April 25, 2014.
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 sections 18(c) and 18(i) of the Act and for an order pursuant to Start Printed Page 24764section 17(d) of the Act and rule 17d-1 under the Act.
SUMMARY OF APPLICATION:
Applicants request an order to permit certain registered closed-end management investment companies to issue multiple classes of shares of beneficial interest (“Shares”) and to impose asset-based service and/or distribution fees and contingent deferred sales loads (“CDSCs”).
Steben Select Multi-Strategy Fund (the “Fund”) and Steben & Company, Inc. (the “Adviser”).
Filing Dates: The application was filed on April 5, 2013, and amended on March 21, 2014 and April 17, 2014.
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 May 20, 2014, 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.
Secretary, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street NE., Washington, DC 20549-1090; Applicants, c/o Francine J. Rosenberger, Esq., Steben & Company, Inc., 9711 Washingtonian Boulevard, Suite 400, Gaithersburg, MD 20878.
Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Mark N. Zaruba, Senior Counsel, at (202) 551-6878 or Mary Kay Frech, Branch Chief, at (202) 551-6821 (Division of Investment Management, Chief Counsel's Office).
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Start Supplemental Information
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 Fund is a continuously offered non-diversified closed-end management investment company registered under the Act and organized as a Delaware statutory trust. The Fund operates as a feeder fund in a master-feeder structure and invests substantially all of its assets in the Steben Select Multi-Strategy Master Fund (the “Master Fund”). The Master Fund invests in non-traditional or “alternative” strategies which may include investment funds commonly referred to as “hedge funds.”
2. The Adviser, a Maryland corporation, is registered as an investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and will serve as investment adviser to the Fund. A broker-dealer registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“1934 Act”) will act as the principal underwriter for the distribution of Shares 
of the Fund (the “Distributor”). The Adviser, which is a registered broker-dealer, may serve as the Distributor or the Distributor may be an affiliated person, as defined in section 2(a)(3) of the Act, of the Adviser.
3. The Fund continuously offers its Shares to the public under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. Shares of the Fund are not listed on any securities exchange and do not trade on an over-the-counter system such as Nasdaq. Applicants do not expect that any secondary market will develop for the Shares.
4. The Fund currently offers a single class of Shares at net asset value per share plus a servicing fee.
The Fund proposes to offer multiple classes of Shares at net asset value per share that may (but would not necessarily) be subject to a front-end sales load, an annual asset-based service and/or distribution fee, a minimum purchase requirement and/or an Early Withdrawal Fee (defined below), in each case as set forth in the Fund's prospectus.
5. In order to provide a limited degree of liquidity to shareholders, the Fund may from time to time offer to repurchase Shares at their then current net asset value in accordance with rule 13e-4 under the 1934 Act pursuant to written tenders by shareholders. Repurchases will be made at such times, in such amounts and on such terms as may be determined by the Fund's board of trustees (“Board”), in its sole discretion.
The Adviser expects to ordinarily recommend that the Board authorize the Fund to offer to repurchase Shares from shareholders quarterly.
6. Applicants request that the order also apply to any other continuously offered registered closed-end management investment company existing now or in the future for which the Adviser or any entity controlling, controlled by, or under common control with the Adviser acts as investment adviser, and which provides periodic liquidity with respect to its Shares through tender offers conducted in compliance with rule 13e-4 under the 1934 Act.
7. Applicants represent that any asset-based service and/or distribution fees will comply with the provisions of rule 2830(d) of the Conduct Rules of the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (“NASD Conduct Rule 2830”) as if that rule applied to the Fund.
Applicants also represent that the Fund will disclose in its prospectus, the fees, expenses and other characteristics of each class of Shares offered for sale by the prospectus as is required for open-end multiple class funds under Form N-1A. As is required for open-end funds, the Fund will disclose its expenses in shareholder reports, and disclose any arrangements that result in breakpoints in or elimination of sales loads in its prospectus.
The Fund will also comply with any requirements that may be adopted by the Commission or FINRA regarding disclosure at the point of sale Start Printed Page 24765and in transaction confirmations about the costs and conflicts of interest arising out of the distribution of open-end investment company shares, and regarding prospectus disclosure of sales loads and revenue sharing arrangements as if those requirements applied to the Fund.
8. The Fund will allocate all expenses incurred by it among the various classes of Shares based on the net assets of the Fund attributable to each class, except that the net asset value and expenses of each class will reflect distribution fees, service fees, and any other incremental expenses of that class. Expenses of a Fund allocated to a particular class of Shares will be borne on a pro rata basis by each outstanding Share of that class. Applicants state that the Fund will comply with the provisions of rule 18f-3 under the Act as if it were an open-end investment company.
9. In the event the Fund imposes a contingent deferred sales charge (“CDSC”), the applicants will comply with the provisions of rule 6c-10 under the Act, as if that rule applied to closed-end management investment companies. With respect to any waiver of, scheduled variation in, or elimination of the CDSC, the Fund will comply with rule 22d-1 under the Act as if the Fund were an open-end investment company.
Applicants' Legal Analysis
Multiple Classes of Shares
1. Section 18(c) of the Act provides, in relevant part, that a closed-end investment company may not issue or sell any senior security if, immediately thereafter, the company has outstanding more than one class of senior security. Applicants state that the creation of multiple classes of Shares of the Fund may be prohibited by section 18(c).
2. Section 18(i) of the Act provides that each share of stock issued by a registered management investment company will be a voting stock and have equal voting rights with every other outstanding voting stock. Applicants state that permitting multiple classes of Shares of the Fund may violate section 18(i) of the Act because each class would be entitled to exclusive voting rights with respect to matters solely related to that class.
3. 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 under the Act, if and to the extent 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 request an exemption under section 6(c) from sections 18(c) and 18(i) to permit the Fund to issue multiple classes of Shares.
4. Applicants submit that the proposed allocation of expenses and voting rights among multiple classes is equitable and will not discriminate against any group or class of shareholders. Applicants submit that the proposed arrangements would permit the Fund to facilitate the distribution of its Shares and provide investors with a broader choice of shareholder options. Applicants assert that the proposed closed-end investment company multiple class structure does not raise the concerns underlying section 18 of the Act to any greater degree than open-end investment companies' multiple class structures that are permitted by rule 18f-3 under the Act. Applicants state that the Fund will comply with the provisions of rule 18f-3 as if it were an open-end investment company.
1. Applicants believe that the requested relief meets the standards of section 6(c) of the Act. Rule 6c-10 under the Act permits open-end investment companies to impose CDSCs, subject to certain conditions. Applicants state that any CDSC imposed by the Fund will comply with rule 6c-10 under the Act as if the rule were applicable to closed-end investment companies. The Fund also will disclose CDSCs in accordance with the requirements of Form N-1A concerning CDSCs as if the Fund were an open-end investment company. Applicants further state that the Fund will apply the CDSC (and any waivers or scheduled variations of the CDSC) uniformly to all shareholders in a given class and consistently with the requirements of rule 22d-1 under the Act.
Asset-Based Service and/or Distribution Fees
1. Section 17(d) of the Act and rule 17d-1 under the Act prohibit an affiliated person of a registered investment company or an affiliated person of such person, acting as principal, from participating in or effecting any transaction in connection with any joint enterprise or joint arrangement in which the investment company participates unless the Commission issues an order permitting the transaction. In reviewing applications submitted under section 17(d) and rule 17d-1, the Commission considers whether the participation of the investment company in a joint enterprise or joint arrangement is consistent with the provisions, policies and purposes of the Act, and the extent to which the participation is on a basis different from or less advantageous than that of other participants.
2. Rule 17d-3 under the Act provides an exemption from section 17(d) and rule 17d-1 to permit open-end investment companies to enter into distribution arrangements pursuant to rule 12b-1 under the Act. Applicants request an order under section 17(d) and rule 17d-1 under the Act to permit the Fund to impose asset-based service and/or distribution fees. Applicants have agreed to comply with rules 12b-1 and 17d-3 as if those rules applied to closed-end investment companies.
The Fund agrees that any order granting the requested relief will be subject to the following condition:
Applicants will comply with the provisions of rules 6c-10, 12b-1, 17d-3, 18f-3 and 22d-1 under the Act, as amended from time to time or replaced, as if those rules applied to closed-end management investment companies, and will comply with the NASD Conduct Rule 2830, as amended from time to time, as if that rule applied to all closed-end management investment companies.
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For the Commission, by the Division of Investment Management, under delegated authority.
Kevin M. O'Neill,
[FR Doc. 2014-09927 Filed 4-30-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8011-01-P