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California and Massachusetts Propose Further Regulations

Written by Jay Gould and Peter Chess

In re-proposed custody rules, the California Department of Corporations (“DOC”) has reflected the most important aspects of the comment letter that Pillsbury provided on July 27, 2011, such that all transactions and short positions need not be disclosed in the quarterly account statements.  In general, the re-proposed custody rules define “custody,” and subject to certain limited exceptions, require that advisers with custody maintain the assets with a qualified custodian.  The re-proposed custody rules also specify details with regard to audits and require compliance by advisers with specific safeguards.   

The DOC also released proposed regulations that contain a successor to the private fund exemption, which are currently in the comment period.  Under the DOC’s proposed private adviser exemption, advisers would be eligible provided they: (i) have not violated securities laws; (ii) file periodic reports with the DOC; (iii) pay the existing investment adviser registration and renewal fees; and (iv) comply with additional safeguards when advising 3(c)(1) funds.  Additionally, under the proposed regulations, the exemption defines a private fund adviser as an investment adviser that provides advice only to qualifying private funds, which include 3(c)(1) and 3(c)(7) funds.  A grandfathering provision for private advisers is also included. 

The Massachusetts Securities Division released amendments similar to the DOC’s on January 18, 2012.  These amendments contain regulations that relate to the private fund exemption and custody requirements, among others.  The amendments, released after consideration of industry comments, make substantive changes to the definition of “institutional buyer,” re-propose a broadened private fund exemption that includes the introduction of a grandfathering provision, and propose requirements for advisers with discretion over, or custody of, client funds. 

The purpose of the Massachusetts amendments is to coordinate with the new rule adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission under the Dodd-Frank Act.  Also included in the amendments is an exemption from state registration for advisers that provide advice solely to private funds that qualify as 3(c)(1) or 3(c)(7) funds.