Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”).
Notice of an application under section 6(c) of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “Act”) for an exemption from section 15(a) of the Act and rule 18f-2 under the Act.
Summary of the Application:
The requested order would permit applicants to enter into and materially amend subadvisory agreements without shareholder approval.
The Integrity Funds (the “Trust”) and Integrity Money Management, Inc. (the “Adviser”).
The application was filed on September 7, 2004 and amended on October 14, 2005.
Hearing or Notification of Hearing:
An order granting the application will be issued unless the Commission orders a hearing. Interested persons may request a hearing by writing to the Commission's Secretary and serving applicants with a copy of the request, personally or by mail. Hearing requests should be received by the Commission by 5:30 p.m. on December 5, 2005, and should be accompanied by proof of service on applicants in the form of an affidavit or, for lawyers, a certificate of service. Hearing requests should state the nature of the writer's interest, the reason for the request, and the issues contested. Persons who wish to be notified of a hearing may request notification by writing to the Commission's Secretary.
Secretary, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street, NE., Washington, DC 20549-9303. Applicants, c/o Robert E. Walstad, Integrity Mutual Funds, 1 Main Street North, Minot, ND 58703.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Emerson S. Davis, Sr., Senior Counsel, at (202) 551-6868, or Mary Kay Frech, Branch Chief, at (202) 551-6821 (Division of Investment Management, Office of Investment Company Regulation).End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
The following is a summary of the application. The complete application may be obtained for a fee from the Commission's Public Reference Branch, 100 F Street, NE., Washington, DC 20549-0102 (telephone (202) 551-5850).
1. -The Trust, a Delaware statutory trust, is registered under the Act as an open-end management investment company. The Trust currently offers eight series (each a “Fund,” and collectively, the “Funds”), each of which has its own investment objectives, policies and restrictions.
2. The Adviser, registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”), serves as investment adviser to each Fund pursuant to an investment advisory agreement with the Start Printed Page 69789Trust (“Advisory Agreement”), that was approved by the board of trustees of the Trust (the “Board”), including a majority of the trustees who are not “interested persons,” as defined in section 2(a)(19) of the Act (“Independent Trustees”), and the shareholders of each Fund. Under the terms of each Advisory Agreement, the Adviser provides each Fund with investment research, advice and supervision, and furnishes an investment program for each Fund consistent with the investment objectives, policies and limitations of the Fund. For its services, the Adviser receives a fee from each Fund based on the average daily net assets of the Fund. Under each Advisory Agreement, the Adviser may delegate investment advisory responsibilities to one or more subadvisers (“Subadvisers”) who have discretionary authority to invest all or a portion of the Fund's assets pursuant to a separate subadvisory agreement (“Subadvisory Agreement”). Each Subadviser is or will be an investment adviser registered under the Advisers Act. For its services to a Fund, the Adviser pays a Subadviser a monthly fee at an annual rate based on the average daily net assets of the Fund or a percentage of the net advisory fee paid to the Adviser by the Fund. The fees of the Subadvisers, at rates negotiated between the Subadvisers and the Adviser, are paid by the Adviser (and not by the applicable Fund) out of the fees paid by the applicable Fund to the Adviser.
3. Applicants request relief to permit the Adviser, subject to Board approval, to enter into and materially amend Subadvisory Agreements without shareholder approval. The requested relief will not extend to a Subadviser that is an affiliated person, as defined in section 2(a)(3) of the Act, of the Fund or the Adviser, other than by reason of serving as a Subadviser to one or more of the Funds (an “Affiliated Subadviser”).
Applicants' Legal Analysis
1. -Section 15(a) of the Act provides, in relevant part, that it is unlawful for any person to act as an investment adviser to a registered investment company except pursuant to a written contract that has been approved by the vote of a majority of the company's outstanding voting securities. Rule 18f-2 under the Act provides that each series or class of stock in a series company affected by a matter must approve such matter if the Act requires shareholder approval.
2. Section 6(c) of the Act provides that the Commission may exempt any person, security, or transaction or any class or classes of persons, securities, or transactions from any provision of the Act, or from any rule thereunder, if and to the extent that such exemption is necessary or appropriate in the public interest and consistent with the protection of investors and the purposes fairly intended by the policies and provisions of the Act. Applicants believe that their requested relief meets this standard for the reasons discussed below.
3. Applicants state that the Funds' shareholders rely on the Adviser, subject to the oversight by the Board, to select the Subadvisers best suited to achieve a Fund's investment objectives. Applicants assert that, from the perspective of the investor, the role of the Subadvisers is substantially equivalent to that of individual portfolio managers employed by traditional investment advisory firms. Applicants contend that requiring shareholder approval of Subadvisory Agreements would impose costs and unnecessary delays on the Funds and may preclude the Adviser and the Board from acting promptly when a change in Subadvisers would benefit a Fund. Applicants also note that the Advisory Agreement will remain subject to the shareholder approval requirements in section 15(a) of the Act and rule 18f-2 under the Act.
4. Applicants note that the Commission recently adopted certain fund governance standards on June 23, 2004. Applicants agree that each Fund will comply with the fund governance standards set forth in rule 0-1(a)(7) under the Act by the compliance date. Applicants also note that the Commission has proposed rule 15a-5 under the Act and agree that the requested order will expire on the effective date of rule 15a-5 under the Act, if adopted.
Applicants agree that any order granting the requested relief will be subject to the following conditions:
1. Before a Fund may rely on the order requested, the operation of the Fund in the manner described in the application will be approved by a majority of the Fund's outstanding voting securities, as defined in the Act, or, in the case of a Fund whose public shareholders purchase shares on the basis of a prospectus containing the disclosure contemplated by condition 2 below, by the initial shareholder(s) before offering shares of that Fund to the public.
2. Each Fund will disclose in its prospectus the existence, substance, and effect of any order granted pursuant to the application. In addition, each Fund will hold itself out to the public as employing the management structure described in the application. The prospectus will prominently disclose that the Adviser has ultimate responsibility (subject to oversight by the Board) to oversee Subadvisers and recommend their hiring, termination, and replacement.
3. The Board will satisfy the fund governance standards as set forth in rule 0-1(a)(7) under the Act by the compliance date for the rule. Prior to the compliance date, a majority of the Board will be Independent Trustees, and the nomination of new or additional Independent Trustees will be at the discretion of the then-existing Independent Trustees.
4. The Adviser will not enter into a Subadvisory Agreement with any Affiliated Subadviser without that agreement, including the compensation to be paid thereunder, being approved by the shareholders of the applicable Fund.
5. When a Subadviser change is proposed for a Fund with an Affiliated Subadviser, the Board, including a majority of the Independent Trustees, will make a separate finding, reflected in the Board minutes, that the change is in the best interests of the Fund and its shareholders and does not involve a conflict of interest from which the Adviser or the Affiliated Subadviser derives an inappropriate advantage.
6. Within 90 days of the hiring of any new Subadviser, shareholders of the affected Fund will be furnished all information about the new Subadviser that would be contained in a proxy statement. Each Fund will meet this condition by providing shareholders with an information statement meeting the requirements of Regulation 14C, Schedule 14C and Item 22 of Schedule 14A under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
7. The Adviser will provide general management services to each Fund, including overall supervisory responsibility for the general management and investment of each Fund's assets, and, subject to review and approval by the Board, will (i) set the Fund's overall investment strategies; (ii) evaluate, select and recommend Subadvisers to manage all or a part of the Fund's assets; (iii) when appropriate, allocate and reallocate a Fund's assets among multiple Subadvisers; (iv) monitor and evaluate Start Printed Page 69790the performance of Subadvisers; and (v) implement procedures reasonably designed to ensure that the Subadvisers comply with each Fund's investment objectives, policies, and restrictions.
8. No trustee or officer of the Trust, or director or officer of the Adviser, will own directly or indirectly (other than through a pooled investment vehicle that is not controlled by such person) any interest in a Subadviser, except for (i) ownership of interests in the Adviser or any entity that controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with the Adviser; or (ii) ownership of less than 1% of the outstanding securities of any class of equity or debt of a publicly-traded company that is either a Subadviser or an entity that controls, is controlled by or is under common control with a Subadviser.
9. The requested order will expire on the effective date of rule 15a-5 under the Act, if adopted.Start Signature
For the Commission, by the Division of Investment Management, under delegated authority.
Jonathan G. Katz,
1. Applicants also request relief with respect to future series of the Trust and any other existing or future registered open-end management investment company and its series that: (a) Are advised by the Adviser or any entity controlling, controlled by or under common control with the Adviser; (b) are managed in a manner consistent with the applicant; and (c) comply with the terms and conditions in the application (included in the term “Funds”). The Trust is the only existing registered open-end management investment company that currently intends to rely on the requested order. If the name of any Fund contains the name of a Subadviser (as defined below), the name of the Adviser or the name of the entity controlling, controlled by, or under common control with the Adviser that serves as the primary adviser to the Fund will precede the name of the Subadviser.Back to Citation
2. See Investment Company Act Release No. 26520 (July 27, 2004).Back to Citation
3. Investment Company Act Release No. 26230 (Oct. 23, 2003).Back to Citation
[FR Doc. E5-6354 Filed 11-16-05; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8010-01-P