How Is Goldman Unwinding Its Private Fund Investment Program in Light of the Volcker Rule?

The Volcker Rule (Rule), adopted as part of the Dodd-Frank Act, prohibits banks from engaging in proprietary trading and from owning or sponsoring certain hedge funds and other private funds.  Final regulations under that Rule were issued at the end of 2013, and banks have been taking steps to assure that they comply with the Rule.  In a recent public filing, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (Goldman) detailed the mechanics of its compliance with the Rule, including how it is divesting itself of ownership of covered funds; the role of secondary market transactions in Goldman’s divestiture program; how Goldman will treat uncalled capital commitments; its withdrawal of financial support for covered funds; its move away from proprietary trading; calculation of metrics required by the Rule; and the impact of Goldman’s reduction of covered fund interests on its supplementary leverage ratio.  For similarly situated institutions, Goldman’s approach to Volcker Rule compliance is a useful benchmark.  For hedge fund and fund of funds managers, Goldman’s explanation of its private fund divestiture program and its other disclosures may offer insight into secondary market purchase opportunities, inform prime brokerage agreement negotiations and provide other useful insight.  See “Key Structuring and Negotiating Points in Secondary Sales of Private Fund Interests,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 7, No. 11 (Mar. 21, 2014).  This article provides background on the Rule and summarizes the sections of Goldman’s recent disclosure relevant to its compliance with the Rule.  For a discussion of the types of funds that banking entities may still invest in, see “Options Under the Volcker Rule for Bank Investment in Unaffiliated Private Equity and Hedge Funds,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 7, No. 9 (Mar. 7, 2014).  See also “Aligning Employee and Investor Interests under the Volcker Rule,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 7, No. 21 (Jun. 2, 2014).

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