Articles Posted in Private Equity

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Most 3(c)(1) private equity and hedge funds are impacted; exempt venture capital funds are not impacted.

Effective August 16, 2021, the dollar thresholds specified in the definition of “qualified client” under Rule 205-3 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (“Advisers Act”) will increase (i) from $2.1 million to $2.2 million (net worth test) and (ii) from $1 million to $1.1 million (assets under management (AUM) test).  Clients that enter into investment advisory agreements (and existing fund investors that make additional fund investments) in reliance on the net worth test prior to the effective date will be “grandfathered” in under the prior net worth threshold.  The increases are made pursuant to a five-year inflation adjustment required by section 205(e) of the Advisers Act (section 419 of the Dodd-Frank Act).  (The most recent prior change was effective August 15, 2016.)

Section 205(a)(1) of the Advisers Act generally restricts an investment adviser from entering into, extending, renewing, or performing any investment advisory contract that provides for compensation to the adviser based on a share of capital gains on, or capital appreciation of, the funds of a client (“performance compensation prohibition”).  Rule 205-3 of the Advisers Act provides a limited exemption from the performance compensation prohibition and permits investment advisers to receive performance-based compensation (incentive allocations, carry, carried interest, performance fee etc.) from “qualified clients.”

After August 16, a “qualified client” is a person that:

(i) has at least $1.1 million in assets under management with the investment adviser immediately after entering into the advisory contract (AUM test); or

(ii) has a net worth (in the case of a natural person client, together with assets held jointly with a spouse) that the investment adviser reasonably believes is in excess of $2.2 million immediately prior to entering into the advisory contract (net worth test).

As a reminder, the value of a natural person’s primary residence must not be included in net worth; indebtedness secured by the person’s primary residence, up to the estimated fair market value of the primary residence at the time the investment advisory contract is entered into, need not be counted as a liability toward net worth (except that debt acquired or a loan amount increased within 60 days before investment or contract execution date must be counted); and indebtedness that is secured by the person’s primary residence in excess of the estimated fair market value of the residence also must be counted as a liability.

A qualified client also includes both a “qualified purchaser” as defined in section 2(a)(51)(A) of the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “Investment Company Act”), and an investment adviser’s “knowledgeable employees.”  The newly revised definition will, therefore, affect certain private investment funds that rely on Section 3(c)(1) of the Investment Company Act (but not those funds relying on Section 3(c)(7)) and separately managed accounts that charge performance fees.

Advisory clients that established an advisory relationship (signed a contract) before the effective date of the new thresholds will be “grandfathered” in under the prior net worth threshold.  Investors in a private fund are considered, for these purposes, a client of the adviser (fund manager).  Therefore, future investments in a fund by the same investor who first invested in that fund before August 16 also will be grandfathered at the prior dollar thresholds. However, managers of section 3(c)(1) funds should update their subscription agreements and other offering documents to reflect the new qualified client threshold for new investors who first invest after August 16, 2021. In addition, notably, existing investors in a 3(c)(1) fund of funds (investor fund) that first invests in a 3(c)(1) fund (investee fund) after the effectiveness of a new threshold would nevertheless each have to be qualified client under the new thresholds because the investor fund’s investment in the investee fund would count as a new advisory relationship.

Private fund advisers (hedge fund, private equity and venture capital fund managers) that rely on the federal ‘private fund adviser” exemption from investment adviser registration will not be impacted, including with respect to their 3(c)(1) funds. The Adviser’s Act performance compensation prohibition applies only to registered investment advisers but does not apply to investment advisers relying on the federal private fund adviser exemption (so called “exempt reporting advisers”). Certain states (e.g., California, Texas), however, mandate under their state equivalent private fund adviser exemptions that even exempt reporting advisers, other than exempt venture capital fund advisers, only charge a performance fee to qualified clients with respect to their 3(c)(1) funds. Therefore, while private fund advisers that qualify as “venture capital fund advisers” will not be impacted by the new qualified client thresholds, exempt reporting advisers that are private equity or hedge fund managers will have to comply with the qualified client standard in their 3(c)(1) funds under certain state laws.

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Please contact your attorney at Pillsbury’s Investment Funds Group for additional information.

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We urge our clients to consult Pillsbury’s comprehensive COVID-19 Resource Center for information regarding Responding to a Global Crisis, Business Interruption, Cybersecurity, Employer Concerns and other general matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also recommend the following specific measures to mitigate risks of business interruption and regulatory noncompliance resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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This is a reminder about the upcoming annual compliance deadlines that may or may not apply to you.

Please click HERE to open a summary chart of the filing deadlines.

Please feel free to contact us if you have questions or need assistance with any of these filings.

Sincerely,

Pillsbury IFIM Group

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In a press release issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 20, 2018, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) announced its 2019 Examination Priorities.

This year’s examination priorities, although not exhaustive, are divided into 6 categories:

  1. Compliance and risk at registrants responsible for critical market infrastructure;
  2. Matters of importance to retail investors, including seniors and those saving for retirement;
  3. FINRA and MSRB;
  4. Digital assets;
  5. Cybersecurity; and
  6. Anti-money laundering programs.

Read the OCIE 2019 Examination Priorities in full HERE.

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This alert contains a summary of the primary annual and periodic compliance-related obligations that may apply to investment advisers registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) or with a particular state (“Investment Advisers”), and commodity pool operators (“CPOs”) and commodity trading advisors (“CTAs”) registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) (collectively with Investment Advisers, “Managers”).[1]  Due to the length of this Alert, we have linked the topics to the Table of Contents and other subtitles for easy click-access.

This summary consists of the following segments: (i) List of Annual Compliance Deadlines; (ii) New Developments; (iii) 2018 National Exam Program Examination Priorities; (iv) Continuing Compliance Areas; and (v) Securities and Other Forms Filings.

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Read this article and additional Pillsbury publications at Pillsbury Insights.

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The Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) of the SEC issued a Risk Alert yesterday providing a list of the most frequently identified compliance issues relating to the Advertising Rule (Rule 206(4)-1) under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.  These compliance issues were identified as part of the OCIE examination of investment advisers:  misleading performance results, misleading one-on-one presentations, misleading claim of compliance with voluntary performance standards, “cherry-picked” profitable stock selections, misleading selection of recommendations and insufficient/inaccurate compliance policies and procedures.

Compliance with the Advertising Rule has long been, and remains, a favorite focus of the SEC.  In an age of fundraising challenges, investment advisers must balance the pressing need of appealing to prospective clients with adherence to precise regulatory standards.  Each marketing piece should go through rigorous internal review and sign-off procedures and, as necessary, outside counsel evaluation.  Investment advisers are urged to pay special attention to any form of performance or track record marketing.

Click here for the full Risk Alert. Contact your Pillsbury attorney for additional assistance.

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In a press release today, The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “Commission”) unanimously approved a final rule amending Regulation 1.31.

The Commission is amending the recordkeeping obligations set forth in Commission regulations along with corresponding technical changes to certain provisions regarding retention of oral communications and record retention requirements applicable to swap dealers and major swap participants, respectively. The amendments modernize and make technology neutral the form and manner in which regulatory records must be kept, as well as rationalize the rule text for ease of understanding for those persons required to keep records pursuant to the Commodity Exchange Act and regulations promulgated by the Commission thereunder. The amendments do not alter any existing requirements regarding the types of regulatory records to be inspected, produced, and maintained set forth in other Commission regulations.

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On December 5, 2016, a Notice of reporting requirements was filed in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Treasury informing the public of the Treasury’s mandatory survey, due every 5 years, of ownership of foreign securities by U.S. residents as of December 31, 2016.  All U.S. persons who meet the reporting requirements must respond to, and comply with, this survey on Form TIC-SHC by March 3, 2017.

Who Must Report? 

i. Fund Managers and Investors.  U.S. persons who own foreign securities for their own portfolios and/or who invest in foreign securities on behalf of others (referred to as ‘‘end-investors’’), including investment managers and fund sponsors such as:

  • Managers of private and public pension funds
  • Hedge fund managers
  • Managers and sponsors of private equity funds, venture capital companies and similar private investment vehicles
  • Managers and sponsors of commingled funds such as money market mutual funds, country funds, unit-investment funds, exchange-traded funds, collective-investment trusts, and similar funds
  • Foundations and endowments
  • Trusts and estates
  • Insurance companies
  • U.S. affiliates of foreign entities that fall into the above categories.

These U.S. Persons must report on Form SHC if the total fair value of foreign securities—aggregated over all accounts and for all U.S. branches and affiliates of their firm—is $200 million or more as of the close of business on December 31, 2016.

ii.  Custodians. U.S. persons who manage, as custodians, the safekeeping of foreign securities for themselves and other U.S. persons (including affiliates in the U.S. of foreign entities). These U.S. persons must report on Form SHC if the total fair value of the foreign securities whose safekeeping they manage on behalf of U.S. persons—aggregated over all accounts and for all U.S. branches and affiliates of their firm—is $200 million or more as of the close of business on December 31, 2016.

iii.  Those Notified. U.S. persons who are notified by letter from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. These U.S. persons must file Schedule 1, even if the recipient of the letter is under the reporting threshold of $200 million and need only report ‘‘exempt’’ on Schedule 1. U.S. persons who meet the reporting threshold must also file Schedule 2 and/or Schedule 3.

What To Report?

Information on holdings by U.S. residents of foreign securities, including equities, long-term debt securities, and short-term debt securities (including selected money market instruments).

How To Report?

Completed reports on Form TIC-SHC can be submitted electronically or mailed to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Statistics Function, 4th Floor, 33 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10045–0001. Inquiries can be made to the survey staff of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at (212) 720–6300 or email: SHC.help@ny.frb.org.   Inquiries can also be made to Dwight Wolkow at (202) 622–1276, email: comments2TIC@do.treas.gov

When To Report?

The report must be submitted by March 3, 2017.

Additional information including technical information for electronic submission can be obtained from the Form SHC Instructions available here.

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In line with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) goal to enhance regulatory safeguards in the asset management industry, the SEC yesterday released a proposed new rule and rule amendments under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The proposed new rule 206(4)-4 would require SEC-registered investment advisers to adopt and implement written business continuity and transition plan (BCP) and review the plan’s adequacy and effectiveness at least annually.  The proposed amendment to rule 204-2 would require such advisers to keep copies of all BCPs that are in effect or were in effect during the last five years, and any records documenting the adviser’s annual review of its BCP.

The proposed rule is designed to address operational and other risks (internal or external) related to a significant disruption (temporary or permanent) in the investment adviser’s operations. Operational risks and disruptions generally include natural disasters or calamities, cyber-attacks, system failures, key personnel departure, business sale, merger, bankruptcy and similar events.

Under the proposed rule, an SEC-registered adviser should develop its BCP based upon risks associated with the adviser’s business operations and must include policies and procedures that minimize material service disruptions and address the following critical elements:

  • System maintenance and data protection
  • Pre-arranged alternate physical locations
  • Communication plans
  • Review of third-party service providers
  • Transition plan in the event of dissolution or inability to continue providing advisory services

The comment period will be 60 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register.

A full copy of the proposed rule is available HERE.

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The CFTC’s recent enforcement against Bitfinex’s financed trading activities demonstrates the Commission’s increasing interest in virtual currency and digital assets.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is further expanding its oversight of virtual currency exchanges and digital assets in general. On June 2, 2016, Bitfinex (a Hong Kong-based bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange) settled with the CFTC following an investigation into its trading activities. The CFTC charged that the exchange offered illegal off-exchange financed retail commodity transactions, and that Bitfinex had failed to register as a Futures Commission Merchant (FCM) as required by law. As a result, Bitfinex will pay $75,000 in civil penalties.

This action is more evidence of the CFTC’s interest in not only bitcoins, but any digital asset that can be considered a commodity. Transactions in decentralized digital tokens (such as Ether, DAO Tokens, Safecoins, Factoids, and Bitcrystals) are becoming more common, and so is regulatory interest.

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Read this article and additional publications at pillsburylaw.com/publications-and-presentations.  You can also download a copy of the Client Alert here.