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Proposed Collection; Comment Request

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

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  • Rule 17a-8; SEC File No. 270-225; OMB Control No. 3235-0235

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) is soliciting comments on the collection of information summarized below. The Commission plans to submit this existing collection of information to the Office of Management and Budget for extension and approval.

Rule 17a-8 [17 CFR 270.17a-8] under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “Act”) is entitled “Mergers of affiliated companies.” Rule 17a-8 exempts certain mergers and similar business combinations (“mergers”) of affiliated registered investment companies (“funds”) from section 17(a) prohibitions on purchases and sales between a fund and its affiliates. The rule requires fund directors to consider certain issues and to record their findings in board minutes. The rule requires the directors of any fund merging with an unregistered entity to approve procedures for the valuation of assets received from that entity. These procedures must provide for the preparation of a report by an independent evaluator that sets forth the fair value of each such asset for which market quotations are not readily available. The rule also requires a fund being acquired to obtain approval of the merger transaction by a majority of its outstanding voting securities, except in certain situations, and requires any surviving fund to preserve written records describing the merger and its terms for six years after the merger (the first two in an easily accessible place).

The average annual burden of meeting the requirements of rule 17a-8 is estimated to be 7 hours for each fund. The Commission staff estimates that each year approximately 600 funds rely on the rule. The estimated total average annual burden for all respondents therefore is 4,200 hours.

This estimate represents an increase of 3,600 hours from the prior estimate of 600 hours. The increase results from an increase in the estimated average annual hour burden of meeting the requirements of 17a-8.

The average cost burden of preparing a report by an independent evaluator in a merger with an unregistered entity is estimated to be $15,000. The average net cost burden of obtaining approval of a merger transaction by a majority of a fund's outstanding voting securities is estimated to be $50,000. The Commission staff estimates that each year approximately 10 mergers with unregistered entities occur and approximately 15 funds hold shareholder votes that would not otherwise have held a shareholder vote to comply with state law. The total annual cost burden of meeting these requirements is estimated to be $900,000.

The estimates of average burden hours and average cost burdens are made solely for the purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act, and are not derived from a comprehensive or even a representative survey or study. 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 OMB control number.

Written comments are requested on: (a) Whether the collection of information is 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 collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection 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 R. Corey Booth, Director/Chief Information Officer, Office of Information Technology, Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 5th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20549.

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Dated: August 2, 2004.

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

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[FR Doc. 04-18120 Filed 8-6-04; 8:45 am]