485APOS 1 d525257d485apos.htm 485APOS 485APOS

As filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on March 16, 2017

File Nos. 33-97598 and 811-09102

 

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

 

FORM N-1A

REGISTRATION STATEMENT

UNDER

   THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933  
        Post-Effective Amendment No. 471  

and/or

REGISTRATION STATEMENT

UNDER

   THE INVESTMENT COMPANY ACT OF 1940  
        Amendment No. 473  

(Check appropriate box or boxes)

 

 

iShares, Inc.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Charter)

 

 

c/o State Street Bank and Trust Company

1 Iron Street

Boston, MA 02210

(Address of Principal Executive Office)(Zip Code)

Registrant’s Telephone Number, including Area Code: (415) 670-2000

The Corporation Trust Incorporated

351 West Camden Street

Baltimore, MD 21201

(Name and Address of Agent for Service)

 

 

With Copies to:

 

MARGERY K. NEALE, ESQ.

WILLKIE FARR &

GALLAGHER LLP

787 SEVENTH AVENUE

NEW YORK, NY 10019-6099

 

DEEPA DAMRE, ESQ.

BLACKROCK FUND

ADVISORS

400 HOWARD STREET

SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94105

 

 

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)

If appropriate, check the following box:

 

  The post-effective amendment designates a new effective date for a previously filed post-effective amendment

 

 

 


__________, 2017
2017 Prospectus
►  iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ex China ETF | _____ | _____
The information in this prospectus is not complete and may be changed. A registration statement relating to these securities has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The securities described herein may not be sold until the registration statement becomes effective. This prospectus is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy securities and is not offering or soliciting an offer to buy these securities in any state in which the offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has not approved or disapproved these securities or passed upon the adequacy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 




Table of Contents
“MSCI Emerging Markets ex China Index” is a servicemark of MSCI Inc. and has been licensed for use for certain purposes by BlackRock Fund Advisors or its affiliates. iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates. The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold, or promoted by MSCI Inc., nor does MSCI Inc. make any representation regarding the advisability of investing in the Fund.
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iSHARES® MSCI EMERGING MARKETS ex CHINA ETF
Ticker: _____ Stock Exchange: _____
Investment Objective
The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ex China ETF (the “Fund”) seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of large- and mid-capitalization emerging market equities, excluding China.
Fees and Expenses
The following table describes the fees and expenses that you will incur if you own shares of the Fund. The investment advisory agreement between iShares, Inc. (the “Company”) and BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”) (the “Investment Advisory Agreement”) provides that BFA will pay all operating expenses of the Fund, except interest expenses, taxes, brokerage expenses, distribution fees or expenses, and extraordinary expenses. The Fund may also incur “Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses.” Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses reflect the Fund's pro rata share of the fees and expenses incurred by investing in other investment companies. As the Fund has not commenced operations prior to the date of the Fund’s prospectus (the “Prospectus”), Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses are based on an estimate of the Fund’s allocation to other investment companies for the current fiscal year. The impact of Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses is included in the total returns of the Fund.
You may also incur usual and customary brokerage commissions and other charges when buying or selling shares of the Fund, which are not reflected in the Example that follows:
Annual Fund Operating Expenses
(ongoing expenses that you pay each year as a
percentage of the value of your investments)
Management
Fees
  Distribution and
Service (12b-1)
Fees
  Other
Expenses
  Acquired Fund Fees
and Expenses
  Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
____%   None   None   ____%   ____%
Example. This Example is intended to help you compare the cost of owning shares of the Fund with the cost of investing in other funds. The Example assumes that you invest $10,000 in the Fund for the time periods indicated and then sell all of your shares at the end of those periods. The Example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions, your costs would be:
  1 Year   3 Years  
  $__   $__  
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Portfolio Turnover. The Fund may pay transaction costs, such as commissions, when it buys and sells securities (or “turns over” its portfolio). A higher portfolio turnover rate may indicate higher transaction costs and may result in higher taxes when Fund shares are held in a taxable account. These costs, which are not reflected in Annual Fund Operating Expenses or in the Example, affect the Fund's performance.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the MSCI Emerging Markets ex China Index (the “Underlying Index”), which is designed to measure equity market performance in global emerging markets (with the exception of China). The Underlying Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization weighted index that captures large- and mid-capitalization stocks across 22 of the 23 Emerging Markets countries (as defined by MSCI Inc. (the “Index Provider” or “MSCI”)), excluding China. The Underlying Index covers approximately 85% of the free float-adjusted market capitalization of each of the following countries: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Components of the Underlying Index primarily include consumer discretionary, financials, information technology and materials companies. The components of the Underlying Index, and the degree to which these components represent certain industries, are likely to change over time.
BFA uses a “passive” or indexing approach to try to achieve the Fund’s investment objective. Unlike many
investment companies, the Fund does not try to “beat” the index it tracks and does not seek temporary defensive positions when markets decline or appear overvalued.
Indexing may eliminate the chance that the Fund will substantially outperform the Underlying Index but also may reduce some of the risks of active management, such as poor security selection. Indexing seeks to achieve lower costs and better after-tax performance by keeping portfolio turnover low in comparison to actively managed investment companies.
BFA uses a representative sampling indexing strategy to manage the Fund. “Representative sampling” is an indexing strategy that involves investing in a representative sample of securities that collectively has an investment profile similar to that of an applicable underlying index. The securities selected are expected to have, in the aggregate, investment characteristics (based on factors such as market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of an applicable underlying index. The Fund may or may not hold all of the securities in an applicable underlying index.
The Fund generally will invest at least 90% of its assets in the component securities of the Underlying Index and in investments that have economic characteristics that are substantially identical to the component securities of the Underlying Index (i.e., depositary receipts representing securities of the Underlying Index) and may invest up to 10% of its assets in certain futures, options and swap contracts, cash and cash equivalents, including shares of money market funds advised by BFA or its affiliates (“BlackRock Cash Funds”), as well as in securities not included in the Underlying Index, but which BFA believes will help the Fund track the
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Underlying Index.
The Fund may invest all or a portion of its assets that are invested in India through one or more iShares exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”), which hold India securities through a wholly-owned subsidiary located in the Republic of Mauritius (each, an “Underlying Fund”). BFA serves as investment adviser to the Fund and each Underlying Fund and its wholly-owned subsidiary located in the Republic of Mauritius (the “Subsidiary”). Unless otherwise indicated, the term “Fund” as used in this Prospectus means the Fund, Underlying Fund and/or the Subsidiary, as applicable. The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the Underlying Index before fees and expenses of the Fund.
The Fund may lend securities representing up to one-third of the value of the Fund's total assets (including the value of any collateral received).
The Underlying Index is sponsored by MSCI, which is independent of the Fund and BFA. The Index Provider determines the composition and relative weightings of the securities in the Underlying Index and publishes information regarding the market value of the Underlying Index.
Industry Concentration Policy. The Fund will concentrate its investments (i.e., hold 25% or more of its total assets) in a particular industry or group of industries to approximately the same extent that the Underlying Index is concentrated. For purposes of this limitation, securities of the U.S. government (including its agencies and instrumentalities) and repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.
Summary of Principal Risks
As with any investment, you could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund's performance could trail that of other investments. The Fund is subject to certain risks, including the principal risks noted below, any of which may adversely affect the Fund's NAV, trading price, yield, total return
and ability to meet its investment objective.
Asset Class Risk. Securities and other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund's portfolio may underperform in comparison to the general financial markets, a particular financial market or other asset classes.
Assets Under Management (AUM) Risk. From time to time, an Authorized Participant (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus), a third party investor, the Fund’s adviser or an affiliate of the Fund’s adviser, or a fund may invest in the Fund and hold its investment for a specific period of time in order to facilitate commencement of the Fund’s operations or for the Fund to achieve size or scale. There can be no assurance that any such entity would not redeem its investment or that the size of the Fund would be maintained at such levels, which could negatively impact the Fund.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as Authorized Participants on an agency basis (i.e., on behalf of other market participants). To the extent that Authorized Participants exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation and/or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units (as defined in the Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares section of the Prospectus), Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium or discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts and/or delisting. Authorized Participant concentration risk may be heightened for ETFs, such as the Fund, that invest in non-U.S. securities or other securities
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or instruments that are less widely traded.
Commodity Risk. The Fund invests in companies that are susceptible to fluctuations in certain commodity markets. Any negative changes in commodity markets that may be due to changes in supply and demand for commodities, market events, regulatory developments or other factors that the Fund cannot control could have an adverse impact on those companies.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class.
Consumer Discretionary Sector Risk. The consumer discretionary sector may be affected by changes in domestic and international economies, exchange and interest rates, competition, consumers' disposable income, consumer preferences, social trends and marketing campaigns.
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's NAV is determined in U.S. dollars, the Fund's NAV could decline if the currency of a non-U.S. market in which the Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of such currency. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the Fund's NAV may change quickly and without warning.
Custody Risk. Less developed securities markets are more likely to experience problems with the clearing and settling of trades, as well as the holding of securities by local banks, agents and depositories.
Cyber Security Risk. Failures or breaches of the electronic systems of the Fund, the Fund's adviser, the Fund's distributor, and the Fund's other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests have the ability to cause disruptions and negatively impact the Fund’s business operations, potentially resulting in financial losses to the Fund and its shareholders. While the Fund has established business continuity plans and risk management systems seeking to address system breaches or failures, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cyber security plans and systems of the Fund’s service providers, the Index Provider, market makers, Authorized Participants or issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
Equity Securities Risk. Equity securities are subject to changes in value, and their values may be more volatile than those of other asset classes. Holders of common stock generally are subject to more risks than holders of preferred stock and debt securities because the right to repayment of common stockholders’ claims is subordinated to that of holders of preferred stock and debt securities upon the bankruptcy of the issuer.
Financials Sector Risk. Performance of companies in the financials sector may be adversely impacted by many factors, including, among others, government regulations, economic conditions, credit rating downgrades, changes in interest rates, and decreased liquidity in credit markets. The impact of more stringent capital requirements, recent or future regulation of any individual financial company or of the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. In recent years, cyber attacks and technology malfunctions and failures have become increasingly frequent in this sector and
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have caused significant losses to companies in this sector, which may negatively impact the Fund.
Geographic Risk. A natural or other disaster could occur in a geographic region in which the Fund invests, which could adversely affect the economy or the business operations of companies in the specific geographic region, causing an adverse impact on the Fund's investments in the affected region.
Index-Related Risk. There is no guarantee that the Fund will achieve a high degree of correlation to the Underlying Index and therefore achieve its investment objective. Market disruptions and regulatory restrictions could have an adverse effect on the Fund’s ability to adjust its exposure to the required levels in order to track the Underlying Index. Errors in index data, index computations and/or the construction of the Underlying Index in accordance with its methodology may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, which may have an adverse impact on the Fund and its shareholders.
Information Technology Sector Risk. Information technology companies face intense competition and potentially rapid product obsolescence. They are also heavily dependent on intellectual property rights and may be adversely affected by the loss or impairment of those rights.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities to which the Fund has exposure. Changes in the financial condition or credit rating of an issuer of those securities may cause the value of the securities to decline.
Large-Capitalization Companies Risk. Large-capitalization companies may be less able than smaller capitalization companies to adapt to changing market conditions. Large-capitalization
companies may be more mature and subject to more limited growth potential compared with smaller capitalization companies. During different market cycles, the performance of large-capitalization companies has trailed the overall performance of the broader securities markets.
Management Risk. As the Fund may not fully replicate the Underlying Index, it is subject to the risk that BFA's investment strategy may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns.
Market Trading Risk. The Fund faces numerous market trading risks, including the potential lack of an active market for Fund shares, losses from trading in secondary markets, periods of high volatility and disruptions in the creation/redemption process. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV.
Materials Sector Risk. Companies in the materials sector may be adversely impacted by the volatility of commodity prices, exchange rates, depletion of resources, over-production, litigation and government regulations, among other factors.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund trade on foreign exchanges that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of such an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s
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NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Non-Diversification Risk. The Fund may invest a large percentage of its assets in securities issued by or representing a small number of issuers. As a result, the Fund's performance may depend on the performance of a small number of issuers.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks associated with investing in those non-U.S. markets, such as heightened risks of inflation or nationalization. The Fund may lose money due to political, economic and geographic events affecting issuers of non-U.S. securities or non-U.S. markets. In addition, non-U.S. securities markets may trade a small number of securities and may be unable to respond effectively to increases in trading volume, potentially making prompt liquidation of holdings difficult or impossible at times. The Fund is specifically exposed to Asian Economic Risk.
Operational Risk. The Fund is exposed to operational risks arising from a number of factors, including, but not limited to, human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund’s service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate to address these risks.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund is not actively managed, and BFA generally does not attempt to take defensive positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Privatization Risk. Some countries in which the Fund invests have privatized, or have begun the process of
privatizing, certain entities and industries. Privatized entities may lose money or be re-nationalized.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. The Fund invests in countries or regions whose economies are heavily dependent upon trading with key partners. Any reduction in this trading may have an adverse impact on the Fund's investments. Through its portfolio companies' trading partners, the Fund is specifically exposed to Asian Economic Risk and U.S. Economic Risk.
Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets. The Fund's investments in emerging market issuers may be subject to a greater risk of loss than investments in issuers located or operating in more developed markets. Emerging markets may be more likely to experience inflation, political turmoil and rapid changes in economic conditions than more developed markets. Emerging markets often have less uniformity in accounting and reporting requirements, less reliable securities valuations and greater risk associated with custody of securities than developed markets. While the Fund does not invest directly in Chinese securities, many emerging market companies included in the Underlying Index are exposed to the risks of the Chinese economy.
Risk of Investing in India. Investments in Indian issuers involve risks that are specific to India, including legal, regulatory, political and economic risks. Political and legal uncertainty, greater government control over the economy, currency fluctuations or blockage, and the risk of nationalization or expropriation of assets may result in higher potential for losses. The securities markets in India are relatively underdeveloped and may subject the Fund to higher transaction costs or greater uncertainty than investments in more developed securities markets.
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Risk of Investing in Russia. Investing in Russian securities involves significant risks, including legal, regulatory and economic risks that are specific to Russia. In addition, investing in Russian securities involves risks associated with the settlement of portfolio transactions and loss of the Fund’s ownership rights in its portfolio securities as a result of the system of share registration and custody in Russia. A number of countries have imposed economic sanctions on certain Russian individuals and Russian corporate entities. These sanctions, or even the threat of further sanctions, may adversely affect Russia’s economy and the Fund’s investments.
Risk of Investing in South Korea. Investments in South Korean issuers may subject the Fund to legal, regulatory, political, currency, security, and economic risks that are specific to South Korea. In addition, economic and political developments of South Korea’s neighbors or potential hostilities with North Korea may have an adverse effect on the South Korean economy.
Securities Lending Risk. The Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund.
Security Risk. Some countries and regions in which the Fund invests have experienced security concerns, such as terrorism and strained international relations. Incidents involving a country's or region's security may cause uncertainty in these markets and may adversely affect their economies and the Fund's investments.
Structural Risk. The countries in which the Fund invests may be subject to considerable degrees of economic, political and social instability.
Tracking Error Risk. Tracking error is the divergence of a fund’s performance from that of the applicable underlying index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities and other instruments held in the fund’s portfolio and those included in the applicable underlying index, pricing differences (including differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the fund's valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the fund's NAV), differences in transaction costs, the fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or interest, tax gains or losses, changes to the applicable underlying index or the costs to the fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. This risk may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions. Tracking error also may result because a fund incurs fees and expenses, while the applicable underlying index does not. INDEX ETFs THAT TRACK INDICES WITH SIGNIFICANT WEIGHT IN EMERGING MARKETS ISSUERS MAY EXPERIENCE HIGHER TRACKING ERROR THAN OTHER INDEX ETFs THAT DO NOT TRACK SUCH INDICES.
Treaty/Tax Risk. The Underlying Fund relies on the Double Tax Avoidance Agreement between India and Mauritius (“DTAA”) for relief from certain Indian taxes. Treaty renegotiation (particularly to introduce a limitation on benefits clause), future legislative or regulatory changes, or other administrative or legal developments may result in the Fund withdrawing from the Underlying Fund, which may result in higher taxes and/or lower returns for the Fund.
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Valuation Risk. The sale price the Fund could receive for a security or other asset may differ from the Fund's valuation of the security or other asset and from the value used by the Underlying Index, particularly for securities or other assets that trade in low volume or volatile markets or that
are valued using a fair value methodology. In addition, the value of the securities or other assets in the Fund's portfolio may change on days or during time periods when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund's shares.
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Performance Information
As of the date of the Prospectus, the Fund has been in operation for less than one full calendar year and therefore does not report its performance information.
Management
Investment Adviser. BlackRock Fund Advisors.
Portfolio Managers. Diane Hsiung, Jennifer Hsui, Alan Mason and Greg Savage (the “Portfolio Managers”) are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager supervises a portfolio management team. Ms. Hsiung, Ms. Hsui, Mr. Mason and Mr. Savage have been Portfolio Managers of the Fund since inception.
Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares
The Fund is an ETF. Individual shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange. Most investors will buy and sell shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer. The price of Fund shares is based on market price, and because ETF shares trade at market prices rather than at NAV, shares may trade at a price greater than NAV (a premium) or less than NAV (a discount). The Fund will only issue or redeem shares that have been aggregated into blocks of ______ shares or multiples thereof (“Creation Units”) to Authorized Participants who have entered into agreements with the Fund's distributor. The Fund generally will issue or redeem Creation Units in return for a designated portfolio of securities (and an amount of cash) that the Fund specifies each day.
Tax Information
The Fund intends to make distributions that may be taxable to you as ordinary income or capital gains, unless you are investing through a tax-deferred arrangement such as a 401(k) plan or an individual retirement accounts (“IRA”), in which case, your distributions generally will be taxed when withdrawn.
Payments to Broker-Dealers and other Financial Intermediaries
If you purchase shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary (such as a bank), BFA or other related companies may pay the intermediary for marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems or other services related to the sale or promotion of the Fund. These payments may create a conflict of interest by influencing the broker-dealer or other intermediary and your salesperson to recommend the Fund over another investment. Ask your salesperson or visit your financial intermediary’s website for more information.
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More Information About the Fund
This Prospectus contains important information about investing in the Fund. Please read this Prospectus carefully before you make any investment decisions. Additional information regarding the Fund is available at www.iShares.com.
BFA is the investment adviser to the Fund. Shares of the Fund are listed for trading on ______ (the “Listing Exchange”). The market price for a share of the Fund may be different from the Fund’s most recent NAV.
ETFs are funds that trade like other publicly traded securities. The Fund is designed to track an index. Similar to shares of an index mutual fund, each share of the Fund represents an ownership interest in an underlying portfolio of securities and other instruments intended to track a market index. Unlike shares of a mutual fund, which can be bought and redeemed from the issuing fund by all shareholders at a price based on NAV, shares of the Fund may be purchased or redeemed directly from the Fund at NAV solely by Authorized Participants. Also unlike shares of a mutual fund, shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange and trade in the secondary market at market prices that change throughout the day.
The Fund invests in a particular segment of the securities markets and seeks to track the performance of a securities index that generally is not representative of the market as a whole. The Fund is designed to be used as part of broader asset allocation strategies. Accordingly, an investment in the Fund should not constitute a complete investment program.
An index is a financial calculation, based on a grouping of financial instruments, that is not an investment product, while the Fund is an actual investment portfolio. The performance of the Fund and the Underlying Index may vary for a number of reasons, including transaction costs, non-U.S. currency valuations, asset valuations, corporate actions (such as mergers and spin-offs), timing variances and differences between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index resulting from the Fund's use of representative sampling or from legal restrictions (such as diversification requirements) that apply to the Fund but not to the Underlying Index. “Tracking error” is the divergence of the performance (return) of the Fund's portfolio from that of the Underlying Index. BFA expects that, over time, the Fund’s tracking error will not exceed 5%. Because the Fund uses a representative sampling indexing strategy, it can be expected to have a larger tracking error than if it used a replication indexing strategy. “Replication” is an indexing strategy in which a fund invests in substantially all of the securities in its underlying index in approximately the same proportions as in the underlying index.
The Fund may borrow as a temporary measure for extraordinary or emergency purposes, including to meet redemptions or to facilitate the settlement of securities or other transactions. The Fund does not intend to borrow money in order to leverage its portfolio. The Fund has adopted a non-fundamental investment restriction such that, under normal market conditions, any borrowings by the Fund will not exceed 10% of the Fund’s net assets.
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An investment in the Fund is not a bank deposit and it is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency, BFA or any of its affiliates.
The Fund's investment objective and the Underlying Index may be changed without shareholder approval.
A Further Discussion of Principal Risks
The Fund is subject to various risks, including the principal risks noted below, any of which may adversely affect the Fund’s NAV, trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. You could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund could underperform other investments.
Asian Economic Risk. Many Asian economies have experienced rapid growth and industrialization in recent years, but there is no assurance that this growth rate will be maintained. Other Asian economies, however, have experienced high inflation, high unemployment, currency devaluations and restrictions, and over-extension of credit. Economic events in any one Asian country may have a significant economic effect on the entire Asian region, as well as on major trading partners outside Asia. Any adverse event in the Asian markets may have a significant adverse effect on some or all of the economies of the countries in which the Fund invests. Many Asian countries are subject to political risk, including political instability, corruption and regional conflict with neighboring countries. In addition, many Asian countries are subject to social and labor risks associated with demands for improved political, economic and social conditions. These risks, among others, may adversely affect the value of the Fund’s investments.
Asset Class Risk. The securities and other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund’s portfolio may underperform in comparison to other securities or indexes that track other countries, groups of countries, regions, industries, groups of industries, markets, asset classes or sectors. Various types of securities, currencies and indexes may experience cycles of outperformance and underperformance in comparison to the general financial markets depending upon a number of factors including, among other things, inflation, interest rates, productivity, global demand for local products or resources, and regulation and governmental controls. This may cause the Fund to underperform other investment vehicles that invest in different asset classes.
Assets Under Management (AUM) Risk. From time to time, an Authorized Participant, a third party investor, the Fund’s adviser or an affiliate of the Fund’s adviser, or a fund may invest in the Fund and hold its investment for a specific period of time in order to facilitate commencement of the Fund’s operations or for the Fund to achieve size or scale. There can be no assurance that any such entity would not redeem its investment or that the size of the Fund would be maintained at such levels, which could negatively impact the Fund.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as Authorized Participants on an agency basis (i.e., on behalf of other market participants). To the extent that Authorized
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Participants exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation and/or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units, Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium or discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts and/or delisting. Authorized Participant concentration risk may be heightened because ETFs, such as the Fund, that invest in non-U.S. securities or other securities or instruments that are less widely traded often involve greater settlement and operational issues and capital costs for Authorized Participants that may limit the availability of Authorized Participants.
Commodity Risk. The energy, materials, and agriculture sectors account for a large portion of the exports of certain countries in which the Fund invests. Any changes in these sectors or fluctuations in the commodity markets could have an adverse impact on a country's economy. Commodity prices may be influenced or characterized by unpredictable factors, including, where applicable, high volatility, changes in supply and demand relationships, weather, agriculture, trade, pestilence, political instability, changes in interest rates and monetary and other governmental policies, action and inaction. Securities of companies held by the Fund that are dependent on a single commodity, or are concentrated in a single commodity sector, may typically exhibit even higher volatility attributable to commodity prices.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class. The Fund may be more adversely affected by the underperformance of those securities, may experience increased price volatility and may be more susceptible to adverse economic, market, political or regulatory occurrences affecting those securities than a fund that does not concentrate its investments.
Consumer Discretionary Sector Risk. The success of consumer product manufacturers and retailers is tied closely to the performance of domestic and international economies, interest rates, exchange rates, competition, consumer confidence, changes in demographics and consumer preferences. Companies in the consumer discretionary sector depend heavily on disposable household income and consumer spending, and may be strongly affected by social trends and marketing campaigns. These companies may be subject to severe competition, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability.
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's NAV is determined on the basis of the U.S. dollar, investors may lose money if the currency of a non-U.S. market in which the Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of the local currency, even if the local currency value of the Fund's holdings in that market increases. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the Fund’s NAV may change quickly and without warning.
Custody Risk. Custody risk refers to the risks inherent in the process of clearing and settling trades, as well as the holding of securities by local banks, agents and
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depositories. Low trading volumes and volatile prices in less developed markets may make trades harder to complete and settle, and governments or trade groups may compel local agents to hold securities in designated depositories that may not be subject to independent evaluation. Local agents are held only to the standards of care of their local markets. In general, the less developed a country’s securities markets are, the greater the likelihood of custody problems.
Cyber Security Risk. With the increased use of technologies such as the internet to conduct business, the Fund, Authorized Participants, service providers and the relevant listing exchange are susceptible to operational, information security and related “cyber” risks both directly and through their service providers. Similar types of cyber security risks are also present for issuers of securities in which the Fund invests, which could result in material adverse consequences for such issuers and may cause the Fund’s investment in such portfolio companies to lose value. Unlike many other types of risks faced by the Fund, these risks typically are not covered by insurance. In general, cyber incidents can result from deliberate attacks or unintentional events. Cyber attacks include, but are not limited to, gaining unauthorized access to digital systems (e.g., through “hacking” or malicious software coding) for purposes of misappropriating assets or sensitive information, corrupting data, or causing operational disruption. Cyber attacks may also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as causing denial-of-service attacks on websites (i.e., efforts to make network services unavailable to intended users). Cyber security failures by or breaches of the systems of the Fund’s adviser, distributor and other service providers (including, but not limited to, index providers, fund accountants, custodians, transfer agents and administrators), market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests, have the ability to cause disruptions and impact business operations, potentially resulting in: financial losses, interference with the Fund’s ability to calculate its NAV, disclosure of confidential trading information, impediments to trading, submission of erroneous trades or erroneous creation or redemption orders, the inability of the Fund or its service providers to transact business, violations of applicable privacy and other laws, regulatory fines, penalties, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensation costs, or additional compliance costs. In addition, cyber attacks may render records of Fund assets and transactions, shareholder ownership of Fund shares, and other data integral to the functioning of the Fund inaccessible or inaccurate or incomplete. Substantial costs may be incurred by the Fund in order to resolve or prevent cyber incidents in the future. While the Fund has established business continuity plans in the event of, and risk management systems to prevent, such cyber attacks, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems, including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified and that prevention and remediation efforts will not be successful. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cyber security plans and systems put in place by service providers to the Fund, issuers in which the Fund invests, the Index Provider, market makers or Authorized Participants. The Fund and its shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result.
Equity Securities Risk. The Fund invests in equity securities, which are subject to changes in value that may be attributable to market perception of a particular issuer or to general stock market fluctuations that affect all issuers. Investments in equity
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securities may be more volatile than investments in other asset classes. Holders of common stock generally are subject to more risks than holders of preferred stock and debt securities because the right to repayment of common stockholders’ claims is subordinated to that of holders of preferred stock and debt securities upon the bankruptcy of the issuer.
Financials Sector Risk. Companies in the financials sector of an economy are subject to extensive governmental regulation and intervention, which may adversely affect the scope of their activities, the prices they can charge, the amount of capital they must maintain and, potentially, their size. Governmental regulation may change frequently and may have significant adverse consequences for companies in the financials sector, including effects not intended by such regulation. The impact of more stringent capital requirements, or recent or future regulation in various countries of any individual financial company or of the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. Certain risks may impact the value of investments in the financials sector more severely than those of investments outside this sector, including the risks associated with companies that operate with substantial financial leverage. Companies in the financials sector may also be adversely affected by increases in interest rates and loan losses, decreases in the availability of money or asset valuations, credit rating downgrades and adverse conditions in other related markets. Insurance companies, in particular, may be subject to severe price competition and/or rate regulation, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability. The financials sector is particularly sensitive to fluctuations in interest rates. The financials sector is also a target for cyber attacks, and may experience technology malfunctions and disruptions. In recent years, cyber attacks and technology malfunctions and failures have become increasingly frequent in this sector and have reportedly caused losses to companies in this sector, which may negatively impact the Fund.
Geographic Risk. Some of the companies in which the Fund invests are located in parts of the world that have historically been prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, droughts, hurricanes or tsunamis, and are economically sensitive to environmental events. Any such event may adversely impact the economies of these geographic areas or business operations of companies in these geographic areas, causing an adverse impact on the value of the Fund.
Index-Related Risk. The Fund seeks to achieve a return which corresponds generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Underlying Index as published by the Index Provider. There is no assurance that the Index Provider or any agents that may act on its behalf will compile the Underlying Index accurately, or that the Underlying Index will be determined, composed or calculated accurately. While the Index Provider provides descriptions of what the Underlying Index is designed to achieve, neither the Index Provider nor its agents provide any warranty or accept any liability in relation to the quality, accuracy or completeness of the Underlying Index or its related data, and they do not guarantee that the Underlying Index will be in line with the Index Provider’s methodology. BFA’s mandate as described in this Prospectus is to manage the Fund consistently with the Underlying Index provided by the Index Provider to BFA. Consequently, BFA does not provide any warranty or guarantee against the Index Provider’s or any agent’s errors. Errors in respect of the quality, accuracy and
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completeness of the data used to compile the Underlying Index may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, particularly where the indices are less commonly used as benchmarks by funds or managers. Therefore, gains, losses or costs associated with errors of the Index Provider or its agents will generally be borne by the Fund and its shareholders. For example, during a period where the Underlying Index contains incorrect constituents, the Fund would have market exposure to such constituents and would be underexposed to the Underlying Index’s other constituents. Such errors may negatively or positively impact the Fund and its shareholders.
Apart from scheduled rebalances, the Index Provider or its agents may carry out additional ad hoc rebalances to the Underlying Index in order, for example, to correct an error in the selection of index constituents. When the Underlying Index is rebalanced and the Fund in turn rebalances its portfolio to attempt to increase the correlation between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index, any transaction costs and market exposure arising from such portfolio rebalancing will be borne directly by the Fund and its shareholders. Unscheduled rebalances to the Underlying Index may expose the Fund to additional tracking error risk, which is the risk that the Fund's returns may not track those of the Underlying Index. Therefore, errors and additional ad hoc rebalances carried out by the Index Provider or its agents to the Underlying Index may increase the costs to and the tracking error risk of the Fund.
Information Technology Sector Risk. Information technology companies face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on their profit margins. Like other technology companies, information technology companies may have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or personnel. The products of information technology companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments, frequent new product introduction, unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. Companies in the information technology sector are heavily dependent on patent and intellectual property rights. The loss or impairment of these rights may adversely affect the profitability of these companies.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities to which the Fund has exposure. Any issuer of these securities may perform poorly, causing the value of its securities to decline. Poor performance may be caused by poor management decisions, competitive pressures, changes in technology, expiration of patent protection, disruptions in supply, labor problems or shortages, corporate restructurings, fraudulent disclosures, credit deterioration of the issuer or other factors. Issuers may, in times of distress or at their own discretion, decide to reduce or eliminate dividends, which may also cause their stock prices to decline.
Large-Capitalization Companies Risk. Large-capitalization companies may be less able than smaller capitalization companies to adapt to changing market conditions. Large-capitalization companies may be more mature and subject to more limited growth potential compared with smaller capitalization companies. During different market cycles, the performance of large-capitalization companies has trailed the overall performance of the broader securities markets.
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Management Risk. The Fund may not fully replicate the Underlying Index and may hold securities not included in the Underlying Index. As a result, the Fund is subject to the risk that BFA’s investment strategy, the implementation of which is subject to a number of constraints, may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns. Securities or other assets may decline in value due to factors affecting financial markets generally or particular asset classes or industries represented in the markets. The value of a security or other asset may also decline due to general market conditions, economic trends or events that are not specifically related to the issuer of the security or other asset, or due to factors that affect a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class. During a general market downturn, multiple asset classes may be negatively affected. Changes in market conditions and interest rates will not have the same impact on all types of securities. The value of a security may also decrease due to specific conditions that affect a particular sector of the securities market or a particular issuer.
Market Trading Risk
Absence of Active Market. Although shares of the Fund are listed for trading on one or more stock exchanges, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained by market makers or Authorized Participants.
Risk of Secondary Listings. The Fund's shares may be listed or traded on U.S. and non-U.S. stock exchanges other than the U.S. stock exchange where the Fund's primary listing is maintained, and may otherwise be made available to non-U.S. investors through funds or structured investment vehicles similar to depositary receipts. There can be no assurance that the Fund’s shares will continue to trade on any such stock exchange or in any market or that the Fund’s shares will continue to meet the requirements for listing or trading on any exchange or in any market. The Fund's shares may be less actively traded in certain markets than in others, and investors are subject to the execution and settlement risks and market standards of the market where they or their broker direct their trades for execution. Certain information available to investors who trade Fund shares on a U.S. stock exchange during regular U.S. market hours may not be available to investors who trade in other markets, which may result in secondary market prices in such markets being less efficient.
Secondary Market Trading Risk. Shares of the Fund may trade in the secondary market at times when the Fund does not accept orders to purchase or redeem shares. At such times, shares may trade in the secondary market with more significant premiums or discounts than might be experienced at times when the Fund accepts purchase and redemption orders.
Secondary market trading in Fund shares may be halted by a stock exchange because of market conditions or for other reasons. In addition, trading in Fund shares on a stock exchange or in any market may be subject to trading halts caused by
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extraordinary market volatility pursuant to “circuit breaker” rules on the stock exchange or market.
Shares of the Fund, similar to shares of other issuers listed on a stock exchange, may be sold short and are therefore subject to the risk of increased volatility and price decreases associated with being sold short.
Shares of the Fund May Trade at Prices Other Than NAV. Shares of the Fund trade on stock exchanges at prices at, above or below the Fund’s most recent NAV. The NAV of the Fund is calculated at the end of each business day and fluctuates with changes in the market value of the Fund’s holdings. The trading price of the Fund's shares fluctuates continuously throughout trading hours based on both market supply of and demand for Fund shares and the underlying value of the Fund's portfolio holdings or NAV. As a result, the trading prices of the Fund’s shares may deviate significantly from NAV during periods of market volatility. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV. However, because shares can be created and redeemed in Creation Units at NAV, BFA believes that large discounts or premiums to the NAV of the Fund are not likely to be sustained over the long term (unlike shares of many closed-end funds, which frequently trade at appreciable discounts from, and sometimes at premiums to, their NAVs). While the creation/redemption feature is designed to make it more likely that the Fund’s shares normally will trade on stock exchanges at prices close to the Fund’s next calculated NAV, exchange prices are not expected to correlate exactly with the Fund's NAV due to timing reasons, supply and demand imbalances and other factors. In addition, disruptions to creations and redemptions, including disruptions at market makers, Authorized Participants, or other market participants, and during periods of significant market volatility, may result in trading prices for shares of the Fund that differ significantly from its NAV. Authorized Participants may be less willing to create or redeem Fund shares if there is a lack of an active market for such shares or its underlying investments, which may contribute to the Fund’s shares trading at a premium or discount to NAV.
Costs of Buying or Selling Fund Shares. Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange involves two types of costs that apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you will likely incur a brokerage commission and other charges. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread”; that is, the difference between what investors are willing to pay for Fund shares (the “bid” price) and the price at which they are willing to sell Fund shares (the “ask” price). The spread, which varies over time for shares of the Fund based on trading volume and market liquidity, is generally narrower if the Fund has more trading volume and market liquidity and wider if the Fund has less trading volume and market liquidity. In addition, increased market volatility may cause wider spreads. There may also be regulatory and other charges that are incurred as a result of trading activity. Because of the costs inherent in buying or selling Fund shares, frequent trading may detract significantly from investment results and an investment in Fund shares may not be advisable for investors who anticipate regularly making small investments through a brokerage account.
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Materials Sector Risk. Companies in the materials sector may be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, exchange rates, import controls, increased competition, depletion of resources, technical advances, labor relations, over-production, litigation and government regulations, among other factors. Companies in the materials sector are also at risk of liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. Production of materials may exceed demand as a result of market imbalances or economic downturns, leading to poor investment returns.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund trade on foreign exchanges that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Non-Diversification Risk. The Fund is classified as “non-diversified.” This means that the Fund may invest a large percentage of its assets in securities issued by or representing a small number of issuers. As a result, the Fund may be more susceptible to the risks associated with these particular issuers or to a single economic, political or regulatory occurrence affecting these issuers.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks of investing in the markets where such issuers are located, including heightened risks of inflation or nationalization and market fluctuations caused by economic and political developments. As a result of investing in non-U.S. securities, the Fund may be subject to increased risk of loss caused by any of the factors listed below:
Lower levels of liquidity and market efficiency;
Greater securities price volatility;
Exchange rate fluctuations and exchange controls;
Less availability of public information about issuers;
Limitations on foreign ownership of securities;
Imposition of withholding or other taxes;
Imposition of restrictions on the expatriation of the funds or other assets of the Fund;
Higher transaction and custody costs and delays in settlement procedures;
Difficulties in enforcing contractual obligations;
Lower levels of regulation of the securities markets;
Weaker accounting, disclosure and reporting requirements; and
Legal principles relating to corporate governance, directors’ fiduciary duties and liabilities and stockholders’ rights in markets in which the Fund invests may differ and/or may not be as extensive or protective as those that apply in the United States.
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Operational Risk. The Fund is exposed to operational risks arising from a number of factors, including, but not limited to, human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund’s service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate to address these risks.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund is not actively managed and may be affected by a general decline in market segments related to the Underlying Index. The Fund invests in securities included in, or representative of, the Underlying Index, regardless of their investment merits. BFA generally does not attempt to take defensive positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Privatization Risk. Some countries in which the Fund invests have privatized, or have begun the process of privatizing, certain entities and industries. Newly privatized companies may face strong competition from government-sponsored competitors that have not been privatized. In some instances, investors in newly privatized entities have suffered losses due to the inability of the newly privatized entities to adjust quickly to a competitive environment or changing regulatory and legal standards or, in some cases, due to re-nationalization of such privatized entities. There is no assurance that similar losses will not recur.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. Economies in emerging market countries generally are heavily dependent upon commodity prices and international trade. Accordingly, these countries have been, and may continue to be, affected adversely by the economies of their trading partners, trade barriers, exchange controls or managed adjustments in relative currency values and may suffer from extreme and volatile debt burdens or inflation rates. These countries may be subject to other protectionist measures imposed or negotiated by the countries with which they trade.
Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets. Investments in emerging market issuers are subject to a greater risk of loss than investments in issuers located or operating in more developed markets. This is due to, among other things, the potential for greater market volatility, lower trading volume, higher levels of inflation, political and economic instability, greater risk of a market shutdown and more governmental limitations on foreign investments in emerging market countries than are typically found in more developed markets. Moreover, emerging markets often have less uniformity in accounting and reporting requirements, less reliable securities valuations and greater risks associated with custody of securities than developed markets. In addition, emerging markets often have greater risk of capital controls through such measures as taxes or interest rate control than developed markets. Certain emerging market countries may also lack the infrastructure necessary to attract large amounts of foreign trade and investment. While the Fund does not invest directly in Chinese securities, many emerging market companies included in the Underlying Index are exposed to the risks of the Chinese economy. Local securities markets in emerging market countries may trade a small number of securities and may be unable to respond effectively to increases in trading volume, potentially making prompt liquidation of holdings difficult or impossible at times. Settlement procedures in
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emerging market countries are frequently less developed and reliable than those in the United States (and other developed countries). In addition, significant delays may occur in certain markets in registering the transfer of securities. Settlement or registration problems may make it more difficult for the Fund to value its portfolio securities and could cause the Fund to miss attractive investment opportunities.
Investing in emerging market countries involves a higher risk of expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and on repatriation of capital invested by certain emerging market countries.
Risk of Investing in India. India is an emerging market country and exhibits significantly greater market volatility from time to time in comparison to more developed markets. Political and legal uncertainty, greater government control over the economy, currency fluctuations or blockage, and the risk of nationalization or expropriation of assets may result in higher potential for losses.
Moreover, governmental actions can have a significant effect on the economic conditions in India, which could adversely affect the value and liquidity of the Fund's investments. The securities markets in India are comparatively underdeveloped, and stockbrokers and other intermediaries may not perform as well as their counterparts in the United States and other more developed securities markets. The limited liquidity of the Indian securities markets may also affect the Fund’s ability to acquire or dispose of securities at the price and time that it desires.
Global factors and foreign actions may inhibit the flow of foreign capital on which India is dependent to sustain its growth. In addition, the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”) has imposed limits on foreign ownership of Indian securities, which may decrease the liquidity of the Fund’s portfolio and result in extreme volatility in the prices of Indian securities. These factors, coupled with the lack of extensive accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards and practices, as compared to the United States, may increase the Fund's risk of loss.
Further, certain Indian regulatory approvals, including approvals from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”), the RBI, the central government and the tax authorities (to the extent that tax benefits need to be utilized), may be required before the Fund can make investments in the securities of Indian companies.
Risk of Investing in Russia. Investing in Russian securities involves significant risks, in addition to those described under “Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets” and “Non-U.S. Securities Risk” that are not typically associated with investing in U.S. securities, including:
The risk of delays in settling portfolio transactions and the risk of loss arising out of the system of share registration and custody used in Russia;
Risks in connection with the maintenance of the Fund’s portfolio securities and cash with foreign sub-custodians and securities depositories, including the risk that appropriate sub-custody arrangements will not be available to the Fund;
The risk that the Fund’s ownership rights in portfolio securities could be lost through
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fraud or negligence because ownership in shares of Russian companies is recorded by the companies themselves and by registrars, rather than by a central registration system; and
The risk that the Fund may not be able to pursue claims on behalf of its shareholders because of the system of share registration and custody, and because Russian banking institutions and registrars are not guaranteed by the Russian government.
The United States and the EMU of the EU, along with the regulatory bodies of a number of countries including Japan, Australia, Norway, Switzerland and Canada (collectively, “Sanctioning Bodies”), have imposed economic sanctions, which consist of asset freezes and sectoral sanctions, on certain Russian individuals and Russian corporate entities. The Sanctioning Bodies could also institute broader sanctions on Russia. These sanctions, or even the threat of further sanctions, may result in the decline of the value and liquidity of Russian securities, a weakening of the ruble or other adverse consequences to the Russian economy. These sanctions could also result in the immediate freeze of Russian securities, impairing the ability of the Fund to buy, sell, receive or deliver those securities.
The sanctions against certain Russian issuers include prohibitions on transacting in or dealing in new debt of longer than 30 or 90 days maturity or new equity of such issuers. Securities held by the Fund issued prior to the date of the sanctions being imposed are not currently subject to any restrictions under the sanctions. However, compliance with each of these sanctions may impair the ability of the Fund to buy, sell, hold, receive or deliver the affected securities or other securities of such issuers. If it becomes impracticable or unlawful for the Fund to hold securities subject to, or otherwise affected by, sanctions (collectively, “affected securities”), or if deemed appropriate by BFA, the Fund may prohibit in-kind deposits of the affected securities in connection with creation transactions and instead require a cash deposit, which may also increase the Fund's transaction costs.
Also, if an affected security is included in the Fund’s Underlying Index, the Fund may, where practicable, seek to eliminate its holdings of the affected security by employing or augmenting its representative sampling strategy to seek to track the investment results of its Underlying Index. The use of (or increased use of) a representative sampling strategy may increase the Fund’s tracking error risk. If the affected securities constitute a significant percentage of the Underlying Index, the Fund may not be able to effectively implement a representative sampling strategy, which may result in significant tracking error between the Fund’s performance and the performance of its Underlying Index.
Current or future sanctions may result in Russia taking counter measures or retaliatory actions, which may further impair the value and liquidity of Russian securities. These retaliatory measures may include the immediate freeze of Russian assets held by the Fund. In the event of such a freeze of any Fund assets, including depositary receipts, the Fund may need to liquidate non-restricted assets in order to satisfy any Fund redemption orders. The liquidation of Fund assets during this time may also result in the Fund receiving substantially lower prices for its securities.
These sanctions may also lead to changes in the Fund’s Underlying Index. The Fund’s
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Index Provider may remove securities from the Underlying Index or implement caps on the securities of certain issuers that have been subject to recent economic sanctions. In such an event, it is expected that the Fund will rebalance its portfolio to bring it in line with the Underlying Index as a result of any such changes, which may result in transaction costs and increased tracking error. These sanctions, the volatility that may result in the trading markets for Russian securities and the possibility that Russia may impose investment or currency controls on investors may cause the Fund to invest in, or increase the Fund’s investments in, depositary receipts that represent the securities of the Underlying Index. These investments may result in increased transaction costs and increased tracking error.
Risk of Investing in South Korea. Investments in South Korean issuers involve risks that are specific to South Korea, including legal, regulatory, political, currency, security and economic risks. Substantial political tensions exist between North Korea and South Korea and recently these political tensions have escalated. The outbreak of hostilities between the two nations, or even the threat of an outbreak of hostilities, will likely adversely impact the South Korean economy. In addition, South Korea's economic growth potential has recently been on a decline because of a rapidly aging population and structural problems, among other factors.
Securities Lending Risk. The Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A., the Fund’s securities lending agent, will take into account the tax impact to shareholders of substitute payments for dividends when managing the Fund’s securities lending program.
Security Risk. Some geographic areas in which the Fund invests have experienced acts of terrorism and strained international relations due to territorial disputes, historical animosities, defense concerns and other security concerns. These situations may cause uncertainty in the markets of these geographic areas and may adversely affect their economies.
Structural Risk. Certain emerging market countries are subject to a considerable degree of economic, political and social instability.
Economic Risk. Some emerging market countries have experienced currency devaluations and substantial (and, in some cases, extremely high) rates of inflation, while others have experienced economic recessions causing a negative effect on the economies and securities markets of such emerging countries.
Expropriation Risk. Investing in emerging market countries involves a great risk of loss due to expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and repatriation of capital invested by certain emerging market countries.
Political and Social Risk. Some governments in emerging market countries are authoritarian in nature or have been installed or removed as a result of military coups,
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and some governments have periodically used force to suppress civil dissent. Disparities of wealth, the pace and success of democratization, and ethnic, religious and racial disaffection, may exacerbate social unrest, violence and/or labor unrest in some emerging market countries. Unanticipated political or social developments may result in sudden and significant investment losses.
Tracking Error Risk. Tracking error is the divergence of a fund’s performance from that of the applicable underlying index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities and other instruments held in the fund’s portfolio and those included in the applicable underlying index, pricing differences (including differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the fund's valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the fund's NAV), differences in transaction costs, the fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or interest, tax gains or losses, changes to the applicable underlying index or the costs to the fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. This risk may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions. Tracking error also may result because a fund incurs fees and expenses, while the applicable underlying index does not. INDEX ETFs THAT TRACK INDICES WITH SIGNIFICANT WEIGHT IN EMERGING MARKETS ISSUERS MAY EXPERIENCE HIGHER TRACKING ERROR THAN OTHER INDEX ETFs THAT DO NOT TRACK SUCH INDICES.
Treaty/Tax Risk. The Underlying Fund operates, in part, through a wholly-owned subsidiary located in the Republic of Mauritius (the “Subsidiary”), which in turn invests in securities of Indian issuers. The Subsidiary is expected to be eligible to take advantage of the benefits of the DTAA until March 31, 2017. Following the expiration of the DTAA, the Fund may continue to invest in the Underlying Fund until an alternative method for investing in the securities of Indian issuers is selected. Expiration of the DTAA could adversely impact the returns to the Underlying Fund and Fund. The Fund will continue to monitor developments in India with respect to these tax treaty matters.
U.S. Economic Risk. The United States is a significant trading partner of many markets in which the Fund invests. A decrease in U.S. imports, new trade regulations, changes in the U.S. dollar exchange rate or an economic slowdown in the United States may have an adverse impact on these markets and, as a result, securities to which the Fund has exposure.
Valuation Risk. The sale price the Fund could receive for a security or other asset may differ from the Fund's valuation of the security or other asset and from the value used by the Underlying Index, particularly for securities or other assets that trade in low volume or volatile markets, or that are valued using a fair value methodology. Because non-U.S. exchanges may be open on days when the Fund does not price its shares, the value of the securities or other assets in the Fund’s portfolio may change on days or during time periods when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund’s shares. In addition, for purposes of calculating the Fund's NAV, the value of assets denominated in non-U.S. currencies is converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. This conversion may result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the
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Fund's NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund's performance and the performance of the Underlying Index.
A Further Discussion of Other Risks
The Fund may also be subject to certain other risks associated with its investments and investment strategies.
African Economic Risk. Investing in the economies of African countries involves risks not typically associated with investments in securities of issuers in more developed economies, countries or geographic regions that may negatively affect the value of investments in the Fund. Such heightened risks include, among others, expropriation and/or nationalization of assets, restrictions on and government intervention in international trade, confiscatory taxation, political instability, including authoritarian and/or military involvement in governmental decision making, armed conflict, civil war, and social instability as a result of religious, ethnic and/or socioeconomic unrest.
The securities markets in Africa are underdeveloped and are often considered to be less correlated to global economic cycles than markets located in more developed economies, countries or geographic regions. Securities markets in African countries are subject to greater risks associated with market volatility, lower market capitalization, lower trading volume, illiquidity, inflation, greater price fluctuations, uncertainty regarding the existence of trading markets, governmental control and heavy regulation of labor and industry. Moreover, trading on African securities markets may be suspended altogether.
Certain governments in African countries may restrict or control to varying degrees the ability of foreign investors to invest in securities of issuers located or operating in those countries. Moreover, certain countries in Africa may require governmental approval or special licenses prior to investment by foreign investors; may limit the amount of investment by foreign investors in a particular industry and/or issuer; may limit such foreign investment to a certain class of securities of an issuer that may have less advantageous rights than the classes available for purchase by domestic investors of those countries; and/or may impose additional taxes on foreign investors. These factors, among others, make investing in issuers located or operating in countries in Africa significantly riskier than investing in issuers located or operating in more developed countries.
Borrowing Risk. Borrowing may exaggerate changes in the net asset value of Fund shares and in the return on the Fund’s portfolio. Borrowing will cost the Fund interest expense and other fees. The costs of borrowing may reduce the Fund’s return. Borrowing may also cause the Fund to liquidate positions when it may not be advantageous to do so to satisfy its obligations.
Central and South American Economic Risk. The economies of certain Central and South American countries have experienced high interest rates, economic volatility, inflation, currency devaluations, government defaults and high unemployment rates. In addition, commodities (such as oil, gas and minerals) represent a significant percentage of exports for these regions and many economies in these regions are
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particularly sensitive to fluctuations in commodity prices. Adverse economic events in one country may have a significant adverse effect on other countries in these regions.
Consumer Staples Sector Risk. The consumer staples sector may be affected by the regulation of various product components and production methods, marketing campaigns and changes in consumer demand. Tobacco companies, in particular, may be adversely affected by new laws, regulations and litigation. The consumer staples sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors.
Eastern European Economic Risk. An investment in issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe may subject the Fund to legal, regulatory, political, currency, security and economic risks specific to Eastern Europe. Economies of certain Eastern European countries rely heavily on the export of commodities, including oil, gas, and certain metals. As a result, such economies may be impacted by international commodity prices and are particularly vulnerable to global demand for these products. Geopolitical events, acts of terrorism, and other instability in certain Eastern European countries may cause uncertainty in their financial markets and adversely affect the performance of the issuers to which the Fund has exposure. The securities markets in some Eastern European countries are substantially smaller and less developed, with less government supervision and regulation of stock exchanges, and may be less liquid and more volatile than securities markets in the United States or Western European countries. In addition, investing in securities of issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe may involve:
The risk of delays in settling portfolio transactions and the risk of loss arising out of the system of share registration and custody used in certain Eastern European countries;
Risks in connection with the maintenance of the Fund's portfolio securities and cash with foreign sub-custodians and securities depositories, including the risk that appropriate sub-custody arrangements will not be available to the Fund;
The risk that the Fund's ownership rights in portfolio securities could be lost through fraud or negligence as a result of the fact that ownership in shares of certain Eastern European companies is recorded by the companies themselves and by registrars, rather than a central registration system;
The risk that the Fund may not be able to pursue claims on behalf of its shareholders because of the system of share registration and custody, and because certain Eastern European banking institutions and registrars are not guaranteed by their respective governments; and
Risks in connection with Eastern European countries' dependence on the economic health of Western European countries and the EU as a whole.
Other risks related to investing in securities of issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe include: the potential absence of legal structures governing private and foreign investments and private property; the possibility of the loss of all or a substantial portion of the Fund’s assets invested in issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe as a result of expropriation; and certain national policies which may restrict the Fund’s
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investment opportunities, including, without limitation, restrictions on investing in issuers or industries deemed sensitive to relevant national interests.
Energy Sector Risk. The energy sector of an economy is cyclical and highly dependent on energy prices. The market value of securities issued by companies in the energy sector may decline for many reasons, including, among other things, changes in the levels and volatility of global energy prices, energy supply and demand, capital expenditures on exploration and production of energy sources, energy conservation efforts, exchange rates, interest rates, economic conditions, tax treatment, increased competition and technological advances. Companies in this sector may be subject to substantial government regulation and contractual fixed pricing, which may increase the cost of doing business and limit the earnings of these companies. A significant portion of the revenues of these companies may depend on a relatively small number of customers, including governmental entities and utilities. As a result, governmental budget constraints may have a material adverse effect on the stock prices of companies in this sector. Energy companies may also operate in, or engage in, transactions involving countries with less developed regulatory regimes or a history of expropriation, nationalization or other adverse policies. Energy companies also face a significant risk of liability from accidents resulting in injury or loss of life or property, pollution or other environmental problems, equipment malfunctions or mishandling of materials and a risk of loss from terrorism, political strife and natural disasters. Any such event could have serious consequences for the general population of the affected area and could have an adverse impact on the Fund’s portfolio and the performance of the Fund. Energy companies can be significantly affected by the supply of, and demand for, specific products (e.g., oil and natural gas) and services, exploration and production spending, government subsidization, world events and general economic conditions. Energy companies may have relatively high levels of debt and may be more likely than other companies to restructure their businesses if there are downturns in energy markets or in the global economy.
Industrials Sector Risk. The value of securities issued by companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by supply and demand related to their specific products or services and industrials sector products in general. The products of manufacturing companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction. Government regulations, world events, economic conditions and exchange rates may adversely affect the performance of companies in the industrials sector. Companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. The industrials sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors. Companies in the industrials sector, particularly aerospace and defense companies, may also be adversely affected by government spending policies because companies in this sector tend to rely to a significant extent on government demand for their products and services.
Mid-Capitalization Companies Risk. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies may be more volatile than those of large-capitalization companies and, therefore, the Fund’s share price may be more volatile than those of funds that invest a larger
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percentage of their assets in stocks issued by large-capitalization companies. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies are also more vulnerable than those of large-capitalization companies to adverse business or economic developments, and the stocks of mid-capitalization companies may be less liquid, making it difficult for the Fund to buy and sell shares of mid-capitalization companies. In addition, mid-capitalization companies generally have less diverse product lines than large-capitalization companies and are more susceptible to adverse developments related to their products.
Telecommunications Sector Risk. The telecommunications sector of a country's economy is often subject to extensive government regulation. The costs of complying with governmental regulations, delays or failure to receive required regulatory approvals, or the enactment of new regulatory requirements may negatively affect the business of telecommunications companies. Government actions around the world, specifically in the area of pre-marketing clearance of products and prices, can be arbitrary and unpredictable. Companies in the telecommunications sector may encounter distressed cash flows due to the need to commit substantial capital to meet increasing competition, particularly in developing new products and services using new technology. Technological innovations may make the products and services of certain telecommunications companies obsolete. Telecommunications providers are generally required to obtain franchises or licenses in order to provide services in a given location. Licensing and franchise rights in the telecommunications sector are limited, which may provide an advantage to certain participants. Limited availability of such rights, high barriers to market entry and regulatory oversight, among other factors, have led to consolidation of companies within the sector, which could lead to further regulation or other negative effects in the future.
Portfolio Holdings Information
A description of the Company's policies and procedures with respect to the disclosure of the Fund’s portfolio securities is available in the Fund's Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”). The top holdings of the Fund can be found at www.iShares.com. Fund fact sheets provide information regarding the Fund's top holdings and may be requested by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737).
Management
Investment Adviser. As investment adviser, BFA has overall responsibility for the general management and administration of the Fund. BFA provides an investment program for the Fund and manages the investment of the Fund’s assets. In managing the Fund, BFA may draw upon the research and expertise of its asset management affiliates with respect to certain portfolio securities. In seeking to achieve the Fund's investment objective, BFA uses teams of portfolio managers, investment strategists and other investment specialists. This team approach brings together many disciplines and leverages BFA’s extensive resources.
Pursuant to the Investment Advisory Agreement between BFA and the Company (entered into on behalf of the Fund), BFA is responsible for substantially all expenses of
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the Fund, except interest expenses, taxes, brokerage expenses, distribution fees or expenses and extraordinary expenses.
For its investment advisory services to the Fund, BFA will be paid a management fee from the Fund based on a percentage of the Fund's average daily net assets, at the annual rate of ____%. BFA may from time to time voluntarily waive and/or reimburse fees or expenses in order to limit Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses (excluding Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any). Any such voluntary waiver or reimbursement may be eliminated by BFA at any time.
BFA is located at 400 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. It is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc. (“BlackRock”). As of ____________, 2017, BFA and its affiliates provided investment advisory services for assets in excess of $____ trillion. BFA and its affiliates trade and invest for their own accounts in the actual securities and types of securities in which the Fund may also invest, which may affect the price of such securities.
A discussion regarding the basis for the Company's Board of Directors' (the “Board”) approval of the Investment Advisory Agreement with BFA will be available in the Fund's _____ report for the period ending __________.
Portfolio Managers. Diane Hsiung, Jennifer Hsui, Alan Mason and Greg Savage are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager is responsible for various functions related to portfolio management, including, but not limited to, investing cash inflows, coordinating with members of his or her portfolio management team to focus on certain asset classes, implementing investment strategy, researching and reviewing investment strategy and overseeing members of his or her portfolio management team that have more limited responsibilities.
Diane Hsiung has been employed by BFA as a senior portfolio manager since 2007. Prior to that, Ms. Hsiung was a portfolio manager from 2002 to 2006 for Barclays Global Fund Advisors (“BGFA”). Ms. Hsiung has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since inception.
Jennifer Hsui has been employed by BFA as a senior portfolio manager since 2007. Prior to that, Ms. Hsui was a portfolio manager from 2006 to 2007 for BGFA. Ms. Hsui has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since inception.
Alan Mason has been employed by BFA as a portfolio manager since 1991. Mr. Mason has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since inception.
Greg Savage has been employed by BFA as a senior portfolio manager since 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Savage was a portfolio manager from 2001 to 2006 for BGFA. Mr. Savage has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since inception.
The Fund's SAI provides additional information about the Portfolio Managers' compensation, other accounts managed by the Portfolio Managers and the Portfolio Managers' ownership (if any) of shares in the Fund.
Administrator, Custodian and Transfer Agent. State Street Bank and Trust Company (“State Street”) is the administrator, custodian and transfer agent for the Fund.
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Conflicts of Interest. The investment activities of BFA and its affiliates (including BlackRock and The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., and their affiliates, directors, partners, trustees, managing members, officers and employees (collectively, the “Affiliates”)) in the management of, or their interest in, their own accounts and other accounts they manage, may present conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA and the other Affiliates provide investment management services to other funds and discretionary managed accounts that may follow investment programs similar to that of the Fund. BFA and the other Affiliates are involved worldwide with a broad spectrum of financial services and asset management activities and may engage in the ordinary course of business in activities in which their interests or the interests of their clients may conflict with those of the Fund. BFA or one or more of the other Affiliates acts, or may act, as an investor, investment banker, research provider, investment manager, commodity pool operator, commodity trading advisor, financier, underwriter, adviser, market maker, trader, prime broker, lender, agent or principal, and have other direct and indirect interests in securities, currencies, commodities, derivatives and other instruments in which the Fund may directly or indirectly invest. Thus, it is likely that the Fund will have multiple business relationships with and will invest in, engage in transactions with, make voting decisions with respect to, or obtain services from, entities for which BFA or an Affiliate performs or seeks to perform investment banking or other services. Specifically, the Fund may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies with which an Affiliate has developed or is trying to develop investment banking relationships or in which an Affiliate has significant debt or equity investments or other interests. The Fund also may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies for which an Affiliate provides or may in the future provide research coverage. An Affiliate may have business relationships with, and purchase, distribute or sell services or products from or to, distributors, consultants or others who recommend the Fund or who engage in transactions with or for the Fund, and may receive compensation for such services. The Fund may also make brokerage and other payments to Affiliates in connection with the Fund's portfolio investment transactions.
BFA or an Affiliate may engage in proprietary trading and advise accounts and funds that have investment objectives similar to those of the Fund and/or that engage in and compete for transactions in the same types of securities, currencies and other instruments as the Fund, including securities issued by other open-end and closed-end investment companies (which may include investment companies that are affiliated with the Fund and BFA, to the extent permitted under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”)). The trading activities of BFA and these Affiliates are carried out without reference to positions held directly or indirectly by the Fund and may result in BFA or an Affiliate having positions in certain securities that are senior or junior to, or having interests different from or adverse to, the securities that are owned by the Fund.
No Affiliate is under any obligation to share any investment opportunity, idea or strategy with the Fund. As a result, an Affiliate may compete with the Fund for appropriate investment opportunities. The results of the Fund's investment activities, therefore, may differ from those of an Affiliate and of other accounts managed by an Affiliate, and it is possible that the Fund could sustain losses during periods in which
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one or more Affiliates and other accounts achieve profits on their trading for proprietary or other accounts. The opposite result is also possible.
In addition, the Fund may, from time to time, enter into transactions in which BFA’s or an Affiliate’s other clients have an adverse interest. Furthermore, transactions undertaken by Affiliate-advised clients may adversely impact the Fund. Transactions by one or more Affiliate-advised clients or by BFA may have the effect of diluting or otherwise disadvantaging the values, prices or investment strategies of the Fund.
The Fund's activities may be limited because of regulatory restrictions applicable to one or more Affiliates and/or their internal policies designed to comply with such restrictions.
Under a securities lending program approved by the Board, the Fund has retained an Affiliate of BFA to serve as the securities lending agent for the Fund to the extent that the Fund participates in the securities lending program. For these services, the lending agent will retain a share of the securities lending revenues. BFA or an Affiliate will also receive compensation for managing the reinvestment of cash collateral. In addition, one or more Affiliates may be among the entities to which the Fund may lend its portfolio securities under the securities lending program.
The activities of BFA or the Affiliates may give rise to other conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA has adopted policies and procedures designed to address these potential conflicts of interest. See the Fund's SAI for further information.
Shareholder Information
Additional shareholder information, including how to buy and sell shares of the Fund, is available free of charge by calling toll-free: 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or visiting our website at www.iShares.com.
Buying and Selling Shares. Shares of the Fund may be acquired or redeemed directly from the Fund only in Creation Units or multiples thereof, as discussed in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus. Only an Authorized Participant (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section below) may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. Once created, shares of the Fund generally trade in the secondary market in amounts less than a Creation Unit.
Shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange for trading during the trading day. Shares can be bought and sold throughout the trading day like shares of other publicly traded companies. The Company does not impose any minimum investment for shares of the Fund purchased on an exchange or otherwise in the secondary market. The Fund's shares trade under the trading symbol “____.”
Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange or other secondary market involves two types of costs that may apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you may incur a brokerage commission and other charges. The commission is frequently a fixed amount and may be a significant proportional cost for investors seeking to buy or sell small amounts of shares. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread,” that is, any difference between the bid price and the ask price. The spread varies over time for shares of the Fund based
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on the Fund’s trading volume and market liquidity, and is generally lower if the Fund has high trading volume and market liquidity, and higher if the Fund has little trading volume and market liquidity (which is often the case for funds that are newly launched or small in size). The Fund's spread may also be impacted by the liquidity of the underlying securities held by the Fund, particularly for newly launched or smaller funds or in instances of significant volatility of the underlying securities.
The Board has adopted a policy of not monitoring for frequent purchases and redemptions of Fund shares (“frequent trading”) that appear to attempt to take advantage of a potential arbitrage opportunity presented by a lag between a change in the value of the Fund’s portfolio securities after the close of the primary markets for the Fund’s portfolio securities and the reflection of that change in the Fund’s NAV (“market timing”), because the Fund sells and redeems its shares directly through transactions that are in-kind and/or for cash, subject to the conditions described below under Creations and Redemptions. The Board has not adopted a policy of monitoring for other frequent trading activity because shares of the Fund are listed for trading on a national securities exchange.
The national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed is open for trading Monday through Friday and is closed on weekends and the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The Fund’s primary listing exchange is ________.
Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act restricts investments by investment companies in the securities of other investment companies. Registered investment companies are permitted to invest in the Fund beyond the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1), subject to certain terms and conditions set forth in SEC rules or in an SEC exemptive order issued to the Company. In order for a registered investment company to invest in shares of the Fund beyond the limitations of Section 12(d)(1) pursuant to the exemptive relief obtained by the Company, the registered investment company must enter into an agreement with the Company.
Book Entry. Shares of the Fund are held in book-entry form, which means that no stock certificates are issued. The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) or its nominee is the record owner of all outstanding shares of the Fund and is recognized as the owner of all shares for all purposes.
Investors owning shares of the Fund are beneficial owners as shown on the records of DTC or its participants. DTC serves as the securities depository for shares of the Fund. DTC participants include securities brokers and dealers, banks, trust companies, clearing corporations and other institutions that directly or indirectly maintain a custodial relationship with DTC. As a beneficial owner of shares, you are not entitled to receive physical delivery of stock certificates or to have shares registered in your name, and you are not considered a registered owner of shares. Therefore, to exercise any right as an owner of shares, you must rely upon the procedures of DTC and its participants. These procedures are the same as those that apply to any other securities that you hold in book-entry or “street name” form.
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Share Prices. The trading prices of the Fund’s shares in the secondary market generally differ from the Fund’s daily NAV and are affected by market forces such as the supply of and demand for ETF shares and shares of underlying securities held by the Fund, economic conditions and other factors. Information regarding the intraday value of shares of the Fund, also known as the “indicative optimized portfolio value” (“IOPV”), is disseminated every 15 seconds throughout each trading day by the national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed or by market data vendors or other information providers. The IOPV is based on the current market value of the securities or other assets and/or cash required to be deposited in exchange for a Creation Unit. The IOPV does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities or other assets held by the Fund at a particular point in time or the best possible valuation of the current portfolio. Therefore, the IOPV should not be viewed as a “real-time” update of the Fund's NAV, which is computed only once a day. The IOPV is generally determined by using both current market quotations and/or price quotations obtained from broker-dealers and other market intermediaries that may trade in the portfolio securities or other assets held by the Fund. The quotations of certain Fund holdings may not be updated during U.S. trading hours if such holdings do not trade in the United States. The Fund is not involved in, or responsible for, the calculation or dissemination of the IOPV and makes no representation or warranty as to its accuracy.
Determination of Net Asset Value. The NAV of the Fund normally is determined once daily Monday through Friday, generally as of the regularly scheduled close of business of the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) (normally 4:00 p.m., Eastern time) on each day that the NYSE is open for trading, based on prices at the time of closing, provided that (i) any Fund assets or liabilities denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar are translated into U.S. dollars at the prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers (as detailed below) and (ii) U.S. fixed-income assets may be valued as of the announced closing time for trading in fixed-income instruments in a particular market or exchange. The NAV of the Fund is calculated by dividing the value of the net assets of the Fund (i.e., the value of its total assets less total liabilities) by the total number of outstanding shares of the Fund, generally rounded to the nearest cent.
The value of the securities and other assets and liabilities held by the Fund are determined pursuant to valuation policies and procedures approved by the Board.
Equity investments and other instruments for which market quotations are readily available, as well as investments in an underlying fund, if any, are valued at market value, which is generally determined using the last reported official closing price or, if a reported closing price is not available, the last traded price on the exchange or market on which the security is primarily traded at the time of valuation.
The Fund invests in non-U.S. securities. Foreign currency exchange rates with respect to the underlying securities are generally determined as of 4:00 p.m., London time. Non-U.S. securities held by the Fund may trade on weekends or other days when the Fund does not price its shares. As a result, the Fund’s NAV may change on days when Authorized Participants (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus) will not be able to purchase or redeem Fund shares.
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Generally, trading in non-U.S. securities, U.S. government securities, money market instruments and certain fixed-income securities is substantially completed each day at various times prior to the close of business on the NYSE. The values of such securities used in computing the NAV of the Fund are determined as of such times.
When market quotations are not readily available or are believed by BFA to be unreliable, the Fund’s investments are valued at fair value. Fair value determinations are made by BFA in accordance with policies and procedures approved by the Board. BFA may conclude that a market quotation is not readily available or is unreliable if a security or other asset or liability does not have a price source due to its lack of liquidity or other reasons, if a market quotation differs significantly from recent price quotations or otherwise no longer appears to reflect fair value, where the security or other asset or liability is thinly traded, when there is a significant event subsequent to the most recent market quotation, or if the trading market on which a security is listed is suspended or closed and no appropriate alternative trading market is available. A “significant event” is deemed to occur if BFA determines, in its reasonable business judgment prior to or at the time of pricing the Fund’s assets or liabilities, that the event is likely to cause a material change to the closing market price of one or more assets or liabilities held by the Fund. Non-U.S. securities whose values are affected by volatility that occurs in the local markets or in related or highly correlated assets (e.g., American Depositary Receipts, Global Depositary Receipts or substantially identical ETFs) on a trading day after the close of non-U.S. securities markets may be fair valued.
Fair value represents a good faith approximation of the value of an asset or liability. The fair value of an asset or liability held by the Fund is the amount the Fund might reasonably expect to receive from the current sale of that asset or the cost to extinguish that liability in an arm’s-length transaction. Valuing the Fund’s investments using fair value pricing will result in prices that may differ from current market valuations and that may not be the prices at which those investments could have been sold during the period in which the particular fair values were used. Use of fair value prices and certain current market valuations could result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the Fund’s NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund’s performance and the performance of the Underlying Index.
The value of assets or liabilities denominated in non-U.S. currencies will be converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. Use of a rate different from the rate used by the Index Provider may adversely affect the Fund’s ability to track the Underlying Index.
Dividends and Distributions
General Policies. Dividends from net investment income, if any, generally are declared and paid at least once a year by the Fund. Distributions of net realized securities gains, if any, generally are declared and paid once a year, but the Company may make distributions on a more frequent basis for the Fund. The Company reserves the right to declare special distributions if, in its reasonable discretion, such action is necessary or advisable to preserve its status as a regulated investment company (“RIC”) or to avoid imposition of income or excise taxes on undistributed income or realized gains.
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Dividends and other distributions on shares of the Fund are distributed on a pro rata basis to beneficial owners of such shares. Dividend payments are made through DTC participants and indirect participants to beneficial owners then of record with proceeds received from the Fund.
Dividend Reinvestment Service. No dividend reinvestment service is provided by the Company. Broker-dealers may make available the DTC book-entry Dividend Reinvestment Service for use by beneficial owners of the Fund for reinvestment of their dividend distributions. Beneficial owners should contact their broker to determine the availability and costs of the service and the details of participation therein. Brokers may require beneficial owners to adhere to specific procedures and timetables. If this service is available and used, dividend distributions of both income and realized gains will be automatically reinvested in additional whole shares of the Fund purchased in the secondary market.
Taxes. As with any investment, you should consider how your investment in shares of the Fund will be taxed. The tax information in this Prospectus is provided as general information, based on current law. You should consult your own tax professional about the tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund.
Unless your investment in Fund shares is made through a tax-exempt entity or tax-deferred retirement account, such as an IRA, you need to be aware of the possible tax consequences when the Fund makes distributions or you sell Fund shares.
Taxes on Distributions. Distributions from the Fund’s net investment income (other than qualified dividend income), including distributions of income from securities lending and distributions out of the Fund’s net short-term capital gains, if any, are taxable to you as ordinary income. Distributions by the Fund of net long-term capital gains, if any, in excess of net short-term capital losses (capital gain dividends) are taxable to you as long-term capital gains, regardless of how long you have held the Fund’s shares. Distributions by the Fund that qualify as qualified dividend income are taxable to you at long-term capital gain rates. Long-term capital gains and qualified dividend income are generally eligible for taxation at a maximum rate of 15% for non-corporate shareholders with incomes below approximately $418,000 ($471,000 if married and filing jointly), adjusted annually for inflation, and 20% for individuals with any income above these amounts that is net long-term capital gain or qualified dividend income. In addition, a 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax is imposed on “net investment income,” including, but not limited to, interest, dividends, and net gain, of U.S. individuals with income exceeding $200,000 (or $250,000 if married and filing jointly) and of estates and trusts.
Dividends will be qualified dividend income to you if they are attributable to qualified dividend income received by the Fund. Generally, qualified dividend income includes dividend income from taxable U.S. corporations and qualified non-U.S. corporations, provided that the Fund satisfies certain holding period requirements in respect of the stock of such corporations and has not hedged its position in the stock in certain ways. Substitute dividends received by the Fund with respect to dividends paid on securities lent out will not be qualified dividend income. For this purpose, a qualified non-U.S. corporation means any non-U.S. corporation that is eligible for benefits under a comprehensive income tax treaty with the United States, which includes an exchange
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of information program, or if the stock with respect to which the dividend was paid is readily tradable on an established United States securities market. The term excludes a corporation that is a passive foreign investment company.
Dividends received by the Fund from a real estate investment trust (“REIT”) or another RIC generally are qualified dividend income only to the extent such dividend distributions are made out of qualified dividend income received by such REIT or RIC. It is expected that dividends received by the Fund from a REIT and distributed to a shareholder generally will be taxable to the shareholder as ordinary income.
For a dividend to be treated as qualified dividend income, the dividend must be received with respect to a share of stock held without being hedged by the Fund, and with respect to a share of the Fund held without being hedged by you, for 61 days during the 121-day period beginning at the date which is 60 days before the date on which such share becomes ex-dividend with respect to such dividend or, in the case of certain preferred stock, 91 days during the 181-day period beginning 90 days before such date.
In general, your distributions are subject to U.S. federal income tax for the year when they are paid. Certain distributions paid in January, however, may be treated as paid on December 31 of the prior year.
If the Fund’s distributions exceed current and accumulated earnings and profits, all or a portion of the distributions made in the taxable year may be recharacterized as a return of capital to shareholders. Distributions in excess of the Fund’s minimum distribution requirements, but not in excess of the Fund’s earnings and profits, will be taxable to shareholders and will not constitute nontaxable returns of capital. A return of capital distribution generally will not be taxable but will reduce the shareholder’s cost basis and result in a higher capital gain or lower capital loss when those shares on which the distribution was received are sold. Once a shareholder's cost basis is reduced to zero, further distributions will be treated as capital gain, if the shareholder holds shares of the Fund as capital assets.
Dividends, interest and capital gains earned by the Fund with respect to non-U.S. securities may give rise to withholding, capital gains and other taxes imposed by non-U.S. countries. Tax conventions between certain countries and the United States may reduce or eliminate such taxes. If more than 50% of the total assets of the Fund at the close of a year consists of non-U.S. stocks or securities, generally the Fund may “pass through” to you certain non-U.S. income taxes (including withholding taxes) paid by the Fund. This means that you would be considered to have received as an additional dividend your share of such non-U.S. taxes, but you may be entitled to either a corresponding tax deduction in calculating your taxable income, or, subject to certain limitations, a credit in calculating your U.S. federal income tax.
For purposes of foreign tax credits for U.S. shareholders of the Fund, foreign capital gains taxes may not produce associated foreign source income, limiting the availability of such credits for U.S. persons.
If you are neither a resident nor a citizen of the United States or if you are a non-U.S. entity, the Fund’s ordinary income dividends (which include distributions of net short-term capital gains) will generally be subject to a 30% U.S. withholding tax, unless a
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lower treaty rate applies, provided that withholding tax will generally not apply to any gain or income realized by a non-U.S. shareholder in respect of any distributions of long-term capital gains or upon the sale or other disposition of shares of the Fund.
A 30% withholding tax is currently imposed on U.S.-source dividends, interest and other income items and will be imposed on proceeds from the sale, redemption or other disposition of property producing U.S.-source dividends and interest paid after December 31, 2018, to (i) foreign financial institutions, including non-U.S. investment funds, unless they agree to collect and disclose to the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) information regarding their direct and indirect U.S. account holders and (ii) certain other foreign entities, unless they certify certain information regarding their direct and indirect U.S. owners. To avoid withholding, foreign financial institutions will need to (i) enter into agreements with the IRS that state that they will provide the IRS information, including the names, addresses and taxpayer identification numbers of direct and indirect U.S. account holders, comply with due diligence procedures with respect to the identification of U.S. accounts, report to the IRS certain information with respect to U.S. accounts maintained, agree to withhold tax on certain payments made to non-compliant foreign financial institutions or to account holders who fail to provide the required information, and determine certain other information concerning their account holders, or (ii) in the event that an applicable intergovernmental agreement and implementing legislation are adopted, provide local revenue authorities with similar account holder information. Other foreign entities may need to report the name, address, and taxpayer identification number of each substantial U.S. owner or provide certifications of no substantial U.S. ownership unless certain exceptions apply.
If your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending arrangement, you may lose the ability to treat Fund dividends paid while the shares are held by the borrower as qualified dividend income. In addition, you may lose the ability to use foreign tax credits passed through by the Fund if your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending agreement.
If you are a resident or a citizen of the United States, by law, back-up withholding at a 28% rate will apply to your distributions and proceeds if you have not provided a taxpayer identification number or social security number and made other required certifications.
Taxes When Shares are Sold. Currently, any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares is generally treated as a long-term gain or loss if the shares have been held for more than one year. Any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares held for one year or less is generally treated as short-term gain or loss, except that any capital loss on the sale of shares held for six months or less is treated as long-term capital loss to the extent that capital gain dividends were paid with respect to such shares. Any such capital gains, including from sales of Fund shares or from capital gain dividends, are included in “net investment income” for purposes of the 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax mentioned above.
The foregoing discussion summarizes some of the consequences under current U.S. federal tax law of an investment in the Fund. It is not a substitute for personal tax advice. You may also be subject to state and local taxation on Fund distributions and sales of
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shares. Consult your personal tax advisor about the potential tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund under all applicable tax laws.
Mauritius Tax Disclosure. The Underlying Fund conducts its investment activities in India  through the Subsidiary. In order to be eligible to claim benefits under the DTAA, the Subsidiary must satisfy certain conditions, including the establishment and maintenance of a valid tax residence in Mauritius. The Subsidiary has obtained a certificate from the Mauritius authorities providing that it is a resident of Mauritius under the DTAA. The Fund expects the Subsidiary to maintain its Mauritius tax residency. The Subsidiary is subject to tax in Mauritius on its net income at the rate of 15%. However, a system of foreign tax credits effectively reduces the Mauritius income tax rate to a maximum of 3%. Further, the Subsidiary is not subject to capital gains tax in Mauritius nor is it subject to tax in Mauritius on any gains from the sale of securities. Any dividends paid by the Subsidiary to the Underlying Fund will also be exempt from tax in Mauritius.
Indian Tax Disclosure. In the event the benefits under the DTAA are denied, the following rates of tax under the Indian IT Act will be applicable (these rates are inclusive of highest applicable surcharges):
Dividend: Dividend income earned by the Subsidiary will not be subject to Indian tax. However, the Indian company declaring and paying such dividend would be subject to Dividend Distribution Tax at an effective rate of 20.36% (effective starting April 1, 2015) on the amount of the dividend paid out.
Interest: Interest paid to the Subsidiary in respect of debt obligations of Indian issuers will be subject to Indian income tax. The tax rate in the case of a rupee-denominated debt obligation is 43.26%. However if the Subsidiary is a SEBI registered sub-account, interest income earned from June 1, 2013 to June 30, 2017 on rupee denominated bonds of Indian companies and Indian government securities will be subject to tax at the rate of 5.41%, provided that the rate of interest does not exceed the prescribed rates. In the case of a foreign-currency denominated debt obligation, the tax rate is 21.63%. For approved foreign-currency loans advanced from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2017, the tax rate on interest is 5.41% and for approved foreign currency long-term bonds issued from October 1, 2014 to June 30, 2017, the tax rate on interest is 5.41%. However, if the Subsidiary is registered as a sub-account with SEBI, interest from securities will be subject to tax at the rate of 21.63%.
Securities Transaction Tax: All transactions entered on a recognized stock exchange in India are subject to a Securities Transaction Tax (“STT”). STT has been introduced under Section 98 of the Finance (No.2) Act, 2004 on transactions relating to sale, purchases and redemption of investments made by purchasers or sellers of Indian securities and equity oriented mutual fund units. The current STT as levied on the transaction value as follows:
0.1% payable by the buyer and 0.1% by the seller on the value of transactions of delivery based transfer of an equity share in an Indian company entered in a recognized stock exchange;
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0.001% on the value of transactions of delivery based sale of a unit of an equity oriented mutual fund entered in a recognized stock exchange, payable by the seller;
0.025% on the value of transactions of non-delivery based sale of an equity share in an Indian company or a unit of an equity oriented mutual fund, entered in a recognized stock exchange payable by the seller;
0.05% on the value of transactions of derivatives being options, entered in a recognized stock exchange. STT is to be paid by the seller;
0.01% on the value of transactions of sale of derivatives being futures, entered in a recognized stock exchange. STT is to be paid by the seller;
0.001% on the value of transactions of sale of units of an equity-oriented fund to the Mutual Fund, payable by the seller in accordance with the Finance Act, 2013;
0.125% on the value of transactions of sale of derivatives being options, where the option is exercised, entered in a recognized stock exchange. STT is to be paid by buyer;
The Finance Act, 2012 has exempted from tax the capital gains (under the ITA) arising from the sale of unlisted shares by existing shareholders of a Sub-Fund in an initial public offer. However, such sale is subject to STT at 0.2% of the sale consideration payable by the seller.
Capital Gains: The taxation of capital gains would be as follows: (i) long-term capital gains (being gains on sale of shares held for a period of more than 12 months) listed on a recognized stock exchange would not be taxable in India provided STT has been paid on the same (as discussed above); (ii) short-term capital gains (being gains on sale of shares held for a period of 12 months or less) from the sale of Indian shares listed on a recognized stock exchange will be taxed at the rate of 16.223% provided STT has been paid on the same; (iii) long-term capital gains (being gains on sale of shares held for a period of more than 36 months) arising to the Subsidiary from the sale of unlisted securities will be taxed at the rate of 10.815% (without indexation) and short-term capital gains (being gains on sale of shares held for a period of 36 months or less) will be taxed at the rate of 43.26%;* (iv) capital gains realized on sale of listed equity shares not executed on a recognized stock exchange in India would be taxed at the rate of 21.63% for long-term gains (being gains on sale of shares held for a period of more than 12 months) and at 43.26% in the case of short-term gains (being gains on sale of shares held for a period of 12 months or less);* and (v) capital gains arising from the transfer of depositary receipts outside India between non-resident investors will not be subject to tax in India.

* However, if the Subsidiary is a SEBI registered sub-account, the rates will be 10.816% and 32.45%, respectively.
Indirect Transfers. The current legislation imposes Indian tax and withholding obligations with respect to the transfer of shares in an overseas company that derives its value substantially from assets situated in India (“indirect transfers”). Because the Fund invests in Indian securities through the Subsidiary, this legislation by its terms subjects shareholder redemptions of Fund shares and sales of Fund investments to
29

 


Indian tax and withholding obligations, both prospectively as well as retroactively. However, the CBDT issued a letter on May 29, 2012 clarifying the reopening of completed assessments as a result of the retroactive amendments introduced by the Finance Act. Under this letter, CBDT has directed Indian tax authorities to not reopen any assessment proceedings that were completed before April 1, 2012 and where no notice for reassessment has been issued prior to that date. The CBDT also clarified that any assessment or any other order which stands validated due to the amendments in the Finance Act would be enforced. Given this clarification issued by the CBDT, the Underlying Fund does not expect that shareholders or the Fund will become subject to tax or to withholding obligations with respect to completed assessments.
FA 15 has provided clarification with respect to the taxability of indirect transfers. It provides that the share or interest of the foreign entity shall be deemed to derive its value substantially from the assets located in India, if the value of such Indian assets exceeds INR 100 million, and represents at least 50% of the value of all the assets owned by the foreign entity. The value of an asset shall be the fair market value as of the specified date, of such an asset without reduction of liabilities. The fair market value will be determined in accordance with the final rules ratified on June 28, 2016. It also provides that where all the assets of the foreign entity are not located in India, only such part of the income as is reasonably attributable to the Indian assets shall be subject to capital gains tax in India.
Further, it provides an exemption from indirect transfer provisions to the small shareholders of such foreign entity in the following cases:
With respect to a foreign entity that holds the Indian assets directly, if the transferor of shares or interests in such a foreign entity (along with its associated enterprises), at any time in the 12 months preceding the year of transfer neither holds the right of control or management in the foreign entity, nor holds voting power or share capital or interest exceeding 5% of the total voting power or total share capital in such foreign entity.
With respect to a foreign entity that holds the Indian assets indirectly, if the transferor of shares or interests in such foreign entity (along with its associated enterprises), at any time in the 12 months preceding the year of transfer does not hold the right of control or management in relation to the foreign entity, which would entitle them to the right of control or management in the foreign entity which directly holds the Indian assets; or does not hold voting power or share capital or interest exceeding 5% of the total voting power or total share capital in the foreign entity, which results in holding the same share capital or voting power in the entity which directly holds the Indian assets.
If the gains arising from transfer of shares or interests in a foreign entity are taxable in India in accordance with the aforementioned provisions of indirect transfer, the purchaser of the securities will be required to withhold applicable Indian taxes.
General Anti-Avoidance Rules. The GAAR introduced in the Income Tax Act, 1961 (“IT Act”) provides the Indian tax authorities a mechanism to deny any tax benefits in a transaction or any other arrangement that is believed to not have any commercial substance or purpose other than to obtain tax benefit(s) under a treaty. The provisions of GAAR will be applicable to arrangements (including a step in or a part thereof)
30

 


entered into by a taxpayer, which may be declared as an “impermissible avoidance arrangement”.
GAAR would have been effective from the financial year beginning from April 1, 2015 onwards (assessment year 2016-17). However, under FA 15, the application of GAAR has been deferred by two years, i.e., GAAR will be applicable with effect from April 1, 2017. Further, investments made up until March 31, 2017 are exempted from the applicability of GAAR.
As per the notification issued by the CBDT on September 23, 2013, GAAR shall not apply in the following circumstances:
any arrangement where the aggregate tax benefit to all the parties of the arrangement in the relevant financial year does not exceed INR 30 Million;
FIIs that choose not to take any benefit under any tax treaty entered with India and have invested in listed or unlisted securities with prior permission of the competent authority in accordance with the applicable regulations;
non-resident investor in an FII who has invested in an FII, directly or indirectly, by way of an offshore derivative instrument or otherwise; or
any income derived from the transfer of investments made prior to August 30, 2010.
The above notification did not provide clarity on the applicability of GAAR from transfer of investments made on or after August 30, 2010 but before the effective date from which GAAR is applicable. However, the Finance Minister stated (at the time the Finance Bill, 2015) that investment made up until March 31, 2017 are exempted from the applicability of GAAR through an amendment of the relevant rules in this regard. FA 16 has amended the GAAR provisions such that investments made up until March 31, 2017 are grandfathered and GAAR would apply prospectively only to investments made after April 1, 2017.
If the Fund's use of the Subsidiary was considered to be such an impermissible avoidance arrangement, the Fund would become subject directly to taxation in India. GAAR is expected to come into force from April 1, 2017. The burden of proof in enforcing the rule will reside with the Indian government, not the taxpayer, and India’s current double tax treaty arrangements will remain in force. However, GAAR may prevent the Fund from realizing the planned tax benefits of the Subsidiary, irrespective of existing beneficial treaty provisions and may lead to the imposition of tax liabilities and withholding obligations, which may lead the Fund to modify or disassemble its Subsidiary structure.
Creations and Redemptions. Prior to trading in the secondary market, shares of the Fund are “created” at NAV by market makers, large investors and institutions only in block-size Creation Units of ______ shares or multiples thereof. Each “creator” or authorized participant (an “Authorized Participant”) has entered into an agreement with the Fund's distributor, BlackRock Investments, LLC (the “Distributor”), an affiliate of BFA.
A creation transaction, which is subject to acceptance by the Distributor and the Fund, generally takes place when an Authorized Participant deposits into the Fund a
31

 


designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) and a specified amount of cash approximating the holdings of the Fund in exchange for a specified number of Creation Units. To the extent practicable, the composition of such portfolio generally corresponds pro rata to the holdings of the Fund. However, creation and redemption baskets may differ.
Similarly, shares can be redeemed only in Creation Units, generally for a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) held by the Fund and a specified amount of cash. The Fund generally offers Creation Units partially for cash, but may, in certain circumstances, offer Creation Units solely for cash. Except when aggregated in Creation Units, shares are not redeemable by the Fund.
The prices at which creations and redemptions occur are based on the next calculation of NAV after a creation or redemption order is received in an acceptable form under the authorized participant agreement.
Only an Authorized Participant may create or redeem Creation Units with the Fund. Authorized Participants may create or redeem Creation Units for their own accounts or for customers, including, without limitation, affiliates of the Fund.
In the event of a system failure or other interruption, including disruptions at market makers or Authorized Participants, orders to purchase or redeem Creation Units either may not be executed according to the Fund's instructions or may not be executed at all, or the Fund may not be able to place or change orders.
To the extent the Fund engages in in-kind transactions, the Fund intends to comply with the U.S. federal securities laws in accepting securities for deposit and satisfying redemptions with redemption securities by, among other means, assuring that any securities accepted for deposit and any securities used to satisfy redemption requests will be sold in transactions that would be exempt from registration under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”). Further, an Authorized Participant that is not a “qualified institutional buyer,” as such term is defined in Rule 144A under the 1933 Act, will not be able to receive restricted securities eligible for resale under Rule 144A.
Creations and redemptions must be made through a firm that is either a member of the Continuous Net Settlement System of the National Securities Clearing Corporation or a DTC participant that has executed an agreement with the Distributor with respect to creations and redemptions of Creation Unit aggregations. Information about the procedures regarding creation and redemption of Creation Units (including the cut-off times for receipt of creation and redemption orders) is included in the Fund's SAI.
Because new shares may be created and issued on an ongoing basis, at any point during the life of the Fund a “distribution,” as such term is used in the 1933 Act, may be occurring. Broker-dealers and other persons are cautioned that some activities on their part may, depending on the circumstances, result in their being deemed participants in a distribution in a manner that could render them statutory underwriters subject to the prospectus delivery and liability provisions of the 1933 Act. Any determination of whether one is an underwriter must take into account all the relevant facts and circumstances of each particular case.
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Broker-dealers should also note that dealers who are not “underwriters” but are participating in a distribution (as contrasted to ordinary secondary transactions), and thus dealing with shares that are part of an “unsold allotment” within the meaning of Section 4(a)(3)(C) of the 1933 Act, would be unable to take advantage of the prospectus delivery exemption provided by Section 4(a)(3) of the 1933 Act. For delivery of prospectuses to exchange members, the prospectus delivery mechanism of Rule 153 under the 1933 Act is available only with respect to transactions on a national securities exchange.
Costs Associated with Creations and Redemptions. Authorized Participants are charged standard creation and redemption transaction fees to offset transfer, processing and other transaction costs associated with the issuance and redemption of Creation Units. The standard creation and redemption transaction fees are set forth in the table below. The standard creation and redemption transaction fees are charged on each Creation Unit created or redeemed, as applicable, by an Authorized Participant on the day of the transaction. The standard transaction fee is generally fixed at the amount shown in the table regardless of the number of Creation Units being purchased or redeemed, but may be reduced by the Fund if transfer and processing expenses associated with the creation or redemption are anticipated to be lower than the stated fee. If a purchase or redemption consists solely or partially of cash, the Authorized Participant may be required to pay an additional transaction charge (up to the maximum amounts shown in the table below) to cover brokerage and certain other costs related to a creation or redemption transaction. Investors who use the services of a broker or other financial intermediary to acquire or dispose of Fund shares may pay fees for such services.
The following table shows, as of __________, the approximate value of one Creation Unit, standard fees and maximum additional charges for creations and redemptions (as described above):
Approximate
Value of a
Creation Unit
  Creation
Unit Size
  Standard
Creation/
Redemption
Transaction Fee
  Maximum Additional
Charge for
Creations*
  Maximum Additional
Charge for
Redemptions*
$_____   ______   $_____   _____%   _____%

* As a percentage of the net asset value per Creation Unit, inclusive, in the case of redemptions, of the standard redemption transaction fee.
If a purchase or redemption consists solely or partially of cash and the Fund places a brokerage transaction for portfolio securities with the Authorized Participant or its affiliated broker-dealer, the Authorized Participant (or an affiliated broker-dealer of the Authorized Participant) may be required, in its capacity as broker-dealer with respect to that transaction, to cover certain brokerage, tax, foreign exchange, execution, and price movement costs through a brokerage execution guarantee, as further described in the Fund’s SAI.
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
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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.
Distribution
The Distributor or its agent distributes Creation Units for the Fund on an agency basis. The Distributor does not maintain a secondary market in shares of the Fund. The Distributor has no role in determining the policies of the Fund or the securities that are purchased or sold by the Fund. The Distributor’s principal address is 1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540.
BFA or its affiliates make payments to broker-dealers, registered investment advisers, banks or other intermediaries (together, “intermediaries”) related to marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems, data provision services, or their making shares of the Fund and certain other iShares funds available to their customers generally and in certain investment programs. Such payments, which may be significant to the intermediary, are not made by the Fund. Rather, such payments are made by BFA or its affiliates from their own resources, which come directly or indirectly in part from fees paid by the iShares funds complex. Payments of this type are sometimes referred to as revenue-sharing payments. A financial intermediary may make decisions about which investment options it recommends or makes available, or the level of services provided, to its customers based on the payments or other financial incentives it is eligible to receive. Therefore, such payments or other financial incentives offered or made to an intermediary create conflicts of interest between the intermediary and its customers and may cause the intermediary to recommend the Fund or other iShares funds over another investment. More information regarding these payments is contained in the Fund's SAI. Please contact your salesperson or other investment professional for more information regarding any such payments his or her firm may receive from BFA or its affiliates.
Financial Highlights
Financial highlights for the Fund are not available because, as of the effective date of this Prospectus, the Fund has not commenced operations and therefore has no financial highlights to report.
Index Provider
MSCI is a provider of investment decision support tools to investors globally. MSCI products and services include indices, portfolio risk and performance analytics, and governance tools. MSCI is not affiliated with the Company, BFA, State Street, the Distributor or any of their respective affiliates.
BFA or its affiliates have entered into a license agreement with the Index Provider to use the Underlying Index. BFA or its affiliates sublicense rights in the Underlying Index to the Company at no charge.
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Disclaimers
This Prospectus and the SAI have not been filed with SEBI, and SEBI will not in any manner vouch for the financial soundness of the Fund/Subsidiary, BFA or the Portfolio Managers, or for the adequacy of the statements made in this Prospectus and the SAI. BFA or the Portfolio Managers will not be registered with SEBI.
The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by MSCI or any affiliate of MSCI. Neither MSCI nor any other party makes any representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the advisability of investing in funds generally or in the Fund particularly or the ability of the Underlying Index to track general stock market performance. MSCI is the licensor of certain trademarks, service marks and trade names of MSCI and of the Underlying Index, which is determined, composed and calculated by MSCI without regard to the issuer of the Fund’s securities or the Fund. MSCI has no obligation to take the needs of the issuer of the Fund’s securities or the owners of the Fund into consideration in determining, composing or calculating the Underlying Index. MSCI is not responsible for and has not participated in the determination of the timing of, prices at, or quantities of the Fund to be issued or in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the Fund is redeemable for cash. Neither MSCI nor any other party has any obligation or liability to owners of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of the Fund.
ALTHOUGH MSCI SHALL OBTAIN INFORMATION FOR INCLUSION IN OR FOR USE IN THE CALCULATION OF THE INDEXES FROM SOURCES WHICH MSCI CONSIDERS RELIABLE, NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY GUARANTEES THE ACCURACY AND/OR THE COMPLETENESS OF THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN. NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY MAKES ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO RESULTS TO BE OBTAINED BY LICENSEE, LICENSEE’S CUSTOMERS AND COUNTERPARTIES, OWNERS OF THE FUND, OR ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY FROM THE USE OF THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN IN CONNECTION WITH THE RIGHTS LICENSED HEREUNDER OR FOR ANY OTHER USE. NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY MAKES ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, AND MSCI HEREBY EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE WITH RESPECT TO THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN. WITHOUT LIMITING ANY OF THE FOREGOING, IN NO EVENT SHALL MSCI OR ANY OTHER PARTY HAVE ANY LIABILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, CONSEQUENTIAL OR ANY OTHER DAMAGES (INCLUDING LOST PROFITS) EVEN IF NOTIFIED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
Shares of the Fund are not sponsored, endorsed or promoted by ________. ________ makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of the shares of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the ability of the Fund to track the total return performance of the Underlying Index or the ability of the Underlying Index to track stock market performance. ________ is not responsible for, nor has it participated in, the determination of the compilation or the calculation of the Underlying Index, nor in the determination of the timing of, prices of, or quantities of shares of the Fund to be issued, nor in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the shares are redeemable. ________ has no obligation or liability to owners of the
35

 


shares of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of the shares of the Fund.
________ does not guarantee the accuracy and/or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. ________ makes no warranty, express or implied, as to results to be obtained by the Company on behalf of the Fund as licensee, licensee’s customers and counterparties, owners of the shares of the Fund, or any other person or entity from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein in connection with the rights licensed as described herein or for any other use. ________ makes no express or implied warranties and hereby expressly disclaims all warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose with respect to the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall ________ have any liability for any direct, indirect, special, punitive, consequential or any other damages (including lost profits) even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
The past performance of the Underlying Index is not a guide to future performance. BFA and its affiliates do not guarantee the accuracy or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein and BFA and its affiliates shall have no liability for any errors, omissions or interruptions therein. BFA and its affiliates make no warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or to any other person or entity, as to results to be obtained by the Fund from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall BFA or its affiliates have any liability for any special, punitive, direct, indirect or consequential damages (including lost profits), even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
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For more information visit www.iShares.com or call 1-800-474-2737
Copies of the Prospectus, SAI and other information can be found on our website at www.iShares.com. For more information about the Fund, you may request a copy of the SAI. The SAI provides detailed information about the Fund and is incorporated by reference into this Prospectus. This means that the SAI, for legal purposes, is a part of this Prospectus.
If you have any questions about the Company or shares of the Fund or you wish to obtain the SAI free of charge, please:
Call: 1-800-iShares or 1-800-474-2737 (toll free)
Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Eastern time)
Email: iSharesETFs@blackrock.com
Write: c/o BlackRock Investments, LLC
1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540
Information about the Fund (including the SAI) can be reviewed and copied at the SEC's Public Reference Room in Washington, D.C., and information on the operation of the Public Reference Room may be obtained by calling the SEC at 1-202-551-8090. Reports and other information about the Fund are available on the EDGAR database on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov, and copies of this information may be obtained, after paying a duplicating fee, by electronic request at the following e-mail address: publicinfo@sec.gov, or by writing to the SEC's Public Reference Room, Washington, D.C. 20549-1520.
No person is authorized to give any information or to make any representations about the Fund and its shares not contained in this Prospectus and you should not rely on any other information. Read and keep this Prospectus for future reference.
©2017 BlackRock, Inc. All rights reserved. iSHARES® and BLACKROCK® are registered trademarks of BFA and its affiliates. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.
Investment Company Act File No.: 811-09102
IS-P-_____-_____


The information in this Statement of Additional Information is not complete and may be changed. A registration statement relating to these securities has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The securities described herein may not be sold until the registration statement becomes effective. This Statement of Additional Information is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy securities and is not offering or soliciting an offer to buy these securities in any state in which the offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful.
iShares®, Inc.
Statement of Additional Information
Dated __________, 2017
This Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”) is not a prospectus. It should be read in conjunction with the current prospectus (the “Prospectus”) for the following series of iShares, Inc. (the “Company”):
Fund   Ticker   Listing Exchange
iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ex China ETF (the “Fund”)   _____   ______
The Prospectus for the Fund is dated _________, 2017, as amended and supplemented from time to time. Capitalized terms used herein that are not defined have the same meaning as in the Prospectus, unless otherwise noted. A copy of the Prospectus for the Fund may be obtained without charge by writing to the Company’s distributor, BlackRock Investments, LLC (the “Distributor” or “BRIL”), 1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540, calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or visiting www.iShares.com. The Fund's Prospectus is incorporated by reference into this SAI.
References to the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “Investment Company Act” or the “1940 Act”), or other applicable law, will include any rules promulgated thereunder and any guidance, interpretations or modifications by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), SEC staff or other authority with appropriate jurisdiction, including court interpretations, and exemptive, no action or other relief or permission from the SEC, SEC staff or other authority.
iShares® is a registered trademark of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates.

 


TABLE OF CONTENTS
  Page
General Description of the Company and the Fund 1
Exchange Listing and Trading 1
Investment Strategies and Risks 2
Borrowing 2
Currency Transactions 3
Diversification Status 3
Futures, Options on Futures and Securities Options 3
Illiquid Securities 4
Lending Portfolio Securities 5
Non-U.S. Securities 6
Regulation Regarding Derivatives 6
Repurchase Agreements 7
Reverse Repurchase Agreements 7
Securities of Investment Companies 7
Short-Term Instruments and Temporary Investments 8
Swap Agreements 8
Tracking Stocks 8
Future Developments 8
General Considerations and Risks 8
Borrowing Risk 9
Commodities Investment Risk 9
Custody Risk 9
Dividend Risk 10
National Closed Market Trading Risk 10
Operational Risk 10
Risk of Derivatives 10
Risk of Equity Securities 10
Risk of Futures and Options on Futures Transactions 11
Risk of Investing in Non-U.S. Equity Securities 11
Risk of Swap Agreements 12
Treaty/Tax Risk 12
Risk of Investing in Large-Capitalization Companies 12
Risk of Investing in Mid-Capitalization Companies 12
Risk of Investing in Africa 12
Risk of Investing in Asia 14
Risk of Investing in Central and South America 14
i

 


  Page
Risk of Investing in Eastern Europe 15
Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets 15
Risk of Investing in Europe 16
Risk of Investing in India 17
Risk of Investing in the Middle East 18
Risk of Investing in North America 19
Risk of Investing in Russia 19
Risk of Investing in South Korea 20
U.S. Economic Trading Partners Risk 20
Risk of Investing in the Capital Goods Industry 20
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Discretionary Sector 21
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Staples Sector 21
Risk of Investing in the Energy Sector 21
Risk of Investing in the Financials Sector 22
Risk of Investing in the Healthcare Sector 22
Risk of Investing in the Industrials Sector 23
Risk of Investing in the Information Technology Sector 23
Risk of Investing in the Materials Sector 23
Risk of Investing in the Real Estate Industry 23
Risk of Investing in the Technology Sector 24
Risk of Investing in the Telecommunications Sector 25
Risk of Investing in the Utilities Sector 25
Proxy Voting Policy 25
Portfolio Holdings Information 26
Construction and Maintenance of the Underlying Index 27
MSCI Emerging Markets ex China Index 27
Investment Restrictions 27
Continuous Offering 29
Management 30
Directors, Advisory Board Members and Officers 30
Committees of the Board of Directors 37
Remuneration of Directors 40
Control Persons and Principal Holders of Securities 41
Potential Conflicts of Interest 41
Investment Advisory, Administrative and Distribution Services 48
Investment Adviser 48
Portfolio Managers 49
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  Page
Codes of Ethics 52
Anti-Money Laundering Requirements 52
Administrator, Custodian and Transfer Agent 52
Distributor 52
Payments by BFA and its Affiliates 53
Determination of Net Asset Value 54
Brokerage Transactions 57
Additional Information Concerning the Company 60
Capital Stock 60
Termination of the Company or the Fund 61
DTC as Securities Depository for Shares of the Fund 62
Distribution of Shares 62
Creation and Redemption of Creation Units 63
General 63
Fund Deposit 63
Cash Purchase Method 64
Role of the Authorized Participant 64
Purchase Orders 64
Timing of Submission of Purchase Orders 65
Acceptance of Orders for Creation Units 65
Issuance of a Creation Unit 66
Costs Associated with Creation Transactions 66
Redemption of Creation Units 67
Cash Redemption Method 67
Costs Associated with Redemption Transactions 67
Placement of Redemption Orders 68
Taxation on Creations and Redemptions of Creation Units 70
Taxes 70
Regulated Investment Company Qualifications 70
Taxation of RICs 70
Excise Tax 71
Net Capital Loss Carryforwards 71
Taxation of U.S. Shareholders 71
Sales of Shares 72
Back-Up Withholding 73
Sections 351 and 362 73
Taxation of Certain Derivatives 73
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General Description of the Company and the Fund
The Company currently consists of more than ____ investment series or portfolios. The Company was organized as a Maryland corporation on September 1, 1994 and is authorized to have multiple series or portfolios. The Company is an open-end management investment company registered with the SEC under the 1940 Act. The offering of the Company's shares is registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”). This SAI relates solely to the Fund.
The Fund is managed by BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”), an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc., and generally seeks to track the investment results of the specific benchmark index identified in the Fund's Prospectus (the “Underlying Index”).
The Fund offers and issues shares at their net asset value per share (“NAV”) only in aggregations of a specified number of shares (each, a “Creation Unit”), generally in exchange for a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) included in its Underlying Index (the “Deposit Securities”), together with the deposit of a specified cash payment (the “Cash Component”). Shares of the Fund are listed for trading on a national securities exchange, _____________ (the “Listing Exchange” or “_____”). Shares of the Fund are traded in the secondary market and elsewhere at market prices that may be at, above or below the Fund's NAV. Shares are redeemable only in Creation Units by Authorized Participants (as defined in the Portfolio Holdings Information section of this SAI), and, generally, in exchange for portfolio securities and a Cash Component. Creation Units typically are a specified number of shares, generally _______ or multiples thereof.
The Company reserves the right to permit or require that creations and redemptions of shares are effected fully or partially in cash and reserves the right to permit or require the substitution of Deposit Securities in lieu of cash. Shares may be issued in advance of receipt of Deposit Securities, subject to various conditions, including a requirement that the Authorized Participant maintain with the Company a cash deposit equal to at least 105% and up to 115%, which percentage BFA may change from time to time, of the market value of the omitted Deposit Securities. The Company may use such cash deposit at any time to purchase Deposit Securities. See the Creation and Redemption of Creation Units section of this SAI. Transaction fees and other costs associated with creations or redemptions that include a cash portion may be higher than the transaction fees and other costs associated with in-kind creations or redemptions. In all cases, conditions with respect to creations and redemptions of shares and fees will be limited in accordance with the requirements of SEC rules and regulations applicable to management investment companies offering redeemable securities.
Exchange Listing and Trading
A discussion of exchange listing and trading matters associated with an investment in the Fund is contained in the Shareholder Information section of the Fund's Prospectus. The discussion below supplements, and should be read in conjunction with, that section of the Prospectus.
Shares of the Fund are listed for trading, and trade throughout the day, on the Listing Exchange and in other secondary markets. Shares of the Fund may also be listed on certain non-U.S. exchanges. There can be no assurance that the requirements of the Listing Exchange necessary to maintain the listing of shares of the Fund will continue to be met. The Listing Exchange may, but is not required to, remove the shares of the Fund from listing if, among other things: (i) following the initial 12-month period beginning upon the commencement of trading of Fund shares, there are fewer than 50 record and/or beneficial owners of shares of the Fund for 30 or more consecutive trading days, (ii) the value of the Underlying Index on which the Fund is based is no longer calculated or available, or (iii) any other event shall occur or condition shall exist that, in the opinion of the Listing Exchange, makes further dealings on the Listing Exchange inadvisable. The Listing Exchange will also remove shares of the Fund from listing and trading upon termination of the Fund.
As in the case of other publicly-traded securities, when you buy or sell shares of the Fund through a broker, you may incur a brokerage commission determined by that broker, as well as other charges.
In order to provide additional information regarding the indicative value of shares of the Fund, the Listing Exchange or a market data vendor disseminates information every 15 seconds through the facilities of the Consolidated Tape Association,
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or through other widely disseminated means, an updated indicative optimized portfolio value (“IOPV”) for the Fund as calculated by an information provider or market data vendor. The Company is not involved in or responsible for any aspect of the calculation or dissemination of the IOPV and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the IOPV.
An IOPV has an equity securities component and a cash component. The equity securities values included in an IOPV are the values of the Deposit Securities for the Fund. While the IOPV reflects the current value of the Deposit Securities required to be deposited in connection with the purchase of a Creation Unit, it does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities held by the Fund at a particular point in time because the current portfolio of the Fund may include securities that are not a part of the current Deposit Securities. Therefore, the Fund’s IOPV disseminated during the Listing Exchange trading hours should not be viewed as a real-time update of the Fund’s NAV, which is calculated only once a day.
The cash component included in an IOPV consists of estimated accrued interest, dividends and other income, less expenses. If applicable, each IOPV also reflects changes in currency exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and the applicable currency.
The Company reserves the right to adjust the share prices of the Fund in the future to maintain convenient trading ranges for investors. Any adjustments would be accomplished through stock splits or reverse stock splits, which would have no effect on the net assets of the Fund or an investor's equity interest in the Fund.
Investment Strategies and Risks
The Fund seeks to achieve its objective by investing primarily in securities issued by issuers that comprise the Underlying Index and through transactions that provide substantially similar exposure to securities in the Underlying Index.
The Fund may seek to achieve its objective by investing all or a portion of its assets that are invested in India through one or more iShares exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”), which hold India securities through a wholly-owned subsidiary located in the Republic of Mauritius (each, an “Underlying Fund”). BFA serves as investment adviser to the Fund and each Underlying Fund and its wholly-owned subsidiary located in the Republic of Mauritius (the “Subsidiary”). Unless otherwise indicated, references made in this SAI to the term “Fund” refer to the Underlying Fund, Subsidiary and/or the Fund, as applicable. The Fund operates as an index fund and is not actively managed. Adverse performance of a security in the Fund’s portfolio will ordinarily not result in the elimination of the security from the Fund’s portfolio.
The Fund engages in representative sampling, which is investing in a sample of securities selected by BFA to have a collective investment profile similar to that of the Fund's Underlying Index. Securities selected have aggregate investment characteristics (based on market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability, earnings valuation and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of the Underlying Index. A fund that uses representative sampling generally does not hold all of the securities that are in its underlying index.
Although the Fund does not seek leveraged returns, certain instruments used by the Fund may have a leveraging effect as described below.
Borrowing.  The Fund may borrow for temporary or emergency purposes, including to meet payments due from redemptions or to facilitate the settlement of securities or other transactions. Under normal market conditions, any borrowing by the Fund will not exceed 10% of the Fund’s net assets. The Fund, along with certain other iShares funds, has entered into a line of credit with State Street Bank and Trust Company that may be used for temporary or emergency purposes, including redemption, settlement of trades and rebalancing of portfolio holdings.
The purchase of securities while borrowings are outstanding may have the effect of leveraging the Fund. The incurrence of leverage increases the Fund’s exposure to risk, and borrowed funds are subject to interest costs that will reduce net income. Purchasing securities while borrowings are outstanding creates special risks, such as the potential for greater volatility in the net asset value of Fund shares and in the yield on the Fund’s portfolio. In addition, the interest expenses from borrowings may exceed the income generated by the Fund’s portfolio and, therefore, the amount available (if any) for distribution to shareholders as dividends may be reduced. BFA may determine to maintain outstanding borrowings if it expects that the benefits to the Fund’s shareholders will outweigh the current reduced return.
Certain types of borrowings by the Fund must be made from a bank or may result in the Fund being subject to covenants in credit agreements relating to asset coverage, portfolio composition requirements and other matters. It is not anticipated that observance of such covenants would impede BFA’s management of the Fund’s portfolio in accordance with the Fund’s
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investment objectives and policies. However, a breach of any such covenants not cured within the specified cure period may result in acceleration of outstanding indebtedness and require the Fund to dispose of portfolio investments at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so.
Currency Transactions.  A foreign currency forward contract is an over-the-counter (“OTC”) obligation to purchase or sell a specific currency at a future date, which may be any fixed number of days greater than two days from the date on which the contract is agreed upon by the parties, at a price set at the time of the contract. A non-deliverable currency forward is an OTC currency forward settled in a specified currency, on a specified date, based on the difference between the agreed upon exchange rate and the market exchange rate. A currency futures contract is a contract that trades on an organized futures exchange involving an obligation to deliver or acquire a specified amount of a specific currency, at a specified price and at a specified future time. Currency futures contracts may be settled on a net cash payment basis rather than by the sale and delivery of the underlying currency. To the extent required by law, liquid assets committed to futures contracts will be maintained. The Fund does not expect to engage in currency transactions for the purpose of hedging against declines in the value of the Fund's assets that are denominated in a non-U.S. currency. The Fund may enter into non-U.S. currency forward and non-U.S. currency futures transactions to facilitate local securities settlements or to protect against currency exposure in connection with its distributions to shareholders, but may not enter into such contracts for speculative purposes.
Foreign exchange transactions involve a significant degree of risk and the markets in which foreign exchange transactions are effected may be highly volatile, highly specialized and highly technical. Significant changes, including changes in liquidity and prices, can occur in such markets within very short periods of time, often within minutes. Foreign exchange trading risks include, but are not limited to, exchange rate risk, counterparty risk, maturity gap, interest rate risk, and potential interference by foreign governments through regulation of local exchange markets, foreign investment or particular transactions in non-U.S. currency. If BFA utilizes foreign exchange transactions at an inappropriate time or judges market conditions, trends or correlations incorrectly, foreign exchange transactions may not serve their intended purpose of improving the correlation of the Fund's return with the performance of the Underlying Index and may lower the Fund’s return. The Fund could experience losses if the value of its currency forwards, options or futures positions were poorly correlated with its other investments or if it could not close out its positions because of an illiquid market or otherwise. In addition, the Fund could incur transaction costs, including trading commissions, in connection with certain non-U.S. currency transactions.
Diversification Status.  The Fund is classified as “non-diversified.” A non-diversified fund is a fund that is not limited by the 1940 Act with regard to the percentage of its assets that may be invested in the securities of a single issuer. The securities of a particular issuer (or securities of issuers in particular industries) may constitute a significant percentage of the underlying index of such a fund and, consequently, the fund’s investment portfolio. This may adversely affect the fund’s performance or subject the fund’s shares to greater price volatility than that experienced by more diversified investment companies.
The Fund intends to maintain the required level of diversification and otherwise conduct its operations so as to qualify as a regulated investment company (“RIC”) for purposes of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Internal Revenue Code”), and to relieve the Fund of any liability for U.S. federal income tax to the extent that its earnings are distributed to shareholders, provided that the Fund satisfies a minimum distribution requirement. Compliance with the diversification requirements of the Internal Revenue Code may limit the investment flexibility of the Fund and may make it less likely that the Fund will meet its investment objective.
Futures, Options on Futures and Securities Options.  Futures contracts, options on futures and securities options may be used by the Fund to simulate investment in its Underlying Index, to facilitate trading or to reduce transaction costs. The Fund may enter into futures contracts and options on futures that are traded on a U.S. or non-U.S. futures exchange. The Fund will not use futures, options on futures or securities options for speculative purposes. The Fund intends to use futures and options on futures in accordance with Rule 4.5 of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) promulgated under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”). BFA, with respect to the Fund, has claimed an exclusion from the definition of the term “commodity pool operator” in accordance with Rule 4.5 so that BFA, in respect of the Fund, is not subject to registration or regulation as a commodity pool operator under the CEA. See the Regulation Regarding Derivatives section of this SAI for more information.
Futures contracts provide for the future sale by one party and purchase by another party of a specified amount of a specific instrument or index at a specified future time and at a specified price. Stock index contracts are based on investments that reflect the market value of common stock of the firms included in the investments. The Fund may enter into futures contracts to purchase securities indexes when BFA anticipates purchasing the underlying securities and believes prices will
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rise before the purchase will be made. Upon entering into a futures contract, the Fund will be required to deposit with the broker an amount of cash or cash equivalents known as “initial margin,” which is similar to a performance bond or good faith deposit on the contract and is returned to the Fund upon termination of the futures contract if all contractual obligations have been satisfied. Subsequent payments, known as “variation margin,” will be made to and from the broker daily as the price of the instrument or index underlying the futures contract fluctuates, making the long and short positions in the futures contract more or less valuable, a process known as “marking-to-market.” At any time prior to the expiration of a futures contract, the Fund may elect to close the position by taking an opposite position, which will operate to terminate the Fund’s existing position in the contract. To the extent required by law, the Fund will segregate liquid assets in an amount equal to its delivery obligations under the futures contracts. An option on a futures contract, as contrasted with a direct investment in such a contract, gives the purchaser the right, but no obligation, in return for the premium paid, to assume a position in the underlying futures contract at a specified exercise price at any time prior to the expiration date of the option. Upon exercise of an option, the delivery of the futures position by the writer of the option to the holder of the option will be accompanied by delivery of the accumulated balance in the writer’s futures margin account that represents the amount by which the market price of the futures contract exceeds (in the case of a call) or is less than (in the case of a put) the exercise price of the option on the futures contract. The potential for loss related to the purchase of an option on a futures contract is limited to the premium paid for the option plus transaction costs. Because the value of the option is fixed at the point of sale, there are no daily cash payments by the purchaser to reflect changes in the value of the underlying contract; however, the value of the option changes daily and that change would be reflected in the NAV of the Fund. The potential for loss related to writing call options is unlimited. The potential for loss related to writing put options is limited to the agreed upon price per share, also known as the “strike price,” less the premium received from writing the put. The Fund may purchase and write put and call options on futures contracts that are traded on an exchange as a hedge against changes in value of its portfolio securities or in anticipation of the purchase of securities, and may enter into closing transactions with respect to such options to terminate existing positions. There is no guarantee that such closing transactions can be effected.
Securities options may be used by the Fund to obtain access to securities in the Underlying Index or to dispose of securities in the Underlying Index at favorable prices, to invest cash in a securities index that offers similar exposure to that provided by the Underlying Index or otherwise to achieve the Fund’s objective of tracking the Underlying Index. A call option gives a holder the right to purchase a specific security 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 at an exercise price within a specified period of time. The initial purchaser of a call option pays the “writer” a premium, which is paid at the time of purchase and is retained by the writer whether or not such option is exercised. The Fund may purchase put options to hedge its portfolio 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 Fund may write put and call options along with a long position in options to increase its ability to hedge against a change in the market value of the securities it holds or is committed to purchase. The Fund may purchase or sell securities options on a U.S. or non-U.S. securities exchange or in the OTC market through a transaction with a dealer. Options on a securities index are typically settled on a net basis based on the appreciation or depreciation of the index level over the strike price. Options on single name securities may be cash- or physically-settled, depending upon the market in which they are traded. Options may be structured so as to be exercisable only on certain dates or on a daily basis. Options may also be structured to have conditions to exercise (i.e., “Knock-in Events”) or conditions that trigger termination (i.e., “Knock-out Events”). Investments in futures contracts and other investments that contain leverage may require the Fund to maintain liquid assets in an amount equal to its delivery obligations under these contracts and other investments. Generally, the Fund maintains an amount of liquid assets equal to its obligations relative to the position involved, adjusted daily on a marked-to-market basis. With respect to futures contracts that are contractually required to “cash-settle,” the Fund maintains liquid assets in an amount at least equal to the Fund’s daily marked-to-market obligation (i.e., the Fund’s daily net liability, if any), rather than the contracts’ notional value (i.e., the value of the underlying asset). By maintaining assets equal to its net obligation under cash-settled futures contracts, the Fund may employ leverage to a greater extent than if the Fund were required to set aside assets equal to the futures contracts’ full notional value. The Fund bases its asset maintenance policies on methods permitted by the SEC and its staff and may modify these policies in the future to comply with any changes in the guidance articulated from time to time by the SEC or its staff. Changes in SEC guidance regarding the use of derivatives by registered investment companies may adversely impact the Fund’s ability to invest in futures, options or other derivatives or make investments in such instruments more expensive.
Illiquid Securities.  The Fund may invest up to an aggregate amount of 15% of its net assets in illiquid securities (calculated at the time of investment). Illiquid securities may include securities subject to contractual or other restrictions on resale and other instruments that lack readily available markets, as determined in accordance with SEC staff guidance. The liquidity of a
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security relates to the ability to readily dispose of the security and the price to be obtained upon disposition of the security, which may be lower than the price that would be obtained for a comparable, more liquid security. Illiquid securities may trade at a discount to comparable, more liquid securities and the Fund may not be able to dispose of illiquid securities in a timely fashion or at their expected prices.
Lending Portfolio Securities.  The Fund may lend portfolio securities to certain borrowers that BFA determines to be creditworthy, including borrowers affiliated with BFA. The borrowers provide collateral that is maintained in an amount at least equal to the current market value of the securities loaned. No securities loan shall be made on behalf of the Fund if, as a result, the aggregate value of all securities loaned by the Fund exceeds one-third of the value of the Fund's total assets (including the value of the collateral received). The Fund may terminate a loan at any time and obtain the return of the securities loaned. The Fund receives, by way of substitute payment, the value of any interest or cash or non-cash distributions paid on the loaned securities that it would have received if the securities were not on loan.
With respect to loans that are collateralized by cash, the borrower may be entitled to receive a fee based on the amount of cash collateral. The Fund is typically 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, the Fund is typically 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, including those affiliated with BFA; such investments are subject to investment risk.
The Fund conducts its securities lending pursuant to an exemptive order from the SEC permitting it to lend portfolio securities to borrowers affiliated with the Fund and to retain an affiliate of the Fund to act as lending agent. To the extent that the Fund engages in securities lending, BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (“BTC”) acts as securities lending agent for the Fund, subject to the overall supervision of BFA. BTC administers the lending program in accordance with guidelines approved by the Company's Board of Directors (the “Board” or the “Directors”).
The Fund retains a portion of the securities lending income and remits the remaining portion to BTC as compensation for its services as securities lending agent. Securities lending income is generally equal to the total of income earned from the reinvestment of cash collateral (and excludes collateral investment fees as defined below), and any fees or other payments to and from borrowers of securities. As securities lending agent, BTC bears all operational costs directly related to securities lending. The Fund is responsible for fees in connection with the investment of cash collateral received for securities on loan in a money market fund managed by BFA; however, BTC has agreed to reduce the amount of securities lending income it receives in order to effectively limit the collateral investment fees the Fund bears to an annual rate of 0.04% (the “collateral investment fees”). Such money market fund shares will not be subject to a sales load, redemption fee, distribution fee or service fee.
Pursuant to the securities lending agreement dated January 1, 2015, to which the Fund has been added as a party:
(i) International equity funds, such as the Fund, retain 80% of securities lending income (which excludes collateral investment fees) and (ii) this amount can never be less than 70% of the sum of securities lending income plus collateral investment fees.
Under the securities lending program, the Fund is categorized into one of several specific asset classes. The determination of the Fund’s asset class category (fixed-income, domestic equity, international equity or fund-of-funds), each of which may be subject to a different fee arrangement, is based on a methodology agreed to by the Company and BTC.
In addition, commencing the business day following the date that the aggregate securities lending income (which includes, for this purpose, collateral investment fees) earned across the Exchange-Traded Fund Complex (as defined under “ManagementDirectors and Officers”) in a calendar year exceeds the aggregate securities lending income earned across the Exchange-Traded Fund Complex in calendar year 2013 (the “Hurdle Date”), the applicable international equity fund, pursuant to the securities lending agreement, will receive for the remainder of that calendar year securities lending income as follows:
(i) 85% of securities lending income (which excludes collateral investment fees) and (ii) this amount can never be less than 70% of the sum of securities lending income plus collateral investment fees.
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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 the Fund has agreed to pay a borrower), and credit, legal, counterparty and market risk. If a securities lending counterparty were to default, the Fund would be subject to the risk of a possible delay in receiving collateral or in recovering the loaned securities, or to a possible loss of rights in the collateral. In the event a borrower does not return the 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. This event could trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund. The Fund could lose money if its short-term investment of the collateral declines in value over the period of the loan. Substitute payments for dividends received by the Fund for securities loaned out by the Fund will not be considered qualified dividend income. BTC will take into account the tax effects on shareholders caused by this difference in connection with the Fund’s securities lending program. Substitute payments received on tax-exempt securities loaned out will not be tax-exempt income.
Non-U.S. Securities.  The Fund intends to purchase publicly-traded common stocks of non-U.S. issuers. To the extent the Fund invests in stocks of non-U.S. issuers, the Fund's investment in such stocks may be in the form of American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”), Global Depositary Receipts (“GDRs”) and European Depositary Receipts (“EDRs”) (collectively, “Depositary Receipts”). Depositary Receipts are receipts, typically issued by a bank or trust issuer, which evidence ownership of underlying securities issued by a non-U.S. issuer. For ADRs, the depository is typically a U.S. financial institution and the underlying securities are issued by a non-U.S. issuer. For other forms of Depositary Receipts, the depository may be a non-U.S. or a U.S. entity, and the underlying securities may be issued by a non-U.S. or a U.S. issuer. Depositary Receipts are not necessarily denominated in the same currency as their underlying securities. Generally, ADRs, issued in registered form, are designed for use in the U.S. securities markets, and EDRs, issued in bearer form, are designed for use in European securities markets. GDRs are tradable both in the United States and in Europe and are designed for use throughout the world.
The Fund will not invest in any unlisted Depositary Receipt or any Depositary Receipt that BFA deems illiquid at the time of purchase or for which pricing information is not readily available. In general, Depositary Receipts must be sponsored, but the 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. Therefore, there may be less information available regarding such issuers and there may be no correlation between available information and the market value of the Depositary Receipts.
Investing in the securities of non-U.S. issuers involves special risks and considerations not typically associated with investing in U.S. issuers. These include differences in accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards; the possibility of expropriation or confiscatory taxation; adverse changes in investment or exchange control regulations; political instability, which could affect U.S. investments in non-U.S. countries; and potential restrictions on the flow of international capital. Non-U.S. issuers may be subject to less governmental regulation than U.S. issuers. Moreover, individual non-U.S. economies may differ favorably or unfavorably from the U.S. economy in such respects as growth of gross domestic product (“GDP”), rate of inflation, capital reinvestment, resource self-sufficiency and balance of payment positions.
Regulation Regarding Derivatives.  The CFTC subjects advisors to registered investment companies to regulation by the CFTC if a fund that is advised by the advisor either (i) invests, directly or indirectly, more than a prescribed level of its liquidation value in CFTC-regulated futures, options and swaps (“CFTC Derivatives”), or (ii) markets itself as providing investment exposure to such instruments. The CFTC also subjects advisors to registered investment companies to regulation by the CFTC if the registered investment company invests in one or more commodity pools. To the extent the Fund uses CFTC Derivatives, it intends to do so below such prescribed levels and intends not to market itself as a “commodity pool” or a vehicle for trading such instruments.
BFA has claimed an exclusion from the definition of the term “commodity pool operator” under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”) pursuant to Rule 4.5 under the CEA with respect to the Fund. BFA is not, therefore, subject to registration or regulation as a “commodity pool operator” under the CEA with respect to the Fund.
Derivative contracts, including, without limitation, swaps, currency forwards, and non-deliverable forwards, are subject to regulation under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) in the U.S. and under comparable regimes in Europe, Asia and other non-U.S. jurisdictions. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, swaps, non-deliverable forwards and certain other derivatives traded in the OTC market are scheduled to become subject to margin requirements in
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the spring of 2017. Implementation of regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act regarding clearing, mandatory trading and margining of swaps and other derivatives have impacted and may continue to increase the costs to the Fund of trading in these instruments and, as a result, may affect returns to investors in the Fund.
As a result of regulatory requirements under the 1940 Act, the Fund is required to maintain an amount of liquid assets, accrued on a daily basis, having an aggregate value at least equal to the value of the Fund’s obligations under the applicable derivatives contract. To the extent that derivatives contracts are settled on a physical basis, the Fund will generally be required to maintain an amount of liquid assets equal to the notional value of the contract. On the other hand, in connection with derivatives contracts that are performed on a net basis, the Fund will generally be required to maintain liquid assets, accrued daily, equal only to the accrued excess, if any, of the Fund’s obligations over those of its counterparty under the contract. Accordingly, reliance by the Fund on physically-settled derivatives contracts may adversely impact investors by requiring the Fund to set aside a greater amount of liquid assets than would generally be required if the Fund were relying on cash-settled derivatives contracts.
Repurchase Agreements.  A repurchase agreement is an instrument under which the purchaser (i.e., the Fund) acquires the security and the seller agrees, at the time of the sale, to repurchase the security at a mutually agreed upon time and price, thereby determining the yield during the purchaser’s holding period. Repurchase agreements may be construed to be collateralized loans by the purchaser to the seller secured by the securities transferred to the purchaser. If a repurchase agreement is construed to be a collateralized loan, the underlying securities will not be considered to be owned by the Fund but only to constitute collateral for the seller’s obligation to pay the repurchase price, and, in the event of a default by the seller, the Fund may suffer time delays and incur costs or losses in connection with the disposition of the collateral.
In any repurchase transaction, the collateral for a repurchase agreement may include: (i) cash items; (ii) obligations issued by the U.S. government or its agencies or instrumentalities; or (iii) obligations that, at the time the repurchase agreement is entered into, are determined to (A) have exceptionally strong capacity to meet their financial obligations and (B) are sufficiently liquid such that they can be sold at approximately their carrying value in the ordinary course of business within seven days.
Repurchase agreements pose certain risks for the Fund, should it decide to utilize them. Such risks are not unique to the Fund, but are inherent in repurchase agreements. The Fund seeks to minimize such risks, but because of the inherent legal uncertainties involved in repurchase agreements, such risks cannot be eliminated. Lower quality collateral and collateral with a longer maturity may be subject to greater price fluctuations than higher quality collateral and collateral with a shorter maturity. If the repurchase agreement counterparty were to default, lower quality collateral may be more difficult to liquidate than higher quality collateral. Should the counterparty default and the amount of collateral not be sufficient to cover the counterparty’s repurchase obligation, the Fund would likely retain the status of an unsecured creditor of the counterparty (i.e., the position the Fund would normally be in if it were to hold, pursuant to its investment policies, other unsecured debt securities of the defaulting counterparty) with respect to the amount of the shortfall. As an unsecured creditor, the Fund would be at risk of losing some or all of the principal and income involved in the transaction.
Reverse Repurchase Agreements.  Reverse repurchase agreements 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. Generally, the effect of such transactions is that the 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 the Fund is able to keep some of the interest income associated with those securities. Such transactions are advantageous only if the Fund has an opportunity to earn a rate of interest on the cash derived from these transactions that is greater 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 Fund intends to use the reverse repurchase technique only when BFA believes it will be advantageous to the Fund. The use of reverse repurchase agreements may exaggerate any increase or decrease in the value of the Fund’s assets. The Fund’s exposure to reverse repurchase agreements will be covered by liquid assets having a value equal to or greater than the Fund’s obligations under such commitments. The use of reverse repurchase agreements is a form of leverage, and the proceeds obtained by the Fund through reverse repurchase agreements may be invested in additional securities.
Securities of Investment Companies.  The Fund may invest in the securities of other investment companies (including money market funds) to the extent permitted by law. Pursuant to the 1940 Act, the Fund’s investment in registered investment companies is generally limited to, subject to certain exceptions: (i) 3% of the total outstanding voting stock of
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any one investment company; (ii) 5% of the Fund’s total assets with respect to any one investment company; and (iii) 10% of the Fund’s total assets with respect to investment companies in the aggregate. To the extent allowed by law or regulation, the Fund intends from time to time to invest its assets in the securities of investment companies, including, but not limited to, money market funds, including those advised by or otherwise affiliated with BFA, in excess of the general limits discussed above. Other investment companies in which the Fund may invest can be expected to incur fees and expenses for operations, such as investment advisory and administration fees, which would be in addition to those incurred by the Fund. Pursuant to guidance issued by the SEC staff, fees and expenses of money market funds used for cash collateral received in connection with loans of securities are not treated as Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, which reflect the Fund’s pro rata share of the fees and expenses incurred by investing in other investment companies (as disclosed in the Prospectus, as applicable).
Short-Term Instruments and Temporary Investments.  The 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 (including those advised by BFA or otherwise affiliated with BFA); (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 non-U.S. banks (including non-U.S. branches) and similar institutions; (iv) commercial paper rated, at the date of purchase, “Prime-1” by Moody's® Investors Service, Inc., “F-1” by Fitch Ratings, Inc., or “A-1” by Standard & Poor's® Financial Services LLC, a subsidiary of S&P Global, Inc. (“S&P Global Ratings”), or if unrated, of comparable quality as determined by BFA; (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; (vi) repurchase agreements; and (vii) short-term U.S. dollar-denominated obligations of non-U.S. banks (including U.S. branches) that, in the opinion of BFA, are of comparable quality to obligations of U.S. banks which may be purchased by the Fund. Any of these instruments may be purchased on a current or 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.
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 periodic payments to the first party based on the return of a different specified rate, index or asset. Swap agreements will usually be performed on a net basis, with the Fund receiving or paying only the net amount of the two payments. The net amount of the excess, if any, of the Fund’s obligations over its entitlements with respect to each swap is accrued on a daily basis and an amount of liquid assets having an aggregate value at least equal to the accrued excess will be maintained by the Fund.
The Fund may enter into currency, interest rate or index swaps. The use of currency, 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.
Tracking Stocks.  A tracking stock is a separate class of common stock whose value is linked to a specific business unit or operating division within a larger company and is designed to “track” the performance of such business unit or division. The tracking stock may pay dividends to shareholders independent of the parent company. The parent company, rather than the business unit or division, generally is the issuer of tracking stock. However, holders of the tracking stock may not have the same rights as holders of the company’s common stock.
Future Developments.  The Board may, in the future, authorize the Fund to invest in securities contracts and investments, other than those listed in this SAI and in the Prospectus, provided they are consistent with the Fund's investment objective and do not violate any of its investment restrictions or policies.
General Considerations and Risks
A discussion of some of the principal risks associated with an investment in the Fund is contained in the Prospectus.
An investment in the Fund should be made with an understanding that the value of the Fund’s portfolio securities may fluctuate in accordance with changes in the financial condition of the issuers of the portfolio securities, the value of stocks in general, and other factors that affect the market.
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Borrowing Risk.  Borrowing may exaggerate changes in the net asset value of Fund shares and in the return on the Fund’s portfolio. Borrowing will cost the Fund interest expense and other fees. The costs of borrowing may reduce the Fund’s return. Borrowing may cause the Fund to liquidate positions when it may not be advantageous to do so to satisfy its obligations.
Commodities Investment Risk.  Exposure to commodities markets may subject the Fund to greater volatility than investments in traditional securities. The commodities markets have experienced periods of extreme volatility. Similar future market conditions may result in rapid and substantial valuation increases or decreases in the Fund’s holdings.
The commodities markets may fluctuate widely based on a variety of factors. Movements in commodity investment prices are outside of the Fund's control and may not be anticipated by BFA. Price movements may be influenced by, among other things: governmental, agricultural, trade, fiscal, monetary and exchange control programs and policies; changing market and economic conditions; market liquidity; weather and climate conditions, including droughts and floods; livestock disease; changing supply and demand relationships and levels of domestic production and imported commodities; changes in storage costs; the availability of local, intrastate and interstate transportation systems; energy conservation; the success of exploration projects; changes in international balances of payments and trade; domestic and foreign rates of inflation; currency devaluations and revaluations; domestic and foreign political and economic events; domestic and foreign interest rates and/or investor expectations concerning interest rates; foreign currency/exchange rates; domestic and foreign governmental regulation and taxation; war, acts of terrorism and other political upheaval and conflicts; governmental expropriation; investment and trading activities of mutual funds, hedge funds and commodities funds; and changes in philosophies and emotions of market participants. The frequency and magnitude of such changes cannot be predicted.
The prices of commodities can also fluctuate widely due to supply and demand disruptions in major producing or consuming regions. Certain commodities or natural resources may be produced in a limited number of countries and may be controlled by a small number of producers or groups of producers. As a result, political, economic, regulatory and supply-related events in such countries could have a disproportionate impact on the prices of such commodities.
A decrease in the production of a physical commodity or a decrease in the volume of such commodity available for transportation, mining, processing, storage or distribution may adversely impact the financial performance of a commodity or commodity-related company that devotes a portion of its business to that commodity. Production declines and volume decreases could be caused by various factors, including catastrophic events affecting production, depletion of resources, labor difficulties, environmental proceedings, increased regulations, equipment failures and unexpected maintenance problems, import supply disruption, governmental expropriation, political upheaval or conflicts or increased competition from alternative energy sources or commodity prices. Agricultural commodities may be adversely affected by weather or other natural phenomena, such as drought, floods and pests.
A sustained decline in demand for such commodities could also adversely affect the financial performance of commodity-related companies. Factors that could lead to a decline in demand include economic recession or other adverse economic conditions, higher taxes on commodities or increased governmental regulations, increases in fuel economy, consumer shifts to the use of alternative commodities or fuel sources, changes in commodity prices, or weather.
The commodity markets are subject to temporary distortions and other disruptions due to, among other factors, lack of liquidity, the participation of speculators, and government regulation and other actions. U.S. futures exchanges and some foreign exchanges limit the amount of fluctuation in futures contract prices which may occur in a single business day (generally referred to as “daily price fluctuation limits”). The maximum or minimum price of a contract as a result of these limits is referred to as a “limit price.” If the limit price has been reached in a particular contract, no trades may be made beyond the limit price. Limit prices have the effect of precluding trading in a particular contract or forcing the liquidation of contracts at disadvantageous times or prices.
Custody Risk.  Custody risk refers to the risks inherent in the process of clearing and settling trades and to the holding of securities, cash and other assets by local banks, agents and depositories. Low trading volumes and volatile prices in less developed markets make trades harder to complete and settle, and governments or trade groups may compel local agents to hold securities in designated depositories that may not be subject to independent evaluation. Local agents are held only to the standards of care of their local markets, and thus may be subject to limited or no government oversight. Communications between the United States and emerging market countries may be unreliable, increasing the risk of delayed settlements or losses of security certificates. In general, the less developed a country’s securities market is, the greater the likelihood of custody problems. Practices in relation to the settlement of securities transactions in emerging markets involve higher risks than those in developed markets, in part because of the use of brokers and counterparties that are often less well capitalized,
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and custody and registration of assets in some countries may be unreliable. The possibility of fraud, negligence or undue influence being exerted by the issuer or refusal to recognize ownership exists in some emerging markets, and, along with other factors, could result in ownership registration being lost. In addition, the laws of certain countries may put limits on the Fund’s ability to recover its assets if a foreign bank or depository or issuer of a security or an agent of any of the foregoing goes bankrupt. The Fund would absorb any loss resulting from such custody problems and may have no successful claim for compensation.
Dividend Risk.  There is no guarantee that issuers of the stocks held by the Fund will declare dividends in the future or that, if declared, they will either remain at current levels or increase over time.
National Closed Market Trading Risk.  To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund trade on foreign exchanges that are closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of such an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations may result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Operational Risk.  BFA and the Fund's other service providers may experience disruptions or operating errors such as processing errors or human errors, inadequate or failed internal or external processes, or systems or technology failures, that could negatively impact the Fund. While service providers are required to have appropriate operational risk management policies and procedures, their methods of operational risk management may differ from the Fund’s in the setting of priorities, the personnel and resources available or the effectiveness of relevant controls. BFA, through its monitoring and oversight of service providers, seeks to ensure that service providers take appropriate precautions to avoid and mitigate risks that could lead to disruptions and operating errors. However, it is not possible for BFA or the other Fund service providers to identify all of the operational risks that may affect the Fund or to develop processes and controls to completely eliminate or mitigate their occurrence or effects.
Risk of Derivatives.  A derivative is a financial contract, the value of which depends on, or is derived from, the value of an underlying asset, such as a security, a commodity (such as gold or silver), a currency or an index (a measure of value or rates, such as the S&P 500® or the prime lending rate). The Fund may invest in stock index futures contracts, securities options and other derivatives. Compared to conventional securities, derivatives can be more sensitive to changes in interest rates or to sudden fluctuations in market prices and thus the Fund’s losses may be greater if it invests in derivatives than if it invests only in conventional securities. Derivatives are also subject to counterparty risk, which is the risk that the other party in the transaction will not fulfill its contractual obligations. Derivatives generally involve the incurrence of leverage. To address such leverage and to prevent the Fund from being deemed to have issued senior securities as a result of investment in derivatives, the Fund will segregate liquid assets equal to its obligations under the derivatives throughout the life of the investment.
Risk of Equity Securities.  An investment in the Fund should be made with an understanding of the risks inherent in an investment in equity securities, including the risk that the financial condition of issuers may become impaired or that the general condition of stock 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 the Fund). Common stocks are susceptible to general stock market fluctuations and to increases and decreases in value as market confidence 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 or banking crises. Holders of common stocks incur more risks than holders of preferred stocks and debt obligations because common stockholders generally have rights to receive payments from stock issuers that are inferior to 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 (the value of which, however, is subject to market fluctuations prior to maturity), 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 date. In addition, issuers may, in times of distress or at their own discretion, decide to reduce or eliminate dividends, which may also cause their stock price to decline.
Although most of the securities in the Underlying Index are listed on a securities exchange, the principal trading market for some of the securities may be in the OTC market. The existence of a liquid trading market for certain securities may depend on whether dealers will make a market in such securities. There can be no assurance that a market will be made or maintained or that any such market will be or remain liquid. The price at which securities may be sold and the value of the
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Fund’s shares will be adversely affected if trading markets for the Fund’s portfolio securities are limited or absent, or if bid/ask spreads are wide.
Risk of Futures and Options on Futures Transactions.  There are several risks accompanying the utilization of futures contracts and options on futures contracts. A position in futures contracts and options on futures contracts may be closed only on the exchange on which the contract was made (or a linked exchange). While the Fund plans to utilize futures contracts only if an active market exists for such contracts, there is no guarantee that a liquid market will exist for the contract at a specified time. Futures contracts, by definition, project price levels in the future and not current levels of valuation; therefore, market circumstances may result in a discrepancy between the price of the stock index future and the movement in the Fund's Underlying Index. In the event of adverse price movements, the Fund would continue to be required to make daily cash payments to maintain its required margin. In such situations, if the 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, the Fund may be required to deliver the instruments underlying the futures contracts it has sold.
The risk of loss in trading futures contracts or uncovered call options in some strategies (e.g., selling uncovered stock index futures contracts) is potentially unlimited. The Fund does not plan to use futures and options contracts in this way. 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. The Fund, however, intends to utilize futures and options contracts in a manner designed to limit the risk exposure to levels comparable to a direct investment in the types of stocks in which it invests.
Utilization of futures and options on futures by the Fund involves the risk of imperfect or even negative correlation to the Underlying Index if the index underlying the futures contract differs from the Underlying Index. There is also the risk of loss of margin deposits in the event of bankruptcy of a broker with whom the Fund has an open position in the futures contract or option. The purchase of put or call options will be based upon predictions by BFA as to anticipated trends, which predictions could prove to be incorrect.
Because the futures market generally imposes less burdensome margin requirements than the securities market, an increased amount of participation by speculators in the futures market could result in price fluctuations. 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 by which 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. It is possible that futures contract prices could move to the daily limit for several consecutive trading days with little or no trading, thereby preventing prompt liquidation of futures positions and subjecting the Fund to substantial losses. In the event of adverse price movements, the Fund would be required to make daily cash payments of variation margin.
Risk of Investing in Non-U.S. Equity Securities.  An investment in the Fund involves risks similar to those of investing in portfolios of equity securities traded on non-U.S. exchanges. These risks include market fluctuations caused by such factors as economic and political developments in those foreign countries, changes in interest rates and perceived trends in stock prices. Investing in securities issued by issuers domiciled in countries other than the domicile of the investor and denominated in currencies other than an investor’s local currency entails certain considerations and risks not typically encountered by the investor in making investments in its home country and in that country’s currency. These considerations include favorable or unfavorable changes in interest rates, currency exchange rates, exchange control regulations and the costs that may be incurred in connection with conversions between various currencies. Investing in the Fund also involves certain risks and considerations not typically associated with investing in a fund whose portfolio contains exclusively securities of U.S. issuers. These risks include generally less liquid and less efficient securities markets; generally greater price volatility; less publicly available information about issuers; the imposition of withholding or other taxes; the imposition of restrictions on the expatriation of funds or other assets of the Fund; higher transaction and custody costs; delays and risks attendant in settlement procedures; difficulties in enforcing contractual obligations; lower liquidity and significantly smaller market capitalization; different accounting and disclosure standards; lower levels of regulation of the securities markets; more substantial government interference with the economy and businesses; higher rates of inflation; greater social, economic, and political uncertainty; the risk of nationalization or expropriation of assets; and the risk of war.
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Risk of Swap Agreements.  The risk of loss with respect to swaps is generally limited to the net amount of payments that the 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, the Fund will have contractual remedies pursuant to the agreements related to the transaction. However, such remedies may be subject to bankruptcy and insolvency laws which could affect the Fund’s rights as a creditor (e.g., the Fund may not receive the net amount of payments that it is contractually entitled to receive).
Regulators have proposed regulations that would require the Fund to post and collect initial and variation margin (comprised exclusively of cash, in the case of variation margin), in connection with trading of OTC swaps. Adoption of these regulations is likely to raise the costs for the Fund’s investment in swaps. In addition, the prudential regulators have indicated that they intend to adopt legislation requiring certain regulated counterparties to include in swap agreements terms that restrict the rights of counterparties, such as the Fund, to terminate swaps and foreclose upon collateral in the event that the counterparty and/or its affiliates are subject to certain types of insolvency proceedings.
Treaty/Tax Risk.  The Underlying Fund operates, in part, through a wholly-owned subsidiary located in the Republic of Mauritius (the “Subsidiary”), which in turn invests in securities of Indian issuers. The Subsidiary is expected to be eligible to take advantage of the benefits of the DTAA until March 31, 2017. Following the expiration of the DTAA, the Fund may continue to invest in the Underlying Fund until an alternative method for investing in the securities of Indian issuers is selected. Expiration of the DTAA could adversely impact the returns to the Underlying Fund and Fund. The Fund will continue to monitor developments in India with respect to these tax treaty matters.
Risk of Investing in Large-Capitalization Companies.  Large-capitalization companies may be less able than smaller capitalization companies to adapt to changing market conditions. Large-capitalization companies may be more mature and subject to more limited growth potential compared with smaller capitalization companies. Over certain periods, the performance of large-capitalization companies has trailed the performance of overall markets.
Risk of Investing in Mid-Capitalization Companies.  Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies may be more volatile than those of large-capitalization companies and, therefore, the Fund’s share price may be more volatile than those of funds that invest a larger percentage of their assets in stocks issued by large-capitalization companies. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies are also more vulnerable than those of large-capitalization companies to adverse business or economic developments, and the stocks of mid-capitalization companies may be less liquid, making it more difficult for the Fund to buy and sell them. In addition, mid-capitalization companies generally have less diverse product lines than large-capitalization companies and are more susceptible to adverse developments related to their products.
Risk of Investing in Africa.  Investments in securities of issuers in certain African countries involve heightened risks including, among others, expropriation and/or nationalization of assets, confiscatory taxation, political instability, including authoritarian and/or military involvement in governmental decision-making, armed conflict, civil war, and social instability as a result of religious, ethnic and/or socio-economic unrest and, in certain countries, genocidal warfare.
Certain countries in Africa generally have less developed capital markets than traditional emerging market countries, and, consequently, the risks of investing in foreign securities are magnified in such countries. Because securities markets of countries in Africa are generally underdeveloped and are generally less correlated to global economic cycles than those markets located in more developed countries, securities markets in African countries are subject to greater risks associated with market volatility, lower market capitalization, lower trading volume, illiquidity, inflation, greater price fluctuations and uncertainty regarding the existence of trading markets. Moreover, trading on African securities markets may be suspended altogether.
Market volatility may also be heightened by the actions of a small number of investors. Brokerage firms in certain countries in Africa may be fewer in number and less established than brokerage firms in more developed markets. Since the Fund may need to effect securities transactions through these brokerage firms, the Fund is subject to the risk that these brokerage firms will not be able to fulfill their obligations to the Fund (i.e., counterparty risk). This risk is magnified to the extent that the Fund effects securities transactions through a single brokerage firm or a small number of brokerage firms.
Certain governments in African countries restrict or control to varying degrees the ability of foreign investors to invest in securities of issuers located or operating in those countries. Moreover, certain countries in Africa require governmental approval or special licenses prior to investment by foreign investors and may limit the amount of investment by foreign investors in a particular industry and/or issuer, and may limit such foreign investment to a certain class of securities of an issuer that may have less advantageous rights than the classes available for purchase by domestic investors of the countries
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and/or impose additional taxes on foreign investors. A delay in obtaining a government approval or a license would delay investments in a particular country, and, as a result, the Fund may not be able to invest in certain securities while approval is pending. The government of a particular country may also withdraw or decline to renew a license that enables the Fund to invest in such country. These factors make investing in issuers located or operating in countries in Africa significantly riskier than investing in issuers located or operating in more developed countries, and any one of these factors could cause a decline in the value of the Fund’s investments. Issuers located or operating in countries in Africa are generally not subject to the same rules and regulations as issuers located or operating in more developed countries. Therefore, there may be less financial and other information publicly available with regard to issuers located or operating in countries in Africa and such issuers are generally not subject to the uniform accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards applicable to issuers located or operating in more developed countries.
In addition, governments of certain countries in Africa in which the Fund may invest may levy withholding or other taxes on income such as dividends, interest and realized capital gains. Although in certain countries in Africa a portion of these taxes are recoverable, the non-recovered portion of foreign withholding taxes will reduce the income received from investments in such countries.
Investment in countries in Africa may be subject to a greater degree of risk associated with governmental approval in connection with the repatriation of investment income, capital or the proceeds of sales of securities by foreign investors. In addition, there is the risk that if an African country’s balance of payments declines, such African country may impose temporary restrictions on foreign capital remittances. Consequently, the Fund could be adversely affected by delays in, or a refusal to grant, required governmental approval for repatriation of capital, as well as by the application to the Fund of any restrictions on investments. Additionally, investments in countries in Africa may require the Fund to adopt special procedures, seek local government approvals or take other actions, each of which may involve additional costs to the Fund.
Securities laws in many countries in Africa are relatively new and unsettled and, consequently, there is a risk of rapid and unpredictable change in laws regarding foreign investment, securities regulation, title to securities and shareholder rights. Accordingly, foreign investors may be adversely affected by new or amended laws and regulations. In addition, there may be no single centralized securities exchange on which securities are traded in certain countries in Africa and the systems of corporate governance to which issuers located in countries in Africa are subject may be less advanced than those systems to which issuers located in more developed countries are subject, and, therefore, shareholders of issuers located in such countries may not receive many of the protections available to shareholders of issuers located in more developed countries. Even in circumstances where adequate laws and shareholder rights exist, it may not be possible to obtain swift and equitable enforcement of the law. In addition, the enforcement of systems of taxation at federal, regional and local levels in countries in Africa may be inconsistent and subject to sudden change.
Certain countries in Africa may be heavily dependent upon international trade and, consequently, have been and may continue to be negatively affected by trade barriers, exchange controls, managed adjustments in relative currency values and other protectionist measures imposed or negotiated by the countries with which they trade. These countries also have been and may continue to be adversely affected by economic conditions in the countries with which they trade. Certain countries in Africa depend to a significant extent upon exports of primary commodities such as gold, silver, copper and diamonds. These countries therefore are vulnerable to changes in commodity prices, which may be affected by a variety of factors. In addition, certain issuers located in countries in Africa in which the Fund invests may operate in, or have dealings with, countries subject to sanctions and/or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government and the United Nations, and/or countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism. As a result, an issuer may sustain damage to its reputation if it is identified as an issuer which operates in, or has dealings with, such countries. The Fund, as an investor in such issuers, will be indirectly subject to those risks.
The governments of certain countries in Africa may exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector and may own or control many companies. Future government actions could have a significant effect on the economic conditions in such countries, which could have a negative impact on private sector companies. There is also the possibility of diplomatic developments that could adversely affect investments in certain countries in Africa. Some countries in Africa may be affected by a greater degree of public corruption and crime, including organized crime.
Recent political instability and protests in North Africa and the Middle East have caused significant disruptions to many industries. In addition, the outbreak of Ebola in Western Africa severely challenged health care industries in those countries and adversely impacted the region’s economy due to quarantines and disruptions of trade, which has further increased
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instability in the region. This instability has demonstrated that political and social unrest can spread quickly through the region, and that developments in one country can influence the political events in neighboring countries. Some protests have turned violent, and civil war and political reconstruction in certain countries such as Libya, Iraq and Syria pose a risk to investments in the region. Continued political and social unrest in these regions, including the ongoing warfare and terrorist activities in the Middle East and Africa, may negatively affect the value of an investment in the Fund.
Risk of Investing in Asia.   Investments in securities of issuers in certain Asian countries involve risks not typically associated with investments in securities of issuers in other regions. Such heightened risks include, among others, expropriation and/or nationalization of assets, confiscatory taxation, piracy of intellectual property, data and other security breaches (especially of data stored electronically), political instability, including authoritarian and/or military involvement in governmental decision-making, armed conflict and social instability as a result of religious, ethnic and/or socio-economic unrest. Certain Asian economies have experienced rapid rates of economic growth and industrialization in recent years, and there is no assurance that these rates of economic growth and industrialization will be maintained.
Certain Asian countries have democracies with relatively short histories, which may increase the risk of political instability. These countries have faced political and military unrest, and further unrest could present a risk to their local economies and securities markets. Indonesia and the Philippines have each experienced violence and terrorism, which has negatively impacted their economies. North Korea and South Korea each have substantial military capabilities, and historical tensions between the two countries present the risk of war; in the recent past, these tensions have escalated. Any outbreak of hostilities between the two countries could have a severe adverse effect on the South Korean economy and securities market. Political, religious, and border disputes persist in India. India has recently experienced and may continue to experience civil unrest and hostilities with certain of its neighboring countries. Increased political and social unrest in these geographic areas could adversely affect the performance of investments in this region.
Certain governments in this region administer prices on several basic goods, including fuel and electricity, within their respective countries. Certain governments may exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector in their respective countries and may own or control many companies. Future government actions could have a significant effect on the economic conditions in this region, which in turn could have a negative impact on private sector companies. There is also the possibility of diplomatic developments adversely affecting investments in the region.
Corruption and the perceived lack of a rule of law in dealings with international companies in certain Asian countries may discourage foreign investment and could negatively impact the long-term growth of certain economies in this region. In addition, certain countries in the region are experiencing high unemployment and corruption, and have fragile banking sectors.
Some economies in this region are dependent on a range of commodities, including oil, natural gas and coal. Accordingly, they are strongly affected by international commodity prices and particularly vulnerable to any weakening in global demand for these products. The market for securities in this region may also be directly influenced by the flow of international capital, and by the economic and market conditions of neighboring countries. Adverse economic conditions or developments in neighboring countries may increase investors' perception of the risk of investing in the region as a whole, which may adversely impact the market value of the securities issued by companies in the region.
Risk of Investing in Central and South America.  The economies of certain Central and South American countries have experienced high interest rates, economic volatility, inflation, currency devaluations, government defaults, high unemployment rates and political instability which can adversely affect issuers in these countries. In addition, commodities (such as oil, gas and minerals) represent a significant percentage of the region's exports and many economies in this region are particularly sensitive to fluctuations in commodity prices. Adverse economic events in one country may have a significant adverse effect on other countries of this region.
The governments of certain countries in Central and South America may exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector and may own or control many companies. Future government actions could have a significant effect on the economic conditions in such countries, which could have a negative impact on the securities in which the Fund invests. Diplomatic developments may also adversely affect investments in certain countries in Central and South America. Some countries in Central and South America may be affected by public corruption and crime, including organized crime.
Certain countries in Central and South America may be heavily dependent upon international trade and, consequently, have been and may continue to be negatively affected by trade barriers, exchange controls, managed adjustments in relative
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currency values and other protectionist measures imposed or negotiated by the countries with which they trade. These countries also have been and may continue to be adversely affected by economic conditions in the countries with which they trade. In addition, certain issuers located in countries in Central and South America in which the Fund invests may have dealings with countries subject to sanctions and/or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government and the United Nations and/or countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism. An issuer may sustain damage to its reputation if it is identified as an issuer that has dealings with such countries. The Fund may be adversely affected if it invests in such issuers.
Risk of Investing in Eastern Europe.  Investing in the securities of issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe is highly speculative and involves risks not usually associated with investing in the more developed markets of Western Europe. Political and economic reforms are too recent to establish a definite trend away from centrally planned economies and state-owned industries. In the past, some Eastern European governments have expropriated substantial amounts of private property, and many claims of the property owners have never been fully settled.
Many Eastern European countries continue to move toward market economies at different paces with different characteristics. Most Eastern European securities markets suffer from thin trading activity, dubious investor protections, and often a dearth of reliable corporate information. Information and transaction costs, differential taxes, and sometimes political or transfer risk give a comparative advantage to the domestic investor rather than the foreign investor. In addition, these markets are particularly sensitive to social, political, economic, and currency events in Russia and may suffer heavy losses as a result of their trading and investment links to the Russian economy and currency. Russia also may attempt to assert its influence in the region through economic or even military measures, as it did with Georgia in the summer of 2008 and Ukraine beginning in 2014. Eastern European economies may also be particularly susceptible to changes in the international credit markets due to their reliance on bank related inflows of capital. The global economic crisis has restricted international credit supplies, and several Eastern European economies have faced significant credit and economic crises. Although some Eastern European economies are expanding again, major challenges are still present as a result of their continued dependence on the Western European zone for credit.
Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets.   Investments 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) custodians, clearinghouses, 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) lack of 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.
Emerging market securities markets are typically marked by a high concentration of market capitalization and trading volume in a small number of issuers representing a limited number of industries, as well as a high concentration of ownership of such securities by a limited number of investors. In addition, brokerage and other costs associated with transactions in emerging market securities can be higher, sometimes significantly, than similar costs incurred in securities markets in developed countries. Although some emerging markets have become more established and tend to issue securities of higher credit quality, the markets for securities in other emerging market countries are in the earliest stages of their development, and these countries issue securities across the credit spectrum. Even the markets for relatively widely traded securities in emerging market countries may not be able to absorb, without price disruptions, a significant increase in trading volume or trades of a size customarily undertaken by institutional investors in the securities markets of developed countries. The limited size of many of these securities markets can cause prices to be erratic for reasons apart from factors that affect the soundness and competitiveness of the securities issuers. For example, prices may be unduly influenced by traders who control large positions in these markets. Additionally, market making and arbitrage activities are generally less extensive in such markets, which may contribute to increased volatility and reduced liquidity of such markets. The limited liquidity of
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emerging market country securities may also affect the Fund's ability to accurately value its portfolio securities or to acquire or dispose of securities at the price and time it wishes to do so or in order to meet redemption requests.
Many emerging market countries suffer from uncertainty and corruption in their legal frameworks. Legislation may be difficult to interpret and laws may be too new to provide any precedential value. Laws regarding foreign investment and private property may be weak or non-existent. Sudden changes in governments may result in policies which are less favorable to investors such as policies designed to expropriate or nationalize “sovereign” assets. Certain emerging market countries in the past have expropriated large amounts of private property, in many cases with little or no compensation, and there can be no assurance that such expropriation will not occur in the future.
Investment in the securities markets of certain emerging market countries is restricted or controlled to varying degrees. These restrictions may limit the Fund's investment in certain emerging market countries and may increase the expenses of the Fund. Certain emerging market countries require governmental approval prior to investments by foreign persons or limit investment by foreign persons to only a specified percentage of an issuer's outstanding securities or a specific class of securities which may have less advantageous terms (including price) than securities of the company available for purchase by nationals.
Many emerging market countries lack the social, political, and economic stability characteristic of the United States. Political instability among emerging market countries can be common and may be caused by an uneven distribution of wealth, social unrest, labor strikes, civil wars, and religious oppression. Economic instability in emerging market countries may take the form of: (i) high interest rates; (ii) high levels of inflation, including hyperinflation; (iii) high levels of unemployment or underemployment; (iv) changes in government economic and tax policies, including confiscatory taxation; and (v) imposition of trade barriers.
The Fund's income and, in some cases, capital gains from foreign securities will be subject to applicable taxation in certain of the emerging market countries in which it invests, and treaties between the United States and such countries may not be available in some cases to reduce the otherwise applicable tax rates.
Emerging markets also have different clearance and settlement procedures, and in certain of these emerging markets there have been times when settlements have been unable to keep pace with the volume of securities transactions, making it difficult to conduct such transactions.
In the past, certain governments in emerging market countries have become overly reliant on the international capital markets and other forms of foreign credit to finance large public spending programs, which in the past have caused huge budget deficits. Often, interest payments have become too overwhelming for a government to meet, representing a large percentage of total GDP. These foreign obligations have become the subject of political debate and served as fuel for political parties of the opposition, which pressure the government not to make payments to foreign creditors, but instead to use these funds for, among other things, social programs. Either due to an inability to pay or submission to political pressure, foreign governments have been forced to seek a restructuring of their loan and/or bond obligations, have declared a temporary suspension of interest payments or have defaulted. These events have adversely affected the values of securities issued by foreign governments and corporations domiciled in those countries and have negatively affected not only their cost of borrowing, but their ability to borrow in the future as well.
Risk of Investing in Europe.  Investing in European countries may expose the Fund to the economic and political risks associated with Europe in general and the specific European countries in which it invests. The economies and markets of European countries are often closely connected and interdependent, and events in one European country can have an adverse impact on other European countries. The Fund makes investments in securities of issuers that are domiciled in, or have significant operations in, member countries of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union (the “EU”), which requires member countries to comply with restrictions on inflation rates, deficits, interest rates, debt levels and fiscal and monetary controls, each of which may significantly affect every country in Europe. Changes in imports or exports, changes in governmental or EU regulations on trade, changes in the exchange rate of the euro (the common currency of certain EU countries), the default or threat of default by an EU member country on its sovereign debt, and/or an economic recession in an EU member country may have a significant adverse effect on the economies of EU member countries and their trading partners. Although certain European countries do not use the euro, many of these countries are obliged to meet the criteria for joining the euro zone. Consequently, these countries must comply with many of the restrictions noted above. The European financial markets have experienced volatility and adverse trends in recent years due to concerns about economic downturns, rising government debt levels and the possible default of government debt in several European
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countries, including, but not limited to, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ukraine. In order to prevent further economic deterioration, certain countries, without prior warning, can institute “capital controls.” Countries may use these controls to restrict volatile movements of capital entering and exiting their country. Such controls may negatively affect the Fund’s investments. A default or debt restructuring by any European country would adversely impact holders of that country's debt and sellers of credit default swaps linked to that country's creditworthiness, which may be located in countries other than those listed above. In addition, the credit ratings of certain European countries were recently downgraded. These downgrades may result in further deterioration of investor confidence. These events have adversely affected the value and exchange rate of the euro and may continue to significantly affect the economies of every country in Europe, including countries that do not use the euro and non-EU member countries. Responses to the financial problems by European governments, central banks and others, including austerity measures and reforms, may not produce the desired results, may result in social unrest and may limit future growth and economic recovery or have other unintended consequences. Further defaults or restructurings by governments and other entities of their debt could have additional adverse effects on economies, financial markets and asset valuations around the world. In addition, one or more countries may abandon the euro and/or withdraw from the EU. The impact of these actions, especially if they occur in a disorderly fashion, is not clear but could be significant and far-reaching and could adversely impact the value of the Fund’s investments in the region. In a referendum held on June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom, which is a significant global economy, resolved to leave the EU. The referendum may introduce significant uncertainties and instability in the financial markets as the United Kingdom negotiates its exit from the EU. The occurrence of terrorist incidents throughout Europe also could impact financial markets. The impact of these events is not clear but could be significant and far-reaching and adversely affect the value of the Fund.
Risk of Investing in India.  India is an emerging market and demonstrates significantly higher volatility from time to time in comparison to more developed markets. Political, religious, and border disputes persist in India. India has recently experienced and may continue to experience civil unrest and hostilities with certain of its neighboring countries, including Pakistan, and the Indian government has confronted separatist movements in several Indian states, including Kashmir. Government control over the economy, currency fluctuations or blockage, and the risk of nationalization or expropriation of assets offer higher potential for losses. Governmental actions could have a negative effect on the economic conditions in India, which could adversely affect the value and liquidity of investments made by the Fund. The securities markets in India are comparatively underdeveloped and with some exceptions, consist of a small number of listed companies with small market capitalization, greater price volatility and substantially less liquidity than companies in more developed markets. Stockbrokers and other intermediaries in India may not perform as well as their counterparts in the United States or other, more developed countries. The limited liquidity of the Indian securities markets may also affect a Fund’s ability to acquire or dispose of securities at the price or time that it desires or the Fund’s ability to track its Underlying Index.
Global factors and foreign actions may inhibit the flow of foreign capital on which India is dependent to sustain its growth. In addition, the Reserve Bank of India has imposed limits on foreign ownership of Indian companies, which may decrease the liquidity of the Fund’s portfolio and result in extreme volatility in the prices of Indian securities. These factors, coupled with the lack of extensive accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards and practices, as applicable in the United States, may increase the risk of loss for the Fund.
Securities laws in India are relatively new and unsettled and, as a result, there is a risk of significant and unpredictable change in laws governing foreign investment, securities regulation, title to securities and shareholder rights. Foreign investors in particular may be adversely affected by new or amended laws and regulations. Certain Indian regulatory approvals, including approvals from the Securities and Exchange Board of India, the central government and the tax authorities (to the extent that tax benefits need to be utilized), may be required before a Fund can make investments in Indian companies.
Technology and software sectors represent a significant portion of the total capitalization of the Indian securities markets. The value of these companies will generally fluctuate in response to technological and regulatory developments, and, as a result, the Fund’s holdings are expected to experience correlated fluctuations.
Natural disasters, such as tsunamis, flooding or droughts, could occur in India or surrounding areas and could negatively affect the Indian economy or operations of a Subsidiary, and, in turn, could negatively affect the Fund.
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Risk of Investing in the Middle East.  Many Middle Eastern countries have little or no democratic tradition, and the political and legal systems in such countries may have an adverse impact on the Fund. Many economies in the Middle East are highly reliant on income from the sale of oil or trade with countries involved in the sale of oil, and their economies are therefore vulnerable to changes in the market for oil and foreign currency values. As global demand for oil fluctuates, many Middle Eastern economies may be significantly impacted.
In addition, many Middle Eastern governments have exercised and continue to exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector. In certain cases, a Middle Eastern country’s government may own or control many companies, including some of the largest companies in the country. Accordingly, governmental actions in the future could have a significant effect on economic conditions in Middle Eastern countries. This could affect private sector companies and the Fund, as well as the value of securities in the Fund's portfolio.
Certain Middle Eastern markets are in the earliest stages of development. As a result, there may be a high concentration of market capitalization and trading volume in a small number of issuers representing a limited number of industries, as well as a high concentration of investors and financial intermediaries. Brokers in Middle Eastern countries typically are fewer in number and less capitalized than brokers in the United States.
The legal systems in certain Middle Eastern countries also may have an adverse impact on the Fund. For example, the potential liability of a shareholder in a U.S. corporation with respect to acts of the corporation generally is limited to the amount of the shareholder’s investment. However, the notion of limited liability is less clear in certain Middle Eastern countries. The Fund therefore may be liable in certain Middle Eastern countries for the acts of a corporation in which it invests for an amount greater than its actual investment in that corporation. Similarly, the rights of investors in Middle Eastern issuers may be more limited than those of shareholders of a U.S. corporation. It may be difficult or impossible to obtain or enforce a legal judgment in a Middle Eastern country. Some Middle Eastern countries prohibit or impose substantial restrictions on investments in their capital markets, particularly their equity markets, by foreign entities such as the Fund. For example, certain countries may require governmental approval prior to investment by foreign persons or limit the amount of investment by foreign persons in a particular issuer. Certain Middle Eastern countries may also limit investment by foreign persons to only a specific class of securities of an issuer that may have less advantageous terms (including price) than securities of the issuer available for purchase by nationals of the relevant Middle Eastern country.
The manner in which foreign investors may invest in companies in certain Middle Eastern countries, as well as limitations on those investments, may have an adverse impact on the operations of the Fund. For example, in certain of these countries, the Fund may be required to invest initially through a local broker or other entity and then have the shares that were purchased re-registered in the name of the Fund. Re-registration in some instances may not be possible on a timely basis. This may result in a delay during which the Fund may be denied certain of its rights as an investor, including rights as to dividends or to be made aware of certain corporate actions. There also may be instances where the Fund places a purchase order but is subsequently informed, at the time of re-registration, that the permissible allocation of the investment to foreign investors has already been filled and, consequently, the Fund may not be able to invest in the relevant company.
Substantial limitations may exist in certain Middle Eastern countries with respect to the Fund’s ability to repatriate investment income or capital gains. The Fund could be adversely affected by delays in, or a refusal to grant, any required governmental approval for repatriation of capital, as well as by the application to the Fund of any restrictions on investment.
Certain Middle Eastern countries may be heavily dependent upon international trade and, consequently, have been and may continue to be negatively affected by trade barriers, exchange controls, managed adjustments in relative currency values and other protectionist measures imposed or negotiated by the countries with which they trade. These countries also have been and may continue to be adversely impacted by economic conditions in the countries with which they trade. In addition, certain issuers located in Middle Eastern countries in which the Fund invests may operate in, or have dealings with, countries subject to sanctions and/or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government and the United Nations, and/or countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism. As a result, an issuer may sustain damage to its reputation if it is identified as an issuer which operates in, or has dealings with, such countries. The Fund, as an investor in such issuers, will be indirectly subject to those risks.
Certain Middle Eastern countries have strained relations with other Middle Eastern countries due to territorial disputes, historical animosities, defense concerns or other reasons, which may adversely affect the economies of these Middle Eastern countries. Certain Middle Eastern countries experience significant unemployment, as well as widespread underemployment. There has also been a recent increase in recruitment efforts and an aggressive push for territorial control by terrorist groups
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in the region, which has led to an outbreak of warfare and hostilities. Warfare in Syria has spread to surrounding areas, including many portions of Iraq and Turkey. Such hostilities may continue into the future or may escalate at any time due to ethnic, racial, political, religious or ideological tensions between groups in the region or foreign intervention or lack of intervention, among other factors.
Risk of Investing in North America.  A decrease in imports or exports, changes in trade regulations and/or an economic recession in any one North American country can have a significant economic effect on the entire North American region, and on some or all of the North American countries in which the Fund invests.
The United States is Mexico's largest trading and investment partner. The Mexican economy is significantly affected by developments in the U.S. economy. Since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) in 1994 among Canada, the United States and Mexico, total merchandise trade among the three countries has increased. However, political developments in the U.S. may have potential implications for the trade arrangements between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, which could negatively affect the value of securities held by the Fund. Policy and legislative changes in one country may have a significant effect on North American markets generally, as well as on the value of certain securities, including securities held by the Fund.
Risk of Investing in Russia.  Investing in the Russian securities market involves a high degree of risk and special considerations not typically associated with investing in the U.S. securities market, and should be considered highly speculative. Risks include: the absence of developed legal structures governing private and foreign investments and private property; the possibility of the loss of all or a substantial portion of the Fund’s assets invested in Russia as a result of expropriation; certain national policies which may restrict the Fund’s investment opportunities, including, without limitation, restrictions on investing in issuers or industries deemed sensitive to relevant national interests; and potentially greater price volatility in, significantly smaller capitalization of, and relative illiquidity of, the Russian market. There can also be no assurance that the Fund’s investments in the Russian securities market would not be expropriated, nationalized or otherwise confiscated. In the event of the settlement of any such claims or such expropriation, nationalization or other confiscation, the Fund could lose its entire investment. In addition, it may be difficult and more costly to obtain and enforce a judgment in the Russian court system.
Russia may also be subject to a greater degree of economic, political and social instability than is the case in other developed countries. Such instability may result from, among other things, the following: (i) an authoritarian government or military involvement in political and economic decision-making, including changes in government through extra-constitutional means; (ii) popular unrest associated with demands for improved political, economic and social conditions; (iii) internal insurgencies; (iv) hostile relations with neighboring countries; and (v) ethnic, religious and racial disaffection.
The Russian economy is heavily dependent upon the export of a range of commodities including most industrial metals, forestry products and oil and gas. Accordingly, it is strongly affected by international commodity prices and is particularly vulnerable to any weakening in global demand for these products. Any acts of terrorism or armed conflicts in Russia or internationally could have an adverse effect on the financial and commodities markets and the global economy. As Russia produces and exports large amounts of crude oil and gas, any acts of terrorism or armed conflict causing disruptions of Russian oil and gas exports could negatively affect the Russian economy and, thus, adversely affect the financial condition, results of operations or prospects of related companies.
The Russian government may exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector and may own or control many companies. Future government actions could have a significant effect on the economic conditions in Russia, which could have a negative impact on private sector companies. There is also the possibility of diplomatic developments that could adversely affect investments in Russia. In recent years, the Russian government has begun to take bolder steps to re-assert its regional geopolitical influence (including military steps). Such steps may increase tensions between Russia and its neighbors and Western countries and may negatively affect economic growth.
The United States and the Economic Monetary Union of the EU, along with the regulatory bodies of a number of countries including Japan, Australia, Norway, Switzerland and Canada (collectively, “Sanctioning Bodies”), have imposed economic sanctions, which consist of asset freezes and sectoral sanctions on certain Russian individuals and Russian corporate entities. The Sanctioning Bodies could also institute broader sanctions on Russia. These sanctions, or even the threat of further sanctions, may result in the decline of the value and liquidity of Russian securities, a weakening of the ruble or other adverse consequences to the Russian economy. These sanctions could also result in the immediate freeze of Russian securities, impairing the ability of the Fund to buy, sell, receive or deliver those securities.
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The sanctions against certain Russian issuers include prohibitions on transacting in or dealing in new debt of longer than 30 or 90 days maturity or new equity of such issuers. Securities held by the Fund issued prior to the date of the sanctions being imposed are not currently subject to any restrictions under the sanctions. However, compliance with each of these sanctions may impair the ability of the Fund to buy, sell, hold, receive or deliver the affected securities or other securities of such issuers. If it becomes impracticable or unlawful for the Fund to hold securities subject to, or otherwise affected by, sanctions (collectively, “affected securities”), or if deemed appropriate by BFA, the Fund may prohibit in-kind deposits of the affected securities in connection with creation transactions and instead require a cash deposit, which may also increase the Fund's transaction costs.
Also, if an affected security is included in the Fund’s Underlying Index, the Fund may, where practicable, seek to eliminate its holdings of the affected security by employing or augmenting its representative sampling strategy to seek to track the investment results of its Underlying Index. The use of (or increased use of) a representative sampling strategy may increase the Fund’s tracking error risk. If the affected securities constitute a significant percentage of the Underlying Index, the Fund may not be able to effectively implement a representative sampling strategy, which may result in significant tracking error between the Fund’s performance and the performance of its Underlying Index.
Current or future sanctions may result in Russia taking counter measures or retaliatory actions, which may further impair the value and liquidity of Russian securities. These retaliatory measures may include the immediate freeze of Russian assets held by the Fund. In the event of such a freeze of any fund assets, including depositary receipts, the Fund may need to liquidate non-restricted assets in order to satisfy any fund redemption orders. The liquidation of fund assets during this time may also result in the Fund receiving substantially lower prices for its securities.
These sanctions may also lead to changes in the Fund’s Underlying Index. The Fund’s Index Provider may remove securities from the Underlying Index or implement caps on the securities of certain issuers that have been subject to recent economic sanctions. In such an event, it is expected that the Fund will rebalance its portfolio to bring it in line with the Underlying Index as a result of any such changes, which may result in transaction costs and increased tracking error. These sanctions, the volatility that may result in the trading markets for Russian securities and the possibility that Russia may impose investment or currency controls on investors may cause the Fund to invest in, or increase the Fund’s investments in, depositary receipts that represent the securities of the Underlying Index. These investments may result in increased transaction costs and increased tracking error.
Risk of Investing in South Korea.  Investments in South Korean issuers involve risks that are specific to South Korea, including legal, regulatory, political, currency, security and economic risks. Substantial political tensions exist between North Korea and South Korea and recently, these political tensions have escalated. The outbreak of hostilities between the two nations, or even the threat of an outbreak of hostilities will likely adversely impact the South Korean economy. In addition, South Korea's economic growth potential has recently been on a decline, because of a rapidly aging population and structural problems, among other factors.
U.S. Economic Trading Partners Risk.  The United States is a significant, and in some cases the most significant, trading partner of, or foreign investor in, the country or countries in which the Fund invests. As a result, economic conditions of such countries may be particularly affected by changes in the U.S. economy. The U.S. economy has recently experienced very difficult conditions and increased volatility, as well as significant adverse trends. While government intervention and recent legislation has been enacted to improve the U.S. economy, the recovery has been fragile and modest. A decrease in U.S. imports, new trade and financial regulations, changes in the U.S. dollar exchange rate or an economic slowdown in the United States may have a material adverse effect on a country’s economic conditions and, as a result, securities to which the Fund has exposure.
Risk of Investing in the Capital Goods Industry.  The capital goods industry may be affected by fluctuations in the business cycle and by other factors affecting manufacturing demands. The capital goods industry depends heavily on corporate spending. The capital goods industry may perform well during times of economic expansion, and as economic conditions worsen, the demand for capital goods may decrease due to weakening demand, worsening business cash flows, tighter credit controls and deteriorating profitability. During times of economic volatility, corporate spending may fall and adversely affect the capital goods industry. This industry may also be affected by changes in interest rates, corporate tax rates and other government policies. Many capital goods are sold internationally and such companies are subject to market conditions in other countries and regions.
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Risk of Investing in the Consumer Discretionary Sector.  Companies engaged in the design, production or distribution of products or services for the consumer discretionary sector (including, without limitation, television and radio broadcasting, manufacturing, publishing, recording and musical instruments, motion pictures, photography, amusement and theme parks, gaming casinos, sporting goods and sports arenas, camping and recreational equipment, toys and games, apparel, travel-related services, automobiles, hotels and motels, and fast food and other restaurants) are subject to the risk that their products or services may become obsolete quickly. The success of these companies can depend heavily on disposable household income and consumer spending. During periods of an expanding economy, the consumer discretionary sector may outperform the consumer staples sector, but may underperform when economic conditions worsen. Moreover, the consumer discretionary sector can be significantly affected by several factors, including, without limitation, the performance of domestic and international economies, exchange rates, changing consumer preferences, demographics, marketing campaigns, cyclical revenue generation, consumer confidence, commodity price volatility, labor relations, interest rates, import and export controls, intense competition, technological developments and government regulation.
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Staples Sector.  Companies in the consumer staples sector may be adversely affected by changes in the global economy, consumer spending, competition, demographics and consumer preferences, and production spending. Companies in the consumer staples sector may also be affected by changes in global economic, environmental and political events, economic conditions, the depletion of resources, and government regulation. For instance, government regulations may affect the permissibility of using various food additives and production methods of companies that make food products, which could affect company profitability. In addition, tobacco companies may be adversely affected by the adoption of proposed legislation and/or by litigation. Companies in the consumer staples sector also may be subject to risks pertaining to the supply of, demand for and prices of raw materials. The prices of raw materials fluctuate in response to a number of factors, including, without limitation, changes in government agricultural support programs, exchange rates, import and export controls, changes in international agricultural and trading policies, and seasonal and weather conditions. Companies in the consumer staples sector may be subject to severe competition, which may also have an adverse impact on their profitability.
Risk of Investing in the Energy Sector.  Companies in the energy sector are strongly affected by the levels and volatility of global energy prices, energy supply and demand, government regulations and policies, energy production and conservation efforts, technological change, and other factors that they cannot control. These companies may also lack resources and have limited business lines. Energy companies may have relatively high levels of debt and may be more likely to restructure their businesses if there are downturns in certain energy markets or in the global economy. If an energy company in the Fund's portfolio becomes distressed, the Fund could lose all or a substantial portion of its investment.
The energy sector is cyclical and is highly dependent on commodity prices; prices and supplies of energy may fluctuate significantly over short and long periods of time due to, among other things, national and international political changes, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (“OPEC”) policies, changes in relationships among OPEC members and between OPEC and oil-importing nations, the regulatory environment, taxation policies, and the economy of the key energy-consuming countries. Commodity prices have recently been subject to increased volatility and declines, which may negatively affect companies in which the Fund invests.
Companies in the energy sector may be adversely affected by terrorism, natural disasters or other catastrophes. Companies in the energy sector are at risk of civil liability from accidents resulting in injury, loss of life or property, pollution or other environmental damage claims. Disruptions in the oil industry or shifts in fuel consumption may significantly impact companies in this sector. Significant oil and gas deposits are located in emerging markets countries where corruption and security may raise significant risks, in addition to the other risks of investing in emerging markets. Additionally, the Middle East, where many companies in the energy sector may operate, has historically and recently experienced widespread social unrest.
Companies in the energy sector may also be adversely affected by changes in exchange rates, interest rates, economic conditions, tax treatment, government regulation and intervention, negative perception, efforts at energy conservation and world events in the regions in which the companies operate (e.g., expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and repatriation of capital, military coups, social unrest, violence or labor unrest). Because a significant portion of revenues of companies in this sector is derived from a relatively small number of customers that are largely composed of governmental entities and utilities, governmental budget constraints may have a significant impact on the stock prices of companies in this sector. The energy sector is highly regulated. Entities operating in the energy sector are subject to significant regulation of nearly every aspect of their
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operations by federal, state and local governmental agencies. Such regulation can change rapidly or over time in both scope and intensity. Stricter laws, regulations or enforcement policies could be enacted in the future which would likely increase compliance costs and may materially adversely affect the financial performance of companies in the energy sector.
Risk of Investing in the Financials Sector.  Companies in the financials sector include regional and money center banks, securities brokerage firms, asset management companies, savings banks and thrift institutions, specialty finance companies (e.g., credit card, mortgage providers), insurance and insurance brokerage firms, consumer finance firms, financial conglomerates and foreign banking and financial companies.
Most financial companies are subject to extensive governmental regulation, which limits their activities and may affect their ability to earn a profit from a given line of business. Government regulation may change frequently and may have significant adverse consequences for companies in the financials sector, including effects not intended by the regulation. Direct governmental intervention in the operations of financial companies and financial markets may materially and adversely affect the companies in which the Fund invests, including legislation in many countries that may increase government regulation, repatriation and other intervention. The impact of governmental intervention and legislative changes on any individual financial company or on the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. The valuation of financial companies has been and continues to be subject to unprecedented volatility and may be influenced by unpredictable factors, including interest rate risk and sovereign debt default. Certain financial businesses are subject to intense competitive pressures, including market share and price competition. Financial companies in foreign countries are subject to market specific and general regulatory and interest rate concerns. In particular, government regulation in certain foreign countries may include taxes and controls on interest rates, credit availability, minimum capital requirements, bans on short sales, limits on prices and restrictions on currency transfers. In addition, companies in the financials sector may be the targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or customer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses.
The profitability of banks, savings and loan associations and financial companies is largely dependent on the availability and cost of capital funds and can fluctuate significantly when interest rates change; for instance, when interest rates go up, the value of securities issued by many types of companies in the financials sector generally goes down. In other words, financial companies may be adversely affected in certain market cycles, including, without limitation, during periods of rising interest rates, which may restrict the availability and increase the cost of capital, and during periods of declining economic conditions, which may cause, among other things, credit losses due to financial difficulties of borrowers.
In addition, general economic conditions are important to the operations of these companies, and financial difficulties of borrowers may have an adverse effect on the profitability of financial companies. Financial companies can be highly dependent upon access to capital markets and any impediments to such access, such as adverse overall economic conditions or a negative perception in the capital markets of a financial company’s financial condition or prospects, could adversely affect its business. Deterioration of credit markets can have an adverse impact on a broad range of financial markets, causing certain financial companies to incur large losses. In these conditions, companies in the financials sector may experience significant declines in the valuation of their assets, take actions to raise capital and even cease operations. Some financial companies may also be required to accept or borrow significant amounts of capital from government sources and may face future government-imposed restrictions on their businesses or increased government intervention. In addition, there is no guarantee that governments will provide any such relief in the future. These actions may cause the securities of many companies in the financials sector to decline in value.
Risk of Investing in the Healthcare Sector.  Companies in the healthcare sector are often issuers whose profitability may be affected by extensive government regulation, restrictions on government reimbursement for medical expenses, rising or falling costs of medical products and services, pricing pressure, an increased emphasis on outpatient services, a limited number of products, industry innovation, changes in technologies and other market developments. Many healthcare companies are heavily dependent on patent protection and the actual or perceived safety and efficiency of their products.
Patents have a limited duration and, upon expiration, other companies may market substantially similar “generic” products that are typically sold at a lower price than the patented product, causing the original developer of the product to lose market share and/or reduce the price charged for the product, resulting in lower profits for the original developer. As a result, the expiration of patents may adversely affect the profitability of these companies.
In addition, because the products and services of many companies in the healthcare sector affect the health and well-being of many individuals, these companies are especially susceptible to extensive litigation based on product liability and similar
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claims. Healthcare companies are subject to competitive forces that may make it difficult to raise prices and, in fact, may result in price discounting. Many new products in the healthcare sector may be subject to regulatory approvals. The process of obtaining such approvals may be long and costly, resulting in increased development costs, delayed cost recovery and loss of competitive advantage to the extent that rival companies have developed competing products or procedures, adversely affecting the company’s revenues and profitability. In other words, delays in the regulatory approval process may diminish the opportunity for a company to profit from a new product or to bring a new product to market, which could have a material adverse effect on a company’s business. Healthcare companies may also be strongly affected by scientific biotechnology or technological developments, and their products may quickly become obsolete. Also, many healthcare companies offer products and services that are subject to governmental regulation and may be adversely affected by changes in governmental policies or laws. Changes in governmental policies or laws may span a wide range of topics, including cost control, national health insurance, incentives for compensation in the provision of healthcare services, tax incentives and penalties related to healthcare insurance premiums, and promotion of prepaid healthcare plans.
Additionally, the expansion of facilities by healthcare-related providers may be subject to “determinations of need” by certain government authorities. This process not only generally increases the time and costs involved in these expansions, but also makes expansion plans uncertain, limiting the revenue and profitability growth potential of healthcare-related facilities operators and negatively affecting the prices of their securities. Moreover, in recent years both local and national governmental budgets have come under pressure to reduce spending and control healthcare costs, which could both adversely affect regulatory processes and public funding available for healthcare products, services and facilities.
Risk of Investing in the Industrials Sector.  The value of securities issued by companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by supply of and demand for both their specific products or services and for industrials sector products in general. The products of manufacturing companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction. Government regulations, world events and economic conditions affect the performance of companies in the industrials sector. The industrials sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors. For example, commodity price declines and unit volume reductions resulting from an over-supply of materials used in the industrials sector can adversely affect the sector. Furthermore, companies in the industrials sector may be subject to liability for environmental damage, product liability claims, depletion of resources, and mandated expenditures for safety and pollution control.
Risk of Investing in the Information Technology Sector.  Information technology companies face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on profit margins. Like other technology companies, information technology companies may have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or personnel. The products of information technology companies may face product obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction, unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. 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. Companies in the information technology sector are heavily dependent on patent and intellectual property rights. The loss or impairment of these rights may adversely affect the profitability of these companies. Finally, while all companies may be susceptible to network security breaches, certain companies in the information technology sector may be particular targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or consumer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses. These risks are heightened for information technology companies in foreign markets.
Risk of Investing in the Materials Sector.  Companies in the materials sector may be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, exchange rates, import controls, increased competition, depletion of resources, technical progress, labor relations and government regulations, and mandated expenditures for safety and pollution control, among other factors. Companies in the materials sector are also at risk of liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. Production of materials may exceed demand as a result of market imbalances or economic downturns, leading to poor investment returns. These risks are heightened for companies in the materials sector located in foreign markets.
Risk of Investing in the Real Estate Industry.  Companies in the real estate industry include companies that invest in real estate, such as a real estate investment trust (“REIT”) or a real estate holding company (collectively, “Real Estate Companies”). Investing in Real Estate Companies exposes investors to the risks of owning real estate directly, as well as to risks that relate specifically to the way in which Real Estate Companies are organized and operated. The real estate industry is
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highly sensitive to general and local economic conditions and developments, and characterized by intense competition and periodic overbuilding. Investing in Real Estate Companies involves various risks. Some risks that are specific to Real Estate Companies are discussed in greater detail below.
Interest Rate Risk. Rising interest rates could result in higher costs of capital for Real Estate Companies, which could negatively impact a Real Estate Company’s ability to meet its payment obligations.
Leverage Risk. Real Estate Companies may use leverage (and some may be highly leveraged), which increases investment risk and could adversely affect a Real Estate Company’s operations and market value in periods of rising interest rates. Real Estate Companies are also exposed to the risks normally associated with debt financing. Financial covenants related to a Real Estate Company’s leverage may affect the ability of the Real Estate Company to operate effectively. In addition, real property may be subject to the quality of credit extended and defaults by borrowers and tenants. If the properties do not generate sufficient income to meet operating expenses, including, where applicable, debt service, ground lease payments, tenant improvements, third-party leasing commissions and other capital expenditures, the income and ability of a Real Estate Company to make payments of any interest and principal on its debt securities will be adversely affected.
Property Risk. Real Estate Companies may be subject to risks relating to functional obsolescence or reduced desirability of properties; extended vacancies due to economic conditions and tenant bankruptcies; catastrophic events such as earthquakes, hurricanes and terrorist acts; and casualty or condemnation losses. Real estate income and values also may be greatly affected by demographic trends, such as population shifts or changing tastes and values, or increasing vacancies or declining rents resulting from legal, cultural, technological, global or local economic developments.
Management Risk. Real Estate Companies are dependent upon management skills and may have limited financial resources. Real Estate Companies are generally not diversified and may be subject to heavy cash flow dependency, default by borrowers and voluntary liquidation. In addition, transactions between Real Estate Companies and their affiliates may be subject to conflicts of interest, which may adversely affect a Real Estate Company’s shareholders. A Real Estate Company may also have joint venture investments in certain of its properties and, consequently, its ability to control decisions relating to such properties may be limited.
Liquidity Risk. Investing in Real Estate Companies may involve risks similar to those associated with investing in small-capitalization companies. Real Estate Company securities, like the securities of small-capitalization companies, may be more volatile than, and perform differently from, shares of large-capitalization companies. There may be less trading in Real Estate Company shares, which means that buy and sell transactions in those shares could have a magnified impact on share price, resulting in abrupt or erratic price fluctuations. In addition, real estate is relatively illiquid and, therefore, a Real Estate Company may have a limited ability to vary or liquidate properties in response to changes in economic or other conditions.
Concentration Risk. Real Estate Companies may own a limited number of properties and concentrate their investments in a particular geographic region or property type.
Regulatory Risk. Real estate income and values may be adversely affected by such factors as applicable domestic and foreign laws (including tax laws). Government actions, such as tax increases, zoning law changes or environmental regulations, also may have a major impact on real estate.
Risk of Investing in the Technology Sector.  Technology companies are characterized by periodic new product introductions, innovations and evolving industry standards, and, as a result, face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on profit margins. Companies in the technology sector are often smaller and less experienced companies and may be subject to greater risks than larger companies; these risks may be heightened for technology companies in foreign markets. Technology companies may have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or personnel. The products of technology companies may face product obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction, changes in consumer and business purchasing patterns, unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. In addition, a rising interest rate environment tends to negatively affect companies in the technology sector because, in such an environment, those companies with high market valuations may appear less attractive to investors, which may cause sharp decreases in the companies’ market prices. Companies in the technology sector are heavily dependent on patent and intellectual property rights. The loss or impairment of these rights may adversely affect the profitability of these companies. The technology sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced or characterized
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by unpredictable factors. Finally, while all companies may be susceptible to network security breaches, certain companies in the technology sector may be particular targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or consumer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses.
Risk of Investing in the Telecommunications Sector.  The telecommunications sector of a country’s economy is often subject to extensive government regulation. The costs of complying with governmental regulations, delays or failure to receive required regulatory approvals, or the enactment of new regulatory requirements may negatively affect the business of telecommunications companies. Government actions around the world, specifically in the area of pre-marketing clearance of products and prices, can be arbitrary and unpredictable. Companies in the telecommunications sector may experience distressed cash flows due to the need to commit substantial capital to meet increasing competition, particularly in developing new products and services using new technology. Technological innovations may make the products and services of certain telecommunications companies obsolete. Finally, while all companies may be susceptible to network security breaches, certain companies in the telecommunications sector may be particular targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or consumer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses.
Risk of Investing in the Utilities Sector.  The utilities sector may be adversely affected by changing commodity prices, government regulation stipulating rates charged by utilities, increased tariffs, changes in tax laws, interest rate fluctuations and changes in the cost of providing specific utility services. The utilities industry is also subject to potential terrorist attacks, natural disasters and severe weather conditions, as well as regulatory and operational burdens associated with the operation and maintenance of nuclear facilities. Government regulators monitor and control utility revenues and costs, and therefore may limit utility profits. In certain countries, regulatory authorities may also restrict a company’s access to new markets, thereby diminishing the company’s long-term prospects.
There are substantial differences among the regulatory practices and policies of various jurisdictions, and any regulatory agency may make major shifts in policy from time to time. There is no assurance that regulatory authorities will, in the future, grant rate increases. Additionally, existing and possible future regulatory legislation may make it even more difficult for utilities to obtain adequate relief. Certain of the issuers of securities held in the Fund's portfolio may own or operate nuclear generating facilities. Governmental authorities may from time to time review existing policies and impose additional requirements governing the licensing, construction and operation of nuclear power plants. Prolonged changes in climate conditions can also have a significant impact on both the revenues of an electric and gas utility as well as the expenses of a utility, particularly a hydro-based electric utility.
The rates that traditional regulated utility companies may charge their customers generally are subject to review and limitation by governmental regulatory commissions. Rate changes may occur only after a prolonged approval period or may not occur at all, which could adversely affect utility companies when costs are rising. The value of regulated utility debt securities (and, to a lesser extent, equity securities) tends to have an inverse relationship to the movement of interest rates. Certain utility companies have experienced full or partial deregulation in recent years. These utility companies are frequently more similar to industrial companies in that they are subject to greater competition and have been permitted by regulators to diversify outside of their original geographic regions and their traditional lines of business. As a result, some companies may be forced to defend their core business and may be less profitable. Deregulation may also permit a utility company to expand outside of its traditional lines of business and engage in riskier ventures.
Proxy Voting Policy
The Board has delegated the voting of proxies for the Fund’s securities to BFA pursuant to BFA’s proxy voting guidelines and procedures (the “BlackRock Proxy Voting Guidelines”). Under the BlackRock Proxy Voting Guidelines, BFA will vote proxies related to Fund securities in the best interests of the Fund and its shareholders. From time to time, a vote may present a conflict between the interests of the Fund’s shareholders, on the one hand, and those of BFA, or any affiliated person of the Fund or BFA, on the other. BFA maintains policies and procedures that are designed to prevent undue influence on BFA’s proxy voting activity that might stem from any relationship between the issuer of a proxy (or any dissident shareholder) and BFA, BFA’s affiliates, the Fund or the Fund’s affiliates. Most conflicts are managed through a structural separation of BFA’s Corporate Governance Group from BFA’s employees with sales and client responsibilities. In addition, BFA maintains procedures to ensure that all engagements with corporate issuers or dissident shareholders are managed consistently and without regard to BFA’s relationship with the issuer of the proxy or the dissident shareholder. In certain instances, BFA may determine to engage an independent fiduciary to vote proxies as a further safeguard to avoid potential conflicts of interest or
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as otherwise required by applicable law. Copies of the Fund's Proxy Voting Policy and the BlackRock Proxy Voting Guidelines are attached as Appendix A.
Information with respect to how BFA voted proxies relating to the Fund's portfolio securities during the 12-month period ending June 30 will be available: (i) without charge, upon request, by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or through the Fund's website at www.iShares.com; and (ii) on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.
Portfolio Holdings Information
The Board has adopted a policy regarding the disclosure of the Fund's portfolio holdings information that requires that such information be disclosed in a manner that: (i) is consistent with applicable legal requirements and in the best interests of the Fund’s shareholders; (ii) does not put the interests of BFA, the Distributor or any affiliated person of BFA or the Distributor, above those of Fund shareholders; (iii) does not advantage any current or prospective Fund shareholders over any other current or prospective Fund shareholders, except to the extent that certain Entities (as described below) may receive portfolio holdings information not available to other current or prospective Fund shareholders in connection with the dissemination of information necessary for transactions in Creation Units, as discussed below, and certain information may be provided to personnel of BFA and its affiliates who manage funds that invest a significant percentage of their assets in shares of the Fund for the purpose of facilitating risk management and hedging activities; and (iv) does not provide selective access to portfolio holdings information except pursuant to the procedures outlined below and to the extent appropriate confidentiality arrangements limiting the use of such information are in effect. The “Entities” referred to in sub-section (iii) above are generally limited to National Securities Clearing Corporation (“NSCC”) members, subscribers to various fee-based subscription services, large institutional investors (known as “Authorized Participants”) that have been authorized by the Distributor to purchase and redeem large blocks of shares pursuant to legal requirements and market makers and other institutional market participants and entities that provide information or transactional services.
Each business day, the Fund's portfolio holdings information will be provided to the Distributor or other agent for dissemination through the facilities of the NSCC and/or other fee-based subscription services to NSCC members and/or subscribers to those other fee-based subscription services, including market makers and Authorized Participants, and to entities that publish and/or analyze such information in connection with the process of purchasing or redeeming Creation Units or trading shares of the Fund in the secondary market or evaluating such potential transactions. This information typically reflects the Fund’s anticipated holdings on the following business day.
Daily access to information concerning the Fund's portfolio holdings is permitted: (i) to certain personnel of those service providers that are involved in portfolio management and providing administrative, operational, risk management, or other support to portfolio management; and (ii) to other personnel of the Fund's investment adviser, the Distributor and their affiliates, and the administrator, custodian and fund accountant who deal directly with, or assist in, functions related to investment management, distribution, administration, custody, securities lending and fund accounting, as may be necessary to conduct business in the ordinary course in a manner consistent with federal securities laws and regulations thereunder. In addition, the Fund discloses its fixed-income and/or equity portfolio holdings daily at www.iShares.com. More information about this disclosure is available at www.iShares.com.
Portfolio holdings information made available in connection with the creation/redemption process may be provided to other entities that provide services to the Fund in the ordinary course of business after it has been disseminated to the NSCC. From time to time, information concerning portfolio holdings other than portfolio holdings information made available in connection with the creation/redemption process, as discussed above, may be provided to other entities that provide services to the Fund, including rating or ranking organizations, in the ordinary course of business, no earlier than one business day following the date of the information.
The Fund will disclose its complete portfolio holdings schedule in public filings with the SEC within 70 days of the end of the second and fourth fiscal quarters and within 60 days of the end of the first and third fiscal quarters and will provide such information to shareholders as required by federal securities laws and regulations thereunder. The Fund may, however, voluntarily disclose all or part of its portfolio holdings other than in connection with the creation/redemption process, as discussed above, in advance of required filings with the SEC, provided that such information is made generally available to all shareholders and other interested parties in a manner that is consistent with the above policy for disclosure of portfolio
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holdings information. Such information may be made available through a publicly-available website or other means that make the information available to all likely interested parties contemporaneously.
The Company's Chief Compliance Officer or his delegate may authorize disclosure of portfolio holdings information pursuant to the above policy and procedures, subject to restrictions on selective disclosure imposed by applicable law.
The Board reviews the policy and procedures for disclosure of portfolio holdings information at least annually.
Construction and Maintenance of the Underlying Index
A description of the Underlying Index is provided below.
MSCI Emerging Markets ex China Index
Number of Components: approximately 682
Index Description. The MSCI Emerging Markets ex China Index (the “Underlying Index”) is a free float-adjusted market capitalization weighted index that captures large- and mid-capitalization stocks across 22 of the 23 Emerging Markets countries (as defined by MSCI), excluding China. The Underlying Index covers approximately 85% of the free float-adjusted market capitalization of each of the following countries: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Calculation Methodology. The Fund utilizes the Underlying Index calculated with net dividends reinvested. MSCI uses the index constituent companies’ country of incorporation to determine the relevant dividend withholding tax rates in calculating the net dividends. The regular cash dividend is reinvested after deduction of withholding tax by applying the maximum rate of the company’s country of incorporation applicable to institutional investors. Net dividends means dividends after taxes withheld at the rate applicable to non-resident institutional investors who do not benefit from double taxation treaties. Such withholding rates may differ from those applicable to U.S. residents.
Additional Information. “MSCI” and “MSCI Emerging Markets ex China Index” are servicemarks of MSCI Inc. and have been licensed for use for certain purposes by BFA or its affiliates. iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BFA and its affiliates. The Fund is neither sponsored, endorsed, sold nor promoted by MSCI Inc., and MSCI Inc. makes no representation regarding the advisability of investing in the Fund.
Investment Restrictions
The Fund has adopted its investment objective as a non-fundamental investment policy. Therefore, the Fund may change its investment objective and its Underlying Index without shareholder approval. The Board has adopted restrictions and policies relating to the investment of the Fund’s assets and its activities. Certain of the restrictions are fundamental policies of the Fund and may not be changed without the approval of the holders of a majority of the Fund’s outstanding voting securities (which, for this purpose and under the Investment Company Act, means the lesser of (i) 67% or more of the shares represented at a meeting at which more than 50% of the outstanding shares are represented or (ii) more than 50% of the outstanding shares).
Under these fundamental investment restrictions, the Fund may not:
1. Concentrate its investments in a particular industry, as that term is used in the Investment Company Act. Except that the Fund will concentrate to approximately the same extent that its Underlying Index concentrates in the securities of a particular industry or group of industries.
2. Borrow money, except as permitted under the Investment Company Act.
3. Issue senior securities to the extent such issuance would violate the Investment Company Act.
4. Purchase or hold real estate, except the Fund may purchase and hold securities or other instruments that are secured by, or linked to, real estate or interests therein, securities of REITs, mortgage-related securities and securities of issuers
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  engaged in the real estate business, and the Fund may purchase and hold real estate as a result of the ownership of securities or other instruments.
5. Underwrite securities issued by others, except to the extent that the sale of portfolio securities by the Fund may be deemed to be an underwriting or as otherwise permitted by applicable law.
6. Purchase or sell commodities or commodity contracts, except as permitted by the Investment Company Act.
7. Make loans to the extent prohibited by the Investment Company Act.
Notations Regarding the Fund's Fundamental Investment Restrictions
The following notations are not considered to be part of the Fund's fundamental investment restrictions and are subject to change without shareholder approval.
With respect to the fundamental policy relating to concentration set forth in (1) above, the Investment Company Act does not define what constitutes “concentration” in an industry. The SEC staff has taken the position that investment of 25% or more of a fund’s total assets in one or more issuers conducting their principal activities in the same industry or group of industries constitutes concentration. It is possible that interpretations of concentration could change in the future. The policy in (1) above will be interpreted to refer to concentration as that term may be interpreted from time to time. The policy also will be interpreted to permit investment without limit in the following: securities of the U.S. government and its agencies or instrumentalities; securities of state, territory, possession or municipal governments and their authorities, agencies, instrumentalities or political subdivisions; and repurchase agreements collateralized by any such obligations. Accordingly, issuers of the foregoing securities will not be considered to be members of any industry. There also will be no limit on investment in issuers domiciled in a single jurisdiction or country. Finance companies will be considered to be in the industries of their parents if their activities are primarily related to financing the activities of the parents. Each foreign government will be considered to be a member of a separate industry. With respect to the Fund's industry classifications, the Fund currently utilizes any one or more of the industry sub-classifications used by one or more widely recognized market indexes or rating group indexes, and/or as defined by Fund management. The policy also will be interpreted to give broad authority to the Fund as to how to classify issuers within or among industries.
With respect to the fundamental policy relating to borrowing money set forth in (2) above, the Investment Company Act permits the Fund to borrow money in amounts of up to one-third of the Fund’s total assets from banks for any purpose, and to borrow up to 5% of the Fund’s total assets from banks or other lenders for temporary purposes. (The Fund’s total assets include the amounts being borrowed.) To limit the risks attendant to borrowing, the Investment Company Act requires the Fund to maintain at all times an “asset coverage” of at least 300% of the amount of its borrowings. Asset coverage means the ratio that the value of the Fund's total assets (including amounts borrowed), minus liabilities other than borrowings, bears to the aggregate amount of all borrowings. Borrowing money to increase portfolio holdings is known as “leveraging.” Certain trading practices and investments, such as reverse repurchase agreements, may be considered to be borrowings or involve leverage and thus are subject to the Investment Company Act restrictions. In accordance with SEC staff guidance and interpretations, when the Fund engages in such transactions, the Fund instead of maintaining asset coverage of at least 300%, may segregate or earmark liquid assets, or enter into an offsetting position, in an amount at least equal to the Fund’s exposure, on a mark-to-market basis, to the transaction (as calculated pursuant to requirements of the SEC). The policy in (2) above will be interpreted to permit the Fund to engage in trading practices and investments that may be considered to be borrowing or to involve leverage to the extent permitted by the Investment Company Act and to permit the Fund to segregate or earmark liquid assets or enter into offsetting positions in accordance with the Investment Company Act. Short-term credits necessary for the settlement of securities transactions and arrangements with respect to securities lending will not be considered to be borrowings under the policy. Practices and investments that may involve leverage but are not considered to be borrowings are not subject to the policy.
With respect to the fundamental policy relating to underwriting set forth in (5) above, the Investment Company Act does not prohibit the Fund from engaging in the underwriting business or from underwriting the securities of other issuers; in fact, in the case of diversified funds, the Investment Company Act permits the Fund to have underwriting commitments of up to 25% of its assets under certain circumstances. Those circumstances currently are that the amount of the Fund's underwriting commitments, when added to the value of the Fund’s investments in issuers where the Fund owns more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of those issuers, cannot exceed the 25% cap. A fund engaging in transactions involving the acquisition or disposition of portfolio securities may be considered to be an underwriter under the 1933 Act. Although it is not believed that the application of the 1933 Act provisions described above would cause the Fund to be
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engaged in the business of underwriting, the policy in (5) above will be interpreted not to prevent the Fund from engaging in transactions involving the acquisition or disposition of portfolio securities, regardless of whether the Fund may be considered to be an underwriter under the 1933 Act or is otherwise engaged in the underwriting business to the extent permitted by applicable law.
With respect to the fundamental policy relating to lending set forth in (7) above, the Investment Company Act does not prohibit the Fund from making loans (including lending its securities); however, SEC staff interpretations currently prohibit funds from lending more than one-third of their total assets (including lending its securities), except through the purchase of debt obligations or the use of repurchase agreements. In addition, collateral arrangements with respect to options, forward currency and futures transactions and other derivative instruments (as applicable), as well as delays in the settlement of securities transactions, will not be considered loans.
Under its non-fundamental investment restrictions, which may be changed by the Board without shareholder approval, the Fund may not:
a. Purchase securities of other investment companies, except to the extent permitted by the Investment Company Act. As a matter of policy, however, the Fund will not purchase shares of any registered open-end investment company or registered unit investment trust, in reliance on Section 12(d)(1)(F) or (G) (the “fund of funds” provisions) of the Investment Company Act, at any time the Fund has knowledge that its shares are purchased by another investment company investor in reliance on the provisions of subparagraph (G) of Section 12(d)(1).
b. Make short sales of securities or maintain a short position, except to the extent permitted by the Fund's Prospectus and SAI, as amended from time to time, and applicable law.
Unless otherwise indicated, all limitations under the Fund's fundamental or non-fundamental investment restrictions apply only at the time that a transaction is undertaken. Any change in the percentage of the Fund's assets invested in certain securities or other instruments resulting from market fluctuations or other changes in the Fund’s total assets will not require the Fund to dispose of an investment until BFA determines that it is practicable to sell or close out the investment without undue market or tax consequences.
The Fund has adopted a non-fundamental investment policy in accordance with Rule 35d-1 under the Investment Company Act to invest, under normal circumstances, at least 80% of the value of its net assets, plus the amount of any borrowings for investment purposes, in the securities of its Underlying Index or in depositary receipts representing securities in its Underlying Index. The Fund also has adopted a non-fundamental policy to provide its shareholders with at least 60 days’ prior written notice of any change in such policy. If, subsequent to an investment, the 80% requirement is no longer met, the Fund’s future investments will be made in a manner that will bring the Fund into compliance with this policy.
The Fund has adopted a non-fundamental limitation such that, under normal market conditions, any borrowings by the Fund will not exceed 10% of the Fund’s net assets.
Continuous Offering
The method by which Creation Units are created and traded may raise certain issues under applicable securities laws. Because new Creation Units are issued and sold by the Fund on an ongoing basis, at any point a “distribution,” as such term is used in the 1933 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 that could render them statutory underwriters and subject them to the prospectus delivery requirement and liability provisions of the 1933 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 constituent shares and sells such shares directly to customers or if it chooses to couple the creation of new shares with an active selling effort involving solicitation of secondary market demand for shares. A determination of whether one is an underwriter for purposes of the 1933 Act must take into account all of 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 a categorization as an underwriter.
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Broker-dealer firms should also note that dealers who are not “underwriters” but are effecting transactions in shares, whether or not participating in the distribution of shares, generally are required to deliver a prospectus. This is because the prospectus delivery exemption in Section 4(a)(3) of the 1933 Act is not available in respect of such transactions as a result of Section 24(d) of the 1940 Act. Firms that incur a prospectus delivery obligation with respect to shares of the Fund are reminded that, pursuant to Rule 153 under the 1933 Act, a prospectus delivery obligation under Section 5(b)(2) of the 1933 Act owed to an exchange member in connection with a sale on the Listing Exchange generally is satisfied by the fact that the prospectus is available at the Listing Exchange upon request. The prospectus delivery mechanism provided in Rule 153 is available only with respect to transactions on an exchange.
Management
Directors, Advisory Board Members and Officers.  The Board has responsibility for the overall management and operations of the Fund, including general supervision of the duties performed by BFA and other service providers. Each Director serves until he or she resigns, is removed, dies, retires or becomes incapacitated. Each officer shall hold office until his or her successor is elected and qualifies or until his or her death, resignation or removal. Directors who are not “interested persons” (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Company are referred to as independent directors (“Independent Directors”).
The registered investment companies advised by BFA or its affiliates (the “BlackRock-advised Funds”) are organized into one complex of closed-end funds, two complexes of open-end funds and one complex of ETFs (“Exchange-Traded Fund Complex”) (each, a “BlackRock Fund Complex”). The Fund is included in the BlackRock Fund Complex referred to as the Exchange-Traded Fund Complex. Each Director also serves as a Trustee of iShares Trust and a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust and, as a result, oversees a total of ___ funds within the Exchange-Traded Fund Complex. Drew E. Lawton serves as an Advisory Board Member for iShares Trust and iShares U.S. ETF Trust with respect to ___ funds within the Exchange-Traded Fund Complex. With the exception of Robert S. Kapito, Mark Wiedman, Charles Park, Martin Small and Benjamin Archibald, the address of each Director, Advisory Board Member and officer is c/o BlackRock, Inc., 400 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. The address of Mr. Kapito, Mr. Wiedman, Mr. Park, Mr. Small and Mr. Archibald is c/o BlackRock, Inc., Park Avenue Plaza, 55 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10055. The Board has designated Cecilia H. Herbert as its Independent Board Chair. Additional information about the Fund's Directors, Advisory Board Members and officers may be found in this SAI, which is available without charge, upon request, by calling toll-free 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737).
Interested Directors
Name (Age)   Position   Principal Occupation(s)
During the Past 5 Years
  Other Directorships
Held by Director
Robert S. Kapito1
(60)
  Director
(since 2009).
  President and Director, BlackRock, Inc. (since 2006); Vice Chairman of BlackRock, Inc. and Head of BlackRock, Inc.’s Portfolio Management Group (since its formation in 1998) and BlackRock, Inc.’s predecessor entities (since 1988); Trustee, University of Pennsylvania (since 2009); President of Board of Directors, Hope & Heroes Children’s Cancer Fund (since 2002); President of the Board of Directors, Periwinkle Theatre for Youth (since 1983).   Trustee of iShares Trust (since 2009); Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2011).
30

 


Name (Age)   Position   Principal Occupation(s)
During the Past 5 Years
  Other Directorships
Held by Director
Mark Wiedman2
(46)
  Director (since 2013).   Managing Director, BlackRock, Inc. (since 2007); Global Head of iShares (since 2011); Head of Corporate Strategy, BlackRock, Inc. (2009-2011).   Trustee of iShares Trust (since 2013); Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2013); Director of PennyMac Financial Services, Inc. (since 2008).

1 Robert S. Kapito is deemed to be an “interested person” (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Company due to his affiliations with BlackRock, Inc.
2 Mark Wiedman is deemed to be an “interested person” (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Company due to his affiliations with BlackRock, Inc. and its affiliates.
Independent Directors
Name (Age)   Position   Principal Occupation(s)
During the Past 5 Years
  Other Directorships
Held by Director
Cecilia H. Herbert
(67)
  Director
(since 2005); Independent Board Chair
(since 2016); Nominating and Governance Committee Chair (since 2016).
  Trustee and Member of the Finance, Technology and Quality Committee of Stanford Health Care (since 2016); Trustee and Member of the Investment Committee, WNET, a New York public media company (since 2011); Chair (1994-2005) and Member (since 1992) of the Investment Committee, Archdiocese of San Francisco; Director (1998-2013) and President (2007-2011) of the Board of Directors, Catholic Charities CYO; Trustee (2002-2011) and Chair of the Finance and Investment Committee (2006-2010) of the Thacher School.
  Trustee of iShares Trust (since 2005); Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2011); Independent Board Chair of iShares Trust and iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2016); Trustee of Forward Funds (17 portfolios) (since 2009); Trustee of Salient MF Trust (4 portfolios) (since 2015).
Jane D. Carlin
(61)
  Director
(since 2015); Risk Committee Chair (since 2016).
  Managing Director and Global Head of Financial Holding Company Governance & Assurance and the Global Head of Operational Risk Management of Morgan Stanley (2006-2012).   Trustee of iShares Trust (since 2015); Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2015); Director of PHH Corporation (mortgage solutions) (since 2012); Director of The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. (since 2016).
Charles A. Hurty
(73)
  Director
(since 2005);
Audit Committee Chair
(since 2006).
  Retired; Partner, KPMG LLP (1968-2001).   Trustee of iShares Trust (since 2005); Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2011); Director of SkyBridge Alternative Investments Multi-Adviser Hedge Fund Portfolios LLC (2 portfolios) (since 2002).
John E. Kerrigan
(61)
  Director
(since 2005); Securities Lending Committee Chair
(since 2016).
  Chief Investment Officer, Santa Clara University (since 2002).   Trustee of iShares Trust (since 2005); Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2011).
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Name (Age)   Position   Principal Occupation(s)
During the Past 5 Years
  Other Directorships
Held by Director
John E. Martinez
(55)
  Director
(since 2003);
Fixed Income Plus Committee Chair
(since 2016).
  Director of FirstREX Agreement Corp. (formerly EquityRock, Inc.) (since 2005).   Trustee of iShares Trust (since 2003); Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2011).
Madhav V. Rajan
(52)
  Director
(since 2011);
Equity Plus Committee Chair and 15(c) Committee Chair (since 2016).
  Robert K. Jaedicke Professor of Accounting, Stanford University Graduate School of Business (since 2001); Professor of Law (by courtesy), Stanford Law School (since 2005); Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Head of MBA Program, Stanford University Graduate School of Business (2010-2016).
  Trustee of iShares Trust (since 2011);
Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2011); Director, Cavium, Inc. (since 2013).
Officers
Name (Age)   Position   Principal Occupation(s)
During the Past 5 Years
Martin Small
(41)
  President (since 2016).   Managing Director, BlackRock, Inc. (since 2010); Head of U.S. iShares (since 2015); Co-Head of the U.S. Financial Markets Advisory Group, BlackRock, Inc. (2008-2014).
Jack Gee
(57)
  Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer
(since 2008).
  Managing Director, BlackRock, Inc. (since 2009); Senior Director of Fund Administration of Intermediary Investor Business, BGI (2009).
Charles Park
(49)
  Chief Compliance Officer (since 2006).   Chief Compliance Officer of BlackRock Advisors, LLC and the BlackRock-advised Funds in the Equity-Bond Complex, the Equity-Liquidity Complex and the Closed-End Complex (since 2014); Chief Compliance Officer of BFA (since 2006).
Benjamin Archibald
(41)
  Secretary (since 2015).   Managing Director, BlackRock, Inc. (since 2014); Director, BlackRock, Inc. (2010-2013); Secretary of the BlackRock-advised mutual funds (since 2012).
Steve Messinger
(54)
  Executive Vice President
(since 2016).
  Managing Director, BlackRock, Inc. (2007-2014 and since 2016); Managing Director, Beacon Consulting Group (2014-2016).
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Name (Age)   Position   Principal Occupation(s)
During the Past 5 Years
Scott Radell
(48)
  Executive Vice President
(since 2012).
  Managing Director, BlackRock, Inc. (since 2009); Head of Portfolio Solutions, BlackRock, Inc. (since 2009); Head of Portfolio Solutions, BGI (2007-2009); Credit Portfolio Manager, BGI (2005-2007); Credit Research Analyst, BGI (2003-2005).
Alan Mason
(56)
  Executive Vice President
(since 2016).
  Managing Director, BlackRock, Inc. (since 2009); Managing Director, BGI (2008-2009); Principal, BGI (1996-2008).
Advisory Board Member
Name (Age)   Position   Principal Occupation(s)
During the Past 5 Years
  Other Directorships
Held by Advisory Board Member
Drew E. Lawton
(57)
  Advisory Board Member
(since 2016).
  Senior Managing Director of New York Life Insurance Company (2010-2015).   Advisory Board Member of iShares Trust (since 2016); Advisory Board Member of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2016).
The Board has concluded that, based on each Director’s experience, qualifications, attributes or skills on an individual basis and in combination with those of the other Directors, each Director should serve as a Director of the Board. Among the attributes common to all Directors are their ability to review critically, evaluate, question and discuss information provided to them, to interact effectively with the Fund's investment adviser, other service providers, counsel and the independent registered public accounting firm, and to exercise effective business judgment in the performance of their duties as Directors. A Director’s ability to perform his or her duties effectively may have been attained through the Director’s educational background or professional training; business, consulting, public service or academic positions; experience from service as a Board member of the Fund and the other funds in the Company (and any predecessor funds), other investment funds, public companies, or non-profit entities or other organizations; and/or other life experiences. Also, set forth below is a brief discussion of the specific experience, qualifications, attributes or skills of each Director that led the Board to conclude that he or she should serve as a Director.
Robert Kapito has been a Director of the Company since 2009. Mr. Kapito has served as a Trustee of iShares Trust since 2009, a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2011 and a Director of BlackRock, Inc. since 2006. Mr. Kapito served as a Director of iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF, Inc. from 2010 to 2015. In addition, he has over 20 years of experience as part of BlackRock, Inc. and BlackRock, Inc.’s predecessor entities. Mr. Kapito serves as President and Director of BlackRock, Inc., and is the Chairman of the Operating Committee, a member of the Office of the Chairman, the Leadership Committee and the Corporate Council. He is responsible for day-to-day oversight of BlackRock, Inc.'s key operating units, including the Account Management and Portfolio Management Groups, Real Estate Group and BlackRock Solutions®. Prior to assuming his current responsibilities in 2007, Mr. Kapito served as Head of BlackRock, Inc.'s Portfolio Management Group. In that role, he was responsible for overseeing all portfolio management within BlackRock, Inc., including the Fixed Income, Equity, Liquidity, and Alternative Investment Groups. Mr. Kapito serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. He has also been President of the Board of Directors for the Hope & Heroes Children's Cancer Fund since 2002 and President of the Board of Directors for Periwinkle Theatre for Youth, a national non-profit arts-in-education organization, since 1983. Mr. Kapito earned a BS degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1979, and an MBA degree from Harvard Business School in 1983.
Mark Wiedman has been a Director of the Company since 2013. Mr. Wiedman has served as a Trustee of iShares Trust since 2013 and a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2013. Mr. Wiedman served as a Director of iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF, Inc. from 2013 to 2015. Mr. Wiedman is the Global Head and Managing Director of iShares. In addition, he is a member of BlackRock, Inc.'s Global Executive Committee and Global Operating Committee. Prior to assuming his current responsibilities in 2011, Mr. Wiedman was the head of Corporate Strategy for BlackRock, Inc. Mr. Wiedman joined BlackRock,
33

 


Inc. in 2004 to help start the advisory business, which evolved into the Financial Markets Advisory Group in BlackRock Solutions. This group advises financial institutions and governments on managing their capital markets exposures and businesses. Prior to BlackRock, Inc., he served as senior advisor and chief of staff for the Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and also was a management consultant at McKinsey & Co., advising financial institutions in the United States, Europe, and Japan. He has taught as an adjunct associate professor of law at Fordham University in New York and Renmin University in Beijing. Mr. Wiedman serves on the board of PennyMac Financial Services, Inc., a publicly-traded U.S. mortgage banking and investment management firm started in 2008, with BlackRock, Inc. as a sponsor. Mr. Wiedman earned an AB degree, Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude, in social studies from Harvard College in 1992 and a JD degree from Yale Law School in 1996.
Cecilia H. Herbert has been a Director of the Company since 2005, Chair of the Company's Board since 2016 and Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee of the Company since 2016. Ms. Herbert served as Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee and the Equity Plus Committee of the Company from 2012 to 2015. Ms. Herbert has served as a Trustee of iShares Trust since 2005, Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee of iShares Trust since 2016, Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee and the Equity Plus Committee of iShares Trust from 2012 to 2015, Chair of the iShares Trust's Board since 2016, a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2011, Chair of the iShares U.S. ETF Trust's Board since 2016, Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2016 and Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee and the Equity Plus Committee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust from 2012 to 2015. Ms. Herbert served as a Director of iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF, Inc. from 2010 to 2015. In addition, Ms. Herbert has served as Trustee of the Forward Funds since 2009, which was purchased by Salient Partners in 2015, and has also served as Trustee of the Salient MF Trust since 2015. She has served since 1992 on the Investment Council of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and was Chair from 1994 to 2005. She has served as a Trustee of Stanford Health Care since 2016 and as a Trustee of WNET, New York’s public media station, since 2011. She was President of the Board of Catholic Charities CYO, the largest social services agency in the San Francisco Bay Area, from 2007 to 2011 and a member of that board from 1992 to 2013. She previously served as Trustee of the Pacific Select Funds from 2004 to 2005 and Trustee of the Montgomery Funds from 1992 to 2003. She worked from 1973 to 1990 at J.P. Morgan/Morgan Guaranty Trust doing international corporate finance and corporate lending, retiring as Managing Director and Head of the West Coast Office. Ms. Herbert has been on numerous non-profit boards, chairing investment and finance committees. She holds a double major in economics and communications from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Jane D. Carlin has been a Director of the Company since 2015 and Chair of the Risk Committee since 2016. Ms. Carlin has served as a Trustee of iShares Trust since 2015, Chair of the Risk Committee of iShares Trust since 2016, a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2015 and Chair of the Risk Committee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2016. Ms. Carlin served as Managing Director and Global Head of Financial Holding Company Governance & Assurance and the Global Head of Operational Risk Management of Morgan Stanley from 2006 to 2012. In addition, Ms. Carlin served as Managing Director and Global Head of the Bank Operational Risk Oversight Department of Credit Suisse Group from 2003 to 2006. Prior to that, Ms. Carlin served as Managing Director and Deputy General Counsel of Morgan Stanley. Ms. Carlin has over 30 years of experience in the financial sector and has served in a number of legal, regulatory, and risk management positions. Ms. Carlin has served as an Independent Director on the Board of PHH Corporation since 2012 and as a Director of The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. since 2016. She previously served as a Director on the Boards of Astoria Financial Corporation and Astoria Bank. Ms. Carlin was appointed by the United States Treasury to the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security, where she served as Chairperson from 2010 to 2012 and Vice Chair and Chair of the Cyber Security Committee from 2009 to 2010. Ms. Carlin has a BA degree in political science from State University of New York at Stony Brook and a JD degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Charles A. Hurty has been a Director of the Company since 2005 and Chair of the Audit Committee of the Company since 2006. Mr. Hurty has served as a Trustee of iShares Trust since 2005, Chair of the Audit Committee of iShares Trust since 2006 and a Trustee and Chair of the Audit Committee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2011. Mr. Hurty served as a Director of iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF, Inc. from 2010 to 2015. In addition, Mr. Hurty has served as Director of the SkyBridge Alternative Investments Multi-Adviser Hedge Fund Portfolios LLC (formerly, Citigroup Alternative Investments Multi-Adviser Hedge Fund Portfolios LLC) since 2002. He was a Director of the GMAM Absolute Return Strategy Fund from 2002 to 2015 and was a Director of the CSFB Alternative Investment Funds from 2005 to December 2009, when the funds were liquidated. Mr. Hurty was formerly a Partner at KPMG, LLP from 1968 to 2001. Mr. Hurty has a BS degree in accounting from the University of Kansas.
34

 


John E. Kerrigan has been a Director of the Company since 2005 and Chair of the Securities Lending Committee of the Company since 2016. Mr. Kerrigan served as Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee of the Company from 2010 to 2012 and Chair of the Fixed Income Plus Committee of the Company from 2012 to 2015. Mr. Kerrigan has served as a Trustee of iShares Trust since 2005, Chair of the Fixed Income Plus Committee of iShares Trust from 2012 to 2015, Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee of iShares Trust from 2010 to 2012, Chair of the Securities Lending Committee of iShares Trust since 2016, a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2011, Chair of the Fixed Income Plus Committee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust from 2012 to 2015, Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust from 2011 to 2012 and Chair of the Securities Lending Committee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2016. Mr. Kerrigan served as a Director of iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF, Inc. from 2010 to 2015. Mr. Kerrigan has served as Chief Investment Officer of Santa Clara University since 2002. Mr. Kerrigan was formerly a Managing Director at Merrill Lynch & Co., including the following responsibilities: Managing Director, Institutional Client Division, Western United States. Mr. Kerrigan has been a Trustee, since 2008, of Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton, CA, and Director, since 1999, of The BASIC Fund (Bay Area Scholarships for Inner City Children). Mr. Kerrigan has a BA degree from Boston College and is a Chartered Financial Analyst Charterholder.
John E. Martinez has been a Director of the Company since 2003 and Chair of the Fixed Income Plus Committee of the Company since 2016. Mr. Martinez served as Chair of the Securities Lending Committee of the Company from 2012 to 2015. Mr. Martinez has served as a Trustee of iShares Trust since 2003, Chair of the Securities Lending Committee of iShares Trust from 2012 to 2015, Chair of the Fixed Income Plus Committee of iShares Trust since 2016, a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2011, Chair of the Securities Lending Committee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust from 2012 to 2015 and Chair of the Fixed Income Plus Committee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2016. Mr. Martinez served as a Director of iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF, Inc. from 2010 to 2015. Mr. Martinez is a Director of FirstREX Agreement Corp. (formerly EquityRock, Inc.), providing governance oversight and consulting services to this privately held firm that develops products and strategies for homeowners in managing the equity in their homes. Mr. Martinez previously served as Director of Barclays Global Investors (BGI) UK Holdings, where he provided governance oversight representing BGI’s shareholders (Barclays PLC, BGI management shareholders) through oversight of BGI’s worldwide activities. Mr. Martinez also previously served as Co-Chief Executive Officer of the Global Index and Markets Group of BGI, Chairman of Barclays Global Investor Services and Chief Executive Officer of the Capital Markets Group of BGI. From 2003 to 2012, he was a Director and Executive Committee Member for Larkin Street Youth Services, providing governance oversight and strategy development to an agency that provides emergency and transitional housing, healthcare, education, job and life skills training to homeless youth. He now serves on the Larkin Street Honorary Board. From 2010 to 2016, Mr. Martinez served as a Director for Reading Partners, an organization committed to making all children literate through one-on-one tutoring of students in grades K-4 who are not yet reading at grade level. Mr. Martinez has an AB degree in economics from The University of California, Berkeley and holds an MBA degree in finance and statistics from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Madhav V. Rajan has been a Director of the Company since 2011 and Chair of the Equity Plus Committee and 15(c) Committee of the Company since 2016. Mr. Rajan served as Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee of the Company in 2016 and Chair of the 15(c) Committee of the Company from 2012 to 2015. Mr. Rajan has served as a Trustee of iShares Trust since 2011, Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee of iShares Trust in 2016, Chair of the 15(c) Committee of iShares Trust from 2012 to 2015 and Chair of the Equity Plus Committee and 15(c) Committee of iShares Trust since 2016, a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2011, Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust in 2016, Chair of the 15(c) Committee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust from 2012 to 2015 and Chair of the Equity Plus Committee and 15(c) Committee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2016. Mr. Rajan served as a Director of iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF, Inc. from 2011 to 2015. Mr. Rajan is the Robert K. Jaedicke Professor of Accounting at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He has taught accounting for over 25 years to undergraduate, MBA and law students, as well as to senior executives. From 2010 to 2016, Mr. Rajan served as the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and head of the MBA Program at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Mr. Rajan served as editor of “The Accounting Review” from 2002 to 2008 and is co-author of “Cost Accounting: A Managerial Emphasis,” a leading cost accounting textbook. Mr. Rajan holds MS and Ph.D. degrees in Accounting from Carnegie Mellon University.
Drew E. Lawton has been an Advisory Board Member of the Company since 2016. Mr. Lawton has served as an Advisory Board Member of iShares Trust since 2016 and an Advisory Board Member of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2016. Mr. Lawton served as Director of Principal Funds, Inc., Principal Variable Contracts Funds, Inc. and Principal Exchange-Traded Funds from March 2016 through October 2016. Mr. Lawton served in various capacities at New York Life Insurance Company from February 2010 to December 2015, most recently as a Senior Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of New York Life Investment Management. From 2008 to 2010, Mr. Lawton was the President of Fridson Investment Advisors, LLC. Mr. Lawton
35

 


previously held multiple roles at Fidelity Investments from 1997 to 2008. Mr. Lawton has a BA degree in Administrative Science from Yale University and an MBA from University of North Texas.
Board – Leadership Structure and Oversight Responsibilities
Overall responsibility for oversight of the Fund rests with the Board. The Board has engaged BFA to manage the Fund on a day-to-day basis. The Board is responsible for overseeing BFA and other service providers in the operations of the Fund in accordance with the provisions of the 1940 Act, applicable provisions of state and other laws and the Company’s charter. The Board is currently composed of eight members, six of whom are Independent Directors. The Board currently conducts regular in person meetings five times a year. In addition, the Board frequently holds special in person or telephonic meetings or informal conference calls to discuss specific matters that may arise or require action between regular meetings. The Independent Directors meet regularly outside the presence of management, in executive session or with other service providers to the Company.
The Board has appointed an Independent Director to serve in the role of Board Chair. The Board Chair’s role is to preside at all meetings of the Board and to act as a liaison with service providers, officers, attorneys, and other Directors generally between meetings. The Board Chair may also perform such other functions as may be delegated by the Board from time to time. The Board has established seven standing Committees: a Nominating and Governance Committee, an Audit Committee, a 15(c) Committee, a Securities Lending Committee, a Risk Committee, an Equity Plus Committee and a Fixed Income Plus Committee to assist the Board in the oversight and direction of the business and affairs of the Fund, and from time to time the Board may establish ad hoc committees or informal working groups to review and address the policies and practices of the Fund with respect to certain specified matters. The Chair of each standing Committee is an Independent Director. The role of the Chair of each Committee is to preside at all meetings of the Committee and to act as a liaison with service providers, officers, attorneys and other Directors between meetings. Each standing Committee meets regularly to conduct the oversight functions delegated to the Committee by the Board and reports its finding to the Board. The Board and each standing Committee conduct annual assessments of their oversight function and structure. The Board has determined that the Board’s leadership structure is appropriate because it allows the Board to exercise independent judgment over management and it allocates areas of responsibility among committees of Independent Directors and the full Board to enhance effective oversight.
Day-to-day risk management with respect to the Fund is the responsibility of BFA or other service providers (depending on the nature of the risk), subject to the supervision of BFA. The Fund is subject to a number of risks, including investment, compliance, operational, reputational, counterparty and valuation risks, among others. While there are a number of risk management functions performed by BFA and other service providers, as applicable, it is not possible to identify and eliminate all of the risks applicable to the Fund. The Directors have an oversight role in this area, satisfying themselves that risk management processes and controls are in place and operating effectively. Risk oversight forms part of the Board’s general oversight of the Fund and is addressed as part of various Board and committee activities. In some cases, risk management issues are specifically addressed in presentations and discussions. For example, BFA has an independent dedicated Risk and Quantitative Analysis (“RQA”) Group that assists BFA in managing fiduciary and corporate risks, including investment, operational, counterparty credit and enterprise risk. Representatives of the RQA Group meet with the Board to discuss their analysis and methodologies, as well as specific risk topics such as operational and counterparty risks relating to the Fund. The Board, directly or through a committee, also reviews reports from, among others, management and the independent registered public accounting firm for the Company, as appropriate, regarding risks faced by the Fund and management’s risk functions. The Board has appointed a Chief Compliance Officer who oversees the implementation and testing of the Company's compliance program, including assessments by independent third parties, and reports to the Board regarding compliance matters for the Company and its principal service providers. In testing and maintaining the compliance program, the Chief Compliance Officer (and his or her delegates) assesses key compliance risks affecting the Fund, and addresses them in periodic reports to the Board. In addition, the Audit Committee meets with both the Fund's independent registered public accounting firm and BFA’s internal audit group to review risk controls in place that support the Fund as well as test results. Board oversight of risk is also performed as needed between meetings through communications between BFA and the Board. The Independent Directors have engaged independent legal counsel to assist them in performing their oversight responsibilities. From time to time, the Board may modify the manner in which it conducts risk oversight. The Board’s oversight role does not make it a guarantor of the Fund's investment performance or other activities.
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Committees of the Board of Directors.  The members of the Audit Committee are Charles A. Hurty (Chair), John E. Kerrigan and Madhav V. Rajan. The purposes of the Audit Committee are to assist the Board (i) in its oversight of the Company's accounting and financial reporting principles and policies and related controls and procedures maintained by or on behalf of the Company; (ii) in its oversight of the Company's financial statements and the independent audit thereof; (iii) in selecting, evaluating and, where deemed appropriate, replacing the independent accountants (or nominating the independent accountants to be proposed for shareholder approval in any proxy statement); (iv) in evaluating the independence of the independent accountants; (v) in complying with legal and regulatory requirements that relate to the Company's accounting and financial reporting, internal controls, compliance controls and independent audits; and (vi) to assume such other responsibilities as may be delegated by the Board. The Audit Committee met ___ times during the fiscal year ended _______.
The members of the Nominating and Governance Committee are Cecilia H. Herbert (Chair), Jane D. Carlin, John E. Martinez and Madhav V. Rajan, each of whom is an Independent Director. The Nominating and Governance Committee nominates individuals for Independent Director membership on the Board. The Nominating and Governance Committee functions include, but are not limited to, the following: (i) reviewing the qualifications of any person properly identified or nominated to serve as an Independent Director; (ii) recommending to the Board and current Independent Directors the nominee(s) for appointment as an Independent Director by the Board and current Independent Directors and/or for election as Independent Directors by shareholders to fill any vacancy for a position of Independent Director(s) on the Board; (iii) recommending to the Board and current Independent Directors the size and composition of the Board and Board committees and whether they comply with applicable laws and regulations; (iv) recommending a current Independent Director to the Board and current Independent Directors to serve as Board Chair; (v) periodic review of the Board's retirement policy; and (vi) recommending an appropriate level of compensation for the Independent Directors for their services as Directors, members or chairpersons of committees of the Board, Board Chair and any other positions as the Nominating and Governance Committee considers appropriate. The Nominating and Governance Committee does not consider Board nominations recommended by shareholders (acting solely in their capacity as a shareholder and not in any other capacity). The Nominating and Governance Committee met ___ times during the fiscal year ended _______.
Each Independent Director serves on the 15(c) Committee. The Chair of the 15(c) Committee is Madhav V. Rajan. The principal responsibilities of the 15(c) Committee are to support, oversee and organize on behalf of the Board the process for the annual review and renewal of the Company's advisory and sub-advisory agreements. These responsibilities include: (i) meeting with BlackRock, Inc. in advance of the Board meeting at which the Company's advisory and sub-advisory agreements are to be considered to discuss generally the process for providing requested information to the Board and the format in which information will be provided; and (ii) considering and discussing with BlackRock, Inc. such other matters and information as may be necessary and appropriate for the Board to evaluate the investment advisory and sub-advisory agreements of the Company. The 15(c) Committee met ___ times during the fiscal year ended _______.
The members of the Securities Lending Committee are John E. Kerrigan (Chair), Jane D. Carlin and Madhav V. Rajan, each of whom is an Independent Director. The principal responsibilities of the Securities Lending Committee are to support, oversee and organize on behalf of the Board the process for oversight of the Company's securities lending activities. These responsibilities include: (i) requesting that certain information be provided to the Committee for its review and consideration prior to such information being provided to the Board; (ii) considering and discussing with BlackRock, Inc. such other matters and information as may be necessary and appropriate for the Board to oversee the Company's securities lending activities and make required findings and approvals; and (iii) providing a recommendation to the Board regarding the annual approval of the Company's Securities Lending Guidelines and the required findings with respect to, and annual approval of, the Company's agreement with the lending agent. The Securities Lending Committee met ___ times during the fiscal year ended _______.
The members of the Equity Plus Committee are Madhav V. Rajan (Chair), Charles A. Hurty and John E. Kerrigan, each of whom is an Independent Director. The principal responsibilities of the Equity Plus Committee are to support, oversee and organize on behalf of the Board the process for oversight of Company performance and related matters for equity funds. These responsibilities include: (i) reviewing quarterly reports regarding Company performance, secondary market trading and changes in net assets to identify any matters that should be brought to the attention of the Board; and (ii) considering any performance or investment related matters as may be delegated to the Committee by the Board from time to time and providing a report or recommendation to the Board as appropriate. The Equity Plus Committee met ___ times during the fiscal year ended _______.
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The members of the Fixed Income Plus Committee are John E. Martinez (Chair) and Jane D. Carlin, each of whom is an Independent Director. The principal responsibilities of the Fixed Income Plus Committee are to support, oversee and organize on behalf of the Board the process for oversight of Company performance and related matters for fixed-income or multi-asset funds. These responsibilities include: (i) reviewing quarterly reports regarding Company performance, secondary market trading and changes in net assets to identify any matters that should be brought to the attention of the Board; and (ii) considering any performance or investment related matters as may be delegated to the Committee by the Board from time to time and providing a report or recommendation to the Board as appropriate. The Fixed Income Plus Committee met ___ times during the fiscal year ended _______.
The members of the Risk Committee are Jane D. Carlin (Chair), Charles A. Hurty and John E. Martinez, each of whom is an Independent Director. The principal responsibilities of the Risk Committee are to consider and organize on behalf of the Board risk related matters of the Fund so the Board may most effectively structure itself to oversee them. The Risk Committee commenced on January 1, 2016. The Risk Committee met ___ times during the fiscal year ended _______.
As the Chair of the Board, Cecilia H. Herbert may serve as an ex-officio member of each Committee.
The following table sets forth, as of December 31, 2016, the dollar range of equity securities beneficially owned by each Director and Advisory Board Member in the Fund and in other registered investment companies overseen by the Director or Advisory Board Member within the same family of investment companies as the Company. If a fund is not listed below, the Director or Advisory Board Member did not own any securities in that fund as of the date indicated above:
Name   Fund   Dollar Range of Equity
Securities in the Fund
  Aggregate Dollar Range
of Equity Securities in all
Registered Investment
Companies Overseen by
Director or Advisory
Board Member in Family of
Investment Companies
Robert S. Kapito   None   None   None
             
Mark Wiedman   iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF   $50,001-$100,000   Over $100,000
    iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
    iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares National Muni Bond ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares New York Muni Bond ETF   Over $100,000    
             
John E. Martinez   iShares Core MSCI Total International Stock ETF   $1-$10,000   Over $100,000
    iShares Core S&P 500 ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares Global Consumer Staples ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares MSCI All Country Asia ex Japan ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares MSCI EAFE ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Russell 1000 ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Russell 2000 ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares TIPS Bond ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
             
Cecilia H. Herbert   iShares California Muni Bond ETF   Over $100,000   Over $100,000
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Name   Fund   Dollar Range of Equity
Securities in the Fund
  Aggregate Dollar Range
of Equity Securities in all
Registered Investment
Companies Overseen by
Director or Advisory
Board Member in Family of
Investment Companies
    iShares China Large-Cap ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
    iShares Core Dividend Growth ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Core High Dividend ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Core MSCI Total International Stock ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Core S&P 500 ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Core S&P U.S. Growth ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
    iShares Core S&P U.S. Value ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
    iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares International Select Dividend ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares MSCI EAFE ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares MSCI Japan ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares National Muni Bond ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares U.S. Preferred Stock ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
             
Charles A. Hurty   iShares China Large-Cap ETF   $10,001-$50,000   Over $100,000
    iShares Core Dividend Growth ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core Growth Allocation ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core High Dividend ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core Moderate Allocation ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
    iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
    iShares Core S&P 500 ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core S&P U.S. Value ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol USA ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Global Energy ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Global Healthcare ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Global Tech ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares MSCI EAFE ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Russell 2000 ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares U.S. Basic Materials ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares U.S. Energy ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares U.S. Technology ETF   Over $100,000    
             
John E. Kerrigan   iShares MSCI ACWI ETF   $10,001-$50,000   Over $100,000
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Name   Fund   Dollar Range of Equity
Securities in the Fund
  Aggregate Dollar Range
of Equity Securities in all
Registered Investment
Companies Overseen by
Director or Advisory
Board Member in Family of
Investment Companies
    iShares MSCI ACWI ex U.S. ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Short-Term National Muni Bond ETF   Over $100,000    
             
Madhav V. Rajan   iShares Core Dividend Growth ETF   Over $100,000   Over $100,000
    iShares Core High Dividend ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core S&P 500 ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Russell 2000 ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Select Dividend ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares U.S. Preferred Stock ETF   Over $100,000    
             
Jane D. Carlin   iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF   $50,001-$100,000   Over $100,000
    iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
    iShares Global Tech ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
             
Drew E. Lawton   iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF   $50,001-$100,000   $50,001-$100,000
As of December 31, 2016, none of the Independent Directors, Advisory Board Members or their immediate family members owned beneficially or of record any securities of BFA (the Fund's investment adviser), the Distributor or any person controlling, controlled by or under common control with BFA or the Distributor.
Remuneration of Directors.
Effective January 1, 2017, each current Independent Director is paid an annual retainer of $325,000 for his or her services as a Board member to the BlackRock-advised Funds in the Exchange-Traded Fund Complex (prior to January 1, 2017, the annual retainer was $300,000), together with out-of-pocket expenses in accordance with the Board’s policy on travel and other business expenses relating to attendance at meetings. The annual retainer for services as an Advisory Board Member is the same as the annual retainer for services as a Board member.
The Independent Chair of the Boards is paid an additional annual retainer of $50,000. The Chair of each of the Equity Plus Committee, Fixed Income Plus Committee, Securities Lending Committee, Risk Committee, Nominating and Governance Committee and 15(c) Committee is paid an additional annual retainer of $25,000. The Chair of the Audit Committee is paid an additional annual retainer of $40,000. Cecilia H. Herbert waived the annual retainer for her service as the Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee. Each Independent Director that served as a director of subsidiaries of the Exchange-Traded Fund Complex is paid an additional annual retainer of $10,000 (plus an additional $1,772 paid annually to compensate for taxes due in the Republic of Mauritius in connection with such Director’s service on the boards of certain Mauritius-based subsidiaries).
The table below sets forth the compensation earned by each Independent Director, Interested Director and Advisory Board Member for services to the Fund for the fiscal year ended __________, 2017 and the aggregate compensation paid to them for services to the Exchange-Traded Fund Complex for the calendar year ended December 31, 2016.
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Name   iShares
MSCI Emerging
Markets ex China ETF
  Pension or
Retirement Benefits Accrued As
Part of Company
Expenses1
  Estimated Annual
Benefits Upon
Retirement1
  Total
Compensation
From the Fund
and Fund Complex2
Independent Directors:                
                 
Robert H. Silver3   $__   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   $ 81,250
John E. Kerrigan   __   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   325,000
Charles A. Hurty   __   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   340,000
Cecilia H. Herbert   __   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   361,764
John E. Martinez   __   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   336,764
Madhav V. Rajan   __   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   325,000
Jane D. Carlin   __   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   325,000
                 
Interested Directors:                
                 
Robert S. Kapito   $__   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   $ 0
Mark Wiedman   __   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   0
                 
Advisory Board Member:                
                 
Drew E. Lawton   $__   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   $75,000 4

1 No Director or officer is entitled to any pension or retirement benefits from the Company.
2 Includes compensation for service on the Boards of Trustees for iShares Trust and iShares U.S. ETF Trust and the Board of Directors of iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF, Inc.
3 Served as an Independent Director through March 31, 2016.
4 Total compensation is shown for Drew E. Lawton for the period from October 18, 2016 (date of his appointment to the Advisory Board of the Company) to December 31, 2016.
Control Persons and Principal Holders of Securities.  Ownership information is not provided for the Fund, as it has not commenced operations as of the date of this SAI.
Potential Conflicts of Interest.  The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (“PNC”) has a significant economic interest in BlackRock, Inc., the parent of BFA, the Fund's investment adviser. BlackRock, Inc. and PNC are considered to be affiliated persons of one another under the 1940 Act. Certain activities of BFA, BlackRock, Inc. and their affiliates (collectively, “BlackRock”) and PNC and its affiliates (collectively, “PNC” and together with BlackRock, “Affiliates”), with respect to the Fund and/or other accounts managed by BlackRock or PNC, may give rise to actual or perceived conflicts of interest such as those described below.
BlackRock is one of the world's largest asset management firms. PNC is a diversified financial services organization spanning the retail, business and corporate markets. BlackRock, PNC and their respective affiliates (including, for these purposes, their directors, partners, trustees, managing members, officers and employees), including the entities and personnel who may be involved in the investment activities and business operations of the Fund, are engaged worldwide in businesses, including managing equities, fixed-income securities, cash and alternative investments, and banking and other financial services, and have interests other than that of managing the Fund. These are considerations of which investors in the Fund should be aware, and which may cause conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. These businesses and interests include potential multiple advisory, transactional, financial and other relationships with, or interests in, companies, and interests in securities or other instruments that may be purchased or sold by the Fund.
BlackRock and the other Affiliates have proprietary interests in, and may manage or advise with respect to, accounts or funds (including separate accounts and other funds and collective investment vehicles) that have investment objectives similar to those of the Fund and/or that engage in transactions in the same types of securities, currencies and instruments as the Fund. One or more Affiliates are also major participants in the global currency, equities, swap and fixed-income markets, in each case, for the accounts of customers and, in some cases, on a proprietary basis. As such, one or more Affiliates are or may be actively engaged in transactions in the same securities, currencies, and instruments in which the Fund invests. Such
41

 


activities could affect the prices and availability of the securities, currencies, and instruments in which the Fund invests, which could have an adverse impact on the Fund's performance. Such transactions, particularly in respect of most proprietary accounts or client accounts, will be executed independently of the Fund's transactions and thus at prices or rates that may be more or less favorable than those obtained by the Fund.
When BlackRock and the other Affiliates seek to purchase or sell the same assets for their managed accounts, including the Fund, the assets actually purchased or sold may be allocated among the accounts on a basis determined in their good faith discretion to be equitable. In some cases, this system may adversely affect the size or price of the assets purchased or sold for the Fund. In addition, transactions in investments by one or more other accounts managed by BlackRock or the other Affiliates may have the effect of diluting or otherwise disadvantaging the values, prices or investment strategies of the Fund, particularly, but not limited to, with respect to small-capitalization, emerging market or less liquid strategies. This may occur when investment decisions regarding the Fund are based on research or other information that is also used to support decisions for other accounts. When BlackRock or the other Affiliates implement a portfolio decision or strategy on behalf of another account ahead of, or contemporaneously with, similar decisions or strategies for the Fund, market impact, liquidity constraints, or other factors could result in the Fund receiving less favorable trading results and the costs of implementing such decisions or strategies could be increased or the Fund could otherwise be disadvantaged. BlackRock or the other Affiliates may, in certain cases, elect to implement internal policies and procedures designed to limit such consequences, which may cause the Fund to be unable to engage in certain activities, including purchasing or disposing of securities, when it might otherwise be desirable for it to do so.
Conflicts may also arise because portfolio decisions regarding the Fund may benefit other accounts managed by BlackRock or the other Affiliates. For example, the sale of a long position or establishment of a short position by the Fund may impair the price of the same security sold short by (and therefore benefit) one or more Affiliates or their other accounts or funds, and the purchase of a security or covering of a short position in a security by the Fund may increase the price of the same security held by (and therefore benefit) one or more Affiliates or their other accounts or funds.
In certain circumstances, BlackRock, on behalf of the Fund, may seek to buy from or sell securities to another fund or account advised by BlackRock or an Affiliate. BlackRock may (but is not required to) effect purchases and sales between BlackRock clients or clients of Affiliates (“cross trades”), including the Fund, if BlackRock believes such transactions are appropriate based on each party's investment objectives and guidelines, subject to applicable law and regulation. There may be potential conflicts of interest or regulatory issues relating to these transactions which could limit BlackRock’s decision to engage in these transactions for the Fund. BlackRock may have a potentially conflicting division of loyalties and responsibilities to the parties in such transactions. On any occasion when the Fund participates in a cross trade, BlackRock will comply with procedures adopted under applicable rules and SEC guidance.
BlackRock and the other Affiliates and their clients may pursue or enforce rights with respect to an issuer in which the Fund has invested, and those activities may have an adverse effect on the Fund. As a result, prices, availability, liquidity and terms of the Fund's investments may be negatively impacted by the activities of BlackRock or the other Affiliates or their clients, and transactions for the Fund may be impaired or effected at prices or terms that may be less favorable than would otherwise have been the case.
The results of the Fund’s investment activities may differ significantly from the results achieved by BlackRock and the other Affiliates for their proprietary accounts or other accounts (including investment companies or collective investment vehicles) managed or advised by them. It is possible that one or more Affiliate-managed accounts and such other accounts will achieve investment results that are substantially more or less favorable than the results achieved by the Fund. Moreover, it is possible that the Fund will sustain losses during periods in which one or more Affiliates or Affiliate-managed accounts achieve significant profits on their trading for proprietary or other accounts. The opposite result is also possible.
From time to time, the Fund may be restricted from purchasing or selling securities, or from engaging in other investment activities because of regulatory, legal or contractual requirements applicable to BlackRock or one or more Affiliates or other accounts managed or advised by BlackRock or the other Affiliates for clients worldwide, and/or the internal policies of BlackRock and the other Affiliates designed to comply with such requirements. As a result, there may be periods, for example, when BlackRock and/or one or more Affiliates will not initiate or recommend certain types of transactions in certain securities or instruments with respect to which BlackRock and/or one or more Affiliates are performing services or when position limits have been reached. For example, the investment activities of one or more Affiliates for their proprietary accounts and accounts under their management may limit the investment opportunities for the Fund in certain emerging
42

 


and other markets in which limitations are imposed upon the amount of investment, in the aggregate or in individual issuers, by affiliated foreign investors.
In connection with its management of the Fund, BlackRock may have access to certain fundamental analysis and proprietary technical models developed by one or more Affiliates. BlackRock will not be under any obligation, however, to effect transactions on behalf of the Fund in accordance with such analysis and models. In addition, neither BlackRock nor any of the other Affiliates will have any obligation to make available any information regarding their proprietary activities or strategies, or the activities or strategies used for other accounts managed by them, for the benefit of the management of the Fund and it is not anticipated that BlackRock will have access to such information for the purpose of managing the Fund. The proprietary activities or portfolio strategies of BlackRock and the other Affiliates, or the activities or strategies used for accounts managed by them or other customer accounts could conflict with the transactions and strategies employed by BlackRock in managing the Fund.
The Fund may be included in investment models developed by BlackRock and the other Affiliates for use by clients and financial advisors. The price, availability and liquidity of the Fund may be impacted by purchases and redemptions of the Fund by model-driven investment portfolios.
In addition, certain principals and certain employees of BlackRock are also principals or employees of Affiliates. As a result, these principals and employees may have obligations to such other entities or their clients and such obligations to other entities or clients may be a consideration of which investors in the Fund should be aware.
BlackRock may enter into transactions and invest in securities, instruments and currencies on behalf of the Fund in which clients of BlackRock or the other Affiliates, or, to the extent permitted by the SEC and applicable law, BlackRock or another Affiliate, serves as the counterparty, principal or issuer. In such cases, such party's interests in the transaction will be adverse to the interests of the Fund, and such party may have no incentive to assure that the Fund obtains the best possible prices or terms in connection with the transactions. In addition, the purchase, holding and sale of such investments by the Fund may enhance the profitability of BlackRock or the other Affiliates. One or more Affiliates may also create, write or issue derivatives for their clients, the underlying securities, currencies or instruments of which may be those in which the Fund invests or which may be based on the performance of the Fund. The Fund may, subject to applicable law, purchase investments that are the subject of an underwriting or other distribution by one or more Affiliates and may also enter into transactions with other clients of an Affiliate where such other clients have interests adverse to those of the Fund.
At times, these activities may cause departments of BlackRock or the other Affiliates to give advice to clients that may cause these clients to take actions adverse to the interests of the Fund. To the extent affiliated transactions are permitted, the Fund will deal with BlackRock and the other Affiliates (except with respect to BFA or affiliated sub-advisers of the Fund, as applicable) on an arms-length basis.
To the extent authorized by applicable law, one or more Affiliates may act as broker, dealer, agent, lender or adviser or in other commercial capacities for the Fund. It is anticipated that the commissions, markups, markdowns, financial advisory fees, underwriting and placement fees, sales fees, financing and commitment fees, brokerage fees, other fees, compensation or profits, rates, terms and conditions charged by an Affiliate will be in its view commercially reasonable, although each Affiliate, including its sales personnel, will have an interest in obtaining fees and other amounts that are favorable to the Affiliate and such sales personnel, which may have an adverse effect on the Fund.
Subject to applicable law, the Affiliates (and their personnel and other distributors) will be entitled to retain fees and other amounts that they receive in connection with their service to the Fund as broker, dealer, agent, lender, adviser or in other commercial capacities. No accounting to the Fund or its shareholders will be required, and no fees or other compensation payable by the Fund or its shareholders will be reduced by reason of receipt by an Affiliate of any such fees or other amounts.
When an Affiliate acts as broker, dealer, agent, adviser or in other commercial capacities in relation to the Fund, the Affiliate may take commercial steps in its own interests, which may have an adverse effect on the Fund. The Fund will be required to establish business relationships with its counterparties based on the Fund's own credit standing. Neither BlackRock nor any of the Affiliates will have any obligation to allow their credit to be used in connection with the Fund's establishment of its business relationships, nor is it expected that the Fund's counterparties will rely on the credit of BlackRock or any of the other Affiliates in evaluating the Fund's creditworthiness.
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Lending on behalf of the Fund is done by BTC pursuant to SEC exemptive relief, enabling BTC to act as securities lending agent to, and receive a share of securities lending revenues from, the Fund. An Affiliate will also receive compensation for managing the reinvestment of the cash collateral from securities lending. There are potential conflicts of interests in managing a securities lending program, including but not limited to: (i) BTC as lending agent may have an incentive to increase or decrease the amount of securities on loan or to lend particular securities in order to generate additional risk-adjusted revenue for BTC and its affiliates; and (ii) BTC as lending agent may have an incentive to allocate loans to clients that would provide more revenue to Blackrock. As described further below, BlackRock seeks to mitigate this conflict by providing its securities lending clients with equal lending opportunities over time in order to approximate pro-rata allocation.
As part of its securities lending program, BlackRock indemnifies certain clients and/or funds against a shortfall in collateral in the event of borrower default. BlackRock’s RQA calculates, on a regular basis, BlackRock’s potential dollar exposure to the risk of collateral shortfall upon counterparty default (“shortfall risk”) under the securities lending program for both indemnified and non-indemnified clients. On a periodic basis, RQA also determines the maximum amount of potential indemnified shortfall risk arising from securities lending activities (“indemnification exposure limit”) and the maximum amount of counterparty-specific credit exposure (“credit limits”) BlackRock is willing to assume as well as the program’s operational complexity. RQA oversees the risk model that calculates projected shortfall values using loan-level factors such as loan and collateral type and market value as well as specific borrower counterparty credit characteristics. When necessary, RQA may further adjust other securities lending program attributes by restricting eligible collateral or reducing counterparty credit limits. As a result, the management of the indemnification exposure limit may affect the amount of securities lending activity BlackRock may conduct at any given point in time and impact indemnified and non-indemnified clients by reducing the volume of lending opportunities for certain loans (including by asset type, collateral type and/or revenue profile).
BlackRock uses a predetermined systematic process in order to approximate pro-rata allocation over time. In order to allocate a loan to a portfolio: (i) BlackRock as a whole must have sufficient lending capacity pursuant to the various program limits (i.e. indemnification exposure limit and counterparty credit limits); (ii) the lending portfolio must hold the asset at the time a loan opportunity arrives; and (iii) the lending portfolio must also have enough inventory, either on its own or when aggregated with other portfolios into one single market delivery, to satisfy the loan request. In doing so, BlackRock seeks to provide equal lending opportunities for all portfolios, independent of whether BlackRock indemnifies the portfolio. Equal opportunities for lending portfolios does not guarantee equal outcomes. Specifically, short and long-term outcomes for individual clients may vary due to asset mix, asset/liability spreads on different securities, and the overall limits imposed by the firm.
Purchases and sales of securities and other assets for the Fund may be bunched or aggregated with orders for other BlackRock client and fund accounts. BlackRock, however, is not required to bunch or aggregate orders if portfolio management decisions for different accounts or funds are made separately, or if it determines that bunching or aggregating is not practicable or required, is not in the best interest of the Fund, or in cases involving client direction.
Prevailing trading activity frequently may make impossible the receipt of the same price or execution on the entire volume of securities purchased or sold. When this occurs, the various prices may be averaged, and the Fund will be charged or credited with the average price. Thus, the effect of the aggregation may operate on some occasions to the disadvantage of the Fund. In addition, under certain circumstances, the Fund will not be charged the same commission or commission equivalent rates in connection with a bunched or aggregated order.
BlackRock may select brokers (including, without limitation, Affiliates, to the extent permitted by applicable law) that furnish BlackRock, the Fund, other BlackRock client accounts or other Affiliates or personnel, directly or through correspondent relationships, with research or other appropriate services which provide, in BlackRock's view, appropriate assistance to BlackRock in the investment decision-making process (including with respect to futures, fixed-price offerings and OTC transactions). Such research or other services may include, to the extent permitted by law, research reports on companies, industries and securities; economic and financial data; financial publications; proxy analysis; trade industry seminars; computer data bases; research-oriented software and other services and products. Research or other services obtained in this manner may be used in servicing other BlackRock client accounts, including in connection with BlackRock client accounts other than those that pay commissions to the broker relating to the research or other service arrangements. Such products and services may disproportionately benefit other BlackRock client accounts relative to the Fund based on the amount of brokerage commissions paid by the Fund and such other BlackRock client accounts. For example, research or other services that are paid for through one client's commissions may not be used in managing that client's account. In addition, other BlackRock client accounts may receive the benefit, including disproportionate benefits, of economies of scale
44

 


or price discounts in connection with products and services that may be provided to the Fund and to such other BlackRock client accounts. To the extent that BlackRock uses soft dollars, it will not have to pay for those products and services itself.
BlackRock does not currently enter into arrangements to use the Fund's assets for, or participate in, soft dollars, although BlackRock may receive research that is bundled with the trade execution, clearing, and/or settlement services provided by a particular broker-dealer. To the extent that BlackRock receives research on this basis, many of the same conflicts related to traditional soft dollars may exist. For example, the research effectively will be paid by client commissions that also will be used to pay for the execution, clearing, and settlement services provided by the broker-dealer and will not be paid by BlackRock.
BlackRock may endeavor to execute trades through brokers who, pursuant to such arrangements, provide research or other services in order to ensure the continued receipt of research or other services BlackRock believes are useful in its investment decision-making process. BlackRock may from time to time choose not to engage in the above described arrangements to varying degrees. BlackRock may also enter into commission sharing arrangements under which BlackRock may execute transactions through a broker-dealer, including, where permitted, an Affiliate, and request that the broker-dealer allocate a portion of the commissions or commission credits to another firm that provides research to BlackRock. To the extent that BlackRock engages in commission sharing arrangements, many of the same conflicts related to traditional soft dollars may exist.
BlackRock may utilize certain electronic crossing networks (“ECNs”) (including, without limitation, ECNs in which BlackRock or the other Affiliates have an investment or other interest, to the extent permitted by applicable law) in executing client securities transactions for certain types of securities. These ECNs may charge fees for their services, including access fees and transaction fees. The transaction fees, which are similar to commissions or markups/markdowns, will generally be charged to clients and, like commissions and markups/markdowns, would generally be included in the cost of the securities purchased. Access fees may be paid by BlackRock even though incurred in connection with executing transactions on behalf of clients, including the Fund. In certain circumstances, ECNs may offer volume discounts that will reduce the access fees typically paid by BlackRock. BlackRock will only utilize ECNs consistent with its obligation to seek to obtain best execution in client transactions.
BlackRock has adopted policies and procedures designed to prevent conflicts of interest from influencing proxy voting decisions that it makes on behalf of advisory clients, including the Fund, and to help ensure that such decisions are made in accordance with BlackRock's fiduciary obligations to its clients. Nevertheless, notwithstanding such proxy voting policies and procedures, actual proxy voting decisions of BlackRock may have the effect of favoring the interests of other clients or businesses of other divisions or units of BlackRock and/or the other Affiliates, provided that BlackRock believes such voting decisions to be in accordance with its fiduciary obligations. For a more detailed discussion of these policies and procedures, see the Proxy Voting Policy section of this SAI.
It is also possible that, from time to time, BlackRock or the other Affiliates may, subject to compliance with applicable law, purchase and hold shares of the Fund. Increasing the Fund’s assets may enhance liquidity, investment flexibility and diversification and may contribute to economies of scale that tend to reduce the Fund's expense ratio. BlackRock and the other Affiliates reserve the right, subject to compliance with applicable law, to sell into the market or redeem in Creation Units through an Authorized Participant at any time some or all of the shares of the Fund acquired for their own accounts. A large sale or redemption of shares of the Fund by BlackRock or the other Affiliates could significantly reduce the asset size of the Fund, which might have an adverse effect on the Fund's liquidity, investment flexibility, portfolio diversification, expense ratio or ability to comply with the listing requirements for the Fund. BlackRock seeks to consider the effect of redemptions on the Fund and other shareholders in deciding whether to redeem its shares but is not obligated to do so and may elect not to do so.
It is possible that the Fund may invest in securities of, or engage in transactions with, companies with which an Affiliate has developed or is trying to develop investment banking relationships as well as securities of entities in which BlackRock or the other Affiliates has significant debt or equity investments or other interests or in which an Affiliate makes a market. The Fund also may invest in securities of, or engage in transactions with, companies to which an Affiliate provides or may in the future provide research coverage. Such investments or transactions could cause conflicts between the interests of the Fund and the interests of BlackRock, other clients of BlackRock or the other Affiliates. In making investment decisions for the Fund, BlackRock is not permitted to obtain or use material non-public information acquired by any division, department or Affiliate of BlackRock in the course of these activities. In addition, from time to time, the activities of an Affiliate may limit the Fund's
45

 


flexibility in purchases and sales of securities. When an Affiliate is engaged in an underwriting or other distribution of securities of an entity, BlackRock may be prohibited from purchasing or recommending the purchase of certain securities of that entity for the Fund. As indicated below, BlackRock or the other Affiliates may engage in transactions with companies in which BlackRock-advised funds or other clients of BlackRock or of an Affiliate have an investment.
BlackRock and Chubb Limited (“Chubb”), a public company whose securities are held by BlackRock-advised funds and other accounts, partially funded the creation of a re-insurance company (“Re Co”) pursuant to which each has approximately a 9.9% ownership interest and each has representation on the board of directors. Certain employees and executives of BlackRock have a less than ½ of 1% ownership interest in Re Co. BlackRock manages the investment portfolio of Re Co, which is held in a wholly-owned subsidiary. Re Co participates as a reinsurer with reinsurance contracts underwritten by subsidiaries of Chubb. An independent director of certain BlackRock-advised funds also serves as an independent director of Chubb and has no interest or involvement in the Re Co transaction.
BlackRock and the other Affiliates, their personnel and other financial service providers may have interests in promoting sales of the Fund. With respect to BlackRock and the other Affiliates and their personnel, the remuneration and profitability relating to services to and sales of the Fund or other products may be greater than remuneration and profitability relating to services to and sales of certain funds or other products that might be provided or offered. BlackRock and the other Affiliates and their sales personnel may directly or indirectly receive a portion of the fees and commissions charged to the Fund or its shareholders. BlackRock and its advisory or other personnel may also benefit from increased amounts of assets under management. Fees and commissions may also be higher than for other products or services, and the remuneration and profitability to BlackRock or the other Affiliates and such personnel resulting from transactions on behalf of or management of the Fund may be greater than the remuneration and profitability resulting from other funds or products.
BlackRock and the other Affiliates and their personnel may receive greater compensation or greater profit in connection with an account for which BlackRock serves as an adviser than with an account advised by an unaffiliated investment adviser. Differentials in compensation may be related to the fact that BlackRock may pay a portion of its advisory fee to its Affiliate, or relate to compensation arrangements, including for portfolio management, brokerage transactions or account servicing. Any differential in compensation may create a financial incentive on the part of BlackRock or the other Affiliates and their personnel to recommend BlackRock over unaffiliated investment advisers or to effect transactions differently in one account over another.
Third parties, including service providers to BlackRock or the Fund, may sponsor events (including, but not limited to, marketing and promotional activities and presentations, educational training programs and conferences) for registered representatives, other professionals and individual investors. There is a potential conflict of interest as such sponsorships may defray the costs of such activities to BlackRock, and may provide an incentive to BlackRock to retain such third parties to provide services to the Fund.
BlackRock and the other Affiliates may provide valuation assistance to certain clients with respect to certain securities or other investments and the valuation recommendations made for their clients' accounts may differ from the valuations for the same securities or investments assigned by the Fund's pricing vendors, especially if such valuations are based on broker-dealer quotes or other data sources unavailable to the Fund's pricing vendors. While BlackRock will generally communicate its valuation information or determinations to the Fund's pricing vendors and/or fund accountants, there may be instances where the Fund's pricing vendors or fund accountants assign a different valuation to a security or other investment than the valuation for such security or investment determined or recommended by BlackRock.
As disclosed in more detail in the Determination of Net Asset Value section of the Fund’s Prospectus and this SAI, when market quotations are not readily available or are believed by BlackRock to be unreliable, the Fund’s investments are valued at fair value by BlackRock in accordance with procedures adopted by the Board. When determining “fair value price,” BlackRock seeks to determine the price that the Fund might reasonably expect to receive from the current sale of that asset or liability in an arm’s-length transaction. The price generally may not be determined based on what the Fund might expect to receive for selling an asset or liability at a later time or if it holds the asset or liability to maturity. While fair value determinations will be based upon all available factors that BlackRock deems relevant at the time of the determination, and may be based on analytical values determined by BlackRock using proprietary or third-party valuation models, fair value represents only a good faith approximation of the value of an asset or liability. The fair value of one or more assets or liabilities may not, in retrospect, be the price at which those assets or liabilities could have been sold during the period in which the particular fair values were used in determining the Fund’s net asset value. As a result, the Fund’s sale or redemption of its shares at net asset value, at a
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time when a holding or holdings are valued by BlackRock (pursuant to Board-adopted procedures) at fair value, may have the effect of diluting or increasing the economic interest of existing shareholders and may affect the amount of revenue received by BlackRock with respect to services for which it receives an asset-based fee.
To the extent permitted by applicable law, the Fund may invest all or some of its short-term cash investments in any money market fund or similarly-managed private fund advised or managed by BlackRock. In connection with any such investments, the Fund, to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act, may pay its share of expenses of a money market fund or other similarly-managed private fund in which it invests, which may result in the Fund bearing some additional expenses.
BlackRock and the other Affiliates and their directors, officers and employees, may buy and sell securities or other investments for their own accounts and may have conflicts of interest with respect to investments made on behalf of the Fund. As a result of differing trading and investment strategies or constraints, positions may be taken by directors, officers, employees and Affiliates that are the same, different from or made at different times than positions taken for the Fund. To lessen the possibility that the Fund will be adversely affected by this personal trading, the Fund, BFA and BlackRock, Inc. have each adopted a code of ethics in compliance with Section 17(j) of the 1940 Act that restricts securities trading in the personal accounts of investment professionals and others who normally come into possession of information regarding the Fund's portfolio transactions. Each code of ethics is available by contacting BlackRock or by accessing the EDGAR Database on the SEC's Internet site at http://www.sec.gov, and copies may be obtained, after paying a duplicating fee, by e-mail at publicinfo@sec.gov or by writing the SEC's Public Reference Room, Washington, DC 20549-1520. Information about accessing documents on the SEC’s website may be obtained by calling the SEC at (800) SEC-0330.
BlackRock and the other Affiliates will not purchase securities or other property from, or sell securities or other property to, the Fund, except that the Fund may in accordance with rules or guidance adopted under the 1940 Act engage in transactions with accounts that are affiliated with the Fund as a result of common officers, directors, or investment advisers or pursuant to exemptive orders granted to the Fund and/or BlackRock by the SEC. These transactions would be effected in circumstances in which BlackRock determined that it would be appropriate for the Fund to purchase and another client of BlackRock to sell, or the Fund to sell and another client of BlackRock to purchase, the same security or instrument on the same day. From time to time, the activities of the Fund may be restricted because of regulatory requirements applicable to BlackRock or the other Affiliates and/or BlackRock's internal policies designed to comply with, limit the applicability of, or otherwise relate to such requirements. A client not advised by BlackRock would not be subject to some of those considerations. There may be periods when BlackRock may not initiate or recommend certain types of transactions, or may otherwise restrict or limit their advice in certain securities or instruments issued by or related to companies for which an Affiliate is performing investment banking, market making, advisory or other services or has proprietary positions. For example, when an Affiliate is engaged in an underwriting or other distribution of securities of, or advisory services for, a company, the Fund may be prohibited from or limited in purchasing or selling securities of that company. In addition, when BlackRock provides advisory or risk management services for a company, BlackRock may be prohibited from or limited in purchasing or selling securities of that company on behalf of the Fund, particularly where such services result in BlackRock obtaining material non-public information about the company (e.g., in connection with participation in a creditors’ committee). Similar situations could arise if personnel of BlackRock or the other Affiliates serve as directors of companies the securities of which the Fund wishes to purchase or sell. However, if permitted by applicable law, and where consistent with BlackRock’s policies and procedures (including the necessary implementation of appropriate information barriers), the Fund may purchase securities or instruments that are issued by such companies, are the subject of an underwriting, distribution or advisory assignment by an Affiliate, or are the subject of an advisory or risk management assignment by BlackRock, or where personnel of BlackRock or the other Affiliates are directors or officers of the issuer.
The investment activities of one or more Affiliates for their proprietary accounts and for client accounts may also limit the investment strategies and rights of the Fund. For example, in certain circumstances where the Fund invests in securities issued by companies that operate in certain regulated industries or in certain emerging or international markets, are subject to corporate or regulatory ownership definitions, or invest in certain futures and derivative transactions, there may be limits on the aggregate amount invested by Affiliates (including BlackRock) for their proprietary accounts and for client accounts (including the Fund) that may not be exceeded without the grant of a license or other regulatory or corporate consent or, if exceeded, may cause BlackRock, the Fund or other client accounts to suffer disadvantages or business restrictions.
If certain aggregate ownership thresholds are reached or certain transactions are undertaken, the ability of BlackRock on behalf of clients (including the Fund) to purchase or dispose of investments, or exercise rights or undertake business transactions, may be restricted by regulation or otherwise impaired. As a result, BlackRock, on behalf of clients (including the
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Fund), may limit purchases, sell existing investments, or otherwise restrict or limit the exercise of rights (including voting rights) when BlackRock, in its sole discretion, deems it appropriate in light of potential regulatory or other restrictions on ownership or other consequences resulting from reaching investment thresholds.
In those circumstances where ownership thresholds or limitations must be observed, BlackRock seeks to allocate limited investment opportunities equitably among clients (including the Fund), taking into consideration benchmark weight and investment strategy. When ownership in certain securities nears an applicable threshold, BlackRock may limit purchases in such securities to the issuer's weighting in the applicable benchmark used by BlackRock to manage the Fund. If client (including Fund) holdings of an issuer exceed an applicable threshold and BlackRock is unable to obtain relief to enable the continued holding of such investments, it may be necessary to sell down these positions to meet the applicable limitations. In these cases, benchmark overweight positions will be sold prior to benchmark positions being reduced to meet applicable limitations.
In addition to the foregoing, other ownership thresholds may trigger reporting requirements to governmental and regulatory authorities, and such reports may entail the disclosure of the identity of a client or BlackRock’s intended strategy with respect to such security or asset.
BlackRock and the other Affiliates may not serve as Authorized Participants in the creation and redemption of iShares ETFs, but may serve as authorized participants of third-party ETFs.
BlackRock may enter into contractual arrangements with third-party service providers to the Fund (e.g., custodians and administrators) pursuant to which BlackRock receives fee discounts or concessions in recognition of BlackRock’s overall relationship with such service providers. To the extent that BlackRock is responsible for paying these service providers out of its management fee, the benefits of any such fee discounts or concessions may accrue, in whole or in part, to BlackRock.
BlackRock or the other Affiliates own or have an ownership interest in certain trading, portfolio management, operations and/or information systems used by Fund service providers. These systems are, or will be, used by the Fund service provider in connection with the provision of services to accounts managed by BlackRock and funds managed and sponsored by BlackRock, including the Fund, that engage the service provider (typically the custodian). The Fund’s service provider remunerates BlackRock or the other Affiliates for the use of the systems. The Fund service provider’s payments to BlackRock or the other Affiliates for the use of these systems may enhance the profitability of BlackRock and the other Affiliates. BlackRock’s or the other Affiliates’ receipt of fees from a service provider in connection with the use of systems provided by BlackRock or the other Affiliates may create an incentive for BlackRock to recommend that the Fund enter into or renew an arrangement with the service provider.
Present and future activities of BlackRock and the other Affiliates, including BFA, in addition to those described in this section, may give rise to additional conflicts of interest.
Investment Advisory, Administrative and Distribution Services
Investment Adviser.  BFA serves as investment adviser to the Fund pursuant to an investment advisory agreement between the Company, on behalf of the Fund, and BFA. BFA is a California corporation indirectly owned by BlackRock, Inc. and is registered as an investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Under the investment advisory agreement, BFA, subject to the supervision of the Board and in conformity with the stated investment policies of the Fund, manages and administers the Company and the investment of the Fund’s assets. BFA is responsible for placing purchase and sale orders and providing continuous supervision of the investment portfolio of the Fund.
Pursuant to the investment advisory agreement, BFA may, from time to time, in its sole discretion and to the extent permitted by applicable law, appoint one or more sub-advisers, including, without limitation, affiliates of BFA, to perform investment advisory or other services with respect to the Fund. In addition, BFA may delegate certain of its investment advisory functions under the investment advisory agreement to one or more of its affiliates to the extent permitted by applicable law. BFA may terminate any or all sub-advisers or such delegation arrangements in its sole discretion upon appropriate notice at any time to the extent permitted by applicable law.
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BFA is responsible, under the investment advisory agreement, for substantially all expenses of the Fund, including the cost of transfer agency, custody, fund administration, legal, audit and other services. BFA is not responsible for, and the Fund will bear the cost of, interest expense, taxes, brokerage expenses and other expenses connected with the execution of portfolio securities transactions, distribution fees and extraordinary expenses.
For its investment advisory services to the Fund, BFA will be paid a management fee by the Fund, based on a percentage of the Fund’s average daily net assets, at an annual rate of ____%.
The investment advisory agreement with respect to the Fund continues in effect for two years from its effective date, and thereafter is subject to annual approval by (i) the Board, or (ii) the vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Fund, provided that in either event such continuance also is approved by a majority of the Board members who are not interested persons (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Fund, by a vote cast in person at a meeting called for the purpose of voting on such approval.
The investment advisory agreement with respect to the Fund is terminable without penalty, on 60 days’ notice, by the Board or by a vote of the holders of a majority of the Fund’s outstanding voting securities (as defined in the 1940 Act). The investment advisory agreement is also terminable upon 60 days’ notice by BFA and will terminate automatically in the event of its assignment (as defined in the 1940 Act).
Portfolio Managers.  As of _______, 2017, the individuals named as Portfolio Managers in the Fund's Prospectus were also primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of other iShares funds and certain other types of portfolios and/or accounts as follows:
Diane Hsiung        
Types of Accounts   Number   Total Assets
Registered Investment Companies   ____   $____
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles   ____   ____
Other Accounts   ____   ____
Accounts with Incentive-Based Fee Arrangements   ____   ____
    
Jennifer Hsui        
Types of Accounts   Number   Total Assets
Registered Investment Companies   ____   $____
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles   ____   ____
Other Accounts   ____   ____
Accounts with Incentive-Based Fee Arrangements   ____   ____
    
Alan Mason        
Types of Accounts   Number   Total Assets
Registered Investment Companies   ____   $____
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles   ____   ____
Other Accounts   ____   ____
Accounts with Incentive-Based Fee Arrangements   ____   ____
    
Greg Savage        
Types of Accounts   Number   Total Assets
Registered Investment Companies   ____   $____
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles   ____   ____
Other Accounts   ____   ____
Accounts with Incentive-Based Fee Arrangements   ____   ____
Each of the portfolios or accounts for which the Portfolio Managers are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management seeks to track the rate of return, risk profile and other characteristics of independent third-party indexes by either replicating
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the same combination of securities and other financial instruments that constitute those indexes or through a representative sampling of the securities and other financial instruments that constitute those indexes based on objective criteria and data. Pursuant to BFA’s policy, investment opportunities are allocated equitably among the Fund and other portfolios and accounts. For example, under certain circumstances, an investment opportunity may be restricted due to limited supply in the market, legal constraints or other factors, in which event the investment opportunity will be allocated equitably among those portfolios and accounts, including the Fund, seeking such investment opportunity. As a consequence, from time to time the Fund may receive a smaller allocation of an investment opportunity than it would have if the Portfolio Managers and BFA and its affiliates did not manage other portfolios or accounts.
Like the Fund, the other portfolios or accounts for which the Portfolio Managers are primarily responsible for the day-to-day portfolio management generally pay an asset-based fee to BFA or its affiliates, as applicable, for its advisory services. One or more of those other portfolios or accounts, however, may pay BFA or its affiliates an incentive-based fee in lieu of, or in addition to, an asset-based fee for its advisory services. A portfolio or account with an incentive-based fee would pay BFA or its affiliates a portion of that portfolio’s or account’s gains, or would pay BFA or its affiliates more for its services than would otherwise be the case if BFA or any of its affiliates meets or exceeds specified performance targets. Incentive-based fee arrangements could present an incentive for BFA or its affiliates to devote greater resources, and allocate more investment opportunities, to the portfolios or accounts that have those fee arrangements, relative to other portfolios or accounts, in order to earn larger fees. Although BFA and each of its affiliates have an obligation to allocate resources and opportunities equitably among portfolios and accounts and intend to do so, shareholders of the Fund should be aware that, as with any group of portfolios and accounts managed by an investment adviser and/or its affiliates pursuant to varying fee arrangements, including incentive-based fee arrangements, there is the potential for a conflict of interest that may result in the Portfolio Managers favoring those portfolios or accounts with incentive-based fee arrangements.
The tables below show, for each Portfolio Manager, the number of portfolios or accounts of the types set forth in the above tables and the aggregate of total assets in those portfolios or accounts with respect to which the investment management fees are based on the performance of those portfolios or accounts as of ________, 2017:
Diane Hsiung        
Types of Accounts   Number of Other Accounts
with Performance Fees
Managed by Portfolio Manager
  Aggregate
of Total Assets
Registered Investment Companies   ____   $____
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles   ____   ____
Other Accounts   ____   ____
    
Jennifer Hsui        
Types of Accounts   Number of Other Accounts
with Performance Fees
Managed by Portfolio Manager
  Aggregate
of Total Assets
Registered Investment Companies   ____   $____
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles   ____   ____
Other Accounts   ____   ____
    
Alan Mason        
Types of Accounts   Number of Other Accounts
with Performance Fees
Managed by Portfolio Manager
  Aggregate
of Total Assets
Registered Investment Companies   ____   $____
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles   ____   ____
Other Accounts   ____   ____
    
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Greg Savage        
Types of Accounts   Number of Other Accounts
with Performance Fees
Managed by Portfolio Manager
  Aggregate
of Total Assets
Registered Investment Companies   ____   $____
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles   ____   ____
Other Accounts   ____   ____
The discussion below describes the Portfolio Managers' compensation as of _______, 2017.
Portfolio Manager Compensation Overview
BlackRock, Inc.'s financial arrangements with its portfolio managers, its competitive compensation and its career path emphasis at all levels reflect the value senior management places on key resources. Compensation may include a variety of components and may vary from year to year based on a number of factors. The principal components of compensation include a base salary, a performance-based discretionary bonus, participation in various benefits programs and one or more of the incentive compensation programs established by BlackRock, Inc.
Base compensation. Generally, portfolio managers receive base compensation based on their position with the firm.
Discretionary Incentive Compensation. Discretionary incentive compensation is a function of several components: the performance of BlackRock, Inc., the performance of the portfolio manager's group within BlackRock, Inc. and the individual's performance and contribution to the overall performance of these portfolios and BlackRock, Inc.
Distribution of Discretionary Incentive Compensation. Discretionary incentive compensation is distributed to portfolio managers in a combination of cash and BlackRock, Inc. restricted stock units which vest ratably over a number of years. The BlackRock, Inc. restricted stock units, if properly vested, will be settled in BlackRock, Inc. common stock. Typically, the cash bonus, when combined with base salary, represents more than 60% of total compensation for the portfolio managers. Paying a portion of annual bonuses in stock puts compensation earned by a portfolio manager for a given year “at risk” based on BlackRock, Inc.'s ability to sustain and improve its performance over future periods.
Long-Term Incentive Plan Awards — From time to time, long-term incentive equity awards are granted to certain key employees to aid in retention, align their interests with long-term shareholder interests and motivate performance. Equity awards are generally granted in the form of BlackRock, Inc. restricted stock units that, once vested, settle in BlackRock, Inc. common stock.
Other Compensation Benefits. In addition to base compensation and discretionary incentive compensation, portfolio managers may be eligible to receive or participate in one or more of the following:
Incentive Savings Plans — BlackRock, Inc. has created a variety of incentive savings plans in which BlackRock, Inc. employees are eligible to participate, including a 401(k) plan, the BlackRock Retirement Savings Plan (“RSP”), and the BlackRock Employee Stock Purchase Plan (“ESPP”). The employer contribution components of the RSP include a company match equal to 50% of the first 8% of eligible pay contributed to the plan capped at $5,000 per year, and a company retirement contribution equal to 3-5% of eligible compensation up to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) limit ($265,000 for 2015). The RSP offers a range of investment options, including registered investment companies and collective investment funds managed by the firm. BlackRock, Inc. contributions follow the investment direction set by participants for their own contributions or, absent participant investment direction, are invested into an index target date fund that corresponds to, or is closest to, the year in which the participant attains age 65. The ESPP allows for investment in BlackRock, Inc. common stock at a 5% discount on the fair market value of the stock on the purchase date. Annual participation in the ESPP is limited to the purchase of 1,000 shares of common stock or a dollar value of $25,000 based on its fair market value on the Purchase Date. Diane Hsiung, Jennifer Hsui, Alan Mason and Greg Savage are each eligible to participate in these plans.
As of ________, 2017, the Portfolio Managers did not beneficially own shares of the Fund.
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Codes of Ethics.  The Company, BFA and the Distributor have adopted codes of ethics pursuant to Rule 17j-1 under the 1940 Act. The codes of ethics permit personnel subject to the codes of ethics to invest in securities, subject to certain limitations, including securities that may be purchased or held by the Fund. The codes of ethics are on public file with, and are available from, the SEC.
Anti-Money Laundering Requirements.  The Fund is subject to the USA PATRIOT Act (the “Patriot Act”). The Patriot Act is intended to prevent the use of the U.S. financial system in furtherance of money laundering, terrorism or other illicit activities. Pursuant to requirements under the Patriot Act, the Fund may request information from Authorized Participants to enable it to form a reasonable belief that it knows the true identity of its Authorized Participants. This information will be used to verify the identity of Authorized Participants or, in some cases, the status of financial professionals; it will be used only for compliance with the requirements of the Patriot Act.
The Fund reserves the right to reject purchase orders from persons who have not submitted information sufficient to allow the Fund to verify their identity. The Fund also reserves the right to redeem any amounts in the Fund from persons whose identity it is unable to verify on a timely basis. It is the Fund's policy to cooperate fully with appropriate regulators in any investigations conducted with respect to potential money laundering, terrorism or other illicit activities.
Administrator, Custodian and Transfer Agent.  State Street Bank and Trust Company (“State Street”) serves as administrator, custodian and transfer agent for the Fund under the Master Services Agreement and related Service Schedule (the “Service Module”). State Street’s principal address is 1 Iron Street, Boston, MA 02210. Pursuant to the Service Module for Fund Administration and Accounting Services with the Company, State Street provides necessary administrative, legal, tax and accounting and financial reporting services for the maintenance and operations of the Company and the Fund. In addition, State Street makes available the office space, equipment, personnel and facilities required to provide such services. Pursuant to the Service Module for Custodial Services with the Company, State Street maintains, in separate accounts, cash, securities and other assets of the Company and the Fund, keeps all necessary accounts and records and provides other services. State Street is required, upon the order of the Company, to deliver securities held by State Street and to make payments for securities purchased by the Company for the Fund. State Street is authorized to appoint certain foreign custodians or foreign custody managers for Fund investments outside the United States. Pursuant to the Service Module for Transfer Agency Services with the Company, State Street acts as a transfer agent for the Fund’s authorized and issued shares of beneficial interest, and as dividend disbursing agent of the Company. As compensation for these services, State Street receives certain out-of-pocket costs, transaction fees and asset-based fees which are accrued daily and paid monthly by BFA from its management fee.
Distributor.  The Distributor's principal address is 1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540. Shares are continuously offered for sale by the Fund through the Distributor or its agent only in Creation Units, as described in the Prospectus and below in the Creation and Redemption of Creation Units section of this SAI. Fund shares in amounts less than Creation Units are generally not distributed by the Distributor or its agent. The Distributor or its agent will arrange for the delivery of the Prospectus and, upon request, this SAI to persons purchasing Creation Units and will maintain records of both orders placed with it or its agents and confirmations of acceptance furnished by it or its agents. The Distributor is a broker-dealer registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “1934 Act”), and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”). The Distributor is also licensed as a broker-dealer in all 50 U.S. states, as well as in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia.
The Distribution Agreement for the Fund provides that it may be terminated at any time, without the payment of any penalty, on at least 60 days' prior written notice to the other party following (i) the vote of a majority of the Independent Directors, or (ii) the vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Fund. The Distribution Agreement will terminate automatically in the event of its assignment (as defined in the 1940 Act).
The Distributor may also enter into agreements with securities dealers (“Soliciting Dealers”) who will solicit purchases of Creation Units of Fund shares. Such Soliciting Dealers may also be Authorized Participants (as described below), Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) participants and/or investor services organizations.
BFA or its affiliates may, from time to time and from its own resources, pay, defray or absorb costs relating to distribution, including payments out of its own resources to the Distributor, or to otherwise promote the sale of shares.
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Payments by BFA and its Affiliates.  BFA and/or its affiliates (“BFA Entities”) may pay certain broker-dealers, registered investment advisers, banks and other financial intermediaries (“Intermediaries”) for certain activities related to the Fund, other iShares funds or exchange-traded products in general. BFA Entities make these payments from their own assets and not from the assets of the Fund. Although a portion of BFA Entities’ revenue comes directly or indirectly in part from fees paid by the Fund, other iShares funds or exchange-traded products, these payments do not increase the price paid by investors for the purchase of shares of, or the cost of owning, the Fund, other iShares funds or exchange-traded products. BFA Entities make payments for Intermediaries’ participation in activities that are designed to make registered representatives, other professionals and individual investors more knowledgeable about exchange-traded products, including the Fund and other iShares funds, or for other activities, such as participation in marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems (“Education Costs”). BFA Entities also make payments to Intermediaries for certain printing, publishing and mailing costs or materials relating to the Fund, other iShares funds or exchange-traded products (“Publishing Costs”). In addition, BFA Entities make payments to Intermediaries that make shares of the Fund, other iShares funds or exchange-traded products available to their clients, develop new products that feature iShares or otherwise promote the Fund, other iShares funds and exchange-traded products. BFA Entities may also reimburse expenses or make payments from their own assets to Intermediaries or other persons in consideration of services or other activities that the BFA Entities believe may benefit the iShares business or facilitate investment in the Fund, other iShares funds or exchange-traded products. Payments of the type described above are sometimes referred to as revenue-sharing payments.
Payments to an Intermediary may be significant to the Intermediary, and amounts that Intermediaries pay to your salesperson or other investment professional may also be significant for your salesperson or other investment professional. Because an Intermediary may make decisions about which investment options it will recommend or make available to its clients or what services to provide for various products based on payments it receives or is eligible to receive, such payments may create conflicts of interest between the Intermediary and its clients and these financial incentives may cause the Intermediary to recommend the Fund, other iShares funds or exchange-traded products over other investments. The same conflicts of interest and financial incentives exist with respect to your salesperson or other investment professional if he or she receives similar payments from his or her Intermediary firm.
In addition to the payments described above, BFA Entities have developed proprietary tools, calculators and related interactive or digital content that is made available through the www.BlackRock.com website at no additional cost to Intermediaries. BlackRock may configure these tools and calculators and localizes the content for Intermediaries as part of its customary digital marketing support and promotion of the Fund, other iShares funds, exchange-traded products and BlackRock mutual funds.
BFA Entities have contractual arrangements to make payments (in addition to payments for Education Costs or Publishing Costs) to one Intermediary, Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC (“FBS”). Effective June 4, 2016, this relationship was expanded to include National Financial Services, LLC (“NFS”), an affiliate of FBS. Pursuant to this special, long-term and significant arrangement (the “Marketing Program”), FBS, NFS and certain of their affiliates (collectively “Fidelity”) have agreed, among other things, to actively promote iShares funds to customers, investment professionals and other intermediaries an