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Statement of Additional Information 

February 1, 2023

 

AXS Funds

 

AXS Adaptive Plus Fund 

Investor Class Shares: AXSVX 

Class I Shares: AXSPX 

AXS Market Neutral Fund 

Investor Class Shares: COGMX 

Class I Shares: COGIX 

   

AXS All Terrain Opportunity Fund 

Class I Shares: TERIX

 

AXS Merger Fund 

Investor Class Shares: GAKAX 

Class I Shares: GAKIX 

   

AXS Alternative Value Fund

 Investor Class Shares: COGLX 

Class I Shares: COGVX 

AXS Multi-Strategy Alternatives Fund 

Investor Class Shares: KCMTX 

Class I Shares: KCMIX 

   

AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund 

Class A Shares: ECHAX 

Class C Shares: ECHCX 

Class I Shares: EQCHX 

AXS Sustainable Income Fund 

Class A Shares: AXSMX 

Class I Shares: AXSKX

   

AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund 

Class A Shares: LDVAX 

Class C Shares: LDVCX 

Class I Shares: LDVIX

AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund 

Class A Shares: LDPAX 

Class C Shares: LDPCX 

Class I Shares: LDPIX

 

Each a series of Investment Managers Series Trust II

 

This Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”) is not a prospectus, and it should be read in conjunction with the Prospectus dated February 1, 2023, of the AXS Adaptive Plus Fund, AXS All Terrain Opportunity Fund, AXS Alternative Value Fund, AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund, AXS Market Neutral Fund, AXS Merger Fund, AXS Multi-Strategy Alternatives Fund, AXS Sustainable Income Fund, AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund and AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund (each a Fund, and together the “Funds”), each a series of Investment Managers Series Trust II (the “Trust”). AXS Investments LLC (the “Advisor”) is the investment advisor to the Funds. Set forth below is a table of the sub-advisors (each a “Sub-Advisor” and together the “Sub-Advisors”) of the sub-advised Funds.

 

Fund Sub-Advisors
AXS Alternative Value Fund Quantitative Value Technologies LLC d/b/a Cognios Capital (“Cognios”)
AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund Chesapeake Capital Corporation (“Chesapeake”)
AXS Market Neutral Fund Cognios
AXS Merger Fund Kellner Management, L.P. (“Kellner”)
AXS Sustainable Income Fund   Green Alpha Advisors, LLC (“Green Alpha”) and Uniplan Investment Counsel, Inc. (“Uniplan”)

 

 

A copy of the Funds’ Prospectus may be obtained by contacting the Funds at the address or telephone number specified below. The Funds’ Annual Report to shareholders for the fiscal year September 30, 2022, is incorporated by reference herein. A copy of the Funds’ Annual Report can be obtained by contacting the Funds at the address or telephone number specified below.

 

AXS Funds 

P.O. Box 2175 

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201 

1-833-AXS-ALTS  

(1-833-297-2587)

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

THE TRUST AND THE FUNDS B-1
INVESTMENT STRATEGIES, POLICIES AND RISKS B-1
INVESTMENT RESTRICTIONS B-42
MANAGEMENT OF THE FUND B-43
PORTFOLIO TRANSACTIONS AND BROKERAGE B-64
PORTFOLIO TURNOVER B-67
PROXY VOTING POLICY B-68
ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING PROGRAM B-68
PORTFOLIO HOLDINGS INFORMATION B-68
DETERMINATION OF NET ASSET VALUE B-70
PURCHASE AND REDEMPTION OF FUND SHARES B-71
FEDERAL INCOME TAX MATTERS B-72
DIVIDENDS AND DISTRIBUTIONS B-79
GENERAL INFORMATION B-80
FINANCIAL STATEMENTS B-81
APPENDIX A - DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES RATINGS B-82
APPENDIX B - PROXY VOTING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES B-86

 

The Trust and The Funds

 

The Trust is an open-end management investment company organized as a Delaware statutory trust under the laws of the State of Delaware on August 20, 2013. The Trust currently consists of several other series of shares of beneficial interest. This SAI relates only to the Funds and not to the other series of the Trust.

 

The Trust is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) as an open-end management investment company. Such a registration does not involve supervision of the management or policies of the Fund. The Prospectus of the Fund and this SAI omit certain of the information contained in the Registration Statement filed with the SEC. Copies of such information may be obtained from the SEC upon payment of the prescribed fee.

 

Each of the Funds acquired all the assets and liabilities of the following funds (each a “Predecessor Fund”) as of the date listed below. Each Fund adopted the prior performance and financial history of the corresponding Predecessor Fund.

 

Fund Predecessor Fund

Acquisition

 Date 

AXS Alternative Value Fund AXS Alternative Value Fund4 March 5, 2021
AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund Equinox Chesapeake Strategy Fund1 November 8, 2019
AXS Market Neutral Fund AXS Market Neutral Fund4 March 5, 2021
AXS Merger Fund Kellner Merger Fund5 January 22, 2021
AXS Multi-Strategy Alternatives Fund   KCM Macro Trends Fund2 October 18, 2019
AXS Sustainable Income Fund   SKY Harbor Short Duration High Yield Partners, L.P.6 October 16, 2020

AXS Thomson Reuters 

Private Equity Return Tracker Fund 

Leland Thomson Reuters 

Private Equity Buyout Index Fund3 

November 20, 2020

AXS Thomson Reuters 

Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund 

Leland Thomson Reuters 

Venture Capital Index Fund

November 20, 2020

 

1 The Equinox Chesapeake Strategy Fund was a series of Equinox Funds Trust.

2 The KCM Macro Trends Fund was a series of Northern Lights Fund Trust.

3 The Leland Thomson Reuters Private Equity Buyout Index Fund and the Leland Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Index Fund were each a series of Northern Lights Fund Trust III.

4 The AXS Alternative Value Fund and the AXS Market Neutral Fund were each a series of M3Sixty Funds Trust.

5 The Kellner Merger Fund was a series of Advisors Series Trust.

6 The SKY Harbor Short Duration High Yield Partners, L.P. was a Delaware limited partnership.

 

Each of the Funds, except for the AXS Merger Fund and AXS Adaptive Plus Fund, is classified as a diversified fund, which means it is subject to the diversification requirements under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”). Under the 1940 Act, a diversified fund may not, with respect to 75% of its total assets, invest more than 5% of its total assets in the securities of one issuer (and in not more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of an issuer), excluding cash, Government securities, and securities of other investment companies. A Fund’s classification as a diversified fund may only be changed with the approval of the Fund’s shareholders.

 

The Funds currently offer several classes of shares as described on the cover page of this SAI. Other classes may be established from time to time in accordance with the provisions of the Trust’s Agreement and Declaration of Trust (the “Declaration of Trust”). Each class of shares of a Fund generally is identical in all respects except that each class of shares is subject to its own distribution expenses and minimum investments. Each class of shares also has exclusive voting rights with respect to its distribution fees.

 

Investment Strategies, Policies and Risks

 

The discussion below supplements information contained in the Funds’ Prospectus pertaining to the investment policies of one or more of the Funds.

B-1 

 

The AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund may invest up to 25% of its total assets in a wholly-owned and controlled subsidiary (the “Subsidiary”) at each quarter end of the Fund’s fiscal year. The Subsidiary is an exempted company incorporated with limited liability under the laws of the Cayman Islands. The Fund is the sole shareholder of its Subsidiary. The Subsidiary is advised by its Sub-Advisor, as applicable, and has the same investment objective as the Fund. Each Subsidiary complies with Section 8 of the 1940 Act governing investment policies and Section 18 of the 1940 Act governing capital structure and leverage on an aggregate basis with the corresponding Fund. Each Subsidiary also complies with Section 17 of the 1940 Act governing affiliated transactions and custody. Because each Subsidiary invests in some of the investments described in this SAI, the corresponding Fund will be directly or indirectly exposed to such investments. For that reason, references in the SAI to investments by, and activities and risks of, each Fund may also include investments by, and activities and risks of, the corresponding Subsidiary.

 

Investment through the Subsidiaries is expected to allow the corresponding Funds to gain exposure to the commodity markets within the limitations of the federal tax law requirements applicable to regulated investment companies. None of the Funds have received a private letter ruling from the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) confirming that income derived from its Subsidiary will constitute qualifying income to the Fund. The IRS is no longer issuing private letter rulings to that effect. The tax treatment of a Fund’s investment in commodity interests or in a Subsidiary could be adversely affected by future legislation or Treasury regulations.

 

The Funds’ principal investment strategies and related risks are identified in the below table and described in detail following the table. A Fund may also invest, to a lesser extent, in investments other than those identified as its principal investments.

 

Investments

and Risks

AXS

Adaptive

Plus Fund

AXS All

Terrain

Opportunity

Fund

AXS

Alternative

Value

Fund

AXS

Chesapeake

Strategy

Fund

AXS

Market

Neutral

Fund

AXS

Merger

Fund

AXS

Multi-Strategy Alternatives

Fund

AXS

Sustainable

Income

Fund

AXS Thomson

Reuters Private

Equity Return

Tracker Fund

AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund
Equity Securities: X X X X X X X X X X
Common Stock X X X X X   X X X X
Preferred Stock   X X   X X X X    
Small- and Mid-Cap Stocks   X X   X X X X X X
Warrants and Rights   X X   X   X X    
Convertible Securities   X X   X     X    
Private Equity Investing                 X  
Venture Capital Investing                   X
Large-Cap Stocks     X   X   X   X X
Debt Securities:   X X X X X X X X X
Government Obligations   X X X X X X X X X
Mortgage-Backed Securities   X           X    
Asset-Backed Securities               X    
Agency Obligations               X    
Lower-Rated Debt Securities   X           X    

B-2 

 

Investments

and Risks

AXS

Adaptive

Plus Fund

AXS All

Terrain

Opportunity

Fund

AXS

Alternative

Value

Fund

AXS

Chesapeake

Strategy

Fund

AXS

Market

Neutral

Fund

AXS

Merger

Fund

AXS

Multi-Strategy Alternatives

Fund

AXS

Sustainable

Income

Fund

AXS Thomson

Reuters Private

Equity Return

Tracker Fund

AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund
Over-the-Counter Transactions – Fixed Income Securities                      
Sovereign Debt Obligations                    
Zero Coupon, Step Coupon, and Pay-In-Kind Securities               X    
Floating Rate, Inverse Floating Rate and Index Obligations               X    
Bank Loans and Loan Participations               X    
Collateralized Loan Obligations               X    
Foreign Investments:   X X X X X X X    
Emerging Markets   X   X       X    
Foreign Currency Transactions   X   X            
Depositary Receipts   X X   X   X      
Europe—Recent Events   X           X    
Developments in the China Region   X           X    
Derivatives: X X   X   X X   X X
Options on Securities X X         X      
Futures and Options on Futures X X   X     X X    
Stock Index Futures X X   X     X      
Commodities and Commodity Contracts       X            
Forwards       X            
Swap Transactions X     X         X X
Counterparty Risk       X         X X
OTC Derivative Transactions   X   X         X X
Investment Company Securities X X X   X   X X X X
Exchange Traded Funds X X X   X   X X X X
Leveraged and Inverse ETFs X X                

B-3 

 

Investments

and Risks

AXS

Adaptive

Plus Fund

AXS All

Terrain

Opportunity

Fund

AXS

Alternative

Value

Fund

AXS

Chesapeake

Strategy

Fund

AXS

Market

Neutral

Fund

AXS

Merger

Fund

AXS

Multi-Strategy Alternatives

Fund

AXS

Sustainable

Income

Fund

AXS Thomson

Reuters Private

Equity Return

Tracker Fund

AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund
Closed-End Funds   X           X    
Exchange Traded Notes   X X              
Inverse ETNs   X                
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles               X    
Master Limited Partnerships           X        
When-Issued or Delayed-Delivery Instruments               X    
Illiquid and Restricted Securities   X X X X X X X X X
Structured Investments   X           X    
Brady Bonds   X                
BDCs and SPACs   X                
Variable Amount Master Demand Notes   X                
Short Sales   X   X X X X      
REITs         X X        
ESG Criteria Risk               X    
Borrowing   X X   X     X    
Temporary Investments   X X X X X X X    
Short-Term Investments   X X X X X X X X X
Commercial Paper, Short-Term Notes and Other Corporate Obligations   X X X X   X X    
Certificates of Deposit, Bankers’ Acceptances and Time Deposits   X X   X     X    
Savings Association Obligations     X   X     X    
Municipal Bonds   X                
Large Shareholder Redemption Risk   X X X X X X X X X
Cybersecurity Risk   X X X X X X X X X
LIBOR Risk X X   X     X X X X
Index Investing                 X X
Tracking Error                 X X
Licensing                 X X
Concentration                 X X

B-4 

 

Investments

and Risks

AXS

Adaptive

Plus Fund

AXS All

Terrain

Opportunity

Fund

AXS

Alternative

Value

Fund

AXS

Chesapeake

Strategy

Fund

AXS

Market

Neutral

Fund

AXS

Merger

Fund

AXS

Multi-Strategy Alternatives

Fund

AXS

Sustainable

Income

Fund

AXS Thomson

Reuters Private

Equity Return

Tracker Fund

AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund
Repurchase Agreements   X X   X     X    
Reverse Repurchase Agreements   X X   X          
Private Placements and Restricted Securities                    
Lending Portfolio Securities   X X   X     X    

 

Market Conditions 

Events in certain sectors historically have resulted, and may in the future result, in an unusually high degree of volatility in the financial markets, both domestic and foreign. These events have included, but are not limited to: bankruptcies, corporate restructurings, and other events related to the sub-prime mortgage crisis in 2008; governmental efforts to limit short selling and high frequency trading; measures to address U.S. federal and state budget deficits; social, political, and economic instability in Europe; economic stimulus by the Japanese central bank; steep declines in oil prices; dramatic changes in currency exchange rates; China’s economic slowdown; and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Interconnected global economies and financial markets increase the possibility that conditions in one country or region might adversely impact issuers in a different country or region. Such events may cause significant declines in the values and liquidity of many securities and other instruments. It is impossible to predict whether such conditions will recur. Because such situations may be widespread, it may be difficult to identify both risks and opportunities using past models of the interplay of market forces, or to predict the duration of such events.

 

An outbreak of an infectious respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 was first detected in China in December 2019 and then was detected globally. This coronavirus has resulted in certain travel restrictions, closed international borders, enhanced health screenings at ports of entry and elsewhere, disruption of and delays in healthcare service preparation and delivery, prolonged quarantines, cancellations, supply chain disruptions, and lower consumer demand, as well as general concern and uncertainty. The impact of COVID-19, and other infectious illness outbreaks that may arise in the future, could adversely affect the economies of many nations or the entire global economy, individual issuers and capital markets in ways that cannot necessarily be foreseen. In addition, the impact of infectious illnesses in emerging market countries may be greater due to generally less established healthcare systems. Public health crises caused by the COVID-19 outbreak may exacerbate other pre-existing political, social and economic risks in certain countries or globally. The duration of the COVID-19 outbreak and its effects cannot be determined with certainty.

 

Equity Securities

 

Common Stock  

The Funds may invest in common stock. Common stock represents an equity (ownership) interest in a company, and usually possesses voting rights and earns dividends. Dividends on common stock are not fixed but are declared at the discretion of the issuer. Common stock generally represents the riskiest investment in a company. In addition, common stock generally has the greatest appreciation and depreciation potential because increases and decreases in earnings are usually reflected in a company’s stock price.

 

The fundamental risk of investing in common stock is that the value of the stock might decrease. Stock values fluctuate in response to the activities of an individual company or in response to general market and/or economic conditions. While common stocks have historically provided greater long-term returns than preferred stocks, fixed-income and money market investments, common stocks have also experienced significantly more volatility than the returns from those other investments.

B-5 

 

Private Equity Investing  

Additional special risks inherent in private equity-funded companies include that little public information exists for such companies. The Underlying Index’s return may not match or achieve a high degree of correlation with the return of U.S. venture capital-backed companies. Because newly private companies inherently carry a degree of risk, including the risk that a company will fail, the returns of the private equity industry may be subject to greater volatility than the returns of more established publicly traded companies. As a result, the AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund’s returns also may experience greater volatility than a direct or indirect investment in more established public companies. The Fund does not invest in private equity funds nor does it invest in the companies funded by private equity funds.

 

Venture Capital Investing  

Venture capital is a type of equity financing that addresses the funding needs of entrepreneurial companies that for reasons of size, assets, and stage of development cannot seek capital from more traditional sources, such as public markets and banks. Additional special risks inherent in venture capital-funded companies include that little public information exists for such companies, which are frequently private and thinly traded companies. Such a lack of information may lead to greater tracking error between the Underlying Index and the TR VC Research Index or adversely affect the correlation of the AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund’s performance to that of the U.S. venture capital industry, generally. In addition, because new or very early companies inherently carry a degree of risk, including the risk that a company will fail, the returns of the venture capital backed companies may be subject to greater volatility than the returns of more established publicly traded companies. As a result, the Fund’s returns also may experience greater volatility than a direct or indirect investment in more established public companies. The Fund does not invest in venture capital funds nor does it invest in the companies funded by venture capital funds.

 

Preferred Stock  

The Funds may invest in preferred stock. Preferred stock is a class of stock having a preference over common stock as to the payment of dividends and a share of the proceeds resulting from the issuer’s liquidation although preferred stock is usually subordinate to the debt securities of the issuer. Some preferred stocks also entitle their holders to receive additional liquidation proceeds on the same basis as the holders of the issuer’s common stock. Preferred stock typically does not possess voting rights and its market value may change based on changes in interest rates. If interest rates rise, the fixed dividend on preferred stocks may be less attractive, causing the price of preferred stocks to decline. Preferred stock may have mandatory sinking fund provisions, as well as call/redemption provisions prior to maturity, a negative feature when interest rates decline. In addition, a fund may receive stocks or warrants as a result of an exchange or tender of fixed income securities. Preference stock, which is more common in emerging markets than in developed markets, is a special type of common stock that shares in the earnings of an issuer, has limited voting rights, may have a dividend preference, and may also have a liquidation preference. Depending on the features of the particular security, holders of preferred and preference stock may bear the risks regarding common stock or fixed income securities.

 

Small- and Mid-Cap Stocks  

The Funds may invest in stock of companies with market capitalizations that are small compared to other publicly traded companies. Investments in larger companies present certain advantages in that such companies generally have greater financial resources, more extensive research and development, manufacturing, marketing and service capabilities, and more stability and greater depth of management and personnel. Investments in smaller, less seasoned companies may present greater opportunities for growth but also may involve greater risks than customarily are associated with more established companies. The securities of smaller companies may be subject to more abrupt or erratic market movements than larger, more established companies. These companies may have limited product lines, markets or financial resources, or they may be dependent upon a limited management group. Their securities may be traded in the over-the-counter market or on a regional exchange, or may otherwise have limited liquidity. As a result of owning large positions in this type of security, a Fund is subject to the additional risk of possibly having to sell portfolio securities at disadvantageous times and prices if redemptions require a Fund to liquidate its securities positions. In addition, it may be prudent for a Fund, as its asset size grows, to limit the number of relatively small positions it holds in securities having limited liquidity in order to minimize its exposure to such risks, to minimize transaction costs, and to maximize the benefits of research. As a consequence, as a Fund’s asset size increases, a Fund may reduce its exposure to illiquid small capitalization securities, which could adversely affect performance.

B-6 

 

The Funds may also invest in stocks of companies with medium market capitalizations (i.e., mid-cap companies). Such investments share some of the risk characteristics of investments in stocks of companies with small market capitalizations described above, although mid cap companies tend to have longer operating histories, broader product lines and greater financial resources and their stocks tend to be more liquid and less volatile than those of smaller capitalization issuers.

 

Large-Cap Stocks  

The Funds may invest in stock of companies with large market capitalizations. Larger, more established companies may be unable to attain the high growth rates of successful, smaller companies during periods of economic expansion. In addition, large-capitalization companies may be unable to respond quickly to new competitive challenges, such as changes in technology and consumer tastes, and may be more prone to global economic risks.

 

Warrants and Rights  

The Funds may invest in warrants or rights (including those acquired in units or attached to other securities) that entitle (but do not obligate) the holder to buy equity securities at a specific price for a specific period of time but will do so only if such equity securities are deemed appropriate by the Advisor, as applicable. Rights are similar to warrants but typically have a shorter duration and are issued by a company to existing stockholders to provide those holders the right to purchase additional shares of stock at a later date. Warrants and rights do not have voting rights, do not earn dividends, and do not entitle the holder to any rights with respect to the assets of the company that has issued them. They do not represent ownership of the underlying companies but only the right to purchase shares of those companies at a specified price on or before a specified exercise date. Warrants and rights tend to be more volatile than the underlying stock, and if at a warrant’s expiration date the stock is trading at a price below the price set in the warrant, the warrant will expire worthless. Conversely, if at the expiration date the stock is trading at a price higher than the price set in the warrant or right, a Fund can acquire the stock at a price below its market value. The prices of warrants and rights do not necessarily parallel the prices of the underlying securities. An investment in warrants or rights may be considered speculative.

 

Convertible Securities  

The Funds may invest in convertible securities. A convertible security is a preferred stock, warrant or other security that may be converted or exchanged for a prescribed amount of common stock or other security of the same or a different issuer or into cash within a particular period of time at a specified price or formula. A convertible security generally entitles the holder to receive the dividend or interest until the convertible security matures or is redeemed, converted or exchanged. Before conversion, convertible securities generally have characteristics similar to both fixed income and equity securities. Although to a lesser extent than with fixed income securities generally, the market value of convertible securities tends to decline as interest rates increase and, conversely, tends to increase as interest rates decline. In addition, because of the conversion feature, the market value of convertible securities tends to vary with fluctuations in the market value of the underlying common stocks and, therefore, also will react to variations in the general market for equity securities. A significant feature of convertible securities is that as the market price of the underlying common stock declines, convertible securities tend to trade increasingly on a yield basis, and so they may not experience market value declines to the same extent as the underlying common stock. When the market price of the underlying common stock increases, the prices of the convertible securities tend to rise as a reflection of the value of the underlying common stock. While no securities investments are without risk, investments in convertible securities generally entail less risk than investments in common stock of the same issuer.

 

Short Sales 

A Fund may seek to hedge investments or realize additional gains through the use of short sales. A short sale is a transaction in which a Fund sells a security it does not own in anticipation that the market price of that security will decline. If the price of the security sold short increases between the time of the short sale and the time a Fund replaces the borrowed security, the Fund will incur a loss; conversely, if the price declines, the Fund will realize a capital gain. Any gain will be decreased, and any loss will be increased, by the transaction costs incurred by a Fund, including the costs associated with providing collateral to the broker-dealer (usually cash and liquid securities) and the maintenance of collateral with its custodian. A Fund also may be required to pay a premium to borrow a security, which would increase the cost of the security sold short. Although a Fund’s gain is limited to the price at which it sold the security short, its potential loss is theoretically unlimited.

B-7 

 

The broker-dealer will retain the net proceeds of the short sale to the extent necessary to meet margin requirements until the short position is closed out.

 

When the Sub-Advisor believes that the price of a particular security held by a Fund may decline, it may make “short sales against the box” to hedge the unrealized gain on such security. Selling short against the box involves selling a security which a Fund owns for delivery at a specified date in the future. A Fund will incur transaction costs to open, maintain and close short sales against the box.

 

Real Estate Investment Trusts (“REITs”) 

The Funds may invest in REITs. REITs are pooled investment vehicles that invest primarily in income producing real estate or real estate related loans or interests. REITs are generally classified as equity REITs, mortgage REITs, or a combination of equity and mortgage REITs. Equity REITs invest the majority of their assets directly in real property and derive income primarily from the collection of rents. Equity REITs can also realize capital gains by selling properties that have appreciated in value. Mortgage REITs invest the majority of their assets in real estate mortgages and derive income from the collection of principal and interest payments. Similar to regulated investment companies such as the Fund, REITs are not taxed on income distributed to shareholders provided they comply with certain requirements of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”). The Fund will indirectly bear its proportionate share of expenses incurred by REITs in which the Fund invests in addition to the expenses incurred directly by the Fund.

 

Investing in REITs involves certain unique risks in addition to those risks associated with investing in the real estate industry in general. Equity REITs may be affected by changes in the value of the underlying property owned by the REITs, while mortgage REITs may be affected by the quality of any credit extended. REITs are dependent upon management skills, are not diversified, and are subject to heavy cash flow dependency, default by borrowers and self-liquidation.

 

Investing in REITs involves risks similar to those associated with investing in small capitalization companies. REITs may have limited financial resources, may trade less frequently and in a limited volume and may be subject to more abrupt or erratic price movements than larger company securities. Historically, small capitalization stocks, such as REITs, have had more price volatility than larger capitalization stocks.

 

REITs may fail to qualify for the favorable federal income tax treatment generally available to them under the Code and may fail to maintain their exemptions from registration under the 1940 Act. REITs (especially mortgage REITs) also are subject to interest rate risks. When interest rates decline, the value of a REIT’s investment in fixed-rate obligations can be expected to rise. Conversely, when interest rates rise, the value of a REIT’s investment in fixed-rate obligations can be expected to decline. In contrast, as interest rates on adjustable rate mortgage loans are reset periodically, yields on a REIT’s investments in such loans will gradually align themselves to reflect changes in market interest rates, causing the value of such investments to fluctuate less dramatically in response to interest rate fluctuations than would investments in fixed-rate obligations.

 

Effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act generally allows individuals and certain other non-corporate entities, such as partnerships, a deduction for 20% of qualified REIT dividends. Recently issued proposed regulations allow a RIC to pass the character of its qualified RIC dividends through to its shareholders provided certain holding period requirements are met.

 

Debt Securities  

The Funds may invest in debt securities. Debt securities are used by issuers to borrow money. Generally, issuers pay investors periodic interest and repay the amount borrowed either periodically during the life of the security and/or at maturity. Some debt securities, such as zero coupon bonds, do not pay current interest, but are purchased at a discount from their face values and accrue interest at the applicable coupon rate over a specified time period. Some debt securities pay a periodic coupon that is not fixed; instead payments “float” relative to a reference rate, such as the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”). This “floating rate” debt may pay interest at levels above or below the previous interest payment. The market prices of debt securities fluctuate depending on such factors as interest rates, credit quality and maturity. In general, market prices of debt securities decline when interest rates rise and increase when interest rates fall.

B-8 

 

Lower rated debt securities, those rated Ba or below by Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. (“Moody’s”) and/or BB or below by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Group (“S&P”) or unrated but determined by the Advisor or Sub-advisor, as applicable, to be of comparable quality, are described by the rating agencies as speculative and involve greater risk of default or price changes than higher rated debt securities due to changes in the issuer’s creditworthiness or the fact that the issuer may already be in default. The market prices of these securities may fluctuate more than higher quality securities and may decline significantly in periods of general economic difficulty. It may be more difficult to sell or to determine the value of lower rated debt securities.

 

Certain additional risk factors related to debt securities are discussed below:

 

Sensitivity to interest rate and economic changes. Debt securities may be sensitive to economic changes, political and corporate developments, and interest rate changes. In addition, during an economic downturn or periods of rising interest rates, issuers that are highly leveraged may experience increased financial stress that could adversely affect their ability to meet projected business goals, obtain additional financing, and service their principal and interest payment obligations. Furthermore, periods of economic change and uncertainty can be expected to result in increased volatility of market prices and yields of certain debt securities. For example, prices of these securities can be affected by financial contracts held by the issuer or third parties (such as derivatives) related to the security or other assets or indices.

 

Payment expectations. Debt securities may contain redemption or call provisions. If an issuer exercises these provisions in a lower interest rate environment, the Funds would have to replace the security with a lower yielding security, resulting in decreased income to investors. If the issuer of a debt security defaults on its obligations to pay interest or principal or is the subject of bankruptcy proceedings, the Funds may incur losses or expenses in seeking recovery of amounts owed to it.

 

Liquidity. Liquidity risk may result from the lack of an active market, or reduced number and capacity of traditional market participants to make a market in fixed income securities, and may be magnified in a rising interest rate environment or other circumstances where investor redemptions from fixed income mutual funds may be higher than normal, causing increased supply in the market due to selling activity. In such cases, the Funds, due to limitations on investments in illiquid securities and the difficulty in purchasing and selling such securities or instruments, may be unable to achieve its desired level of exposure to a certain sector. To the extent that the Funds’ principal investment strategies involve investments in securities of companies with smaller market capitalizations, foreign non-U.S. securities, Rule 144A securities, illiquid sectors of fixed income securities, derivatives or securities with substantial market and/or credit risk, the Funds will tend to have the greatest exposure to liquidity risk. Further, fixed income securities with longer durations until maturity face heightened levels of liquidity risk as compared to fixed income securities with shorter durations until maturity. Finally, liquidity risk also refers to the risk of unusually high redemption requests or other unusual market conditions that may make it difficult for the Funds to fully honor redemption requests within the allowable time period. Meeting such redemption requests could require the Funds to sell securities at reduced prices or under unfavorable conditions, which would reduce the value of the Funds. It may also be the case that other market participants may be attempting to liquidate fixed income holdings at the same time as the Funds, causing increased supply in the market and contributing to liquidity risk and downward pricing pressure.

 

The Advisor or Sub-advisor, as applicable, attempts to reduce the risks described above through diversification of the Funds’ portfolio, credit analysis of each issuer, and by monitoring broad economic trends as well as corporate and legislative developments, but there can be no assurance that it will be successful in doing so. Credit ratings of debt securities provided by rating agencies indicate a measure of the safety of principal and interest payments, not market value risk. The rating of an issuer is a rating agency’s view of past and future potential developments related to the issuer and may not necessarily reflect actual outcomes. There can be a lag between corporate developments and the time a rating is assigned and updated.

B-9 

 

Changing Fixed Income Market Conditions. Following the financial crisis that began in 2007, the U.S. government and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Federal Reserve”) as well as certain foreign governments and central banks, took steps to support the financial markets, including by keeping interest rates at historically low levels and by purchasing large quantities of securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities on the open market (“Quantitative Easing”). Similar steps were taken again in 2020 in an effort to support the economy during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2022, the Federal Reserve began to unwind its balance sheet by not replacing existing bond holdings as they mature (“Quantitative Tightening”). Also in 2022, the Federal Reserve began raising the federal funds rate in an effort to fight inflation. Such policy changes may expose fixed-income and related markets to heightened volatility and may reduce liquidity for certain Fund investments, which could cause the value of the Funds’ investments and share price to decline. If a Fund invests in derivatives tied to fixed income markets it may be more substantially exposed to these risks than a fund that does not invest in derivatives. Government interventions such as those described above may not work as intended, particularly if the efforts are perceived by investors as being unlikely to achieve the desired results.

 

Bond markets have consistently grown over the past three decades while the capacity for traditional dealer counterparties to engage in fixed income trading has not kept pace and in some cases has decreased. As a result, dealer inventories of corporate bonds, which provide a core indication of the ability of financial intermediaries to “make markets,” are at or near historic lows in relation to market size. Because market makers provide stability to a market through their intermediary services, the significant reduction in dealer inventories could potentially lead to decreased liquidity and increased volatility in the fixed income markets. Such issues may be exacerbated during periods of economic uncertainty.

 

Bond Ratings. Bond rating agencies may assign modifiers (such as +/–) to ratings categories to signify the relative position of a credit within the rating category. Investment policies that are based on ratings categories should be read to include any security within that category, without considering the modifier. Please refer to Appendix A for more information about credit ratings.

 

Government Obligations   

The Funds may invest in U.S. government obligations. Such obligations include Treasury bills, certificates of indebtedness, notes and bonds. U.S. government obligations include securities issued or guaranteed as to principal and interest by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities. Treasury bills, the most frequently issued marketable government securities, have a maturity of up to one year and are issued on a discount basis. U.S. government obligations include securities issued or guaranteed by government-sponsored enterprises.

 

Payment of principal and interest on U.S. government obligations may be backed by the full faith and credit of the United States or may be backed solely by the issuing or guaranteeing agency or instrumentality itself. In the latter case, the investor must look principally to the agency or instrumentality issuing or guaranteeing the obligation for ultimate repayment, which agency or instrumentality may be privately owned. There can be no assurance that the U.S. government would provide financial support to its agencies or instrumentalities, including government-sponsored enterprises, where it is not obligated to do so. In addition, U.S. government obligations are subject to fluctuations in market value due to fluctuations in market interest rates. As a general matter, the value of debt instruments, including U.S. government obligations, declines when market interest rates increase and rises when market interest rates decrease. Certain types of U.S. government obligations are subject to fluctuations in yield or value due to their structure or contract terms.

 

Mortgage-Backed Securities  

The Funds may invest in mortgage-backed securities and derivative mortgage-backed securities and may also invest in “principal only” and “interest only” components. Mortgage-backed securities are securities that directly or indirectly represent a participation in, or are secured by and payable from, mortgage loans on real property. As with other debt securities, mortgage-backed securities are subject to credit risk and interest rate risk. However, the yield and maturity characteristics of mortgage-backed securities differ from traditional debt securities. A major difference is that the principal amount of the obligations may normally be prepaid at any time because the underlying assets (i.e., loans) generally may be prepaid at any time. The relationship between prepayments and interest rates may give some mortgage-backed securities less potential for growth in value than conventional fixed-income securities with comparable maturities. In addition, in periods of falling interest rates, the rate of prepayments tends to increase. During such periods, the reinvestment of prepayment proceeds by the Fund will generally be at lower rates than the rates that were carried by the obligations that have been prepaid. If interest rates rise, borrowers may prepay mortgages more slowly than originally expected. This may further reduce the market value of mortgage-backed securities and lengthen their durations. Because of these and other reasons, a mortgage-backed security’s total return, maturity and duration may be difficult to predict precisely.

B-10 

 

Mortgage-backed securities come in different classes that have different risks. Junior classes of mortgage-backed securities are designed to protect the senior class investors against losses on the underlying mortgage loans by taking the first loss if there are liquidations among the underlying loans. Junior classes generally receive principal and interest payments only after all required payments have been made to more senior classes. If a Fund invests in junior classes of mortgage-related securities, it may not be able to recover all of its investment in the securities it purchases. In addition, if the underlying mortgage portfolio has been overvalued, or if mortgage values subsequently decline, a Fund may suffer significant losses. Investments in mortgage-backed securities involve the risks of interruptions in the payment of interest and principal (delinquency) and the potential for loss of principal if the property underlying the security is sold as a result of foreclosure on the mortgage (default). These risks include the risks associated with direct ownership of real estate, such as the effects of general and local economic conditions on real estate values, the conditions of specific industry segments, the ability of tenants to make lease payments and the ability of a property to attract and retain tenants, which in turn may be affected by local market conditions such as oversupply of space or a reduction of available space, the ability of the owner to provide adequate maintenance and insurance, energy costs, government regulations with respect to environmental, zoning, rent control and other matters, and real estate and other taxes. If the underlying borrowers cannot pay their mortgage loans, they may default and the lenders may foreclose on the property.

 

The ability of borrowers to repay mortgage loans underlying mortgage-backed securities will typically depend upon the future availability of financing and the stability of real estate values. For mortgage loans not guaranteed by a government agency or other party, the only remedy of the lender in the event of a default is to foreclose upon the property. If borrowers are not able or willing to pay the principal balance on the loans, there is a good chance that payments on the related mortgage-related securities will not be made. Certain borrowers on underlying mortgages may become subject to bankruptcy proceedings, in which case the value of the mortgage-backed securities may decline.

 

Asset-Backed Securities 

The Funds may invest in asset-backed securities that, through the use of trusts and special purpose vehicles, are securitized with various types of assets, such as automobile receivables, credit card receivables and home-equity loans in pass- through structures similar to the mortgage-related securities described above. In general, the collateral supporting asset-backed securities is of shorter maturity than the collateral supporting mortgage loans and is less likely to experience substantial prepayments. However, asset-backed securities are not backed by any governmental agency. Credit card receivables are generally unsecured, and the debtors are entitled to the protection of a number of state and federal consumer credit laws, many of which give such debtors the right to set off certain amounts owed on the credit cards, thereby reducing the balance due. In addition, some issuers of automobile receivables permit the servicers to retain possession of the underlying obligations. If the servicers were to sell these obligations to another party, there is a risk that the purchaser would acquire an interest superior to that of the holders of the related automobile receivables. The impairment of value of collateral or other assets underlying an asset-based security, such as a result of non-payment of loans or non-performance of other collateral or underlying assets, may reduce the value of such asset-based security and result in losses to the Fund.

 

Agency Obligations  

The Funds may invest in agency obligations, such as obligations of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, Tennessee Valley Authority, Resolution Funding Corporation, Farmers Home Administration, Federal Home Loan Banks, Federal Intermediate Credit Banks, Federal Farm Credit Banks, Federal Land Banks, Federal Housing Administration, Government National Mortgage Association (“GNMA”), commonly known as “Ginnie Mae,” Federal National Mortgage Association (“FNMA”), commonly known as “Fannie Mae,” Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“FHLMC”), commonly known as “Freddie Mac,” and the Student Loan Marketing Association (“SLMA”). Some, such as those of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, are supported only by the right of the issuer to borrow from the Treasury; others, such as those of the FNMA and FHLMC, are supported by only the discretionary authority of the U.S. government to purchase the agency’s obligations; still others, such as those of the SLMA, are supported only by the credit of the instrumentality. No assurance can be given that the U.S. government would provide financial support to U.S. government-sponsored instrumentalities because they are not obligated by law to do so. As a result, there is a risk that these entities will default on a financial obligation. For instance, in September 2008, at the direction of the U.S. Treasury, FNMA and FHLMC were placed into conservatorship under the Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA”), a newly created independent regulator.

B-11 

 

Lower-Rated Debt Securities  

The Funds may invest in lower-rated fixed-income securities (commonly known as “junk bonds”). The lower ratings reflect a greater possibility that adverse changes in the financial condition of the issuer or in general economic conditions, or both, or an unanticipated rise in interest rates, may impair the ability of the issuer to make payments of interest and principal. The inability (or perceived inability) of issuers to make timely payment of interest and principal would likely make the values of securities held by the Fund more volatile and could limit the Fund’s ability to sell its securities at prices approximating the values the Fund had placed on such securities. In the absence of a liquid trading market for securities held by it, the Fund at times may be unable to establish the fair value of such securities. Securities ratings are based largely on the issuer’s historical financial condition and the rating agencies’ analysis at the time of rating. Consequently, the rating assigned to any particular security is not necessarily a reflection of the issuer’s current financial condition, which may be better or worse than the rating would indicate. In addition, the rating assigned to a security by Moody’s or S&P (or by any other nationally recognized securities rating agency) does not reflect an assessment of the volatility of the security’s market value or the liquidity of an investment in the security.

 

Like those of other fixed-income securities, the values of lower-rated securities fluctuate in response to changes in interest rates. A decrease in interest rates will generally result in an increase in the value of the Fund’s fixed-income assets. Conversely, during periods of rising interest rates, the value of the Fund’s fixed-income assets will generally decline. The values of lower-rated securities may often be affected to a greater extent by changes in general economic conditions and business conditions affecting the issuers of such securities and their industries. Negative publicity or investor perceptions may also adversely affect the values of lower-rated securities. Changes by nationally recognized securities rating agencies in their ratings of any fixed-income security and changes in the ability of an issuer to make payments of interest and principal may also affect the value of these investments. Changes in the value of portfolio securities generally will not affect income derived from these securities, but will affect the Fund’s net asset value. The Fund will not necessarily dispose of a security when its rating is reduced below its rating at the time of purchase. However, the Advisor or Sub-advisor, as applicable, will monitor the investment to determine whether its retention will assist in meeting each Fund’s investment objective. Issuers of lower-rated securities are often highly leveraged, so that their ability to service their debt obligations during an economic downturn or during sustained periods of rising interest rates may be impaired. Such issuers may not have more traditional methods of financing available to them and may be unable to repay outstanding obligations at maturity by refinancing.

 

The risk of loss due to default in payment of interest or repayment of principal by such issuers is significantly greater because such securities frequently are unsecured and subordinated to the prior payment of senior indebtedness. It is possible that, under adverse market or economic conditions or in the event of adverse changes in the financial condition of the issuer, the Fund could find it more difficult to sell these securities when the Advisor or Sub-advisor, as applicable, believes it advisable to do so or may be able to sell the securities only at prices lower than if they were more widely held. Under these circumstances, it may also be more difficult to determine the fair value of such securities for purposes of computing the Fund’s net asset value. In order to enforce its rights in the event of a default, the Fund may be required to participate in various legal proceedings or take possession of and manage assets securing the issuer’s obligations on such securities. This could increase the Fund’s operating expenses and adversely affect the Fund’s net asset value. The ability of a holder of a tax-exempt security to enforce the terms of that security in a bankruptcy proceeding may be more limited than would be the case with respect to securities of private issuers. In addition, each Fund’s intention to qualify as a “regulated investment company” under the Code may limit the extent to which the Fund may exercise its rights by taking possession of such assets. To the extent a Fund invests in securities in the lower rating categories, the achievement of the Fund’s investment objective is more dependent on the Advisor’s or Sub-advisor’s, as applicable, investment analysis than would be the case if the Fund were investing in securities in the higher rating categories.

B-12 

 

Over-the-Counter Transactions – Fixed Income Securities 

The Funds may enter into over-the-counter (“OTC”) transactions involving fixed income securities. OTC transactions differ from exchange-traded transactions in several respects.  OTC transactions are transacted directly with dealers and not with a clearing corporation. Without the availability of a clearing corporation, OTC transaction pricing is normally done by reference to information from market makers, which information is carefully monitored by the Advisor or Sub-Advisor and verified in appropriate cases. As OTC transactions are transacted directly with dealers, there is a risk of nonperformance by the dealer as a result of the insolvency of such dealer or otherwise. The Funds intends to enter into OTC transactions only with dealers which agree to, and which are expected to be capable of, entering into closing transactions with the Funds. There is also no assurance that the Funds will be able to liquidate an OTC transaction at any time prior to expiration.

 

Sovereign Debt Obligations   

The Funds may invest in sovereign debt obligations, which are securities issued or guaranteed by foreign governments, governmental agencies or instrumentalities and political subdivisions, including debt of developing countries. Sovereign debt may be in the form of conventional securities or other types of debt instruments such as loans or loan participations. Sovereign debt of developing countries may involve a high degree of risk, and may be in default or present the risk of default. Governmental entities responsible for repayment of the debt may be unable or unwilling to repay principal and pay interest when due, and may require renegotiation or rescheduling of debt payments. In addition, prospects for repayment of principal and payment of interest may depend on political as well as economic factors. Although some sovereign debt, such as Brady Bonds, is collateralized by U.S. government securities, repayment of principal and payment of interest is not guaranteed by the U.S. government. There is no bankruptcy proceeding by which sovereign debt on which governmental entities have defaulted may be collected in whole or in part.

 

Zero Coupon, Step Coupon, and Pay-In-Kind Securities  

Zero coupon bonds are securities that make no fixed interest payments but instead are issued and traded at a discount from their face value. They do not entitle the holder to any periodic payment of interest prior to maturity. Step coupon bonds trade at a discount from their face value and pay coupon interest. The coupon rate is low for an initial period and then increases to a higher coupon rate thereafter. The discount from the face amount or par value depends on the time remaining until cash payments begin, prevailing interest rates, liquidity of the security, and the perceived credit quality of the issuer. Pay-in-kind bonds normally give the issuer an option to pay cash at a coupon payment date or give the holder of the security a similar bond with the same coupon rate and a face value equal to the amount of the coupon payment that would have been made.

 

Generally, the market prices of zero coupon, step coupon, and pay-in-kind securities are more volatile than the prices of securities that pay interest periodically and in cash and are likely to respond to changes in interest rates to a greater degree than other types of debt securities having similar maturities and credit quality.

 

Floating Rate, Inverse Floating Rate and Index Obligations  

The Funds may invest in debt securities with interest payments or maturity values that are not fixed, but float in conjunction with (or inversely to) an underlying index or price. These securities may be backed by sovereign or corporate issuers, or by collateral such as mortgages. The indices and prices upon which such securities can be based include interest rates, currency rates and commodities prices. Floating rate securities pay interest according to a coupon which is reset periodically. The reset mechanism may be formula based, or reflect the passing through of floating interest payments on an underlying collateral pool. Inverse floating rate securities are similar to floating rate securities except that their coupon payments vary inversely with an underlying index by use of a formula. Inverse floating rate securities tend to exhibit greater price volatility than other floating rate securities. Interest rate risk and price volatility on inverse floating rate obligations can be high, especially if leverage is used in the formula. Index securities pay a fixed rate of interest, but have a maturity value that varies by formula, so that when the obligation matures a gain or loss may be realized. The risk of index obligations depends on the volatility of the underlying index, the coupon payment and the maturity of the obligation.

B-13 

 

Bank Loans And Loan Participations  

The Funds may invest in bank loans and loan participations. Commercial banks and other financial institutions or institutional investors make corporate loans to companies that need capital to grow or restructure. Borrowers generally pay interest on corporate loans at rates that change in response to changes in market interest rates such as the LIBOR or the prime rates of U.S. banks. As a result, the value of corporate loan investments is generally less exposed to the adverse effects of shifts in market interest rates than investments that pay a fixed rate of interest. However, because the trading market for certain corporate loans may be less developed than the secondary market for bonds and notes, the Fund may experience difficulties in selling its corporate loans. The Fund may make certain corporate loan investments as part of a broader group of lenders (together often referred to as a “syndicate”) that is represented by a leading financial institution (or agent bank). The syndicate’s agent arranges the corporate loans, holds collateral and accepts payments of principal and interest. If the agent develops financial problems or is terminated, the Fund may not recover its investment or recovery may be delayed. Corporate loans are subject to the credit risk of nonpayment of principal or interest. Further, substantial increases in interest rates may cause an increase in loan defaults. Although the loans will generally be fully collateralized at the time of acquisition, the collateral may decline in value, be relatively illiquid or lose all or substantially all of its value subsequent to investment. If a borrower files for protection from its creditors under the U.S. bankruptcy laws, these laws may limit the Fund’s rights to the collateral. In addition, the value of collateral may erode during a bankruptcy case. In the event of a bankruptcy, the holder of a corporate loan may not recover its principal, may experience a long delay in recovering its investment and may not receive interest during the delay. Further, interests in bank loans and loan participations are not considered to be securities and, therefore, are not protected under the federal securities laws, including the 1940 Act. As part of transacting in bank loans the Fund may come into possession of material nonpublic information about a borrower as a result of its investment. Because of prohibitions on trading while in possession of such information, the Fund may be unable to invest or transact in the publicly traded securities of that borrower when it would otherwise be advantageous to do so.

 

The Funds may also invest in second lien loans (secured loans with a claim on collateral subordinate to a senior lender’s claim on such collateral) and unsecured loans. Holders’ claims under unsecured loans are subordinated to claims of creditors holding secured indebtedness and possibly other classes of creditors holding unsecured debt. Unsecured loans have a greater risk of default than secured loans, particularly during periods of deteriorating economic conditions. Also, since they do not afford the lender recourse to collateral, unsecured loans are subject to greater risk of nonpayment in the event of default than secured loans. Many such loans are relatively illiquid and may be difficult to value.

 

Some bank loans are subject to the risk that a court, pursuant to fraudulent conveyance or other similar laws, could subordinate the bank loans to presently existing or future indebtedness of the borrower or take other action detrimental to the holders of the bank loans, including, in certain circumstances, invalidating such bank loans or causing interest previously paid to be refunded to the borrower. If interest were required to be refunded, it could negatively affect Fund performance.

 

Indebtedness of companies whose creditworthiness is poor involves substantially greater risks and may be highly speculative. Some companies may never pay off their indebtedness or pay only a small fraction of the amount owed. Consequently, when investing in indebtedness of companies with poor credit, the Fund bears a substantial risk of losing the entire amount invested.

 

Investments in bank loans through a direct assignment of the financial institution’s interest with respect to the bank loan may involve additional risks. For example, if a secured bank loan is foreclosed, the Fund could become part owner of any collateral, and would bear the costs and liabilities associated with owning and disposing of the collateral. In addition, it is conceivable that under emerging legal theories of lender liability, the Fund could be held liable as a co-lender.

 

Bank loans may be structured to include both term loans, which are generally fully funded at the time of investment, and revolving credit facilities, which would require the Fund to make additional investments in the bank loans as required under the terms of the credit facility at the borrower’s demand.

 

A financial institution’s employment as agent bank may be terminated in the event that it fails to observe a requisite standard of care or becomes insolvent. A successor agent bank would generally be appointed to replace the terminated agent bank, and assets held by the agent bank under the loan agreement would remain available to the holders of such indebtedness. However, if assets held by the agent bank for the benefit of the Fund were determined to be subject to the claims of the agent bank’s general creditors, the Fund may incur certain costs and delays in realizing payments on a bank loan or loan participation and could suffer a loss of principal and/or interest.

B-14 

 

The Funds generally will treat the corporate borrower as the “issuer” of indebtedness held by the Fund. In the case of loan participations where a bank or other lending institution serves as a financial intermediary between the Fund and the corporate borrower, if the participation does not shift to the Fund the direct debtor-creditor relationship with the corporate borrower, SEC interpretations require the Fund to treat both the lending bank or other lending institution and the corporate borrower as “issuers”.

 

Collateralized Loan Obligations

 

The Funds may invest in collateralized loan obligations (“CLOs”). Due to the structure of CLOs, they are subject to asset manager, legal and regulatory, limited recourse, liquidity, redemption, and reinvestment risks. A CLO’s performance is linked to the expertise of the CLO manager and its ability to manage the CLO portfolio. Changes in the regulation of CLOs may adversely affect the value of the CLO investments held by the Fund and the ability of the Fund to execute its investment strategy. CLO debt is payable solely from the proceeds of the CLO’s underlying assets and, therefore, if the income from the underlying loans is insufficient to make payments on the CLO debt, no other assets will be available for payment. CLO debt securities may be subject to redemption and the timing of redemptions may adversely affect the returns on CLO debt. The CLO manager may not find suitable assets in which to invest and the CLO manager’s opportunities to invest may be limited.

 

Foreign Investments 

The Funds may make foreign investments. Investments in the securities of foreign issuers and other non-U.S. investments may involve risks in addition to those normally associated with investments in the securities of U.S. issuers or other U.S. investments. All foreign investments are subject to risks of foreign political and economic instability, adverse movements in foreign exchange rates, and the imposition or tightening of exchange controls and limitations on the repatriation of foreign capital. Other risks stem from potential changes in governmental attitude or policy toward private investment, which in turn raises the risk of nationalization, increased taxation or confiscation of foreign investors’ assets. Additionally, the imposition of sanctions, trade restrictions (including tariffs) and other government restrictions by the United States and/or other governments may adversely affect the values of the Fund’s foreign investments.

 

The financial problems in global economies over the past several years, including the European sovereign debt crisis, may continue to cause high volatility in global financial markets. In addition, global economies are increasingly interconnected, which increases the possibilities that conditions in one country or region might adversely impact a different country or region. The severity or duration of these conditions may also be affected if one or more countries leave the Euro currency or by other policy changes made by governments or quasi-governmental organizations.

 

Additional non-U.S. taxes and expenses may also adversely affect the Funds’ performance, including foreign withholding taxes on foreign securities’ dividends. Brokerage commissions and other transaction costs on foreign securities exchanges are generally higher than in the United States. Foreign companies may be subject to different accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards. To the extent foreign securities held by the Funds are not registered with the SEC or with any other U.S. regulator, the issuers thereof will not be subject to the reporting requirements of the SEC or any other U.S. regulator. Accordingly, less information may be available about foreign companies and other investments than is generally available on issuers of comparable securities and other investments in the United States. Foreign securities and other investments may also trade less frequently and with lower volume and may exhibit greater price volatility than U.S. securities and other investments.

 

Changes in foreign exchange rates will affect the value in U.S. dollars of any foreign currency-denominated securities and other investments held by the Funds. Exchange rates are influenced generally by the forces of supply and demand in the foreign currency markets and by numerous other political and economic events occurring outside the United States, many of which may be difficult, if not impossible, to predict.

B-15 

 

Income from any foreign securities and other investments will be received and realized in foreign currencies, and the Funds are required to compute and distribute income in U.S. dollars. Accordingly, a decline in the value of a particular foreign currency against the U.S. dollar occurring after the Funds’ income has been earned and computed in U.S. dollars may require the Funds to liquidate portfolio securities or other investments to acquire sufficient U.S. dollars to make a distribution. Similarly, if the exchange rate declines between the time the Funds incurs expenses in U.S. dollars and the time such expenses are paid, the Funds may be required to liquidate additional portfolio securities or other investments to purchase the U.S. dollars required to meet such expenses.

 

The Funds may purchase foreign bank obligations. In addition to the risks described above that are generally applicable to foreign investments, the investments that the Funds makes in obligations of foreign banks, branches or subsidiaries may involve further risks, including differences between foreign banks and U.S. banks in applicable accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards, and the possible establishment of exchange controls or other foreign government laws or restrictions applicable to the payment of certificates of deposit or time deposits that may affect adversely the payment of principal and interest on the securities and other investments held by the Funds.

 

Emerging Markets   

The Funds may invest in companies organized or doing substantial business in emerging market countries or developing countries as defined by the World Bank, International Financial Corporation, or the Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) emerging market indices or other comparable indices. Investing in emerging markets involves additional risks and special considerations not typically associated with investing in other more established economies or markets. Such risks may include (i) increased risk of nationalization or expropriation of assets or confiscatory taxation; (ii) greater social, economic and political uncertainty, including war; (iii) higher dependence on exports and the corresponding importance of international trade; (iv) greater volatility, less liquidity and smaller capitalization of markets; (v) greater volatility in currency exchange rates; (vi) greater risk of inflation; (vii) greater controls on foreign investment and limitations on realization of investments, repatriation of invested capital and on the ability to exchange local currencies for U.S. dollars; (viii) increased likelihood of governmental involvement in and control over the economy; (ix) governmental decisions to cease support of economic reform programs or to impose centrally planned economies; (x) differences in regulatory, accounting, auditing, and financial reporting and recordkeeping standards, which may result in the unavailability of material information about issuers; (xi) less extensive regulation of the markets; (xii) longer settlement periods for transactions and less reliable clearance and custody arrangements; (xiii) less developed corporate laws regarding fiduciary duties of officers and directors and the protection of investors; (xiv) certain considerations regarding the maintenance of the Fund’s securities with local brokers and securities depositories and (xv) the imposition of withholding or other taxes on dividends, interest, capital gains, other income or gross sale or disposition proceeds. 

 

Repatriation of investment income, assets and the proceeds of sales by foreign investors may require governmental registration and/or approval in some emerging market countries. The Fund could be adversely affected by delays in or a refusal to grant any required governmental registration or approval for such repatriation, or by withholding taxes imposed by emerging market countries on interest or dividends paid on securities held by the Fund or gains from the disposition of such securities.

 

In emerging markets, there is often less government supervision and regulation of business and industry practices, stock exchanges, over-the-counter markets, brokers, dealers, counterparties and issuers than in other more established markets. The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (“PCAOB”), which regulates auditors of U.S. public companies, for example, may be unable to inspect audit work and practices in certain countries. The PCAOB’s limited ability to oversee the operations of accounting firms in such countries would mean that inaccurate or incomplete financial records of an issuer’s operations may not be detected, which could negatively impact a Fund’s investments in such companies. Any regulatory supervision that is in place may be subject to manipulation or control. Some emerging market countries do not have mature legal systems comparable to those of more developed countries. Moreover, the process of legal and regulatory reform may not be proceeding at the same pace as market developments, which could result in investment risk. Legislation to safeguard the rights of private ownership may not yet be in place in certain areas, and there may be the risk of conflict among local, regional and national requirements. In certain cases, the laws and regulations governing investments in securities may not exist or may be subject to inconsistent or arbitrary appreciation or interpretation. Both the independence of judicial systems and their immunity from economic, political or nationalistic influences remain largely untested in many countries. It may also be difficult or impossible for the Fund to pursue legal remedies or to obtain and enforce judgments in local courts.

B-16 

 

Many Chinese companies have created variable interest entities (“VIEs”) as a means to circumvent limits on foreign ownership of equity in Chinese companies. Investments in companies that use a VIE structure may pose additional risks because the investment is made through an intermediary entity that exerts control of the underlying operating business through contractual means rather than equity ownership and, as a result, may limit the rights of an investor. Although VIEs are a longstanding industry practice and well known to officials and regulators in China, VIE structures are not formally recognized under Chinese law. Investors face uncertainty about future actions by the government of China that could significantly affect an operating company’s financial performance and the enforceability of the VIE’s contractual arrangements. It is uncertain whether Chinese officials or regulators will withdraw their implicit acceptance of the VIE structure, or whether any new laws, rules, or regulations relating to VIE structures will be adopted or, if adopted, what impact they would have on the interests of foreign shareholders. Under extreme circumstances, China might prohibit the existence of VIEs, or sever their ability to transmit economic and governance rights to foreign individuals and entities; if so, the market value of the Funds’ associated portfolio holdings would likely suffer significant, detrimental, and possibly permanent effects, which could result in substantial investment losses.

 

There may also be restrictions on imports from certain countries, such as Russia, and dealings with certain state-sponsored entities. For example, following Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine, the President of the United States signed an Executive Order in February 2022 prohibiting U.S. persons from entering transactions with the Central Bank of Russia and Executive Orders in March 2022 prohibiting U.S. persons from importing oil and gas from Russia as well as other popular Russian exports, such as diamonds, seafood and vodka. There may also be restrictions on investments in Chinese companies. For example, the President of the United States signed an Executive Order in June 2021 affirming and expanding the U.S. policy prohibiting U.S. persons from purchasing or investing in publicly-traded securities of companies identified by the U.S. Government as “Chinese Military-Industrial Complex Companies.” The list of such companies can change from time to time, and as a result of forced selling or an inability to participate in an investment the Advisor otherwise believes is attractive, the Fund may incur losses. Any of these factors may adversely affect a Fund’s performance or the Fund’s ability to pursue its investment objective.

 

Foreign Currency Transactions   

The Funds may conduct foreign currency exchange transactions either on a spot, i.e., cash, basis at the prevailing rate in the foreign exchange market. Foreign currency transactions are generally used to obtain foreign currencies to settle securities transactions or to exchange one currency for another. They can also be used as a hedge to protect assets against adverse changes in foreign currency exchange rates or regulations. When a Fund uses foreign currency exchanges as a hedge, it may also limit potential gain that could result from an increase in the value of such currencies. Currency exchange rates may be volatile and the Fund may be affected either favorably or unfavorably by fluctuations in the relative rates of exchange between the currencies of different nations, market or economic downswings, or other relevant factors, such as the actions of governments or central banks, the imposition of currency controls, and speculation. Foreign currency hedging transactions are used to protect against foreign currency exchange rate risks.

 

There is no systematic reporting of last sale information for foreign currencies, and there is no regulatory requirement that quotations available through dealers or other market sources be firm or revised on a timely basis. Quotation information available is generally representative of very large transactions in the interbank market. The interbank market in foreign currencies is a global around-the-clock market. Since foreign currency transactions occurring in the interbank market involve substantially larger amounts than those that may be involved in the use of foreign currency options, the Fund may be disadvantaged by having to deal in an odd lot market (generally consisting of transactions of less than $1 million) for the underlying foreign currencies at prices that are less favorable than for round lots.

 

Depositary Receipts  

The Funds may invest in depositary receipts. American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”) are negotiable receipts issued by a U.S. bank or trust company that evidence ownership of securities in a foreign company which have been deposited with such bank or trust company’s office or agent in a foreign country. European Depositary Receipts (“EDRs”) are negotiable certificates held in the bank of one country representing a specific number of shares of a stock traded on an exchange of another country. Global Depositary Receipts (“GDRs”) are negotiable certificates held in the bank of one country representing a specific number of shares of a stock traded on an exchange of another country. Canadian Depositary Receipts (“CDRs”) are negotiable receipts issued by a Canadian bank or trust company that evidence ownership of securities in a foreign company which have been deposited with such bank or trust company’s office or agent in a foreign country.

B-17 

 

Investing in ADRs, EDRs, GDRs, and CDRs presents risks that may not be equal to the risk inherent in holding the equivalent shares of the same companies that are traded in the local markets even though the Fund will purchase, sell and be paid dividends on ADRs in U.S. dollars. These risks include fluctuations in currency exchange rates, which are affected by international balances of payments and other economic and financial conditions; government intervention; speculation; and other factors. With respect to certain foreign countries, there is the possibility of expropriation or nationalization of assets, confiscatory taxation, political and social upheaval, and economic instability. The Funds may be required to pay foreign withholding or other taxes on certain ADRs, EDRs, GDRs, or CDRs that it owns, but investors may or may not be able to deduct their pro-rata share of such taxes in computing their taxable income, or take such shares as a credit against their U.S. federal income tax. See “Federal Income Tax Matters.” ADRs, EDRs, GDRs, and CDRs may be sponsored by the foreign issuer or may be unsponsored. Unsponsored ADRs, EDRs, GDRs, and CDRs are organized independently and without the cooperation of the foreign issuer of the underlying securities. Unsponsored ADRs, EDRs, GDRs, and CDRs are offered by companies which are not prepared to meet either the reporting or accounting standards of the United States. While readily exchangeable with stock in local markets, unsponsored ADRs, EDRs, GDRs, and CDRs may be less liquid than sponsored ADRs, EDRs, GDRs, and CDRs. Additionally, there generally is less publicly available information with respect to unsponsored ADRs, EDRs, GDRs, and CDRs.

 

Developments in the China Region 

After nearly 30 years of unprecedented growth, the People’s Republic of China now faces a slowing economy. The real estate market, which many observers believed to be inflated, has begun to decline. Local governments, which had borrowed heavily to bolster growth, face high debt burdens and limited revenue sources. As a result, demand for Chinese exports by the United States and countries in Europe, and demands for Chinese imports from such countries, may weaken due to the effects of more limited economic growth. Additionally, Chinese actions to lay claim to disputed islands have caused relations with China’s regional trading partners to suffer, and could cause further disruption to regional and international trade. From time to time, China has experienced outbreaks of infectious illnesses, and the country may be subject to other public health threats, infectious illnesses, diseases or similar issues in the future. Any spread of an infectious illness, public health threat or similar issue could reduce consumer demand or economic output, result in market closures, travel restrictions or quarantines, and generally have a significant impact on the Chinese economy. In the long run, China’s ability to develop and sustain a credible legal, regulatory, monetary, and socioeconomic system could influence the course of outside investment.

 

Europe – Recent Events 

A number of countries in Europe have experienced severe economic and financial difficulties. Many non-governmental issuers, and even certain governments, have defaulted on, or been forced to restructure, their debts; many other issuers have faced difficulties obtaining credit or refinancing existing obligations; financial institutions have in many cases required government or central bank support, have needed to raise capital, and/or have been impaired in their ability to extend credit; and financial markets in Europe and elsewhere have experienced extreme volatility and declines in asset values and liquidity. These difficulties may continue, worsen or spread within or outside Europe. Responses to the financial problems by European governments, central banks and others, including austerity measures and reforms, may not work, may result in social unrest and may limit future growth and economic recovery or have other unintended consequences. Further defaults or restructurings by governments and others of their debt could have additional adverse effects on economies, financial markets and asset valuations around the world.

 

The European Union (the “EU”) currently faces major issues involving its membership, structure, procedures and policies, including the successful political, economic and social integration of new member states, the EU’s resettlement and distribution of refugees, and resolution of the EU’s problematic fiscal and democratic accountability. In addition, one or more countries may abandon the Euro, the common currency of the EU, and/or withdraw from the EU. The impact of these actions, especially if they occur in a disorderly fashion, is not clear but could be significant and far-reaching.

B-18 

 

United Kingdom Exit from the EU. On January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom (the “UK”) formally withdrew from the EU (commonly referred to as “Brexit”) and, after a transition period, left the EU single market and customs union under the terms of a new trade agreement, effective January 1, 2021. The agreement governs the new relationship between the UK and EU with respect to trading goods and services, but critical aspects of the relationship remain unresolved and subject to further negotiation and agreement. The political, regulatory, and economic consequences of Brexit are uncertain, and the ultimate ramifications may not be known for some time. The effects of Brexit on the UK and EU economies and the broader global economy could be significant, resulting in negative impacts, such as business and trade disruptions, increased volatility and illiquidity, and potentially lower economic growth of markets in the UK, EU, and globally, which could negatively impact the value of the Fund’s investments. Brexit could also lead to legal uncertainty and politically divergent national laws and regulations while the new relationship between the UK and EU is further defined and the UK determines which EU laws to replace or replicate. Additionally, depreciation of the British pound sterling and/or the euro in relation to the U.S. dollar following Brexit could adversely affect Fund investments denominated in the British pound sterling and/or the euro, regardless of the performance of the investment.

 

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine. Russia has attempted to assert its influence in Eastern Europe in the recent past through economic and military measures, including military incursions into Georgia in 2008 and eastern Ukraine in 2014, heightening geopolitical risk in the region and tensions with the West. On February 24, 2022, Russia initiated a large-scale invasion of Ukraine resulting in the displacement of millions of Ukrainians from their homes, a substantial loss of life, and the widespread destruction of property and infrastructure throughout Ukraine. In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the governments of the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and many other nations joined together to impose heavy economic sanctions on certain Russian individuals, including its political leaders, as well as Russian corporate and banking entities and other Russian industries and businesses. The sanctions restrict companies from doing business with Russia and Russian companies, prohibit transactions with the Russian central bank and other key Russian financial institutions and entities, ban Russian airlines and ships from using many other countries’ airspace and ports, respectively, and place a freeze on certain Russian assets. The sanctions also removed some Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT), the electronic network that connects banks globally to facilitate cross-border payments. In addition, the United States has banned oil and other energy imports from Russia, and the United Kingdom made a commitment to phase out oil imports from Russia by the end of 2022. The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and their global allies may impose additional sanctions or other intergovernmental actions against Russia in the future, but Russia may respond in kind by imposing retaliatory economic sanctions or countermeasures. The extent and duration of the war in Ukraine and the longevity and severity of sanctions remain unknown, but they could have a significant adverse impact on the European economy as well as the price and availability of certain commodities, including oil and natural gas, throughout the world. Further, an escalation of the military conflict beyond Ukraine’s borders could result in significant, long-lasting damage to the economies of Eastern and Western Europe as well as the global economy.

 

General. Whether or not the Fund invests in securities of issuers located in Europe or with significant exposure to European issuers or countries, these events could negatively affect the value and liquidity of the Fund’s investments due to the interconnected nature of the global economy and capital markets. The Fund may also be susceptible to these events to the extent that the Fund invests in municipal obligations with credit support by non-U.S. financial institutions.

 

Temporary Investments 

The Funds may take temporary defensive measures that are inconsistent with a Fund’s normal fundamental or non-fundamental investment policies and strategies in response to adverse market, economic, political, or other conditions as determined by the Sub-Advisor. Such measures could include, but are not limited to, investments in (1) highly liquid short-term fixed income securities issued by or on behalf of municipal or corporate issuers, obligations of the U.S. government and its agencies, commercial paper, and bank certificates of deposit; (2) repurchase agreements involving any such securities; and (3) other money market instruments. A Fund also may invest in shares of money market mutual funds to the extent permitted under applicable law. Money market mutual funds are investment companies, and the investments in those companies by a Fund are in some cases subject to certain fundamental investment restrictions. As a shareholder in a mutual fund, a Fund will bear its ratable share of its expenses, including management fees, and will remain subject to payment of the fees to the Sub-Advisor, with respect to assets so invested. A Fund may not achieve its investment objectives during temporary defensive periods.

B-19 

 

Derivatives 

Each Fund may utilize a variety of derivatives contracts, such as futures, options, swaps and forward contracts, both for investment purposes and for hedging purposes. Hedging involves special risks including the possible default by the other party to the transaction, illiquidity and, to the extent the Advisor’s ’s assessment of certain market movements is incorrect, the risk that the use of hedging could result in losses greater than if hedging had not been used. Nonetheless, with respect to certain investment positions, a Fund may not be sufficiently hedged against market fluctuations, in which case an investment position could result in a loss greater than if the Advisor had been sufficiently hedged with respect to such position.

 

The Advisor or Sub-Advisors will not, in general, attempt to hedge all market or other risks inherent in a Fund’s positions, and may hedge certain risks, if at all, only partially. Specifically, the Advisor or Sub-Advisors may choose not, or may determine that it is economically unattractive, to hedge certain risks, either in respect of particular positions or in respect of a Fund’s overall portfolio. Moreover, it should be noted that a Fund’s portfolio always will be exposed to unidentified systematic risk factors and to certain risks that cannot be completely hedged, such as credit risk (relating both to particular securities and to counterparties). A Fund’s portfolio composition may result in various directional market risks remaining unhedged, although the Advisor or Sub-Advisors may rely on diversification to control such risks to the extent that the Advisor or Sub-Advisors believes it is desirable to do so.

 

The regulation of derivatives markets in the United States is a rapidly changing area of law and is subject to modification by government and judicial action. In particular, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”), signed into law in 2010, granted significant authority to the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) to impose comprehensive regulations on the over-the-counter and cleared derivatives markets. These regulations include, but are not limited to, mandatory clearing of certain derivatives and requirements relating to disclosure, margin and trade reporting. New regulations could adversely affect the value, availability and performance of certain derivative instruments, may make them more costly, and may limit or restrict their use by the Funds.

 

In October 2020, the SEC adopted Rule 18f-4 under the 1940 Act (the “Derivatives Rule”), which provides an updated, comprehensive framework for registered investment companies’ use of derivatives. The Derivatives Rule requires investment companies that enter into derivatives transactions and certain other transactions that create future payment or delivery obligations to, among other things, (i) comply with a value-at-risk (“VaR”) leverage limit, and (ii) adopt and implement a comprehensive written derivatives risk management program. These and other requirements apply unless the Fund qualifies as a “limited derivatives user,” which the Derivatives Rule defines as a fund that limits its derivatives exposure to 10% of its net assets. Complying with the Derivatives Rule may increase the cost of the Fund’s investments and cost of doing business, which could adversely affect investors. The Derivatives Rule may not be effective to limit a Fund’s risk of loss. In particular, measurements of VaR rely on historical data and may not accurately measure the degree of risk reflected in a Fund’s derivatives or other investments. Other potentially adverse regulatory obligations can develop suddenly and without notice.

 

Certain additional risk factors related to derivatives are discussed below:

 

Derivatives Risk. Under recently adopted rules by the CFTC, transactions in some types of interest rate swaps and index credit default swaps on North American and European indices will be required to be cleared. In a cleared derivatives transaction, a Fund’s counterparty is a clearing house (such as CME Clearing, ICE Clearing or LCH.Clearnet), rather than a bank or broker. Since a Fund is not a member of clearing houses and only members of a clearing house can participate directly in the clearing house, a Fund will hold cleared derivatives through accounts at clearing members, who are futures commission merchants that are members of the clearing houses and who have the appropriate regulatory approvals to engage in swap transactions. A Fund will make and receive payments owed under cleared derivatives transactions (including margin payments) through its accounts at clearing members. Clearing members guarantee performance of their clients’ obligations to the clearing house. In contrast to bilateral derivatives transactions, following a period of advance notice to a Fund, clearing members generally can require termination of existing cleared derivatives transactions at any time and increases in margin above the margin that it required at the beginning of a transaction. Clearing houses also have broad rights to increase margin requirements for existing transactions and to terminate transactions. Any such increase or termination could interfere with the ability of a Fund to pursue its investment strategy. Also, a Fund is subject to execution risk if it enters into a derivatives transaction that is required to be cleared (or that the Advisor expects to be cleared), and no clearing member is willing or able to clear the transaction on a Fund’s behalf. While the documentation in place between a Fund and its clearing members generally provides that the clearing members will accept for clearing all transactions submitted for clearing that are within credit limits specified by the clearing members in advance, a Fund could be subject to this execution risk if a Fund submits for clearing transactions that exceed such credit limits, if the clearing house does not accept the transactions for clearing, or if the clearing members do not comply with their agreement to clear such transactions. In that case, the transaction might have to be terminated, and a Fund could lose some or all of the benefit of any increase in the value of the transaction after the time of the transaction. In addition, new regulations could, among other things, restrict a Fund’s ability to engage in, or increase the cost to a Fund of, derivatives transactions, for example, by making some types of derivatives no longer available to a Fund or increasing margin or capital requirements. If a Fund is not able to enter into a particular derivatives transaction, a Fund’s investment performance and risk profile could be adversely affected as a result.

B-20 

 

Counterparty Risk. Counterparty risk with respect to OTC derivatives may be affected by new regulations promulgated by the CFTC and SEC affecting the derivatives market. As described under “Derivatives Risk” above, some derivatives transactions will be required to be cleared, and a party to a cleared derivatives transaction is subject to the credit risk of the clearing house and the clearing member through which it holds its cleared position, rather than the credit risk of its original counterparty to the derivative transaction. Clearing members are required to segregate all funds received from customers with respect to cleared derivatives transactions from the clearing member’s proprietary assets. However, all funds and other property received by a clearing broker from its customers are generally held by the clearing broker on a commingled basis in an omnibus account, which may also invest those funds in certain instruments permitted under the applicable regulations. The assets of a Fund might not be fully protected in the event of the bankruptcy of a Fund’s clearing member because a Fund would be limited to recovering only a pro rata share of all available funds segregated on behalf of the clearing broker’s customers for a relevant account class. Also, the clearing member transfers to the clearing house the amount of margin required by the clearing house for cleared derivatives transactions, which amounts are generally held in an omnibus account at the clearing house for all customers of the clearing member. For commodities futures positions, the clearing house may use all of the collateral held in the clearing member’s omnibus account to meet a loss in that account, without regard to which customer in fact supplied that collateral. Accordingly, in addition to bearing the credit risk of its clearing member, each customer to a futures transaction also bears “fellow customer” risk from other customers of the clearing member. However, with respect to cleared swaps positions, recent regulations promulgated by the CFTC require that the clearing member notify the clearing house of the amount of initial margin provided by the clearing member to the clearing house that is attributable to each customer. Because margin in respect of cleared swaps must be earmarked for specific clearing member customers, the clearing house may not use the collateral of one customer to cover the obligations of another customer. However, if the clearing member does not provide accurate reporting, a Fund is subject to the risk that a clearing house will use a Fund’s assets held in an omnibus account at the clearing house to satisfy payment obligations of a defaulting customer of the clearing member to the clearing house. In addition, a clearing member may generally choose to provide to the clearing house the net amount of variation margin required for cleared swaps for all of the clearing member’s customers in the aggregate, rather than the gross amount of each customer. A Fund is therefore subject to the risk that a clearing house will not make variation margin payments owed to a Fund if another customer of the clearing member has suffered a loss and is in default.

 

Options on Securities and Securities Indices  

A Fund may invest in options on securities and stock indices. A call option entitles the purchaser, in return for the premium paid, to purchase specified securities at a specified price during the option period. A put option entitles the purchaser, in return for the premium paid, to sell specified securities during the option period. The Funds may invest in both European-style or American-style options. A European-style option is only exercisable immediately prior to its expiration. American-style options are exercisable at any time prior to the expiration date of the option.

 

Writing Call Options. The Fund may write covered call options. A call option is “covered” if the Fund owns the security underlying the call or has an absolute right to acquire the security without additional cash consideration or, if additional cash consideration is required, cash or cash equivalents in such amounts as held in a segregated account by the Fund’s custodian. The writer of a call option receives a premium and gives the purchaser the right to buy the security underlying the option at the exercise price. The writer has the obligation upon exercise of the option to deliver the underlying security against payment of the exercise price during the option period. If the writer of an exchange-traded option wishes to terminate his obligation, he may effect a “closing purchase transaction.” This is accomplished by buying an option of the same series as the option previously written. A writer may not effect a closing purchase transaction after it has been notified of the exercise of an option.

B-21 

 

Effecting a closing transaction in a written call option will permit the Fund to write another call option on the underlying security with either a different exercise price, expiration date or both. Also, effecting a closing transaction will permit the cash or proceeds from the concurrent sale of any securities subject to the option to be used for other investments of the Fund. If the Fund desires to sell a particular security from its portfolio on which it has written a call option, it will effect a closing transaction prior to or concurrent with the sale of the security.

 

A Fund will realize a gain from a closing transaction if the cost of the closing transaction is less than the premium received from writing the option or if the proceeds from the closing transaction are more than the premium paid to purchase the option. The Funds will realize a loss from a closing transaction if the cost of the closing transaction is more than the premium received from writing the option or if the proceeds from the closing transaction are less than the premium paid to purchase the option. However, because increases in the market price of a call option will generally reflect increases in the market price of the underlying security, any loss to the Funds resulting from the repurchase of a call option is likely to be offset in whole or in part by appreciation of the underlying security owned by the Funds.

 

If a Fund were assigned an exercise notice on a call it has written, it would be required to liquidate portfolio securities in order to satisfy the exercise, unless it has other liquid assets that are sufficient to satisfy the exercise of the call. If a Fund has written a call, there is also a risk that the market may decline between the time the Fund has a call exercised against it, at a price which is fixed as of the closing level of the index on the date of exercise, and the time it is able to sell securities in its portfolio.

 

In addition to covered call options, a Fund may write uncovered (or “naked”) call options on securities, including shares of exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”), and indices.

 

Writing Covered Index Call Options. The Funds may sell index call options. The Funds may also execute a closing purchase transaction with respect to the option it has sold and then sell another option with either a different exercise price and/or expiration date. A Fund’s objective in entering into such closing transactions is to increase option premium income, to limit losses or to protect anticipated gains in the underlying stocks. The cost of a closing transaction, while reducing the premium income realized from the sale of the option, should be offset, at least in part, by the appreciation in the value of the underlying index, and by the opportunity to realize additional premium income from selling a new option.

 

When a Fund sells an index call option, it does not deliver the underlying stocks or cash to the broker through whom the transaction is effected. In the case of an exchange-traded option, the Fund establishes an escrow account. The Fund’s custodian (or a securities depository acting for the custodian) acts as the Fund’s escrow agent. The escrow agent enters into documents known as escrow receipts with respect to the stocks included in the Fund (or escrow receipts with respect to other acceptable securities). The escrow agent releases the stocks from the escrow account when the call option expires or the Fund enters into a closing purchase transaction. Until such release, the underlying stocks cannot be sold by the Fund. The Funds may enter into similar collateral arrangements with the counterparty when it sells OTC index call options.

 

The purchaser of an index call option sold by a Fund may exercise the option at a price fixed as of the closing level of the index on exercise date. Unless a Fund has liquid assets sufficient to satisfy the exercise of the index call option, the Fund would be required to liquidate portfolio securities to satisfy the exercise. The market value of such securities may decline between the time the option is exercised and the time the Fund is able to sell the securities. For example, even if an index call which the Fund has written is “covered” by an index call held by the Fund with the same strike price, it will bear the risk that the level of the index may decline between the close of trading on the date the exercise notice is filed with the Options Clearing Corporation and the close of trading on the date the Fund exercises the call it holds or the time it sells the call, which in either case would occur no earlier than the day following the day the exercise notice was filed. If the Fund fails to anticipate an exercise, it may have to borrow from a bank (in amounts not exceeding 5% of the Fund’s total assets) pending settlement of the sale of the portfolio securities and thereby incur interest charges. If trading is interrupted on the index, the Fund would not be able to close out its option positions.

B-22 

 

Risks of Transactions in Options. There are several risks associated with transactions in options on securities and indices. Options may be more volatile than the underlying securities and, therefore, on a percentage basis, an investment in options may be subject to greater fluctuation in value than an investment in the underlying securities themselves. There are also significant differences between the securities and options markets that could result in an imperfect correlation between these markets, causing a given transaction not to achieve its objective. In addition, a liquid secondary market for particular options may be absent for reasons which include the following: there may be insufficient trading interest in certain options; restrictions may be imposed by an exchange on opening transactions or closing transactions or both; trading halts, suspensions or other restrictions may be imposed with respect to particular classes or series of options of underlying securities; unusual or unforeseen circumstances may interrupt normal operations on an exchange; the facilities of an exchange or clearing corporation may not be adequate to handle current trading volume at all times; or one or more exchanges could, for economic or other reasons, decide or be compelled at some future date to discontinue the trading of options (or a particular class or series of options), in which event the secondary market on that exchange (or in that class or series of options) would cease to exist, although outstanding options that had been issued by a clearing corporation as a result of trades on that exchange would continue to be exercisable in accordance with their terms.

 

A decision as to whether, when and how to use options involves the exercise of skill and judgment, and even a well-conceived transaction may be unsuccessful to some degree because of market behavior or unexpected events. The extent to which a Fund may enter into options transactions may be limited by the requirements of the Code, for qualification of a Fund as a regulated investment company.

 

OTC Options. A Fund may engage in transactions involving OTC as well as exchange-traded options. Certain additional risks are specific to OTC options. A Fund may engage a clearing corporation to exercise exchange-traded options, but if the Fund purchased an OTC option, it must then rely on the dealer from which it purchased the option if the option is exercised. Failure by the dealer to do so would result in the loss of the premium paid by a Fund as well as loss of the expected benefit of the transaction.

 

Exchange-traded options generally have a continuous liquid market while OTC options may not. Consequently, a Fund may generally be able to realize the value of an OTC option it has purchased only by exercising or reselling the option to the dealer who issued it. Similarly, when a Fund writes an OTC option, the Fund may generally be able to close out the option prior to its expiration only by entering into a closing purchase transaction with the dealer to whom the Fund originally wrote the option. While a Fund will seek to enter into OTC options only with dealers who will agree to and are expected to be capable of entering into closing transactions with the Fund, there can be no assurance that the Fund will at any time be able to liquidate an OTC option at a favorable price at any time prior to expiration. Unless the Fund, as a covered OTC call option writer, is able to effect a closing purchase transaction, it will not be able to liquidate securities (or other assets) used as cover until the option expires or is exercised. In the event of insolvency of the other party, the Fund may be unable to liquidate an OTC option. With respect to options written by the Fund, the inability to enter into a closing transaction may result in material losses to a Fund.

 

The SEC has taken the position that purchased OTC options are illiquid securities. The Funds may treat the cover used for written OTC options as liquid if the dealer agrees that the Funds may repurchase the OTC option it has written for a maximum price to be calculated by a predetermined formula. In such cases, the OTC option would be considered illiquid only to the extent the maximum purchase price under the formula exceeds the intrinsic value of the option. Accordingly, the Funds will treat OTC options as subject to the Funds’ limitation on illiquid securities. If the SEC changes its position on the liquidity of OTC options, the Funds will change the treatment of such instruments accordingly.

B-23 

 

Stock Index Options. The Funds may invest in options on indices, including broad-based security indices. Puts and calls on indices are similar to puts and calls on other investments except that all settlements are in cash and gain or loss depends on changes in the index in question rather than on price movements in individual securities. When a Fund writes a call on an index, it receives a premium and agrees that, prior to the expiration date, the purchaser of the call, upon exercise of the call, will receive from the Fund an amount of cash if the closing level of the index upon which the call is based is greater than the exercise price of the call. The amount of cash is equal to the difference between the closing price of the index and the exercise price of the call times a specified multiple (“multiplier”), which determines the total dollar value for each point of such difference. When the Fund buys a call on an index, it pays a premium and has the same rights as to such call as are indicated above. When the Fund buys a put on an index, it pays a premium and has the right, prior to the expiration date, to require the seller of the put, upon the Fund’s exercise of the put, to deliver to the Fund an amount of cash if the closing level of the index upon which the put is based is less than the exercise price of the put, which amount of cash is determined by the multiplier, as described above for calls. When the Fund writes a put on an index, it receives a premium and the purchaser of the put has the right, prior to the expiration date, to require the Fund to deliver to it an amount of cash equal to the difference between the closing level of the index and exercise price times the multiplier if the closing level is less than the exercise price.

 

The risks of investment in options on indices may be greater than options on securities. Because index options are settled in cash, if the Fund writes a call on an index it cannot provide in advance for its potential settlement obligations by acquiring and holding the underlying index. The Fund can offset some of the risk of writing a call index option by holding a diversified portfolio of securities or instruments similar to those on which the underlying index is based. However, the Fund cannot, as a practical matter, acquire and hold a portfolio containing exactly the same securities or instruments as underlie the index and, as a result, bears a risk that the value of the securities or instruments held will vary from the value of the index.

 

Even if the Fund could assemble a portfolio that exactly reproduced the composition of the underlying index, it still would not be fully covered from a risk standpoint because of the “timing risk” inherent in writing index options. When an index option is exercised, the amount of cash that the holder is entitled to receive is determined by the difference between the exercise price and the closing index level on the date when the option is exercised. As with other kinds of options, the Fund as the call writer will not learn of the assignment until the next business day at the earliest. The time lag between exercise and notice of assignment poses no risk for the writer of a covered call on a specific underlying security or instrument, such as common stock, because there the writer’s obligation is to deliver the underlying security or instrument, not to pay its value as of a fixed time in the past. So long as the writer already owns the underlying security or instrument, it can satisfy its settlement obligations by simply delivering it, and the risk that its value may have declined since the exercise date is borne by the exercising holder. In contrast, even if the writer of an index call holds investments that exactly match the composition of the underlying index, it will not be able to satisfy its assignment obligations by delivering those investments against payment of the exercise price. Instead, it will be required to pay cash in an amount based on the closing index value on the exercise date. By the time it learns that it has been assigned, the index may have declined, with a corresponding decline in the value of its portfolio. This “timing risk” is an inherent limitation on the ability of index call writers to cover their risk exposure by holding security or instrument positions.

 

If the Fund has purchased an index option and exercises it before the closing index value for that day is available, it runs the risk that the level of the underlying index may subsequently change. If such a change causes the exercised option to fall out-of-the-money, the Fund will be required to pay the difference between the closing index value and the exercise price of the option (times the applicable multiplier) to the assigned writer.

 

Dealer Options. The Fund may engage in transactions involving dealer options as well as exchange-traded options. Certain additional risks are specific to dealer options. While the Fund might look to a clearing corporation to exercise exchange-traded options, if the Fund were to purchase a dealer option it would need to rely on the dealer from which it purchased the option to perform if the option were exercised. Failure by the dealer to do so would result in the loss of the premium paid by the Fund as well as loss of the expected benefit of the transaction. Exchange-traded options generally have a continuous liquid market while dealer options may not. Consequently, the Fund may generally be able to realize the value of a dealer option it has purchased only by exercising or reselling the option to the dealer who issued it. Similarly, when the Fund writes a dealer option, the Fund may generally be able to close out the option prior to its expiration only by entering into a closing purchase transaction with the dealer to whom the Fund originally wrote the option. While the Fund will seek to enter into dealer options only with dealers who will agree to and which are expected to be capable of entering into closing transactions with the Fund, there can be no assurance that the Fund will at any time be able to liquidate a dealer option at a favorable price at any time prior to expiration. Unless the Fund, as a covered dealer call option writer, is able to effect a closing purchase transaction, it will not be able to liquidate securities (or other assets) used as cover until the option expires or is exercised. In the event of insolvency of the other party, the Fund may be unable to liquidate a dealer option. With respect to options written by the Fund, the inability to enter into a closing transaction may result in material losses to the Fund. For example, because the Fund must maintain a secured position with respect to any call option on a security it writes, the Fund may not sell the assets, which it has segregated to secure the position while it is obligated under the option. This requirement may impair the Fund’s ability to sell portfolio securities at a time when such sale might be advantageous. The Staff of the SEC has taken the position that purchased dealer options are illiquid securities. The Fund may treat the cover used for written dealer options as liquid if the dealer agrees that the Fund may repurchase the dealer option it has written for a maximum price to be calculated by a predetermined formula. In such cases, the dealer option would be considered illiquid only to the extent the maximum purchase price under the formula exceeds the intrinsic value of the option. Accordingly, the Fund will treat dealer options as subject to the Fund’s limitation on illiquid securities. If the SEC changes its position on the liquidity of dealer options, the Fund will change its treatment of such instruments accordingly.

B-24 

 

Spread Transactions. The Fund may purchase covered spread options from securities dealers. These covered spread options are not presently exchange-listed or exchange-traded. The purchase of a spread option gives the Fund the right to put securities that it owns at a fixed dollar spread or fixed yield spread in relationship to another security that it does not own, but which is used as a benchmark. The risk to the Fund, in addition to the risks of dealer options described above, is the cost of the premium paid as well as any transaction costs. The purchase of spread options will be used to protect the Fund against adverse changes in prevailing credit quality spreads, i.e., the yield spread between high quality and lower quality securities. This protection is provided only during the life of the spread options.

 

Futures and Options on Futures 

The Funds may use interest rate, foreign currency, index and other futures contracts. The Funds may use options on futures contracts. A futures contract provides for the future sale by one party and purchase by another party of a specified quantity of the security or other financial instrument at a specified price and time. The Funds may invest in futures contracts and options on futures contracts through a corresponding Subsidiary. A futures contract on an index is an agreement pursuant to which two parties agree to take or make delivery of an amount of cash equal to the difference between the value of the index at the close of the last trading day of the contract and the price at which the index contract originally was written. Although the value of an index might be a function of the value of certain specified securities, physical delivery of these securities is not always made. A public market exists in futures contracts covering a number of indexes, as well as financial instruments, including, without limitation: U.S. Treasury bonds; U.S. Treasury notes; GNMA Certificates; three-month U.S. Treasury bills; 90-day commercial paper; bank certificates of deposit; Eurodollar certificates of deposit; the Australian dollar; the Canadian dollar; the British Pound; the Japanese Yen; the Swiss Franc; the Mexican Peso; and certain multinational currencies, such as the Euro. It is expected that other futures contracts will be developed and traded in the future.

 

The Funds may purchase and write (sell) call and put futures options. Futures options possess many of the same characteristics as options on securities and indexes (discussed above). A futures option gives the holder the right, in return for the premium paid, to assume a long position (call) or short position (put) in a futures contract at a specified exercise price upon expiration of, or at any time during the period of, the option. Upon exercise of a call option, the holder acquires a long position in the futures contract and the writer is assigned the opposite short position. In the case of a put option, the opposite is true. When a purchase or sale of a futures contract is made by the Funds, the Funds are required to deposit with its futures commission merchant a specified amount of liquid assets (“initial margin”). The margin required for a futures contract is set by the exchange on which the contract is traded and may be modified during the term of the contract. The initial margin is in the nature of a performance bond or good faith deposit on the futures contract that is returned to the Funds upon termination of the contract, assuming all contractual obligations have been satisfied. The Funds expect to earn taxable interest income on its initial margin deposits. The Funds, as a writer of an option, may have no control over whether the underlying futures contracts may be sold (call) or purchased (put) and as a result, bears the market risk of an unfavorable change in the valuation of the futures contracts underlying the written option. The Funds, as a purchaser of an option, bears the risk that the counterparties to the option may not have the ability to meet the terms of the option contract.

B-25 

 

The Fund invests in futures, options on futures and other instruments subject to regulation by the CFTC in reliance upon and in accordance with CFTC Regulation 4.5. Under Regulation 4.5, if the Fund uses futures, options on futures, or swaps other than for bona fide hedging purposes (as defined by the CFTC), the aggregate initial margin and premiums on these positions (after taking into account unrealized profits and unrealized losses on any such positions and excluding the amount by which options are “in-the-money” at the time of purchase of a new position) may not exceed 5% of the Fund’s liquidation value, or alternatively, the aggregate net notional value of those positions at the time may not exceed 100% of the Fund’s liquidation value (after taking into account unrealized profits and unrealized losses on any such positions). As detailed in the table below, the following Sub-Advisors are registered as a commodity pool operator and/or commodity trading advisors. Therefore, the Advisor and these Sub-Advisors are subject to CFTC requirements in such capacity, including recordkeeping, reporting, and disclosure requirements. In addition, the Advisor and these Sub-Advisors may be subject to substantially the same requirements with regard to the Subsidiaries.

 

Fund Sub-Advisor

Registered With CFTC 

as a 

CPO/CTA 

AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund Chesapeake CPO/CTA
AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund None CPO
AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund   None CPO

 

The Advisor, on behalf of each of the AXS Adaptive Plus Fund, AXS All Terrain Opportunity Fund, AXS Merger Fund, AXS Multi-Strategy Alternatives Fund and AXS Sustainable Income Fund, has filed a notice of eligibility for exclusion from the definition of the term “commodity pool operator” in accordance with CFTC Regulation 4.5. As of the date of this SAI, the Funds is not deemed to be a “commodity pool” or “commodity pool operator” under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”), and it is not subject to registration or regulation as such under the CEA.

 

The futures contracts held by the Funds are valued daily at the official settlement price of the exchange on which it is traded. Each day the Funds pay or receives cash, called “variation margin”, equal to the daily change in value of the futures contract. This process is known as “marking to market”. Variation margin does not represent a borrowing or loan by the Funds but is instead a settlement between the Funds and the broker of the amount one would owe the other if the futures contract expired. In computing daily net asset value, the Funds will mark to market its open futures positions. The Funds also are required to deposit and to maintain margin with respect to put and call options on futures contracts written by it. Such margin deposits will vary depending on the nature of the underlying futures contract (and the related initial margin requirements), the current market value of the option and other futures positions held by the Funds. Although some futures contracts call for making or taking delivery of the underlying securities, generally these obligations are closed out prior to delivery by offsetting purchases or sales of matching futures contracts (involving the same exchange, underlying security or index and delivery month). If an offsetting purchase price is less than the original sale price, the Funds realizes a capital gain, or if it is more, the Funds realize a capital loss. Conversely, if an offsetting sale price is more than the original purchase price, the Funds realize a capital gain, or if it is less, the Funds realize a capital loss. The transaction costs also must be included in these calculations.

 

The Funds may write covered straddles consisting of a call and a put written on the same underlying futures contract. A straddle will be covered when sufficient assets are deposited to meet the Funds’ immediate obligations. The Funds may use the same liquid assets to cover both the call and put options if the exercise price of the call and put are the same, or if the exercise price of the call is higher than that of the put.

 

Stock Index Futures  

The Funds may invest in stock index futures only as a substitute for a comparable market position in the underlying securities. A stock index future obligates the seller to deliver (and the purchaser to accept), effectively, an amount of cash equal to a specific dollar amount times the difference between the value of a specific stock index at the close of the last trading day of the contract and the price at which the agreement is made. No physical delivery of the underlying stocks in the index is made. With respect to stock indices that are permitted investments, the Funds intend to purchase and sell futures contracts on the stock index for which it can obtain the best price with consideration also given to liquidity.

B-26 

 

Regulation as a Commodity Pool Operator 

Each of the AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund, AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund and AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund is a “commodity pool” under the CEA, and the Advisor is registered as a “commodity pool operator” with the CFTC and is a member of the National Futures Association (“NFA”) with respect to the Funds. As a registered commodity pool operator with respect to the Fund, the Advisor must comply with various regulatory requirements under the CEA, and the rules and regulations of the CFTC and the NFA, including investor protection requirements, antifraud prohibitions, disclosure requirements, and reporting and recordkeeping requirements. The Advisor is also subject to periodic inspections and audits by the CFTC and NFA.

 

Swap Transactions 

A Fund may enter into interest rate, currency and index swaps and the purchase or sale of related caps, floors and collars. A Fund may enter into these transactions to preserve a return or spread on a particular investment or portion of its portfolio, to protect against currency fluctuations or to protect against any increase in the price of securities it anticipates purchasing at a later date. Swaps may be used in conjunction with other instruments to offset interest rate, currency or other underlying risks. For example, interest rate swaps may be offset with “caps,” “floors” or “collars”. A “cap” is essentially a call option which places a limit on the amount of floating rate interest that must be paid on a certain principal amount. A “floor” is essentially a put option which places a limit on the minimum amount that would be paid on a certain principal amount. A “collar” is essentially a combination of a long cap and a short floor where the limits are set at different levels.

 

A Fund will usually enter into swaps on a net basis; that is, the two payment streams will be netted out in a cash settlement on the payment date or dates specified in the instrument, with a Fund receiving or paying, as the case may be, only the net amount of the two payments.

 

Total Return Swaps. A Fund may enter into total return swap contracts for investment purposes. Total return swaps are contracts in which one party agrees to make periodic payments based on the change in market value of the underlying assets, which may include a specified security, basket of securities or security indexes during the specified period, in return for periodic payments based on a fixed or variable interest rate of the total return from other underlying assets. Total return swaps may be used to obtain exposure to a security or market without owning or taking physical custody of such security or market, including in cases in which there may be disadvantages associated with direct ownership of a particular security. In a typical total return equity swap, payments made by a Fund or the counterparty are based on the total return of a particular reference asset or assets (such as an equity security, a combination of such securities, or an index). That is, one party agrees to pay another party the return on a stock, basket of stocks, or stock index in return for a specified interest rate. By entering into an equity index swap, for example, the index receiver can gain exposure to stocks making up the index of securities without actually purchasing those stocks. Total return swaps involve not only the risk associated with the investment in the underlying securities, but also the risk of the counterparty not fulfilling its obligations under the agreement.

 

Credit Default Swaps. A Fund may enter into credit default swap transactions for investment purposes. A credit default swap may have as reference obligations one or more securities that are not currently held by a Fund. A Fund may be either the buyer or seller in the transaction. Credit default swaps may also be structured based on the debt of a basket of issuers, rather than a single issuer, and may be customized with respect to the default event that triggers purchase or other factors. As a seller, a Fund would generally receive an upfront payment or a fixed rate of income throughout the term of the swap, which typically is between six months and three years, provided that there is no credit event. If a credit event occurs, generally the seller must pay the buyer the full face amount of deliverable obligations of the reference obligations that may have little or no value. If a Fund were a buyer and no credit event occurs, a Fund would recover nothing if the swap is held through its termination date. However, if a credit event occurs, the buyer may elect to receive the full notional value of the swap in exchange for an equal face amount of deliverable obligations of the reference obligation that may have little or no value. The use of swap transactions by a Fund entails certain risks, which may be different from, or possibly greater than, the risks associated with investing directly in the securities and other investments that are the referenced asset for the swap transaction. Swaps are highly specialized instruments that require investment techniques, risk analyses, and tax planning different from those associated with stocks, bonds, and other traditional investments. The use of a swap requires an understanding not only of the referenced asset, reference rate, or index, but also of the swap itself, without the benefit of observing the performance of the swap under all the possible market conditions. Because some swap transactions have a leverage component, adverse changes in the value or level of the underlying asset, reference rate, or index can result in a loss substantially greater than the amount invested in the swap itself. Certain swaps have the potential for unlimited loss, regardless of the size of the initial investment.

B-27 

 

A Fund may also purchase credit default swap contracts in order to hedge against the risk of default of the debt of a particular issuer or basket of issuers, in which case a Fund would function as the counterparty referenced in the preceding paragraph. This would involve the risk that the investment may expire worthless and would only generate income in the event of an actual default by the issuer(s) of the underlying obligation(s) (or, as applicable, a credit downgrade or other indication of financial instability). It would also involve the risk that the seller may fail to satisfy its payment obligations to a Fund in the event of a default. The purchase of credit default swaps involves costs, which will reduce a Fund’s return.

 

Currency Swaps. The Fund may enter into currency swap transactions for investment purposes. Currency swaps are similar to interest rate swaps, except that they involve multiple currencies. The Fund may enter into a currency swap when it has exposure to one currency and desires exposure to a different currency. Typically the interest rates that determine the currency swap payments are fixed, although occasionally one or both parties may pay a floating rate of interest. Unlike an interest rate swap, however, the principal amounts are exchanged at the beginning of the contract and returned at the end of the contract. In addition to paying and receiving amounts at the beginning and termination of the agreements, both sides will also have to pay in full periodically based upon the currency they have borrowed. Change in foreign exchange rates and changes in interest rates, as described above, may negatively affect currency swaps.

 

Interest Rate Swaps. A Fund may enter into an interest rate swap in an effort to protect against declines in the value of fixed income securities held by a Fund. In such an instance, a Fund may agree to pay a fixed rate (multiplied by a notional amount) while a counterparty agrees to pay a floating rate (multiplied by the same notional amount). If interest rates rise, resulting in a diminution in the value of a Fund’s portfolio, a Fund would receive payments under the swap that would offset, in whole or in part, such diminution in value. 

 

Options on Swaps. A Fund may enter into options on swaps. An option on swaps, or a “swaption,” is a contract that gives a counterparty the right (but not the obligation) to enter into new swaps or to shorten, extend, cancel or otherwise modify existing swaps, at some designated future time on specified terms. In return, the purchaser pays a “premium” to the seller of the contract. The seller of the contract receives the premium and bears the risk of unfavorable changes on the underlying swap. A Fund may write (sell) and purchase put and call swaptions. A Fund may also enter into swaptions on either an asset-based or liability-based basis, depending on whether a Fund is hedging its assets or its liabilities. A Fund may write (sell) and purchase put and call swaptions to the same extent it may make use of standard options on securities or other instruments. A Fund may enter into these transactions primarily to preserve a return or spread on a particular investment or portion of its holdings, as a duration management technique, to protect against an increase in the price of securities a Fund anticipates purchasing at a later date, or for any other purposes, such as for speculation to increase returns. Swaptions are generally subject to the same risks involved in a Fund’s use of options.

 

Depending on the terms of the particular option agreement, a Fund will generally incur a greater degree of risk when it writes a swaption than it will incur when it purchases a swaption. When a Fund purchases a swaption, it risks losing only the amount of the premium it has paid should it decide to let the option expire unexercised. However, when a Fund writes a swaption, upon exercise of the option a Fund will become obligated according to the terms of the underlying agreement.

 

OTC Derivatives Transactions 

A Fund may enter into OTC derivatives transactions. The Dodd-Frank Act established a new statutory framework that comprehensively regulated the OTC derivatives markets for the first time. Key Dodd-Frank Act provisions relating to OTC derivatives require rulemaking by the SEC and the CFTC, not all of which has been proposed or finalized as at the date of this SAI. Prior to the Dodd-Frank Act, the OTC derivatives markets were traditionally traded on a bilateral basis (so-called “bilateral OTC transactions”). Now certain OTC derivatives contracts are required to be centrally cleared and traded on exchanges or electronic trading platforms called swap execution facilities (“SEFs”).

B-28 

 

Bilateral OTC transactions differ from exchange-traded or cleared derivatives transactions in several respects. Bilateral OTC transactions are transacted directly with dealers and not with a clearing corporation. Without the availability of a clearing corporation, bilateral OTC transaction pricing is normally done by reference to information from market makers, which information is carefully monitored by the Advisor and verified in appropriate cases. As bilateral OTC transactions are entered into directly with a dealer, there is a risk of nonperformance by the dealer as a result of its insolvency or otherwise. Under recently adopted CFTC regulations, counterparties of registered swap dealers and major swap participants have the right to elect segregation of initial margin in respect of uncleared swaps. If a counterparty makes such an election, any initial margin that is posted to the swap dealer or major swap participant must be segregated in individual customer accounts held at an independent third-party custodian. In addition, the collateral may only be invested in certain categories of instruments identified in the CFTC’s regulations. Agreements covering these segregation arrangements must generally provide for consent by both the counterparty and the swap dealer or major swap participant to withdraw margin from the segregated account. Given these limitations on the use of uncleared swaps collateral, there is some likelihood that the electing counterparty will experience an increase in the costs associated with trading swaps with the relevant swap dealer or major swap participant. Certain other protections apply to a counterparty to uncleared swaps under the CFTC’s regulations even if the counterparty does not elect segregation of its initial margin. These regulations are newly adopted, and it remains unclear whether they will be effective in protecting initial margin in the manner intended in the event of significant market stress or the insolvency of a swap dealer or major swap participant.

 

Furthermore, a bilateral OTC transaction may only be terminated voluntarily by entering into a closing transaction with the dealer with which a Fund originally dealt. Any such cancellation may require a Fund to pay a premium to that dealer. In those cases in which a Fund has entered into a covered transaction and cannot voluntarily terminate the transaction, a Fund will not be able to sell the underlying security until the transaction expires or is exercised or different cover is substituted. A Fund will seek to enter into OTC transactions only with dealers which agree to, and which are expected to be capable of, entering into closing transactions with a Fund. There is also no assurance that a Fund will be able to liquidate an OTC transaction at any time prior to expiration.

 

The requirement to execute certain OTC derivatives contracts on SEFs may offer certain advantages over traditional bilateral OTC trading, such as ease of execution, price transparency, increased liquidity and/or favorable pricing. However, SEF trading may make it more difficult and costly for a Fund to enter into highly tailored or customized transactions and may result in additional costs and risks. Market participants such as a Fund that execute derivatives contracts through a SEF, whether directly or through a broker intermediary, are required to submit to the jurisdiction of the SEF and comply with SEF and CFTC rules and regulations which impose, among other things disclosure and recordkeeping obligations. In addition, a Fund will generally incur SEF or broker intermediary fees when it trades on a SEF. A Fund may also be required to indemnify the SEF or broker intermediary for any losses or costs that may result from a Fund’s transactions on the SEF.

 

Commodity Contracts  

A Fund may purchase and sell commodity futures contracts and options; may enter into foreign exchange contracts; may enter into swaps and other financial transactions not requiring the delivery of physical commodities; and may purchase or sell physical commodity contracts or options on such contracts in compliance with applicable commodities laws. Investing in commodities in this manner carries risks. A Fund may also invest in instruments related to commodities, including structured notes, securities of commodities finance and operating companies. A Fund’s exposure to the commodities markets may subject a Fund to greater volatility than investments in traditional securities. The value of commodity-linked instruments may be affected by changes in overall market movements, commodity index volatility, changes in interest rates, and other risks affecting a particular industry or commodity. A Fund will only invest in commodities transactions that the Advisor or Sub-Advisor believes can be readily liquidated.

 

There are additional factors associated with commodity futures contracts which may subject a Fund’s investments in them to greater volatility than investments in traditional securities. In the commodity futures markets there are often costs of physical storage associated with purchasing the underlying commodity. The price of the commodity futures contract will reflect the storage costs of purchasing the physical commodity, including the time value of money invested in the physical commodity. To the extent that the storage costs for an underlying commodity change while a Fund is invested in futures contracts on that commodity, the value of the futures contract may change proportionately. In the commodity futures markets, producers of the underlying commodity may decide to hedge the price risk of selling the commodity by selling futures contracts today to lock in the price of the commodity at delivery tomorrow. In order to induce speculators to purchase the other side of the same futures contract, the commodity producer generally must sell the futures contract at a lower price than the expected future spot price of the commodity. Conversely, if most hedgers in the futures market are purchasing futures contracts to hedge against a rise in prices, then speculators will only sell the other side of the futures contract at a higher futures price than the expected future spot price of the commodity. The changing nature of the hedgers and speculators in the commodities markets will influence whether futures prices are above or below the expected future spot price, which can have significant implications for a Fund. If the nature of hedgers and speculators in futures markets has shifted when it is time for a Fund to reinvest the proceeds of a maturing futures contract in a new futures contract, a Fund might reinvest at higher or lower futures prices, or choose to pursue other investments. The commodities which underlie commodity futures contracts may be subject to additional economic and non-economic variables, such as drought, floods, weather, livestock disease, embargoes, tariffs, and international economic, political and regulatory developments. These factors may have a larger impact on commodity prices and commodity-linked instruments, including futures contracts, than on traditional securities. Certain commodities are also subject to limited pricing flexibility because of supply and demand factors. Others are subject to broad price fluctuations as a result of the volatility of the prices for certain raw materials and the instability of the supplies of other materials.

B-29 

 

Changes in the regulation of derivatives, including commodity-based derivatives, arising from the Dodd-Frank Act may make it more expensive for a Fund and otherwise limit a Fund’s ability to engage in such trading, which could adversely affect a Fund.

 

Borrowing 

The Funds may engage in limited borrowing activities. Borrowing creates an opportunity for increased return, but, at the same time, creates special risks. Furthermore, if the Funds were to engage in borrowing, an increase in interest rates could reduce the value of the Funds’ shares by increasing the Funds’ interest expense. Subject to the limitations described under “Investment Limitations” below, the Funds may be permitted to borrow for temporary purposes and/or for investment purposes. Such a practice will result in leveraging of the Funds’ assets and may cause the Funds to liquidate portfolio positions when it would not be advantageous to do so. This borrowing may be secured or unsecured. Provisions of the 1940 Act require the Funds to maintain continuous asset coverage (that is, total assets including borrowings, less liabilities exclusive of borrowings) of 300% of the amount borrowed, with an exception for borrowings not in excess of 5% of the Funds’ total assets made for temporary administrative purposes. Any borrowings for temporary administrative purposes in excess of 5% of the Funds’ total assets will count against this asset coverage requirement. If the 300% asset coverage should decline as a result of market fluctuations or other reasons, the Funds may be required to sell some of its portfolio holdings within three days to reduce the debt and restore the 300% asset coverage, even though it may be disadvantageous from an investment standpoint if the Funds sell securities at that time. Borrowing will tend to exaggerate the effect on net asset value of any increase or decrease in the market value of the Funds’ portfolios. Money borrowed will be subject to interest charges which may or may not be recovered by appreciation of the securities purchased, if any. The Funds also may be required to maintain minimum average balances in connection with such borrowings or to pay a commitment or other fee to maintain a line of credit; either of these requirements would increase the cost of borrowing over the stated interest rate.

 

Short-Term Investments 

The Funds may invest in any of the following securities and instruments:

 

Certificates of Deposit, Bankers’ Acceptances and Time Deposits. The Fund may acquire certificates of deposit, bankers’ acceptances and time deposits in U.S. dollar or foreign currencies. Certificates of deposit are negotiable certificates issued against monies deposited in a commercial bank, or savings and loan association for a definite period of time that earn a specified return. Bankers’ acceptances are negotiable drafts or bills of exchange, normally drawn by an importer or exporter to pay for specific merchandise, which are “accepted” by a bank, meaning in effect that the bank unconditionally agrees to pay the face value of the instrument on maturity. Time deposits are non-negotiable deposits maintained at a banking institution for a specified period of time at a specified interest rate. The Fund may only acquire certificates of deposit, bankers’ acceptances, and time deposits issued by commercial banks or savings and loan associations that, at the time of the Fund’s investment, have capital, surplus and undivided profits in excess of $100 million (including assets of both domestic and foreign branches), based on latest published reports, or less than $100 million if the principal amount of such obligations are fully insured by the U.S. government. If the Fund holds instruments of foreign banks or financial institutions, it may be subject to additional investment risks that are different in some respects from those incurred if the Fund invests only in debt obligations of U.S. domestic issuers. See “Foreign Investments” above. Such risks include future political and economic developments, the possible imposition of withholding taxes by the particular country in which the issuer is located, the possible confiscation or nationalization of foreign deposits, the possible establishment of exchange controls, or the adoption of other foreign governmental restrictions which may adversely affect the payment of principal and interest on these securities.

B-30 

 

Domestic banks and foreign banks are subject to different governmental regulations with respect to the amount and types of loans that may be made and interest rates that may be charged. In addition, the profitability of the banking industry depends largely upon the availability and cost of funds and the interest income generated from lending operations. General economic conditions and the quality of loan portfolios affect the banking industry.

 

As a result of federal and state laws and regulations, domestic banks are required to maintain specified levels of reserves, are limited in the amount that they can loan to a single borrower, and are subject to regulations designed to promote financial soundness. However, such laws and regulations may not necessarily apply to foreign banks, thereby affecting the risk involved in bank obligations that the Funds may acquire.

 

Commercial Paper, Short-Term Notes and Other Corporate ObligationsEach Fund may invest a portion of its assets in commercial paper and short-term notes. Commercial paper consists of unsecured promissory notes issued by corporations. Issues of commercial paper and short-term notes will normally have maturities of less than nine months and fixed rates of return, although such instruments may have maturities of up to one year.

 

The Funds’ investment in commercial paper and short-term notes will consist of issues rated at the time of purchase “A-2” or higher by S&P, “Prime-1” or “Prime-2” by Moody’s, or similarly rated by another nationally recognized statistical rating organization or, if unrated, will be determined by the Sub-Advisor to be of comparable quality. These rating symbols are described in Appendix A.

 

Corporate debt obligations are subject to the risk of an issuer’s inability to meet principal and interest payments on the obligations, i.e., credit risk. The Sub-Advisor may actively expose a Fund to credit risk. However, there can be no guarantee that the Sub-Advisor will be successful in making the right selections and thus fully mitigate the impact of credit risk changes on a Fund.

 

Savings Association Obligations. The Funds may invest in certificates of deposit (interest-bearing time deposits) issued by savings banks or savings and loan associations that have capital, surplus and undivided profits in excess of $100 million, based on latest published reports, or less than $100 million if the principal amount of such obligations is fully insured by the U.S. government.

 

Municipal Bonds 

The Funds may invest in municipal bonds. Municipal bonds are debt obligations issued by the states, possessions, or territories of the United States (including the District of Columbia) or a political subdivision, public instrumentality, agency, public authority or other governmental unit of such states, possessions, or territories (e.g., counties, cities, towns, villages, districts and authorities). For example, states, possessions, territories and municipalities may issue municipal bonds to raise funds for various public purposes such as airports, housing, hospitals, mass transportation, schools, water and sewer works, gas, and electric utilities. They may also issue municipal bonds to refund outstanding obligations and to meet general operating expenses. Municipal bonds may be general obligation bonds or revenue bonds. General obligation bonds are secured by the issuer’s pledge of its full faith, credit and taxing power for the payment of principal and interest. Revenue bonds are payable from revenues derived from particular facilities, from the proceeds of a special excise tax or from other specific revenue sources. They are not usually payable from the general taxing power of a municipality. In addition, certain types of “private activity” bonds may be issued by public authorities to obtain funding for privately operated facilities, such as housing and pollution control facilities, for industrial facilities and for water supply, gas, electricity and waste disposal facilities. Other types of private activity bonds are used to finance the construction, repair or improvement of, or to obtain equipment for, privately operated industrial or commercial facilities. Current federal tax laws place substantial limitations on the size of certain of such issues. In certain cases, the interest on a private activity bond may not be exempt from federal income tax or the alternative minimum tax applicable to noncorporate taxpayers.

B-31 

 

ESG Criteria Risk 

The Advisor integrates research on environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) factors into the Fund’s overall investment process. ESG investments may be viewed as “sustainable,” “responsible,” or “socially conscious,” among other names and there are significant differences in the interpretation of what it means for an issuer to have positive ESG characteristics. ESG factors may include, but are not limited to, matters regarding board diversity, climate change policies, and supply chain and human rights policies. Incorporating ESG criteria and investing in instruments that have certain ESG characteristics, as determined by the Advisor, carries the risk that the Fund may perform differently, including underperforming, funds that do not utilize ESG criteria or an ESG investment strategy. Integration of ESG factors into the Fund’s investment process may result in the Advisor making different investments for the Fund than for a fund with a similar investment universe and/or investment style that does not incorporate such considerations in its investment strategy or processes.  In addition, because the Advisor’s ESG screening process excludes securities of certain issuers, the Fund may forgo some market opportunities available to funds that do not use these criteria.  The ESG characteristics utilized in the Fund’s investment process may change over time, and different ESG characteristics may be relevant to different investments. Successful integration of ESG factors will depend on the Advisor’s skill in researching and identifying these factors as well as the availability of relevant data. The method of evaluating ESG factors and subsequent impact on portfolio composition, performance, proxy voting decisions and other factors, is subject to the interpretation of the Advisor in accordance with the Fund’s investment objective and strategies.

 

Investment Company Securities 

A Fund may invest in shares of other investment companies (each, an “Underlying Fund”), including open-end funds, closed-end funds, unit investment trusts (“UITs”) and ETFs, to the extent permitted by applicable law and subject to certain restrictions set forth in this SAI.

 

Under Section 12(d)(1)(A) of the 1940 Act, the Fund may acquire securities of an Underlying Fund in amounts which, as determined immediately after the acquisition is made, do not exceed (i) 3% of the total outstanding voting stock of such Underlying Fund, (ii) 5% of the value of the Fund’s total assets, and (iii) 10% of the value of the Fund’s total assets when combined with all other Underlying Fund securities held by the Fund. The Fund may exceed these statutory limits when permitted by SEC order or other applicable law or regulatory guidance, such as is the case with many ETFs. In October 2020, the SEC adopted certain regulatory changes and took other actions related to the ability of an investment company to invest in the securities of another investment company. These changes include, in part, the rescission of certain SEC exemptive orders permitting investments in excess of the statutory limits, the withdrawal of certain related SEC staff no-action letters, and the adoption of Rule 12d1-4 under the 1940 Act, which permits the Fund to invest in other investment companies beyond the statutory limits, subject to certain conditions. Rule 12d1-4, among other things, (1) applies to both “acquired funds” and “acquiring funds,” each as defined under the rule; (2) includes limits on control and voting of acquired funds’ shares; (3) requires that the investment advisers of acquired funds and acquiring funds relying on the rule make certain specified findings based on their evaluation of the relevant fund of funds structure; (4) requires acquired funds and acquiring funds that are relying on the rule, and which do not have the same investment adviser, to enter into fund of funds investment agreements, which must include specific terms; and (5) includes certain limits on complex fund of funds structures.

 

Generally, under Sections 12(d)(1)(F) and 12(d)(1)(G) of the 1940 Act and SEC rules adopted pursuant to the 1940 Act, a Fund may acquire the securities of affiliated and unaffiliated Underlying Funds subject to the following guidelines and restrictions:

 

A Fund may own an unlimited amount of the securities of any registered open-end fund or registered unit investment trust that is affiliated with a Fund, so long as any such Underlying Fund has a policy that prohibits it from acquiring any securities of registered open-end funds or registered UITs in reliance on certain sections of the 1940 Act.

B-32 

 

A Fund and its “affiliated persons” may own up to 3% of the outstanding stock of any fund, subject to the following restrictions:

 

i. the Fund and each Underlying Fund, in the aggregate, may not charge a sales load greater than the limits set forth in Rule 2830(d)(3) of the Conduct Rules of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) applicable to funds of funds;

ii. each Underlying Fund is not obligated to redeem more than 1% of its total outstanding securities during any period less than 30 days; and

iii. the Fund is obligated either to (i) seek instructions from its shareholders with regard to the voting of all proxies with respect to the Underlying Fund and to vote in accordance with such instructions, or (ii) to vote the shares of the Underlying Fund held by the Fund in the same proportion as the vote of all other shareholders of the Underlying Fund.

 

Underlying Funds typically incur fees that are separate from those fees incurred directly by a Fund. A Fund’s purchase of such investment company securities results in the layering of expenses as Fund shareholders would indirectly bear a proportionate share of the operating expenses of such investment companies, including advisory fees, in addition to paying Fund expenses. In addition, the securities of other investment companies may also be leveraged and will therefore be subject to certain leverage risks. The net asset value and market value of leveraged securities will be more volatile and the yield to shareholders will tend to fluctuate more than the yield generated by unleveraged securities. Investment companies may have investment policies that differ from those of a Fund.

 

Under certain circumstances an open-end investment company in which a Fund invests may determine to make payment of a redemption by a Fund wholly or in part by a distribution in kind of securities from its portfolio, instead of in cash. As a result, a Fund may hold such securities until the Advisor determines it is appropriate to dispose of them. Such disposition will impose additional costs on a Fund.

 

Investment decisions by the investment advisors to the registered investment companies in which a Fund invests are made independently of a Fund. At any particular time, one Underlying Fund may be purchasing shares of an issuer whose shares are being sold by another Underlying Fund. As a result, under these circumstances a Fund indirectly would incur certain transactional costs without accomplishing any investment purpose.

 

Exchange-Traded Funds 

A Fund may invest in ETFs. ETFs are pooled investment vehicles that generally seek to track the performance of specific indices. ETFs may be organized as open-end funds or as UITs. Their shares are listed on stock exchanges and can be traded throughout the day at market-determined prices.

 

An ETF generally issues index-based investments in large aggregations of shares known as “Creation Units” in exchange for a “Portfolio Deposit” consisting of (a) a portfolio of securities designated by the ETF, (b) a cash payment equal to a pro rata portion of the dividends accrued on the ETF’s portfolio securities since the last dividend payment by the ETF, net of expenses and liabilities, and (c) a cash payment or credit (“Balancing Amount”) designed to equalize the net asset value of the shares and the net asset value of a Portfolio Deposit.

 

Shares of ETFs are not individually redeemable, except upon the reorganization, merger, conversion or liquidation of the ETF. To redeem shares of an ETF, an investor must accumulate enough shares of the ETF to reconstitute a Creation Unit. The liquidity of small holdings of ETF shares, therefore, will depend upon the existence of a secondary market for such shares. Upon redemption of a Creation Unit, the investor will receive securities designated by the ETF (“Redemption Securities”) and a cash payment in an amount equal to the difference between the net asset value of the shares being redeemed and the net asset value of the Redemption Securities.

B-33 

 

The price of ETF shares is based upon (but not necessarily identical to) the value of the securities held by the ETF. Accordingly, the level of risk involved in the purchase or sale of ETF shares is similar to the risk involved in the purchase or sale of traditional common stock, with the exception that the pricing mechanism for ETF shares is based on a basket of stocks. Disruptions in the markets for the securities underlying ETF shares purchased or sold by a Fund could result in losses on such shares. There is no assurance that the requirements of the national securities exchanges necessary to maintain the listing of shares of any ETF will continue to be met.

 

Leveraged and Inverse ETFs 

A Fund may invest in leveraged ETFs, inverse ETFs and inverse leveraged ETFs. Leveraged ETFs seek to deliver multiples of the performance of the index or other benchmark they track and use derivatives in an effort to amplify the returns of the underlying index or benchmark. While leveraged ETFs may offer the potential for greater return, the potential for loss and the speed at which losses can be realized also are greater. Inverse ETFs seek to negatively correlate with the performance of a particular index by using various forms of derivative transactions, including by short-selling the underlying index. An investment in an inverse ETF will decrease in value when the value of the underlying index rises. A number of factors may affect an inverse ETF’s ability to achieve a high degree of inverse correlation with the benchmark index, and there can be no guarantee that an inverse ETF will achieve a high degree of inverse correlation. By investing in leveraged ETFs and inverse ETFs, a Fund can commit fewer assets to the investment in the securities represented on the index than would otherwise be required.

 

Leveraged ETFs and inverse ETFs present all of the risks that regular ETFs present. In addition, such ETFs determine their return over a specific, pre-set time period, typically daily, and, as a result, there is no guarantee that the ETF’s actual long term returns will be equal to the daily return that a Fund seeks to achieve. As a result of compounding, inverse ETFs and leveraged ETFs typically have a single day investment objective. An inverse ETF’s performance for periods greater than a single day is likely to be either better or worse than the inverse of the benchmark index performance, before accounting for fees and fund expenses. Similarly, a leveraged ETF’s performance for periods greater than one day is likely to be either better or worse than the index performance, times the relevant multiple. This effect becomes more pronounced for these types of ETFs as market volatility increases. Even when the value of the underlying benchmark with which an inverse ETF seeks to negatively correlate decreases, the value of the inverse ETF may not necessarily increase.

 

Furthermore, because leveraged ETFs and inverse ETFs achieve their results by using derivative instruments, they are subject to the risks associated with derivative transactions, including the risk that the value of the derivatives may rise or fall more rapidly than other investments, thereby causing the ETF to lose money and, consequently, the value of a Fund’s investment to decrease. Investing in derivative instruments also involves the risk that other parties to the derivative contract may fail to meet their obligations, which could cause losses to the ETF. Short sales in particular are subject to the risk that, if the price of the security sold short increases, the inverse ETF or inverse leveraged ETF may have to cover its short position at a higher price than the short sale price, resulting in a loss to the ETF and, indirectly, to a Fund. An ETF’s use of these techniques will make a Fund’s investment in the ETF more volatile than if a Fund were to invest directly in the securities underlying the tracked index, or in an ETF that does not use derivative instruments. However, by investing in leveraged ETFs and inverse ETFs rather than directly purchasing and/or selling derivative instruments, a Fund will limit its potential loss solely to the amount actually invested in the ETF (that is, a Fund will not lose more than the principal amount invested in the ETF).

 

Inverse ETF performance for periods greater than a single day can be estimated given any set of assumptions for the following factors: a) benchmark index volatility; b) benchmark index performance; c) period of time; d) financing rates associated with inverse exposure; e) other fund expenses; and f) dividends or interest paid with respect to securities in the benchmark index. The chart below illustrates the impact of two principal factors—index volatility and index performance—on the performance of an inverse ETF. The chart shows estimated fund returns for a number of combinations of benchmark index volatility and benchmark index performance over a one-year period. Performance shown in the chart assumes: (a) no dividends paid with respect to securities included in the benchmark index; (b) no fund expenses; and (c) borrowing/lending rates (to obtain inverse exposure) of zero percent. If fund expenses and/or actual borrowing/lending rates were reflected, the inverse ETF’s performance would be different than shown.

B-34 

 

Areas shaded darker represent those scenarios where an inverse ETF can be expected to return less than the inverse of the performance of its benchmark index.

 

Estimated Fund Returns
Index Performance One Year Volatility Rate

One Year 

Index 

Inverse (-1x) 

of the One 

Year Index 

10% 25% 50% 75% 100%
-60% 60% 147.5% 134.9% 94.7% 42.4% -8.0%
-50% 50% 98.0% 87.9% 55.8% 14.0% -26.4%
-40% 40% 65.0% 56.6% 29.8% -5.0% -38.7%
-30% 30% 41.4% 34.2% 11.3% -18.6% -47.4%
-20% 20% 23.8% 17.4% -2.6% -28.8% -54.0%
-10% 10% 10.0% 4.4% -13.5% -36.7% -59.1%
0% 0% -1.0% -6.1% -22.1% -43.0% -63.2%
10% -10% -10.0% -14.6% -29.2% -48.2% -66.6%
20% -20% -17.5% -21.7% -35.1% -52.5% -69.3%
30% -30% -23.8% -27.7% -40.1% -56.2% -71.7%
40% -40% -29.3% -32.9% -44.4% -59.3% -73.7%
50% -50% -34.0% -37.4% -48.1% -62.0% -75.5%
60% -60% -38.1% -41.3% -51.3% -64.4% -77.0%

 

The foregoing table is intended to isolate the effect of benchmark index volatility and benchmark index performance on the return of an inverse ETF. For example, an inverse ETF may incorrectly be expected to achieve a -20% return on a yearly basis if the benchmark index return were 20%, absent the effects of compounding. However, as the table shows, with benchmark index volatility of 50%, the inverse ETF could be expected to return -35.1% under such a scenario. An inverse ETF’s actual returns may be significantly better or worse than the returns shown above as a result of any of the factors discussed above or in the discussion “Inverse ETF Correlation Risk” in the Prospectus.

 

Closed-End Funds 

The Funds may invest in shares of closed-end funds. Investments in closed-end funds are subject to various risks, including reliance on management’s ability to meet the closed-end fund’s investment objective and to manage the closed-end fund portfolio; fluctuation in the net asset value of closed-end fund shares compared to the changes in the value of the underlying securities that the closed-end fund owns; and bearing a pro rata share of the management fees and expenses of each underlying closed-end fund resulting in a Fund’s shareholders being subject to higher expenses than if he or she invested directly in the closed-end fund(s).

 

Exchange Traded Notes (“ETNs”) 

The Funds may invest in ETNs. An investment in an ETN involves risks, including possible loss of principal. ETNs are unsecured debt securities issued by a bank that are linked to the total return of a market index. Risks of investing in ETNs also include limited portfolio diversification, uncertain principal payment, and illiquidity. Additionally, the investor fee will reduce the amount of return on maturity or at redemption, and as a result the investor may receive less than the principal amount at maturity or upon redemption, even if the value of the relevant index has increased. An investment in an ETN may not be suitable for all investors.

 

Inverse ETNs 

Inverse ETNs offer to pay the opposite of the performance of the index or benchmark they track. Because the performance of an inverse ETN is linked to the inverse performance of an index or benchmark, any increase in the level of the index or benchmark underlying the inverse ETN would result in a decrease in the repayment amount and may result in a payment at maturity or upon optional redemption that is less than the original investment. Moreover, if the level of the index or benchmark increases or does not decrease sufficiently to offset the negative effect of the accrued investor fees, an investor may receive less than the original investment in the inverse ETN at maturity or upon redemption.

B-35 

 

Other Pooled Investment Vehicles 

The Funds may invest in pooled investment vehicles, including limited partnerships. Examples of such vehicles include private equity funds and private equity funds of funds. A private equity fund generally invests in non-public companies that the fund’s manager believes will experience significant growth over a certain time period. A private equity fund of funds invests in other private equity funds of the type described. Investments in private equity funds, once made, typically may not be redeemed for several years, though they may be sold to other investors under certain circumstances.

 

To the extent that the Funds invest in pooled investment vehicles, such investments may be deemed illiquid. In addition, the Fund will bear its ratable share of such vehicles’ expenses, including its management expenses and performance fees. Performance fees are fees paid to the vehicle’s manager based on the vehicle’s investment performance (or returns) as compared to some benchmark. The fees the Fund pays to invest in a pooled investment vehicle may be higher than the fees it would pay if the manager of the pooled investment vehicle managed the Fund’s assets directly. Further, the performance fees payable to the manager of a pooled investment vehicle may create an incentive for the manager to make investments that are riskier or more speculative than those it might make in the absence of an incentive fee.

 

Initial Public Offerings 

The Funds may purchase securities of companies in initial public offerings (“IPOs”). By definition, IPOs have not traded publicly until the time of their offerings. Special risks associated with IPOs may include limited numbers of shares available for trading, unseasoned trading, lack of investor knowledge of the companies, and limited operating history, all of which may contribute to price volatility. Many IPOs are issued by undercapitalized companies of small or micro-cap size. The effect of IPOs on a Fund’s performance depends on a variety of factors, including the number of IPOs a Fund invests in relative to the size of a Fund and whether and to what extent a security purchased in an IPO appreciates or depreciates in value.

 

Master Limited Partnerships (“MLPs”) 

The Fund may invest in MLPs. An MLP is an entity eligible for partnership taxation treatment under the Code, the interests or “units” of which are traded on securities exchanges like shares of corporate stock. A typical MLP consists of a general partner and limited partners; however, some entities treated as partnerships for U.S. federal income tax purposes are established as limited liability companies. The general partner manages the partnership; has an ownership stake in the partnership, typically a 2% general partner equity interest and usually additional common units and subordinated units; and is typically eligible to receive an incentive distribution. The limited partners provide capital to the partnership, have a limited (if any) role in the operation and management of the partnership, and receive cash distributions. An MLP typically pays an established minimum quarterly distribution to common unit holders, as provided under the terms of its partnership agreement. Common units have arrearage rights in distributions to the extent that the MLP fails to make minimum quarterly distributions. Once the MLP distributes the minimum quarterly distribution to common units, subordinated units then are entitled to receive distributions of up to the minimum quarterly distribution, but have no arrearage rights. At the discretion of the general partners’ board of directors, any distributable cash that exceeds the minimum quarterly distribution that the MLP distributed to the common and subordinated units is then distributed to both common and subordinated units, typically on a pro rata basis. Incentive distributions are often paid to the general partner such that as the distribution to limited partnership interests increases, the general partner may receive a proportionately larger share of the total distribution. Incentive distributions are designed to encourage the general partner, who controls and operates the partnership, to maximize the partnership’s cash flow and increase distributions to the limited partners.

 

Generally speaking, MLP investment returns are enhanced during periods of declining or low interest rates and tend to be negatively influenced when interest rates are rising. As an income vehicle, the unit price can be influenced by general interest rate trends independent of specific underlying fundamentals. In addition, most MLPs are leveraged and typically carry a portion of a “floating” rate debt, and a significant upward swing in interest rates would also drive interest expense higher. Furthermore, most MLPs grow by acquisitions partly financed by debt, and higher interest rates could make it more difficult to make acquisitions.

B-36 

 

When-Issued or Delayed-Delivery Securities 

The Fund may purchase securities on a when-issued or delayed delivery basis. For example, delivery of and payment for these securities can take place a month or more after the date of the purchase commitment. The purchase price and the interest rate payable, if any, on the securities are fixed on the purchase commitment date or at the time the settlement date is fixed. The value of such securities is subject to market fluctuations and, in the case of fixed income securities, no interest accrues to the Fund until settlement takes place. When purchasing a security on a when-issued or delayed-delivery basis, the Fund assumes the rights and risks of ownership of the security, including the risk of price and yield fluctuations. Accordingly, at the time the Fund makes the commitment to purchase securities on a when-issued or delayed delivery basis, it will record the transaction, reflect the value each day of such securities in determining its net asset value and, if applicable, calculate the maturity for the purposes of average maturity from that date. At the time of its acquisition, a when-issued security may be valued at less than the purchase price. The Fund will make commitments for such when-issued transactions only when it has the intention of actually acquiring the securities. If, however, the Fund chooses to dispose of the right to acquire a when-issued security prior to its acquisition, it could, as with the disposition of any other portfolio obligation, recognize taxable capital gain or loss due to market fluctuation. Also, the Fund may be disadvantaged if the other party to the transaction defaults.

 

A transaction in when-issued or delayed-delivery securities would be deemed not to involve a senior security (i.e., it will not be considered a derivatives transaction or subject to asset segregation requirements), provided that (i) the Fund intends to physically settle the transaction, and (ii) the transaction will settle within 35 days of its trade date. If such a transaction were considered to be a derivatives transaction, it would be subject to the requirements of the Derivatives Rule described in the “Derivatives” section of this SAI.

 

Illiquid and Restricted Securities 

Each Fund may invest up to 15% of its net assets in illiquid securities. Illiquid securities are securities that a Fund reasonably expects cannot be sold or disposed of in current market conditions in seven calendar days or less without the sale or disposition significantly changing the market value of the securities. Illiquid securities may be difficult to value, and a Fund may have difficulty or be unable to dispose of such securities promptly or at reasonable prices.

 

The Fund may invest in restricted securities. Restricted securities are securities that may not be sold freely to the public absent registration under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”), or an exemption from registration. While restricted securities are generally presumed to be illiquid, it may be determined that a particular restricted security is liquid. Rule 144A under the 1933 Act establishes a safe harbor from the registration requirements of the 1933 Act for resales of certain securities to qualified institutional buyers. Institutional markets for restricted securities sold pursuant to Rule 144A in many cases provide both readily ascertainable values for restricted securities and the ability to liquidate an investment to satisfy share redemption orders. Such markets might include automated systems for the trading, clearance and settlement of unregistered securities of domestic and foreign issuers, such as the PORTAL System sponsored by NASDAQ. An insufficient number of qualified buyers interested in purchasing Rule 144A eligible restricted securities, however, could adversely affect the marketability of such portfolio securities and result in the Funds’ inability to dispose of such securities promptly or at favorable prices.

 

The Fund may purchase commercial paper issued pursuant to Section 4(a)(2) of the 1933 Act. 4(a)(2) commercial paper typically has the same price and liquidity characteristics as commercial paper, except that the resale of 4(a)(2) commercial paper is limited to the institutional investor marketplace. Such a restriction on resale makes 4(a)(2) commercial paper technically a restricted security under the 1933 Act. In practice, however, 4(a)(2) commercial paper can be resold as easily as any other unrestricted security held by a Fund.

 

Rule 22e-4 under the 1940 Act requires, among other things, that the Funds establish a liquidity risk management program (“LRMP”) that is reasonably designed to assess and manage liquidity risk. Rule 22e-4 defines “liquidity risk” as the risk that a fund could not meet requests to redeem shares issued by the fund without significant dilution of the remaining investors’ interests in the fund. The Funds have implemented a LRMP to meet the relevant requirements. Additionally, the Board, including a majority of the Independent Trustees, approved the designation of the Advisor as the Funds’ LRMP administrator to administer such program, and will review no less frequently than annually a written report prepared by the Advisor that addresses the operation of the LRMP and assesses its adequacy and effectiveness of implementation. Among other things, the LRMP provides for the classification of each Fund investment as a “highly liquid investment,” “moderately liquid investment,” “less liquid investment” or “illiquid investment.” The liquidity risk classifications of each Fund’s investments are determined after reasonable inquiry and taking into account relevant market, trading and investment-specific considerations. To the extent that a Fund investment is deemed to be an “illiquid investment” or a “less liquid investment,” the Fund can expect to be exposed to greater liquidity risk. There is no guarantee the LRMP will be effective in its operations, and complying with Rule 22e-4, including bearing related costs, could impact a Fund’s performance and its ability to seek its investment objective.

B-37 

 

The Funds will not purchase illiquid securities if, as a result of the purchase, more than 15% of the Fund’s net assets are invested in such securities. If at any time a portfolio manager and/or the Advisor determines that the value of illiquid securities held by the Fund exceeds 15% of the Fund’s net assets, the Fund’s portfolio managers and the Advisor and Sub-Advisor, as applicable, will take such steps as they consider appropriate to reduce the percentage as soon as reasonably practicable.

 

Structured Investments 

The Funds may invest in structured investments. A structured investment is a security having a return tied to an underlying index or other security or asset class. Structured investments generally are individually negotiated agreements and may be traded OTC. Structured investments are organized and operated to restructure the investment characteristics of the underlying security. This restructuring involves the deposit with or purchase by an entity, such as a corporation or trust, on specified instruments (such as commercial bank loans) and the issuance by that entity or one or more classes of securities (“structured securities”) backed by, or representing interests in, the underlying instruments. The cash flow on the underlying instruments may be apportioned among the newly issued structured securities to create securities with different investment characteristics, such as varying maturities, payment priorities and interest rate provisions, and the extent of such payments made with respect to structured securities is dependent on the extent of the cash flow on the underlying instruments. Because structured securities typically involve no credit enhancement, their credit risk generally will be equivalent to that of the underlying instruments. Investments in structured securities are generally of a class of structured securities that is either subordinated or unsubordinated to the right of payment of another class. Subordinated structured securities typically have higher yields and present greater risks than unsubordinated structured securities. Structured securities are typically sold in private placement transactions, and there currently is no active trading market for structured securities. Investments in government and government-related and restructured debt instruments are subject to special risks, including the inability or unwillingness to repay principal and interest, requests to reschedule or restructure outstanding debt and requests to extend additional loan amounts. Certain issuers of structured investments may be deemed to be “investment companies” as defined in the 1940 Act. As a result, the Fund’s investment in these structured investments may be limited by the restrictions contained in the 1940 Act. Structured investments are typically sold in private placement transactions, and there currently is no active trading market for structured investments.

 

Brady Bonds 

The Funds may invest in “Brady Bonds,” which are issued by certain Latin American countries in connection with restructurings of their debt. The Brady Bonds are issued in exchange for cash and certain of the country’s outstanding commercial bank loans. Brady Bonds do not have a long payment history and, due to the loan default record for Latin American public and private entities, may be considered speculative investments. They may be collateralized or uncollateralized and are issued in various currencies. They are actively traded in the OTC secondary market for debt of Latin American issuers.

 

Business Development Companies (“BDCs”) and Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (“SPACs”) 

The Funds may invest in BDCs and SPACs. Federal securities laws impose certain restraints upon the organization and operations of BDCs and SPACs. For example, BDCs are required to invest at least 70% of their total assets primarily in securities of private companies or in thinly traded U.S. public companies, cash, cash equivalents, U.S. Government securities and high quality debt instruments that mature in one year or less. SPACs typically hold 85% to 100% of the proceeds raised from their IPO in trust to be used at a later date for a merger or acquisition. The SPAC must sign a letter of intent for a merger or acquisition within 18 months of the IPO. Otherwise it will be forced to dissolve and return the assets held in the trust to the public stockholders. However, if a letter of intent is signed within 18 months, the SPAC can close the transaction within 24 months. In addition, the target of the acquisition must have a fair market value that is equal to at least 80% of the SPAC’s assets at the time of acquisition and a majority of shareholders voting must approve this combination with no more than 20% of the shareholders voting against the acquisition and requesting their money back. When a deal is proposed, a shareholder can stay with the transaction by voting for it or elect to sell his shares in the SPAC if voting against it. SPACs are more transparent than private equity as they may be subject to certain SEC regulations, including registration statement requirements under the 1933 Act, and 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K financial reporting requirements. Since SPACs are publicly traded, they provide limited liquidity to an investor (i.e. investment comes in the form of common shares and warrants which can be traded). Other than the risks normally associated with IPOs, SPACs’ public shareholders’ risks include limited liquidity of their securities (as shares are generally thinly traded), loss of 0-15% of their investments (resulting from the SPACs operating costs) if no deals are made and lack of investment diversification as assets are invested in a single company.

B-38 

 

Variable Amount Master Demand Notes 

Variable amount master demand notes are unsecured demand notes that permit the indebtedness thereunder to vary and provide for periodic readjustments in the interest rate according to the terms of the instrument. They are also referred to as variable rate demand notes. Because master demand notes are direct lending arrangements between the Fund and the issuer, they are not normally traded. Although there is no secondary market in the notes, the Fund may demand payment of principal and accrued interest at any time or during specified periods not exceeding one year, depending upon the instrument involved, and may resell the note at any time to a third party. The Advisor will consider the earning power, cash flow, and other liquidity ratios of the issuers of such notes and will continuously monitor their financial status and ability to meet payment on demand.

 

Large Shareholder Redemption Risk 

Certain account holders may from time to time own (beneficially or of record) or control a significant percentage of a Fund’s shares. Redemptions by these account holders of their shares in a Fund may impact a Fund’s liquidity and net asset value. Such redemptions may also force a Fund to sell securities at a time when it would not otherwise do so, which may increase a Fund’s broker costs and impact shareholder taxes.

 

Cybersecurity Risk 

Investment companies, such as a Fund, and its service providers may be subject to operational and information security risks resulting from cyber attacks. Cyber attacks include, among other behaviors, stealing or corrupting data maintained online or digitally, denial of service attacks on websites, the unauthorized release of confidential information or various other forms of cyber security breaches. Cyber attacks affecting a Fund or the Advisor, a Fund’s custodian or transfer agent, or intermediaries or other third-party service providers may adversely impact a Fund. For instance, cyber attacks may interfere with the processing of shareholder transactions, impact a Fund’s ability to calculate its net asset value, cause the release of private shareholder information or confidential company information, impede trading, subject a Fund to regulatory fines or financial losses, and cause reputational damage. A Fund may also incur additional costs for cybersecurity risk management purposes. While a Fund and its service providers have established business continuity plans and risk management systems designed to prevent or reduce the impact of cybersecurity attacks, such plans and systems have inherent limitations due in part to the ever-changing nature of technology and cybersecurity attack tactics, and there is a possibility that certain risks have not been adequately identified or prepared for. Furthermore, a Fund cannot control any cybersecurity plans or systems implemented by its service providers.

 

Similar types of cybersecurity risks are also present for issuers of securities in which a Fund invests, which could result in material adverse consequences for such issuers, and may cause a Fund’s investment in such portfolio companies to lose value.

 

LIBOR Risk 

Many financial instruments, financings or other transactions to which the Fund may be a party use or may use a floating rate based on LIBOR. In July 2017, the Financial Conduct Authority, the United Kingdom’s financial regulatory body, announced that after 2021 it would cease its active encouragement of banks to provide the quotations needed to sustain LIBOR. The publication of LIBOR on a representative basis ceased for the one-week and two-month U.S. dollar LIBOR settings immediately after December 31, 2021, and it is expected to cease for the remaining U.S. dollar LIBOR settings immediately after June 30, 2023. Actions by regulators have resulted in the establishment of alternative reference rates to LIBOR in most major currencies. The U.S. Federal Reserve, based on the recommendations of the New York Federal Reserve’s Alternative Reference Rate Committee, is now publishing SOFR, which is intended to replace U.S. dollar LIBOR. Alternative reference rates for other currencies have also been announced or have begun publication. Markets are slowly developing in response to these new rates. Any potential effects of the transition away from LIBOR on the Fund or on certain instruments in which the Fund invests can be difficult to determine, and they may vary depending on factors that include, but are not limited to, (i) existing fallback or termination provisions in individual contracts and (ii) whether, how, and when industry participants develop and adopt new reference rates and fallbacks for both legacy and new products and instruments. The transition process may involve, among other things, increased volatility or illiquidity in markets for instruments that currently rely on LIBOR, and there may be a reduction in the value of certain instruments held by the Fund.

B-39 

 

In March 2022, the Adjustable Interest Rate (LIBOR) Act (the “LIBOR Act”) was signed into law. The LIBOR Act provides a statutory fallback mechanism on a nationwide basis to replace LIBOR with a benchmark rate that is selected by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and based on SOFR for certain contracts that reference LIBOR and contain no, or insufficient, fallback provisions. The LIBOR Act is not self-executing, and thus implementing regulations are expected soon.

 

Index Investing 

The AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund seeks to provide investment results that, before fees and expenses, correspond generally to the price performance of the Thomson Reuters Private Equity Buyout Index (the “Private Equity Buyout Index”). The Private Equity Buyout Index seeks to replicate the aggregate gross performance of U.S. private equity-backed companies. The AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund seeks to provide investment results that, before fees and expenses, correspond generally to the price performance of the Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Index (the “Venture Capital Index”). The Venture Capital Index seeks to replicate the aggregate gross performance of U.S. venture capital-backed companies.

 

Index funds are subject to the same general risks as the securities in the index it tracks. Index investing may also be subject to certain other risks, such as tracking error, licensing and concentration.

 

Tracking Error 

Each Fund’s return may not match or achieve a high degree of correlation with the return of the corresponding underlying index. An underlying index’s return may not match or achieve a high degree of correlation with the return of U.S. private equity-backed companies or venture capital-funded companies.

 

Licensing 

Each Fund relies on licenses that permit the Fund to use the applicable Index and associated trade names, trademarks, and service market (the “Intellectual Property”) in connection with the name and investment strategies of the Fund. Such licenses may be terminated by the licensor and, as a result, the Fund may lose its ability to use the Intellectual Property. There is also no guarantee that the applicable licensor has all rights to license the Intellectual Property for use by the Fund. Accordingly, in the event a license is terminated or a licensor does not have rights to license the Intellectual Property, it may have a significant effect on the operation of the Fund and may result in a change in the investment policy or closure of the Fund.

 

Concentration 

To the extent that a Fund’s investments are concentrated in or significantly exposed to a particular sector, the Fund will be susceptible to loss due to adverse occurrences affecting that sector. Each Fund will be subject to the risk that economic, political or other conditions that have a negative effect on these sectors may adversely affect the Fund to a greater extent than if the Fund’s assets were invested in a wider variety of sectors or industries.

 

Repurchase Agreements 

The Funds may enter into repurchase agreements with respect to its portfolio securities. Pursuant to such agreements, the Funds acquire securities from financial institutions such as banks and broker-dealers deemed to be creditworthy by the Advisor or the Sub-Advisors, subject to the seller’s agreement to repurchase and the Funds’ agreement to resell such securities at a mutually agreed upon date and price. The repurchase price generally equals the price paid by the Funds plus interest negotiated on the basis of current short-term rates (which may be more or less than the rate on the underlying portfolio security). Securities subject to repurchase agreements will be held by the custodian or in the Federal Reserve/Treasury Book-Entry System or an equivalent foreign system. The seller under a repurchase agreement will be required to maintain the value of the underlying securities at not less than 102% of the repurchase price under the agreement. If the seller defaults on its repurchase obligation, the Funds will suffer a loss to the extent that the proceeds from a sale of the underlying securities are less than the repurchase price under the agreement. Bankruptcy or insolvency of such a defaulting seller may cause the Funds’ rights with respect to such securities to be delayed or limited. Repurchase agreements are considered to be loans under the 1940 Act.

B-40 

 

Reverse Repurchase Agreements 

The Fund may enter into “reverse” repurchase agreements to avoid selling securities during unfavorable market conditions to meet redemptions. A Fund may invest a maximum of 10% of its total assets in reverse repurchase agreements. Pursuant to a reverse repurchase agreement, the Fund will sell portfolio securities and agree to repurchase them from the buyer at a particular date and price. Whenever the Fund enters into a reverse repurchase agreement, it will either (i) consistent with Section 18 of the 1940 Act, maintain asset coverage of at least 300% of the value of the repurchase agreement or (ii) treat the reverse repurchase agreement as a derivatives transaction for purposes of Rule 18f-4, including, as applicable, the VaR based limit on leverage risk. The Fund pays interest on amounts obtained pursuant to reverse repurchase agreements. Reverse repurchase agreements are considered to be borrowings by the Fund.

 

Private Placements and Restricted Securities 

The Funds may invest in private placement and restricted securities. Private placement securities are securities that have been privately placed and are not registered under the 1933 Act. They are eligible for sale only to certain eligible investors. Private placements often may offer attractive opportunities for investment not otherwise available on the open market. Private placements typically may be sold only to qualified institutional buyers (or, in the case of the initial sale of certain securities, to accredited investors as defined in Rule 501(a) under the 1933 Act), or in a privately negotiated transaction or to a limited number of purchasers, or in limited quantities after they have been held for a specified period of time and other conditions are met pursuant to an exemption from registration.

 

Private placements and other restricted securities may only be sold in privately negotiated transactions or in a public offering with respect to which a registration statement is in effect under the 1933 Act. Where registration is required, the Funds may be obligated to pay all or part of the registration expenses and a considerable period may elapse between the time of the decision to sell and the time the Funds may be permitted to sell a security under an effective registration statement. If, during such a period, adverse market conditions were to develop, the Funds might obtain a less favorable price than that which prevailed when it decided to sell. Restricted securities issued pursuant to Rule 144A under the 1933 Act that have a readily available market usually are not deemed illiquid for purposes of the limitation on investment in illiquid securities by the Funds discussed below under “Illiquid Securities.” However, investing in Rule 144A securities could result in increasing the level of the Funds’ illiquidity if qualified institutional buyers become, for a time, uninterested in purchasing these securities.

 

Investing in private placement and other restricted securities is subject to certain risks. Because there may be relatively few potential purchasers for such securities, especially under adverse market or economic conditions or in the event of adverse changes in the financial condition of the issuer, the Funds could find it more difficult to sell such securities when it may be advisable to do so or it may be able to sell such securities only at prices lower than if such securities were more widely held. At times, it also may be more difficult to determine the fair value of such securities for purposes of computing the Funds’ net asset value due to the absence of a trading market.

 

The Funds intend to limit the purchase of private placements and other restricted securities, together with other securities considered to be illiquid, to not more than 15% of its net assets.

 

Lending Portfolio Securities 

Consistent with applicable regulatory requirements and the Funds’ investment restrictions, the Funds may lend portfolio securities to securities broker-dealers or financial institutions, provided that such loans are callable at any time by the Funds (subject to notice provisions described below), and are at all times secured by cash or cash equivalents, which are maintained in a segregated account pursuant to applicable regulations and that are at least equal to the market value, determined daily, of the loaned securities. The advantage of such loans is that the Funds continue to receive the income on the loaned securities while at the same time earns interest on the cash amounts deposited as collateral, which will be invested in short-term obligations. The Funds will not lend portfolio securities if such loans are not permitted by the laws or regulations of any state in which its shares are qualified for sale. The Funds’ loans of portfolio securities will be collateralized in accordance with applicable regulatory requirements and no loan will cause the value of all loaned securities to exceed 33 1/3% of the value of the Funds’ total assets.

B-41 

 

A loan may generally be terminated by the borrower on one business day’s notice, or by the Funds on five business days’ notice. If the borrower fails to deliver the loaned securities within five days after receipt of notice or fails to maintain the requisite amount of collateral, the Funds could use the collateral to replace the securities while holding the borrower liable for any excess of replacement cost over collateral. As with any extensions of credit, there are risks of delay in recovery and in some cases even loss of rights in the collateral should the borrower of the securities fail financially. However, these loans of portfolio securities will only be made to firms deemed by the Funds’ management to be creditworthy and when the income that can be earned from such loans justifies the attendant risks. Upon termination of the loan, the borrower is required to return the securities to the Funds. Any gain or loss in the market price during the loan period would inure to the Funds. The risks associated with loans of portfolio securities are substantially similar to those associated with repurchase agreements. Thus, if the counterparty to the loan petitions for bankruptcy or becomes subject to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, the law regarding the rights of the Funds are unsettled. As a result, under extreme circumstances, there may be a restriction on the Funds’ ability to sell the collateral, and the Funds would suffer a loss. When voting or consent rights that accompany loaned securities pass to the borrower, the Funds will follow the policy of calling the loaned securities, to be delivered within one day after notice, to permit the exercise of such rights if the matters involved would have a material effect on the Funds’ investment in such loaned securities. The Funds will pay reasonable finder’s, administrative and custodial fees in connection with a loan of its securities.

 

Investment Restrictions

 

Each Fund has adopted the following restrictions as fundamental policies, which may not be changed without the favorable “vote of the holders of a majority of the outstanding voting securities” of the Fund, as defined in the 1940 Act. Under the 1940 Act, the “vote of the holders of a majority of the outstanding voting securities” of the Fund means the vote of the holders of the lesser of (i) 67% of the shares of the Fund represented at a meeting at which the holders of more than 50% of its outstanding shares are represented or (ii) more than 50% of the outstanding shares of the Fund. The Fund’s investment objective is a non-fundamental policy and may be changed without shareholder approval.

 

Each Fund may not:

 

1. Issue senior securities, borrow money or pledge its assets, except that (i) the Fund may borrow from banks in amounts not exceeding one-third of its net assets (including the amount borrowed); and (ii) this restriction shall not prohibit the Fund from engaging in options transactions or short sales or investing in financial futures, swaps, when-issued or delayed delivery securities, or reverse repurchase agreements;

 

2. Act as underwriter, except to the extent the Fund may be deemed to be an underwriter in connection with the sale of securities in its investment portfolio;

 

3. For all Funds other than the AXS Merger Fund: With respect to 75% of the Fund’s total assets, purchase the securities of any issuer (other than securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government or any of its agencies or instrumentalities) if, as a result, (a) more than 5% of the Fund’s total assets would be invested in the securities of that issuer, or (b) the Fund would hold more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of that issuer;

 

4(a). For all Funds other than the AXS All Terrain Opportunity Fund: Invest 25% or more of its total assets, calculated at the time of purchase in any one industry, (other than securities issued by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities) except that the AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund and AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund will concentrate to approximately the same extent that its Index concentrates in a particular industry;

B-42 

 

4(b). For the AXS All Terrain Opportunity Fund: Invest 25% or more of its total assets, calculated at the time of purchase in any one industry or group of industries (other than securities issued by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities);

 

5. Purchase or sell real estate or interests in real estate or real estate limited partnerships (although the Fund may purchase and sell securities which are secured by real estate and securities of companies which invest or deal in real estate, such as REITs);

 

6. Make loans of money, except (a) for purchases of debt securities consistent with the investment policies of the Fund, (b) by engaging in repurchase agreements or, (c) through the loan of portfolio securities in an amount up to 33 1/3% of the Fund’s net assets; or

 

7(a). For all Funds other than the AXS All Terrain Opportunity Fund: Purchase or sell physical commodities, unless acquired as a result of ownership of securities or other instruments. This limitation shall not prevent the Fund from purchasing, selling or entering into futures contracts, or acquiring securities or other instruments and options thereon backed by, or related to, physical commodities.

 

7(b). For the AXS All Terrain Opportunity Fund: Purchase or sell commodities or commodity futures contracts (although the Fund may invest in financial futures and in companies involved in the production, extraction, or processing of agricultural, energy, base metals, precious metals, and other commodity-related products).

 

Each Fund observes the following restriction as a matter of operating but not fundamental policy, pursuant to positions taken by federal regulatory authorities:

 

Each Fund may not invest, in the aggregate, more than 15% of its net assets in illiquid securities that the Fund reasonably expects cannot be sold or disposed of in current market conditions in seven calendar days or less without the sale or disposition significantly changing the market value of the securities.

 

Except with respect to borrowing, if a percentage or rating restriction on investment or use of assets set forth herein or in the Prospectus is adhered to at the time a transaction is effected, later changes in percentage resulting from any cause other than actions by the Fund will not be considered a violation.

 

Management of the Fund

 

Trustees and Officers  

The overall management of the business and affairs of the Trust is vested with its Board of Trustees. The Board approves all significant agreements between the Trust and persons or companies furnishing services to it, including the agreements with the Advisor, co-administrators, distributor, custodian and transfer agent. The day-to-day operations of the Trust are delegated to its officers, except that the Advisor are responsible for making day-to-day investment decisions in accordance with each Fund’s investment objectives, strategies, and policies, all of which are subject to general supervision by the Board.

 

The Trustees and officers of the Trust, their years of birth and positions with the Trust, term of office with the Trust and length of time served, their business addresses and principal occupations during the past five years and other directorships held during the past five years are listed in the table below. Unless noted otherwise, each person has held the position listed for a minimum of five years. Thomas Knipper, Kathleen K. Shkuda, Larry D. Tashjian and John P. Zader are all of the Trustees who are not “interested persons” of the Trust, as that term is defined in the 1940 Act (collectively, the “Independent Trustees”).

B-43 

 

Name, Address, Year of

Birth and Position(s)

held with Trust

Term of

Officec and

Length of

Time Served

Principal Occupation During the Past Five

Years and Other Affiliations

Number of

Portfolios in

the Fund

Complex 

Overseen by

Trustee

Other Directorships

Held by Trustee e

“Independent” Trustees:        

Thomas Knipper, CPA a  

(born 1957) 

Trustee 

Since September 2013 Retired (April 2022 – present); Independent Consulting, financial services organizations (March 2021 – March 2022); Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer, Ameritas Investment Partners, a registered investment advisor (1995 – March 2021). 45 Monachil Credit Income Fund, a closed-end investment company.

Kathleen K. Shkuda a 

(born 1951) 

Trustee 

Since September 2013 Zigzag Consulting, a financial services consulting firm (2008 – present); Director, Managed Accounts, Merrill Lynch (2007 – 2008). 45 None.

Larry D. Tashjian a 

(born 1953) 

Trustee and Chairman of the Board 

Since September 2013 Principal, CAM Capital Advisors, a family office (2001 – present). 45 General Finance Corporation.

John P. Zader a  

(born 1961) 

Trustee 

Since September 2013 Retired (June 2014 – present); CEO, UMB Fund Services, Inc., a mutual fund and hedge fund service provider, and the transfer agent, fund accountant, and co-administrator for the Funds (December 2006 – June 2014); President, Investment Managers Series Trust (December 2007 – June 2014). 45 Investment Managers Series Trust, a registered investment company (includes 53 portfolios).
Interested Trustees:        

Terrance P. Gallagher a* 

(born 1958) 

Trustee and President

 

Since July 2019 President, Investment Managers Series Trust II (September 2013 – present); Executive Vice President, UMB Fund Services, Inc. (2007 – present); and Director of Compliance, Unified Fund Services Inc. (now Huntington Fund Services), a mutual fund service provider (2004 – 2007). 45 Cliffwater Corporate Lending Fund, Agility Multi-Asset Income Fund, Corbin Multi-Strategy Fund, LLC, Aspiriant Risk-Managed Real Asset Fund, Aspiriant Risk-Managed Capital Appreciation Fund, AFA Multi-Manager Credit Fund, The Optima Dynamic Alternatives Fund, Infinity Core Alternative Fund, Infinity Long/Short Equity Fund, LLC, Keystone Private Income Fund, Relative Value Fund, Variant Alternative Income Fund, Variant Impact Fund, First Trust Private Assets Fund, First Trust Private Credit Fund, First Trust Real Assets Fund, Destiny Alternative Fund LLC, Destiny Alternative Fund (Tax Exempt) LLC, and Pender Real Estate Credit Fund, each a closed-end investment company.  

B-44 

 

Name, Address, Year of

Birth and Position(s)

held with Trust

Term of

Officec and

Length of

Time Served

Principal Occupation During the Past Five

Years and Other Affiliations

Number of

Portfolios in

the Fund

Complex 

Overseen by

Trustee

Other Directorships

Held by Trustee e

Joy Ausili b† 

(born 1966) 

Trustee, Vice President and Assistant Secretary

Since January 2023 Co-Chief Executive Officer (2016 – present), and Vice President (2006 – 2015), Mutual Fund Administration, LLC; Vice President and Assistant Secretary (January 2016 – present), Investment Managers Series Trust II; Vice President and Secretary, Investment Managers Series Trust (March 2016 – present); Co-President, Foothill Capital Management, LLC, a registered investment advisor (2018 – 2022). 45 None
Officers of the Trust:        

Rita Dam b 

(born 1966) 

Treasurer and Assistant Secretary 

Since September 2013 Co-Chief Executive Officer (2016 – present), and Vice President (2006 – 2015), Mutual Fund Administration, LLC; Treasurer and Assistant Secretary, Investment Managers Series Trust (December 2007 – present); Co-President, Foothill Capital Management, LLC, a registered investment advisor (2018 – 2022). N/A N/A

Diane Drake b 

(born 1967) 

Secretary 

Since January 2016 Senior Counsel, Mutual Fund Administration, LLC (October 2015 – present); Chief Compliance Officer, Foothill Capital Management, LLC, a registered investment advisor (2018 – 2019). N/A N/A

Martin Dziura b 

(born 1959) 

Chief Compliance Officer 

Since September 2013

Principal, Dziura Compliance Consulting, LLC (October 2014 - present); Managing Director, Cipperman Compliance Services (2010 – September 2014); Chief Compliance Officer, Hanlon Investment Management (2009 – 2010); Vice President − Compliance, Morgan Stanley Investment Management (2000 − 2009). 

N/A N/A

a Address for certain Trustees and certain officers: 235 West Galena Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53212.

b Address for Ms. Ausili, Ms. Dam and Ms. Drake: 2220 E. Route 66, Suite 226, Glendora, California 91740.

Address for Mr. Dziura: 309 Woodridge Lane, Media, Pennsylvania 19063. 

c Trustees and officers serve until their successors have been duly elected.

d The Trust is comprised of 56 series managed by unaffiliated investment advisors. Each Trustee serves as Trustee of each series of the Trust. The term “Fund Complex” applies only to the series managed by the same investment advisor. The Funds’ investment advisor also serves as investment advisor to the following: (1) AXS Change Finance ESG ETF, (2) AXS Income Opportunities Fund, (3) AXS Short China Internet ETF, (4) AXS Astoria Inflation Sensitive ETF, (5) AXS TSLA Bear Daily ETF, (6) AXS TSLA Bull Daily ETF, (7) AXS 1.25X NVDA Bear Daily ETF, (8) AXS 1.25X NVDA Bull Daily ETF, (9) AXS 2X COP Bear Daily ETF, (10) AXS 2X COP Bull Daily ETF, (11) AXS 1.25X BA Bear Daily ETF, (12) AXS 1.25X BA Bull Daily ETF, (13) AXS 1.5X PYPL Bear Daily ETF, (14)AXS 1.5X PYPL Bull Daily ETF, (15) AXS 1.25X WFC Bear Daily ETF, (16) AXS 1.25X WFC Bull Daily ETF, (17) AXS 2X Innovation ETF, (18) AXS 2X PFE Bear Daily ETF, (19) AXS 2X PFE Bull Daily ETF, (20) AXS 1.5X CRM Bear Daily ETF, (21) AXS 1.5X CRM Bull Daily ETF, (22) AXS 2X NKE Bear Daily ETF, (23) AXS 2X NKE Bull Daily ETF, (24) AXS Short De-SPAC ETF, (25) AXS Short Innovation Daily ETF, (26) AXS SPAC and New Issue ETF, (27) AXS First Priority CLO Bond ETF, (28) AXS Cannabis ETF, (29) AXS Brendan Wood TopGun Index ETF, (30) AXS Green Alpha ETF, (31) AXS All Terrain ETF, (32) AXS Esoterica NextG Economy ETF, (33) AXS Dynamic Opportunity Fund, (34) AXS Tactical Income Fund, and (35) AXS Real Estate Income ETF (collectively, the “AXS Funds”), which are offered in separate prospectuses. The Fund does not hold itself out as related to any other series within the Trust, for purposes of investment and investor services.

e “Other Directorships Held” includes only directorships of companies required to register or file reports with the SEC under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (that is, “public companies”), or other investment companies registered under the 1940 Act.

Ms. Ausili is an “interested person” of the Trust by virtue of his position with Mutual Fund Administration, LLC.

* Mr. Gallagher is an “interested person” of the Trust by virtue of his position with UMB Fund Services, Inc.

 

Effective January 19, 2023, Eric M. Banhazl, who served as a Trustee of the Trust from September 2013 to January 19, 2023, is serving as a Trustee Emeritus of the Trust. As a Trustee Emeritus, Mr. Banhazl may attend the meetings of the Board of Trustees or any of its committees, but has no duties, powers or responsibilities with respect to the Trust.

B-45 

 

Compensation  

Each Independent Trustee receives from the Trust a quarterly retainer of $22,500; $4,000 for each special in-person meeting attended, or any special meeting attended by videoconference or teleconference in lieu of in-person attendance in accordance with SEC exemptive relief or to address particularly complex matters or matters requiring review of significant materials in advance of the meeting; and $1,500 for any other special meetings attended by videoconference or teleconference at which Board action is taken or materials are prepared. The Trust has no pension or retirement plan. No other entity affiliated with the Trust pays any compensation to the Trustees.

 

The Trustees may elect to defer payment of their compensation pursuant to the Trust’s non-qualified Deferred Compensation Plan for Trustees which permits the Trustees to defer receipt of all or part of their compensation. Amounts deferred are deemed invested in shares of one or more series of the Trust, as selected by the Trustee from time to time. A Trustee’s deferred compensation account will be paid in cash at such times as elected by the Trustee, subject to certain mandatory payment provisions in the Deferred Compensation Plan. Deferral and payment elections under the Deferred Compensation Plan are subject to strict requirements for modification.

 

  Independent Trustees
 

Thomas Knipper,

Independent Trustee

and Audit

Committee Chair

Kathleen K.

Shkuda,

Independent

Trustee

Larry D.

Tashjian,

Independent

Trustee, Chairman

John P Zader,

Independent

Trustee and

Nominating

Committee Chair 

AXS Adaptive Plus Fund1,2,4 $2,250 $2,250 $2,250 $2,250
AXS All Terrain Opportunity Fund1,4 $2,630 $2,630 $2,630 $2,630
AXS Alternative Value Fund1,4 $2,612 $2,612 $2,612 $2,612
AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund1,4 $2,680 $2,680 $2,680 $2,680
AXS Market Neutral Fund1,4 $2,615 $2,615 $2,615 $2,615
AXS Merger Fund1,4 $2,751 $2,751 $2,751 $2,751
AXS Multi-Strategy Alternatives Fund1,4 $2,629 $2,629 $2,629 $2,629
AXS Sustainable Income Fund1,4   $2,620 $2,620 $2,620 $2,620

AXS Thomson Reuters1,4 

Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund

$3,157 $3,157 $3,157 $3,157

AXS Thomson Reuters1,4 

Private Equity Return Tracker Fund

$2,636 $2,636 $2,636 $2,636

Pension or Retirement Benefits Accrued as Part of Fund’s Expenses4

None None None None
Estimated Annual Benefits Upon Retirement None None None None

Total Compensation from Fund and Fund Complex Paid to Trustees1,2,3,4

$67,000 $67,000 $67,000 $67,000

 

1 For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2022.

2 Estimated annual compensation for the first year.

3 There are currently numerous portfolios comprising the Trust. The term “Fund Complex” applies only to the series managed by the same investment advisor. The Funds’ investment advisor also serves as investment advisor to the AXS Funds, which are series of the Trust offered in separate prospectuses. The Funds do not hold themselves out as related to any other series within the Trust, for purposes of investment and investor services. For the Funds’ fiscal year ended September 30, 2022, the aggregate Independent Trustees’ fees for the Trust were $268,000.

4 Messrs. Tashjian, Knipper and Zader each elected to defer payment of his compensation under the non-qualified Deferred Compensation Plan for Trustees under which Trustees may defer receipt of all or part of their compensation. As of September 30, 2022, the total amount of deferred compensation payable to Messrs. Knipper, Tashjian and Zader was $46,888, $124,790 and $38,752, respectively.

 

Mr. Gallagher and Ms. Ausili are not compensated for their service as Trustees because of their affiliation with the Trust. Officers of the Trust are not compensated by the Fund for their services.

 

As a Trustee Emeritus of the Trust, Mr. Banhazl does not receive any compensation from the Trust; however, he is entitled to reimbursement of expenses related to his attendance at any meetings of the Board of Trustees or its committees.

B-46 

 

Additional Information Concerning the Board and the Trustees  

The current Trustees were selected in September 2013 (July 2019 for Mr. Gallagher and January 2023 for Ms. Ausili) with a view towards establishing a Board that would have the broad experience needed to oversee a registered investment company comprised of multiple series employing a variety of different investment strategies. As a group, the Board has extensive experience in many different aspects of the financial services and asset management industries.

 

The Trustees were selected to join the Board based upon the following factors, among others: character and integrity; willingness to serve and willingness and ability to commit the time necessary to perform the duties of a Trustee; as to each Trustee other than Ms. Ausili, Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Zader (at that time), satisfying the criteria for not being classified as an “interested person” of the Trust as defined in the 1940 Act; as to Ms. Ausili and Mr. Gallagher, their positions with Mutual Fund Administration, LLC, and UMB Fund Services, Inc., respectively, the Trust’s co-administrators. In addition, the Trustees have the following specific experience, qualifications, attributes and/or skills relevant to the operations of the Trust:

 

Mr. Knipper has substantial experience with respect to the operation, administration and compliance programs of mutual funds and as a senior executive with a registered investment advisor.

 

Ms. Shkuda has substantial experience in the investment management industry, including as a consultant with respect to operations and marketing of investment managers and distribution of mutual funds and other investment products.

 

Mr. Tashjian has extensive leadership experience in the investment management industry, including as a principal and a chief executive officer of a registered investment advisor.

 

Mr. Zader has substantial experience serving in senior executive positions at mutual fund administrative service providers.

 

Mr. Gallagher has substantial experience serving in senior executive positions at mutual fund administrative service providers.

 

Ms. Ausili has substantial experience serving in senior executive positions at mutual fund administrative service providers.

 

In its periodic self-assessment of the effectiveness of the Board, the Board considers the complementary individual skills and experience of the individual Trustees primarily in the broader context of the Board’s overall composition so that the Board, as a body, possesses the appropriate (and appropriately diverse) skills and experience to oversee the business of the Fund. The summaries set forth above as to the qualifications, attributes and skills of the Trustees are required by the registration form adopted by the SEC, do not constitute holding out the Board or any Trustee as having any special expertise or experience, and do not impose any greater responsibility or liability on any such person or on the Board as a whole than would otherwise be the case.

 

The Board of Trustees has two standing committees: the Audit Committee and the Nominating, Governance and Regulatory Review Committee (the “Nominating Committee”).

 

The function of the Audit Committee, with respect to each series of the Trust, is to review the scope and results of the series’ annual audit and any matters bearing on the audit or the series’ financial statements and to assist the Board’s oversight of the integrity of the series’ pricing and financial reporting. The Audit Committee is comprised of all of the Independent Trustees and is chaired by Mr. Knipper. It does not include any Interested Trustees. The Audit Committee is expected to meet at least twice a year with respect to each series of the Trust. The Audit Committee met twice during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2022, with respect to the Funds.

B-47 

 

The Audit Committee also serves as the Qualified Legal Compliance Committee (“QLCC”) for the Trust for the purpose of compliance with Rules 205.2(k) and 205.3(c) of the Code of Federal Regulations regarding alternative reporting procedures for attorneys retained or employed by an issuer who appear and practice before the SEC on behalf of the issuer.

 

The Nominating Committee is responsible for reviewing matters pertaining to composition, committees, and operations of the Board, as well as assisting the Board in overseeing matters related to certain regulatory issues. The Nominating Committee meets from time to time as needed. The Nominating Committee will consider trustee nominees properly recommended by the Trust’s shareholders. Shareholders who wish to recommend a nominee should send nominations that include, among other things, biographical data and the qualifications of the proposed nominee to the Trust’s Secretary. The Independent Trustees comprise the Nominating Committee, and the Committee is chaired by Mr. Zader. The Nominating Committee met once during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2022.

 

Independent Trustees comprise 67% of the Board and Larry Tashjian, an Independent Trustee, serves as Chairperson of the Board. The Chairperson serves as a key point person for dealings between the Trust’s management and the other Independent Trustees. As noted above, through the committees of the Board the Independent Trustees consider and address important matters involving each series of the Trust, including those presenting conflicts or potential conflicts of interest. The Independent Trustees also regularly meet outside the presence of management and are advised by independent legal counsel. The Board has determined that its organization and leadership structure are appropriate in light of its fiduciary and oversight obligations, the special obligations of the Independent Trustees, and the relationship between the Interested Trustees and the Trust’s co-administrators. The Board also believes that its structure facilitates the orderly and efficient flow of information to the Independent Trustees from management.

 

Consistent with its responsibility for oversight of the Funds in the interests of shareholders, the Board among other things oversees risk management of the Funds’ investment programs and business affairs directly and through the Audit Committee. The Board has emphasized to the Advisor the importance of maintaining vigorous risk management programs and procedures.

 

The Funds face a number of risks, such as investment risk, valuation risk, reputational risk, risk of operational failure or lack of business continuity, and legal, compliance and regulatory risk. Risk management seeks to identify and address risks, i.e., events or circumstances that could have material adverse effects on the business, operations, shareholder services, investment performance or reputation of the Funds. Under the overall supervision of the Board, the Advisor, and other service providers to the Funds employ a variety of processes, procedures and controls to identify various of those possible events or circumstances, to lessen the probability of their occurrence and/or to mitigate the effects of such events or circumstances if they do occur. Different processes, procedures and controls are employed with respect to different types of risks. Various personnel, including the Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer (the “CCO”), the Advisor’s management, and other service providers (such as each Fund’s independent registered public accounting firm) make periodic reports to the Board or to the Audit Committee with respect to various aspects of risk management. The Board recognizes that not all risks that may affect a Fund can be identified, that it may not be practical or cost-effective to eliminate or mitigate certain risks, that it may be necessary to bear certain risks (such as investment-related risks) to achieve a Fund’s investment objective, and that the processes, procedures and controls employed to address certain risks may be limited in their effectiveness. Moreover, reports received by the Trustees as to risk management matters are typically summaries of the relevant information. As a result of the foregoing and other factors, the Board’s risk management oversight is subject to substantial limitations.

 

Fund Shares Beneficially Owned by Trustees  

Certain information regarding ownership by the Trustees of the Funds and other series of the Trust, as of December 31, 2022, is set forth in the following table.

B-48 

 

Name of Trustee

Dollar Range of Equity

Securities in the Funds ($)

Aggregate Dollar Range of Equity

Securities in all Registered

Investment Companies Overseen

by Trustee in Family of Investment

Companies ($)

Larry Tashjian, Independent Trustee None None
Kathy Shkuda, Independent Trustee None None
Thomas Knipper, Independent Trustee None None
John P. Zader, Independent Trustee None None
Terrance P. Gallagher, Interested Trustee None None
Joy Ausili, Interested Trustee None None

 

Control Persons, Principal Shareholders, and Management Ownership

 

The following table lists the control persons of the Funds as of January 2, 2023. A control person is one who owns beneficially or through controlled companies more than 25% of the voting securities of a Fund or acknowledges the existence of control1. Shareholders with a controlling interest could affect the outcome of voting or the direction of management of a Fund.

 

Control Persons Jurisdiction

% of Total Outstanding

Shares of the Fund

as of January 2, 2023 

AXS Adaptive Plus Fund    

TD Ameritrade Inc

Omaha, NE 68103

Nebraska 89.02%
AXS All Terrain Opportunity Fund    

TD Ameritrade Inc

Omaha, NE 68103

Nebraska 98.96%
AXS Alternative Value Fund    

National Financial Services LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07310

New Jersey 40.60%
AXS Market Neutral Fund    

LPL Financial

San Diego, CA 92121

California 32.31%
AXS Merger Fund    

Interactive Brokers LLC

Greenwich, CT 06830

Connecticut 38.39%

National Financial Services LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07399

New Jersey 28.00%
AXS Sustainable Income Fund    

SEI Private Trust Company

Oaks, PA 19456

Georgia 74.79%
AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund    

National Financial Services LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07399

New Jersey 69.09%
AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund    

LPL Financial

San Diego, CA 92121

California 32.40%

  

1 The Funds have no information regarding the beneficial owners of Fund shares owned through accounts with financial intermediaries.

B-49 

 

The following table lists the principal shareholders of the Funds as of January 2, 2023. The principal shareholders are holders of record of 5% or more of the outstanding shares of the indicated classes of the Funds, including the listed shareholders that are financial intermediaries.1

 

Principal Shareholders

% of Total Outstanding

Shares of the Class

as of January 2, 2023

AXS Adaptive Plus Fund – Class I  

TD Ameritrade Inc

Omaha, NE 68103

89.02%

Charles Schwab & Co. Inc

San Francisco, CA 94105

9.79%
AXS All Terrain Opportunity Fund – Class I  

TD Ameritrade Inc

Omaha, NE 68103

98.96%
AXS Alternative Value Fund – Class I  

National Financial Services LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07310

35.34%

Charles Schwab & Co. Inc

San Francisco, CA 94105

23.31%

SEI Private Trust Company

Oaks, PA 19456

19.62%

TD Ameritrade Inc

Omaha, NE 68103

13.00%
AXS Alternative Value Fund – Investor Class  

National Financial Services LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07310

81.55%

Charles Schwab & Co. Inc

San Francisco, CA 94105

9.72%

TD Ameritrade Inc

Omaha, NE 68103

6.09%
AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund – Class A  

Charles Schwab & Co. Inc

San Francisco, CA 94104

33.45%

Raymond James

Saint Petersburg, FL 33716

19.56%

Pershing LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07399

10.14%
AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund – Class C  

Raymond James

Saint Petersburg, FL 33716

57.60%

UBS WM USA

Weehawken, NJ 07086

5.97%

Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith

Jacksonville, FL 32246

5.75%

Charles Schwab & Co. Inc

San Francisco, CA 94104

6.20%

B-50 

 

AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund – Class I  

TD Ameritrade Inc

Omaha, NE 68103

15.59%

Pershing LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07399

9.09%

Raymond James

Saint Petersburg, FL 33716

6.25%

LPL Financial

San Diego, CA 92121

16.35%

Charles Schwab & Co. Inc

San Francisco, CA 94104

7.43%
AXS Market Neutral Fund – Investor Class  

Charles Schwab & Co. Inc

San Francisco, CA 94104

38.57%

Axos Clearing LLC

Englewood, CO 80155

15.15%

TD Ameritrade Inc

Omaha, NE 68103

5.20%
AXS Market Neutral Fund – Class I  

LPL Financial

San Diego, CA 92121

35.24%

TD Ameritrade Inc

Omaha, NE 68103

23.62%

SEI Private Trust Company

Oaks, PA 19456

7.82%

Charles Schwab & Co. Inc

San Francisco, CA 94104

7.20%
AXS Merger Fund – Class I  

Interactive Brokers LLC

Greenwich, CT 06830

39.41%

National Financial Services LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07310

28.55%

Charles Schwab & Co. Inc

San Francisco, CA 94104

20.33%
AXS Merger Fund – Investor Class  

Charles Schwab & Co. Inc

San Francisco, CA 94104

42.96%

Hitherlane Partners LLC

c/o Kellner Capital

New York, NY 10022

32.27%

National Financial Services LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07310

7.40%

Pershing LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07399

5.80%

B-51 

 

AXS Multi-Strategy Alternatives Fund – Class I  

National Financial Services LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07310

15.70%

Pershing LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07399

10.98%

LPL Financial

San Diego, CA 92121

7.82%

William Brian Bevins

Aventura, FL 33160

5.66%
AXS Multi-Strategy Alternatives Fund – Investor Class  

Charles Schwab & Co. Inc.

San Francisco, CA 94104

12.40%

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC

New York, NY 10004

5.72%

LPL Financial

San Diego, CA 92121

5.42%

Mid Atlantic Trust Company

Pittsburgh, PA 15222

7.68%
AXS Sustainable Income Fund – Class I  

SEI Private Trust Company

Oaks, PA 19456

74.79%

Gerlach Co LLC

Tampa, FL 33610

10.12%

Charles Schwab & Co. Inc

San Francisco, CA 94104

9.64%
AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund – Class A  

LPL Financial

San Diego, CA 92121

45.41%

Pershing LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07399

32.31%

Charles Schwab & Co. Inc

San Francisco, CA 94104

19.87%
AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund – Class C  

LPL Financial

San Diego, CA 92121

96.89%
AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund – Class I  

National Financial Services LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07310

72.05%
AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund – Class A  

Charles Schwab & Co. Inc

San Francisco, CA 94104

48.39%

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC

New York, NY 10004

14.31%

LPL Financial

San Diego, CA 92121

8.10%

B-52 

 

Pershing LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07399

7.98%
AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund – Class C  

LPL Financial

San Diego, CA 92121

25.11%

Pershing LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07399

10.03%

TD Ameritrade Inc

Omaha, NE 68103

6.15%

National Financial Services LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07310

5.36%
AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund – Class I  

LPL Financial

San Diego, CA 92121

45.43%

Lamb Company LLC

Chicago, IL 60611

19.76%

Pershing LLC

Jersey City, NJ 07399

10.06%

  

1 The Fund has no information regarding the beneficial owners of Fund shares owned through accounts with financial intermediaries.

 

As of January 2, 2023, the Trustees and officers of the Trust as a group did not own more than 1% of the outstanding shares of the Funds. Furthermore, neither the Independent Trustees, nor members of their immediate families, own securities beneficially or of record in the Advisor, the Sub-Advisors, the Fund’s distributor, ALPS Distributors Inc. (the “Distributor”), or any of their respective affiliates.

 

The Advisor  

AXS Investments LLC (the “Advisor” or “AXS”), located at 181 Westchester Avenue, Suite 402, Port Chester, New York 10573, acts as investment advisor to the Funds pursuant to an Investment Advisory Agreement (the “Advisory Agreement”). Subject to such policies as the Board of Trustees may determine, the Advisor is ultimately responsible for investment decisions for the Funds. Pursuant to the terms of the Advisory Agreement, the Advisor provides the Funds with such investment advice and supervision as it deems necessary for the proper supervision of each Fund’s investments. The Advisor also continuously monitors and maintains each Fund’s investment criteria and determines from time to time what securities may be purchased by the Funds. AXS Investments LLC is wholly owned by AXS Holdings LLC. AXS Holdings LLC is ultimately controlled by Gregory Bassuk.

 

The Advisory Agreement will remain in effect for an initial two-year period. After the initial two-year period, the Advisory Agreement will continue in effect with respect to a Fund from year to year only if such continuance is specifically approved at least annually by the Board or by vote of a majority of the Funds’ outstanding voting securities and by a majority of the Trustees who are not parties to the Advisory Agreement or interested persons of any such party, at a meeting called for the purpose of voting on the Advisory Agreement. The Advisory Agreement is terminable without penalty by the Trust on behalf of the Funds, upon giving the Advisor 60 days’ notice when authorized either by a majority vote of the Funds’ shareholders or by a vote of a majority of the Board, or by the Advisor on 60 days’ written notice, and will automatically terminate in the event of its “assignment” (as defined in the 1940 Act). The Advisory Agreement provides that the Advisor shall not be liable for any error of judgment or for any loss suffered by the Trust in connection with the Advisory Agreement, except for a loss resulting from a breach of fiduciary duty, or for a loss resulting from willful misfeasance, bad faith or gross negligence in the performance of its duties, or from reckless disregard by the Advisor of its duties under the Advisory Agreement.

B-53 

 

In consideration of the services to be provided by the Advisor pursuant to the Advisory Agreement, the Advisor is entitled to receive from each Fund an investment advisory fee computed daily and paid twice a month based on an annual rate equal to a percentage of the Fund’s average daily net assets specified in the Prospectus.

 

The Sub-Advisor for AXS Alternative Value Fund and AXS Market Neutral Fund  

The Advisor has entered into a sub-advisory agreement with Cognios Capital with respect to each Fund (the “Cognios Sub-Advisory Agreement”). Cognios Capital commenced operations in February 2020 and has its principal place of business at 3965 W. 83rd Street, #348, Prairie Village, Kansas 66208. Cognios Capital is an SEC-registered investment advisor. Quantitative Value Technologies, LLC d/b/a Cognios Capital is owned 50%/50% by the Jonathan Angrist Revocable Trust and the Brian J. Machtley Living Trust.

 

The Sub-Advisor for AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund  

The Advisor has entered into a sub-advisory agreement with Chesapeake with respect to the AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund (the “Chesapeake Sub-Advisory Agreement”). Chesapeake is an SEC-registered investment advisor and CFTC-registered commodity trading advisor and commodity pool operator, with its principal place of business at 100 South Ashley Drive, Suite 1140, Tampa, Florida 33602. Chesapeake manages capital for investment companies, other pooled investment vehicles, pension plans, charitable organizations, state or municipal government entities, and insurance companies, among other clients. Chesapeake is controlled by Chesapeake Holding Company through such entity’s ownership interest in Chesapeake. Chesapeake Holding Company is controlled by Jerry Parker.

 

The Sub-Advisor for AXS Merger Fund 

The Advisor has entered into a sub-advisory agreement with Kellner Management with respect to the Fund (the “Kellner Sub-Advisory Agreement”). Kellner Management was founded by George A. Kellner with its principal place of business at 900 Third Avenue, suite 1401, New York, NY 10022. Kellner Management is an SEC-registered investment advisor. Kellner is controlled by George A. Kellner.

 

The Sub-Advisor for AXS Sustainable Income Fund  

The Advisor has entered into a sub-advisory agreement with each of Green Alpha (the “Green Alpha Sub-Advisory Agreement”) and Uniplan (the “Uniplan Sub-Advisory Agreement”) with respect to the Fund.

 

Green Alpha is a Colorado limited liability company established in 2007 with its principal place of business at 287 Century Circle, Suite 201, Louisville, Colorado 80027. Green Alpha is an SEC-registered investment advisor. Green Alpha is controlled by Jeremy W. Deems and Garvin F. Jabusch.

 

Uniplan is a Wisconsin “C” corporation established in 1984 with its principal place of business at 22939 W. Overson Rd., Union Grove, Wisconsin 53182. Uniplan is controlled by Richard Imperiale and Kris Jamison.

 

Sub-Advisory Agreements  

Each Sub-Advisory Agreement will remain in effect for an initial two-year period. After the initial two-year period, each Sub-Advisory Agreement will continue in effect with respect to the relevant Fund from year to year only as long as such continuance is specifically approved at least annually by (i) the Board of Trustees of the Trust or by the vote of a majority of the outstanding voting shares of the Fund, and (ii) by the vote of a majority of the Trustees of the Trust who are not parties to the Sub-Advisory Agreement or interested persons of the Advisor, the Sub-Advisor or the Trust. Each Sub-Advisory Agreement may be terminated at any time without the payment of any penalty by the Board of Trustees of the Trust or by the vote of a majority of the outstanding voting shares of the relevant Fund, or by the Sub-Advisor or the Advisor, upon 60 days’ written notice to the other party. Additionally, each Sub-Advisory Agreement automatically terminates in the event of its assignment. Each Sub-Advisory Agreement provides that the Sub-Advisor shall not be liable for any error of judgment or for any loss suffered by the Trust in connection with the Sub-Advisory Agreement, except for a loss resulting from a breach of fiduciary duty, or for a loss resulting from willful misfeasance, bad faith or gross negligence in the performance of its duties, or from reckless disregard by the Sub-Advisor of its duties under the Sub-Advisory Agreement.

B-54 

 

Fund Expenses  

Each Fund is responsible for its own operating expenses (all of which will be borne directly or indirectly by the Funds’ shareholders), including among others, legal fees and expenses of counsel to the Funds and the Funds’ Independent Trustees; insurance (including Trustees’ and officers’ errors and omissions insurance); auditing and accounting expenses; taxes and governmental fees; listing fees; dues and expenses incurred in connection with membership in investment company organizations; fees and expenses of the Funds’ custodians, administrators, transfer agents, registrars and other service providers; expenses for portfolio pricing services by a pricing agent, if any; expenses in connection with the issuance and offering of shares; expenses relating to investor and public relations; expenses of registering or qualifying securities of the Funds’ for public sale; brokerage commissions and other costs of acquiring or disposing of any portfolio holding of the Funds; expenses of preparation and distribution of reports, notices and dividends to shareholders; expenses of the dividend reinvestment plan; compensation and expenses of Trustees; any litigation expenses; and costs of shareholders’ and other meetings.

 

The Advisor has contractually agreed to waive its fees and/or pay for operating expenses of each Fund to ensure that the total annual Fund operating expenses (excluding, as applicable, any taxes, leverage interest, brokerage commissions, dividend expenses on short sales, acquired fund fees and expenses as determined in accordance with Form N-1A, expenses incurred in connection with any merger or reorganization, and extraordinary expenses such as litigation expenses) do not exceed the limit set forth in the Expense Table in the Prospectus (the “expense cap”). This agreement is effective until January 31, 2024, with respect to each Fund except the AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund. This agreement is effective until July 22, 2024, with respect to the AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund. The agreement may be terminated before that date with respect to a Fund only by the Board of Trustees. The Advisor is permitted to seek reimbursement from each Fund, subject to certain limitations, of fees waived or payments made to the Fund for a period ending three full years after the date of the waiver or payment. Similarly, the AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund’s and the AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund’s Predecessor Funds’ advisor, Good Harbor Financial LLC (“Good Harbor”), is permitted to seek reimbursement from the AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund and the AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund, subject to certain limitations, of fees waived or payments made by Good Harbor to the Predecessor Fund prior to the reorganization of the Predecessor Fund into the corresponding Fund, for a period ending three years after the date of the waiver or payment. In each case, any such reimbursement may be requested from a Fund if the reimbursement will not cause the Fund’s annual expense ratio to exceed the lesser of (a) the expense limitation in effect at the time such fees were waived or payments made, or (b) the expense limitation in effect at the time of the reimbursement. Any reimbursement of fees waived or payments made by Good Harbor to each respective Predecessor Fund prior to the applicable reorganization must be approved by the Trust’s Board.

 

With respect to each of the AXS Alternative Value Fund and AXS Market Neutral Fund, Cognios Capital is permitted to seek reimbursement from each Fund, subject to certain limitations, of fees waived or payments made by Cognios Capital to the Predecessor Fund prior to the reorganization, for a period ending three years after the date of the waiver or payment. In each case, the reimbursement may be requested from a Fund if the reimbursement will not cause the Fund’s annual expense ratio to exceed the lesser of (a) the expense limitation in effect at the time such fees were waived or payments made, and (b) the expense limitation in effect at the time of the reimbursement. Reimbursements of fees waived or payments made will be made on a “first in, first out” basis so that the oldest fees waived or payments are satisfied first. However, the reimbursement amount may not exceed the total amount of fees waived and/or Fund expenses paid by the Advisor and will not include any amounts previously reimbursed to the Advisor by the Fund. Any such reimbursement is contingent upon the Board’s subsequent review of the reimbursed amounts. Each Fund must pay current ordinary operating expenses before the Advisor or Cognios Capital is entitled to any reimbursement of fees and/or Fund expenses.

 

With respect to the AXS Merger Fund, Kellner is permitted to seek reimbursement from the Fund, subject to certain limitations, of fees waived or payments made by Kellner to the Predecessor Fund prior to the reorganization, for a period ending three years after the date of the waiver or payment. In each case, the reimbursement may be requested from the Fund if the reimbursement will not cause the Fund’s annual expense ratio to exceed the lesser of (a) the expense limitation in effect at the time such fees were waived or payments made, and (b) the expense limitation in effect at the time of the reimbursement. Reimbursements of fees waived or payments made will be made on a “first in, first out” basis so that the oldest fees waived or payments are satisfied first. However, the reimbursement amount may not exceed the total amount of fees waived and/or Fund expenses paid by the Advisor and will not include any amounts previously reimbursed to the Advisor by the Fund. Any reimbursement of fees waived or payments made by Kellner to the Predecessor Fund must be approved by the Board. Any such reimbursement to the Advisor is contingent upon the Board’s subsequent review of the reimbursed amounts. The Fund must pay current ordinary operating expenses before the Advisor or Kellner is entitled to any reimbursement of fees and/or Fund expenses.

B-55 

 

 

With respect to the AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund and the AXS Multi-Strategy Alternatives Fund, Equinox Institutional Asset Management, LP (“Equinox”), the advisor to the Predecessor Fund of the AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund, is permitted to seek reimbursement, subject to certain limitations, of fees waived or payments made by Equinox prior to the reorganization, for a period ending three years after the date of the waiver or payment. In each case, reimbursement may be requested from the applicable Fund if the reimbursement will not cause the Fund’s annual expense ratio to exceed the lesser of (a) the expense limitation in effect at the time such fees were waived or payments made, and (b) the expense limitation in effect at the time of the reimbursement. Reimbursements of fees waived or payments made will be made on a “first in, first out” basis so that the oldest fees waived or payments are satisfied first. Any reimbursement of fees waived or payments made by Equinox prior to the reorganization must be approved by the Board. All other reimbursement is contingent upon the Board’s subsequent review of the reimbursed amounts. The Fund must pay current ordinary operating expenses before the Advisor or Equinox is entitled to any reimbursement of fees and/or Fund expenses.

 

Fund

Expense Cap

as percent of the average daily net assets

  Class A Class C Class I Investor Class
AXS Adaptive Plus Fund N/A N/A 1.99% 2.24%
AXS All Terrain Opportunity Fund N/A N/A 1.60% N/A
AXS Alternative Value Fund N/A N/A 0.85% 1.10%
AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund 2.10% 2.85% 1.85% N/A
AXS Market Neutral Fund N/A N/A 1.45% 1.70%
AXS Merger Fund N/A N/A 1.50% 1.75%
AXS Multi-Strategy Alternatives Fund N/A N/A 1.51% 1.68%
AXS Sustainable Income Fund   1.24% N/A 0.99% N/A
AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund 1.75% 2.50% 1.50% N/A
AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund 1.75% 2.50% 1.50% N/A

 

The Funds paid the following advisory fees to the Advisor and the Predecessor Fund’s advisor, as applicable, for the periods indicated:

 

 

Advisory

Fees 

Accrued 

Advisory Fees 

(Waived)/

Recouped 

Advisory

Fee 

Retained 

For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2022      
AXS Adaptive Plus Fund $2,018 $(2,018) $0  
AXS All Terrain Opportunity Fund $256,864 $(121,690) $135,174
AXS Alternative Value Fund $74,170 $(72,072) $2,098
AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund $518,086 $(172,227) $345,859
AXS Market Neutral Fund $193,864 $(106,381) $87,483
AXS Merger Fund $823,858 $(194,688) $629,170
AXS Multi-Strategy Alternatives Fund $198,341 $(84,473) $113,868
AXS Sustainable Income Fund   $129,918 $(129,918) $0
AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund $270,875 $(222,008) $48,867
AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund $2,977,528 $(746,554) $2,230,974
       
For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2021      
AXS All Terrain Opportunity Fund $373,317 ($116,052) $257,265

B-56 

 

 

Advisory

Fees 

Accrued 

Advisory Fees 

(Waived)/

Recouped 

Advisory

Fee 

Retained 

AXS Alternative Value Fund $2,264 ($2,264) $0
AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund $260,763 ($217,024) $43,739
AXS Market Neutral Fund $38,717 ($27,485) $11,232
AXS Merger Fund $748,729 ($115,647) $633,082
AXS Multi-Strategy Alternatives Fund $260,987 ($105,332) $155,655
AXS Sustainable Income Fund   $345,865 ($53,753) $292,112
AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund $308,174 ($124,648) $183,526
AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund $3,532,005 ($246,853) $3,285,152
       
For the period December 1, 2020 through June 30, 20211      
AXS Alternative Value Fund $16,231 ($16,231) $0
AXS Market Neutral Fund $309,366 ($309,366) $0
       
For the fiscal year ended October 31, 2020      
AXS All Terrain Opportunity Fund* $391,654 $(225,365) $166,289
       
For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2020      
AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund $875,228 ($130,274) $744,954
AXS Merger Fund2 $1,528,418 ($53,286) $1,475,132
AXS Multi-Strategy Alternatives Fund $256,037 $0 $256,037
AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund3 $254,934 ($38,717) $216,217
AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund3   $2,101,262 ($231,346) 1,869,916
       
For the fiscal year April 30, 2020      
AXS Multi-Strategy Alternatives Fund $818,010 $0 $818,010
       
For the fiscal year ended September 30, 20193      
AXS All Terrain Opportunity Fund*4 $424,132 ($180,859) $243,273
AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund $1,731,163 ($52,371) $1,783,534
AXS Merger Fund5 $2,109,056 $1,433 $2,110,489
AXS Multi-Strategy Alternatives Fund6 $864,281 $0 $864,281
AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund3 $237,353 ($56,758) $180,595
AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund3   $1,222,124 ($307,693) $914,431
       

 

* Prior to October 26, 2020, Castle Financial & Retirement Planning Associates, Inc. (“Castle Financial”) and Foothill Capital Management, LLC (“FCM”), served as the Fund’s co-advisors. The advisory fees in the table prior to October 26, 2020 include payments to Castle Financial and FCM. The advisory fees in the table prior to December 15, 2018 include payments made to Bauer Capital Management, LLC, the Fund’s former co-advisor.

1 For the period of December 1, 2020 through March 5, 2021, AXS received investment management fees for their services pursuant to the terms of the investment advisory agreements for the Predecessor Funds.

2 For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020.

3 Reflects the dollar amount of fees accrued with respect to the Predecessor Fund, the amount of fees waived and/or expenses reimbursed by the Predecessor Fund’s advisor, and the actual fees retained by the Predecessor Fund’s advisor.

4 For the fiscal year ended October 31, 2019.

5 For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019.

6 For the fiscal year ended April 30, 2019.

 

Portfolio Managers  

As of September 30, 2022, information on other accounts managed by the Funds’ portfolio managers is as follows.

B-57 

 

  Registered Investment Companies Other Pooled Investment Vehicles Other Accounts
Portfolio Managers

Number of

Accounts

Total Assets

(in millions)

Number of

Accounts

Total Assets

(in millions)

Number of

Accounts

Total Assets

(in millions)

Parker Binion 15 $574 0 $0 0 $0
Travis Trampe 16 $667 0 $0 0 $0
Jerry Parker 0 $0 1 $113.54 0 $0
Michael L. Ivie 0 $0 0 $0 1 $9.40
Richard Imperiale 0 $0 0 $0 4,250 $1,444.6
Jonathan C. Angrist 0 $0 1 $1.88 12 $89.60
Brian J. Machtley 0 $0 1 $1.88 12 $89.60
George Kellner 0 $0 1 $64.30 1 $25.20
Christopher Pultz 0 $0 2 $171.2 1 $25.20

 

  Number of Accounts with Advisory Fee Based on Performance
  Registered Investment Companies Other Pooled Investment Vehicles Other Accounts
Portfolio Managers

Number of

Accounts

Total Assets

(in millions)

Number of

Accounts

Total Assets

(in millions)

Number of

Accounts

Total Assets

(in millions)

Parker Binion 0 $0 0 $0 0 $0
Travis Trampe 0 $0 0 $0 0 $0
Jerry Parker 0 $0 1 $113.54 0 $0
Michael L. Ivie 0 $0 0 $0 1 $9.40
Richard Imperiale 0 $0 0 $0 0 $0
Jonathan C. Angrist 0 $0 0 $0 0 $0
Brian J. Machtley 0 $0 0 $0 0 $0
George Kellner 0 $0 1 $64.30 1 $25.20
Christopher Pultz 0 $0 2 $171.2 1 $25.20

 

Material Conflicts of Interest. Actual or apparent conflicts of interest may arise when a portfolio manager has day-to-day management responsibilities with respect to more than one fund or other account. Where conflicts of interest arise between a Fund and other accounts managed by a portfolio manager, the Advisor will proceed in a manner that ensures that the Fund will not be treated less favorably than the other accounts. There may be instances where similar portfolio transactions may be executed for the same security for numerous accounts managed by the portfolio manager. In such instances, securities will be allocated in accordance with the Advisor’s trade allocation policy.

 

Compensation. Messrs. Binion and Trampe are compensated by the Advisor. Each receive a fixed base salary and discretionary bonus. The portfolio managers’ compensation arrangements are not determined on the basis of specific funds or accounts managed.

 

Michael L. Ivie and Jerry Parker are compensated by Chesapeake. Each receives a fixed base salary and participates in Chesapeake’s overall profitability, not the profitability of a single client or strategy.

 

Jonathan C. Angrist and Brian J. Machtley are compensated by Cognios Capital. The portfolio managers are responsible for the day-to-day management of the Funds and are compensated with a base salary, plus a discretionary bonus when and if the company is sufficiently profitable to make such payments. The bonus is determined by the business unit’s revenue and profitability as well as the individual’s contribution to the business unit. The bonus is discretionary and is not based specifically on portfolio performance.

 

George Kellner and Christopher Pultz are compensated by Kellner. Mr. Kellner is paid a base salary and as a majority member, shares in the net income of the Sub-Advisor. Mr. Pultz is paid a base salary. For portfolios managed that generate an incentive fee, Mr. Pultz shares in the incentive fees earned. For portfolios managed that generate management fees, such as the Fund, Mr. Pultz shares in the management fees earned, net of certain expenses.

B-58 

 

Richard Imperiale is compensated by Uniplan. Mr. Imperiale receives a competitive base compensation package along with a bonus package, which is contingent upon the overall success of the firm and Mr. Imperiale’s individual contribution to the firm’s performance and is not directly contingent upon the performance of the AXS Sustainable Income Fund.

 

Ownership of the Funds by Portfolio Managers. The following chart sets forth the dollar range of shares owned by each portfolio manager in the Funds as the date of this SAI.

 

     

Dollar Range of Securities in the Funds 

(A: None, B: $1-$10,000, C: $10,001-$50,000, D: $50,001-$100,000, E: $100,001 - $500,000, F: $500,001 - $1,000,000, G: Over $1,000,000) 

      AXS Funds
 

AXS Adaptive

Plus Fund

AXS All Terrain Opportunity Fund

AXS Alternative

Value Fund 

AXS Chesapeake Strategy Fund

AXS Managed

Futures

Strategy Fund

AXS Market

Neutral Fund

AXS Merger

Fund

AXS Multi-Strategy Alternatives Fund AXS Sustainable Income Fund   AXS Thomson Reuters Private Equity Return Tracker Fund AXS Thomson Reuters Venture Capital Return Tracker Fund
Parker Binion A A           E   A A
Travis Trampe A A               A A
Jerry Parker       A              
Michael L. Ivie       F              
Richard Imperiale                 A    
Jonathan C. Angrist     E     E          
Brian J. Machtley     F     E          
George Kellner