Recent No-Action Letter Suggests That the SEC Will Not Require Registration by a U.S. “Captive” Investment Advisory Subsidiary of a Foreign Insurance Company

In a letter dated June 30, 2011, the SEC’s Division of Investment Management (Division) confirmed that it would not recommend enforcement action to the SEC if the wholly-owned U.S. asset management subsidiary of a Japanese insurance company did not register with the SEC as an investment adviser.  For hedge fund managers, there are two potentially interesting aspects of this no-action letter, and one aspect of the no-action letter that limits its application.  The two potentially interesting aspects of the no-action letter are: First, it is one of the few pieces of authority, outside of rule releases, dealing with the real world implications of the elimination of the private adviser exemption by the Dodd-Frank Act.  (This elimination will happen automatically as of July 21, 2011, though the registration due date has been delayed to March 30, 2012.)  Second, at a broad level, it deals with registration questions in the context of global affiliate relationships – an area fraught with ambiguity, and one on which hedge fund industry participants are eager for more SEC guidance.  See “Impact of the Foreign Private Adviser Exemption and the Private Fund Adviser Exemption on the U.S. Activities of Non-U.S. Hedge Fund Managers,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 4, No. 16 (May 13, 2011).  However, unfortunately for those seeking guidance, the SEC did not focus on either of the foregoing two topics in its analysis.  Rather, the primary basis for the SEC’s grant of no-action relief, and the focus of its analysis, was more straightforward and less generalizable.

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