Securities Act of 1933 – Rule 486(b)
RESPONSE OF THE OFFICE OF CHIEF COUNSEL
IM Ref. No. 2011122949
Your letter dated April 10, 2012 requests our assurance that we would not recommend enforcement action to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) under Section 5(b) or Section 6(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) against Aberdeen Australia Equity Fund, Inc. (“IAF”), Aberdeen Chile Fund, Inc. (“CH”) and Aberdeen Global Income Fund, Inc. (“FCO”) (each, a “Fund,” and collectively, the “Funds”), each of which filed and had declared effective by the Commission a shelf registration statement on Form N-2 (“Registration Statement”), if a Fund files a post-effective amendment to its Registration Statement pursuant to Rule 486(b) under the Securities Act, under the circumstances set forth in your letter.
You state that each Fund is a closed-end management investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “Investment Company Act”). Each Fund filed and had declared effective by the Commission its Registration Statement pursuant to which it may issue common stock on a delayed basis in accordance with Rule 415(a)(1)(x) under the Securities Act and the positions of the Commission staff.1 Aberdeen Asset Management Asia Limited serves as the investment adviser to IAF and FCO, Aberdeen Asset Management Limited serves as the investment adviser to IAF and FCO and Aberdeen Asset Managers Limited serves as the investment adviser to CH and the subadviser to FCO. Each Fund’s common shares are registered under Section 12(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and are listed and traded on the NYSE Amex. IAF and FCO each has a fiscal year ending on October 31, and CH has a fiscal year ending on December 31.
You state that each Fund’s board of directors (the “Board”), including a majority of independent directors, has concluded that a continuously effective shelf registration statement would be beneficial to each Fund, its stockholders and potential investors. You state that each Fund, therefore, needs a continuously effective Registration Statement, and annually has filed post-effective amendments to its Registration Statement pursuant to Section 8(c) of the Securities Act (“Post-Effective Amendments”) to bring the Fund’s financial statements up to date or to make other non-material changes. You further state that each Fund, its stockholders and potential investors would benefit if Post-Effective Amendments filed for the purpose of bringing the Fund’s financial statements up to date or to make any other non-material changes were effective immediately, as permitted by Rule 486(b) under the Securities Act available to certain registered closed-end investment companies. You state that utilization of Rule 486(b) would help ensure that the Funds have the ability to raise capital as the opportunity arises, and could reduce expenses incurred by the Funds in the Post-Effective Amendment process. You further state that due to the limited purposes for which the Funds would use Rule 486(b), no erosion of investor protection would occur and investors could have faster access to important information about the Funds, including their updated financial information.
Rule 486(b) under the Securities Act, in relevant part, states that a post-effective amendment to a registration statement filed by a registered closed-end management investment company or business development company which makes periodic repurchase offers under Rule 23c-3 under the Investment Company Act (“Interval Fund”) shall become effective on the date on which it is filed with the Commission, provided that certain conditions are met. The conditions of Rule 486(b) require, among other things, that the post-effective amendment be filed for no purpose other than, among other things, bringing the financial statements up to date or making non-material changes, and that the registrant make certain representations concerning the purpose for which the amendment is filed.
In adopting Rule 486(b) in 1994, the Commission recognized that Interval Funds may have a need to raise capital continuously, and therefore need continuously effective registration statements and would benefit if certain filings could become effective automatically.2 The Commission staff in 1998 recognized that registered closed-end management investment companies such as the Funds, which are not Interval Funds, also may benefit from the flexibility to take advantage of favorable market conditions to raise additional capital through continuous or delayed offerings of their securities.3 You assert that the Funds and their shareholders also would benefit if the Funds’ Post-Effective Amendments that comply with the conditions of Rule 486(b) could become effective immediately pursuant to that Rule.
You represent that each Fund’s Post-Effective Amendments will comply with the conditions of Rule 486(b), and that each Fund will file a Post-Effective Amendment containing a prospectus pursuant to Section 8(c) of the Securities Act prior to any offering of its securities at a price below net asset value. You also represent that each Fund will sell newly issued shares at a price no lower than the sum of the Fund’s net asset value plus the per share commission or underwriting discount.4
Based on the facts and representations set forth in your letter, we would not recommend that the Commission take any enforcement action under Section 5(b) or Section 6(a) of the Securities Act against the Funds if the Funds file Post-Effective Amendments to their Registration Statements pursuant to Rule 486(b) under the Securities Act. This response expresses our view on enforcement action only and does not express any legal or interpretive conclusion on the issues presented. Because our position is based upon all of the facts and representations in your letter, any different facts or representations may require a different conclusion.5 We note that each Fund has acknowledged that the staff may withdraw any assurance granted in this letter if the staff finds that the Fund is misusing Rule 486(b) or for any other reason.
Michael S. Didiuk
1 See Nuveen Virginia Premium Income Municipal Fund, SEC Staff No-Action Letter (Oct. 6, 2006); Pilgrim America Prime Rate Trust, SEC Staff No-Action Letter (May 1, 1998) (“Pilgrim Letter”).
2 See Post-Effective Amendments to Investment Company Registration Statements, Investment Company Act Release No. 20486 (Aug. 24, 1994), n. 22 and accompanying text. An Interval Fund operates pursuant to a fundamental policy that requires the Interval Fund to make periodic offers to repurchase its common stock in an amount not less than five percent of the outstanding shares. See Rule 23c-3 under the Investment Company Act. These repurchase offers may create a need for the Interval Fund to replenish its assets by making a continuous or intermittent offering of its common stock. See Continuous or Delayed Offerings by Certain Closed-End Management Investment Companies; Automatic Effectiveness of Certain Registration Statements and Post-Effective Amendments, Investment Company Act Release No. 19391 (Apr. 7, 1993).
3 See Pilgrim Letter, supra note 1, at n. 12 and accompanying text.
4 See Pilgrim Letter, supra note 1, at n. 4 and accompanying text.
5 The Division of Investment Management generally permits third parties to rely on no-action or interpretive letters to the extent that the third party’s facts and circumstances are substantially similar to those described in the underlying request for a no-action or interpretive letter. See Informal Guidance Program for Small Entities, Investment Company Act Release No. 22587 (Mar. 27, 1997), n.20. In light of the very fact-specific nature of the Funds’ request, however, the position expressed in this letter applies only to the Funds, and no other entity may rely on this position. The staff is willing to consider similar requests from other registered closed-end management investment companies or business development companies.
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