Are you an Investment Company?

Fund managers are dealing with Dodd-Frank and the requirements under the Investment Advisers Act made by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Of course, a fund manager needs to focus on other areas of financial regulation and enforcement by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Fund managers need to keep focused on how they comply with the Investment Company Act.

Section 3 of the Investment Company Act has this definition:

1. When used in this title, “investment company” means any issuer which–

A. is or holds itself out as being engaged primarily, or proposes to engage primarily, in the business of investing, reinvesting, or trading in securities;

B. is engaged or proposes to engage in the business of issuing face-amount certificates of the installment type, or has been engaged in such business and has any such certificate outstanding; or

C. is engaged or proposes to engage in the business of investing, reinvesting, owning, holding, or trading in securities, and owns or proposes to acquire investment securities having a value exceeding 40 percentum of the value of such issuer’s total assets (exclusive of Government securities and cash items) on an unconsolidated basis.

This leaves you with the tricky analysis of whether your investments are securities. To avoid that mess, most private funds look to two exemptions from the definition of “investment company”: 3(c)1 and 3(c)7.

Under 3(c)(1), the main limitations are that you have one hundred or fewer holders of beneficial interest in the fund and that you propose to sell them in a public offering. Under 3(c)(7) you can go beyond the 100 owners, but they need to be “qualified purchasers.” That means they need to have a big wallet.

One challenge for private funds who do not want to register under the Investment Advisers Act is that private fund is defined as an “issuer that would be an investment company as defined in Section 3 of  the Investment Company Act, but for section 3(c)(1) and section 3(c)(7) of that Act.”

There are other exemption available, but they are harder to fit under. You may have a trail of paper work stating that you fall under the section 3(c)(1) or section 3(c)(7) exemption, even though you could claim to fit under one of the other exemptions.

For example, 3(c)(5) is available for real estate funds:

Any person who is not engaged in the business of issuing redeemable securities, face-amount certificates of the installment type or periodic payment plan certificates, and who is primarily engaged in one or more of the following businesses: …  (C) purchasing or otherwise acquiring mortgages and other liens on and interest in real estate.

There are some additional limitations that come with this based on some SEC No Action letters. I’ll put some information together on that later.

Sources:

Image is Exchange hall, Copenhagen, Denmark, between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900, published by The Library of Congress

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