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Existing Collection; Comment Request

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Upon Written Request, Copies Available From: Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of Filings and Information Services, 450 5th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20549.

Notice is hereby given that, pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et. seq.), the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”) is soliciting comments on the collections of information summarized below. The Commission plans to submit these existing collections of information to the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) for extension and approval.

Rule 23c-3 under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (17 CFR 270.23c-3) is entitled: “Repurchase of Securities of Closed-End Companies.” The rule permits certain closed-end investment companies (“closed-end funds” or “funds”) periodically to offer to repurchase from shareholders a limited number of shares at net asset value. The rule includes several reporting and recordkeeping requirements. The fund must send shareholders a notification that contains specified information each time the fund makes a repurchase offer (on a quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis, or for certain funds, on a discretionary basis not more often than every two years). The fund also must file copies of the shareholder notification with the Commission (electronically through the Commission's Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval System (“EDGAR”)) attached to Form Start Printed Page 17454N-23c-3 [17 CFR 274.211], a cover sheet that provides limited information about the fund and the type of offer the fund is making.[1] The fund must describe in its annual report to shareholders the fund's policy concerning repurchase offers and the results of any repurchase offers made during the reporting period. The fund's board of directors must adopt written procedures designed to ensure that the fund's investment portfolio is sufficiently liquid to meet its repurchase obligations and other obligations under the rule. The board periodically must review the composition of the fund's portfolio and change the liquidity procedures as necessary. The fund also must file copies of advertisements and other sales literature with the Commission as if it were an open-end investment company subject to section 24 of the Investment Company Act (15 U.S.C. 80a-24) and the rules that implement section 24.[2]

The requirement that the fund send a notification to shareholders of each offer is intended to ensure that a fund provides material information to shareholders about the terms of each offer, which may differ from previous offers on such matters as the maximum amount of shares to be repurchased (the maximum repurchase amount may range from 5% to 25% of outstanding shares). The requirement that copies be sent to the Commission is intended to enable the Commission to monitor the fund's compliance with the notification requirement. The requirement that the shareholder notification be attached to Form N-23c-3 is intended to ensure that the fund provides basic information necessary for the Commission to process the notification and to monitor the fund's use of repurchase offers. The requirements that the fund describe its current policy on repurchase offers and the results of recent offers in the annual shareholder report is intended to provide shareholders current information about the fund's repurchase policies and its recent experience. The requirement that the board approve and review written procedures designed to maintain portfolio liquidity is intended to ensure that the fund has enough cash or liquid securities to meet its repurchase obligations, and that written procedures are available for review by shareholders and examination by the Commission. The requirement that the fund file advertisements and sales literature as if it were an open-end investment company is intended to facilitate the review of these materials by the Commission or the NASD to prevent incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading disclosure about the special characteristics of a closed-end fund that makes periodic repurchase offers.

The Commission estimates that 23 funds currently rely upon the rule. The Commission estimates that each fund spends approximately 80 hours annually in preparing, mailing, and filing shareholder notifications for each repurchase offer, 4 hours annually in preparing and filing Form N-23c-3, 6 hours annually in preparing disclosures in the annual shareholder report concerning the fund's repurchase policy and recent offers, 28 hours annually in preparing procedures to protect portfolio liquidity, and 8 hours annually in preforming subsequent reviews of these procedures. The total annual burden of the rule's paperwork requirements for all funds thus is estimated to be 2898 hours. This represents an increase of 1638 hours from the prior estimate of 1260 hours. The increase results primarily from an increase in the number of funds relying upon the rule from 10 to 23 funds.

The estimate of average burden hours is made solely for the purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act. The estimate is not derived from a comprehensive or even a representative survey or study of the costs of Commission rules and forms. Complying with the collection of information requirements of the rule is mandatory only for those funds that rely on the rule in order to repurchase shares of the fund. The information provided to the Commission on Form N-23c-3 will not be kept confidential. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid control number.

Written comments are invited on: (a) Whether the collections of information are necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information has practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the Commission's estimate of the burdens of the collections of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burdens of the collections of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Consideration will be given to comments and suggestions submitted in writing within 60 days of this publication.

Please direct your written comments to Michael E. Bartell, Associate Executive Director, Office of Information Technology, Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 5th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20549.

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Dated: March 26, 2001.

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

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1.  Form N-23c-3 requires the fund to state its registration number, its full name and address, the date of the accompanying shareholder notification, and the type of offer being made (periodic, discretionary, or both).

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2.  Rule 24b-3 under the Investment Company Act [17 CFR 270.24b-3], however, would generally exempt the fund from the requirement when the materials are filed instead with the National Association of Securities Dealers (“NASD”), as nearly always occurs under NASD procedures, which apply to the underwriter of every fund.

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[FR Doc. 01-7891 Filed 3-29-01; 8:45 am]