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Notice

Van Kampen Retirement Strategy Trust, et al.; Notice of Application

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Start Preamble September 25, 2008.

AGENCY:

Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”).

ACTION:

Notice of application for an order under section 12(d)(1)(J) of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (“Act”) for an exemption from sections 12(d)(1)(A) and (B) of the Act, and under sections 6(c) and 17(b) of the Act for an exemption from section 17(a) of the Act.

Summary of the Application:

Applicants request an order that would permit certain registered open-end management investment companies to acquire shares of other registered open-end management investment companies and unit investment trusts that are within and outside the same group of investment companies.

Applicants:

Van Kampen Retirement Strategy Trust (“VK Trust”), Van Kampen Asset Management (“VKAM” or “Adviser”) and Morgan Stanley Investment Management Limited (“MSIM Ltd.”).

Filing Dates:

The application was filed on March 7, 2008 and amended on September 19, 2008.

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 October 16, 2008, 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.

ADDRESSES:

Secretary, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street, NE., Washington, DC 20549-1090; Applicants: VK Trust and VKAM, 522 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10036; MSIM Ltd., 25 Bank Street, Canary Wharf, London, United Kingdom E14 4AD.

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 (Office of Investment Company Regulation, Division of Investment Management).

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The following is a summary of the application. The complete application may be obtained for a fee at the Commission's Public Reference Desk, 100 F Street, NE., Washington, DC 20549-0102 (telephone (202) 551-5850).

Applicants' Representations

1. The VK Trust, organized as a Delaware statutory trust, is registered under the Act as an open-end management investment company. The VK Trust currently offers ten series, each with its own investment objective and policies (the “VK Funds”).[1] The Adviser, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Van Kampen Investments Inc., which is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, is registered as an investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Advisers Act”). The Adviser serves as the investment adviser to each VK Fund. MSIM Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, is an investment adviser registered under the Advisers Act and serves as subadviser for certain VK Funds.

2. Applicants request relief to permit certain VK Funds (each such VK Fund, a “Fund of Funds”) to invest in: (a) other VK Funds (“Affiliated Underlying Funds”), and (b) registered open-end management investment companies and registered unit investment trusts (“UITs”) that are not part of the same “group of investment companies” (as defined in section 12(d)(1)(G)(ii) of the Act) as the VK Funds (“Unaffiliated Underlying Funds,” and together with the Affiliated Underlying Funds, the “Underlying Funds”). The Unaffiliated Underlying Funds may include UITs (“Unaffiliated Trusts”) and open-end management investment companies (“Unaffiliated Funds”) registered under the Act. The relief also would permit the Underlying Funds, their principal underwriter and any broker or dealer to sell the shares of the Underlying Funds to the Fund of Funds. Certain of the Unaffiliated Underlying Funds may have received exemptive relief to sell their shares on a national securities exchange at negotiated prices (“ETFs”). Each Fund of Funds may also invest in other securities and financial instruments that are not issued by registered investment companies and which are consistent with its investment objective. Applicants state that each Fund of Funds seeks to provide, in a single investment vehicle, an asset allocation strategy designed for investors planning to retire on or about a specific year or to provide income for investors who have already retired.

Applicants' Legal Analysis

A. Section 12(d)(1)

1. Section 12(d)(1)(A) of the Act prohibits a registered investment company from acquiring shares of an investment company if the securities represent more than 3% of the total outstanding voting stock of the acquired company, more than 5% of the total assets of the acquiring company, or, together with the securities of any other investment companies, more than 10% of the total assets of the acquiring company. Section 12(d)(1)(B) of the Act prohibits a registered open-end investment company, its principal underwriter and any broker or dealer from selling the shares of the investment company to another investment company if the sale will cause the acquiring company to own more than 3% of the acquired company's voting stock, or if the sale will cause more than 10% of the acquired company's voting stock to be owned by investment companies generally. Start Printed Page 57164

2. Section 12(d)(1)(J) 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 section 12(d)(1) if the exemption is consistent with the public interest and the protection of investors. Applicants seek an exemption under section 12(d)(1)(J) of the Act from the limitations of sections 12(d)(1)(A) and (B) to the extent necessary to permit the Funds of Funds to acquire shares of the Underlying Funds in excess of the limits set forth in section 12(d)(1)(A) of the Act and to permit the Underlying Funds, their principal underwriters and any broker or dealer to sell their shares to the Funds of Funds in excess of the limits set forth in section 12(d)(1)(B) of the Act.

3. Applicants state that the proposed arrangement will not give rise to the policy concerns underlying sections 12(d)(1)(A) and (B), which include concerns about undue influence by a fund of funds or its affiliated persons over underlying funds, excessive layering of fees, and overly complex fund structures. Accordingly, applicants believe that the requested exemption is consistent with the public interest and the protection of investors.

4. Applicants state that the proposed arrangement will not result in undue influence by a Fund of Funds or its affiliated persons over the Underlying Funds. The concern about undue influence does not arise in connection with a Fund of Funds' investment in the Affiliated Underlying Funds, since they are part of the same group of investment companies. To limit the control that a Fund of Funds or its affiliated persons may have over an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund, applicants submit that: (a) The Adviser; any person controlling, controlled by or under common control with the Adviser; and any investment company and any issuer that would be an investment company but for section 3(c)(1) or section 3(c)(7) of the Act advised or sponsored by the Adviser or any person controlling, controlled by or under common control with the Adviser (collectively, the “Group”); and (b) MSIM Ltd. and any investment adviser to a Fund of Funds that meets the definition in section 2(a)(20)(B) of the Act (“Subadviser”); any person controlling, controlled by or under common control with the Subadviser; and any investment company and any issuer that would be an investment company but for section 3(c)(1) or 3(c)(7) of the Act (or portion of such investment company or issuer) advised or sponsored by the Subadviser or any person controlling, controlled by or under common control with the Subadviser (collectively, the “Subadviser Group”) will not control (individually or in the aggregate) an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund within the meaning of section 2(a)(9) of the Act.

5. Applicants also propose to prevent a Fund of Funds and its affiliated entities from taking advantage of an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund with respect to transactions between the entities by precluding a Fund of Funds and its Adviser, Subadviser, promoter, principal underwriter and any person controlling, controlled by or under common control with any of these entities (each, a “Fund of Funds Affiliate”) from causing any existing or potential investment by the Fund of Funds in an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund to influence the terms of any services or transactions between the Fund of Funds or a Fund of Funds Affiliate and the Unaffiliated Underlying Fund or its investment adviser(s), sponsor, promoter, principal underwriter and any person controlling, controlled by or under common control with any of these entities (each, an “Unaffiliated Underlying Fund Affiliate”). In addition, no Fund of Funds or Fund of Funds Affiliate (except to the extent it is acting in its capacity as an investment adviser to an Unaffiliated Fund or sponsor to an Unaffiliated Trust) will cause an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund to purchase a security in an offering of securities during the existence of an underwriting or selling syndicate of which a principal underwriter is an officer, director, member of an advisory board, Adviser, Subadviser, or employee of the Fund of Funds, or a person of which any such officer, director, member of an advisory board, Adviser, Subadviser, or employee is an affiliated person (each, an “Underwriting Affiliate,” except any person whose relationship to the Unaffiliated Underlying Fund is covered by section 10(f) of the Act is not an Underwriting Affiliate). An offering of securities during the existence of an underwriting or selling syndicate of which a principal underwriter is an Underwriting Affiliate is an “Affiliated Underwriting.”

6. To further ensure that an Unaffiliated Fund understands the implications of an investment by a Fund of Funds under the requested order, prior to its investment in the shares of an Unaffiliated Fund in excess of the limit in section 12(d)(1)(A)(i), a Fund of Funds and the Unaffiliated Fund will execute an agreement stating, without limitation, that their boards of directors or trustees and their investment advisers understand the terms and conditions of the order and agree to fulfill their responsibilities under the order (“Participation Agreement”). Applicants note that an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund (other than an ETF whose shares are purchased by a Fund of Funds in the secondary market) will retain the right to reject any investment by a Fund of Funds.[2]

7. Applicants do not believe that the proposed arrangement will involve excessive layering of fees. With respect to investment advisory fees, applicants state that, prior to approval of any investment advisory contract under section 15 of the Act, the board of trustees (“Board”) of each Fund of Funds, including a majority of the trustees who are not “interested persons,” as defined in section 2(a)(19) of the Act (“Disinterested Trustees”), will find that the advisory fees charged under the advisory contract are based on services provided that are in addition to, rather than duplicative of, services provided pursuant to any Underlying Fund's advisory contract(s). Applicants further state that the Adviser will waive fees otherwise payable to it by the Fund of Funds in an amount at least equal to any compensation (including fees received pursuant to a plan adopted by an Unaffiliated Fund under rule 12b-1 under the Act) received by the Adviser or an affiliated person of the Adviser from an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund, other than any advisory fees paid to the Adviser or its affiliated person by an Unaffiliated Fund, in connection with the investment by the Fund of Funds in the Unaffiliated Underlying Fund.

8. Applicants state that the proposed arrangement will not create an overly complex fund structure. Applicants note that an Underlying Fund will be prohibited from acquiring securities of any investment company or company relying on section 3(c)(1) or 3(c)(7) of the Act in excess of the limits contained in section 12(d)(1)(A), except to the extent that such Underlying Fund: (a) Receives securities of another investment company as a dividend or as a result of a plan of reorganization of a company (other than a plan devised for the purpose of evading section 12(d)(1) of the Act); or (b) acquires (or is deemed to have acquired) securities of another investment company pursuant to exemptive relief from the Commission permitting such Underlying Fund to: (i) Acquire securities of one or more investment companies for short-term cash management purposes, or (ii) Start Printed Page 57165engage in interfund borrowing and lending transactions. Applicants also represent that a Fund of Funds' prospectus and sales literature will contain clear, concise, “plain English” disclosure designed to inform investors of the unique characteristics of the proposed Fund of Funds structure, including, but not limited to, its expense structure and the additional expenses of investing in Underlying Funds.

B. Section 17(a)

1. Section 17(a) of the Act generally prohibits sales or purchases of securities between a registered investment company and any affiliated person of the company. Section 2(a)(3) of the Act defines an “affiliated person” of another person to include (a) Any person directly or indirectly owning, controlling, or holding with power to vote, 5% or more of the outstanding voting securities of the other person; (b) any person 5% or more of whose outstanding voting securities are directly or indirectly owned, controlled, or held with power to vote by the other person; and (c) any person directly or indirectly controlling, controlled by, or under common control with the other person.

2. Applicants state that the Funds of Funds and the Affiliated Underlying Funds might be deemed to be under common control of the Adviser and therefore affiliated persons of one another. Applicants also state that the Funds of Funds and the Underlying Funds might be deemed to be affiliated persons of one another if a Fund of Funds acquires 5% or more of an Underlying Fund's outstanding voting securities. In light of these and other possible affiliations, section 17(a) could prevent an Underlying Fund from selling shares to and redeeming shares from a Fund of Funds.

3. Section 17(b) of the Act authorizes the Commission to grant an order permitting a transaction otherwise prohibited by section 17(a) if it finds that (a) The terms of the proposed transaction are fair and reasonable and do not involve overreaching on the part of any person concerned; (b) the proposed transaction is consistent with the policies of each registered investment company involved; and (c) the proposed transaction is consistent with the general purposes of the Act. Section 6(c) of the Act permits the Commission to exempt any person, security or transactions or any class or classes of persons, securities or transactions, from any provision of the Act if such exemption is necessary or appropriate in the public interest and consistent with the protection of investors and the purposes fairly intended by the policy and provisions of the Act.

4. Applicants submit that the proposed structure satisfies the standards for relief under sections 17(b) and 6(c) of the Act.[3] Applicants state that the terms upon which an Underlying Fund will sell its shares to or purchase its shares from a Fund of Funds will be based on the net asset value of each Underlying Fund.[4] Applicants state that the proposed investment will be consistent with the policies of each Fund of Funds and Underlying Fund, and with the general purposes of the Act.

Applicants' Conditions

Applicants agree that any order granting the requested relief shall be subject to the following conditions:

1. The members of the Group will not control (individually or in the aggregate) an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund within the meaning of section 2(a)(9) of the Act. The members of a Subadviser Group will not control (individually or in the aggregate) an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund within the meaning of section 2(a)(9) of the Act. If, as a result of a decrease in the outstanding voting securities of an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund, the Group or the Subadviser Group, each in the aggregate, becomes a holder of more than 25% of the outstanding voting securities of the Unaffiliated Underlying Fund, then the Group or the Subadviser Group will vote its shares of the Unaffiliated Underlying Fund in the same proportion as the vote of all other holders of the Unaffiliated Underlying Fund's shares. This condition will not apply to the Subadviser Group with respect to an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund for which the Subadviser or a person controlling, controlled by, or under common control with the Subadviser acts as the investment adviser within the meaning section 2(a)(20)(A) of the Act (in the case of an Unaffiliated Fund) or as the sponsor (in the case of an Unaffiliated Trust).

2. No Fund of Funds or Fund of Funds Affiliate will cause any existing or potential investment by the Fund of Funds in an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund to influence the terms of any services or transactions between the Fund of Funds or a Fund of Funds Affiliate and the Unaffiliated Underlying Fund or an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund Affiliate.

3. Each Fund of Funds Board, including a majority of the Disinterested Trustees, will adopt procedures reasonably designed to ensure that the Adviser and the Subadviser are conducting the investment program of the Fund of Funds without taking into account any consideration received by the Fund of Funds or Fund of Funds Affiliate from an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund or an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund Affiliate in connection with any services or transactions.

4. Once an investment by a Fund of Funds in the securities of an Unaffiliated Fund exceeds the limit of section 12(d)(1)(A)(i) of the Act, the Board of the Unaffiliated Fund, including a majority of the Disinterested Trustees, will determine that any consideration paid by the Unaffiliated Fund to a Fund of Funds or a Fund of Funds Affiliate in connection with any services or transactions: (a) Is fair and reasonable in relation to the nature and quality of the services and benefits received by the Unaffiliated Fund; (b) is within the range of consideration that the Unaffiliated Fund would be required to pay to another unaffiliated entity in connection with the same services or transactions; and (c) does not involve overreaching on the part of any person concerned. This condition does not apply with respect to any services or transactions between an Unaffiliated Fund and its investment adviser(s), or any person controlling, controlled by, or under common control with such investment adviser(s).

5. No Fund of Funds or Fund of Funds Affiliate (except to the extent it is acting in its capacity as an investment adviser to an Unaffiliated Fund or sponsor to an Unaffiliated Trust) will cause an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund to purchase a security in any Affiliated Underwriting.

6. The Board of an Unaffiliated Fund, including a majority of the Disinterested Trustees, will adopt procedures Start Printed Page 57166reasonably designed to monitor any purchases of securities by the Unaffiliated Fund in an Affiliated Underwriting once an investment by a Fund of Funds in the securities of the Unaffiliated Fund exceeds the limit of section 12(d)(1)(A)(i) of the Act, including any purchases made directly from an Underwriting Affiliate. The Board of the Unaffiliated Fund will review these purchases periodically, but no less frequently than annually, to determine whether the purchases were influenced by the investment by the Fund of Funds in shares of the Unaffiliated Fund. The Board of the Unaffiliated Fund will consider, among other things: (a) Whether the purchases were consistent with the investment objectives and policies of the Unaffiliated Fund; (b) how the performance of securities purchased in an Affiliated Underwriting compares to the performance of comparable securities purchased during a comparable period of time in underwritings other than Affiliated Underwritings or to a benchmark such as a comparable market index; and (c) whether the amount of securities purchased by the Unaffiliated Fund in Affiliated Underwritings and the amount purchased directly from an Underwriting Affiliate have changed significantly from prior years. The Board of the Unaffiliated Fund will take any appropriate actions based on its review, including, if appropriate, the institution of procedures designed to ensure that purchases of securities in Affiliated Underwritings are in the best interests of shareholders.

7. Each Unaffiliated Fund will maintain and preserve permanently in an easily accessible place a written copy of the procedures described in the preceding condition, and any modifications to such procedures, and will maintain and preserve for a period of not less than six years from the end of the fiscal year in which any purchase from an Affiliated Underwriting occurred, the first two years in an easily accessible place, a written record of each purchase made once an investment by a Fund of Funds in the securities of an Unaffiliated Fund exceeds the limit of section 12(d)(1)(A)(i) of the Act, setting forth from whom the securities were acquired, the identity of the underwriting syndicate's members, the terms of the purchase, and the information or materials upon which the determinations of the Board of the Unaffiliated Fund were made.

8. Prior to its investment in shares of an Unaffiliated Fund in excess of the limit in section 12(d)(1)(A)(i) of the Act, the Fund of Funds and the Unaffiliated Fund will execute a Participation Agreement stating, without limitation, that their boards of directors or trustees and their investment advisers understand the terms and conditions of the order and agree to fulfill their responsibilities under the order. At the time of its investment in shares of an Unaffiliated Fund in excess of the limit in section 12(d)(1)(A)(i), a Fund of Funds will notify the Unaffiliated Fund of the investment. At such time, the Fund of Funds will also transmit to the Unaffiliated Fund a list of the names of each Fund of Funds Affiliate and Underwriting Affiliate. The Fund of Funds will notify the Unaffiliated Fund of any changes to the list as soon as reasonably practicable after a change occurs. The Unaffiliated Fund and the Fund of Funds will maintain and preserve a copy of the order, the Participation Agreement, and the list with any updated information for the duration of the investment and for a period of not less than six years thereafter, the first two years in an easily accessible place.

9. Prior to approving any investment advisory contract under section 15 of the Act, each Fund of Funds Board, including a majority of the Disinterested Trustees, will find that the advisory fees charged under the advisory contract are based on services provided that are in addition to, rather than duplicative of, services provided under the advisory contract(s) of any Underlying Funds in which the Fund of Funds may invest. This finding, and the basis upon which the finding was made, will be recorded fully in the minute books of the appropriate Fund of Funds.

10. The Adviser will waive fees otherwise payable to it by the Fund of Funds in an amount at least equal to any compensation (including fees received pursuant to a plan adopted by an Unaffiliated Fund under rule 12b-1 under the Act) received by the Adviser, or an affiliated person of the Adviser, from an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund, other than any advisory fees paid to the Adviser or an affiliated person of the Adviser by the Unaffiliated Fund, in connection with the investment by the Fund of Funds in the Unaffiliated Underlying Fund. Any Subadviser will waive fees otherwise payable to the Subadviser, directly or indirectly, by the Fund of Funds in an amount at least equal to any compensation received by the Subadviser, or an affiliated person of the Subadviser, from an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund, other than any advisory fees paid to the Subadviser or an affiliated person of the Subadviser by the Unaffiliated Fund, in connection with the investment by the Fund of Funds in the Unaffiliated Underlying Fund made at the direction of the Subadviser. In the event that the Subadviser waives fees, the benefit of the waiver will be passed through to the Fund of Funds.

11. No Underlying Fund will acquire securities of any other investment company or company relying on section 3(c)(1) or 3(c)(7) of the Act, in excess of the limits contained in section 12(d)(1)(A) of the Act, except to the extent that such Underlying Fund: (a) Receives securities of another investment company as a dividend or as a result of a plan of reorganization of a company (other than a plan devised for the purpose of evading section 12(d)(1) of the Act); or (b) acquires (or is deemed to have acquired) securities of another investment company pursuant to exemptive relief from the Commission permitting such Underlying Fund to: (i) Acquire securities of one or more investment companies for short-term cash management purposes, or (ii) engage in interfund borrowing and lending transactions.

12. Any sales charges and/or service fees charged with respect to shares of a Fund of Funds will not exceed the limits applicable to funds of funds set forth in NASD Conduct Rule 2830.

Start Signature

For the Commission, by the Division of Investment Management, pursuant to delegated authority.

Florence E. Harmon,

Acting Secretary.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

Footnotes

1.  Applicants request that the order extend to any other existing or future registered open-end management investment companies and their series that are part of the same group of investment companies, as defined in section 12(d)(1)(G) of the Act, as VK Trust and are, or may in the future be, advised by the Adviser or any existing or future entity controlling, controlled by, or under common control with the Adviser. All entities that currently intend to rely on the requested order are named as applicants and any other entity that relies on the order in the future will comply with the terms and conditions of the application.

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2.  An Unaffiliated Fund, including an ETF, would retain its right to reject an initial investment by a Fund of Funds in excess of the limit in section 12(d)(1)(A)(i) of the Act by declining to execute the Participation Agreement.

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3.  Applicants acknowledge that receipt of compensation by (a) an affiliated person of a Fund of Funds, or an affiliated person of such person, for the purchase by the Fund of Funds of shares of an Underlying Fund or (b) an affiliated person of an Underlying Fund, or an affiliated person of such person, for the sale by the Underlying Fund of its shares to a Fund of Funds may be prohibited by section 17(e)(1) of the Act. The Participation Agreement also will include this acknowledgement.

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4.  Applicants note that a Fund of Funds generally would purchase and sell shares of an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund that operates as an ETF through secondary market transactions at market prices rather than through principal transactions with the Unaffiliated Underlying Fund at net asset value. Applicants would not rely on the requested relief from section 17(a) for such secondary market transactions. To the extent that a Fund of Funds purchases or redeems shares from an Unaffiliated Underlying Fund that is an ETF and an affiliated person of the Fund of Funds in exchange for a basket of specified securities as described in the application for the exemptive order upon which the ETF relies, applicants also request relief from section 17(a) for those transactions.

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[FR Doc. E8-23043 Filed 9-30-08; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8011-01-P