Dodd’s Solo View on Private Investment Funds

Senator Dodd

Senator Dodd did not forget about private investment funds. Tucked into page 366 of his 1366 page Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 is the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act.

This is largely the same language in the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act of 2009 contained in Dodd’s draft Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2009. He circulated that draft back in November to start negotiations with Republicans.

Venture Capital Fund Advisers

There is an exemption from registration for the “provision of investment advice relating to a venture capital fund.” The bill gives the SEC the responsibility for defining a “venture capital fund.”

Private Equity Fund Advisers

Unlike the bill passed by the House, Dodd proposes an exemption from registration or reporting requirements with respect to advice given to private equity funds. The SEC is tasked with defining the term “private equity fund.”  Unlike venture capital funds, private equity funds will be subject to SEC record-keeping requirements to the extent the SEC determines it is “necessary and appropriate in the public interest and for the protection of investors.”

State versus Federal Registration of Investment Advisers

Section 410 of the bill raises the federal registration level to $100 million from $25 million. So investment advisers and funds of less than $100 million will be subject to state regulators instead of federal regulators. David Tittsworth, executive director of the Investment Adviser Association, said the change would shift about 4,200 of the 11,000 money managers now registered at the SEC to state regulation.

Accredited Investors

The Dodd bill would change the threshold for “accredited investor.” Currently, the threshold is $200,000 income for a natural person (or $300,000 for a couple) or $1,000,000 in assets. The SEC would have the power to increase those levels  as “appropriate and in the public interest, in light of price inflation since those figures were determined.”

The Comptroller General is also directed to study the financial thresholds for investor eligibility in private funds.

Regulation D Offerings

Separately in the bill, Senator Dodd is proposing to tinker with exemption from registration under Rule 506. Section 926 of his bill, gives the SEC the power to designate certain Rule 506 offerings to not be “covered securities.”  That would get the states more involved in the review and regulation of private offerings, including private fund offerings.

Now What?

This bill still has a long way to go in the Senate. Most reports indicate that private funds are not one of the hotly contested issues in the bill. Assuming the Senate passes the bill, they will need to negotiate the differences between the House and Senate. Assuming it passes, it looks like a big chunk of work would be dropped onto the SEC to define the fund types.

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