November 9, 2012.
Notice of an application for an order under section 6(c) of the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “Act”), for an exemption from section 15(a) of the Act and rule 18f-2 under the Act.
Summary of Application: Applicants request an order that would permit them to enter into and materially amend subadvisory agreements without shareholder approval.
Highland Associates, Inc. (the “Adviser”) and Financial Investors Trust (the “Trust”), on behalf of the Redmont Resolute Fund I and Redmont Resolute Fund II (the “Redmont Funds”).
Filing Dates: The application was filed on February 2, 2012, and amended on July 17, 2012, and October 16, 2012.
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 4, 2012, and should be accompanied by proof of service on the 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.
Elizabeth M. Murphy, Secretary, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street NE., Washington, DC 20549-1090. Applicants: c/o JoAnn Strasser, Thompson Hine LLP, 41 South High Street, 17th Floor, Columbus OH 43215.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Deepak T. Pai, Senior Counsel, at (202) 551-6876, or Mary Kay Frech, Branch Chief, at (202) 551-6821 (Division of Investment Management, Office of Investment Company Regulation).
The following is a summary of the application. The complete application may be obtained via the Commission's Web site by searching for the file number, or an applicant using the Company name box, at http://www.sec.gov/search/search.htm or by calling (202) 551-8090.
1. The Trust, a Delaware statutory trust, is registered under the Act as an open-end management investment company and is comprised of individual series, including the Redmont Funds, each with its own investment objective, policies and restrictions.
The Adviser, an Alabama corporation, is, and each other Adviser will be, registered as an investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (the “Advisers Act”). The Adviser serves as the investment adviser of the Redmont Funds and will serve as investment adviser to the future Funds. The Redmont Funds have entered into an investment advisory agreement with the Adviser (the “Advisory Agreement”),
approved by the Trust's board of trustees (the “Board”),
including a majority of the trustees who are not “interested persons,” as defined in section 2(a)(19) of the Act, of the Trust or the Adviser (the “Independent Trustees”), and by shareholders representing a majority of each Redmont Fund's shares.
2. Under the terms of the Advisory Agreement, the Adviser is responsible for the overall management of each Redmont Fund's business affairs and selecting investments according to their respective investment objectives, policies and restrictions. For the investment management services that it provides to a Redmont Fund, the Adviser receives the fee specified in the Advisory Agreement. The Advisory Agreement also permits the Adviser to retain one or more subadvisers for the purpose of managing the investments of all or a portion of the assets of the Redmont Funds. Pursuant to this authority, the Adviser may enter into investment subadvisory agreements with unaffiliated investment subadvisers (“Subadvisers”) to provide investment advisory services to the Redmont Funds (each, a “Subadvisory Agreement” and together, the “Subadvisory Agreements”).
Each Subadviser will be registered as an investment adviser under the Advisers Act. The Adviser will supervise, evaluate and allocate assets to the Subadvisers, and make recommendations to the Board about their hiring, retention or release, at all times subject to the authority of the Board. The Adviser will compensate each Subadviser out of the fees paid to the Adviser under the Advisory Agreement.
3. Applicants request an order to permit the Adviser, subject to Board approval, to enter into and materially amend Subadvisory Agreements without obtaining shareholder approval. The requested relief will not extend to any subadviser that is an affiliated person, as defined in section 2(a)(3) of the Act, of the Trust, a Fund or the Adviser, other than by reason of serving as a subadviser to one or more of the Funds (an “Affiliated Subadviser”).
4. Funds will inform shareholders of the hiring of a new Subadviser pursuant to the following procedures (“Modified Notice and Access Procedures”): (a) Within 90 days after a new Subadviser is hired for any Fund, that Fund will send its shareholders either a Multi-manager Notice or a Multi-manager Notice and Multi-manager Information Statement; 
and (b) the Fund will make the Multi-manager Information Statement available on the Web site identified in the Multi-manager Notice no later than when the Multi-manager Notice (or Multi-manager Notice and Multi-manager Information Statement) is first sent to shareholders, and will maintain it on that Web site for at least 90 days. In the circumstances described in the application, a proxy solicitation to approve the appointment of new Subadvisers provides no more meaningful information to shareholders than the proposed Multi-manager Information Statement. Moreover, as indicated above, the Board would comply with the requirements of sections 15(a) and 15(c) of the Act before entering into or amending Subadvisory Agreements.
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 securities in a series investment company affected by a matter must approve that 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 provisions of the Act, or from any rule thereunder, 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. Applicants state that the requested relief meets this standard.
3. Applicants assert that the shareholders expect the Adviser and the Board to select the Subadvisers for the Funds that are best suited to achieve each Fund's investment objective. Applicants assert that, from the perspective of the investor, the role of the Subadvisers is substantially equivalent to that of the individual portfolio managers employed by the Adviser. Applicants state that requiring shareholder approval of each Subadvisory Agreement would impose costs and unnecessary delays on the Funds, and may preclude the Adviser from acting promptly in a manner considered advisable by the Board. Applicants note that the Advisory Agreement and any Subadvisory Agreement with an Affiliated Subadviser will remain subject to section 15(a) of the Act and rule 18f-2 under the Act, including the requirement for shareholder voting.
Applicants agree that any order granting the requested relief will be subject to the following conditions:
1. Before a Fund may rely on the requested order, 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 relying on the requested order will disclose in its prospectus the existence, substance, and effect of any order granted pursuant to the application. Each Fund will hold itself out to the public as utilizing the Manager of Managers Structure. The prospectus will prominently disclose that the Adviser has ultimate responsibility (subject to oversight by the Board) to oversee the Subadvisers and recommend their hiring, termination, and replacement.
3. Funds will inform shareholders of the hiring of a new Subadviser within 90 days after the hiring of the new Subadviser pursuant to the Modified Notice and Access Procedures.
4. The Adviser will not enter into a subadvisory agreement with any Affiliated Subadviser without such agreement, including the compensation to be paid thereunder, being approved by the shareholders of the applicable Fund.
5. At all times, at least a majority of the Board will be Independent Trustees, and the nomination of new or additional Independent Trustees will be placed within the discretion of the then-existing Independent Trustees.
6. Whenever 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 applicable Board minutes, that such 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.
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 of the Board, will: (a) Set each Fund's overall investment strategies; (b) evaluate, select and recommend Subadvisers to manage all or a part of each Fund's assets; (c) allocate and, when appropriate, reallocate each Fund's assets among one or more Subadvisers; (d) monitor and evaluate the performance of Subadvisers; and (e) implement procedures reasonably designed to ensure that the Subadvisers comply with each Fund's investment objective, policies and restrictions.
8. No trustee or officer of the Trust or a Fund, or director, manager, 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 (a) ownership of interests in the Adviser or any entity that controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with the Adviser, or (b) ownership of less than 1% of the outstanding securities of any class of equity or debt of any 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. In the event the Commission adopts a rule under the Act providing substantially similar relief to that in the order requested in the application, the requested order will expire on the effective date of that rule.
For the Commission, by the Division of Investment Management, under delegated authority.
Kevin M. O'Neill,
[FR Doc. 2012-27875 Filed 11-15-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8011-01-P