory Agreement will terminate automatically in the event of its assignment, and is terminable at any time without penalty by the Trustees of the Trust or, with respect to the Funds, by a majority of the outstanding voting securities of the Funds, or by the Adviser on not more than sixty (60) days’ nor less than thirty (30) days’ written notice to the Trust. As used in the Advisory Agreement, the terms “majority of the outstanding voting securities,” “interested persons” and “assignment” have the same meaning as such terms in the 1940 Act.

 

The Trust and the Adviser have obtained exemptive relief, In the Matter of Exchange Traded Concepts Trust, et al., Investment Company Act Release Nos. 31453 (February 10, 2015) (Notice) and 31502 (March 10, 2015) (the “Order”), pursuant to which the Adviser may, with Board approval but without shareholder approval, change or select new sub-advisers, materially amend the terms of an agreement with a sub-adviser (including an increase in its fee), or continue the employment of a sub-adviser after an event that would otherwise cause the automatic termination of services, subject to the conditions of the Order. Shareholders will be notified of any sub-adviser changes.

 

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THE PORTFOLIO MANAGERS

 

Andrew Serowik and Travis Trampe serve as the Funds’ portfolio managers. This section includes information about the portfolio managers, including information about compensation, other accounts managed, and the dollar range of Shares owned.

 

Portfolio Manager Compensation. Mr. Serowik’s portfolio management compensation includes a salary and discretionary bonus based on the profitability of the Adviser. Mr. Trampe’s portfolio management compensation also includes a salary and discretionary bonus based upon the profitability of the Adviser. Neither Mr. Serowik’s nor Mr. Trampe’s compensation is directly related to the performance of the underlying assets.

 

Fund Shares Owned by Portfolio Managers. Each Fund is required to show the dollar range of the portfolio managers’ “beneficial ownership” of shares of the Fund as of the end of the most recently completed fiscal period. Dollar amount ranges disclosed are established by the SEC. “Beneficial ownership” is determined in accordance with Rule 16a-1(a)(2) under the Exchange Act. As of the date of this SAI, the portfolio managers did not beneficially own shares of either Fund.

 

Other Accounts Managed by the Portfolio Managers. In addition to the Funds, the portfolio managers are responsible for the day-to-day management of certain other accounts, as follows:

 

Name

Registered  

Investment Companies* 

Other Pooled  

Investment Vehicles* 

Other Accounts*

Number 

of Accounts 

Total Assets 

(in millions) 

Number of Accounts

Total Assets 

(in millions) 

Number of Accounts

Total Assets 

(in millions) 

Andrew Serowik 3 $144.4 0 $0 0 $0
Travis Trampe 3 $144.4 0 $0 0 $0

* Information provided is as of April 1, 2019. None of the accounts managed by the portfolio managers are subject to performance based advisory fees.

 

Conflicts of Interest. Each portfolio manager’s management of “other accounts” may give rise to potential conflicts of interest in connection with their management of the Funds’ investments, on the one hand, and the investments of the other accounts, on the other. The other accounts may have the same investment objectives as the Funds. Therefore, a potential conflict of interest may arise as a result of the identical investment objectives, whereby a portfolio manager could favor one account over another. Another potential conflict could include a portfolio manager’s knowledge about the size, timing, and possible market impact of Fund trades, whereby the portfolio manager could use this information to the advantage of other accounts and to the disadvantage of the Funds. However, the Adviser has established policies and procedures to ensure that the purchase and sale of securities among all accounts managed by the portfolio managers are fairly and equitably allocated.

 

THE DISTRIBUTOR

 

The Trust and Foreside Fund Services, LLC (the “Distributor”) are parties to an amended and restated distribution agreement (“Distribution Agreement”) whereby the Distributor acts as principal underwriter for the Trust’s shares and distributes the shares of each Fund. Shares of each Fund are continuously offered for sale by the Distributor only in Creation Units. Each Creation Unit is made up of at least 25,000 shares. The Distributor will not distribute shares in amounts less than a Creation Unit. The principal business address of the Distributor is Three Canal Plaza, Suite 100, Portland, Maine 04101.

 

The Distributor will deliver prospectuses and, upon request, Statements of Additional Information to persons purchasing Creation Units and will maintain records of orders placed with it. The Distributor is a broker-dealer registered under the Exchange Act and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”).

 

The Distributor may enter into agreements with securities dealers wishing to purchase Creation Units if such securities dealers qualify as Authorized Participants (as discussed in “Procedures for Creation of Creation Units” below).

 

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The Distribution Agreement will continue for two years from its effective date and is renewable thereafter. The continuance of the Distribution Agreement with respect to each Fund must be specifically approved at least annually (i) by the vote of the Trustees or by a vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of each Fund and (ii) by the vote of a majority of the Trustees who are not “interested persons” of the Trust and have no direct or indirect financial interest in the operations of the Distribution Agreement or any related agreement, cast in person at a meeting called for the purpose of voting on such approval. The Distribution Agreement is terminable without penalty by the Trust on 60 days’ written notice when authorized either by majority vote of a Fund’s outstanding voting shares or by a vote of a majority of its Board (including a majority of the Independent Trustees), or by the Distributor on 60 days’ written notice, and will automatically terminate in the event of its assignment.

 

The Distributor also may provide trade order processing services pursuant to a services agreement.

 

Distribution and Service Plan. The Trust has adopted a Distribution and Service Plan (the “Plan”) in accordance with the provisions of Rule 12b-1 under the 1940 Act, which regulates circumstances under which an investment company may directly or indirectly bear expenses relating to the distribution of its shares. No payments pursuant to the Plan will be made during the Funds’ initial twelve (12) months of operation.

 

Continuance of the Plan must be approved annually by a majority of the Trustees of the Trust and by a majority of the Trustees who are not interested persons (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Trust and have no direct or indirect financial interest in the Plan or in any agreements related to the Plan (“Qualified Trustees”). The Plan requires that quarterly written reports of amounts spent under the Plan and the purposes of such expenditures be furnished to and reviewed by the Trustees. The Plan may not be amended to increase materially the amount that may be spent thereunder without approval by a majority of the outstanding shares of any class of a Fund that is affected by such increase. All material amendments of the Plan will require approval by a majority of the Trustees of the Trust and of the Qualified Trustees.

 

The Plan provides that the Funds pay the Distributor an annual fee of up to a maximum of 0.25% of the average daily net assets of the shares of each Fund. Under the Plan, the Distributor may make payments pursuant to written agreements to financial institutions and intermediaries such as banks, savings and loan associations and insurance companies including, without limit, investment counselors, broker-dealers and the Distributor’s affiliates and subsidiaries (collectively, “Agents”) as compensation for services and reimbursement of expenses incurred in connection with distribution assistance. The Plan is characterized as a compensation plan since the distribution fee will be paid to the Distributor without regard to the distribution expenses incurred by the Distributor or the amount of payments made to other financial institutions and intermediaries. The Trust intends to operate the Plan in accordance with its terms and with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) rules concerning sales charges.

 

Under the Plan, subject to the limitations of applicable law and regulations, the Funds are authorized to compensate the Distributor up to the maximum amount to finance any activity primarily intended to result in the sale of Creation Units of the Funds or for providing or arranging for others to provide shareholder services and for the maintenance of shareholder accounts. Such activities may include, but are not limited to: (i) delivering copies of the Funds’ then current reports, prospectuses, notices, and similar materials, to prospective purchasers of Creation Units; (ii) marketing and promotional services, including advertising; (iii) paying the costs of and compensating others, including Authorized Participants with whom the Distributor has entered into written Authorized Participant Agreements, for performing shareholder servicing on behalf of the Funds; (iv) compensating certain Authorized Participants for providing assistance in distributing the Creation Units of the Funds, including the travel and communication expenses and salaries and/or commissions of sales personnel in connection with the distribution of the Creation Units of the Funds; (v) payments to financial institutions and intermediaries such as banks, savings and loan associations, insurance companies and investment counselors, broker-dealers, mutual fund supermarkets and the affiliates and subsidiaries of the Trust’s service providers as compensation for services or reimbursement of expenses incurred in connection with distribution assistance; (vi) facilitating communications with beneficial owners of shares of a Fund, including the cost of providing (or paying others to provide) services to beneficial owners of shares of a Fund, including, but not limited to, assistance in answering inquiries related to shareholder accounts, and (vii) such other services and obligations as are set forth in the Distribution Agreement.

 

27

 

THE ADMINISTRATORS

 

The Bank of New York Mellon (“BNY Mellon”), One Wall Street, New York, New York, 10286, and UMB Fund Services Inc. (“UMBFS”), 235 West Galena Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 53212, serve as administrators to each Fund.

 

For services provided pursuant to administration agreements with the Trust, BNY Mellon and UMBFS are each entitled to a fee paid by the Adviser, based on assets under management, subject to a minimum fee.

 

THE CUSTODIAN

 

BNY Mellon serves as the custodian of each Fund (the “Custodian”). The Custodian holds cash, securities and other assets of the Funds as required by the 1940 Act.

 

THE TRANSFER AGENT

 

BNY Mellon serves as transfer agent and dividend disbursing agent of each Fund.

 

COMPLIANCE SERVICES

 

Under the Fund CCO Agreement (the “CCO Agreement”) with the Trust, Foreside Fund Officer Services, LLC, an affiliate of the Distributor, provides a Chief Compliance Officer (“CCO”) as well as certain additional compliance support functions (“Compliance Services”). The CCO Agreement with respect to each Fund continues in effect until terminated. The CCO Agreement is terminable with or without cause and without penalty by the Board or by Foreside Fund Officer Services, LLC with respect to each Fund on 60 days’ written notice to the other party. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Board will have the right to remove the CCO at any time, with or without cause, without the payment of any penalty.

 

LEGAL COUNSEL

 

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, 1111 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004, serves as legal counsel to the Trust.

 

INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

 

Cohen & Company, Ltd., 1350 Euclid Avenue, Suite 800, Cleveland, Ohio 44115, serves as the independent registered public accounting firm for the Funds.

 

PORTFOLIO HOLDINGS DISCLOSURE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

 

The Trust’s Board has adopted a policy regarding the disclosure of information about the Funds’ security holdings. Each Fund’s entire portfolio holdings are publicly disseminated each day the Fund is open for business through financial reporting and news services including publicly available internet web sites, as well as through the following website: www.qraftaietf.com. In addition, the composition of the in-kind creation basket and the in-kind redemption basket, is publicly disseminated daily prior to the opening of the Exchange via the NSCC.

 

Greater than daily access to information concerning the Funds’ portfolio holdings will be permitted (i) to certain personnel of service providers to the Funds involved in portfolio management and providing administrative, operational, risk management, or other support to portfolio management, and (ii) to other personnel of the Funds’ service providers who deal directly with, or assist in, functions related to investment management, administration, custody and fund accounting, as may be necessary to conduct business in the ordinary course in a manner consistent with the Trust’s exemptive relief, agreements with the Funds, and the terms of the Trust’s current registration statement.  From time to time, and in the ordinary course of business, such information may also be disclosed (i) to other entities that provide services to the Funds, including pricing information vendors, and third parties that deliver analytical, statistical or consulting services to the Funds and (ii) generally after it has been disseminated to the NSCC.

 

28

 

Each Fund will disclose its complete portfolio holdings in public filings with the SEC on a quarterly basis, based on the Fund’s fiscal year-end, within 60 days of the end of the quarter, and will provide that information to shareholders, as required by federal securities laws and regulations thereunder. 

 

No person is authorized to disclose any of a Fund’s portfolio holdings or other investment positions (whether in writing, by fax, by e-mail, orally, or by other means) except in accordance with this policy.  The Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer may authorize disclosure of portfolio holdings. The Board reviews the implementation of this policy on a periodic basis.

 

DESCRIPTION OF SHARES

 

The Declaration of Trust authorizes the issuance of an unlimited number of funds and shares of each fund. Each share of a fund represents an equal proportionate interest in the fund with each other share. Shares of each Fund are entitled upon liquidation to a pro rata share in the net assets of a fund. Shareholders have no preemptive rights. The Declaration of Trust provides that the Trustees of the Trust may create additional series or classes of shares. All consideration received by the Trust for shares of any additional funds and all assets in which such consideration is invested would belong to that fund and would be subject to the liabilities related thereto. Share certificates representing shares will not be issued. The Funds’ shares, when issued, are fully paid and non-assessable.

 

Each share has one vote with respect to matters upon which a shareholder vote is required consistent with the requirements of the 1940 Act and the rules promulgated thereunder. Shares of all funds vote together as a single class, except that if the matter being voted on affects only a particular fund it will be voted on only by that fund and if a matter affects a particular fund differently from other funds, that fund will vote separately on such matter. As a Delaware statutory trust, the Trust is not required, and does not intend, to hold annual meetings of shareholders. Approval of shareholders will be sought, however, for certain changes in the operation of the Trust and for the election of Trustees under certain circumstances.

 

Under the Declaration of Trust, the Trustees have the power to liquidate each Fund without shareholder approval. While the Trustees have no present intention of exercising this power, they may do so if a Fund fails to reach a viable size within a reasonable amount of time or for such other reasons as may be determined by the Board.

 

LIMITATION OF TRUSTEES’ LIABILITY

 

The Declaration of Trust provides that a Trustee shall be liable only for his or her own willful misfeasance, bad faith, gross negligence or reckless disregard of the duties involved in the conduct of the office of Trustee, and shall not be liable for errors of judgment or mistakes of fact or law. The Trustees shall not be responsible or liable in any event for any neglect or wrong-doing of any officer, agent, employee, investment adviser or principal underwriter of the Trust, nor shall any Trustee be responsible for the act or omission of any other Trustee. The Declaration of Trust also provides that the Trust shall indemnify each person who is, or has been, a Trustee, officer, employee or agent of the Trust, any person who is serving or has served at the Trust’s request as a Trustee, officer, trustee, employee or agent of another organization in which the Trust has any interest as a shareholder, creditor or otherwise to the extent and in the manner provided in the By-Laws. However, nothing in the Declaration of Trust shall protect or indemnify a Trustee against any liability for his or her willful misfeasance, bad faith, gross negligence or reckless disregard of the duties involved in the conduct of the office of Trustee. Nothing contained in this section attempts to disclaim a Trustee’s individual liability in any manner inconsistent with the federal securities laws.

 

BROKERAGE TRANSACTIONS

 

The policy of the Trust regarding purchases and sales of securities for the Funds is that primary consideration will be given to obtaining the most favorable prices and efficient executions of transactions. Consistent with this policy, when securities transactions are effected on a stock exchange, the Trust’s policy is to pay commissions which are considered fair and reasonable without necessarily determining that the lowest possible commissions are paid in all circumstances. The Trust believes that a requirement always to seek the lowest possible commission cost could impede effective portfolio management and preclude the Funds from obtaining a high quality of brokerage and research services. In seeking to determine the reasonableness of brokerage commissions paid in any transaction, the Adviser will rely upon its experience and knowledge regarding commissions generally charged by various brokers and on its judgment in evaluating the brokerage services received from the broker effecting the transaction. Such determinations are necessarily subjective and imprecise, as in most cases, an exact dollar value for those services is not ascertainable. The Trust has adopted policies and procedures that prohibit the consideration of sales of the Funds’ shares as a factor in the selection of a broker or dealer to execute its portfolio transactions.

 

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The Adviser owes a fiduciary duty to its clients to seek to provide best execution on trades effected. In selecting a broker/dealer for each specific transaction, the Adviser chooses the broker/dealer deemed most capable of providing the services necessary to obtain the most favorable execution. Best execution is generally understood to mean the most favorable cost or net proceeds reasonably obtainable under the circumstances. The full range of brokerage services applicable to a particular transaction may be considered when making this judgment, which may include, but is not limited to: liquidity, price, commission, timing, aggregated trades, capable floor brokers or traders, competent block trading coverage, ability to position, capital strength and stability, reliable and accurate communications and settlement processing, use of automation, knowledge of other buyers or sellers, arbitrage skills, administrative ability, underwriting and provision of information on a particular security or market in which the transaction is to occur. The specific criteria will vary depending upon the nature of the transaction, the market in which it is executed, and the extent to which it is possible to select from among multiple broker/dealers. The Adviser will also use electronic crossing networks (“ECNs”) when appropriate.

 

The Adviser may use a Fund’s assets for, or participate in, third-party soft dollar arrangements, in addition to receiving proprietary research from various full service brokers, the cost of which is bundled with the cost of the broker’s execution services. The Adviser does not “pay up” for the value of any such proprietary research. Section 28(e) of the Exchange Act permits the Adviser, under certain circumstances, to cause a Fund to pay a broker or dealer a commission for effecting a transaction in excess of the amount of commission another broker or dealer would have charged for effecting the transaction in recognition of the value of brokerage and research services provided by the broker or dealer. The Adviser may receive a variety of research services and information on many topics, which it can use in connection with its management responsibilities with respect to the various accounts over which it exercises investment discretion or otherwise provides investment advice. The research services may include qualifying order management systems, portfolio attribution and monitoring services and computer software and access charges which are directly related to investment research. Accordingly, a Fund may pay a broker commission higher than the lowest available in recognition of the broker’s provision of such services to the Adviser, but only if the Adviser determines the total commission (including the soft dollar benefit) is comparable to the best commission rate that could be expected to be received from other brokers. The amount of soft dollar benefits received depends on the amount of brokerage transactions effected with the brokers. A conflict of interest exists because there is an incentive to: 1) cause clients to pay a higher commission than the firm might otherwise be able to negotiate; 2) cause clients to engage in more securities transactions than would otherwise be optimal; and 3) only recommend brokers that provide soft dollar benefits.

 

The Adviser faces a potential conflict of interest when it uses client trades to obtain brokerage or research services. This conflict exists because the Adviser is able to use the brokerage or research services to manage client accounts without paying cash for such services, which reduces the Adviser’s expenses to the extent that the Adviser would have purchased such products had they not been provided by brokers. Section 28(e) permits the Adviser to use brokerage or research services for the benefit of any account it manages. Certain accounts managed by the Adviser may generate soft dollars used to purchase brokerage or research services that ultimately benefit other accounts managed by the Adviser, effectively cross subsidizing the other accounts managed by the Adviser that benefit directly from the product. The adviser may not necessarily use all of the brokerage or research services in connection with managing a Fund whose trades generated the soft dollars used to purchase such products.

 

The Adviser is responsible, subject to oversight by the Board, for placing orders on behalf of the Funds for the purchase or sale of portfolio securities. If purchases or sales of portfolio securities of the Funds and one or more other investment companies or clients supervised by the Adviser are considered at or about the same time, transactions in such securities are allocated among the several investment companies and clients in a manner deemed equitable and consistent with its fiduciary obligations to all by the Adviser. In some cases, this procedure could have a detrimental effect on the price or volume of the security so far as the Funds are concerned. However, in other cases, it is possible that the ability to participate in volume transactions and to negotiate lower brokerage commissions will be beneficial to the Funds. The primary consideration is prompt execution of orders at the most favorable net price.

 

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The Funds may deal with affiliates in principal transactions to the extent permitted by exemptive order or applicable rule or regulation.

 

As of the date of this SAI, the Funds have not commenced operations and therefore did not pay brokerage commissions during the past fiscal year.

 

Brokerage with Fund Affiliates. The Funds may execute brokerage or other agency transactions through registered broker-dealer affiliates of the Funds, the Adviser, or the Distributor for a commission in conformity with the 1940 Act, the Exchange Act and rules promulgated by the SEC. These rules require that commissions paid to the affiliate by the Funds for exchange transactions not exceed “usual and customary” brokerage commissions. The rules define “usual and customary” commissions to include amounts which are “reasonable and fair compared to the commission, fee or other remuneration received or to be received by other brokers in connection with comparable transactions involving similar securities being purchased or sold on a securities exchange during a comparable period of time.” The Trustees, including those who are not “interested persons” of the Trust, have adopted procedures for evaluating the reasonableness of commissions paid to affiliates and review these procedures periodically.

 

Securities of “Regular Broker-Dealer.” The Funds are required to identify any securities of its “regular brokers and dealers” (as such term is defined in the 1940 Act) which it may hold at the close of its most recent fiscal period. “Regular brokers or dealers” of the Trust are the ten brokers or dealers that, during the most recent fiscal period: (i) received the greatest dollar amounts of brokerage commissions from the Trust’s portfolio transactions; (ii) engaged as principal in the largest dollar amounts of portfolio transactions of the Trust; or (iii) sold the largest dollar amounts of the Trust’s shares. As of the date of this SAI, the Funds have not commenced operations and therefore do not hold any securities of their respective “regular broker dealers.”

 

PORTFOLIO TURNOVER RATE

 

Portfolio turnover may vary from year to year, as well as within a year. High turnover rates are likely to result in comparatively greater brokerage expenses. The overall reasonableness of brokerage commissions is evaluated by the Adviser based upon its knowledge of available information as to the general level of commissions paid by other institutional investors for comparable services.

 

BOOK ENTRY ONLY SYSTEM

 

Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) acts as securities depositary for the shares of each Fund. Shares of the Funds are represented by securities registered in the name of DTC or its nominee, Cede & Co., and deposited with, or on behalf of, DTC. Except in limited circumstances set forth below, certificates will not be issued for shares of a Fund.

 

DTC is a limited-purpose trust company that was created to hold securities of its participants (the “DTC’s Participants”) and to facilitate the clearance and settlement of securities transactions among the DTC Participants in such securities through electronic book-entry changes in accounts of the DTC Participants, thereby eliminating the need for physical movement of securities certificates. DTC Participants include securities brokers and dealers, banks, trust companies, clearing corporations and certain other organizations, some of whom (and/or their representatives) own DTC. More specifically, DTC is owned by a number of its DTC Participants and by the NYSE and FINRA. Access to the DTC system is also available to others such as banks, brokers, dealers, and trust companies that clear through or maintain a custodial relationship with a DTC Participant, either directly or indirectly (the “Indirect Participants”).

 

Beneficial ownership of shares of a Fund is limited to DTC Participants, Indirect Participants, and persons holding interests through DTC Participants and Indirect Participants. Ownership of beneficial interests in shares of a Fund (owners of such beneficial interests are referred to herein as “Beneficial Owners”) is shown on, and the transfer of ownership is effected only through, records maintained by DTC (with respect to DTC Participants) and on the records of DTC Participants (with respect to Indirect Participants and Beneficial Owners that are not DTC Participants). Beneficial Owners will receive from or through the DTC Participant a written confirmation relating to their purchase of shares of a Fund. The Trust recognizes DTC or its nominee as the record owner of all shares of a Fund for all purposes. Beneficial Owners of shares of a Fund are not entitled to have such shares registered in their names, and will not receive or be entitled to physical delivery of share certificates. Each Beneficial Owner must rely on the procedures of DTC and any DTC Participant and/or Indirect Participant through which such Beneficial Owner holds its interests, to exercise any rights of a holder of shares of a Fund.

 

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Conveyance of all notices, statements, and other communications to Beneficial Owners is effected as follows. DTC will make available to the Trust upon request and for a fee a listing of shares of each Fund held by each DTC Participant. The Trust shall obtain from each such DTC Participant the number of Beneficial Owners holding shares of a Fund, directly or indirectly, through such DTC Participant. The Trust shall provide each such DTC Participant with copies of such notice, statement, or other communication, in such form, number and at such place as such DTC Participant may reasonably request, in order that such notice, statement or communication may be transmitted by such DTC Participant, directly or indirectly, to such Beneficial Owners. In addition, the Trust shall pay to each such DTC Participant a fair and reasonable amount as reimbursement for the expenses attendant to such transmittal, all subject to applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

 

Share distributions shall be made to DTC or its nominee, Cede & Co., as the registered holder of all shares. DTC or its nominee, upon receipt of any such distributions, shall credit immediately DTC Participants' accounts with payments in amounts proportionate to their respective beneficial interests in the Funds as shown on the records of DTC or its nominee. Payments by DTC Participants to Indirect Participants and Beneficial Owners of shares of a Fund held through such DTC Participants will be governed by standing instructions and customary practices, as is now the case with securities held for the accounts of customers in bearer form or registered in a “street name,” and will be the responsibility of such DTC Participants.

 

The Trust has no responsibility or liability for any aspect of the records relating to or notices to Beneficial Owners, or payments made on account of beneficial ownership interests in the Funds’ shares, or for maintaining, supervising, or reviewing any records relating to such beneficial ownership interests, or for any other aspect of the relationship between DTC and the DTC Participants or the relationship between such DTC Participants and the Indirect Participants and Beneficial Owners owning through such DTC Participants.

 

DTC may determine to discontinue providing its service with respect to a Fund at any time by giving reasonable notice to such Fund and discharging its responsibilities with respect thereto under applicable law. Under such circumstances, a Fund shall take action either to find a replacement for DTC to perform its functions at a comparable cost or, if such replacement is unavailable, to issue and deliver printed certificates representing ownership of shares of a Fund, unless the Trust makes other arrangements with respect thereto satisfactory to the Exchange.

 

CONTROL PERSONS AND PRINCIPAL HOLDERS OF SECURITIES

 

As of the date of this SAI, no person owned, of record or beneficially, 5% or more of the shares of either Fund.

 

PURCHASE AND REDEMPTION OF SHARES IN CREATION UNITS

 

Each Fund issues and redeems its shares on a continuous basis, at NAV, only in a large specified number of shares called a “Creation Unit,” either principally in-kind for securities or in cash for the value of such securities. The NAV of each Fund’s shares is determined once each Business Day (defined below), as described below under “Determination of Net Asset Value.” The Creation Unit size may change. Authorized Participants will be notified of such change.

 

PURCHASE (CREATION). The Trust issues and sells shares of the Funds only: (i) in Creation Units on a continuous basis through the Distributor, without a sales load (but subject to transaction fees), at their NAV per share next determined after receipt of an order, on any Business Day, in proper form pursuant to the terms of the Authorized Participant Agreement (“Participant Agreement”); or (ii) pursuant to the Dividend Reinvestment Service (defined below). The Funds will not issue fractional Creation Units. A Business Day is, generally, any day on which the Exchange is open for business.

 

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FUND DEPOSIT. The consideration for purchase of a Creation Unit of a Fund generally consists of either (i) the in-kind deposit of a designated portfolio of securities (the “Deposit Securities”) per each Creation Unit, constituting a substantial replication, or a portfolio sampling representation, of the securities included in a Fund’s portfolio and the Cash Component (defined below), computed as described below, or (ii) the cash value of the Deposit Securities (“Deposit Cash”) and the Cash Component. When accepting purchases of Creation Units for cash, a Fund may incur additional costs associated with the acquisition of Deposit Securities that would otherwise be provided by an in-kind purchaser. These additional costs may be recoverable from the purchaser of Creation Units.

 

Together, the Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash, as applicable, and the Cash Component constitute the “Fund Deposit,” which represents the minimum initial and subsequent investment amount for a Creation Unit of a Fund. The “Cash Component” is an amount equal to the difference between the NAV of the shares of each Fund (per Creation Unit) and the market value of the Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash, as applicable. If the Cash Component is a positive number (i.e., the NAV per Creation Unit exceeds the market value of the Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash, as applicable), the Cash Component shall be such positive amount. If the Cash Component is a negative number (i.e., the NAV per Creation Unit is less than the market value of the Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash, as applicable), the Cash Component shall be such negative amount and the creator will be entitled to receive cash in an amount equal to the Cash Component. The Cash Component serves the function of compensating for any differences between the NAV per Creation Unit and the market value of the Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash, as applicable. Computation of the Cash Component excludes any stamp duty or other similar fees and expenses payable upon transfer of beneficial ownership of the Deposit Securities, if applicable, which shall be the sole responsibility of the Authorized Participant (as defined below).

 

Each Fund, through NSCC, makes available on each Business Day, prior to the opening of business on the Exchange (currently 9:30 a.m., Eastern time), the list of the names and the required number of shares of each Deposit Security or the required amount of Deposit Cash, as applicable, to be included in the current Fund Deposit (based on information at the end of the previous Business Day) for a Fund. Such Fund Deposit is subject to any applicable adjustments as described below, in order to effect purchases of Creation Units of a Fund until such time as the next-announced composition of the Deposit Securities or the required amount of Deposit Cash, as applicable, is made available.

 

The identity and number of shares of the Deposit Securities or the amount of Deposit Cash, as applicable, required for the Fund Deposit for the Funds changes as rebalancing adjustments and corporate action events are reflected from time to time by the Adviser with a view to the investment objective of each Fund.

 

The Trust reserves the right to permit or require the substitution of Deposit Cash to replace any Deposit Security, which shall be added to the Cash Component, including, without limitation, in situations where the Deposit Security: (i) may not be available in sufficient quantity for delivery; (ii) may not be eligible for transfer through the systems of DTC for corporate securities and municipal securities or the Federal Reserve System for U.S. Treasury securities; (iii) may not be eligible for trading by an Authorized Participant (as defined below) or the investor for which it is acting; (iv) would be restricted under the securities laws or where the delivery of the Deposit Security to the Authorized Participant would result in the disposition of the Deposit Security by the Authorized Participant becoming restricted under the securities laws; or (v) in certain other situations (collectively, “custom orders”). The Trust also reserves the right to permit or require the substitution of Deposit Securities in lieu of Deposit Cash.

 

CASH PURCHASE METHOD. The Trust may at its discretion permit full or partial cash purchases of Creation Units of a Fund. When full or partial cash purchases of Creation Units are available or specified for a Fund, they will be effected in essentially the same manner as in-kind purchases thereof. In the case of a full or partial cash purchase, the Authorized Participant must pay the cash equivalent of the Deposit Securities it would otherwise be required to provide through an in-kind purchase, plus the same Cash Component required to be paid by an in-kind purchaser together with a Creation Transaction Fee and non-standard charges, as may be applicable.

 

PROCEDURES FOR PURCHASE OF CREATION UNITS. To be eligible to place orders with the Distributor to purchase a Creation Unit of a Fund, an entity must be (i) a “Participating Party”, i.e., a broker-dealer or other participant in the clearing process through the Continuous Net Settlement System of the NSCC (the “Clearing Process”), a clearing agency that is registered with the SEC; or (ii) a DTC Participant (see “BOOK ENTRY ONLY SYSTEM”). In addition, each Participating Party or DTC Participant (each, an “Authorized Participant”) must execute a Participant Agreement that has been agreed to by the Distributor, and that has been accepted by the Transfer Agent and the Trust, with respect to purchases and redemptions of Creation Units. Each Authorized Participant will agree, pursuant to the terms of a Participant Agreement, on behalf of itself or any investor on whose behalf it will act, to certain conditions, including that it will pay to the Trust, an amount of cash sufficient to pay the Cash Component together with the Creation Transaction Fee (defined below) and any other applicable fees, taxes, and additional variable charges. The Adviser may retain all or a portion of the Creation Transaction Fee to the extent the Adviser bears the expenses that otherwise would be borne by the Trust in connection with the purchase of a Creation Unit, which the Creation Transaction Fee is designed to cover.

 

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All orders to purchase shares directly from a Fund, including custom orders, must be placed for one or more Creation Units in the manner and by the time set forth in the Participant Agreement and/or applicable order form. The date on which an order to purchase Creation Units (or an order to redeem Creation Units, as set forth below) is received and accepted is referred to as the “Order Placement Date.”

 

An Authorized Participant may require an investor to make certain representations or enter into agreements with respect to the order, (e.g., to provide for payments of cash, when required). Investors should be aware that their particular broker may not have executed a Participant Agreement and that, therefore, orders to purchase shares directly from a Fund in Creation Units have to be placed by the investor’s broker through an Authorized Participant that has executed a Participant Agreement. In such cases there may be additional charges to such investor. At any given time, there may be only a limited number of broker-dealers that have executed a Participant Agreement and only a small number of such Authorized Participants may have international capabilities.

 

On days when the Exchange closes earlier than normal, a Fund may require orders to create Creation Units to be placed earlier in the day. In addition, if a market or markets on which a Fund’s investments are primarily traded is closed, the Fund will also generally not accept orders on such day(s). Orders must be transmitted by an Authorized Participant by telephone or other transmission method acceptable to the Distributor pursuant to procedures set forth in the Participant Agreement and in accordance with the AP Handbook or applicable order form. The Distributor will notify the Custodian of such order. The Custodian will then provide such information to the appropriate local sub-custodian(s). Those placing orders through an Authorized Participant should allow sufficient time to permit proper submission of the purchase order to the Distributor by the applicable cut-off time on such Business Day. Economic or market disruptions or changes, or telephone or other communication failure may impede the ability to reach the Distributor or an Authorized Participant.

 

Fund Deposits must be delivered by an Authorized Participant through the Federal Reserve System (for cash and U.S. government securities) or through DTC (for corporate securities), through a sub-custody agent (for foreign securities) and/or through such other arrangements allowed by the Trust or its agents. With respect to foreign Deposit Securities, the Custodian shall cause the sub-custodian of each Fund to maintain an account into which the Authorized Participant shall deliver, on behalf of itself or the party on whose behalf it is acting, such Deposit Securities (or Deposit Cash for all or a part of such securities, as permitted or required), with any appropriate adjustments as advised by the Trust. Foreign Deposit Securities must be delivered to an account maintained at the applicable local sub-custodian. The Fund Deposit transfer must be ordered by the Authorized Participant in a timely fashion so as to ensure the delivery of the requisite number of Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash, as applicable, to the account of a Fund or its agents by no later than the Settlement Date. The “Settlement Date” for a Fund is generally the second Business Day after the Order Placement Date. All questions as to the number of Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash to be delivered, as applicable, and the validity, form and eligibility (including time of receipt) for the deposit of any tendered securities or cash, as applicable, will be determined by the Trust, whose determination shall be final and binding. The amount of cash represented by the Cash Component must be transferred directly to the Custodian through the Federal Reserve Bank wire transfer system in a timely manner so as to be received by the Custodian no later than the Settlement Date. If the Cash Component and the Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash, as applicable, are not received by the Custodian in a timely manner by the Settlement Date, the creation order may be cancelled and the Authorized Participant shall be liable to a Fund for losses, if any, resulting therefrom. Upon written notice to the Distributor, such canceled order may be resubmitted the following Business Day using the Fund Deposit as newly constituted to reflect the then current NAV of a Fund.

 

The order shall be deemed to be received on the Business Day on which the order is placed provided that the order is placed in proper form prior to the applicable cut-off time and the federal funds in the appropriate amount are deposited by 2:00 p.m., Eastern time, with the Custodian on the Settlement Date. If the order is not placed in proper form as required, or federal funds in the appropriate amount are not received by 2:00 p.m. Eastern time on the Settlement Date, then the order may be deemed to be rejected and the Authorized Participant shall be liable to the applicable Fund for losses, if any, resulting therefrom. A creation request is considered to be in “proper form” if all procedures set forth in the Participant Agreement, AP Handbook, order form, and this SAI are properly followed.

 

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ISSUANCE OF A CREATION UNIT. Except as provided herein, Creation Units will not be issued until the transfer of good title to the Trust of the Deposit Securities or payment of Deposit Cash, as applicable, and the payment of the Cash Component have been completed. When the sub-custodian has confirmed to the Custodian that the required Deposit Securities (or the cash value thereof) have been delivered to the account of the relevant sub-custodian or sub-custodians, the Distributor and the Adviser shall be notified of such delivery, and the Trust will issue and cause the delivery of the Creation Units. The delivery of Creation Units so created generally will occur no later than the second Business Day following the day on which the purchase order is deemed received by the Distributor. However, each Fund reserves the right to settle Creation Unit transactions on a basis other than the second Business Day following the day on which the purchase order is deemed received by the Distributor in order to accommodate foreign market holiday schedules, to account for different treatment among foreign and U.S. markets of dividend record dates and ex-dividend dates (that is the last day the holder of a security can sell the security and still receive dividends payable on the security), and in certain other circumstances. The Authorized Participant shall be liable to the applicable Fund for losses, if any, resulting from unsettled orders.

 

Creation Units may be purchased in advance of receipt by the Trust of all or a portion of the applicable Deposit Securities as described below. In these circumstances, the initial deposit will have a value greater than the NAV of the shares on the date the order is placed in proper form since in addition to available Deposit Securities, cash must be deposited in an amount equal to the sum of (i) the Cash Component, plus (ii) an additional amount of cash equal to a percentage of the market value as set forth in the Participant Agreement, of the undelivered Deposit Securities (the “Additional Cash Deposit”), which shall be maintained in a separate non-interest bearing collateral account. The Authorized Participant must deposit with the Custodian the Additional Cash Deposit, as applicable, by the time set forth in the Participant Agreement on the Settlement Date. If a Fund or its agents do not receive the Additional Cash Deposit in the appropriate amount, by such time, then the order may be deemed rejected and the Authorized Participant shall be liable to the Fund for losses, if any, resulting therefrom. An additional amount of cash shall be required to be deposited with the Trust, pending delivery of the missing Deposit Securities to the extent necessary to maintain the Additional Cash Deposit with the Trust in an amount at least equal to the applicable percentage, as set forth in the Participant Agreement, of the daily marked to market value of the missing Deposit Securities. The Trust may use such Additional Cash Deposit to buy the missing Deposit Securities at any time. Authorized Participants will be liable to the Trust for all costs, expenses, dividends, income, and taxes associated with missing Deposit Securities, including the costs incurred by the Trust in connection with any such purchases. These costs will be deemed to include the amount by which the actual purchase price of the Deposit Securities exceeds the value of such Deposit Securities on the day the purchase order was deemed received by the Distributor plus the brokerage and related transaction costs associated with such purchases. The Trust will return any unused portion of the Additional Cash Deposit once all of the missing Deposit Securities have been properly received by the Custodian or purchased by the Trust and deposited into the Trust. In addition, a Creation Transaction Fee as set forth below under “Creation Transaction Fee” may be charged and an additional variable charge may also apply. The delivery of Creation Units so created generally will occur no later than the Settlement Date.

 

ACCEPTANCE OF ORDERS OF CREATION UNITS. The Trust reserves the absolute right to reject an order for Creation Units transmitted to it by the Distributor in respect of a Fund including, without limitation, if (a) the order is not in proper form; (b) the Deposit Securities or Deposit Cash, as applicable, delivered by the Participant are not as disseminated through the facilities of the NSCC for that date by the Custodian; (c) the investor(s), upon obtaining the shares ordered, would own 80% or more of the currently outstanding shares of a Fund; (d) acceptance of the Deposit Securities would have certain adverse tax consequences to a Fund; (e) the acceptance of the Fund Deposit would, in the opinion of counsel, be unlawful; (f) the acceptance of the Fund Deposit would otherwise, in the discretion of the Trust or the Adviser, have an adverse effect on the Trust or the rights of beneficial owners; (g) the acceptance or receipt of the order for a Creation Unit would, in the opinion of counsel to the Trust, be unlawful; or (h) circumstances outside the control of the Trust, the Custodian, the Transfer Agent and/or the Adviser make it for all practical purposes not feasible to process orders for Creation Units.

 

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Examples of such circumstances include acts of God or public service or utility problems such as fires, floods, extreme weather conditions and power outages resulting in telephone, telecopy and computer failures; market conditions or activities causing trading halts; systems failures involving computer or other information systems affecting the Trust, the Distributor, the Custodian, a sub-custodian, the Transfer Agent, DTC, NSCC, Federal Reserve System, or any other participant in the creation process, and other extraordinary events. The Distributor shall notify a prospective creator of a Creation Unit and/or the Authorized Participant acting on behalf of the creator of a Creation Unit of its rejection of the order of such person. The Trust, the Transfer Agent, the Custodian, any sub-custodian and the Distributor are under no duty, however, to give notification of any defects or irregularities in the delivery of Fund Deposits nor shall either of them incur any liability for the failure to give any such notification. The Trust, the Transfer Agent, the Custodian and the Distributor shall not be liable for the rejection of any purchase order for Creation Units.

 

All questions as to the number of shares of each security in the Deposit Securities and the validity, form, eligibility and acceptance for deposit of any securities to be delivered shall be determined by the Trust, and the Trust’s determination shall be final and binding.

 

CREATION TRANSACTION FEE. A fixed purchase (i.e., creation) transaction fee may be imposed for the transfer and other transaction costs associated with the purchase of Creation Units (“Creation Order Costs”). The standard Creation Transaction Fees for the QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap ETF and QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap Momentum ETF are $1,750 and $250, respectively, regardless of the number of Creation Units created in the transaction. Each Fund may adjust the Creation Transaction Fee from time to time. The Creation Transaction Fee may be waived on certain orders if the Custodian has determined to waive some or all of the Creation Order Costs associated with the order or another party, such as the Adviser, has agreed to pay such fee.

 

In addition, a variable fee may be imposed for cash purchases, non-standard orders, or partial cash purchases of Creation Units. The variable fee is primarily designed to cover non-standard charges, e.g., brokerage, taxes, foreign exchange, execution, market impact, and other costs and expenses, related to the execution of trades resulting from such transaction. In all cases, such fees will be limited in accordance with the requirements of the SEC applicable to management investment companies offering redeemable securities. Each Fund may determine not to charge a variable fee on certain orders when the Adviser has determined that doing so is in the best interests of Fund shareholders, e.g., for creation orders that facilitate the rebalance of a Fund’s portfolio in a more efficient manner than could have been achieved without such order.

 

Investors who use the services of an Authorized Participant, broker or other such intermediary may be charged a fee for such services which may include an amount for the Creation Transaction Fee and non-standard charges. Investors are responsible for the costs of transferring the securities constituting the Deposit Securities to the account of the Trust. The Adviser may retain all or a portion of the Transaction Fee to the extent the Adviser bears the expenses that otherwise would be borne by the Trust in connection with the issuance of a Creation Unit, which the Transaction Fee is designed to cover.

 

RISKS OF PURCHASING CREATION UNITS. There are certain legal risks unique to investors purchasing Creation Units directly from the Funds. Because each Fund’s shares may be issued on an ongoing basis, a “distribution” of shares could be occurring at any time. Certain activities that a shareholder performs as a dealer could, depending on the circumstances, result in the shareholder being deemed a participant in the distribution in a manner that could render the shareholder a statutory underwriter and subject to the prospectus delivery and liability provisions of the Securities Act of 1933. For example, a shareholder could be deemed a statutory underwriter if it purchases Creation Units from a Fund, breaks them down into the constituent shares, and sells those shares directly to customers, or if a shareholder chooses to couple the creation of a supply of new shares with an active selling effort involving solicitation of secondary-market demand for shares. Whether a person is an underwriter depends upon all of the facts and circumstances pertaining to that person’s activities, and the examples mentioned here should not be considered a complete description of all the activities that could cause you to be deemed an underwriter.

 

Dealers who are not “underwriters” but are participating in a distribution (as opposed to engaging in ordinary secondary-market transactions), and thus dealing with a Fund’s shares as part of an “unsold allotment” within the meaning of Section 4(a)(3)(C) of the Securities Act, will be unable to take advantage of the prospectus delivery exemption provided by Section 4(a)(3) of the Securities Act.

 

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REDEMPTION. Shares of each Fund may be redeemed only in Creation Units at their NAV next determined after receipt of a redemption request in proper form by a Fund through the Transfer Agent and only on a Business Day. EXCEPT UPON LIQUIDATION OF A FUND, THE TRUST WILL NOT REDEEM SHARES IN AMOUNTS LESS THAN CREATION UNITS. Investors must accumulate enough shares in the secondary market to constitute a Creation Unit in order to have such shares redeemed by the Trust. There can be no assurance, however, that there will be sufficient liquidity in the public trading market at any time to permit assembly of a Creation Unit. Investors should expect to incur brokerage and other costs in connection with assembling a sufficient number of shares to constitute a redeemable Creation Unit.

 

With respect to each Fund, the Custodian, through the NSCC, makes available prior to the opening of business on the Exchange (currently 9:30 a.m. Eastern time) on each Business Day, the list of the names and share quantities of the Fund’s portfolio securities that will be applicable (subject to possible amendment or correction) to redemption requests received in proper form (as defined below) on that day (“Fund Securities”). Fund Securities received on redemption may not be identical to Deposit Securities.

 

Redemption proceeds for a Creation Unit are paid either in-kind or in cash, or combination thereof, as determined by the Trust. With respect to in-kind redemptions of a Fund, redemption proceeds for a Creation Unit will consist of Fund Securities, as announced by the Custodian on the Business Day of the request for redemption received in proper form, plus cash in an amount equal to the difference between the NAV of the shares being redeemed, as next determined after a receipt of a request in proper form, and the value of Fund Securities (the “Cash Redemption Amount”), less any fixed redemption transaction fee as set forth below and any applicable additional variable charge as set forth below. In the event that a Fund’s Securities have a value greater than the NAV of the shares, a compensating cash payment equal to the differential is required to be made by or through an Authorized Participant by the redeeming shareholder. Notwithstanding the foregoing, at the Trust’s discretion, an Authorized Participant may receive the corresponding cash value of the securities in lieu of the in-kind securities value representing one or more Fund Securities.

 

CASH REDEMPTION METHOD. Although the Trust does not ordinarily permit full or partial cash redemptions of Creation Units of the Funds, when full or partial cash redemptions of Creation Units are available or specified for a Fund, they will be effected in essentially the same manner as in-kind redemptions thereof. In the case of full or partial cash redemptions, the Authorized Participant receives the cash equivalent of the Fund Securities it would otherwise receive through an in-kind redemption, plus the same Cash Redemption Amount to be paid to an in-kind redeemer.

 

REDEMPTION TRANSACTION FEES. A fixed redemption transaction fee may be imposed for the transfer and other transaction costs associated with the redemption of Creation Units (“Redemption Order Costs”). The standard redemption transaction fees for the QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap ETF and QRAFT AI-Enhanced U.S. Large Cap Momentum ETF are $1,750 and $250, respectively, regardless of the number of Creation Units redeemed in the transaction. Each Fund may adjust the redemption transaction fee from time to time. The redemption transaction fee may be waived on certain orders if the Custodian has determined to waive some or all of the Redemption Order Costs associated with the order or another party, such as the Adviser, has agreed to pay such fee.

 

In addition, a variable fee, payable to a Fund, may be imposed for cash redemptions, non-standard orders, or partial cash redemptions for such Fund. The variable fee is primarily designed to cover non-standard charges, e.g., brokerage, taxes, foreign exchange, execution, market impact, and other costs and expenses, related to the execution of trades resulting from such transaction. In all cases, such fees will be limited in accordance with the requirements of the SEC applicable to management investment companies offering redeemable securities. Each Fund may determine not to charge a variable fee on certain orders when the Adviser has determined that doing so is in the best interests of Fund shareholders, e.g., for redemption orders that facilitate the rebalance of a Fund’s portfolio in a more tax efficient manner than could be achieved without such order.

 

Investors who use the services of an Authorized Participant, broker or other such intermediary may be charged a fee for such services, which may include an amount for the redemption transaction fees and non-standard charges. Investors are responsible for the costs of transferring the securities constituting the Fund Securities to the account of the Trust. The non-standard charges are payable to a Fund as it incurs costs in connection with the redemption of Creation Units, the receipt of Fund Securities and the Cash Redemption Amount and other transactions costs. The Adviser may retain all or a portion of the redemption transaction fee to the extent the Adviser bears the expenses that otherwise would be borne by the Trust in connection with the redemption of a Creation Unit, which the redemption transaction fee is designed to cover.

 

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PROCEDURES FOR REDEMPTION OF CREATION UNITS. Orders to redeem Creation Units must be submitted in proper form to the Transfer Agent prior to the time as set forth in the Participant Agreement. A redemption request is considered to be in “proper form” if (i) an Authorized Participant has transferred or caused to be transferred to the Trust’s Transfer Agent the Creation Unit(s) being redeemed through the book-entry system of DTC so as to be effective by the time as set forth in the Participant Agreement and (ii) a request in form satisfactory to the Trust is received by the Transfer Agent from the Authorized Participant on behalf of itself or another redeeming investor within the time periods specified in the Participant Agreement. If the Transfer Agent does not receive the investor’s shares through DTC’s facilities by the times and pursuant to the other terms and conditions set forth in the Participant Agreement, the redemption request shall be rejected, unless, to the extent contemplated by the Participant Agreement, collateral is posted in an amount equal to a percentage of the value of the missing shares as specified in the Participant Agreement (and marked to market daily).

 

The Authorized Participant must transmit the request for redemption, in the form required by the Trust, to the Transfer Agent in accordance with procedures set forth in the Participant Agreement. Investors should be aware that their particular broker may not have executed a Participant Agreement, and that, therefore, requests to redeem Creation Units may have to be placed by the investor’s broker through an Authorized Participant who has executed an Participant Agreement. Investors making a redemption request should be aware that such request must be in the form specified by such Authorized Participant. Investors making a request to redeem Creation Units should allow sufficient time to permit proper submission of the request by an Authorized Participant and transfer of the shares to the Trust’s Transfer Agent; such investors should allow for the additional time that may be required to effect redemptions through their banks, brokers or other financial intermediaries if such intermediaries are not Authorized Participants.

 

ADDITIONAL REDEMPTION PROCEDURES. In connection with taking delivery of shares of Fund Securities upon redemption of Creation Units, a redeeming shareholder or Authorized Participant acting on behalf of such shareholder must maintain appropriate custody arrangements with a qualified broker-dealer, bank or other custody providers in each jurisdiction in which any of a Fund’s Securities are customarily traded, to which account such Fund Securities will be delivered. Deliveries of redemption proceeds generally will be made within two Business Days of the trade date. However, due to the schedule of holidays in certain countries, the different treatment among foreign and U.S. markets of dividend record dates and dividend ex-dates (that is the last date the holder of a security can sell the security and still receive dividends payable on the security sold), and in certain other circumstances, the delivery of in-kind redemption proceeds may take longer than two Business Days after the day on which the redemption request is received in proper form. If neither the redeeming shareholder nor the Authorized Participant acting on behalf of such redeeming shareholder has appropriate arrangements to take delivery of the Fund Securities in the applicable foreign jurisdiction and it is not possible to make other such arrangements, or if it is not possible to effect deliveries of the Fund Securities in such jurisdiction, the Trust may, in its discretion, exercise its option to redeem such shares in cash, and the redeeming shareholders will be required to receive redemption proceeds in cash.

 

If it is not possible to make other such arrangements, or it is not possible to effect deliveries of the Fund Securities, the Trust may in its discretion exercise its option to redeem such shares in cash, and the redeeming investor will be required to receive its redemption proceeds in cash. In addition, an investor may request a redemption in cash that a Fund may, in its sole discretion, permit. In either case, the investor will receive a cash payment equal to the NAV of its shares based on the NAV of shares of a Fund next determined after the redemption request is received in proper form (minus a redemption transaction fee and additional charge for requested cash redemptions specified above, to offset the Trust’s brokerage and other transaction costs associated with the disposition of Fund Securities). Each Fund may also, in its sole discretion, upon request of a shareholder, provide such redeemer a portfolio of securities that differs from the exact composition of the Fund Securities but does not differ in NAV.

 

Pursuant to the Participant Agreement, an Authorized Participant submitting a redemption request is deemed to make certain representations to the Trust regarding the Authorized Participant’s ability to tender for redemption the requisite number of shares of a Fund. The Trust reserves the right to verify these representations at its discretion, but will typically require verification with respect to a redemption request from the applicable Fund in connection with higher levels of redemption activity and/or short interest in either Fund. If the Authorized Participant, upon receipt of a verification request, does not provide sufficient verification of its representations as determined by the Trust, the redemption request will not be considered to have been received in proper form and may be rejected by the Trust.

 

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Redemptions of shares for Fund Securities will be subject to compliance with applicable federal and state securities laws and each Fund (whether or not it otherwise permits cash redemptions) reserves the right to redeem Creation Units for cash to the extent that the Trust could not lawfully deliver specific Fund Securities upon redemptions or could not do so without first registering the Fund Securities under such laws. An Authorized Participant or an investor for which it is acting subject to a legal restriction with respect to a particular security included in the Fund Securities applicable to the redemption of Creation Units may be paid an equivalent amount of cash. The Authorized Participant may request the redeeming investor of the shares of a Fund to complete an order form or to enter into agreements with respect to such matters as compensating cash payment. Further, an Authorized Participant that is not a “qualified institutional buyer,” (“QIB”) as such term is defined under Rule 144A of the Securities Act, will not be able to receive Fund Securities that are restricted securities eligible for resale under Rule 144A. An Authorized Participant may be required by the Trust to provide a written confirmation with respect to QIB status in order to receive Fund Securities.

 

Because the portfolio securities of each Fund may trade on the relevant exchange(s) on days that the Exchange is closed or are otherwise not Business Days for such Fund, shareholders may not be able to redeem their shares, or to purchase or sell shares on the Exchange, on days when the NAV of such Fund could be significantly affected by events in the relevant foreign markets.

 

The right of redemption may be suspended or the date of payment postponed with respect to each Fund (1) for any period during which the New York Stock Exchange is closed (other than customary weekend and holiday closings); (2) for any period during which trading on the New York Stock Exchange is suspended or restricted; (3) for any period during which an emergency exists as a result of which disposal of the securities owned by a Fund or determination of the NAV of the shares is not reasonably practicable; or (4) in such other circumstance as is permitted by the SEC.

 

DETERMINATION OF NET ASSET VALUE

 

NAV per share for a Fund is computed by dividing the value of the net assets of such Fund (i.e., the value of its total assets less total liabilities) by the total number of shares outstanding, rounded to the nearest cent. Expenses and fees, including the management fees, are accrued daily and taken into account for purposes of determining NAV. The NAV of a Fund is calculated by the Custodian and determined at the close of the regular trading session on the Exchange (ordinarily 4:00 p.m. Eastern time) on each day that such exchange is open, provided that fixed-income assets may be valued as of the announced closing time for trading in fixed-income instruments on any day that the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (“SIFMA”) announces an early closing time.

 

In calculating a Fund’s NAV per Share, such Fund’s investments are generally valued using market valuations. A market valuation generally means a valuation (i) obtained from an exchange, a pricing service, or a major market maker (or dealer), (ii) based on a price quotation or other equivalent indication of value supplied by an exchange, a pricing service, or a major market maker (or dealer) or (iii) based on amortized cost. In the case of shares of other funds that are not traded on an exchange, a market valuation means such Fund’s published NAV per share. The Adviser may use various pricing services, or discontinue the use of any pricing service, as approved by the Board from time to time. A price obtained from a pricing service based on such pricing service’s valuation matrix may be considered a market valuation. Any assets or liabilities denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar are converted into U.S. dollars at the current market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more sources.

 

In the event that current market valuations are not readily available or such valuations do not reflect current market value, the Trust’s procedures require the Fair Value Committee to determine a security’s fair value. In determining such value, the Fair Value Committee may consider, among other things, (i) price comparisons among multiple sources, (ii) a review of corporate actions and news events, and (iii) a review of relevant financial indicators (e.g., movement in interest rates, market indices, and prices). In these cases, a Fund’s NAV may reflect certain portfolio securities’ fair values rather than their market prices. Fair value pricing involves subjective judgments and it is possible that the fair value determination for a security is materially different than the value that could be realized upon the sale of the security. With respect to securities that are primarily listed on foreign exchanges, the value of a Fund’s portfolio securities may change on days when you will not be able to purchase or sell your shares.

 

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DIVIDENDS AND DISTRIBUTIONS

 

The following information supplements and should be read in conjunction with the section in the Prospectus entitled “Dividends, Distributions and Taxes.”

 

General Policies. Dividends from net investment income, if any, are declared and paid at least annually by each Fund. Distributions of net realized securities gains, if any, generally are declared and paid once a year, but a Fund may make distributions on a more frequent basis to comply with the distribution requirements of the Internal Revenue Code, in all events in a manner consistent with the provisions of the 1940 Act.

 

Dividends and other distributions on shares of each Fund are distributed, as described below, on a pro rata basis to Beneficial Owners of such shares. Dividend payments are made through DTC Participants and Indirect Participants to Beneficial Owners then of record with proceeds received from a Fund.

 

Each Fund makes additional distributions to the extent necessary (i) to distribute the entire annual taxable income of a Fund, plus any net capital gains and (ii) to avoid imposition of the excise tax imposed by Section 4982 of the Internal Revenue Code. Management of the Trust reserves the right to declare special dividends by the Funds if, in its reasonable discretion, such action is necessary or advisable to preserve a Fund’s eligibility for treatment as a regulated investment company (“RIC”) or to avoid imposition of income or excise taxes on undistributed income.

 

Dividend Reinvestment Service. The Trust will not make the DTC book-entry dividend reinvestment service available for use by Beneficial Owners for reinvestment of their cash proceeds, but certain individual broker-dealers may make available the DTC book-entry Dividend Reinvestment Service for use by Beneficial Owners of the Funds through DTC Participants for reinvestment of their dividend distributions. Investors should contact their brokers to ascertain the availability and description of these services. Beneficial Owners should be aware that each broker may require investors to adhere to specific procedures and timetables in order to participate in the dividend reinvestment service and investors should ascertain from their brokers such necessary details. If this service is available and used, dividend distributions of both income and realized gains will be automatically reinvested in additional whole shares issued by the Trust of the same Fund at NAV per share. Distributions reinvested in additional shares of a Fund will nevertheless be taxable to Beneficial Owners acquiring such additional shares to the same extent as if such distributions had been received in cash.

 

FEDERAL INCOME TAXES

 

The following is a summary of certain additional U.S. federal income tax considerations generally affecting the Funds and their shareholders that supplements the summary in the Prospectus. No attempt is made to present a comprehensive explanation of the federal, state, local or foreign tax treatment of the Funds or their shareholders, and the discussion here and in the Prospectus is not intended to be a substitute for careful tax planning. The summary is very general, and does not address investors subject to special rules, such as investors who hold shares through an individual retirement account (“IRA”), 401(k) or other tax-advantaged account.

 

The following general discussion of certain U.S. federal income tax consequences is based on provisions of the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations issued thereunder as in effect on the date of this SAI. New legislation, as well as administrative changes or court decisions, may significantly change the conclusions expressed herein, and may have a retroactive effect with respect to the transactions contemplated herein.

 

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”) made significant changes to the U.S. federal income tax rules for taxation of individuals and corporations, generally effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017. Many of the changes applicable to individuals are temporary and only apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2026. There are only minor changes with respect to the specific rules applicable to a RIC, such as the Funds. The Tax Act, however, made numerous other changes to the tax rules that may affect shareholders and the Funds. You are urged to consult with your own tax advisor regarding how the Tax Act affects your investment in the Funds.

 

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Shareholders are urged to consult their own tax advisers regarding the application of the provisions of tax law described in this SAI in light of the particular tax situations of the shareholders and regarding specific questions as to federal, state, or local taxes.

 

Regulated Investment Company Status. Each Fund will seek to qualify and elect to be treated as a RIC under the Internal Revenue Code. By following such a policy, each Fund expects to eliminate or reduce to a nominal amount the federal taxes to which it may be subject. If a Fund qualifies as a RIC, it will generally not be subject to federal income taxes on the net investment income and net realized capital gains that it timely distributes to its shareholders. The Board reserves the right not to maintain the qualification of a Fund as a RIC if it determines such course of action to be beneficial to shareholders.

 

In order to qualify as a RIC under the Internal Revenue Code, a Fund must distribute annually to its shareholders at least an amount equal to the sum of 90% of such Fund’s net investment company taxable income for such year (including, for this purpose, dividends, taxable interest, and the excess of net short-term capital gains over net long-term capital losses, less operating expenses), computed without regard to the dividends-paid deduction, and at least 90% of its net tax-exempt interest income for such year, if any (the “Distribution Requirement”), and also must meet certain additional requirements. One of these additional requirements for RIC qualification is that a Fund must receive at least 90% of such Fund’s gross income each taxable year from dividends, interest, payments with respect to certain securities loans, gains from the sale or other disposition of stock, securities or foreign currencies, or other income (including but not limited to gains from options, futures or forward contracts) derived with respect to a Fund’s business of investing in such stock, securities, foreign currencies and net income from interests in qualified publicly traded partnerships (the “90% Test”). A second requirement for qualification as a RIC is that a Fund must diversify its holdings so that, at the end of each quarter of such Fund’s taxable year: (a) at least 50% of the market value of such Fund’s total assets is represented by cash and cash items, U.S. government securities, securities of other RICs, and other securities, with these other securities limited, in respect to any one issuer, to an amount not greater than 5% of the value of such Fund’s total assets or 10% of the outstanding voting securities of such issuer, including the equity securities of a qualified publicly traded partnership; and (b) not more than 25% of the value of its total assets is invested, including through corporations in which the Fund owns a 20% or more voting stock interest, in the securities (other than U.S. government securities or securities of other RICs) of any one issuer or the securities (other than the securities of another RIC) of two or more issuers that such Fund controls and which are engaged in the same or similar trades or businesses or related trades or businesses, or the securities of one or more qualified publicly traded partnerships (the “Asset Test”).

 

If a Fund fails to satisfy the 90% Test or the Asset Test, such Fund may be eligible for relief provisions if the failures are due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect and if a penalty tax is paid with respect to each failure to satisfy the applicable requirements. Additionally, relief is provided for certain de minimis failures of the Asset Test where a Fund corrects the failure within a specified period of time. In order to be eligible for the relief provisions with respect to a failure to meet the Asset Test, a Fund may be required to dispose of certain assets. If these relief provisions are not available a Fund and it fails to qualify for treatment as a RIC for a taxable year, all of its taxable income would be subject to tax at the regular corporate income tax rate (which the Tax Act reduced to 21%) without any deduction for distributions to shareholders, and its distributions (including capital gains distributions) generally would be taxable as ordinary income dividends to its shareholders, subject to the dividends-received deduction for corporate shareholders and the lower tax rates on qualified dividend income received by non-corporate shareholders. In addition, a Fund could be required to recognize unrealized gains, pay substantial taxes and interest, and make substantial distributions before requalifying as a RIC. If a Fund determines that it will not qualify for treatment as a RIC, such Fund will establish procedures to reflect the anticipated tax liability in such Fund’s NAV.

 

Although each Fund intends to distribute substantially all of its net investment income and may distribute its capital gains for any taxable year, the Funds will be subject to federal income taxation to the extent any such income or gains are not distributed.

 

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The Funds may designate certain amounts retained as undistributed net capital gain in a notice to its shareholders, who (i) will be required to include in income for U.S. federal income tax purposes, as long-term capital gain, their proportionate shares of the undistributed amount so designated, (ii) will be entitled to credit their proportionate shares of the income tax paid by the Funds on that undistributed amount against their federal income tax liabilities and to claim refunds to the extent such credits exceed their liabilities and (iii) will be entitled to increase their tax basis, for federal income tax purposes, in their shares in that Fund by an amount equal to the excess of the amount of undistributed net capital gain included in their respective income over their respective income tax credits.

 

Notwithstanding the Distribution Requirement described above, a Fund will be subject to a nondeductible 4% federal excise tax on certain undistributed income if it does not distribute to its shareholders in each calendar year an amount at least equal to 98% of its ordinary income for the calendar year and 98.2% of its capital gain net income for the twelve months ended October 31 of that year, subject to an increase for any shortfall in the prior year’s distribution. For this purpose, any ordinary income or capital gain net income retained by a Fund and subject to corporate income tax will be considered to have been distributed. Each Fund intends to declare and distribute dividends and distributions in the amounts and at the times necessary to avoid the application of this 4% excise tax, but can make no assurances that such tax will be completely eliminated. Each Fund may in certain circumstances be required to liquidate Fund investments in order to make sufficient distributions to avoid federal excise tax liability at a time when the investment adviser might not otherwise have chosen to do so, and liquidation of investments in such circumstances may affect the ability of a Fund to satisfy the requirement for qualification as a RIC.

 

Each Fund may elect to treat part or all of any “qualified late year loss” as if it had been incurred in the succeeding taxable year in determining such Fund’s taxable income, net capital gain, net short-term capital gain, and earnings and profits. The effect of this election is to treat any such “qualified late year loss” as if it had been incurred in the succeeding taxable year in characterizing Fund distributions for any calendar year. A “qualified late year loss” generally includes net capital loss, net long-term capital loss, or net short-term capital loss incurred after October 31 of the current taxable year (commonly referred to as “post-October losses”) and certain other late-year losses.

 

Capital losses in excess of capital gains (“net capital losses”) are not permitted to be deducted against a RIC’s net investment income. Instead, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, potentially subject to certain limitations, a RIC may carry net capital losses from any taxable year forward to offset capital gains in future years. A Fund is permitted to carry net capital losses forward indefinitely. To the extent subsequent capital gains are offset by such losses, they will not result in U.S. federal income tax liability to the Fund and may not be distributed as capital gains to shareholders. Generally, the Fund may not carry forward any losses other than net capital losses. The carryover of capital losses may be limited under the general loss limitation rules if the Fund experiences an ownership change as defined in the Internal Revenue Code.

 

Taxation of Shareholders. Each Fund receives income generally in the form of dividends and interest on investments. This income, plus net short-term capital gains, if any, less expenses incurred in the operation of each Fund, constitutes a Fund’s net investment income from which dividends may be paid to you. Any distributions by a Fund from such income will be taxable to you as ordinary income or at the lower capital gains rates that apply to individuals receiving qualified dividend income (as discussed below), whether you take them in cash or in additional shares.

 

Subject to certain limitations and requirements, dividends reported by a Fund as qualified dividend income will be taxable to non-corporate shareholders at rates of up to 20%. In general, dividends may be reported by a Fund as qualified dividend income if they are paid from dividends received by a Fund on common and preferred stock of U.S. corporations or on stock of certain eligible foreign corporations, provided that certain holding period and other requirements are met by such Fund with respect to the dividend-paying stocks in its portfolio. Subject to certain limitations, eligible foreign corporations include those incorporated in possessions of the United States or in certain countries with comprehensive tax treaties with the United States, and other foreign corporations if the stock with respect to which the dividends are paid is readily tradable on an established securities market in the United States. A dividend will not be treated as qualified dividend income to the extent that: (i) the shareholder has not held the shares on which the dividend was paid for more than 60 days during the 121-day period that begins on the date that is 60 days before the date on which the shares become “ex-dividend” (which is the day on which declared distributions (dividends or capital gains) are deducted from a Fund’s assets before it calculates the net asset value) with respect to such dividend, (ii) a Fund has not satisfied similar holding period requirements with respect to the securities it holds that paid the dividends distributed to the shareholder), (iii) the shareholder is under an obligation (whether pursuant to a short sale or otherwise) to make related payments with respect to substantially similar or related property, or (iv) the shareholder elects to treat such dividend as investment income under section 163(d)(4)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code. Therefore, if you lend your shares in a Fund, such as pursuant to a securities lending arrangement, you may lose the ability to treat dividends (paid while the shares are held by the borrower) as qualified dividend income. Distributions that a Fund receives from an ETF or an underlying fund taxable as a REIT or RIC will be treated as qualified dividend income only to the extent so reported by such ETF, underlying fund or REIT.

 

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Distributions by a Fund of its net short-term capital gains will be taxable as ordinary income. Capital gains distributions consisting of a Funds’ net capital gains will be taxable as long-term capital gains for individual shareholders currently set at a maximum rate of 20% regardless of how long you have held your shares in a Fund.

 

In the case of corporate shareholders, a Funds’ distributions (other than capital gain distributions) generally qualify for the dividends-received deduction to the extent such distributions are so reported and do not exceed the gross amount of qualifying dividends received by a Fund for the year. Generally, and subject to certain limitations (including certain holding period limitations), a dividend will be treated as a qualifying dividend if it has been received from a domestic corporation.

 

A Fund’s participation in loans of securities may affect the amount, timing, and character of distributions to its shareholders. If a Fund participates in a securities lending transaction and receives a payment in lieu of dividends (a “substitute payment”) with respect to securities on loan in a securities lending transaction, such income generally will not constitute qualified dividend income and thus dividends attributable to such income will not be eligible for taxation at the rates applicable to qualified dividend income for individual shareholders and will not be eligible for the dividends-received deduction for corporate shareholders.

 

Although dividends generally will be treated as distributed when paid, any dividend declared by a Fund in October, November or December and payable to shareholders of record in such a month that is paid during the following January will be treated for U.S. federal income tax purposes as received by shareholders on December 31 of the calendar year in which it was declared. A taxable shareholder may wish to avoid investing in a Fund shortly before a dividend or other distribution, because the distribution will generally be taxable even though it may economically represent a return of a portion of the shareholder’s investment.

 

If a Fund’s distributions exceed its earnings and profits, all or a portion of the distributions made in the taxable year may be treated as a return of capital to shareholders. A return of capital distribution generally will not be taxable but will reduce the shareholder’s cost basis and result in a higher capital gain or lower capital loss when the shares on which the distribution was received are sold. After a shareholder’s basis in the shares of a Fund has been reduced to zero, distributions in excess of earnings and profits will be treated as gain from the sale of the shareholder’s shares. Each Fund intends to take appropriate measures to minimize the return of capital.

 

Each Fund’s shareholders will be notified annually by a Fund (or their broker) as to the federal tax status of all distributions made by the Fund. Distributions may be subject to state and local taxes.

 

Shareholders who have not held Fund shares for a full year should be aware that a Fund may report and distribute to a shareholder, as ordinary dividends or capital gain dividends, a percentage of income that is not equal to the percentage of the Fund’s ordinary income or net capital gain, respectively, actually earned during the shareholder’s period of investment in the Fund.

 

Sales, Exchanges or Redemptions. A sale of a Fund’s shares or redemption of Creation Units in a Fund may give rise to a gain or loss. In general, any gain or loss realized upon a taxable disposition of shares will be treated as capital gain or loss if the shares are capital assets in the shareholder’s hands, and will be long-term capital gain or loss if the shares have been held for more than 12 months, and short-term capital gain or loss if the shares are held for 12 months or less. However, if shares on which a shareholder has received a long-term capital gain distribution are subsequently sold, exchanged, or redeemed and such shares have been held for six months or less, any loss recognized will be treated as a long-term capital loss to the extent of the long-term capital gain distribution. In addition, the loss realized on a sale or other disposition of shares will be disallowed to the extent a shareholder repurchases (or enters into a contract or option to repurchase) shares within a period of 61 days (beginning 30 days before and ending 30 days after the disposition of the shares). This loss disallowance rule will apply to shares received through the reinvestment of dividends during the 61-day period. In such a case, the basis of the newly purchased shares will be adjusted to reflect the disallowed loss.

 

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An Authorized Participant who exchanges securities for Creation Units generally will recognize gain or loss from the exchange. The gain or loss will be equal to the difference between the market value of the Creation Units at the time of the exchange and the sum of the exchanger’s aggregate basis in the securities surrendered plus the amount of cash paid for such Creation Units. The ability of Authorized Participants to receive a full or partial cash redemption of Creation Units of a Fund may limit the tax efficiency of such Fund. A person who redeems Creation Units will generally recognize a gain or loss equal to the difference between the sum of the aggregate market value of any securities received plus the amount of any cash received for such Creation Units and the exchanger’s basis in the Creation Units. The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), however, may assert that an Authorized Participant may not be permitted to currently deduct losses realized upon an exchange of securities for Creation Units under the rules governing “wash sales” (for an Authorized Participant that does not mark-to-market its holdings) or on the basis that there has been no significant change in economic position.

 

Any gain or loss realized upon the creation of Creation Units will generally be treated as long-term capital gain or loss if the securities exchanged for such Creation Units have been held for more than one year and were held as capital assets in the hands of the exchanging Authorized Participant. Any capital gain or loss realized upon a redemption of Creation Units will generally be treated as long-term capital gain or loss if the shares comprising the Creation Units have been held for more than one year. Otherwise, such capital gains or losses will be treated as short-term capital gains or losses. Any loss realized upon a redemption of Creation Units held for six months or less should be treated as a long-term capital loss to the extent of any amounts treated as distributions to the applicable Authorized Participant of long-term capital gains with respect to the Creation Units (including any amounts credited to the Authorized Participant as undistributed capital gains).

 

The Trust on behalf of a Fund has the right to reject an order for a purchase of shares of a Fund if the purchaser (or a group of purchasers) would, upon obtaining the shares so ordered, own 80% or more of the outstanding shares of the Fund and if, pursuant to Section 351 of the Internal Revenue Code, such Fund would have a basis in the securities different from the market value of such securities on the date of deposit. The Trust also has the right to require information necessary to determine beneficial share ownership for purposes of the 80% determination. If a Fund issues Creation Units to a purchaser (or a group of purchasers) that would, upon obtaining the shares so ordered, own 80% or more of the outstanding shares of a Fund, the purchaser (or group of purchasers) may not recognize gain or loss upon the exchange of securities for Creation Units.

 

Persons purchasing or redeeming Creation Units should consult their own tax advisors with respect to the tax treatment of any creation or redemption transaction and whether the wash sales rules apply and when a loss might be deductible.

 

Medicare Tax. U.S. individuals with adjusted gross income (subject to certain adjustments) exceeding certain threshold amounts ($250,000 if married and filing jointly or if considered a “surviving spouse” for federal income tax purposes, $125,000 if married filing separately, and $200,000 in other cases) are subject to a 3.8% Medicare contribution tax on all or a portion of their “net investment income.” This 3.8% tax also applies to all or a portion of the undistributed net investment income of certain shareholders that are estates and trusts. For these purposes, interest, dividends and certain capital gains (including capital gain distributions and capital gains realized on the sale of shares of a Fund or the redemption of Creation Units), among other categories of income, are generally taken into account in computing a shareholder’s net investment income.

 

Taxation of Fund Investments. Certain of each Fund’s investments may be subject to complex provisions of the Internal Revenue Code (including provisions relating to hedging transactions, straddles, integrated transactions, foreign currency contracts, forward foreign currency contracts, and notional principal contracts) that, among other things, may affect a Fund’s ability to qualify as a RIC, affect the character of gains and losses realized by a Fund (e.g., may affect whether gains or losses are ordinary or capital), accelerate recognition of income to a Fund and defer losses and, in limited cases, subject a Fund to U.S. federal income tax on income from certain of its foreign securities. These rules could therefore affect the character, amount and timing of distributions to shareholders. These provisions also may require a Fund to mark to market certain types of positions in its portfolio (i.e., treat them as if they were closed out) which may cause such Fund to recognize income without receiving cash with which to make distributions in amounts necessary to satisfy the RIC Distribution Requirement and for avoiding excise taxes. Accordingly, in order to avoid certain income and excise taxes, a Fund may be required to liquidate its investments at a time when the investment adviser might not otherwise have chosen to do so. Each Fund intends to monitor its transactions, intends to make appropriate tax elections, and intends to make appropriate entries in its books and records in order to mitigate the effect of these rules and preserve its qualification for treatment as a RIC.

 

44

 

If a Fund acquires any equity interest in certain foreign investment entities (i) that receive at least 75% of their annual gross income from passive sources (such as interest, dividends, certain rents and royalties, or capital gains) or (ii) where at least 50% of the corporation’s assets (computed based on average fair market value) either produce or are held for the production of passive income (“passive foreign investment companies” or “PFICs”), such Fund will generally be subject to one of the following special tax regimes: (i) a Fund may be liable for U.S. federal income tax, and an additional interest charge, on a portion of any “excess distribution” from such foreign entity or any gain from the disposition of such shares, even if the entire distribution or gain is paid out by such Fund as a dividend to its shareholders; (ii) if a Fund were able and elected to treat a PFIC as a “qualified electing fund” or “QEF,” such Fund would be required each year to include in income, and distribute to shareholders in accordance with the distribution requirements set forth above, such Fund’s pro rata share of the ordinary earnings and net capital gains of the PFIC, whether or not such earnings or gains are distributed to such Fund; or (iii) a Fund may be entitled to mark-to-market annually shares of the PFIC, and in such event would be required to distribute to shareholders any such mark-to-market gains in accordance with the distribution requirements set forth above. Each Fund intends to make the appropriate tax elections, if possible, and take any additional steps that are necessary to mitigate the effect of these rules. A Fund may limit and/or manage its holdings in passive foreign investment companies to limit its tax liability or maximize its return from these investments. The IRS has recently issued final regulations pursuant to which a Fund’s income attributable to its investment in a PFIC that a Fund has elected to treat as a QEF is “qualifying income” to such Fund to the extent such income is derived with respect to such Fund’s business of investing in stock, securities or currencies regardless of whether the PFIC makes a distribution equal to the amount included in income by such Fund.

 

A Fund may be subject to withholding and other taxes imposed by foreign countries, including taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains with respect to any investments in those countries. Any such taxes would, if imposed, reduce the yield on or return from those investments. Tax conventions between certain countries and the U.S. may reduce or eliminate such taxes in some cases.

 

If more than 50 percent of the value of a Fund’s total assets at the close of its taxable year consists of stock or securities of foreign corporations, then such Fund will be eligible to and intends to file and election with the IRS that may enable shareholders, in effect, to receive either the benefit of a foreign tax credit, or a deduction from such taxes, with respect to any foreign and U.S. possessions income taxes paid by such Fund, subject to certain limitations. Pursuant to this election, a Fund will treat those taxes as dividends paid to its shareholders. Each such shareholder will be required to include a proportionate share of those taxes in gross income as income received from a foreign source and must treat the amount so included as if the shareholder had paid the foreign tax directly. The shareholder may then either deduct the taxes deemed paid by him or her in computing his or her taxable income or, alternatively, use the foregoing information in calculating any foreign tax credit they may be entitled to use against the shareholders’ federal income tax. If a Fund makes the election, such Fund (or its administrative agent) will report annually to its shareholders the respective amounts per share of such Fund’s income from sources within, and taxes paid to, foreign countries and U.S. possessions.

 

Backup Withholding. Each Fund (or financial intermediaries, such as brokers, through which a shareholder holds shares) generally is required to withhold and to remit to the U.S. Treasury a percentage of the taxable distributions and sale or redemption proceeds paid to any shareholder who fails to properly furnish a correct taxpayer identification number, who has under-reported dividend or interest income, or who fails to certify that he, she or it is not subject to such withholding. The backup withholding tax rate is currently 24%. Backup withholding is not an additional tax. Any amounts withheld may be credited against the shareholder’s U.S. federal income tax liability, provided the appropriate information is furnished to the IRS.

 

45

 

FOREIGN SHAREHOLDERS

 

Any foreign shareholders in a Fund may be subject to U.S. withholding and estate tax and are encouraged to consult their tax advisors prior to investing in a Fund. Foreign shareholders (i.e., nonresident alien individuals and foreign corporations, partnerships, trusts and estates) are generally subject to U.S. withholding tax at the rate of 30% (or a lower tax treaty rate) on distributions derived from taxable ordinary income. A Fund may, under certain circumstances, report all or a portion of a dividend as an “interest-related dividend” or a “short-term capital gain dividend,” which would generally be exempt from this 30% U.S. withholding tax, provided certain other requirements are met. Short-term capital gain dividends received by a nonresident alien individual who is present in the U.S. for a period or periods aggregating 183 days or more during the taxable year are not exempt from this 30% withholding tax. Gains realized by foreign shareholders from the sale or other disposition of shares of a Fund generally are not subject to U.S. taxation, unless the recipient is an individual who is physically present in the U.S. for 183 days or more per year. Foreign shareholders who fail to provide an applicable IRS form may be subject to backup withholding on certain payments from a Fund. Backup withholding will not be applied to payments that are subject to the 30% (or lower applicable treaty rate) withholding tax described in this paragraph. Different tax consequences may result if the foreign shareholder is engaged in a trade or business within the United States. In addition, the tax consequences to a foreign shareholder entitled to claim the benefits of a tax treaty may be different than those described above.

 

Unless certain non-U.S. entities that hold Fund shares comply with IRS requirements that generally require them to report information regarding U.S. persons investing in, or holding accounts with, such entities, a 30% withholding tax may apply to Fund distributions payable to such entities. A non-U.S. shareholder may be exempt from the withholding described in this paragraph under an applicable intergovernmental agreement between the U.S. and a foreign government, provided that the shareholder and the applicable foreign government comply with the terms of the agreement.

 

A beneficial holder of shares of a Fund who is a foreign person may be subject to foreign, state and local tax and to the U.S. federal estate tax in addition to the federal income tax consequences referred to above. If a shareholder is eligible for the benefits of a tax treaty, any effectively connected income or gain will generally be subject to U.S. federal income tax on a net basis only if it is also attributable to a permanent establishment or fixed base maintained by the shareholder in the United States.

 

Tax-Exempt Shareholders. Certain tax-exempt shareholders, including qualified pension plans, IRAs, salary deferral arrangements, 401(k)s, and other tax-exempt entities, generally are exempt from federal income taxation except with respect to their unrelated business taxable income (“UBTI”). Under the Tax Act, tax-exempt entities are not permitted to offset losses from one trade or business against the income or gain of another trade or business. Certain net losses incurred prior to January 1, 2018 are permitted to offset gain and income created by an unrelated trade or business, if otherwise available. Under current law, a Fund generally serves to block UBTI from being realized by its tax-exempt shareholders. However, notwithstanding the foregoing, the tax-exempt shareholder could realize UBTI by virtue of an investment in a Fund where, for example: (i) a Fund invests in residual interests of Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits (“REMICs”), (ii) a Fund invests in a REIT that is a taxable mortgage pool (“TMP”) or that has a subsidiary that is a TMP or that invests in the residual interest of a REMIC, or (iii) shares in a Fund constitute debt-financed property in the hands of the tax-exempt shareholder within the meaning of section 514(b) of the Internal Revenue Code. Charitable remainder trusts are subject to special rules and should consult their tax advisor. The IRS has issued guidance with respect to these issues and prospective shareholders, especially charitable remainder trusts, are strongly encouraged to consult their tax advisors regarding these issues.

 

Each Fund’s shares held in a tax qualified retirement account will generally not be subject to federal taxation on income and capital gains distributions from a Fund until a shareholder begins receiving payments from their retirement account.

 

Certain Potential Tax Reporting Requirements. Under U.S. Treasury regulations, if a shareholder recognizes a loss of $2 million or more for an individual shareholder or $10 million or more for a corporate shareholder (or certain greater amounts over a combination of years), the shareholder must file with the IRS a disclosure statement on IRS Form 8886. Direct shareholders of portfolio securities are in many cases excepted from this reporting requirement, but under current guidance shareholders of a RIC are not excepted. A shareholder who fails to make the required disclosure to the IRS may be subject to substantial penalties. The fact that a loss is reportable under these regulations does not affect the legal determination of whether the taxpayer’s treatment of the loss is proper. Shareholders should consult their tax advisors to determine the applicability of these regulations in light of their individual circumstances.

 

46

 

Cost Basis Reporting. The cost basis of shares of a Fund acquired by purchase will generally be based on the amount paid for the shares and then may be subsequently adjusted for other applicable transactions as required by the Internal Revenue Code. The difference between the selling price and the cost basis of shares generally determines the amount of the capital gain or loss realized on the sale or exchange of shares. Contact the broker through whom you purchased your shares to obtain information with respect to the available cost basis reporting methods and elections for your account.

 

State Taxes. Depending upon state and local law, distributions by the Funds to their shareholders and the ownership of such shares may be subject to state and local taxes. Rules of state and local taxation of dividend and capital gains distributions from RICs often differ from the rules for federal income taxation described above. It is expected that the Funds will not be liable for any corporate excise, income or franchise tax in Delaware if it qualifies as a RIC for federal income tax purposes.

 

The foregoing discussion is based on U.S. federal tax laws and regulations which are in effect on the date of this SAI. Such laws and regulations may be changed by legislative or administrative action. Shareholders are advised to consult their tax advisors concerning their specific situations and the application of federal, state, local and foreign taxes.

 

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

 

The Funds’ audited financial statements, when available, will be incorporated by reference into this SAI.

 

47

 

EXHIBIT A

 

Exchange Traded Concepts, LLC

 

Proxy Voting Policy and Procedures

 

Introduction

 

Exchange Traded Concepts, LLC (“ETC”) recognizes that proxies for companies whose securities are held in client portfolios have an economic value, and it seeks to maximize that economic value by ensuring that votes are cast in a manner that it believes to be in the best interest of the affected clients. Proxies are considered client assets and are to be managed with the same care, skill and diligence as all other client assets.

 

Proxy Voting Policies

 

Proxy voting will be conducted by either ETC or the sub-advisers.1 To the extent that ETC is responsible for proxy voting, ETC has engaged Institutional Shareholder Services (“ISS”), to provide research on proxy matters and voting recommendations, and to cast votes on behalf of ETC. ISS executes and maintains appropriate records related to the proxy voting process, and ETC has access to those records. ETC maintains records of differences, if any, between this Policy and the actual votes cast. ETC may, in the future, decide to engage a different proxy advisory firm.

 

ETC has reviewed ISS’s voting guidelines and has determined that those guidelines provide guidance in the best interest of ETC’s clients. This Policy and ISS’s proxy voting guidelines will be reviewed at least annually. This review will include, but will not necessarily be limited to, any proxy voting issues that may have arisen or any material conflicts of interest that were identified and the steps that were taken to resolve those conflicts.

 

There may be times when ETC believes that the best interests of the client will be better served if ETC votes a proxy counter to ISS’s guidelines pertaining to the matter to be voted upon. In those cases, ETC will generally review the research provided by ISS on the particular issue, and it may also conduct its own research or solicit additional research from another third party on the issue. After considering this information and, as necessary, discussing the issue with other relevant parties, ETC will determine how to vote on the issue in a manner which ETC believes is consistent with this Policy and in the best interests of the client.

 

Each sub-adviser’s proxy voting policies and procedures have been approved by the Trusts’ Board of Trustees and when a sub-adviser has been delegated authority to vote a proxy, it will vote such proxy in accordance with the approved proxy voting policies and procedures.

 

In addition, the sub-advisers may engage the services of an independent third party (“Proxy Firm”) to cast proxy votes according to the sub-advisers’ established guidelines. ETC has deemed in the best interest of clients to permit a sub-adviser the authority to cast proxy votes in accordance with the proxy voting policies submitted by that firm and approved by the Trusts’ Board of Trustees. The sub-adviser must promptly notify ETC of any proxy votes that are not voted consistently with the guidelines set forth in its policy.

 

Conflict of Interest Identification and Resolution

 

Although ETC does not believe that conflicts of interest will generally arise in connection with its proxy voting policies, ETC seeks to minimize the potential for conflict by utilizing the services of ISS to provide voting recommendations that are consistent with relevant regulatory requirements. Occasions may arise during the analysis and voting process in which the best financial interests of clients might conflict with the interests of ISS. ISS has developed a “separation wall” as security between its proxy recommendation service and the other services it and its affiliated companies provide to clients who may also be a portfolio company for which proxies are solicited.

 

 

1 As of the date of the last revision to this Policy, ETC’s only clients are the series (or portfolios) of Exchange Traded Concepts Trust, Exchange Listed Funds Trust, and ETF Series Solutions (the “Trusts”) for which ETC serves as investment adviser.  ETC has engaged one or more sub-advisers for such series.  For some series, ETC is responsible for voting proxies and, for the remaining series, a sub-adviser is responsible for proxy voting.

 

A-1

 

In resolving a conflict, ETC may decide to take one of the following courses of action: (1) determine that the conflict or potential conflict is not material, (2) request that disclosure be made to clients for whom proxies will be voted to disclose the conflict of interest and the recommended proxy vote and to obtain consent from such clients, (3) ETC may vote the proxy or engage an independent third-party or fiduciary to determine how the proxies should be voted, (4) abstain from voting or (5) take another course of action that adequately addresses the potential for conflict. Employees are required to report to the CCO any attempted or actual improper influence regarding proxy voting. 

 

ETC will provide clients a copy of the complete Policy. ETC will also provide to clients, upon request, information on how their securities were voted.

 

Proxy Voting Operational Procedures

 

Reconciliation Process

 

Each account’s custodian provides holdings to ISS on a daily basis. Proxy materials are sent to ISS, which verifies that materials for future shareholder meetings are received for each record date position. ISS researches and resolves situations where expected proxy materials have not been received. ISS also notifies ETC of any proxy materials received that were not expected.

 

Voting Identified Proxies

 

A proxy is identified when it is reported through the ISS automated system or when a custodian bank notifies ISS of its existence. As a general rule, ETC votes all proxies that it is entitled to vote that are identified within the solicitation period. ETC may apply a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether to vote a proxy. For example, if ETC is required to re-register shares of a company in order to vote a proxy and that re-registration process imposes trading and transfer restrictions on the shares, commonly referred to as “blocking,” ETC generally abstains from voting that proxy.

 

Although not necessarily an exhaustive list, other instances in which ETC may be unable or may determine not to vote a proxy are as follows: (1) situations where the underlying securities have been lent out pursuant to an account’s participation in a securities lending program and the cost-benefit ETC analysis indicates that the cost to recall the security outweighs the benefit; (2) instances when proxy materials are not delivered or are delivered in a manner that does not provide ETC sufficient time to analyze the proxy and make an informed decision by the voting deadline; and (3) occasions when required local-market documentation cannot be filed and approved prior to the proxy voting deadline.

 

Proxy Oversight Procedures

 

In order to fulfill its oversight responsibilities related to the use of a proxy advisory firm, ETC will conduct a due diligence review of ISS annually and requests, at a minimum, the following information:

 

ISS’ Policies, Procedures and Practices Regarding Potential Conflicts of Interest

ISS’ Regulatory Code of Ethics

The most recent SSAE 16 report of ISS controls conducted by an independent auditor (if available)

ISS’ Form ADV Part 2 to determine whether ISS disclosed any new potential conflicts of interest

 

On a quarterly basis, ETC will request from ISS a certification indicating that all proxies were voted and voted in accordance with pre-determined guidelines and a summary of any material changes to the firm’s policies and procedures designed to address conflicts of interest. In addition, a Proxy Voting Record Report is reviewed by ETC on a periodic basis. The Proxy Voting Record Report includes all proxies that were voted during a period of time.

 

A-2

 

In order to fulfill its oversight responsibilities when a sub-adviser is responsible for voting proxies, ETC will request a certification of compliance and completion and review the sub-advisers’ Proxy Voting Record Report on a periodic basis.

 

Maintenance of Proxy Voting Records

 

The following records are maintained for a period of five years, with records being maintained for the first two years on site:

 

These policy and procedures, and any amendments thereto;

Each proxy statement (the majority of which are maintained on a third-party automated system);

Record of each vote cast;

Documentation, if any, created by ETC that was material to making a decision how to vote proxies on behalf of a client or that memorializes the basis for a decision;

Various reports related to the above procedures; and

Each written client request for information and a copy of any written response by ETC to a client’s written or oral request for information.

 

 

A-3

 

 

United States

 

Proxy Voting Guidelines

Benchmark Policy Recommendations
 
Effective for Meetings on or after February 1, 2019

 

Published December 6, 2018

 

 

 

 
U.S. Proxy Voting Guidelines

 

Table of Contents

 

 
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U.S. Proxy Voting Guidelines

 

COVERAGE

 

The U.S. research team provides proxy analyses and voting recommendations for common shareholder meetings of publicly - traded U.S. - incorporated companies that are held in our institutional investor clients’ portfolios and includes all S&P 1500 and Russell 3000 companies that are considered U.S. Domestic Issuers by the SEC. Coverage generally includes corporate actions for common equity holders, such as written consents and bankruptcies. ISS’ U.S. coverage includes investment companies (including open-end funds, closed-end funds, exchange-traded funds, and unit investment trusts), limited partnerships (“LPs”), master limited partnerships (“MLPs”), limited liability companies (“LLCs”), and business development companies. ISS reviews its universe of coverage on an annual basis, and the coverage is subject to change based on client need and industry trends.

 

The U.S. research team also produces, for subscribing clients, research and recommendations for fixed income meetings, and meetings of certain preferred securities, including Auction Rate Preferred Securities (“ARPS”) and Variable Rate Municipal Term Preferred securities (“VMTPs”).

 

Foreign-incorporated companies

 

In addition to U.S. - incorporated companies, U.S. policies are applied to certain foreign-incorporated company analyses. Like the SEC, ISS distinguishes two types of companies that list but are not incorporated in the U.S.:

 

U.S. Domestic Issuers – which have a majority of outstanding shares held in the U.S. and meet other criteria, as determined by the SEC, and are subject to the same disclosure and listing standards as U.S. incorporated companies – are generally covered under standard U.S. policy guidelines.
Foreign Private Issuers (FPIs) – which do not meet the Domestic Issuer criteria and are exempt from most disclosure requirements (e.g., they do not file DEF14A reports) and listing standards (e.g., for required levels of board and committee independence) – are covered under a combination of policy guidelines:
FPI Guidelines (see the Americas Regional Proxy Voting Guidelines), which apply certain minimum independence and disclosure standards in the evaluation of key proxy ballot items, such as the election of directors and approval of financial reports; and
  For other issues, guidelines for the market that is responsible for, or most relevant to, the item on the ballot.

 

In all cases – including with respect to other companies with cross-market features that may lead to ballot items related to multiple markets – items that are on the ballot solely due to the requirements of another market (listing, incorporation, or national code) may be evaluated under the policy of the relevant market, regardless of the “assigned” market coverage.

 

   
Enabling the financial community to manage governance risk for the benefit of shareholders.
 
© 2018 ISS | Institutional Shareholder Services
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U.S. Proxy Voting Guidelines

1. BOARD OF DIRECTORS

 

Voting on Director Nominees in Uncontested Elections

 

Four fundamental principles apply when determining votes on director nominees:

 

Independence: Boards should be sufficiently independent from management (and significant shareholders) to ensure that they are able and motivated to effectively supervise management’s performance for the benefit of all shareholders, including in setting and monitoring the execution of corporate strategy, with appropriate use of shareholder capital, and in setting and monitoring executive compensation programs that support that strategy. The chair of the board should ideally be an independent director, and all boards should have an independent leadership position or a similar role in order to help provide appropriate counterbalance to executive management, as well as having sufficiently independent committees that focus on key governance concerns such as audit, compensation, and nomination of directors.

 

Composition: Companies should ensure that directors add value to the board through their specific skills and expertise and by having sufficient time and commitment to serve effectively. Boards should be of a size appropriate to accommodate diversity, expertise, and independence, while ensuring active and collaborative participation by all members. Boards should be sufficiently diverse to ensure consideration of a wide range of perspectives.

 

Responsiveness: Directors should respond to investor input, such as that expressed through significant opposition to management proposals, significant support for shareholder proposals (whether binding or non-binding), and tender offers where a majority of shares are tendered.

 

Accountability: Boards should be sufficiently accountable to shareholders, including through transparency of the company’s governance practices and regular board elections, by the provision of sufficient information for shareholders to be able to assess directors and board composition, and through the ability of shareholders to remove directors.

 

General Recommendation: Generally vote for director nominees, except under the following circumstances:

 

Independence

 

Vote against1 or withhold from non-independent directors (Executive Directors and Non-Independent Non-Executive Directors per ISS’ Classification of Directors) when:

 

Independent directors comprise 50 percent or less of the board;

The non-independent director serves on the audit, compensation, or nominating committee;
The company lacks an audit, compensation, or nominating committee so that the full board functions as that committee; or
The company lacks a formal nominating committee, even if the board attests that the independent directors fulfill the functions of such a committee.

 

 
1 In general, companies with a plurality vote standard use “Withhold” as the contrary vote option in director elections; companies with a majority vote standard use “Against”. However, it will vary by company and the proxy must be checked to determine the valid contrary vote option for the particular company.

 

   
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ISS Classification of Directors – U.S.

     
1.
Executive Director
 
1.1.
Current employee or current officer1 of the company or one of its affiliates2.
     
2.
Non-Independent Non-Executive Director
 
Board Identification
 
2.1.
Director identified as not independent by the board.
 
Controlling/Significant Shareholder
 
2.2.
Beneficial owner of more than 50 percent of the company’s voting power (this may be aggregated if voting power is distributed among more than one member of a group).
 
Former CEO/Interim Officer
 
2.3.
Former CEO of the company. 3, 4
 
2.4.
Former CEO of an acquired company within the past five years.4
 
2.5.
Former interim officer if the service was longer than 18 months. If the service was between 12 and 18 months an assessment of the interim officer’s employment agreement will be made.5
 
Non-CEO Executives
 
2.6.
Former officer1 of the company, an affiliate2, or an acquired firm within the past five years.
 
2.7.
Officer1 of a former parent or predecessor firm at the time the company was sold or split off from the parent/predecessor within the past five years.
 
2.8.
Officer1, former officer, or general or limited partner of a joint venture or partnership with the company.
 
Family Members
 
2.9.
Immediate family member6 of a current or former officer1 of the company or its affiliates2 within the last five years.
 
2.10.
Immediate family member6 of a current employee of company or its affiliates2 where additional factors raise concern (which may include, but are not limited to, the following: a director related to numerous employees; the company or its affiliates employ relatives of numerous board members; or a non-Section 16 officer in a key strategic role).
 
Transactional, Professional, Financial, and Charitable Relationships
 
2.11.
Currently provides (or an immediate family member6 provides) professional services7 to the company, to an affiliate2 of the company or an individual officer of the company or one of its affiliates in excess of $10,000 per year.
 
2.12.
Is (or an immediate family member6 is) a partner in, or a controlling shareholder or an employee of, an organization which provides professional services7 to the company, to an affiliate2 of the company, or an individual officer of the company or one of its affiliates in excess of $10,000 per year.
 
2.13.
Has (or an immediate family member6 has) any material transactional relationship8 with the company or its affiliates2 (excluding investments in the company through a private placement).
 
2.14.
Is (or an immediate family member6 is) a partner in, or a controlling shareholder or an executive officer of, an organization which has any material transactional relationship8 with the company or its affiliates2 (excluding investments in the company through a private placement).
 
2.15.
Is (or an immediate family member6 is) a trustee, director, or employee of a charitable or non-profit organization that receives material grants or endowments8 from the company or its affiliates2.
 
Other Relationships
 
2.16.
Party to a voting agreement9 to vote in line with management on proposals being brought to shareholder vote.
 
2.17.
Has (or an immediate family member6 has) an interlocking relationship as defined by the SEC involving members of the board of directors or its Compensation Committee.10
 
2.18.
Founder11 of the company but not currently an employee.
 
2.19.
Any material12 relationship with the company.
     
3.
Independent Director
 
3.1.
No material12 connection to the company other than a board seat.
     

 

   
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Footnotes:
 
1. The definition of officer will generally follow that of a “Section 16 officer” (officers subject to Section 16 of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934) and includes the chief executive, operating, financial, legal, technology, and accounting officers of a company (including the president, treasurer, secretary, controller, or any vice president in charge of a principal business unit, division, or policy function). Current interim officers are included in this category. For private companies, the equivalent positions are applicable. A non-employee director serving as an officer due to statutory requirements (e.g. corporate secretary) will generally be classified as a Non-Independent Non-Executive Director under 2.19: “Any material relationship with the company.” However, if the company provides explicit disclosure that the director is not receiving additional compensation exceeding $10,000 per year for serving in that capacity, then the director will be classified as an Independent Director.
 
2. “Affiliate” includes a subsidiary, sibling company, or parent company. ISS uses 50 percent control ownership by the parent company as the standard for applying its affiliate designation.
 
3. Includes any former CEO of the company prior to the company’s initial public offering (IPO).
 
4. When there is a former CEO of a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) serving on the board of an acquired company, ISS will generally classify such directors as independent unless determined otherwise taking into account the following factors: the applicable listing standards determination of such director’s independence; any operating ties to the firm; and the existence of any other conflicting relationships or related party transactions.
 
5. ISS will look at the terms of the interim officer’s employment contract to determine if it contains severance pay, long-term health and pension benefits, or other such standard provisions typically contained in contracts of permanent, non-temporary CEOs. ISS will also consider if a formal search process was under way for a full-time officer at the time.
 
6. “Immediate family member” follows the SEC’s definition of such and covers spouses, parents, children, step-parents, step-children, siblings, in-laws, and any person (other than a tenant or employee) sharing the household of any director, nominee for director, executive officer, or significant shareholder of the company.
 
7. Professional services can be characterized as advisory in nature, generally involve access to sensitive company information or to strategic decision-making, and typically have a commission- or fee-based payment structure. Professional services generally include but are not limited to the following: investment banking/financial advisory services, commercial banking (beyond deposit services), investment services, insurance services, accounting/audit services, consulting services, marketing services, legal services, property management services, realtor services, lobbying services, executive search services, and IT consulting services. The following would generally be considered transactional relationships and not professional services: deposit services, IT tech support services, educational services, and construction services. The case of participation in a banking syndicate by a non-lead bank should be considered a transactional (and hence subject to the associated materiality test) rather than a professional relationship. “Of Counsel” relationships are only considered immaterial if the individual does not receive any form of compensation (in excess of $10,000 per year) from, or is a retired partner of, the firm providing the professional service. The case of a company providing a professional service to one of its directors or to an entity with which one of its directors is affiliated, will be considered a transactional rather than a professional relationship. Insurance services and marketing services are assumed to be professional services unless the company explains why such services are not advisory.
 
8. A material transactional relationship, including grants to non-profit organizations, exists if the company makes annual payments to, or receives annual payments from, another entity, exceeding the greater of: $200,000 or 5 percent of the recipient’s gross revenues, for a company that follows NASDAQ listing standards; or the greater of $1,000,000 or 2 percent of the recipient’s gross revenues, for a company that follows NYSE listing standards. For a company that follows neither of the preceding standards, ISS will apply the NASDAQ-based materiality test. (The recipient is the party receiving the financial proceeds from the transaction).
 
9. Dissident directors who are parties to a voting agreement pursuant to a settlement or similar arrangement may be classified as Independent Directors if an analysis of the following factors indicates that the voting agreement does not compromise their alignment with all shareholders’ interests: the terms of the agreement; the duration of the standstill provision in the agreement; the limitations and requirements of actions that are agreed upon; if the dissident director nominee(s) is subject to the standstill; and if there any conflicting relationships or related party transactions.
 
10. Interlocks include: executive officers serving as directors on each other’s compensation or similar committees (or, in the absence of such a committee, on the board); or executive officers sitting on each other’s boards and at least one serves on the other’s compensation or similar committees (or, in the absence of such a committee, on the board).
 

   
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U.S. Proxy Voting Guidelines

  

11. The operating involvement of the founder with the company will be considered; if the founder was never employed by the company, ISS may deem him or her an Independent Director.
 
12. For purposes of ISS’s director independence classification, “material” will be defined as a standard of relationship (financial, personal or otherwise) that a reasonable person might conclude could potentially influence one’s objectivity in the boardroom in a manner that would have a meaningful impact on an individual’s ability to satisfy requisite fiduciary standards on behalf of shareholders.

 

Composition

 

Attendance at Board and Committee Meetings: Generally vote against or withhold from directors (except new nominees, who should be considered case-by-case2) who attend less than 75 percent of the aggregate of their board and committee meetings for the period for which they served, unless an acceptable reason for absences is disclosed in the proxy or another SEC filing. Acceptable reasons for director absences are generally limited to the following:

 

Medical issues/illness;

Family emergencies; and

Missing only one meeting (when the total of all meetings is three or fewer).

 

In cases of chronic poor attendance without reasonable justification, in addition to voting against the director(s) with poor attendance, generally vote against or withhold from appropriate members of the nominating/governance committees or the full board.

 

If the proxy disclosure is unclear and insufficient to determine whether a director attended at least 75 percent of the aggregate of his/her board and committee meetings during his/her period of service, vote against or withhold from the director(s) in question.

 

Overboarded Directors: Generally vote against or withhold from individual directors who:

 

Sit on more than five public company boards; or

Are CEOs of public companies who sit on the boards of more than two public companies besides their own—withhold only at their outside boards3.

 

Diversity: Highlight boards with no gender diversity. For 2019 meetings, no adverse vote recommendations will be made due to a lack of gender diversity.

 

For companies in the Russell 3000 or S&P 1500 indices, effective for meetings on or after Feb. 1, 2020, generally vote against or withhold from the chair of the nominating committee (or other directors on a case-by-case basis) at companies when there are no women on the company’s board. Mitigating factors include:

 

A firm commitment, as stated in the proxy statement, to appoint at least one female to the board in the near term;

The presence of a female on the board at the preceding annual meeting; or

Other relevant factors as applicable.

 

 

2 New nominees who served for only part of the fiscal year are generally exempted from the attendance policy.

3 Although all of a CEO’s subsidiary boards with publicly-traded common stock will be counted as separate boards, ISS will not recommend a withhold vote for the CEO of a parent company board or any of the controlled (>50 percent ownership) subsidiaries of that parent but may do so at subsidiaries that are less than 50 percent controlled and boards outside the parent/subsidiary relationships.

 

   
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Responsiveness

 

Vote case-by-case on individual directors, committee members, or the entire board of directors as appropriate if:

  

The board failed to act on a shareholder proposal that received the support of a majority of the shares cast in the previous year or failed to act on a management proposal seeking to ratify an existing charter/bylaw provision that received opposition of a majority of the shares cast in the previous year. Factors that will be considered are:

Disclosed outreach efforts by the board to shareholders in the wake of the vote;

Rationale provided in the proxy statement for the level of implementation;

The subject matter of the proposal;

The level of support for and opposition to the resolution in past meetings;

Actions taken by the board in response to the majority vote and its engagement with shareholders;

The continuation of the underlying issue as a voting item on the ballot (as either shareholder or management proposals); and

Other factors as appropriate.

The board failed to act on takeover offers where the majority of shares are tendered;

At the previous board election, any director received more than 50 percent withhold/against votes of the shares cast and the company has failed to address the issue(s) that caused the high withhold/against vote.

 

Vote case-by-case on Compensation Committee members (or, in exceptional cases, the full board) and the Say on Pay proposal if:

 

The company’s previous say-on-pay received the support of less than 70 percent of votes cast. Factors that will be considered are:

The company’s response, including:

  Disclosure of engagement efforts with major institutional investors, including the frequency and timing of engagements and the company participants (including whether independent directors participated);

  Disclosure of the specific concerns voiced by dissenting shareholders that led to the say-on-pay opposition;

  Disclosure of specific and meaningful actions taken to address shareholders’ concerns;
Other recent compensation actions taken by the company;

Whether the issues raised are recurring or isolated;

The company’s ownership structure; and

Whether the support level was less than 50 percent, which would warrant the highest degree of responsiveness.

The board implements an advisory vote on executive compensation on a less frequent basis than the frequency that received the plurality of votes cast.

  

   
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Accountability

 

Vote against or withhold from the entire board of directors (except new nominees4, who should be considered case-by-case) for the following:

 

Problematic Takeover Defenses/Governance Structure

 

Poison Pills: Vote against or withhold from all nominees (except new nominees, who should be considered case-by- case) if:

 

The company has a poison pill that was not approved by shareholders5. However, vote case-by-case on nominees if the board adopts an initial pill with a term of one year or less, depending on the disclosed rationale for the adoption, and other factors as relevant (such as a commitment to put any renewal to a shareholder vote).

The board makes a material adverse modification to an existing pill, including, but not limited to, extension, renewal, or lowering the trigger, without shareholder approval.

 

Classified Board Structure: The board is classified, and a continuing director responsible for a problematic governance issue at the board/committee level that would warrant a withhold/against vote recommendation is not up for election. All appropriate nominees (except new) may be held accountable.

 

Removal of Shareholder Discretion on Classified Boards: The company has opted into, or failed to opt out of, state laws requiring a classified board structure.

 

Director Performance Evaluation: The board lacks mechanisms to promote accountability and oversight, coupled with sustained poor performance relative to peers. Sustained poor performance is measured by one-, three-, and five-year total shareholder returns in the bottom half of a company’s four-digit GICS industry group (Russell 3000 companies only). Take into consideration the company’s operational metrics and other factors as warranted. Problematic provisions include but are not limited to:

 

A classified board structure;

A supermajority vote requirement;

Either a plurality vote standard in uncontested director elections, or a majority vote standard in contested elections;

The inability of shareholders to call special meetings;

The inability of shareholders to act by written consent;

A multi-class capital structure; and/or

A non-shareholder-approved poison pill.

 

Unilateral Bylaw/Charter Amendments and Problematic Capital Structures: Generally vote against or withhold from directors individually, committee members, or the entire board (except new nominees, who should be considered case-by-case) if the board amends the company’s bylaws or charter without shareholder approval in a manner that materially diminishes shareholders’ rights or that could adversely impact shareholders, considering the following factors:

 

The board’s rationale for adopting the bylaw/charter amendment without shareholder ratification;

Disclosure by the company of any significant engagement with shareholders regarding the amendment;

The level of impairment of shareholders’ rights caused by the board’s unilateral amendment to the bylaws/charter;

The board’s track record with regard to unilateral board action on bylaw/charter amendments or other entrenchment provisions;

The company’s ownership structure;

The company’s existing governance provisions;

The timing of the board’s amendment to the bylaws/charter in connection with a significant business development; and

Other factors, as deemed appropriate, that may be relevant to determine the impact of the amendment on shareholders.

  

 

4 A “new nominee” is any current nominee who has not already been elected by shareholders and who joined the board after the problematic action in question transpired. If ISS cannot determine whether the nominee joined the board before or after the problematic action transpired, the nominee will be considered a “new nominee” if he or she joined the board within the 12 months prior to the upcoming shareholder meeting.

5 Public shareholders only, approval prior to a company’s becoming public is insufficient. 

 

   
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Unless the adverse amendment is reversed or submitted to a binding shareholder vote, in subsequent years vote case-by-case on director nominees. Generally vote against (except new nominees, who should be considered case-by-case) if the directors:

Classified the board;

Adopted supermajority vote requirements to amend the bylaws or charter; or

Eliminated shareholders’ ability to amend bylaws.

 

Problematic Governance Structure - Newly public companies: For newly public companies, generally vote against or withhold from directors individually, committee members, or the entire board (except new nominees, who should be considered case-by-case) if, prior to or in connection with the company’s public offering, the company or its board adopted bylaw or charter provisions materially adverse to shareholder rights, or implemented a multi-class capital structure in which the classes have unequal voting rights considering the following factors:

 

The level of impairment of shareholders’ rights;

The disclosed rationale;

The ability to change the governance structure (e.g., limitations on shareholders’ right to amend the bylaws or charter, or supermajority vote requirements to amend the bylaws or charter);

The ability of shareholders to hold directors accountable through annual director elections, or whether the company has a classified board structure;

Any reasonable sunset provision; and

Other relevant factors.

 

Unless the adverse provision and/or problematic capital structure is reversed or removed, vote case-by-case on director nominees in subsequent years.

 

Management Proposals to Ratify Existing Charter or Bylaw Provisions: Vote against/withhold from individual directors, members of the governance committee, or the full board, where boards ask shareholders to ratify existing charter or bylaw provisions considering the following factors:

 

The presence of a shareholder proposal addressing the same issue on the same ballot;

The board’s rationale for seeking ratification;

Disclosure of actions to be taken by the board should the ratification proposal fail;

Disclosure of shareholder engagement regarding the board’s ratification request;

The level of impairment to shareholders’ rights caused by the existing provision;

The history of management and shareholder proposals on the provision at the company’s past meetings;

Whether the current provision was adopted in response to the shareholder proposal;

The company’s ownership structure; and

Previous use of ratification proposals to exclude shareholder proposals.

 

Restrictions on Shareholders’ Rights

 

Restricting Binding Shareholder Proposals: Generally vote against or withhold from the members of the governance committee if:

 

The company’s governing documents impose undue restrictions on shareholders’ ability to amend the bylaws. Such restrictions include but are not limited to: outright prohibition on the submission of binding shareholder proposals or share ownership requirements or time holding requirements in excess of SEC Rule 14a-8. Vote against on an ongoing basis.

 

   
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Problematic Audit-Related Practices

 

Generally vote against or withhold from the members of the Audit Committee if:

 

The non-audit fees paid to the auditor are excessive;

The company receives an adverse opinion on the company’s financial statements from its auditor; or

There is persuasive evidence that the Audit Committee entered into an inappropriate indemnification agreement with its auditor that limits the ability of the company, or its shareholders, to pursue legitimate legal recourse against the audit firm.

 

Vote case-by-case on members of the Audit Committee and potentially the full board if:

 

Poor accounting practices are identified that rise to a level of serious concern, such as: fraud; misapplication of GAAP; and material weaknesses identified in Section 404 disclosures. Examine the severity, breadth, chronological sequence, and duration, as well as the company’s efforts at remediation or corrective actions, in determining whether withhold/against votes are warranted.

 

Problematic Compensation Practices

 

In the absence of an Advisory Vote on Executive Compensation (Say on Pay) ballot item or in egregious situations, vote against or withhold from the members of the Compensation Committee and potentially the full board if:

 

There is an unmitigated misalignment between CEO pay and company performance (pay for performance);

The company maintains significant problematic pay practices; or

The board exhibits a significant level of poor communication and responsiveness to shareholders.

 

Generally vote against or withhold from the Compensation Committee chair, other committee members, or potentially the full board if:

 

The company fails to include a Say on Pay ballot item when required under SEC provisions, or under the company’s declared frequency of say on pay; or

The company fails to include a Frequency of Say on Pay ballot item when required under SEC provisions.

  

Generally vote against members of the board committee responsible for approving/setting non-employee director compensation if there is a pattern (i.e. two or more years) of awarding excessive non-employee director compensation without disclosing a compelling rationale or other mitigating factors.

  

Problematic Pledging of Company Stock:

 

Vote against the members of the committee that oversees risks related to pledging, or the full board, where a significant level of pledged company sto1ck by executives or directors raises concerns. The following factors will be considered:

 

The presence of an anti-pledging policy, disclosed in the proxy statement, that prohibits future pledging activity;

The magnitude of aggregate pledged shares in terms of total common shares outstanding, market value, and trading volume;

Disclosure of progress or lack thereof in reducing the magnitude of aggregate pledged shares over time;

Disclosure in the proxy statement that shares subject to stock ownership and holding requirements do not include pledged company stock; and

Any other relevant factors.

 

   
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Governance Failures

 

Under extraordinary circumstances, vote against or withhold from directors individually, committee members, or the entire board, due to:

 

Material failures of governance, stewardship, risk oversight6, or fiduciary responsibilities at the company;

Failure to replace management as appropriate; or

Egregious actions related to a director’s service on other boards that raise substantial doubt about his or her ability to effectively oversee management and serve the best interests of shareholders at any company.

 

Voting on Director Nominees in Contested Elections

 

Vote-No Campaigns

 

General Recommendation: In cases where companies are targeted in connection with public “vote-no” campaigns, evaluate director nominees under the existing governance policies for voting on director nominees in uncontested elections. Take into consideration the arguments submitted by shareholders and other publicly available information.

  

Proxy Contests/Proxy Access — Voting for Director Nominees in Contested Elections

 

 

General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on the election of directors in contested elections, considering the following factors: 

 

Long-term financial performance of the company relative to its industry;

Management’s track record;

Background to the contested election;

Nominee qualifications and any compensatory arrangements;

Strategic plan of dissident slate and quality of the critique against management;

Likelihood that the proposed goals and objectives can be achieved (both slates); and

Stock ownership positions.

 

In the case of candidates nominated pursuant to proxy access, vote case-by-case considering any applicable factors listed above or additional factors which may be relevant, including those that are specific to the company, to the nominee(s) and/or to the nature of the election (such as whether there are more candidates than board seats).

 

Other Board-Related Proposals

 

Adopt Anti-Hedging/Pledging/Speculative Investments Policy

 

General Recommendation: Generally vote for proposals seeking a policy that prohibits named executive officers from engaging in derivative or speculative transactions involving company stock, including hedging, holding stock in a margin account, or pledging stock as collateral for a loan. However, the company’s existing policies regarding responsible use of company stock will be considered.

 

Age/Term Limits

 

 

General Recommendation: Vote against management and shareholder proposals to limit the tenure of outside directors through mandatory retirement ages. 

 

 

6 Examples of failure of risk oversight include but are not limited to: bribery; large or serial fines or sanctions from regulatory bodies; significant adverse legal judgments or settlement; or hedging of company stock.

 

   
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Vote against management proposals to limit the tenure of outside directors through term limits. However, scrutinize boards where the average tenure of all directors exceeds 15 years for independence from management and for sufficient turnover to ensure that new perspectives are being added to the board.

 

Board Size

 

  General Recommendation: Vote for proposals seeking to fix the board size or designate a range for the board size.

 

Vote against proposals that give management the ability to alter the size of the board outside of a specified range without shareholder approval.

 

Classification/Declassification of the Board

 

General Recommendation: Vote against proposals to classify (stagger) the board.

 

Vote for proposals to repeal classified boards and to elect all directors annually.

 

CEO Succession Planning

  

 

General Recommendation: Generally vote for proposals seeking disclosure on a CEO succession planning policy, considering, at a minimum, the following factors:

The reasonableness/scope of the request; and

The company’s existing disclosure on its current CEO succession planning process.

 

Cumulative Voting

 

 

General Recommendation: Generally vote against management proposals to eliminate cumulate voting, and for shareholder proposals to restore or provide for cumulative voting, unless: 

 

The company has proxy access7, thereby allowing shareholders to nominate directors to the company’s ballot; and

The company has adopted a majority vote standard, with a carve-out for plurality voting in situations where there are more nominees than seats, and a director resignation policy to address failed elections.

 

Vote for proposals for cumulative voting at controlled companies (insider voting power > 50%).

 

Director and Officer Indemnification and Liability Protection

 

 

General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on proposals on director and officer indemnification and liability protection.

 

Vote against proposals that would:

  

Eliminate entirely directors’ and officers’ liability for monetary damages for violating the duty of care.

Expand coverage beyond just legal expenses to liability for acts that are more serious violations of fiduciary obligation than mere carelessness.

Expand the scope of indemnification to provide for mandatory indemnification of company officials in connection with acts that previously the company was permitted to provide indemnification for, at the discretion of the company’s board (i.e., “permissive indemnification”), but that previously the company was not required to indemnify.

 

 

7 A proxy access right that meets the recommended guidelines.

 

   
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Vote for only those proposals providing such expanded coverage in cases when a director’s or officer’s legal defense was unsuccessful if both of the following apply:

  

If the director was found to have acted in good faith and in a manner that s/he reasonably believed was in the best interests of the company; and
If only the director’s legal expenses would be covered.

 

Establish/Amend Nominee Qualifications

 

 

General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on proposals that establish or amend director qualifications. Votes should be based on the reasonableness of the criteria and the degree to which they may preclude dissident nominees from joining the board. 

 

Vote case-by-case on shareholder resolutions seeking a director nominee who possesses a particular subject matter expertise, considering:

 

The company’s board committee structure, existing subject matter expertise, and board nomination provisions relative to that of its peers;

The company’s existing board and management oversight mechanisms regarding the issue for which board oversight is sought;

The company’s disclosure and performance relating to the issue for which board oversight is sought and any significant related controversies; and

The scope and structure of the proposal.

 

Establish Other Board Committee Proposals

 

 

General Recommendation: Generally vote against shareholder proposals to establish a new board committee, as such proposals seek a specific oversight mechanism/structure that potentially limits a company’s flexibility to determine an appropriate oversight mechanism for itself. However, the following factors will be considered: 

 

Existing oversight mechanisms (including current committee structure) regarding the issue for which board oversight is sought;

Level of disclosure regarding the issue for which board oversight is sought;

Company performance related to the issue for which board oversight is sought;

Board committee structure compared to that of other companies in its industry sector; and

The scope and structure of the proposal.

  

Filling Vacancies/Removal of Directors

 

General Recommendation: Vote against proposals that provide that directors may be removed only for cause.

 

Vote for proposals to restore shareholders’ ability to remove directors with or without cause.

Vote against proposals that provide that only continuing directors may elect replacements to fill board vacancies. 

Vote for proposals that permit shareholders to elect directors to fill board vacancies. 

 

Independent Chair (Separate Chair/CEO)

 

 

General Recommendation: Generally vote for shareholder proposals requiring that the chairman’s position be filled by an independent director, taking into consideration the following: 

 

The scope of the proposal;

The company’s current board leadership structure;

The company’s governance structure and practices;

 

   
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Company performance; and

Any other relevant factors that may be applicable.

 

Regarding the scope of the proposal, consider whether the proposal is precatory or binding and whether the proposal is seeking an immediate change in the chairman role or the policy can be implemented at the next CEO transition.

  

Under the review of the company’s board leadership structure, ISS may support the proposal under the following scenarios absent a compelling rationale: the presence of an executive or non-independent chair in addition to the CEO; a recent recombination of the role of CEO and chair; and/or departure from a structure with an independent chair. ISS will also consider any recent transitions in board leadership and the effect such transitions may have on independent board leadership as well as the designation of a lead director role.

 

When considering the governance structure, ISS will consider the overall independence of the board, the independence of key committees, the establishment of governance guidelines, board tenure and its relationship to CEO tenure, and any other factors that may be relevant. Any concerns about a company’s governance structure will weigh in favor of support for the proposal.

 

The review of the company’s governance practices may include, but is not limited to, poor compensation practices, material failures of governance and risk oversight, related-party transactions or other issues putting director independence at risk, corporate or management scandals, and actions by management or the board with potential or realized negative impact on shareholders. Any such practices may suggest a need for more independent oversight at the company thus warranting support of the proposal.

 

ISS’ performance assessment will generally consider one-, three-, and five-year TSR compared to the company’s peers and the market as a whole. While poor performance will weigh in favor of the adoption of an independent chair policy, strong performance over the long term will be considered a mitigating factor when determining whether the proposed leadership change warrants support.

 

Majority of Independent Directors/Establishment of Independent Committees

 

General Recommendation: Vote for shareholder proposals asking that a majority or more of directors be independent unless the board composition already meets the proposed threshold by ISS’ definition of Independent Director (See ISS’ Classification of Directors.) 

  

Vote for shareholder proposals asking that board audit, compensation, and/or nominating committees be composed exclusively of independent directors unless they currently meet that standard.

  

Majority Vote Standard for the Election of Directors

  

General Recommendation: Generally vote for management proposals to adopt a majority of votes cast standard for directors in uncontested elections. Vote against if no carve-out for a plurality vote standard in contested elections is included.

 

Generally vote for precatory and binding shareholder resolutions requesting that the board change the company’s bylaws to stipulate that directors need to be elected with an affirmative majority of votes cast, provided it does not conflict with the state law where the company is incorporated. Binding resolutions need to allow for a carve-out for a plurality vote standard when there are more nominees than board seats.

 

Companies are strongly encouraged to also adopt a post-election policy (also known as a director resignation policy) that will provide guidelines so that the company will promptly address the situation of a holdover director.

 

   
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Proxy Access

 

 

General Recommendation: Generally vote for management and shareholder proposals for proxy access with the following provisions: 

  

Ownership threshold: maximum requirement not more than three percent (3%) of the voting power;

Ownership duration: maximum requirement not longer than three (3) years of continuous ownership for each member of the nominating group;

Aggregation: minimal or no limits on the number of shareholders permitted to form a nominating group;

Cap: cap on nominees of generally twenty-five percent (25%) of the board.

  

Review for reasonableness any other restrictions on the right of proxy access. Generally vote against proposals that are more restrictive than these guidelines.

 

Require More Nominees than Open Seats

 

 

General Recommendation: Vote against shareholder proposals that would require a company to nominate more candidates than the number of open board seats. 

 

Shareholder Engagement Policy (Shareholder Advisory Committee)

 

 

General Recommendation: Generally vote for shareholder proposals requesting that the board establish an internal mechanism/process, which may include a committee, in order to improve communications between directors and shareholders, unless the company has the following features, as appropriate: 

 

Established a communication structure that goes beyond the exchange requirements to facilitate the exchange of information between shareholders and members of the board;

Effectively disclosed information with respect to this structure to its shareholders;

Company has not ignored majority-supported shareholder proposals or a majority withhold vote on a director nominee; and

The company has an independent chairman or a lead director, according to ISS’ definition. This individual must be made available for periodic consultation and direct communication with major shareholders.

 

   
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2.             

         2. AUDIT-RELATED

 

Auditor Indemnification and Limitation of Liability

 

General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on the issue of auditor indemnification and limitation of liability. Factors to be assessed include, but are not limited to: 

 

The terms of the auditor agreement—the degree to which these agreements impact shareholders’ rights;

The motivation and rationale for establishing the agreements;

The quality of the company’s disclosure; and

The company’s historical practices in the audit area.

 

Vote against or withhold from members of an audit committee in situations where there is persuasive evidence that the audit committee entered into an inappropriate indemnification agreement with its auditor that limits the ability of the company, or its shareholders, to pursue legitimate legal recourse against the audit firm.

 

Auditor Ratification

 

General Recommendation: Vote for proposals to ratify auditors unless any of the following apply:

  

An auditor has a financial interest in or association with the company, and is therefore not independent;

There is reason to believe that the independent auditor has rendered an opinion that is neither accurate nor indicative of the company’s financial position;

Poor accounting practices are identified that rise to a serious level of concern, such as fraud or misapplication of GAAP; or

Fees for non-audit services (“Other” fees) are excessive.

  

Non-audit fees are excessive if:

 

Non-audit (“other”) fees > audit fees + audit-related fees + tax compliance/preparation fees

 

Tax compliance and preparation include the preparation of original and amended tax returns and refund claims, and tax payment planning. All other services in the tax category, such as tax advice, planning, or consulting, should be added to “Other” fees. If the breakout of tax fees cannot be determined, add all tax fees to “Other” fees.

 

In circumstances where “Other” fees include fees related to significant one-time capital structure events (such as initial public offerings, bankruptcy emergence, and spin-offs) and the company makes public disclosure of the amount and nature of those fees that are an exception to the standard “non-audit fee” category, then such fees may be excluded from the non-audit fees considered in determining the ratio of non-audit to audit/audit-related fees/tax compliance and preparation for purposes of determining whether non-audit fees are excessive.

 

Shareholder Proposals Limiting Non-Audit Services

 

 

General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on shareholder proposals asking companies to prohibit or limit their auditors from engaging in non-audit services. 

  

   
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Shareholder Proposals on Audit Firm Rotation

 

General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on shareholder proposals asking for audit firm rotation, taking into account: 

  

The tenure of the audit firm;

The length of rotation specified in the proposal;

Any significant audit-related issues at the company;

The number of Audit Committee meetings held each year;

The number of financial experts serving on the committee; and

Whether the company has a periodic renewal process where the auditor is evaluated for both audit quality and competitive price.

  

   
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3. SHAREHOLDER RIGHTS & DEFENSES

 

Advance Notice Requirements for Shareholder Proposals/Nominations

 

General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on advance notice proposals, giving support to those proposals which allow shareholders to submit proposals/nominations as close to the meeting date as reasonably possible and within the broadest window possible, recognizing the need to allow sufficient notice for company, regulatory, and shareholder review.

 

To be reasonable, the company’s deadline for shareholder notice of a proposal/nominations must not be more than 60 days prior to the meeting, with a submittal window of at least 30 days prior to the deadline. The submittal window is the period under which a shareholder must file his proposal/nominations prior to the deadline.

 

In general, support additional efforts by companies to ensure full disclosure in regard to a proponent’s economic and voting position in the company so long as the informational requirements are reasonable and aimed at providing shareholders with the necessary information to review such proposals.

 

Amend Bylaws without Shareholder Consent

 

General Recommendation: Vote against proposals giving the board exclusive authority to amend the bylaws.

 

Vote case-by-case on proposals giving the board the ability to amend the bylaws in addition to shareholders, taking into account the following:

 

Any impediments to shareholders’ ability to amend the bylaws (i.e. supermajority voting requirements);
The company’s ownership structure and historical voting turnout;
Whether the board could amend bylaws adopted by shareholders; and
Whether shareholders would retain the ability to ratify any board-initiated amendments.

 

Control Share Acquisition Provisions

 

Control share acquisition statutes function by denying shares their voting rights when they contribute to ownership in excess of certain thresholds. Voting rights for those shares exceeding ownership limits may only be restored by approval of either a majority or supermajority of disinterested shares. Thus, control share acquisition statutes effectively require a hostile bidder to put its offer to a shareholder vote or risk voting disenfranchisement if the bidder continues buying up a large block of shares.

 

General Recommendation: Vote for proposals to opt out of control share acquisition statutes unless doing so would enable the completion of a takeover that would be detrimental to shareholders.

 

Vote against proposals to amend the charter to include control share acquisition provisions.

 

Vote for proposals to restore voting rights to the control shares.

 

Control Share Cash-Out Provisions

 

Control share cash-out statutes give dissident shareholders the right to “cash-out” of their position in a company at the expense of the shareholder who has taken a control position. In other words, when an investor crosses a preset threshold level, remaining shareholders are given the right to sell their shares to the acquirer, who must buy them at the highest acquiring price.

 

   
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General Recommendation: Vote for proposals to opt out of control share cash-out statutes.

 

Disgorgement Provisions

 

Disgorgement provisions require an acquirer or potential acquirer of more than a certain percentage of a company’s stock to disgorge, or pay back, to the company any profits realized from the sale of that company’s stock purchased 24 months before achieving control status. All sales of company stock by the acquirer occurring within a certain period of time (between 18 months and 24 months) prior to the investor’s gaining control status are subject to these recapture-of-profits provisions.

 

General Recommendation: Vote for proposals to opt out of state disgorgement provisions.

 

Fair Price Provisions

 

General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on proposals to adopt fair price provisions (provisions that stipulate that an acquirer must pay the same price to acquire all shares as it paid to acquire the control shares), evaluating factors such as the vote required to approve the proposed acquisition, the vote required to repeal the fair price provision, and the mechanism for determining the fair price.

 

Generally vote against fair price provisions with shareholder vote requirements greater than a majority of disinterested shares.

 

Freeze-Out Provisions

 

General Recommendation: Vote for proposals to opt out of state freeze-out provisions. Freeze-out provisions force an investor who surpasses a certain ownership threshold in a company to wait a specified period of time before gaining control of the company.

 

Greenmail

 

Greenmail payments are targeted share repurchases by management of company stock from individuals or groups seeking control of the company. Since only the hostile party receives payment, usually at a substantial premium over the market value of its shares, the practice discriminates against all other shareholders.

 

General Recommendation: Vote for proposals to adopt anti-greenmail charter or bylaw amendments or otherwise restrict a company’s ability to make greenmail payments.

 

Vote case-by-case on anti-greenmail proposals when they are bundled with other charter or bylaw amendments.

 

Litigation Rights (including Exclusive Venue and Fee-Shifting Bylaw Provisions)

 

Bylaw provisions impacting shareholders’ ability to bring suit against the company may include exclusive venue provisions, which provide that the state of incorporation shall be the sole venue for certain types of litigation, and fee-shifting provisions that require a shareholder who sues a company unsuccessfully to pay all litigation expenses of the defendant corporation.

 

   
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General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on bylaws which impact shareholders’ litigation rights, taking into account factors such as:

 

The company’s stated rationale for adopting such a provision;
Disclosure of past harm from shareholder lawsuits in which plaintiffs were unsuccessful or shareholder lawsuits outside the jurisdiction of incorporation;
The breadth of application of the bylaw, including the types of lawsuits to which it would apply and the definition of key terms; and
Governance features such as shareholders’ ability to repeal the provision at a later date (including the vote standard applied when shareholders attempt to amend the bylaws) and their ability to hold directors accountable through annual director elections and a majority vote standard in uncontested elections.

 

Generally vote against bylaws that mandate fee-shifting whenever plaintiffs are not completely successful on the merits (i.e., in cases where the plaintiffs are partially successful).

 

Unilateral adoption by the board of bylaw provisions which affect shareholders’ litigation rights will be evaluated under ISS’ policy on Unilateral Bylaw/Charter Amendments.

 

Net Operating Loss (NOL) Protective Amendments

 

General Recommendation: Vote against proposals to adopt a protective amendment for the stated purpose of protecting a company’s net operating losses (NOL) if the effective term of the protective amendment would exceed the shorter of three years and the exhaustion of the NOL.

 

Vote case-by-case, considering the following factors, for management proposals to adopt an NOL protective amendment that would remain in effect for the shorter of three years (or less) and the exhaustion of the NOL:

 

The ownership threshold (NOL protective amendments generally prohibit stock ownership transfers that would result in a new 5-percent holder or increase the stock ownership percentage of an existing 5-percent holder);
The value of the NOLs;
Shareholder protection mechanisms (sunset provision or commitment to cause expiration of the protective amendment upon exhaustion or expiration of the NOL);
The company’s existing governance structure including: board independence, existing takeover defenses, track record of responsiveness to shareholders, and any other problematic governance concerns; and
Any other factors that may be applicable.

 

Poison Pills (Shareholder Rights Plans)

 

Shareholder Proposals to Put Pill to a Vote and/or Adopt a Pill Policy

 

General Recommendation: Vote for shareholder proposals requesting that the company submit its poison pill to a shareholder vote or redeem it unless the company has: (1) A shareholder approved poison pill in place; or (2) The company has adopted a policy concerning the adoption of a pill in the future specifying that the board will only adopt a shareholder rights plan if either:

Shareholders have approved the adoption of the plan; or
The board, in its exercise of its fiduciary responsibilities, determines that it is in the best interest of shareholders under the circumstances to adopt a pill without the delay in adoption that would result from seeking stockholder approval (i.e., the “fiduciary out” provision). A poison pill adopted under this fiduciary out will be put to a shareholder ratification vote within 12 months of adoption or expire. If the pill is not approved by a majority of the votes cast on this issue, the plan will immediately terminate.

 

If the shareholder proposal calls for a time period of less than 12 months for shareholder ratification after adoption, vote for the proposal, but add the caveat that a vote within 12 months would be considered sufficient implementation.

 

   
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Management Proposals to Ratify a Poison Pill

 

General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on management proposals on poison pill ratification, focusing on the features of the shareholder rights plan. Rights plans should contain the following attributes:

No lower than a 20 percent trigger, flip-in or flip-over;
A term of no more than three years;
No dead-hand, slow-hand, no-hand, or similar feature that limits the ability of a future board to redeem the pill;
Shareholder redemption feature (qualifying offer clause); if the board refuses to redeem the pill 90 days after a qualifying offer is announced, 10 percent of the shares may call a special meeting or seek a written consent to vote on rescinding the pill.

 

In addition, the rationale for adopting the pill should be thoroughly explained by the company. In examining the request for the pill, take into consideration the company’s existing governance structure, including: board independence, existing takeover defenses, and any problematic governance concerns.

 

Management Proposals to Ratify a Pill to Preserve Net Operating Losses (NOLs)

 

General Recommendation: Vote against proposals to adopt a poison pill for the stated purpose of protecting a company’s net operating losses (NOL) if the term of the pill would exceed the shorter of three years and the exhaustion of the NOL.

 

Vote case-by-case on management proposals for poison pill ratification, considering the following factors, if the term of the pill would be the shorter of three years (or less) and the exhaustion of the NOL:

 

The ownership threshold to transfer (NOL pills generally have a trigger slightly below 5 percent);
The value of the NOLs;
Shareholder protection mechanisms (sunset provision, or commitment to cause expiration of the pill upon exhaustion or expiration of NOLs);
The company’s existing governance structure including: board independence, existing takeover defenses, track record of responsiveness to shareholders, and any other problematic governance concerns; and
Any other factors that may be applicable.

 

Proxy Voting Disclosure, Confidentiality, and Tabulation

 

General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on proposals regarding proxy voting mechanics, taking into consideration whether implementation of the proposal is likely to enhance or protect shareholder rights. Specific issues covered under the policy include, but are not limited to, confidential voting of individual proxies and ballots, confidentiality of running vote tallies, and the treatment of abstentions and/or broker non-votes in the company’s vote-counting methodology.

 

While a variety of factors may be considered in each analysis, the guiding principles are: transparency, consistency, and fairness in the proxy voting process. The factors considered, as applicable to the proposal, may include:

 

The scope and structure of the proposal;
The company’s stated confidential voting policy (or other relevant policies) and whether it ensures a “level playing field” by providing shareholder proponents with equal access to vote information prior to the annual meeting;
The company’s vote standard for management and shareholder proposals and whether it ensures consistency and fairness in the proxy voting process and maintains the integrity of vote results;
Whether the company’s disclosure regarding its vote counting method and other relevant voting policies with respect to management and shareholder proposals are consistent and clear;
Any recent controversies or concerns related to the company’s proxy voting mechanics;
Any unintended consequences resulting from implementation of the proposal; and

 

   
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Any other factors that may be relevant.

 

Ratification Proposals: Management Proposals to Ratify Existing Charter or Bylaw Provisions

 

General Recommendation: Generally vote against management proposals to ratify provisions of the company’s existing charter or bylaws, unless these governance provisions align with best practice.

 

In addition, voting against/withhold from individual directors, members of the governance committee, or the full board may be warranted, considering:

 

The presence of a shareholder proposal addressing the same issue on the same ballot;
The board’s rationale for seeking ratification;
Disclosure of actions to be taken by the board should the ratification proposal fail;
Disclosure of shareholder engagement regarding the board’s ratification request;
The level of impairment to shareholders’ rights caused by the existing provision;
The history of management and shareholder proposals on the provision at the company’s past meetings;
Whether the current provision was adopted in response to the shareh