In this, the twelfth installment of our review of the compliance requirements of new Rule 18f‑4, we leave the peripheral transactions addressed in the rule (i.e., delayed-delivery transactions, reverse repurchase agreements, and unfunded commitment agreements) and plunge into the core of the rule: “derivatives transactions” regulated by paragraph (c). To prepare for this, we need to understand some core concepts, including “derivatives transactions,” “derivatives risks” and “value-at-risk testing.”

We begin by seeking a bright line for separating investments not subject to Rule 18f-4 from those that may be. We find that whether a Fund has a future payment (or delivery) obligation is what matters the most when determining whether a particular transaction will be regulated as a derivatives transaction under Rule 18f-4. Continue Reading Derivatives that Are Not “Derivatives Transactions” under Rule 18f-4

The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) isn’t the only regulator actively facilitating environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) investment strategies. Last week saw major developments at the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) and the European Union (“EU”). The DOL removed potential roadblocks established by the previous administration, while the EU began implementing new disclosure regulations. On Monday, the acting chair of the SEC also continued her push for enhanced climate change and ESG disclosures. Continue Reading The DOL and the EU on ESG

This eleventh installment of our review of the compliance requirements of new Rule 18f‑4 as it applies to business development companies, closed-end funds and open-end funds other than money market funds (“Funds”) completes our discussion of unfunded commitment agreements. Here we consider what changes may be required for a Fund to comply with paragraph (e) of Rule 18f‑4. We suspect this may prove relatively easy for an open-end Fund. Continue Reading Compliance Checklist for Unfunded Commitment Agreements

This is the tenth installment of our review of the compliance requirements of new Rule 18f‑4 as it applies to business development companies, closed-end funds and open-end funds other than a money market fund (“Funds”). We have previously discussed the asset sufficiency risk posed by unfunded commitment agreements and the means by which paragraph (e) addresses this risk. This post will use these concepts to develop a working definition of when a firm or stand-by commitment should be treated as an unfunded commitment agreement. Continue Reading Identifying Unfunded Commitment Agreements

Our last blog post in this ESG series discussed the February 24, 2021 Statement on the Review of Climate-Related Disclosure from Commissioner Allison Herren Lee, the SEC’s Acting Chair, and the ESG Funds Investor Bulletin published by the SEC Office of Investor Education and Advocacy on February 26, 2021. Those regulatory developments were followed quickly last week by other messaging from the SEC on ESG matters. Continue Reading A Big Week for ESG at the SEC

This is the ninth installment of our review of the compliance requirements of new Rule 18f‑4. Our last post explained why unfunded commitment agreements present asset sufficiency risk but did not create leverage risk. In this post, we will explain how paragraph (e) of the new rule controls asset sufficiency risk, tracing its origins back to Release No. IC-10666 (“Release 10666”). Continue Reading Unfunded Commitment Agreements under Rule 18f-4: The Last Vestige of Release 10666

The SEC’s Acting Chair, Commissioner Allison Herren Lee, was a vocal critic of the SEC’s approach to environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) matters under former Chair Jay Clayton. She voted against the SEC’s 2020 guidance and amendments to Regulation S-K because they did not go far enough in requiring disclosure from public companies about climate change and diversity metrics, noting that climate risk is a new type of systemic risk of “colossal and potentially irreversible risk of staggering complexity” and arguing that “it’s time to consider how to get investors the diversity information they need to allocate their capital wisely.”  “Consistent, reliable, and comparable disclosures of the risks and opportunities related to sustainability measures, particularly climate risk,” she said, is material information that investors need in their decision-making process.

The Statement on the Review of Climate-Related Disclosure from Commissioner Lee and the ESG Funds Investor Bulletin from the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy released last week were thus not surprising. They were also likely only the first in a series of ESG-related actions to come from the SEC. Continue Reading ESG at the SEC: Hints of More to Come

In Episode 4 of our Podcast Series, Todd Zerega and Andrew Cross discuss the use of derivatives on cryptocurrencies by institutional investors. Specific attention is given to regulatory and product development considerations for registered investment advisors and fund sponsors, as well as technical considerations related to exchange-traded futures on bitcoin and other similar listed products.

As a supplement to the podcast, please see our recent blog post about the CFTC’s publication of weekly data about the volume of bitcoin futures trading and types of market participants that are entering into these trades.

Subject to Steve’s caveat regarding the definition of an “unfunded commitment agreement,” we continue our exploration of Rule 18f-4 with a focus on the treatment of such commitments under paragraph (e) of the new rule. Like paragraph (d), (e) applies only to business development companies, closed-end funds and open-end funds other than money market funds (“Funds”). We begin with a conceptual question: how can a contract to lend money and a contract to repay borrowed money both be “senior securities” under Section 18? Continue Reading Why Are Unfunded Commitment Agreements “Senior Securities?”

This is the seventh installment of Andrew Cross and my review of the compliance requirements of new Rule 18f‑4 and the first to deal with “unfunded commitment agreements.” Before plunging into the substance of paragraph (e) of Rule 18f-4, which regulates unfunded commitment agreements, I want to revisit a problem I have with the definition. My problem stems from trying to answer a basic question: Is a binding commitment to make a loan upon demand by the borrower, with stated principal and term and a fixed interest rate, an “unfunded commitment agreement?” Continue Reading Rule 18f-4 Still Has Commitment Issues