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Notice

First Trust Advisors L.P., et al.; Notice of Application

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Start Preamble September 29, 2008.

AGENCY:

Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”).

ACTION:

Notice of an application for an order under section 6(c) of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (“Act”) for an exemption from sections 2(a)(32), 5(a)(1), 22(d) and 22(e) of the Act and rule 22c-1 under the Act and under sections 6(c) and 17(b) of the Act for an exemption from sections 17(a)(1) and (a)(2) of the Act.

Applicants:

First Trust Advisors L.P. (the “Advisor”), First Trust Portfolios L.P. (the “Distributor”) and First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund III (the “Initial Trust”).

Summary of Application:

Applicants request an order that permits: (a) Series of certain open-end management investment companies to issue shares (“Shares”) redeemable in large aggregations only (“Creation Units”); (b) secondary market transactions in Shares to occur at negotiated market prices; (c) certain series to pay redemption proceeds, under certain circumstances, more than seven days after the tender of Shares for redemption; and (d) certain affiliated persons of the series to deposit securities into, and receive securities from, the series in connection with the purchase and redemption of Creation Units.

Filing Dates:

The application was filed on January 14, 2008, and amended on July 14, 2008. Applicants have agreed to file an amendment during the notice period, the substance of which is reflected in the notice.

Hearing or Notification of Hearing:

An order granting the requested relief 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 24, 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: 100 Warrenville Rd., Lisle, IL 60532.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Bruce R. MacNeil, Senior Counsel, at (202) 551-6817, or Marilyn Mann, Branch Chief, at (202) 551-6821 (Division of Investment Management, Office of Investment Company Regulation).

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 Room, 100 F Street, NE., Washington, DC 20549-1520 (tel. 202-551-5850).

Applicants' Representations

1. The Initial Trust is an open-end management investment company registered under the Act and organized as a Massachusetts business trust. The Initial Trust will offer three initial series: the First Trust BRIC Equal Weight Fund, the First Trust Target Mega Cap Fund, and the First Trust Target International Mega Cap Fund (the “Initial Funds”). Each Initial Fund's investment objective will be to provide capital appreciation by investing in stocks selected according to a quantitative screening methodology developed by the Advisor.

2. Applicants request that the order apply to any existing or future series (“Future Funds”) of any existing or future open-end management investment companies (“Future Trusts”) that will invest in equity securities traded in the U.S. markets and/or foreign equity securities. Any Future Fund will be (a) advised by the Advisor or an entity controlling, controlled by, or under common control with the Advisor, and (b) comply with the terms and conditions of the order. The Initial Funds and Future Funds together are the “Funds” and the Initial Trust and the Future Trusts together are the “Trusts.” Funds that invest all or a portion of their assets in foreign equity securities are each an “International Fund.” Each Fund will operate as an actively-managed exchange-traded fund (“ETF”).

3. The Advisor is registered as an investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”) and will serve as the investment adviser to the Funds. The Advisor may in the future retain one or more subadvisers (“Subadvisers”) to manage the Funds’ portfolios. Any Subadviser will be registered under the Advisers Act. The Distributor, a broker-dealer registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”), will serve as the principal underwriter and distributor for the Funds.[1]

4. Shares of the Funds will be sold at a price of between $20 and $50 per Share in Creation Units of between 25,000 and 150,000 Shares. All orders to purchase Creation Units must be placed with the Distributor by or through a Start Printed Page 57703party that has entered into an agreement with a Fund and the Distributor (“Authorized Participant”). An Authorized Participant must be either: (a) A broker-dealer or other participant in the continuous net settlement system of the National Securities Clearing Corporation (“NSCC”), a clearing agency registered with the Commission, or (b) a participant in the Depository Trust Company (“DTC,” and such participant, “DTC Participant”). Shares of each Fund generally will be sold in Creation Units in exchange for an in-kind deposit by the purchaser of a portfolio of securities designated by the Advisor (the “Deposit Securities”), together with the deposit of a relatively small specified cash payment (“Cash Component”). The Cash Component is an amount equal to the difference between (a) the net asset value (“NAV”) per Creation Unit of the Fund and (b) the total aggregate market value per Creation Unit of the Deposit Securities.[2] Applicants state that in some circumstances it may not be practicable or convenient for a Fund to operate exclusively on an “in-kind” basis. Each Fund reserves the right to permit, under certain circumstances, a purchaser of Creation Units to substitute cash in lieu of depositing some or all of the requisite Deposit Securities.

5. An investor purchasing a Creation Unit from a Fund will be charged a fee (“Transaction Fee”) to prevent the dilution of the interests of the remaining shareholders resulting from costs in connection with the purchase of Creation Units.[3] The maximum Transaction Fees relevant to each Fund will be fully disclosed in the prospectus (“Prospectus”) or statement of additional information (“SAI”) of such Fund. All orders to purchase Creation Units will be placed with the Distributor by or through an Authorized Participant and it will be the Distributor's responsibility to transmit such orders to the respective Fund's transfer agent. The Distributor also will be responsible for delivering the Prospectus to those persons purchasing Creation Units, and for maintaining records of both the orders placed with it and the confirmations of acceptance furnished by it. In addition, the Distributor will maintain a record of the instructions given to a Fund to implement the delivery of Shares.

6. Purchasers of Shares in Creation Units may hold such Shares or may sell such Shares into the secondary market. Shares will be listed and traded on a national securities exchange as defined in section 2(a)(26) of the Act (“Stock Exchange”). It is expected that one or more member firms of a listing Stock Exchange will be designated to act as a specialist and maintain a market for Shares on the Stock Exchange (the “Specialist”), or if Nasdaq is the listing Stock Exchange, one or more member firms of Nasdaq will act as a market maker (“Market Maker”) and maintain a market for Shares.[4] Prices of Shares trading on a Stock Exchange will be based on the current bid/offer market. Shares sold in the secondary market will be subject to customary brokerage commissions and charges.

7. Applicants expect that purchasers of Creation Units will include institutional investors and arbitrageurs (which could include institutional investors). The Specialist, or Market Maker, in providing a fair and orderly secondary market for the Shares, also may purchase Creation Units for use in its market-making activities. Applicants expect that secondary market purchasers of Shares will include both institutional investors and retail investors.[5] Applicants expect that the price at which the Shares trade will be disciplined by arbitrage opportunities created by the ability to continually purchase or redeem Creation Units at their NAV, which should ensure that the Shares will not trade at a material discount or premium in relation to their NAV.

8. Shares will not be individually redeemable, and owners of Shares may acquire those Shares from a Fund, or tender such Shares for redemption to the Fund, in Creation Units only. To redeem, an investor will have to accumulate enough Shares to constitute a Creation Unit. Redemption orders must be placed by or through an Authorized Participant. An investor redeeming a Creation Unit generally will receive (a) a portfolio of securities designated to be delivered for Creation Unit redemptions on the date that the request for redemption is submitted (“Fund Securities”), which may not be identical to the Deposit Securities required to purchase Creation Units on that date, and (b) a “Cash Redemption Payment,” consisting of an amount calculated in the same manner as the Cash Component, although the actual amount of the Cash Redemption Payment may differ from the Cash Component if the Fund Securities are not identical to the Deposit Securities on that day. An investor may receive the cash equivalent of a Fund Security in certain circumstances, such as if the investor is constrained from effecting transactions in the security by regulation or policy. A redeeming investor may pay a Transaction Fee, calculated in the same manner as a Transaction Fee payable in connection with purchases of Creation Units.

9. Neither a Trust nor any individual Fund will be marketed or otherwise held out as an “open-end investment company” or a “mutual fund.” Instead, each Fund will be marketed as an “actively-managed exchange-traded fund.” All marketing materials that describe the method of obtaining, buying or selling Shares, or refer to redeemability, will prominently disclose that Shares are not individually redeemable and that the owners of Shares may purchase or redeem Shares from a Fund in Creation Units only. The same approach will be followed in the SAI, shareholder reports and investor educational materials issued or circulated in connection with the Shares. The Funds will provide copies of their annual and semi-annual shareholder reports to DTC Participants for distribution to beneficial owners of Shares.

10. The Funds' Web site, which will be publicly available prior to the public offering of Shares, will include the Prospectus and other information about the Funds that is updated on a daily basis, including the mid-point of the bid-ask spread at the time of the calculation of NAV (“Bid/Ask Price”). On each Business Day, before the commencement of trading in Shares on the Stock Exchange, each Fund will disclose the identities and quantities of Start Printed Page 57704the securities (“Portfolio Securities”) and other assets held in the Fund portfolio that will form the basis for the Fund's calculation of NAV at the end of the Business Day.[6]

Applicants' Legal Analysis

1. Applicants request an order under section 6(c) of the Act granting an exemption from sections 2(a)(32), 5(a)(1), 22(d) and 22(e) of the Act and rule 22c-1 under the Act; and under sections 6(c) and 17(b) of the Act granting an exemption from sections 17(a)(1) and (a)(2) of the Act.

2. Section 6(c) of the Act provides that the Commission may exempt any person, security or transaction, or any class of persons, securities or transactions, from any provision of the Act, 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 policy and provisions of the Act. Section 17(b) of the Act authorizes the Commission to exempt a proposed transaction from section 17(a) of the Act if evidence establishes that the terms of the transaction, including the consideration to be paid or received, are reasonable and fair and do not involve overreaching on the part of any person concerned, and the proposed transaction is consistent with the policies of the registered investment company and the general provisions of the Act.

Sections 5(a)(1) and 2(a)(32) of the Act

3. Section 5(a)(1) of the Act defines an “open-end company” as a management investment company that is offering for sale or has outstanding any redeemable security of which it is the issuer. Section 2(a)(32) of the Act defines a redeemable security as any security, other than short-term paper, under the terms of which the holder, upon its presentation to the issuer, is entitled to receive approximately his proportionate share of the issuer's current net assets, or the cash equivalent. Because Shares will not be individually redeemable, applicants request an order that would permit each Fund, as a series of an open-end management investment company, to issue Shares that are redeemable in Creation Units only. Applicants state that investors may purchase Shares in Creation Units from each Fund and redeem Creation Units from each Fund. Applicants further state that because the market price of Shares will be disciplined by arbitrage opportunities, investors should be able to sell Shares in the secondary market at prices that do not vary substantially from their NAV.

Section 22(d) of the Act and Rule 22c-1 Under the Act

4. Section 22(d) of the Act, among other things, prohibits a dealer from selling a redeemable security, which is currently being offered to the public by or through a principal underwriter, except at a current public offering price described in the prospectus. Rule 22c-1 under the Act generally requires that a dealer selling, redeeming, or repurchasing a redeemable security do so only at a price based on its NAV. Applicants state that secondary market trading in Shares will take place at negotiated prices, not at a current offering price described in the prospectus, and not at a price based on NAV. Thus, purchases and sales of Shares in the secondary market will not comply with section 22(d) of the Act and rule 22c-1 under the Act. Applicants request an exemption under section 6(c) from these provisions.

5. Applicants assert that the concerns sought to be addressed by section 22(d) of the Act and rule 22c-1 under the Act with respect to pricing are equally satisfied by the proposed method of pricing Shares. Applicants maintain that while there is little legislative history regarding section 22(d), its provisions, as well as those of rule 22c-1, appear to have been designed to (a) prevent dilution caused by certain riskless-trading schemes by principal underwriters and contract dealers, (b) prevent unjust discrimination or preferential treatment among buyers resulting from sales at different prices, and (c) assure an orderly distribution of investment company shares by eliminating price competition from dealers offering shares at less than the published sales price and repurchasing shares at more than the published redemption price.

6. Applicants believe that none of these purposes will be thwarted by permitting Shares to trade in the secondary market at negotiated prices. Applicants state that (a) secondary market trading in Shares does not involve the Funds as parties and cannot result in dilution of an investment in Shares, and (b) to the extent different prices exist during a given trading day, or from day to day, such variances occur as a result of third-party market forces, such as supply and demand. Therefore, applicants assert that secondary market transactions in Shares will not lead to discrimination or preferential treatment among purchasers. Finally, applicants contend that the proposed distribution system will be orderly because arbitrage activity will ensure that the difference between the market price of Shares and their NAV remains narrow.

Section 22(e) of the Act

7. Section 22(e) generally prohibits a registered investment company from suspending the right of redemption or postponing the date of payment of redemption proceeds for more than seven days after the tender of a security for redemption. The principal reason for the requested exemption is that settlement of redemptions for the International Funds is contingent not only on the settlement cycle of the United States markets, but also on currently practicable delivery cycles in local markets for underlying foreign securities held by the International Funds. Applicants state that local market delivery cycles for transferring certain foreign securities to investors redeeming Creation Units, together with local market holiday schedules, will under certain circumstances require a delivery process in excess of seven calendar days for the International Funds. Applicants request relief under section 6(c) of the Act from section 22(e) in such circumstances to allow the International Funds to pay redemption proceeds up to 12 calendar days after the tender of any Creation Unit for redemption. At all other times and except as disclosed in the relevant SAI, applicants expect that each International Fund will be able to deliver redemption proceeds within seven days.[7] With respect to Future Funds that are International Funds, applicants seek the same relief from section 22(e) only to the extent that circumstances similar to those described in the application exist.

8. Applicants state that section 22(e) was designed to prevent unreasonable, undisclosed and unforeseen delays in the payment of redemption proceeds. Applicants assert that the requested relief will not lead to the problems that section 22(e) was designed to prevent. Applicants state that the SAI for each International Fund will disclose those local holidays (over the period of at Start Printed Page 57705least one year following the date of the SAI), if any, that are expected to prevent the delivery of redemption proceeds in seven calendar days, and the maximum number of days needed to deliver the proceeds for the relevant International Fund.

Sections 17(a)(1) and (2) of the Act

9. Sections 17(a)(1) and (2) of the Act generally prohibit an affiliated person of a registered investment company, or an affiliated person of such a person (“second tier affiliate”), from selling any security to or purchasing any security from the company. Section 2(a)(3) of the Act defines “affiliated person” to include 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 and any person directly or indirectly controlling, controlled by, or under common control with, the other person. Section 2(a)(9) of the Act provides that a control relationship will be presumed where one person owns more than 25% of another person's voting securities. The Funds may be deemed to be controlled by the Advisor or an entity controlling, controlled by or under common control with the Advisor and hence affiliated persons of each other. In addition, the Funds may be deemed to be under common control with any other registered investment company (or series thereof) advised by the Advisor or an entity controlling, controlled by or under common control with the Advisor (an “Affiliated Fund”).

10. Applicants request an exemption from section 17(a), under sections 6(c) and 17(b), to permit in-kind purchases and redemptions by persons that are affiliated persons or second tier affiliates of the Funds solely by virtue of one or more of the following: (1) holding 5% or more, or more than 25%, of the outstanding Shares of the respective Trust or one or more Funds; (2) an affiliation with a person with an ownership interest described in (1); or (3) holding 5% or more, or more than 25%, of the shares of one or more Affiliated Funds.

11. Applicants contend that no useful purpose would be served by prohibiting these affiliated persons or second tier affiliates of a Fund from purchasing or redeeming Creation Units through “in-kind” transactions. The deposit procedure for in-kind purchases and the redemption procedure for in-kind redemptions will be the same for all purchases and redemptions. Deposit Securities and Fund Securities will be valued under the same objective standards applied to valuing Portfolio Securities. Therefore, applicants state that in-kind purchases and redemptions will afford no opportunity for the affiliated persons and second tier affiliates described above to effect a transaction detrimental to the other holders of Shares. Applicants also believe that in-kind purchases and redemptions will not result in abusive self-dealing or overreaching by these persons of the Fund.

Applicants' Conditions

The applicants agree that any order of the Commission granting the requested relief will be subject to the following conditions:

1. Each Prospectus will clearly disclose that, for purposes of the Act, Shares are issued by the Fund, which is a registered investment company and that the acquisition of Shares by investment companies and companies relying on sections 3(c)(1) or 3(c)(7) of the Act is subject to the restrictions of section 12(d)(1) of the Act, except as permitted by an exemptive order that permits registered investment companies to invest in a Fund beyond the limits in section 12(d)(1), subject to certain terms and conditions, including that the registered investment company enter into an agreement with the Fund regarding the terms of the investment.

2. As long as the Funds operate in reliance on the requested order, the Shares of the Funds will be listed on a Stock Exchange.

3. Neither the Trusts nor any Fund will be advertised or marketed as an open-end investment company or a mutual fund. Each Fund's Prospectus will prominently disclose that the Fund is an actively managed exchange-traded fund. Each Prospectus will prominently disclose that the Shares are not individually redeemable shares and will disclose that the owners of the Shares may acquire those Shares from the Fund and tender those Shares for redemption to the Fund in Creation Units only. Any advertising material that describes the purchase or sale of Creation Units or refers to redeemability will prominently disclose that the Shares are not individually redeemable and that owners of the Shares may acquire those Shares from the Fund and tender those Shares for redemption to the Fund in Creation Units only.

4. The Web site for the Funds, which is and will be publicly accessible at no charge, will contain the following information, on a per Share basis, for each Fund: (a) the prior Business Day's NAV and the Bid/Ask Price, and a calculation of the premium or discount of the Bid/Ask Price against the NAV; and (b) data in chart format displaying the frequency distribution of discounts and premiums of the daily Bid/Ask Price against the NAV, within appropriate ranges, for each of the four previous calendar quarters (or for the life of the Fund, if shorter).

5. The Prospectus and annual report for each Fund will also include: (a) the information listed in condition 4(b), (i) in the case of the Prospectus, for the most recently completed year (and the most recently completed quarter or quarters, as applicable) and (ii) in the case of the annual report, for the immediately preceding five years (or for the life of the Fund, if shorter), and (b) calculated on a per Share basis for one-, five- and ten-year periods (or for the life of the Fund, if shorter), the cumulative total return and the average annual total return based on NAV and Bid/Ask Price.

6. On each Business Day, before commencement of trading in Shares on the Stock Exchange, the Fund will disclose on its Web site the identities and quantities of the Portfolio Securities and other assets held by the Fund that will form the basis for the Fund's calculation of NAV at the end of the Business Day.

7. The Advisor or Subadvisor, directly or indirectly, will not cause any Authorized Participant (or any investor on whose behalf an Authorized Participant may transact with the Fund) to acquire any Deposit Security for the Fund through a transaction in which the Fund could not engage directly.

8. The requested order will expire on the effective date of any Commission rule under the Act that provides relief permitting the operation of actively managed exchange-traded funds.

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.  All entities that currently intend to rely on the order are named as applicants. 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.  In addition to the list of names and amount of each security constituting the current Deposit Securities, it is intended that, on each day that a Fund is open, including as required by section 22(e) of the Act (“Business Day”), the Cash Component effective as of the previous Business Day, per outstanding Share of each Fund, will be made available. The Stock Exchange or a major market data vendor intends to disseminate widely, every 15 seconds, during regular trading hours, an approximate amount per Share representing the sum of the estimated Cash Component effective through and including the previous Business Day, plus the current value of the Deposit Securities, on a per Share basis.

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3.  Where a Fund permits a purchaser to substitute cash in lieu of depositing a portion of the requisite Deposit Securities, the purchaser may be assessed a higher Transaction Fee to cover the cost of purchasing such Deposit Securities, including brokerage costs, and part or all of the spread between the expected bid and the offer side of the market relating to such Deposit Securities.

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4.  If Shares are listed on the Nasdaq, no particular Market Maker will be contractually obligated to make a market in Shares, although Nasdaq's listing requirements stipulate that at least two Market Makers must be registered as Market Makers in Shares to maintain the listing. Registered Market Makers are required to make a continuous, two-sided market at all times or be subject to regulatory sanctions.

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5.  Shares will be registered in book-entry form only. DTC or its nominee will be the registered owner of all outstanding Shares. DTC or DTC Participants will maintain records reflecting beneficial owners of Shares.

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6.  Applicants note that under accounting procedures followed by the Funds, trades made on the prior Business Day (“T”) will be booked and reflected in NAV on the current Business Day (“T + 1”). Accordingly, the Funds will be able to disclose at the beginning of the Business Day the portfolio that will form the basis for the NAV calculation at the end of the Business Day.

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7.  Rule 15c6-1 under the Exchange Act requires that most securities transactions be settled within three business days of the trade. Applicants acknowledge that no relief obtained from the requirements of section 22(e) will affect any obligations applicants may have under rule 15c6-1.

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[FR Doc. E8-23366 Filed 10-2-08; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8011-01-P