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Notice

Proposed Collection; Comment Request

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Upon Written Request, Copies Available From: Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, Washington, DC 20549-0213.

Extension:

Rule 17d-1; SEC File No. 270-505; OMB Control No. 3235-0562.

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 for extension and approval.

Section 17(d) (15 U.S.C. 80a-17(d)) of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80a et seq.) (the “Act”) prohibits first- and second-tier affiliates of a fund, the fund's principal underwriters, and affiliated persons of the fund's principal underwriters, acting as principal, to effect any transaction in which the fund or a company controlled by the fund is a joint or a joint and several participant in contravention of the Commission's rules. Rule 17d-1 (17 CFR 270.17d-1) prohibits an affiliated person of or principal underwriter for any fund (a “first-tier affiliate”), or any affiliated person of such person or underwriter (a “second-tier affiliate”), acting as principal, from participating in or effecting any transaction in connection with a joint enterprise or other joint arrangement in which the fund is a participant, unless prior to entering into the enterprise or arrangement “an application regarding (the transaction) has been filed with the Commission and has been granted by an order.” In reviewing the proposed affiliated transaction, the rule provides that the Commission will consider whether the proposal is (i) consistent with the provisions, policies, and purposes of the Act, and (ii) on a basis different from or less advantageous than that of other participants in determining whether to grant an exemptive application for a proposed joint enterprise, joint arrangement, or profit-sharing plan.

Rule 17d-1 also contains a number of exceptions to the requirement that a fund must obtain Commission approval prior to entering into joint transactions or arrangements with affiliates. For example, funds do not have to obtain Commission approval for certain employee compensation plans, certain tax-deferred employee benefit plans, certain transactions involving small business investment companies, the receipt of securities or cash by certain affiliates pursuant to a plan of reorganization, and arrangements regarding liability insurance policies. The Commission amended rule 17d-1 most recently in 2003 to expand the current exemptions from the Commission approval process to permit funds to engage in transactions with “portfolio affiliates”—companies that are affiliated with the fund solely as a result of the fund (or an affiliated fund) controlling them or owning more than five percent of their voting securities. This amendment was designed to permit funds' transactions with portfolio affiliates without seeking Commission approval, as long as certain other affiliated persons of the fund (e.g., the fund's adviser, persons controlling the fund, and persons under common control with the fund) (“prohibited participants”) are not parties to the transaction and do not have a “financial interest” in a party to the transaction. The rule excludes from the definition of “financial interest” any interest that the fund's board of directors (including a majority of the directors who are not interested persons of the fund) finds to be not material, as long as the board records the basis for its finding in their meeting minutes.

Thus, the rule contains two filing and recordkeeping requirements that constitute collections of information. First, rule 17d-1 requires funds that wish to engage in a joint transaction or arrangement with affiliates to meet the procedural requirements for obtaining exemptive relief from the rule's prohibition on joint transactions or arrangements involving first- or second-tier affiliates. Second, rule 17d-1 permits a portfolio affiliate to enter into a joint transaction or arrangement with the fund if a prohibited participant has a financial interest that the fund's board determines is not material and records the basis for this finding in their meeting minutes. These requirements of rule 17d-1 are designed to prevent fund insiders from managing funds for their own benefit, rather than for the benefit of the funds' shareholders.

Based on an analysis of past filings, Commission staff estimates that 4 funds file applications under section 17(d) and rule 17d-1 per year. Based on a limited survey of persons in the mutual fund industry, the Commission staff estimates that each applicant will spend an average of 154 hours to comply with the Commission's applications process. The Commission staff therefore estimates the annual burden hours per year for all funds under rule 17d-1's application process to be 616 hours.

Based on analysis of past filings, the Commission's staff estimates that 148 funds are affiliated persons of 668 issuers as a result of the fund's ownership or control of the issuer's voting securities, and that there are approximately 1,000 such affiliate relationships. Staff discussions with mutual fund representatives have suggested that no funds are currently relying on rule 17d-1 exemptions. We do not know definitively the reasons for this transactional behavior, but differing market conditions from year to year may offer some explanation for the current lack of fund interest in the exemptions under rule 17d-1. Accordingly, we estimate that annually there will be no joint transactions under rule 17d-1 that will result in a collection of information. The Commission, therefore, requests authorization to maintain an inventory of total burden hours per year for all funds under rule 17d-1 of 616 hours.

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. Complying with these collections of information requirement is necessary to obtain the benefit of relying on rule 17d-1. 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 proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the Start Printed Page 11959information 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, Securities and Exchange Commission, C/O Shirley Martinson, 6432 General Green Way, Alexandria, VA 22312; or send an e-mail to: PRA_Mailbox@sec.gov.

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Dated: February 27, 2008.

Florence E. Harmon,

Deputy Secretary.

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[FR Doc. E8-4206 Filed 3-4-08; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8011-01-P