Form 485BPOS
 March 1, 2022
   
    
 2022 Prospectus
iShares U.S. ETF Trust
•  BlackRock Short Maturity Bond ETF | NEAR | CBOE BZX
  
The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has not approved or disapproved these securities or passed upon the adequacy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 


 

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iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates.
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BLACKROCK® SHORT MATURITY
BOND ETF
Ticker: NEAR Stock Exchange: Cboe BZX
Investment Objective
The BlackRock Short Maturity Bond ETF (the “Fund”) seeks to maximize current income.
Fees and Expenses
The following table describes the fees and expenses that you will incur if you buy, hold and sell shares of the Fund. The investment advisory agreement between iShares U.S. ETF Trust (the “Trust”) and BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”) (the “Investment Advisory Agreement”) provides that BFA will pay all operating expenses of the Fund, except: (i) the management fees, (ii) interest expenses, (iii) taxes, (iv) expenses incurred with respect to the acquisition and disposition of portfolio securities and the execution of portfolio transactions, including brokerage commissions, (v) distribution fees or expenses, and (vi) litigation expenses and extraordinary expenses. The Fund may incur “Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses.” Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses reflect the Fund's pro rata share of the fees and expenses incurred by investing in other investment companies. The impact of Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses is included in the total returns of the Fund. Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses are not included in the calculation of the ratio of expenses to average net assets shown in the Financial Highlights section of the Fund's prospectus (the “Prospectus”). BFA, the investment adviser to the Fund, has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees in an amount equal to the Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any, attributable to investments by the Fund in other funds advised by BFA, or its affiliates, through February 28, 2025. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to February 28, 2025 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA.
You may pay other fees, such as brokerage commissions and other fees to financial intermediaries, which are not reflected in the tables and examples below.
Annual Fund Operating Expenses
(ongoing expenses that you pay each year as a
percentage of the value of your investments)
Management
Fees
  Distribution
and
Service (12b-1)
Fees
  Other
Expenses1
  Acquired Fund
Fees
and Expenses
  Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
  Fee Waiver   Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
After
Fee Waiver
0.25%   None   0.00%   0.00%   0.25%   (0.00)%   0.25%

1 The amount rounded to 0.00%.
Example. This Example is intended to help you compare the cost of owning shares of the Fund with the cost of investing in other funds. The Example assumes that you
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invest $10,000 in the Fund for the time periods indicated and then sell all of your shares at the end of those periods. The Example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions, your costs would be:
1 Year   3 Years   5 Years   10 Years
$26   $80   $141   $318
Portfolio Turnover. The Fund may pay transaction costs, such as commissions, when it buys and sells securities (or “turns over” its portfolio). A higher portfolio turnover rate may indicate higher transaction costs and may result in higher taxes when Fund shares are held in a taxable account. These costs, which are not reflected in the Annual Fund Operating Expenses or in the Example, affect the Fund’s performance. During the most recent fiscal year, the Fund's portfolio turnover rate was 55% of the average value of its portfolio.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing, under normal circumstances, at least 80% of its net assets in a portfolio of U.S. dollar-denominated investment-grade fixed-income securities. The Fund primarily invests in investment-grade fixed-income securities that are rated BBB- or higher by S&P Global Ratings and/or Fitch Ratings, Inc. (“Fitch”), or Baa3 or higher by Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. (“Moody's”), or, if unrated, determined by the Fund's management team to be of equivalent quality. The Fund primarily invests in fixed- and floating-rate securities of varying maturities, such as corporate and government bonds, agency securities, 
instruments of non-U.S. issuers, privately issued securities, asset-backed securities (“ABS”) and mortgage-backed securities (“MBS”), structured securities, municipal bonds, repurchase agreements, money market instruments and investment companies. The Fund invests in securities issued by financial institutions such as banks, broker-dealers and insurance companies. The Fund may enter into to-be-announced transactions (“TBA transactions”) on a regular basis with respect to the percentage of the portfolio (if any) that consists of mortgage-backed pass-through securities. BFA or its affiliates may advise the money market funds and investment companies in which the Fund may invest. 
Under normal circumstances, the effective duration of the Fund’s portfolio is expected to be one year or less, as calculated by the Fund's management team. Effective duration is a measure of the Fund’s price sensitivity to changes in yields or interest rates; however, investors should be aware that effective duration is not an exact measurement and may not reliably predict a particular security’s price sensitivity to changes in yield or interest rates. 
Under normal circumstances, the Fund will also seek to maintain a weighted average maturity that is less than three years. Weighted average maturity is a U.S. dollar-weighted average of the 
 
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remaining term to maturity of the underlying securities in the Fund’s portfolio. The calculation of the Fund's weighted average maturity is based on the constituent securities' final maturity date or, for amortizing securities such as asset-backed and mortgage-backed securities, their weighted average life (i.e., the average length of time that each dollar of unpaid principal on the security remains outstanding). 
The Fund is an actively managed exchange-traded fund (“ETF”) that does not seek to replicate the performance of a specified index. The Fund may have a higher degree of portfolio turnover than funds that seek to replicate the performance of an index. 
The Fund is not a money market fund and does not seek to maintain a stable net asset value of $1.00 per share. Please see the Fund’s Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”) for further information. 
The Fund may lend securities representing up to one-third of the value of the Fund's total assets (including the value of the collateral received). 
Summary of Principal Risks
As with any investment, you could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund's performance could trail that of other investments. The Fund is subject to certain risks, including the principal risks noted below, any of which may adversely affect the Fund's net asset value per share (“NAV”), trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. Unlike many ETFs, the Fund is not an index-based ETF. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor. 
Asset-Backed and Mortgage-Backed Securities Risk. ABS and MBS (residential and commercial) represent interests in “pools” of mortgages or other assets, including consumer loans or receivables held in trust. ABS and MBS are subject to credit, interest rate, call, extension, valuation and liquidity risk. These securities, in most cases, are not backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government and are subject to the risk of default on the underlying asset or mortgage, particularly during periods of economic downturn. Small movements in interest rates (both increases and decreases) may quickly and significantly reduce the value of certain ABS and MBS. 
Asset Class Risk. Securities and other assets in the Fund's portfolio may underperform in comparison to the general financial markets, a particular financial market or other asset classes. 
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section of the Prospectus) may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund, and none of those Authorized Participants is obligated to engage in creation and/or redemption transactions. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as Authorized Participants on an agency basis (i.e., on behalf of other market participants). To the extent that Authorized Participants exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem, Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium or discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts or delisting. Authorized Participant concentration 
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risk may be heightened for ETFs, such as the Fund, that invest in securities issued by non-U.S. issuers or other securities or instruments that have lower trading volumes. 
Call Risk. During periods of falling interest rates, an issuer of a callable bond held by the Fund may “call” or repay the security before its stated maturity, and the Fund may have to reinvest the proceeds in securities with lower yields, which would result in a decline in the Fund's income, or in securities with greater risks or with other less favorable features. 
Cash Transactions Risk. The Fund may effect part or all of its creations and redemptions for cash, rather than in-kind securities. As a result, the Fund may have to sell portfolio securities at inopportune times in order to obtain the cash needed to meet redemption orders. This may cause the Fund to sell a security and recognize a capital gain or loss that might not have been incurred if it had made a redemption in-kind. The use of cash creations and redemptions may also cause the Fund’s shares to trade in the market at wider bid-ask spreads or greater premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV. 
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities and/or other assets of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector, market segment or asset class. 
Credit Risk. Debt issuers and other counterparties may be unable or 
unwilling to make timely interest and/or principal payments when due or otherwise honor their obligations. Changes in an issuer’s credit rating or the market’s perception of an issuer’s creditworthiness may also adversely affect the value of the Fund’s investment in that issuer. The degree of credit risk depends on an issuer's or counterparty's financial condition and on the terms of an obligation. 
Cybersecurity Risk. Failures or breaches of the electronic systems of the Fund, the Fund's adviser, distributor, and other service providers (including the benchmark provider), market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests have the ability to cause disruptions, negatively impact the Fund’s business operations and/or potentially result in financial losses to the Fund and its shareholders. While the Fund has established business continuity plans and risk management systems seeking to address system breaches or failures, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cybersecurity plans and systems of the Fund’s service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or issuers of securities in which the Fund invests. 
Extension Risk. During periods of rising interest rates, certain debt obligations may be paid off substantially more slowly than originally anticipated and the value of those securities may fall sharply, resulting in a decline in the Fund’s income and potentially in the value of the Fund’s investments. 
Financials Sector Risk. Performance of companies in the financials sector may be adversely impacted by many factors, 
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including, among others, changes in government regulations, economic conditions, and interest rates, credit rating downgrades, and decreased liquidity in credit markets. The extent to which the Fund may invest in a company that engages in securities-related activities or banking is limited by applicable law. The impact of changes in capital requirements and recent or future regulation of any individual financial company, or of the financials sector as a whole, cannot be predicted. In recent years, cyberattacks and technology malfunctions and failures have become increasingly frequent in this sector and have caused significant losses to companies in this sector, which may negatively impact the Fund. 
Floating Rate Notes Risk. Securities with floating or variable interest rates can be less sensitive to interest rate changes than securities with fixed interest rates, but may decline in value if their coupon rates do not reset as high, or as quickly, as comparable market interest rates, and generally carry lower yields than fixed notes of the same maturity. Although floating rate notes are less sensitive to interest rate risk than fixed-rate securities, they are subject to credit risk and default risk, which could impair their value. 
Illiquid Investments Risk. The Fund may invest up to an aggregate amount of 15% of its net assets in illiquid investments. An illiquid investment is any investment that the Fund reasonably expects cannot be sold or disposed of in current market conditions in seven calendar days or less without significantly changing the market value of the investment. To the extent the Fund holds illiquid investments, the illiquid investments may reduce the returns of the Fund 
because the Fund may be unable to transact at advantageous times or prices. During periods of market volatility, liquidity in the market for the Fund’s shares may be impacted by the liquidity in the market for the underlying securities or instruments held by the Fund, which could lead to the Fund’s shares trading at a premium or discount to the Fund’s NAV. 
Income Risk. The Fund’s income may decline when interest rates fall because the Fund may hold a significant portion of short duration securities and/or securities that have floating or variable interest rates. The Fund’s income may decline because the Fund invests in lower yielding bonds, and as the bonds in its portfolio mature, are near maturity or are called, the Fund needs to purchase additional bonds. 
Infectious Illness Risk. An outbreak of an infectious respiratory illness, COVID-19, caused by a novel coronavirus has resulted in travel restrictions, disruption of healthcare systems, prolonged quarantines, cancellations, supply chain disruptions, lower consumer demand, layoffs, ratings downgrades, defaults and other significant economic impacts. Certain markets have experienced temporary closures, extreme volatility, severe losses, reduced liquidity and increased trading costs. These events will have an impact on the Fund and its investments and could impact the Fund’s ability to purchase or sell securities or cause elevated tracking error and increased premiums or discounts to the Fund's NAV. Other infectious illness outbreaks in the future may result in similar impacts. 
Interest Rate Risk. During periods of very low or negative interest rates, the Fund may be unable to maintain positive 
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returns or pay dividends to Fund shareholders. Very low or negative interest rates may magnify interest rate risk. Changing interest rates, including rates that fall below zero, may have unpredictable effects on markets, result in heightened market volatility and detract from the Fund’s performance to the extent the Fund is exposed to such interest rates. Additionally, under certain market conditions in which interest rates are low and the market prices for portfolio securities have increased, the Fund may have a very low or even negative yield. A low or negative yield would cause the Fund to lose money in certain conditions and over certain time periods. An increase in interest rates will generally cause the value of securities held by the Fund to decline, may lead to heightened volatility in the fixed-income markets and may adversely affect the liquidity of certain fixed-income investments, including those held by the Fund. Because rates on certain floating rate debt securities typically reset only periodically, changes in prevailing interest rates (and particularly sudden and significant changes) can be expected to cause some fluctuations in the net asset value of the Fund to the extent that it invests in floating rate debt securities. The historically low interest rate environment heightens the risks associated with rising interest rates. 
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities to which the Fund has exposure. The Fund may be adversely affected if an issuer of underlying securities held by the Fund is unable or unwilling to repay principal or interest when due. Changes in the financial condition or credit rating of an 
issuer of those securities may cause the value of the securities to decline. 
Management Risk. The Fund is subject to management risk, which is the risk that the investment process, techniques and risk analyses applied by BFA will not produce the desired results, and that securities selected by BFA may underperform the market or any relevant benchmark. In addition, legislative, regulatory, or tax developments may affect the investment techniques available to BFA in connection with managing the Fund and may also adversely affect the ability of the Fund to achieve its investment objective. 
Market Risk. The Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns. Local, regional or global events such as war, acts of terrorism, the spread of infectious illness or other public health issues, recessions, or other events could have a significant impact on the Fund and its investments and could result in increased premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV. 
Market Trading Risk. The Fund faces numerous market trading risks, including the potential lack of an active market for Fund shares, losses from trading in secondary markets, periods of high volatility and disruptions in the creation/redemption process. Unlike some ETFs that track specific indexes, the Fund does not seek to replicate the performance of a specified index. Index-based ETFs have generally traded at prices that closely correspond to NAV. However, ETFs that do not seek to replicate the performance of a specified index have a limited trading history and, 
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therefore, there can be no assurance as to whether, and/or the extent to which, the Fund's shares will trade at premiums or discounts to NAV. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV. 
Municipal Securities Risk. Municipal securities can be significantly affected by political or economic changes, including changes made in the law after issuance of the securities, as well as uncertainties in the municipal market related to taxation, legislative changes or the rights of municipal security holders, including in connection with an issuer insolvency. Municipal securities backed by current or anticipated revenues from a specific project or specific assets can be negatively affected by the inability to collect revenues from such projects or assets. Certain municipal securities are issued by entities with limited taxing authority such as school districts, or are dependent on revenue from a particular sector or industry, such as the utilities sector, infrastructure sector, or transportation industry. 
Non-U.S. Issuers Risk. Securities issued by non-U.S. issuers carry different risks from securities issued by U.S. issuers. These risks include differences in accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards, the possibility of expropriation or confiscatory taxation, adverse changes in investment or exchange control regulations, political instability, regulatory and economic differences, and potential restrictions on the flow of international capital. 
Not a Money Market Fund. The Fund is not a money market fund and is not 
subject to the strict rules that govern the quality, maturity, liquidity and other features of securities that money market funds may purchase. Under normal circumstances, the Fund’s investments may be more susceptible than a money market fund is to credit risk, interest rate risk, valuation risk and other risks relevant to the Fund’s investments. The Fund does not seek to maintain a stable net asset value of $1.00 per share. 
Operational Risk. The Fund is exposed to operational risks arising from a number of factors, including, but not limited to, human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund’s service providers, counterparties or other third parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate to address significant operational risks. 
Prepayment Risk. During periods of falling interest rates, issuers of certain debt obligations may repay principal prior to the security’s maturity, which may cause the Fund to have to reinvest in securities with lower yields or higher risk of default, resulting in a decline in the Fund’s income or return potential. 
Privately Issued Securities Risk. The Fund may invest in privately issued securities, including those that are normally purchased pursuant to Rule 144A or Regulation S promulgated under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”). Privately issued securities are securities that have not been registered under the 1933 Act and as a result may be subject 
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to legal restrictions on resale. Privately issued securities are generally not traded on established markets. As a result of the absence of a public trading market, privately issued securities may be deemed to be illiquid investments, may be more difficult to value than publicly traded securities and may be subject to wide fluctuations in value. Delay or difficulty in selling such securities may result in a loss to the Fund. 
Repurchase Agreement Risk. A repurchase agreement is an instrument under which the purchaser (i.e., the Fund) acquires a security and the seller agrees, at the time of the sale, to repurchase the security at a mutually agreed upon time and price. Repurchase agreements may be construed to be collateralized loans by the purchaser to the seller secured by the securities transferred to the purchaser. If a repurchase agreement is construed to be a collateralized loan, the underlying securities will not be considered to be owned by the Fund but only to constitute collateral for the seller’s obligation to pay the repurchase price. If the seller defaults on its obligation under the agreement, the Fund may suffer delays and incur costs or lose money in exercising its rights under the agreement. If the seller fails to repurchase the security and the market value of the security declines, the Fund may lose money. 
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. The Fund’s investment in developed country issuers may subject the Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, economic and other risks associated with developed countries. Developed countries tend to represent a significant portion of the global economy and have generally 
experienced slower economic growth than some less developed countries. Certain developed countries have experienced security concerns, such as terrorism and strained international relations. Incidents involving a country’s or region’s security may cause uncertainty in its markets and may adversely affect its economy and the Fund’s investments. In addition, developed countries may be adversely impacted by changes to the economic conditions of certain key trading partners, regulatory burdens, debt burdens and the price or availability of certain commodities. 
Risk of Investing in the U.S. Certain changes in the U.S. economy, such as when the U.S. economy weakens or when its financial markets decline, may have an adverse effect on the securities to which the Fund has exposure. 
Securities Lending Risk. The Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund. 
Valuation Risk. The price the Fund could receive upon the sale of a security or other asset may differ from the Fund's valuation of the security or other asset, particularly for securities or other assets that trade in low volume or volatile markets or that are valued using a fair value methodology as a result of trade suspensions or for other reasons. In addition, the value of the securities or 
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other assets in the Fund's portfolio may change on days or during time periods when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund's shares. Authorized Participants who purchase or redeem Fund shares on days when the Fund is holding fair-valued securities may receive fewer or more shares, or 
lower or higher redemption proceeds, than they would have received had the Fund not fair-valued securities or used a different valuation methodology. The Fund’s ability to value investments may be impacted by technological issues or errors by pricing services or other third-party service providers. 
Performance Information
The bar chart and table that follow show how the Fund has performed on a calendar year basis and provide some indication of the risks of investing in the Fund by showing how the Fund’s average annual returns for 1 and 5 years and since inception compare with those of a broad measure of market performance. Both assume that all dividends and distributions have been reinvested in the Fund. Past performance (before and after taxes) does not necessarily indicate how the Fund will perform in the future. If BFA had not waived certain Fund fees during certain periods, the Fund's returns would have been lower.
Year by Year Returns (Years Ended December 31)
  
The best calendar quarter return during the periods shown above was 3.59% in the 2nd quarter of 2020; the worst was -3.06% in the 1st quarter of 2020
Updated performance information, including the Fund’s current NAV, may be obtained by visiting our website at www.iShares.com or by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) (toll free)
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Average Annual Total Returns
(for the periods ended December 31, 2021)
  One Year   Five Years   Since Fund
Inception
(Inception Date: 9/25/2013)          
Return Before Taxes 0.34%   1.69%   1.41%
Return After Taxes on Distributions1 0.03%   0.96%   0.81%
Return After Taxes on Distributions and Sale of Fund Shares1 0.20%   0.98%   0.82%
Bloomberg Short-Term Government/Corporate Index2 (Index returns do not reflect deductions for fees, expenses or taxes) 0.10%   1.41%   1.01%

1 After-tax returns in the table above are calculated using the historical highest individual U.S. federal marginal income tax rates and do not reflect the impact of state or local taxes. Actual after-tax returns depend on an investor’s tax situation and may differ from those shown, and after-tax returns shown are not relevant to tax-exempt investors or investors who hold shares through tax-deferred arrangements, such as 401(k) plans or individual retirement accounts (“IRAs”). Fund returns after taxes on distributions and sales of Fund shares are calculated assuming that an investor has sufficient capital gains of the same character from other investments to offset any capital losses from the sale of Fund shares. As a result, Fund returns after taxes on distributions and sales of Fund shares may exceed Fund returns before taxes and/or returns after taxes on distributions.
2 The Bloomberg Short-Term Government/Corporate Index is an unmanaged index that measures the performance of government and corporate securities with less than one year remaining to maturity.
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Management
Investment Adviser. BlackRock Fund Advisors.
Portfolio Managers. Akiva Dickstein, Scott MacLellan, James Mauro and Scott Radell (the “Portfolio Managers”) are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager supervises a portfolio management team. Mr. MacLellan and Mr. Dickstein have been Portfolio Managers of the Fund since 2020. Mr. Mauro has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2021. Mr. Radell has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2013.
Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares
The Fund is an ETF. Individual shares of the Fund may only be bought and sold in the secondary market through a broker-dealer. Because ETF shares trade at market prices rather than at NAV, shares may trade at a price greater than NAV (a premium) or less than NAV (a discount). An investor may incur costs attributable to the difference between the highest price a buyer is willing to pay to purchase shares of the Fund (bid) and the lowest price a seller is willing to accept for shares of the Fund (ask) when buying or selling shares in the secondary market (the “bid-ask spread”).
Tax Information
The Fund intends to make distributions that may be taxable to you as ordinary income or capital gains, unless you are investing through a tax-deferred arrangement such as a 401(k) plan or an IRA, in which case, your distributions generally will be taxed when withdrawn.
Payments to Broker-Dealers and Other Financial Intermediaries
If you purchase shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary (such as a bank), BFA or other related companies may pay the intermediary for marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems or other services related to the sale or promotion of the Fund. These payments may create a conflict of interest by influencing the broker-dealer or other intermediary and your salesperson to recommend the Fund over another investment. Ask your salesperson or visit your financial intermediary’s website for more information.
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More Information About the Fund
This Prospectus contains important information about investing in the Fund. Please read this Prospectus carefully before you make any investment decisions. Additional information regarding the Fund is available at www.iShares.com.
The Fund is an actively managed ETF and, thus, does not seek to replicate the performance of a specified index. Accordingly, the management team has discretion on a daily basis to manage the Fund’s portfolio in accordance with the Fund’s investment objective.
ETFs are funds that trade like other publicly-traded securities. Similar to shares of a mutual fund, each share of the Fund represents an ownership interest in an underlying portfolio of securities and other instruments. Unlike shares of a mutual fund, which can be bought and redeemed from the issuing fund by all shareholders at a price based on NAV, shares of the Fund may be purchased or redeemed directly from the Fund at NAV solely by Authorized Participants and only in aggregations of a specified number of shares (“Creation Units”). Also unlike shares of a mutual fund, shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange and trade in the secondary market at market prices that change throughout the day.
Additional Information on the Investment Strategies. The Fund’s investment objective is a non-fundamental policy and may be changed without shareholder approval. The Fund seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing, under normal circumstances, at least 80% of its net assets in a portfolio of U.S. dollar-denominated investment-grade fixed-income securities that are rated BBB- or higher by S&P Global Ratings and/or Fitch, or Baa3 or higher by Moody’s, or, if unrated, determined by the management team to be of equivalent quality. The Fund’s 80% investment policy may be changed by the Fund’s Board of Trustees (the “Board”) upon 60 days’ notice to shareholders.
The Fund primarily invests in fixed- and floating-rate securities of varying maturities, such as corporate and government bonds, agency securities, instruments of non-U.S. issuers, privately issued securities, ABS and MBS, structured securities, municipal bonds, money market instruments, repurchase agreements and investment companies. The Fund invests in securities issued by financial institutions such as banks, broker-dealers and insurance companies. BFA or its affiliates may advise the money market funds and investment companies in which the Fund may invest. The Fund may also invest in currency contracts for hedging and/or trade settlement purposes.
The Fund will invest in ABS and MBS. ABS are fixed-income securities that are backed by a pool of assets, usually loans such as installment sale contracts or credit card receivables. MBS are ABS based on a particular type of asset, a mortgage. There are a wide variety of MBS involving commercial or residential, fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgages and mortgages issued by banks or government agencies. Most transactions in fixed-rate mortgage pass-through securities occur through standardized contracts for future delivery in which the exact mortgage pools to be delivered are not specified
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until a few days prior to settlement, known as TBA transactions. The Fund may enter into such contracts on a regular basis. The Fund, pending settlement of such contracts, will invest the relevant assets in high-quality, liquid short-term instruments, including shares of money market funds affiliated with BFA. Collateralized mortgage obligations (“CMOs”) are fixed-income securities that are backed by cash flows from pools of mortgages. CMOs may have multiple classes with different payment rights and protections.
An investment in the Fund is not a bank deposit and it is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency, BFA or any of its affiliates.
The Fund may, to a limited extent, engage in derivatives transactions that include futures contracts, options and swaps.
Investment Process. The management team evaluates sectors of the fixed-income market and individual securities within these sectors to invest the Fund’s assets on an ongoing basis. The investment approach represents a collaboration between the “Portfolio Teams,” who are responsible for setting the top-down asset allocation framework for portfolio construction and security selection, and the “Sector Specialists,” who are responsible for bottom-up idea generation, including research and analysis.
The investment process is centered around formal investment strategy meetings. Following discussions with their teams, the senior members of the Sector Specialists present their teams’ views during a meeting attended by fixed-income investment professionals within BlackRock. Next, the senior members of the Portfolio and Investment Teams, along with representatives from BlackRock’s Risk & Quantitative Analysis Group, hold a meeting to discuss asset allocation, portfolio risk, and investment themes. This meeting is designed to share ideas across Portfolio Teams as each determines the appropriate interest rate risk, convexity, term structure, credit quality, liquidity bias and sector allocations for individual strategies.
The Sector Specialists then implement the Portfolio Teams’ relative value outlook with respect to security selection, timing and execution, in accordance with the Fund’s investment objective and guidelines. Sector Specialists are also responsible for trading, which BlackRock believes best leverages its market knowledge and experience. While the investment themes are discussed formally on a weekly basis, the process is dynamic, with ongoing discussion and modifications as needed.
In certain situations or market conditions, the Fund may temporarily depart from its normal investment process, provided that such departure is, in the opinion of the management team, consistent with the Fund’s investment objective and in the best interests of the Fund. For example, the Fund may hold a higher than normal proportion of its assets in cash in response to adverse market, economic or political conditions.
The management team uses an internal model for calculating duration, which may result in a different value of duration than if duration was calculated by a third party.
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A Further Discussion of Principal Risks
The Fund is subject to various risks, including the principal risks noted below, any of which may adversely affect the Fund’s NAV, trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. You could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund could underperform other investments. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Asset-Backed and Mortgage-Backed Securities Risk. ABS and MBS (residential and commercial) represent interests in “pools” of mortgages or other assets, including consumer loans or receivables held in trust. Although ABS generally experience less prepayment risk than residential mortgage-backed securities, MBS and ABS, like traditional fixed-income securities, are subject to credit, interest rate, call, extension, valuation and liquidity risk. Because of call and extension risk, ABS and MBS react differently to changes in interest rates than other bonds. Small movements in interest rates (both increases and decreases) may quickly and significantly reduce the value of certain ABS and MBS.
ABS and MBS may not be backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government and are subject to risk of default on the underlying mortgage or asset, particularly during periods of economic downturn.
MBS may be either pass-through securities or CMOs. Pass-through securities represent a right to receive principal and interest payments collected on a pool of mortgages, which are passed through to security holders. CMOs are created by dividing the principal and interest payments collected on a pool of mortgages into several revenue streams (tranches) with different priority rights to portions of the underlying mortgage payments. Certain CMO tranches may represent a right to receive interest only, principal only or an amount that remains after floating-rate tranches are paid (an inverse floater). These securities are frequently referred to as “mortgage derivatives” and may be extremely sensitive to changes in interest rates. Interest rates on inverse floaters, for example, vary inversely with a short-term floating rate (which may be reset periodically). Interest rates on inverse floaters will decrease when short-term rates increase, and will increase when short-term rates decrease. These securities have the effect of providing a degree of investment leverage. In response to changes in market interest rates or other market conditions, the value of an inverse floater may increase or decrease at a multiple of the increase or decrease in the value of the underlying securities. If the Fund invests in CMO tranches (including CMO tranches issued by government agencies) and interest rates move in a manner not anticipated by Fund management, it is possible that the Fund could lose all or substantially all of its investment.
In response to the financial crisis that began in 2008, the Federal Reserve System (the “Fed”) attempted to keep mortgage rates low by acting as a buyer of mortgage-backed assets. This support has ended. As a result, mortgage rates may rise and values of MBS and ABS may fall.
Asset Class Risk. The securities and other assets in the Fund’s portfolio may underperform in comparison to other securities or indexes that track other issuers, countries, groups of countries, regions, industries, groups of industries, markets,
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market segments, asset classes or sectors. Various types of securities may experience cycles of outperformance and underperformance in comparison to the general financial markets depending upon a number of factors including, among other things, inflation, interest rates, productivity, global demand for local products or resources, and regulation and governmental controls. This may cause the Fund to underperform other investment vehicles that invest in different asset classes.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund, and none of those Authorized Participants is obligated to engage in creation and/or redemption transactions. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as Authorized Participants on an agency basis (i.e., on behalf of other market participants). To the extent that Authorized Participants exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units, Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium or discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts or delisting. Authorized Participant concentration risk may be heightened because ETFs, such as the Fund, that invest in securities issued by non-U.S. issuers or other securities or instruments that are less widely traded often involve greater settlement and operational issues and capital costs for Authorized Participants, which may limit the availability of Authorized Participants.
Call Risk. During periods of falling interest rates, an issuer of a callable bond held by the Fund may “call” or repay the security before its stated maturity, and the Fund may have to reinvest the proceeds in securities with lower yields, which would result in a decline in the Fund’s income, or in securities with greater risks or with other less favorable features.
Cash Transactions Risk. The Fund may effect part or all of its creations and redemptions for cash, rather than in-kind securities. Paying redemption proceeds in cash rather than through in-kind delivery of portfolio securities may require the Fund to dispose of or sell portfolio securities or other assets at an inopportune time to obtain the cash needed to meet redemption orders. This may cause the Fund to sell a security and recognize a capital gain or loss that might not have been incurred if it had made a redemption in-kind. As a result, the Fund may pay out higher or lower annual capital gains distributions than ETFs that redeem in-kind. The use of cash creations and redemptions may also cause the Fund’s shares to trade in the market at greater bid-ask spreads or greater premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV. Furthermore, the Fund may not be able to execute cash transactions for creation and redemption purposes at the same price used to determine the Fund’s NAV. To the extent that the maximum additional charge for creation or redemption transactions is insufficient to cover the execution shortfall, the Fund’s performance could be negatively impacted.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities and/or other assets of a particular issuer or issuers, representing a particular country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector, market segment or asset class. The Fund may be more adversely affected by
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the underperformance of those securities and/or other assets, may experience increased price volatility and may be more susceptible to adverse economic, market, political or regulatory occurrences affecting those securities and/or other assets than a fund that does not concentrate its investments.
Credit Risk. Credit risk is the risk that the issuer or guarantor of a debt instrument or the counterparty to a derivatives contract, repurchase agreement or loan of portfolio securities will be unable or unwilling to make its timely interest and/or principal payments when due or otherwise honor its obligations. There are varying degrees of credit risk, depending on an issuer’s or counterparty’s financial condition and on the terms of an obligation, which may be reflected in the issuer’s or counterparty’s credit rating. There is the chance that the Fund’s portfolio holdings will have their credit ratings downgraded or will default (i.e., fail to make scheduled interest or principal payments), or that the market’s perception of an issuer’s creditworthiness may worsen, potentially reducing the Fund’s income level or share price.
Cybersecurity Risk. With the increased use of technologies such as the internet to conduct business, the Fund, Authorized Participants, service providers and the relevant listing exchange are susceptible to operational, information security and related “cyber” risks both directly and through their service providers. Similar types of cybersecurity risks are also present for issuers of securities in which the Fund invests, which could result in material adverse consequences for such issuers and may cause the Fund’s investment in such issuers to lose value. In general, cyber incidents can result from deliberate attacks or unintentional events. Cyber incidents include, but are not limited to, gaining unauthorized access to digital systems (e.g., through “hacking” or malicious software coding) for purposes of misappropriating assets or sensitive information, corrupting data, or causing operational disruption. Cyberattacks may also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as causing denial-of-service attacks on websites (i.e., efforts to make network services unavailable to intended users). Recently, geopolitical tensions may have increased the scale and sophistication of deliberate attacks, particularly those from nation-states or from entities with nation-state backing.
Cybersecurity failures by, or breaches of, the systems of the Fund's adviser, distributor and other service providers (including, but not limited to, index and benchmark providers, fund accountants, custodians, transfer agents and administrators), market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests have the ability to cause disruptions and impact business operations, potentially resulting in: financial losses, interference with the Fund’s ability to calculate its NAV, disclosure of confidential trading information, impediments to trading, submission of erroneous trades or erroneous creation or redemption orders, the inability of the Fund or its service providers to transact business, violations of applicable privacy and other laws, regulatory fines, penalties, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensation costs, or additional compliance costs. In addition, cyberattacks may render records of Fund assets and transactions, shareholder ownership of Fund shares, and other data integral to the functioning of the Fund inaccessible, inaccurate or incomplete. Substantial costs may be incurred by the Fund in order to resolve or prevent cyber incidents in the future. While the Fund has established business
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continuity plans in the event of, and risk management systems to prevent, such cyber incidents, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems, including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified, that prevention and remediation efforts will not be successful or that cyberattacks will go undetected. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cybersecurity plans and systems put in place by service providers to the Fund, issuers in which the Fund invests, market makers or Authorized Participants. The Fund and its shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result.
Extension Risk. During periods of rising interest rates, certain debt obligations may be paid off substantially more slowly than originally anticipated and the value of those securities may fall sharply, resulting in a decline in the Fund’s income and potentially in the value of the Fund’s investments.
Financials Sector Risk. Companies in the financials sector of an economy are subject to extensive governmental regulation and intervention, which may adversely affect the scope of their activities, the prices they can charge, the amount of capital they must maintain and, potentially, their size. The extent to which the Fund may invest in a company that engages in securities-related activities or banking is limited by applicable law. Governmental regulation may change frequently and may have significant adverse consequences for companies in the financials sector, including effects not intended by such regulation. Recently enacted legislation in the U.S. has relaxed capital requirements and other regulatory burdens on certain U.S. banks. While the effect of the legislation may benefit certain companies in the financials sector, increased risk taking by affected banks may also result in greater overall risk in the U.S. and global financials sector. The impact of changes in capital requirements, or recent or future regulation in various countries, on any individual financial company or on the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted.
Certain risks may impact the value of investments in the financials sector more severely than those of investments outside this sector, including the risks associated with companies that operate with substantial financial leverage. Companies in the financials sector are exposed directly to the credit risk of their borrowers and counterparties, who may be leveraged to an unknown degree, including through swaps and other derivatives products. Financial services companies may have significant exposure to the same borrowers and counterparties, with the result that a borrower’s or counterparty’s inability to meet its obligations to one company may affect other companies with exposure to the same borrower or counterparty. This interconnectedness of risk may result in significant negative impacts to companies with direct exposure to the defaulting counterparty as well as adverse cascading effects in the markets and the financials sector generally. Companies in the financials sector may also be adversely affected by increases in interest rates and loan losses, decreases in the availability of money or asset valuations, credit rating downgrades and adverse conditions in other related markets. Insurance companies, in particular, may be subject to severe price competition and/or rate regulation, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability. The financials sector is particularly sensitive to fluctuations in interest rates. The financials sector is also a target for cyberattacks, and may experience technology malfunctions and disruptions. In recent years, cyberattacks and technology malfunctions and failures have become increasingly frequent in this
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sector and have reportedly caused losses to companies in this sector, which may negatively impact the Fund.
Floating Rate Notes Risk. Securities with floating or variable interest rates can be less sensitive to interest rate changes than securities with fixed interest rates, but may decline in value if their interest rates do not rise as much, or as quickly, as interest rates in general. Conversely, floating rate securities will not generally increase in value if interest rates decline. A decline in interest rates may result in a reduction in income received from floating rate securities held by the Fund and may adversely affect the value of the Fund’s shares. Generally, floating rate securities carry lower yields than fixed notes of the same maturity. The interest rate for a floating rate note resets or adjusts periodically by reference to a benchmark interest rate. The impact of interest rate changes on floating rate investments is typically mitigated by the periodic interest rate reset of the investments. Securities with longer durations tend to be more sensitive to interest rate changes, usually making them more volatile than securities with shorter durations. Floating rate notes generally are subject to legal or contractual restrictions on resale, may trade infrequently, and their value may be impaired when the Fund needs to liquidate such loans. Benchmark interest rates, such as the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) or the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”), may not accurately track market interest rates.
Although floating rate notes are less sensitive to interest rate risk than fixed-rate securities, they are subject to credit risk and default risk, which could impair their value.
Illiquid Investments Risk. The Fund may invest up to an aggregate amount of 15% of its net assets in illiquid investments. An illiquid investment is any investment that the Fund reasonably expects cannot be sold or disposed of in current market conditions in seven calendar days or less without significantly changing the market value of the investment. To the extent the Fund holds illiquid investments, the illiquid investments may reduce the returns of the Fund because the Fund may be unable to transact at advantageous times or prices. An investment may be illiquid due to, among other things, the reduced number and capacity of traditional market participants to make a market in securities or instruments or the lack of an active market for such securities or instruments. To the extent that the Fund invests in securities or instruments with substantial market and/or credit risk, the Fund will tend to have increased exposure to the risks associated with illiquid investments. Liquid investments may become illiquid after purchase by the Fund, particularly during periods of market turmoil. There can be no assurance that a security or instrument that is deemed to be liquid when purchased will continue to be liquid for as long as it is held by the Fund, and any security or instrument held by the Fund may be deemed an illiquid investment pursuant to the Fund’s liquidity risk management program. Illiquid investments may be harder to value, especially in changing markets. If the Fund is forced to sell underlying investments at reduced prices or under unfavorable conditions to meet redemption requests or for other cash needs, the Fund may suffer a loss. This may be magnified in a rising interest rate environment or other circumstances where redemptions from the Fund may be greater than normal. Other market participants may be attempting to liquidate holdings at the same time as the Fund, causing increased supply of the Fund’s underlying
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investments in the market and contributing to illiquid investments risk and downward pricing pressure. During periods of market volatility, liquidity in the market for the Fund’s shares may be impacted by the liquidity in the market for the underlying securities or instruments held by the Fund, which could lead to the Fund’s shares trading at a premium or discount to the Fund's NAV.
Income Risk. The Fund’s income may decline if interest rates fall because the Fund may hold a significant portion of short duration securities and/or securities that have floating or variable interest rates. The Fund’s income may decline because the Fund invests in lower yielding bonds, and as bonds in its portfolio mature, are near maturity or are called, the Fund needs to purchase additional bonds.
Infectious Illness Risk. An outbreak of an infectious respiratory illness, COVID-19, caused by a novel coronavirus that was first detected in December 2019 has spread globally. The impact of this outbreak has adversely affected the economies of many nations and the global economy, and may impact individual issuers and capital markets in ways that cannot be foreseen. Although vaccines have been developed and approved for use by various governments, the duration of the outbreak and its effects cannot be predicted with certainty. Any market or economic disruption can be expected to result in elevated tracking error and increased premiums or discounts to the Fund's NAV.
General Impact. This outbreak has resulted in 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, lower consumer demand, temporary and permanent closures of stores, restaurants and other commercial establishments, layoffs, defaults and other significant economic impacts, as well as general concern and uncertainty.
Market Volatility. The outbreak has also resulted in extreme volatility, severe losses, and disruptions in markets which can adversely impact the Fund and its investments, including impairing hedging activity to the extent the Fund engages in such activity, as expected correlations between related markets or instruments may no longer apply. In addition, to the extent the Fund invests in short-term instruments that have negative yields, the Fund’s value may be impaired as a result. Certain issuers of equity securities have cancelled or announced the suspension of dividends. The outbreak has, and may continue to, negatively affect the credit ratings of some fixed-income securities and their issuers.
Market Closures. Certain local markets have been or may be subject to closures, and there can be no assurance that trading will continue in any local markets in which the Fund may invest, when any resumption of trading will occur or, once such markets resume trading, whether they will face further closures. Any suspension of trading in markets in which the Fund invests will have an impact on the Fund and its investments and will impact the Fund’s ability to purchase or sell securities in such markets.
Operational Risk. The outbreak could also impair the information technology and other operational systems upon which the Fund’s service providers, including BFA, rely, and could otherwise disrupt the ability of employees of the Fund's service
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  providers to perform critical tasks relating to the Fund, for example, due to the service providers’ employees performing tasks in alternate locations than under normal operating conditions or the illness of certain employees of the Fund's service providers.
Governmental Interventions. Governmental and quasi-governmental authorities and regulators throughout the world have responded to the outbreak and the resulting economic disruptions with a variety of fiscal and monetary policy changes, including direct capital infusions into companies and other issuers, new monetary policy tools, and lower interest rates. An unexpected or sudden reversal of these policies, or the ineffectiveness of such policies, is likely to increase market volatility, which could adversely affect the Fund’s investments.
Pre-Existing Conditions. Public health crises caused by the outbreak may exacerbate other pre-existing political, social and economic risks in certain countries or globally, which could adversely affect the Fund and its investments and could result in increased premiums or discounts to the Fund's NAV.
Other infectious illness outbreaks that may arise in the future could have similar or other unforeseen effects.
Interest Rate Risk. If interest rates rise, the value of fixed-income securities or other instruments held by the Fund would likely decrease. A measure investors commonly use to determine this price sensitivity is called duration. Fixed-income securities with longer durations tend to be more sensitive to interest rate changes, usually making their prices more volatile than those of securities with shorter durations. To the extent the Fund invests a substantial portion of its assets in fixed-income securities with longer duration, rising interest rates may cause the value of the Fund's investments to decline significantly, which would adversely affect the value of the Fund. An increase in interest rates may lead to heightened volatility in the fixed-income markets and adversely affect certain fixed-income investments, including those held by the Fund. Because rates on certain floating rate debt securities typically reset only periodically, changes in prevailing interest rates (and particularly sudden and significant changes) can be expected to cause some fluctuations in the net asset value of the Fund to the extent that it invests in floating rate debt securities. In addition, decreases in fixed income dealer market-making capacity may lead to lower trading volume, heightened volatility, wider bid-ask spreads and less transparent pricing in certain fixed-income markets.
The historically low interest rate environment was created in part by the world’s major central banks keeping their overnight policy interest rates at, near or below zero percent and implementing monetary policy facilities, such as asset purchase programs, to anchor longer-term interest rates below historical levels. During periods of very low or negative interest rates, the Fund may be unable to maintain positive returns or pay dividends to Fund shareholders. Certain countries have recently experienced negative interest rates on certain fixed-income instruments. Very low or negative interest rates may magnify interest rate risk. Changing interest rates, including rates that fall below zero, may have unpredictable effects on markets, result in heightened market volatility and detract from the Fund’s performance to the extent the Fund is exposed to such interest rates. Additionally, under certain market conditions in which interest rates are
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set at low levels and the market prices of portfolio securities have increased, the Fund may have a very low or even negative yield. A low or negative yield would cause the Fund to lose money in certain conditions and over certain time periods. Central banks may increase their short-term policy rates or begin phasing out, or “tapering,” accommodative monetary policy facilities in the future. The timing, coordination, magnitude and effect of such policy changes on various markets are uncertain, and such changes in monetary policy may adversely affect the value of the Fund’s investments.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities to which the Fund has exposure. The Fund may be adversely affected if an issuer of underlying securities held by the Fund is unable or unwilling to repay principal or interest when due. Any issuer of these securities may perform poorly, causing the value of its securities to decline. Poor performance may be caused by poor management decisions, competitive pressures, changes in technology, expiration of patent protection, disruptions in supply, labor problems or shortages, corporate restructurings, fraudulent disclosures, credit deterioration of the issuer or other factors. Changes to the financial condition or credit rating of an issuer of those securities may cause the value of the securities to decline. An issuer may also be subject to risks associated with the countries, states and regions in which the issuer resides, invests, sells products, or otherwise conducts operations.
Management Risk. The Fund is subject to management risk because it does not seek to replicate the performance of a specified index. BFA and the portfolio managers will utilize a proprietary investment process, techniques and risk analyses in making investment decisions for the Fund, but there can be no guarantee that these decisions will produce the desired results. In addition, legislative, regulatory, or tax developments may affect the investment techniques available to BFA in connection with managing the Fund and may also adversely affect the ability of the Fund to achieve its investment objective.
Market Risk. The Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns. Market risk arises mainly from uncertainty about future values of financial instruments and may be influenced by price, currency and interest rate movements. It represents the potential loss the Fund may suffer through holding financial instruments in the face of market movements or uncertainty. The value of a security or other asset may decline due to changes in general market conditions, economic trends or events that are not specifically related to the issuer of the security or other asset, or factors that affect a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class. Local, regional or global events such as war, acts of terrorism, the spread of infectious illness or other public health issues, recessions, or other events could have a significant impact on the Fund and its investments and could result in increased premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV. During a general market downturn, multiple asset classes may be negatively affected. Fixed-income securities
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with short-term maturities are generally less sensitive to such changes than are fixed-income securities with longer-term maturities. Changes in market conditions and interest rates generally do not have the same impact on all types of securities and instruments.
Market Trading Risk.
Absence of Active Market. Although shares of the Fund are listed for trading on one or more stock exchanges, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained by market makers or Authorized Participants.
Risk of Secondary Listings. The Fund's shares may be listed or traded on U.S. and non-U.S. stock exchanges other than the U.S. stock exchange where the Fund's primary listing is maintained, and may otherwise be made available to non-U.S. investors through funds or structured investment vehicles similar to depositary receipts. There can be no assurance that the Fund’s shares will continue to trade on any such stock exchange or in any market or that the Fund’s shares will continue to meet the requirements for listing or trading on any exchange or in any market. The Fund's shares may be less actively traded in certain markets than in others, and investors are subject to the execution and settlement risks and market standards of the market where they or their broker direct their trades for execution. Certain information available to investors who trade Fund shares on a U.S. stock exchange during regular U.S. market hours may not be available to investors who trade in other markets, which may result in secondary market prices in such markets being less efficient.
Secondary Market Trading Risk. Shares of the Fund may trade in the secondary market at times when the Fund does not accept orders to purchase or redeem shares. At such times, shares may trade in the secondary market with more significant premiums or discounts than might be experienced at times when the Fund accepts purchase and redemption orders.
Secondary market trading in Fund shares may be halted by a stock exchange because of market conditions or for other reasons. In addition, trading in Fund shares on a stock exchange or in any market may be subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to “circuit breaker” rules on the stock exchange or market.
Shares of the Fund, similar to shares of other issuers listed on a stock exchange, may be sold short and are therefore subject to the risk of increased volatility and price decreases associated with being sold short. In addition, trading activity in derivative products based on the Fund may lead to increased trading volume and volatility in the secondary market for the shares of the Fund.
Shares of the Fund May Trade at Prices Other Than NAV. Shares of the Fund trade on stock exchanges at prices at, above or below the Fund’s most recent NAV. The NAV of the Fund is calculated at the end of each business day and fluctuates with changes in the market value of the Fund’s holdings. The trading price of the Fund's shares fluctuates continuously throughout trading hours based on both market supply of and demand for Fund shares and the underlying value of the Fund's portfolio holdings or NAV. As a result, the trading prices of the Fund’s shares may deviate significantly from
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NAV during periods of market volatility, including during periods of significant redemption requests or other unusual market conditions. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV. However, because shares can be created and redeemed in Creation Units at NAV, BFA believes that large discounts or premiums to the NAV of the Fund are not likely to be sustained over the long term (unlike shares of many closed-end funds, which frequently trade at appreciable discounts from, and sometimes at premiums to, their NAVs). While the creation/redemption feature is designed to make it more likely that the Fund’s shares normally will trade on stock exchanges at prices close to the Fund’s next calculated NAV, exchange prices are not expected to correlate exactly with the Fund's NAV due to timing reasons, supply and demand imbalances and other factors. In addition, disruptions to creations and redemptions, including disruptions at market makers, Authorized Participants, or other market participants, and during periods of significant market volatility, may result in trading prices for shares of the Fund that differ significantly from its NAV. Authorized Participants may be less willing to create or redeem Fund shares if there is a lack of an active market for such shares or its underlying investments, which may contribute to the Fund’s shares trading at a premium or discount to NAV.
Costs of Buying or Selling Fund Shares. Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange involves two types of costs that apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you will likely incur a brokerage commission and other charges. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread”; that is, the difference between what investors are willing to pay for Fund shares (the “bid” price) and the price at which they are willing to sell Fund shares (the “ask” price). The spread, which varies over time for shares of the Fund based on trading volume and market liquidity, is generally narrower if the Fund has more trading volume and market liquidity and wider if the Fund has less trading volume and market liquidity. In addition, increased market volatility may cause wider spreads. There may also be regulatory and other charges that are incurred as a result of trading activity. Because of the costs inherent in buying or selling Fund shares, frequent trading may detract significantly from investment results and an investment in Fund shares may not be advisable for investors who anticipate regularly making small investments through a brokerage account.
Municipal Securities Risk. Municipal securities include both general obligation bonds (bonds secured by the full faith and credit of the issuer) and limited obligation bonds (or “Revenue Bonds”). All municipal securities are subject to the risk that litigation, legislation or other political events, local business or economic conditions, credit rating downgrades, or the bankruptcy of the issuer could have a significant effect on an issuer’s ability to make payments of principal and/or interest or otherwise affect the value of such securities. Additionally, certain municipal securities may be issued by entities with limited taxing authority, which could limit or prevent tax increases necessary to make continued payments of principal and interest.
Municipal securities can be significantly affected by political or economic changes, including changes made in the law after issuance of the securities, as well as uncertainties in the municipal market related to taxation, legislative changes or the
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rights of municipal security holders, including in connection with an issuer insolvency. There is also the risk that corruption may negatively affect municipal issuers, including corruption related to a particular project from which payments on a security are derived, resulting in delays and cost overruns.
There may be less publicly available information on the financial condition of municipal security issuers than for issuers of other securities. As a result, municipal securities may be more difficult for the Fund to value accurately than the securities of public companies. Municipal securities may also be harder to buy and sell compared to taxable bonds and non-municipal securities, especially on short notice. Because the Fund invests a significant portion of its portfolio in municipal securities, the Fund’s portfolio is subject to greater exposure to illiquidity risk than a fund that invests in comparable taxable bonds or non-municipal securities.
The Fund and BFA will rely on the opinion of issuers’ bond counsel on the tax-exempt status of interest on municipal bonds. Neither the Fund nor BFA will independently review the bases for those tax opinions, which may ultimately be determined to be incorrect, potentially resulting in the Fund and its shareholders being subject to substantial tax liabilities. In addition, changes in the financial condition of an individual municipal issuer can affect the overall municipal market.
Revenue Bonds are backed by current or anticipated revenues from a specific project or specific assets and can be negatively affected by the discontinuance of the tax benefits supporting the project or assets or the inability to collect revenues from the project or the assets. Additionally, the market values of Revenue Bonds may decline in times of higher inflation to the extent that revenues are fixed income streams. In other instances, the prices that an issuer is able to charge users of its assets may be linked to inflation, whether by government regulation, contractual arrangement or other factors. Rising interest rates could result in higher costs of capital for certain issuers, which could negatively impact their ability to meet payment obligations. In this case, changes in the rate of inflation may affect the issuer’s revenues. Because many municipal securities are issued to finance projects, such as those related to education, health care, housing, transportation, utilities, and water and sewer, conditions in one or more of these sectors can affect the overall municipal market. Adverse conditions and developments affecting a particular project can result in lower revenues to an issuer of the municipal securities and, by extension, adversely affect payments of principal and interest on, or the market value of, such securities.
Additionally, certain municipal securities are issued by entities dependent on revenue from a particular sector and thus are subject to the specific risks associated with that sector.
Risk of Investing in Infrastructure-Related Municipal Securities. Entities that issue municipal securities related to infrastructure (“infrastructure issuers”) may be subject to a variety of factors that could adversely affect their capacity to make principal and interest payments, such as high interest costs in connection with capital construction programs, high degrees of leverage, costs associated with governmental, environmental and other regulations, the effects of economic slowdowns, increased competition from other providers of services, uncertainties concerning costs, the level of government spending on infrastructure projects, and other factors. Such issuers
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may be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, changes in exchange rates, import controls, depletion of resources, technological developments, and labor relations. Infrastructure issuers can be significantly affected by government spending policies.
Leverage Risk. Infrastructure issuers can be highly indebted, which increases investment risk and other risks normally associated with debt financing, which could adversely affect such an issuer’s operations and the market value of related municipal securities in periods of rising interest rates.
Operations Risk. The failure of an infrastructure issuer to carry adequate insurance or to operate its assets appropriately could lead to significant losses. Infrastructure may be adversely affected by environmental clean-up costs and catastrophic events such as earthquakes, hurricanes and terrorist acts.
Regulatory Risk. Infrastructure projects may be subject to significant regulation by various governmental authorities and also may be affected by regulation of rates charged to customers, service interruption due to environmental, operational or other events, the imposition of special tariffs and changes in tax laws, regulatory policies and accounting standards.
Strategic Asset Risk. Infrastructure issuers may control significant strategic assets (e.g., major pipelines or highways), which are assets that have a national or regional profile, and may have monopolistic characteristics. Given their national or regional profile or irreplaceable nature, strategic assets could generate additional risk not common in other industry sectors and they may be targeted for terrorist acts or adverse political actions.
User Risk. Infrastructure issuers can be dependent upon a narrow user base. If these users do not patronize infrastructure projects as expected, significant revenues could be lost and may not be replaceable, in which case infrastructure issuers may fail to pay their obligations.
Risk of Investing in Municipal Securities Issued By School Districts. School districts rely, in part, on funding appropriations from, among others, the federal government and state governments. As a result, municipal securities issued by school districts may be adversely affected by political and economic changes at the state or federal levels, such as decreased tax or other revenues, spending reductions or changes in appropriations. Municipal securities that are issued to finance a particular school district project often depend on revenues from ad valorem taxes (i.e., property taxes) to make principal and interest payments. Investors in these securities, similar to investors in municipal securities generally, face heightened risk of loss upon insolvency of the school district issuers because there is often no ready source of funding to pay principal and interest other than the local tax base, which a bankruptcy court or administrator does not control.
Risk of Investing in Transportation Infrastructure-Related Municipal Securities. The transportation infrastructure industry may be adversely affected by economic changes, increases in fuel and other operating costs, labor relations, insurance costs, and, in many jurisdictions, the effects of regulatory changes or other government decisions.
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Municipal securities that are issued to finance a particular transportation project (e.g., toll roads) often depend on revenues from that project to make principal and interest payments.
Risk of Investing in Utility-Related Municipal Securities. Certain municipal securities are issued by public bodies, including state and municipal utility authorities, to, among other things, finance the operation or expansion of utility entities. Various future economic and other conditions may adversely affect utility entities, including inflation, increases in financing requirements, increases in raw material costs and other operating costs, changes in demand for services and the effects of environmental and other governmental regulations. Certain utilities are subject to specific risks. For example, gas utilities are subject to risks of supply conditions and increased competition from other providers of utility services. In addition, gas utilities are affected by gas prices, which may be magnified to the extent that a gas utility enters into long-term contracts for the purchase or sale of gas at a fixed price, since such prices may change significantly and to the disadvantage of the gas utility.
Non-U.S. Issuers Risk. Securities issued by non-U.S. issuers have different risks from securities issued by U.S. issuers. These risks include differences in accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards, the possibility of expropriation or confiscatory taxation, adverse changes in investment or exchange control regulations, political instability which could affect U.S. investments in non-U.S. countries, uncertainties of transnational litigation, and potential restrictions on the flow of international capital, including the possible seizure or nationalization of the securities issued by non-U.S. issuers held by the Fund. Non-U.S. issuers may be subject to less governmental regulation than U.S. issuers. Moreover, individual non-U.S. economies may differ favorably or unfavorably from the U.S. economy in such respects as growth of gross domestic product, rate of inflation, capital reinvestment, resource self-sufficiency and balance of payment positions. Unfavorable political, economic or governmental developments in non-U.S. countries could affect the payment of a security’s principal and interest. Securities issued by non-U.S. issuers may also be less liquid than, and more difficult to value than, securities of U.S. issuers. In addition, the value of these securities may fluctuate due to changes in the exchange rate of the issuer’s local currency against the U.S. dollar.
Not a Money Market Fund. The Fund is not a money market fund and is not subject to the strict rules that govern the quality, maturity, liquidity and other features of securities that money market funds may purchase. Under normal circumstances, the Fund’s investments may be more susceptible than a money market fund is to credit risk, interest rate risk, valuation risk and other risks relevant to the Fund’s investments. The Fund does not seek to maintain a stable net asset value of $1.00 per share.
Operational Risk. The Fund is exposed to operational risks arising from a number of factors, including, but not limited to, human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund's service providers, counterparties or other third parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However,
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these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate to address significant operational risks.
Prepayment Risk. During periods of falling interest rates, issuers of certain debt obligations may repay principal prior to the security’s maturity, which may cause the Fund to have to reinvest in securities with lower yields or higher risk of default, resulting in a decline in the Fund’s income or return potential. Also, if a security subject to prepayment had been purchased at a premium, the value of the premium would be lost in the event of prepayment.
Privately Issued Securities Risk. The Fund may invest in privately issued securities, including those that are normally purchased pursuant to Rule 144A or Regulation S under the 1933 Act. Privately issued securities typically may be resold only to qualified institutional buyers, 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 for an exemption from registration. 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 Fund may 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 and traded. At times, it also may be more difficult to determine the fair value of such securities for purposes of computing the Fund’s NAV due to the absence of an active trading market. There can be no assurance that a privately issued security that is deemed to be liquid when purchased will continue to be liquid for as long as it is held by the Fund, and its value may decline as a result.
Repurchase Agreement Risk. A repurchase agreement is an instrument under which the purchaser (i.e., the Fund) acquires a security and the seller agrees, at the time of the sale, to repurchase the security at a mutually agreed upon time and price. Repurchase agreements may be construed to be collateralized loans by the purchaser to the seller secured by the securities transferred to the purchaser. If a repurchase agreement is construed to be a collateralized loan, the underlying securities will not be considered to be owned by the Fund but only to constitute collateral for the seller’s obligation to pay the repurchase price. If the seller defaults on its obligation under the agreement, the Fund may suffer delays and incur costs or lose money in exercising its rights under the agreement. If the seller fails to repurchase the security and the market value of the security declines, the Fund may lose money.
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. Investment in developed country issuers may subject the Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, economic and other risks associated with developed countries. Developed countries generally tend to rely on services sectors (e.g., the financial services sector) as the primary means of economic growth. A prolonged slowdown in one or more services sectors is likely to have a negative impact on economies of certain developed countries, although economies of individual developed countries can be impacted by slowdowns in other sectors. In the past, certain developed countries have been targets of terrorism, and some geographic areas in which the Fund invests have experienced strained international relations due to territorial disputes, historical animosities, defense
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concerns and other security concerns. These situations may cause uncertainty in the financial markets in these countries or geographic areas and may adversely affect the performance of the issuers to which the Fund has exposure. Heavy regulation of certain markets, including labor and product markets, may have an adverse effect on certain issuers. Such regulations may negatively affect economic growth or cause prolonged periods of recession. Many developed countries are heavily indebted and face rising healthcare and retirement expenses. In addition, price fluctuations of certain commodities and regulations impacting the import of commodities may negatively affect developed country economies.
Risk of Investing in the U.S. A decrease in imports or exports, changes in trade regulations and/or an economic recession in the U.S. may have a material adverse effect on the U.S. economy and the securities listed on U.S. exchanges. Proposed and adopted policy and legislative changes in the U.S. are changing many aspects of financial, commercial, public health, environmental, and other regulation and may have a significant effect on U.S. markets generally, as well as on the value of certain securities. Governmental agencies project that the U.S. will continue to maintain elevated public debt levels for the foreseeable future. Although elevated debt levels do not necessarily indicate or cause economic problems, elevated public debt service costs may constrain future economic growth.
The U.S. has developed increasingly strained relations with a number of foreign countries. If relations with certain countries deteriorate, it could adversely affect U.S. issuers as well as non-U.S. issuers that rely on the U.S. for trade. The U.S. has also experienced increased internal unrest and discord, as well as significant challenges in managing and containing the outbreak of COVID-19. If these trends were to continue, it may have an adverse impact on the U.S. economy and the issuers in which the Fund invests.
Securities Lending Risk. The Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (“BTC”), the Fund's securities lending agent, will take into account the tax impact to shareholders of substitute payments for dividends when managing the Fund's securities lending program.
Valuation Risk. The price the Fund could receive upon the sale of a security or other asset may differ from the Fund's valuation of the security or other asset, particularly for securities or other assets that trade in low volume or volatile markets or that are valued using a fair value methodology as a result of trade suspensions or for other reasons. Because non-U.S. exchanges may be open on days when the Fund does not price its shares, the value of the securities or other assets in the Fund's portfolio may change on days or during time periods when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund’s shares. Authorized Participants who purchase or redeem Fund shares on days when the Fund is holding fair-valued securities may receive fewer or more shares, or lower or higher redemption proceeds, than they would have received had
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the Fund not fair-valued securities or used a different valuation methodology. The Fund’s ability to value investments may be impacted by technological issues or errors by pricing services or other third-party service providers.
A Further Discussion of Other Risks
The Fund may also be subject to certain other risks associated with its investments and investment strategies. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Cash Management Risk. To the extent the Fund holds cash, the Fund will earn reduced income (if any) on the cash and will be subject to the credit risk of the depository institution holding the cash and any fees imposed on large cash balances. If a significant amount of the Fund’s assets are invested in cash and cash equivalents, it will be more difficult for the Fund to achieve its investment objective. The Fund may underperform other funds that do not similarly invest in cash and cash equivalents for investment purposes and/or to collateralize derivative instruments.
Close-Out Risk for Qualified Financial Contracts. Regulations adopted by global prudential regulators require counterparties that are part of U.S. or foreign global systemically important banking organizations to include contractual restrictions on close-out and cross-default in agreements relating to qualified financial contracts. Qualified financial contracts include agreements relating to swaps, currency forwards and other derivatives as well as repurchase agreements and securities lending agreements. The restrictions prevent the Fund from closing out a qualified financial contract during a specified time period if the counterparty is subject to resolution proceedings and also prohibit the Fund from exercising default rights due to a receivership or similar proceeding of an affiliate of the counterparty. These requirements may increase credit risk and other risks to the Fund.
Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities Risk. The CMBS in which the Fund invests may be issued by entities, such as banks, mortgage lenders or other institutions. These entities are not backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, and there can be no assurance that the U.S. government would provide financial support to its agencies or instrumentalities where it is not obligated to do so.
CMBS depend on cash flows generated by underlying commercial real-estate loans, receivables or other assets, and can be significantly affected by changes in interest rates, the availability of information concerning the underlying assets and their structure, and the creditworthiness of the originators of the underlying assets.
Due to the nature of the loans they represent, CMBS are subject to a greater degree of prepayment and extension risk than many other forms of fixed-income securities. Small movements in interest rates (both increases and decreases) may quickly and significantly reduce the value of certain CMBS. Certain CMBS are issued in several classes with different levels of yield and credit protection. The Fund’s investments in CMBS with several classes may be in the lower classes that have greater risks than the higher classes, including greater interest rate, credit, prepayment and extension risks.
In addition, the value of CMBS may be adversely affected by regulatory or tax changes. CMBS issued by non-government entities may offer higher yields than those issued by
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government entities, but also may be subject to greater volatility than government issues. In the recent past, the market for CMBS has experienced volatility and reduced liquidity.
Consumer Cyclical Industry Risk. The success of consumer cyclical companies is tied closely to the performance of domestic and international economies, exchange rates, interest rates, competition, consumer confidence, changes in demographics and preferences. Companies in the consumer cyclical industry depend heavily on disposable household income and consumer spending, and may be strongly affected by social trends and marketing campaigns. These companies may be subject to severe competition, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability.
Consumer Staples Sector Risk. Companies in the consumer staples sector may be affected by the regulation of various product components and production methods, marketing campaigns and changes in the global economy, consumer spending and consumer demand. Tobacco companies, in particular, may be adversely affected by new laws, regulations and litigation. Companies in the consumer staples sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors. These companies may be subject to severe competition, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability.
European Economic Risk. The Economic and Monetary Union (the “eurozone”) of the European Union (the “EU”) requires compliance by member states that are members of the eurozone with restrictions on inflation rates, deficits, interest rates and debt levels, as well as fiscal and monetary controls, each of which may significantly affect every country in Europe, including those countries that are not members of the eurozone. Additionally, European countries outside of the eurozone may present economic risks that are independent of the indirect effects that eurozone policies have on them. In particular, the United Kingdom's (the “U.K.”) economy may be affected by global economic, industrial and financial shifts. Changes in imports or exports, changes in governmental or EU regulations on trade, changes in the exchange rate of the euro (the common currency of eurozone countries), the default or threat of default by an EU member state on its sovereign debt and/or an economic recession in an EU member state may have a significant adverse effect on the economies of other EU member states and their trading partners. The European financial markets have historically experienced volatility and adverse trends due to concerns about economic downturns or rising government debt levels in several European countries, including, but not limited to, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ukraine. These events have adversely affected the exchange rate of the euro and may continue to significantly affect European countries.
Responses to financial problems by European governments, central banks and others, including austerity measures and reforms, may not produce the desired results, may result in social unrest, may limit future growth and economic recovery or may have other unintended consequences. Further defaults or restructurings by governments and other entities of their debt could have additional adverse effects on economies, financial markets and asset valuations around the world. In addition, one or more countries may abandon the euro and/or withdraw from the EU. The U.K. left the EU (“Brexit”) on January 31, 2020. The U.K. and EU have reached an agreement on the
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terms of their future trading relationship effective January 1, 2021, which principally relates to the trading of goods rather than services, including financial services. Further discussions are to be held between the U.K. and the EU in relation to matters not covered by the trade agreement, such as financial services. The Fund faces risks associated with the potential uncertainty and consequences that may follow Brexit, including with respect to volatility in exchange rates and interest rates. Brexit could adversely affect European or worldwide political, regulatory, economic or market conditions and could contribute to instability in global political institutions, regulatory agencies and financial markets. Brexit has also led to legal uncertainty and could lead to politically divergent national laws and regulations as a new relationship between the U.K. and EU is defined and the U.K. determines which EU laws to replace or replicate. Any of these effects of Brexit could adversely affect any of the companies to which the Fund has exposure and any other assets in which the Fund invests. The political, economic and legal consequences of Brexit are not yet fully known. In the short term, financial markets may experience heightened volatility, particularly those in the U.K. and Europe, but possibly worldwide. The U.K. and Europe may be less stable than they have been in recent years, and investments in the U.K. and the EU may be difficult to value or subject to greater or more frequent volatility. In the longer term, there is likely to be a period of significant political, regulatory and commercial uncertainty as the U.K. continues to negotiate the terms of its future trading relationships.
Secessionist movements, such as the Catalan movement in Spain and the independence movement in Scotland, as well as governmental or other responses to such movements, may also create instability and uncertainty in the region. In addition, the national politics of countries in the EU have been unpredictable and subject to influence by disruptive political groups and ideologies. The governments of EU countries may be subject to change and such countries may experience social and political unrest. Unanticipated or sudden political or social developments may result in sudden and significant investment losses. The occurrence of terrorist incidents throughout Europe could also impact financial markets. The impact of these events is not clear but could be significant and far-reaching and could adversely affect the value and liquidity of the Fund's investments.
LIBOR Risk. The Fund may be exposed to financial instruments that are tied to LIBOR to determine payment obligations, financing terms, hedging strategies or investment value. The Fund’s investments may pay interest at floating rates based on LIBOR or may be subject to interest caps or floors based on LIBOR. The Fund may also obtain financing at floating rates based on LIBOR. Derivative instruments utilized by the Fund may also reference LIBOR.
LIBOR Replacement Risk. As part of the phase-out of the use of LIBOR, the rate’s administrator, ICE Benchmark Administration Limited (“IBA”), discontinued two USD LIBOR settings immediately after publication on December 31, 2021. The United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”), which regulates LIBOR, and IBA previously announced that a majority of USD LIBOR settings will no longer be published after June 30, 2023. While the FCA is requiring the IBA to publish certain LIBOR settings, potentially to include USD settings, on a “synthetic” basis, the “synthetic” methodology is not based on panel bank contributions and is not intended to be
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representative of the interest rates in the underlying market. The Fund may have investments linked to other interbank offered rates, such as the Euro Overnight Index Average (“EONIA”), which may also cease to be published. Various financial industry groups continue planning for the transition away from LIBOR, but there are challenges to converting certain securities and transactions to a new reference rate, such as SOFR, which is intended to replace USD LIBOR. For example, at times, SOFR has proven to be more volatile than the 3-month USD LIBOR. Working groups and regulators in other countries have suggested other alternatives for their markets, including the Sterling Overnight Interbank Average Rate (“SONIA”) in England.
Neither the effect of the LIBOR transition process nor its ultimate success can yet be known. The transition process might lead to increased volatility and illiquidity in markets for, and reduce the effectiveness of new hedges placed against, instruments whose terms currently include LIBOR. While some existing LIBOR-based instruments may contemplate a scenario where LIBOR is no longer available by providing for an alternative rate-setting methodology, there may be significant uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of any such alternative methodologies to replicate LIBOR. Not all existing LIBOR-based instruments may have alternative rate-setting provisions and there remains uncertainty regarding the willingness and ability of issuers to add alternative rate-setting provisions in certain existing instruments. Global regulators have advised market participants to cease entering into new contracts using LIBOR as a reference rate, and it is possible that investments in LIBOR-based instruments could invite regulatory scrutiny. In addition, a liquid market for newly issued instruments that use a reference rate other than LIBOR still may be developing. There may also be challenges for the Fund to enter into hedging transactions against such newly issued instruments until a market for such hedging transactions develops. All of the aforementioned may adversely affect the Fund’s performance or NAV.
Money Market Instruments Risk. The value of money market instruments may be affected by changing interest rates and by changes in the credit ratings of the investments. If a significant amount of the Fund's assets are invested in money market instruments, it will be more difficult for the Fund to achieve its investment objective. An investment in a money market fund is not insured or guaranteed by the FDIC or any other government agency. It is possible to lose money by investing in a money market fund. Money market funds other than government money market funds or retail money market funds “float” their NAV instead of using a stable $1.00 per share price.
Threshold/Underinvestment Risk. If certain aggregate and/or fund-level ownership thresholds are reached through transactions undertaken by BFA, its affiliates or the Fund, or as a result of third-party transactions or actions by an issuer or regulator, the ability of BFA and its affiliates on behalf of clients (including the Fund) to purchase or dispose of investments, or exercise rights or undertake business transactions, may be restricted by regulation or otherwise impaired. The capacity of the Fund to make investments in certain securities may be affected by the relevant threshold limits, and such limitations may have adverse effects on the liquidity and performance of the Fund’s portfolio holdings.
For example, in certain circumstances where the Fund invests in securities issued by companies that operate in certain regulated industries or in certain emerging or
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international markets, is subject to corporate or regulatory ownership restrictions, or invests in certain futures or other derivative transactions, there may be limits on the aggregate and/or fund-level amount invested or voted by BFA and its affiliates for their proprietary accounts and for client accounts (including the Fund) that may not be exceeded without the grant of a license or other regulatory or corporate consent or, if exceeded, may cause BFA and its affiliates, the Fund or other client accounts to suffer disadvantages or business restrictions.
Portfolio Holdings Information
A description of the Trust's policies and procedures with respect to the disclosure of the Fund’s portfolio securities is available in the Fund's SAI. The Fund discloses its portfolio holdings daily at www.iShares.com. Fund fact sheets provide information regarding the Fund's top holdings and may be requested by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737).
Management
Investment Adviser. As investment adviser, BFA has overall responsibility for the general management and administration of the Fund. BFA provides an investment program for the Fund and manages the investment of the Fund’s assets. In managing the Fund, BFA may draw upon the trading, research and expertise of its asset management affiliates for portfolio decisions and management with respect to portfolio securities. In seeking to achieve the Fund's investment objective, BFA uses teams of portfolio managers, investment strategists and other investment specialists. This team approach brings together many disciplines and leverages BFA’s extensive resources.
Pursuant to the Investment Advisory Agreement between BFA and the Trust (entered into on behalf of the Fund), BFA is responsible for substantially all expenses of the Fund, except the management fees, interest expenses, taxes, expenses incurred with respect to the acquisition and disposition of portfolio securities and the execution of portfolio transactions, including brokerage commissions, distribution fees or expenses, and litigation expenses and extraordinary expenses (as determined by a majority of the Trustees who are not “interested persons” of the Trust). The Fund may also pay “Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses.”
For its investment advisory services to the Fund, BFA is paid a management fee from the Fund based on a percentage of the Fund’s average daily net assets, at the annual rate of 0.25%. BFA has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees in an amount equal to the Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any, attributable to investments by the Fund in other funds advised by BFA, or its affiliates, through February 28, 2025. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to February 28, 2025 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA. In addition, BFA may from time to time voluntarily waive and/or reimburse fees or expenses in order to limit total annual fund operating expenses (excluding acquired fund fees and expenses, if any). Any such voluntary waiver or reimbursement may be eliminated by BFA at any time.
BFA is located at 400 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. It is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc. (“BlackRock”). As of December 31, 2021, BFA and
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its affiliates provided investment advisory services for assets in excess of $10.01 trillion. BFA and its affiliates trade and invest for their own accounts in the types of securities in which the Fund may also invest.
A discussion regarding the basis for the approval by the Board of the Investment Advisory Agreement with BFA is available in the Fund's Annual Report for the period ended October 31.
From time to time, a manager, analyst, or other employee of BlackRock or its affiliates may express views regarding a particular asset class, company, security, industry, or market sector. The views expressed by any such person are the views of only that individual as of the time expressed and do not necessarily represent the views of BlackRock or any other person within the BlackRock organization. Any such views are subject to change at any time based upon market or other conditions and BlackRock disclaims any responsibility to update such views. These views may not be relied on as investment advice and may not be relied on as an indication of trading intent on behalf of the Fund.
Portfolio Managers. Scott MacLellan, CFA and Akiva Dickstein are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund and consult regularly with James Mauro and Scott Radell. Each Portfolio Manager is responsible for various functions related to portfolio management, including, but not limited to, developing and implementing the Fund’s investment process and investment strategy, researching and reviewing investment strategy and overseeing members of his portfolio management team that have more limited responsibilities.
Akiva Dickstein has been employed by BlackRock as a portfolio manager since 2009. Mr. Dickstein has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2020.
Scott MacLellan, CFA has been employed by BlackRock since 2001. Mr. MacLellan has been employed by BlackRock as a portfolio manager since 2012 and has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2020.
James Mauro has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 2011. Prior to that, Mr. Mauro was a Vice President at State Street Global Advisors. Mr. Mauro has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2021.
Scott Radell has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 2004. Mr. Radell was a credit strategist from 2003 to 2004 and became a portfolio manager at Barclays Global Fund Advisors in 2004. Mr. Radell has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2013.
The Fund's SAI provides additional information about the Portfolio Managers' compensation, other accounts managed by the Portfolio Managers and the Portfolio Managers' ownership (if any) of shares in the Fund.
Administrator, Custodian and Transfer Agent. State Street Bank and Trust Company (“State Street”) is the administrator, custodian and transfer agent for the Fund. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. serves as custodian for the Fund in connection with certain securities lending activities.
Conflicts of Interest. The investment activities of BFA and its affiliates (including BlackRock and its subsidiaries (collectively, the “Affiliates”)), and their respective
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directors, officers or employees, in the management of, or their interest in, their own accounts and other accounts they manage, may present conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA and its Affiliates provide investment management services to other funds and discretionary managed accounts that may follow investment programs similar to that of the Fund. BFA and its Affiliates are involved worldwide with a broad spectrum of financial services and asset management activities and may engage in the ordinary course of business in activities in which their interests or the interests of their clients may conflict with those of the Fund. BFA or one or more Affiliates act, or may act, as an investor, research provider, investment manager, commodity pool operator, commodity trading advisor, financier, underwriter, adviser, trader, lender, index provider, agent and/or principal, and have other direct and indirect interests in securities, currencies, commodities, derivatives and other instruments in which the Fund may directly or indirectly invest. The Fund may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies with which an Affiliate has significant debt or equity investments or other interests. The Fund may also invest in issuances (such as structured notes) by entities for which an Affiliate provides and is compensated for cash management services relating to the proceeds from the sale of such issuances. The Fund also may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies for which an Affiliate provides or may in the future provide research coverage. An Affiliate may have business relationships with, and purchase or distribute or sell services or products from or to, distributors, consultants or others who recommend the Fund or who engage in transactions with or for the Fund, and may receive compensation for such services. The Fund may also invest in sovereign issuers that are advised by an Affiliate with respect to their debt offerings. BFA or one or more Affiliates may engage in proprietary trading and advise accounts and funds that have investment objectives similar to those of the Fund and/or that engage in and compete for transactions in the same types of securities, currencies and other instruments as the Fund. This may include transactions in securities issued by other open-end and closed-end investment companies (which may include investment companies that are affiliated with the Fund and BFA, to the extent permitted under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”)). The trading activities of BFA and these Affiliates are carried out without reference to positions held directly or indirectly by the Fund and may result in BFA or an Affiliate having positions in certain securities that are senior or junior to, or have interests different from or adverse to, the securities that are owned by the Fund.
Neither BlackRock nor any Affiliate is under any obligation to share any investment opportunity, idea or strategy with the Fund. As a result, an Affiliate may compete with the Fund for appropriate investment opportunities. The results of the Fund's investment activities, therefore, may differ from those of an Affiliate and of other accounts managed by BlackRock or an Affiliate, and it is possible that the Fund could sustain losses during periods in which one or more Affiliates and other accounts achieve profits on their trading for proprietary or other accounts. The opposite result is also possible.
In addition, the Fund may, from time to time, enter into transactions in which BFA or an Affiliate or its or their directors, officers, employees or clients have an adverse interest. Furthermore, transactions undertaken by clients advised or managed by BFA or its
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Affiliates may adversely impact the Fund. Transactions by one or more clients or by BFA or its Affiliates or their directors, officers or employees may have the effect of diluting or otherwise disadvantaging the values, prices or investment strategies of the Fund.
The Fund's activities may be limited because of regulatory restrictions applicable to BFA or one or more Affiliates and/or their internal policies designed to comply with such restrictions.
Under a securities lending program approved by the Board, the Fund has retained BTC, an Affiliate of BFA, to serve as the securities lending agent for the Fund to the extent that the Fund participates in the securities lending program. For these services, the securities lending agent will receive a fee from the Fund, including a fee based on the returns earned on the Fund’s investment of the cash received as collateral for the loaned securities. In addition, one or more Affiliates may be among the entities to which the Fund may lend its portfolio securities under the securities lending program.
It is also possible that, from time to time, BlackRock and/or its advisory clients (including other funds and separately managed accounts) may, subject to compliance with applicable law, purchase and hold shares of the Fund. The price, availability, liquidity, and (in some cases) expense ratio of the Fund may be impacted by purchases and sales of the Fund by BlackRock and/or its advisory clients.
The activities of BFA and its Affiliates and their respective directors, officers or employees may give rise to other conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA has adopted policies and procedures designed to address these potential conflicts of interest. See the SAI for further information.
Shareholder Information
Additional shareholder information, including how to buy and sell shares of the Fund, is available free of charge by calling toll-free: 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or visiting our website at www.iShares.com.
Buying and Selling Shares. Shares of the Fund may be acquired or redeemed directly from the Fund only in Creation Units or multiples thereof, as discussed in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus. Only an Authorized Participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. Once created, shares of the Fund generally trade in the secondary market in amounts less than a Creation Unit.
Shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange for trading during the trading day. Shares can be bought and sold throughout the trading day like shares of other publicly-traded companies. The Trust does not impose any minimum investment for shares of the Fund purchased on an exchange or otherwise in the secondary market. The Fund's shares trade under the ticker symbol “NEAR.”
Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange or other secondary market involves two types of costs that may apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you may incur a brokerage commission and other charges. The commission is frequently a fixed amount and may be a significant proportional cost for investors seeking to buy or sell small amounts of shares. In
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addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread,” that is, any difference between the bid price and the ask price. The spread varies over time for shares of the Fund based on the Fund’s trading volume and market liquidity, and is generally lower if the Fund has high trading volume and market liquidity, and higher if the Fund has little trading volume and market liquidity (which is often the case for funds that are newly launched or small in size). The Fund's spread may also be impacted by the liquidity or illiquidity of the underlying securities held by the Fund, particularly for newly launched or smaller funds or in instances of significant volatility of the underlying securities.
The Board has adopted a policy of not monitoring for frequent purchases and redemptions of Fund shares (“frequent trading”) that appear to attempt to take advantage of a potential arbitrage opportunity presented by a lag between a change in the value of the Fund’s portfolio securities after the close of the primary markets for the Fund’s portfolio securities and the reflection of that change in the Fund’s NAV (“market timing”), because the Fund sells and redeems its shares directly through transactions that are in-kind and/or for cash, subject to the conditions described below under Creations and Redemptions. The Board has not adopted a policy of monitoring for other frequent trading activity because shares of the Fund are listed for trading on a national securities exchange.
The national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed is open for trading Monday through Friday and is closed on weekends and the following holidays (or the days on which they are observed): New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The Fund’s primary listing exchange is Cboe BZX Exchange, Inc. (“Cboe BZX”).
Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act generally restricts investments by investment companies, including foreign and unregistered investment companies, in the securities of other investment companies. For example, a registered investment company (the “Acquired Fund”), such as the Fund, may not knowingly sell or otherwise dispose of any security issued by the Acquired Fund to any investment company (the “Acquiring Fund”) or any company or companies controlled by the Acquiring Fund if, immediately after such sale or disposition: (i) more than 3% of the total outstanding voting stock of the Acquired Fund is owned by the Acquiring Fund and any company or companies controlled by the Acquiring Fund, or (ii) more than 10% of the total outstanding voting stock of the Acquired Fund is owned by the Acquiring Fund and other investment companies and companies controlled by them. However, registered investment companies are permitted to invest in the Fund beyond the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1), subject to certain terms and conditions set forth in SEC rules. In order for a registered investment company to invest in shares of the Fund beyond the limitations of Section 12(d)(1) in reliance on Rule 12d1-4 under the 1940 Act, the registered investment company must, among other things, enter into an agreement with the Trust. Foreign investment companies are permitted to invest in the Fund only up to the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1), subject to any applicable SEC no-action relief.
Book Entry. Shares of the Fund are held in book-entry form, which means that no stock certificates are issued. The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) or its nominee is the record owner of, and holds legal title to, all outstanding shares of the Fund.
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Investors owning shares of the Fund are beneficial owners as shown on the records of DTC or its participants. DTC serves as the securities depository for shares of the Fund. DTC participants include securities brokers and dealers, banks, trust companies, clearing corporations and other institutions that directly or indirectly maintain a custodial relationship with DTC. As a beneficial owner of shares, you are not entitled to receive physical delivery of stock certificates or to have shares registered in your name, and you are not considered a registered owner of shares. Therefore, to exercise any right as an owner of shares, you must rely upon the procedures of DTC and its participants. These procedures are the same as those that apply to any other securities that you hold in book-entry or “street name” form.
Share Prices. The trading prices of the Fund’s shares in the secondary market generally differ from the Fund’s daily NAV and are affected by market forces such as the supply of and demand for ETF shares and underlying securities held by the Fund, economic conditions and other factors.
Determination of Net Asset Value. The NAV of the Fund normally is determined once daily Monday through Friday, generally as of the close of regular trading hours of the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) (normally 4:00 p.m., Eastern time) on each day that the NYSE is open for trading, based on prices at the time of closing, provided that any Fund assets or liabilities denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar are translated into U.S. dollars at the prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. The NAV of the Fund is calculated by dividing the value of the net assets of the Fund (i.e., the value of its total assets less total liabilities) by the total number of outstanding shares of the Fund, generally rounded to the nearest cent.
The value of the securities and other assets and liabilities held by the Fund is determined pursuant to valuation policies and procedures approved by the Board.
The Fund values fixed-income portfolio securities using last available bid prices or current market quotations provided by dealers or prices (including evaluated prices) supplied by the Fund's approved independent third-party pricing services, each in accordance with valuation policies and procedures approved by the Board. Pricing services may use matrix pricing or valuation models that utilize certain inputs and assumptions to derive values. Pricing services generally value fixed-income securities assuming orderly transactions of an institutional round lot size, but the Fund may hold or transact in such securities in smaller odd lot sizes. Odd lots often trade at lower prices than institutional round lots. An amortized cost method of valuation may be used with respect to debt obligations with sixty days or less remaining to maturity unless BFA determines in good faith that such method does not represent fair value.
Generally, trading in non-U.S. securities and money market instruments is substantially completed each day at various times prior to the close of regular trading hours of the NYSE. The values of such securities used in computing the NAV of the Fund are determined as of such times.
When market quotations are not readily available or are believed by BFA to be unreliable, the Fund’s investments are valued at fair value. Fair value determinations are made by BFA in accordance with policies and procedures approved by the Board.
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BFA may conclude that a market quotation is not readily available or is unreliable if a security or other asset or liability does not have a price source due to its lack of trading or other reasons, if a market quotation differs significantly from recent price quotations or otherwise no longer appears to reflect fair value, where the security or other asset or liability is thinly traded, when there is a significant event subsequent to the most recent market quotation, or if the trading market on which a security is listed is suspended or closed and no appropriate alternative trading market is available. A “significant event” is deemed to occur if BFA determines, in its reasonable business judgment prior to or at the time of pricing the Fund’s assets or liabilities, that the event is likely to cause a material change to the last exchange closing price or closing market price of one or more assets held by, or liabilities of, the Fund.
Fair value represents a good faith approximation of the value of an asset or liability. The fair value of an asset or liability held by the Fund is the amount the Fund might reasonably expect to receive from the current sale of that asset or the cost to extinguish that liability in an arm’s-length transaction. Valuing the Fund’s investments using fair value pricing will result in prices that may differ from current market valuations and that may not be the prices at which those investments could have been sold during the period in which the particular fair values were used.
Dividends and Distributions
General Policies. Dividends from net investment income, if any, generally are declared and paid at least once a year by the Fund. Distributions of net realized securities gains, if any, generally are declared and paid once a year, but the Trust may make distributions on a more frequent basis for the Fund. The Trust reserves the right to declare special distributions if, in its reasonable discretion, such action is necessary or advisable to preserve its status as a regulated investment company or to avoid imposition of income or excise taxes on undistributed income or realized gains.
Dividends and other distributions on shares of the Fund are distributed on a pro rata basis to beneficial owners of such shares. Dividend payments are made through DTC participants and indirect participants to beneficial owners then of record with proceeds received from the Fund.
Dividend Reinvestment Service. No dividend reinvestment service is provided by the Trust. Broker-dealers may make available the DTC book-entry Dividend Reinvestment Service for use by beneficial owners of the Fund for reinvestment of their dividend distributions. Beneficial owners should contact their broker to determine the availability and costs of the service and the details of participation therein. Brokers may require beneficial owners to adhere to specific procedures and timetables. If this service is available and used, dividend distributions of both income and realized gains will be automatically reinvested in additional whole shares of the Fund purchased in the secondary market.
Taxes. As with any investment, you should consider how your investment in shares of the Fund will be taxed. The tax information in this Prospectus is provided as general information, based on current law. There is no guarantee that shares of the Fund will receive certain regulatory or accounting treatment. You should consult your own tax professional about the tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund.
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Unless your investment in Fund shares is made through a tax-exempt entity or tax-deferred retirement account, such as an IRA, in which case your distributions generally will be taxable when withdrawn, you need to be aware of the possible tax consequences when the Fund makes distributions or you sell Fund shares.
Taxes on Distributions. Distributions from the Fund’s net investment income, including distributions of income from securities lending and distributions out of the Fund's net short-term capital gains, if any, are taxable to you as ordinary income. The Fund's distributions of net long-term capital gains, if any, in excess of net short-term capital losses are taxable as long-term capital gains, regardless of how long you have held the shares. Long-term capital gains are eligible for taxation at a maximum rate of 15% or 20% for non-corporate shareholders, depending on whether their income exceeds certain threshold amounts. Distributions from the Fund are subject to a 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax on “net investment income,” for individuals with incomes exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 if married and filing jointly) and of estates and trusts. In general, your distributions are subject to U.S. federal income tax for the year when they are paid. Certain distributions paid in January, however, may be treated as paid on December 31 of the prior year.
If your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending arrangement, you may lose the ability to use foreign tax credits passed through by the Fund.
If the Fund's distributions exceed current and accumulated earnings and profits, all or a portion of the distributions made in the taxable year may be recharacterized as a return of capital to shareholders. Distributions in excess of the Fund’s minimum distribution requirements, but not in excess of the Fund’s earnings and profits, will be taxable to shareholders and will not constitute nontaxable returns of capital. A return of capital distribution generally will not be taxable but will reduce the shareholder's cost basis and will result in a higher capital gain or lower capital loss when those shares on which the distribution was received are sold. Once a shareholder's cost basis is reduced to zero, further distributions will be treated as capital gain, if the shareholder holds shares of the Fund as capital assets.
Dividends, interest and capital gains earned by the Fund with respect to securities issued by non-U.S. issuers may give rise to withholding, capital gains and other taxes imposed by non-U.S. countries. Tax conventions between certain countries and the U.S. may reduce or eliminate such taxes. If more than 50% of the total assets of the Fund at the close of a year consists of non-U.S. stocks or securities (generally, for this purpose, depositary receipts, no matter where traded, of non-U.S. companies are treated as “non-U.S.”), generally the Fund may “pass through” to you certain non-U.S. income taxes (including withholding taxes) paid by the Fund. This means that you would be considered to have received as an additional dividend your share of such non-U.S. taxes, but you may be entitled to either a corresponding tax deduction in calculating your taxable income, or, subject to certain limitations, a credit in calculating your U.S. federal income tax.
For purposes of foreign tax credits for U.S. shareholders of the Fund, foreign capital gains taxes may not produce associated foreign source income, limiting the availability of such credits for U.S. persons.
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If you are neither a resident nor a citizen of the U.S. or if you are a non-U.S. entity (other than a pass-through entity to the extent owned by U.S. persons), the Fund’s ordinary income dividends (which include distributions of net short-term capital gains) will generally be subject to a 30% U.S. federal withholding tax, unless a lower treaty rate applies provided that withholding tax will generally not apply to any gain or income realized by a non-U.S. shareholder in respect of any distributions of long-term capital gains or upon the sale or other disposition of shares of the Fund.
Separately, a 30% withholding tax is currently imposed on U.S.-source dividends, interest and other income items paid to (i) foreign financial institutions, including non-U.S. investment funds, unless they agree to collect and disclose to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) information regarding their direct and indirect U.S. account holders and (ii) certain other foreign entities, unless they certify certain information regarding their direct and indirect U.S. owners. To avoid withholding, foreign financial institutions will need to (i) enter into agreements with the IRS that state that they will provide the IRS information, including the names, addresses and taxpayer identification numbers of direct and indirect U.S. account holders; comply with due diligence procedures with respect to the identification of U.S. accounts; report to the IRS certain information with respect to U.S. accounts maintained, agree to withhold tax on certain payments made to non-compliant foreign financial institutions or to account holders who fail to provide the required information; and determine certain other information concerning their account holders, or (ii) in the event that an applicable intergovernmental agreement and implementing legislation are adopted, provide local revenue authorities with similar account holder information. Other foreign entities may need to report the name, address, and taxpayer identification number of each substantial U.S. owner or provide certifications of no substantial U.S. ownership, unless certain exceptions apply.
If you are a resident or a citizen of the U.S., by law, backup withholding at a 24% rate will apply to your distributions and proceeds if you have not provided a taxpayer identification number or social security number and made other required certifications.
Taxes When Shares Are Sold. Currently, any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares is generally treated as a long-term gain or loss if the shares have been held for more than one year. Any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares held for one year or less is generally treated as short-term gain or loss, except that any capital loss on the sale of shares held for six months or less is treated as long-term capital loss to the extent that capital gain dividends were paid with respect to such shares. Any such capital gains, including from sales of Fund shares or from capital gain dividends, are included in “net investment income” for purposes of the 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax mentioned above.
The foregoing discussion summarizes some of the consequences under current U.S. federal tax law of an investment in the Fund. It is not a substitute for personal tax advice. You may also be subject to state and local taxation on Fund distributions and sales of shares. Consult your personal tax advisor about the potential tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund under all applicable tax laws.
Creations and Redemptions. Prior to trading in the secondary market, shares of the Fund are “created” at NAV by market makers, large investors and institutions only in
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block-size Creation Units or multiples thereof. Each “creator” or authorized participant (an “Authorized Participant”) has entered into an agreement with the Fund's distributor, BlackRock Investments, LLC (the “Distributor”), an affiliate of BFA. An Authorized Participant is a member or participant of a clearing agency registered with the SEC, which has a written agreement with the Fund or one of its service providers that allows such member or participant to place orders for the purchase and redemption of Creation Units.
A creation transaction, which is subject to acceptance by the Distributor and the Fund, generally takes place when an Authorized Participant deposits into the Fund a specified amount of cash in exchange for a specified number of Creation Units. Similarly, shares can be redeemed only in Creation Units, generally for a specified amount of cash and/or a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted). Except when aggregated in Creation Units, shares are not redeemable by the Fund. Creation and redemption baskets may differ and the Fund may accept “custom baskets.” More information regarding custom baskets is contained in the Fund's SAI.
The prices at which creations and redemptions occur are based on the next calculation of NAV after a creation or redemption order is received in an acceptable form under the authorized participant agreement.
Only an Authorized Participant may create or redeem Creation Units with the Fund. Authorized Participants may create or redeem Creation Units for their own accounts or for customers, including, without limitation, affiliates of the Fund.
In the event of a system failure or other interruption, including disruptions at market makers or Authorized Participants, orders to purchase or redeem Creation Units either may not be executed according to the Fund's instructions or may not be executed at all, or the Fund may not be able to place or change orders.
To the extent the Fund engages in in-kind transactions, the Fund intends to comply with the U.S. federal securities laws in accepting securities for deposit and satisfying redemptions with redemption securities by, among other means, assuring that any securities accepted for deposit and any securities used to satisfy redemption requests will be sold in transactions that would be exempt from registration under the 1933 Act. Further, an Authorized Participant that is not a “qualified institutional buyer,” as such term is defined in Rule 144A under the 1933 Act, will not be able to receive restricted securities eligible for resale under Rule 144A.
Creations and redemptions must be made through a firm that is either a member of the Continuous Net Settlement System of the National Securities Clearing Corporation or a DTC participant that has executed an agreement with the Distributor with respect to creations and redemptions of Creation Unit aggregations. Information about the procedures regarding creation and redemption of Creation Units (including the cut-off times for receipt of creation and redemption orders) is included in the Fund's SAI.
Because new shares may be created and issued on an ongoing basis, at any point during the life of the Fund a “distribution,” as such term is used in the 1933 Act, may be occurring. Broker-dealers and other persons are cautioned that some activities on their part may, depending on the circumstances, result in their being deemed
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participants in a distribution in a manner that could render them statutory underwriters subject to the prospectus delivery and liability provisions of the 1933 Act. Any determination of whether one is an underwriter must take into account all the relevant facts and circumstances of each particular case.
Broker-dealers should also note that dealers who are not “underwriters” but are participating in a distribution (as contrasted to ordinary secondary transactions), and thus dealing with shares that are part of an “unsold allotment” within the meaning of Section 4(a)(3)(C) of the 1933 Act, would be unable to take advantage of the prospectus delivery exemption provided by Section 4(a)(3) of the 1933 Act. For delivery of prospectuses to exchange members, the prospectus delivery mechanism of Rule 153 under the 1933 Act is available only with respect to transactions on a national securities exchange.
Householding. Householding is an option available to certain Fund investors. Householding is a method of delivery, based on the preference of the individual investor, in which a single copy of certain shareholder documents can be delivered to investors who share the same address, even if their accounts are registered under different names. Please contact your broker-dealer if you are interested in enrolling in householding and receiving a single copy of prospectuses and other shareholder documents, or if you are currently enrolled in householding and wish to change your householding status.
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Distribution
The Distributor or its agent distributes Creation Units for the Fund on an agency basis. The Distributor does not maintain a secondary market in shares of the Fund. The Distributor has no role in determining the policies of the Fund or the securities that are purchased or sold by the Fund. The Distributor’s principal address is 1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540.
BFA or its affiliates make payments to broker-dealers, registered investment advisers, banks or other intermediaries (together, “intermediaries”) related to marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems, data provision services, or their making shares of the Fund and certain other iShares funds available to their customers generally and in certain investment programs. Such payments, which may be significant to the intermediary, are not made by the Fund. Rather, such payments are made by BFA or its affiliates from their own resources, which come directly or indirectly in part from fees paid by the iShares funds complex. Payments of this type are sometimes referred to as revenue-sharing payments. A financial intermediary may make decisions about which investment options it recommends or makes available, or the level of services provided, to its customers based on the payments or other financial incentives it is eligible to receive. Therefore, such payments or other financial incentives offered or made to an intermediary create conflicts of interest between the intermediary and its customers and may cause the intermediary to recommend the Fund or other iShares funds over another investment. More information regarding these payments is contained in the Fund's SAI. Please contact your salesperson or other investment professional for more information regarding any such payments his or her firm may receive from BFA or its affiliates.
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Financial Highlights
The financial highlights table is intended to help investors understand the Fund’s financial performance for the past five years. Certain information reflects financial results for a single share of the Fund. The total returns in the table represent the rate that an investor would have earned (or lost) on an investment in the Fund, assuming reinvestment of all dividends and distributions. This information has been audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, whose report is included, along with the Fund's financial statements, in the Fund's Annual Report (available upon request).
Financial Highlights
(For a share outstanding throughout each period)
  BlackRock Short Maturity Bond ETF
  Year Ended
10/31/21
  Year Ended
10/31/20
  Year Ended
10/31/19
  Year Ended
10/31/18
  Year Ended
10/31/17
Net asset value, beginning of year $50.15   $50.36   $50.12   $50.25   $50.17
Net investment income(a) 0.38   0.91   1.37   1.11   0.74
Net realized and unrealized gain (loss)(b) (0.03)   (0.16)   0.21   (0.23)   0.04
Net increase from investment operations 0.35   0.75   1.58   0.88   0.78
Distributions(c)                  
From net investment income (0.43)   (0.96)   (1.34)   (1.01)   (0.70)
Total distributions (0.43)   (0.96)   (1.34)   (1.01)   (0.70)
Net asset value, end of year $50.07   $50.15   $50.36   $50.12   $50.25
Total Return(d)                  
Based on net asset value 0.70%   1.51%   3.19%   1.78%   1.57%
Ratios to Average Net Assets                  
Total expenses 0.25%   0.25%   0.25%   0.25%   0.25%
Total expenses after fees waived 0.25%   0.25%   0.25%   0.25%   0.25%
Net investment income 0.76%   1.81%   2.73%   2.21%   1.47%
Supplemental Data                  
Net assets, end of year (000) $4,854,200   $4,397,750   $6,260,259   $4,981,818   $2,909,738
Portfolio turnover rate(e) 55%   67%(f)   58%(f)   48%   56%

(a) Based on average shares outstanding.
(b) The amounts reported for a share outstanding may not accord with the change in aggregate gains and losses in securities for the fiscal period due to the timing of capital share transactions in relation to the fluctuating market values of the Fund’s underlying securities.
(c) Distributions for annual periods determined in accordance with U.S. federal income tax regulations.
(d) Where applicable, assumes the reinvestment of distributions.
(e) Portfolio turnover rate excludes in-kind transactions.
(f) Includes mortgage dollar roll transactions (“MDRs”).
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Disclaimers
Shares of the Fund are not sponsored, endorsed or promoted by Cboe BZX. Cboe BZX makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of the shares of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the ability of the Fund to achieve its investment objective. Cboe BZX is not responsible for, nor has it participated in, the determination of the Fund's investments, nor in the determination of the timing of, prices of, or quantities of shares of the Fund to be issued, nor in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the shares are redeemable. Cboe BZX has no obligation or liability to owners of the shares of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of the shares of the Fund.
Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall Cboe BZX have any liability for any direct, indirect, special, punitive, consequential or any other damages (including lost profits) even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
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Want to know more?
iShares.com     |    1-800-474-2737
Information on the Fund’s net asset value, market price, premiums and discounts, and bid-ask spreads can be found at www.iShares.com. Copies of the Prospectus, SAI and recent shareholder reports can be found on our website at www.iShares.com. For more information about the Fund, you may request a copy of the SAI. The SAI provides detailed information about the Fund and is incorporated by reference into this Prospectus. This means that the SAI, for legal purposes, is a part of this Prospectus.
Additional information about the Fund's investments is available in the Fund's Annual and Semi-Annual Reports to shareholders. In the Fund's Annual Report, you will find a discussion of the market conditions and investment strategies that significantly affected the Fund's performance during the last fiscal year.
If you have any questions about the Trust or shares of the Fund or you wish to obtain the SAI, Semi-Annual or Annual Report free of charge, please:
Call: 1-800-iShares or 1-800-474-2737 (toll free)
Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Eastern time)
Email: iSharesETFs@blackrock.com
Write: c/o BlackRock Investments, LLC
1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540
Reports and other information about the Fund are available on the EDGAR database on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov, and copies of this information may be obtained, after paying a duplicating fee, by electronic request at the following e-mail address: publicinfo@sec.gov.
No person is authorized to give any information or to make any representations about the Fund and its shares not contained in this Prospectus and you should not rely on any other information. Read and keep this Prospectus for future reference.
©2022 BlackRock, Inc. All rights reserved. iSHARES® and BLACKROCK® are registered trademarks of BFA and its affiliates. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.
Investment Company Act File No.: 811-22649
IS-P-NEAR-0322