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Upon written request, copies available from: Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of Filings and Information Services, Washington, DC 20549.

Approval of Existing Information Collection: 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”) has submitted to the Office of Management and Budget requests for extension and approval of the existing collection of information discussed below.

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 Start Printed Page 61059terms 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.

General comments regarding the above information to the following persons: (i) Desk Officer for the Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Room 10102, New Executive Office Building, Washington, DC 20503; or e-mail to: David_Rostker@omb.eop.gov; and (ii) R. Corey Booth, Director/Chief Information Officer, Office of Information Technology, Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 5th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20549. Comments must be submitted to OMB within 30 days of this notice.

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Dated: October 8, 2004.

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

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[FR Doc. E4-2605 Filed 10-13-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P