American Funds, one of the largest issuers of actively managed mutual funds, is the latest fund giant to file plans with the Securities and Exchange to possibly list non-transparent actively managed exchange traded funds, an investment vehicle regulators have yet to approve.
Unlike traditional ETFs, most of which disclose holdings on a daily basis, active non-transparent funds would only disclose holdings periodically in an effort to deter front-running.
“The cloaked nature of these ETFs appeals to portfolio managers who are concerned about tipping their hand to other market participants about what they are buying and selling,” reports Karen Damato for the Wall Street Journal. The Journal originally reported that American Funds is mulling a foray into the ETF business.
Some of the largest asset managers and mutual fund companies have previously filed plans for active non-transparent ETFs, including State Street (NYSE: STT), BlackRock (NYSE: BLK), Eaton Vance (NYSE: EV), T. Rowe Price (NasdaqGS: TROW) and Precidian Investments. BlackRock and State Street are the two largest U.S. ETF issuers. [Waiting on SEC Approval of Non-Transparent Active ETFs]
Additionally, Eaton Vance Management has filed with the SEC to offer “exchange traded managed funds” or ETMFs that would not disclose holdings daily. According to the SEC filing, ETMFs would act as a new type of open-end fund that provides confidentiality of the current portfolio holdings while maintaining the cost and tax efficiencies and protections associated with ETFs.
ETMFs would trade on an exchange, with prices linked to the fund’s next-determined daily net asset value, or NAV.
While it appears that the level of attraction for fund issuers to non-transparent vehicles is high, it remains to be seen whether that will carry over to investors, many of which have embraced the daily disclosures offered by ETFs. Of course, it is far from a guarantee that the SEC will even approve these instruments.
Some mutual fund companies that are entering the ETF business are taking a different approach, noting that daily disclosure is not likely to be a detriment to a fund’s performance. Calamos Investments, the Chicago-based mutual fund issuer, said as much earlier this month when it introduced the actively managed Calamos Focus Growth ETF (NasdaqGM: CFGE). [Calamos Active ETF Could be a Winner]
The Calamos Focus Growth ETF is the ETF answer to the firm’s Calamos Focus Growth Mutual Fund (CBCAX). A brief visit to the Calamos Web site allows investors to see CFGE’s holdings as of July 28. Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL), Google (NasdaqGS: GOOGL) and Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB) combine for 21.2% of the new ETF’s weight.
Capital Research, the parent company of American Funds, manages eight of the 20 largest actively managed mutual funds, according to the Journal.
ETF Trends editorial team contributed to this post. Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of Apple and Facebook.
The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.