Form 485BPOS
iShares® Trust
Statement of Additional Information
Dated August 1, 2023
This combined Statement of Additional Information (SAI) is not a prospectus. It should be read in conjunction with the current prospectuses (each, a Prospectus and collectively,the Prospectuses) for the following series of iShares Trust (the Trust):
Fund
Ticker
Listing Exchange
iShares Asia 50 ETF
AIA
Nasdaq
iShares Blockchain and Tech ETF
IBLC
NYSE Arca
iShares Emerging Markets Infrastructure ETF
EMIF
Nasdaq
iShares Environmental Infrastructure and Industrials ETF
EFRA
Nasdaq
iShares Future Metaverse Tech and Communications ETF
IVRS
NYSE Arca
iShares Global 100 ETF
IOO
NYSE Arca
iShares Global Comm Services ETF
IXP
NYSE Arca
iShares Global Consumer Discretionary ETF
RXI
NYSE Arca
iShares Global Consumer Staples ETF
KXI
NYSE Arca
iShares Global Energy ETF
IXC
NYSE Arca
iShares Global Financials ETF
IXG
NYSE Arca
iShares Global Healthcare ETF
IXJ
NYSE Arca
iShares Global Industrials ETF
EXI
NYSE Arca
iShares Global Infrastructure ETF
IGF
Nasdaq
iShares Global Materials ETF
MXI
NYSE Arca
iShares Global Tech ETF
IXN
NYSE Arca
iShares Global Timber & Forestry ETF
WOOD
Nasdaq
iShares Global Utilities ETF
JXI
NYSE Arca
iShares India 50 ETF
INDY
Nasdaq
iShares International Developed Property ETF
WPS
NYSE Arca
iShares International Dividend Growth ETF
IGRO
Cboe BZX
iShares Latin America 40 ETF
ILF
NYSE Arca
The Prospectuses for the above-listed funds (each, a Fund and collectively, the Funds) are dated August 1, 2023, as amended and supplemented from time to time. Capitalized terms used herein that are not defined have the same meaning as in the applicable Prospectus, unless otherwise noted. The Financial Statements and Notes contained in the applicable Annual Report and Semi-Annual Report of the Trust for the Funds are incorporated by reference into and are deemed to be part of this SAI. A copy of each Fund's Prospectus, Annual Report and Semi-Annual Report may be obtained without charge by writing to the Trust's distributor, BlackRock Investments, LLC (the Distributor or BRIL), 1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540, calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or visiting www.iShares.com. Each Fund's Prospectus is incorporated by reference into this SAI.
References to the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the Investment Company Act or the 1940 Act), or other applicable law, will include any rules promulgated thereunder and any guidance, interpretations or modifications by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC), SEC staff or other authority with appropriate jurisdiction, including court interpretations, and exemptive, no action or other relief or permission from the SEC, SEC staff or other authority.
iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates.

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A-1
v

General Description of the Trust and the Funds
The Trust currently consists of more than 315 investment series or portfolios. The Trust was organized as a Delaware statutory trust on December 16, 1999 and is authorized to have multiple series or portfolios. The Trust is an open-end management investment company registered with the SEC under the 1940 Act. The offering of the Trust’s shares is registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the 1933 Act). This SAI relates to the following Funds:
iShares Asia 50 ETF
iShares Blockchain and Tech ETF
iShares Emerging Markets Infrastructure ETF
iShares Environmental Infrastructure and Industrials ETF
iShares Future Metaverse Tech and Communications ETF
iShares Global 100 ETF
iShares Global Comm Services ETF
iShares Global Consumer Discretionary ETF
iShares Global Consumer Staples ETF
iShares Global Energy ETF1
iShares Global Financials ETF
iShares Global Healthcare ETF
iShares Global Industrials ETF
iShares Global Infrastructure ETF
iShares Global Materials ETF
iShares Global Tech ETF2
iShares Global Timber & Forestry ETF
iShares Global Utilities ETF
iShares India 50 ETF
iShares International Developed Property ETF
iShares International Dividend Growth ETF
iShares Latin America 40 ETF

1
On April 20, 2023, the Fund’s Underlying Index changed from the S&P Global 1200 Energy Index to the S&P Global 1200 Energy 4.5/22.5/45 Capped Index.
2
On April 20, 2023, the Fund’s Underlying Index changed from the S&P Global 1200 Information Technology Index to the S&P Global 1200 Information Technology 4.5/22.5/45 Capped Index.
Each Fund is managed by BlackRock Fund Advisors (BFA), an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc., and generally seeks to track the investment results of the specific benchmark index identified in the applicable Prospectus for that Fund (each, an Underlying Index).
Each Fund offers and issues shares at their net asset value per share (NAV) only in aggregations of a specified number of shares (each, a Creation Unit), generally in exchange for a designated portfolio of securities, assets or other positions (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) included in its Underlying Index (the Deposit Securities or Creation Basket), together with the deposit of a specified cash payment (the Cash Component) (other than the iShares India 50 ETF, which currently issues Creation Units of its shares solely for cash). Shares of the Funds are listed for trading on national securities exchanges such as Cboe BZX Exchange, Inc. (Cboe BZX), The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC (Nasdaq) or NYSE Arca, Inc. (NYSE Arca) (each, a Listing Exchange). Shares of each Fund are traded in the secondary
1

market and elsewhere at market prices that may be at, above or below the Fund's NAV. Shares are redeemable only in Creation Units by Authorized Participants (as defined in the Creation and Redemption of Creation Units-Role of the Authorized Participant section of this SAI) and, generally, in exchange for portfolio securities and a Cash Amount (as defined in the Redemption of Creation Units section of this SAI) (other than the iShares India 50 ETF, which currently redeems Creation Units of its shares solely for cash). Creation Units typically are a specified number of shares, generally ranging from 40,000 to 250,000 shares or multiples thereof.
The Trust reserves the right to permit or require that creations and redemptions of shares are effected fully or partially in cash and reserves the right to permit or require the substitution of Deposit Securities in lieu of cash. Shares may be issued in advance of receipt of Deposit Securities, subject to various conditions, including a requirement that the Authorized Participant maintain with the Trust collateral as set forth in the handbook for Authorized Participants. The Trust may use such collateral at any time to purchase Deposit Securities. See the Creation and Redemption of Creation Units section of this SAI. Transaction fees and other costs associated with creations or redemptions that include a cash portion may be higher than the transaction fees and other costs associated with in-kind creations or redemptions. In all cases, conditions with respect to creations and redemptions of shares and fees will be limited in accordance with the requirements of SEC rules and regulations applicable to management investment companies offering redeemable securities.
Exchange Listing and Trading
A discussion of exchange listing and trading matters associated with an investment in each Fund is contained in the Shareholder Information section of each Fund's Prospectus. The discussion below supplements, and should be read in conjunction with, that section of the applicable Prospectus.
Shares of each Fund are listed for trading, and trade throughout the day, on the applicable Listing Exchange and in other secondary markets. Shares of each Fund may also be listed on certain non-U.S. exchanges. There can be no assurance that the requirements of the Listing Exchange necessary to maintain the listing of shares of any Fund will continue to be met. The Listing Exchange may, but is not required to, remove the shares of a Fund from listing if, among other things: (i) following the initial 12-month period beginning upon the commencement of trading of Fund shares, there are fewer than 50 record and/or beneficial owners of shares of a Fund; (ii) a Fund is no longer eligible to operate in reliance on Rule 6c-11 under the Investment Company Act; (iii) any of the other listing requirements are not continuously maintained; or (iv) any event shall occur or condition shall exist that, in the opinion of the Listing Exchange, makes further dealings on the Listing Exchange inadvisable. The Listing Exchange will also remove shares of a Fund from listing and trading upon termination of the Fund.
As in the case of other publicly-traded securities, when you buy or sell shares of a Fund through a broker, you may incur a brokerage commission determined by that broker, as well as other charges.
The Trust reserves the right to adjust the share price of the Funds in the future to maintain convenient trading ranges for investors. Any adjustments would be accomplished through stock splits or reverse stock splits, which would have no effect on the net assets of the Funds or an investor's equity interest in the Funds.
Investment Strategies and Risks
Each Fund seeks to achieve its objective by investing primarily in securities issued by issuers that compose its relevant Underlying Index and in investments that provide substantially similar exposure to securities in the Underlying Index. Each Fund operates as an index fund and is not actively managed. Adverse performance of a security in a Fund’s portfolio will ordinarily not result in the elimination of the security from the Fund’s portfolio.
Each Fund engages in representative sampling, which is investing in a sample of securities selected by BFA to have a collective investment profile similar to that of the Fund's Underlying Index. Securities selected have aggregate investment characteristics (based on market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability, earnings valuation and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of the Fund’s Underlying Index. A fund that uses representative sampling generally does not hold all of the securities that are in its underlying index.
Although the Funds do not seek leveraged returns, certain instruments used by the Funds may have a leveraging effect as described below.
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Borrowing. Each Fund may borrow for temporary or emergency purposes, including to meet payments due from redemptions or to facilitate the settlement of securities or other transactions. The iShares Asia 50 ETF, iShares Emerging Markets Infrastructure ETF, iShares Environmental Infrastructure and Industrials ETF, iShares Global 100 ETF, iShares Global Comm Services ETF, iShares Global Consumer Discretionary ETF, iShares Global Consumer Staples ETF, iShares Global Energy ETF, iShares Global Financials ETF, iShares Global Industrials ETF, iShares Global Infrastructure ETF, iShares Global Materials ETF, iShares Global Tech ETF, iShares Global Timber & Forestry ETF, iShares Global Utilities ETF, iShares International Dividend Growth ETF, and iShares Latin America 40 ETF, along with certain other iShares funds, have entered into a syndicated line of credit with the Bank of New York Mellon (BNY), which serves as administrative agent for itself and the other banks. The syndicated line of credit may be used for temporary or emergency purposes, including redemption, settlement of trades and rebalancing of portfolio holdings.
Interest rates related to the syndicated line of credit are based on the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York plus a spread. Pursuant to the terms of the credit agreement, if SOFR were to cease being published or representative, it would be replaced by a rate based on an alternate benchmark selected by BNY.
The purchase of securities while borrowings are outstanding may have the effect of leveraging a Fund. The incurrence of leverage increases a Fund’s exposure to risk, and borrowed funds are subject to interest costs that will reduce net income. Purchasing securities while borrowings are outstanding creates special risks, such as the potential for greater volatility in the NAV of Fund shares and in the yield on a Fund’s portfolio. In addition, the interest expenses from borrowings may exceed the income generated by a Fund’s portfolio and, therefore, the amount available (if any) for distribution to shareholders as dividends may be reduced. BFA may determine to maintain outstanding borrowings if it expects that the benefits to a Fund’s shareholders will outweigh the current reduced return.
Certain types of borrowings by a Fund must be made from a bank or may result in a Fund being subject to covenants in credit agreements relating to asset coverage, portfolio composition requirements and other matters. It is not anticipated that observance of such covenants would impede BFA’s management of a Fund’s portfolio in accordance with a Fund’s investment objectives and policies. However, a breach of any such covenants not cured within the specified cure period may result in acceleration of outstanding indebtedness and require a Fund to dispose of portfolio investments at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so.
Currency Transactions.A currency forward contract is an over-the-counter (OTC) obligation to purchase or sell a specific currency at a future date, which may be any fixed number of days greater than two days from the date on which the contract is agreed upon by the parties, at a price set at the time of the contract. A non-deliverable currency forward is an OTC currency forward settled in a specified currency, on a specified date, based on the difference between the agreed-upon exchange rate and the market exchange rate. A currency futures contract is a contract that trades on an organized futures exchange involving an obligation to deliver or acquire a specified amount of a specific currency, at a specified price and at a specified future time. Currency futures contracts may be settled on a net cash payment basis rather than by the sale and delivery of the underlying currency. Each Fund does not expect to engage in currency transactions for the purpose of hedging against declines in the value of the Funds' assets that are denominated in a non-U.S. currency. A Fund may enter into non-U.S. currency forward and non-U.S. currency futures transactions to facilitate local securities settlements or to protect against currency exposure in connection with its distributions to shareholders, but may not enter into such contracts for speculative purposes.
Foreign exchange transactions involve a significant degree of risk and the markets in which foreign exchange transactions are effected may be highly volatile, highly specialized and highly technical. Significant changes, including changes in liquidity and prices, can occur in such markets within very short periods of time, often within minutes. Foreign exchange trading risks include, but are not limited to, exchange rate risk, counterparty risk, maturity gap, interest rate risk, and potential interference by foreign governments through regulation of local exchange markets, foreign investment or particular transactions in non-U.S. currency. If BFA utilizes foreign exchange transactions at an inappropriate time or judges market conditions, trends or correlations incorrectly, foreign exchange transactions may not serve their intended purpose of improving the correlation of a Fund's return with the performance of its Underlying Index and may lower the Fund’s return. A Fund could experience losses if the value of its currency forwards, options or futures positions were poorly correlated with its other investments or if it could not close out its positions because of an illiquid market or otherwise. In addition, a Fund could incur transaction costs, including trading commissions, in connection with certain non-U.S. currency transactions.
Diversification Status.The following table sets forth the diversification status of each Fund:
3

Diversified Funds
Non-Diversified Funds
iShares Global 100 ETF*
iShares Asia 50 ETF
iShares Global Consumer Discretionary ETF
iShares Blockchain and Tech ETF
iShares Global Consumer Staples ETF
iShares Emerging Markets Infrastructure ETF
iShares Global Financials ETF
iShares Environmental Infrastructure and Industrials ETF
iShares Global Healthcare ETF
iShares Future Metaverse Tech and Communications ETF
iShares Global Industrials ETF
iShares Global Comm Services ETF
iShares Global Infrastructure ETF
iShares Global Energy ETF
iShares Global Materials ETF
iShares Global Tech ETF
iShares Global Utilities ETF
iShares Global Timber & Forestry ETF
iShares International Developed Property ETF
iShares India 50 ETF
iShares International Dividend Growth ETF
iShares Latin America 40 ETF

*
The iShares Global 100 ETF intends to be diversified in approximately the same proportion as its Underlying Index is diversified. The iShares Global 100 ETF may become non-diversified, as defined in the 1940 Act, solely as a result of a change in relative market capitalization or index weighting of one or more constituents of its Underlying Index. Shareholder approval will not be sought if the iShares Global 100 ETF crosses from diversified to non-diversified status due solely to a change in its relative market capitalization or index weighting of one or more constituents of its Underlying Index. The Funds disclose their portfolio holdings and weightings at www.iShares.com.
A fund classified as diversified under the 1940 Act may not purchase securities of an issuer (other than (i) obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities and (ii) securities of other investment companies) if, with respect to 75% of its total assets, (a) more than 5% of the fund’s total assets would be invested in securities of that issuer or (b) the fund would hold more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of that issuer. With respect to the remaining 25% of its total assets, the fund may invest more than 5% of its assets in one issuer. Under the 1940 Act, a fund cannot change its classification from diversified to non-diversified without shareholder approval. However, while the iShares Global 100 ETF is classified as diversified, under applicable no-action relief from the SEC staff, the fund may become non-diversified, as defined in the 1940 Act, solely as a result of a change in relative market capitalization or index weighting of one or more constituents of its Underlying Index and such a change does not require shareholder approval.
A non-diversified fund is a fund that is not limited by the 1940 Act with regard to the percentage of its assets that may be invested in the securities of a single issuer. The securities of a particular issuer (or securities of issuers in particular industries) may constitute a significant percentage of the underlying index of such a fund and, consequently, the fund’s investment portfolio. This may adversely affect a fund’s performance or subject the fund’s shares to greater price volatility than that experienced by more diversified investment companies.
Each Fund (whether diversified or non-diversified) intends to maintain the required level of diversification and otherwise conduct its operations so as to qualify as a regulated investment company (RIC) for purposes of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the Internal Revenue Code), and to relieve the Fund of any liability for U.S. federal income tax to the extent that its earnings are distributed to shareholders, provided that the Fund satisfies a minimum distribution requirement. Compliance with the diversification requirements of the Internal Revenue Code may limit the investment flexibility of the Funds and may make it less likely that the Funds will meet their respective investment objectives.
Futures, Options on Futures and Securities Options.Futures contracts, options on futures and securities options may be used by a Fund to simulate investment in its Underlying Index, to facilitate trading or to reduce transaction costs. Each Fund may enter into futures contracts and options on futures that are traded on a U.S. or non-U.S. futures exchange. Each Fund will not use futures, options on futures or securities options for speculative purposes. Each Fund intends to use futures and options on futures in accordance with Rule 4.5 of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the CFTC) promulgated under the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA). BFA, with respect to certain Funds, has claimed an exclusion from the definition of the term commodity pool operator in accordance with Rule 4.5 so that BFA, with respect to such Funds, is not subject to registration or regulation as a commodity pool operator under the CEA. See the Regulation Regarding Derivatives section of this SAI for more information.
4

Futures contracts provide for the future sale by one party and purchase by another party of a specified amount of a specific instrument or index at a specified future time and at a specified price. Stock index contracts are based on investments that reflect the market value of common stock of the firms included in the investments. Each Fund may enter into futures contracts to purchase securities indexes when BFA anticipates purchasing the underlying securities and believes prices will rise before the purchase will be made. Upon entering into a futures contract, a Fund will be required to deposit with the broker an amount of cash or cash equivalents known as initial margin, which is similar to a performance bond or good faith deposit on the contract and is returned to the Fund upon termination of the futures contract if all contractual obligations have been satisfied. Subsequent payments, known as variation margin, will be made to and from the broker daily as the price of the instrument or index underlying the futures contract fluctuates, making the long and short positions in the futures contract more or less valuable, a process known as marking-to-market. At any time prior to the expiration of a futures contract, each Fund may elect to close the position by taking an opposite position, which will operate to terminate the Fund’s existing position in the contract. An option on a futures contract, as contrasted with a direct investment in such a contract, gives the purchaser the right, but no obligation, in return for the premium paid, to assume a position in the underlying futures contract at a specified exercise price at any time prior to the expiration date of the option. Upon exercise of an option, the delivery of the futures position by the writer of the option to the holder of the option will be accompanied by delivery of the accumulated balance in the writer’s futures margin account that represents the amount by which the market price of the futures contract exceeds (in the case of a call) or is less than (in the case of a put) the exercise price of the option on the futures contract.
The potential for loss related to the purchase of an option on a futures contract is limited to the premium paid for the option plus transaction costs. Because the value of the option is fixed at the point of sale, there are no daily cash payments by the purchaser to reflect changes in the value of the underlying contract; however, the value of the option changes daily and that change would be reflected in the NAV of each Fund. The potential for loss related to writing call options is unlimited. The potential for loss related to writing put options is limited to the agreed-upon price per share, also known as the strike price, less the premium received from writing the put. Certain of the Funds may purchase and write put and call options on futures contracts that are traded on an exchange as a hedge against changes in value of their portfolio securities or in anticipation of the purchase of securities, and may enter into closing transactions with respect to such options to terminate existing positions. There is no guarantee that such closing transactions can be effected.
Securities options may be used by a Fund to obtain access to securities in its Underlying Index or to dispose of securities in its Underlying Index at favorable prices, to invest cash in a securities index that offers similar exposure to that provided by its Underlying Index or otherwise to achieve the Fund’s objective of tracking its Underlying Index.A call option gives a holder the right to purchase a specific security at a specified price (exercise price) within a specified period of time. A put option gives a holder the right to sell a specific security at an exercise price within a specified period of time. The initial purchaser of a call option pays the writer a premium, which is paid at the time of purchase and is retained by the writer whether or not such option is exercised. Each Fund may purchase put options to hedge its portfolio against the risk of a decline in the market value of securities held and may purchase call options to hedge against an increase in the price of securities it is committed to purchase. Each Fund may write put and call options along with a long position in options to increase its ability to hedge against a change in the market value of the securities it holds or is committed to purchase. Each Fund may purchase or sell securities options on a U.S. or non-U.S. securities exchange or in the OTC market through a transaction with a dealer. Options on a securities index are typically settled on a net basis based on the appreciation or depreciation of the index level over the strike price. Options on single name securities may be cash- or physically-settled, depending upon the market in which they are traded. Options may be structured so as to be exercisable only on certain dates or on a daily basis. Options may also be structured to have conditions to exercise (i.e., Knock-in Events) or conditions that trigger termination (i.e., Knock-out Events).
Lending Portfolio Securities.Each Fund may lend portfolio securities to certain borrowers that BFA determines to be creditworthy, including borrowers affiliated with BFA. The borrowers provide collateral that is maintained in an amount at least equal to the current market value of the securities loaned. No securities loan shall be made on behalf of a Fund if, as a result, the aggregate value of all securities loans of the particular Fund exceeds one-third of the value of such Fund's total assets (including the value of the collateral received). A Fund may terminate a loan at any time and obtain the return of the securities loaned. Each Fund receives, by way of substitute payment, the value of any interest or cash or non-cash distributions paid on the loaned securities that it would have otherwise received if the securities were not on loan.
With respect to loans that are collateralized by cash, the borrower may be entitled to receive a fee based on the amount of cash collateral. The Funds are compensated by any positive difference between the amount earned on the reinvestment of
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cash collateral and the fee paid to the borrower. In the case of collateral other than cash, a Fund is compensated by a fee paid by the borrower equal to a percentage of the market value of the loaned securities. Any cash collateral received by the Fund for such loans, and uninvested cash, may be reinvested in certain short-term instruments either directly on behalf of each Fund or through one or more joint accounts or money market funds, including those affiliated with BFA; such investments are subject to investment risk.
Each Fund conducts its securities lending pursuant to an exemptive order from the SEC permitting it to lend portfolio securities to borrowers affiliated with the Fund and to retain an affiliate of the Fund to act as securities lending agent. To the extent that a Fund engages in securities lending, BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (BTC) acts as securities lending agent for the Fund, subject to the overall supervision of BFA. BTC administers the lending program in accordance with guidelines approved by the Trust's Board of Trustees (the Board, the trustees of which are the Trustees). JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (JPMorgan) serves as custodian for the Funds in connection with certain securities lending activities.
Securities lending involves exposure to certain risks, including operational risk (i.e., the risk of losses resulting from problems in the settlement and accounting process), gap risk (i.e., the risk of a mismatch between the return on cash collateral reinvestments and the fees a Fund has agreed to pay a borrower), foreign exchange risk (i.e., the risk of a shortfall at default when a cash collateral investment is denominated in a currency other than the currency of the assets being loaned due to movements in foreign exchange rates), and credit, legal, counterparty and market risks (including the risk that market events could lead the Fund to recall loaned securities or to lend less or not at all, which could lead to reduced securities lending revenue). If a securities lending counterparty were to default, a Fund would be subject to the risk of a possible delay in receiving collateral or in recovering the loaned securities, or to a possible loss of rights in the collateral. In the event a borrower does not return a Fund’s securities as agreed, the Fund’s ability to participate in a corporate action event may be impacted, or the Fund may experience losses if the proceeds received from liquidating the collateral do not at least equal the value of the loaned security at the time the collateral is liquidated, plus the transaction costs incurred in purchasing replacement securities. This latter event could trigger adverse tax consequences for a Fund. A Fund could lose money if its short-term investment of the collateral declines in value over the period of the loan. Substitute payments received by a Fund representing dividends paid on securities loaned out by the Fund will not be considered qualified dividend income. BTC will take into account the tax effects on shareholders caused by this difference in connection with a Fund’s securities lending program. Substitute payments received on tax-exempt securities loaned out will not be tax-exempt income. There could also be changes in the status of issuers under applicable laws and regulations, including tax regulations, that may impact the regulatory or tax treatment of loaned securities and could, for example, result in a delay in the payment of dividend equivalent payments owed to a Fund (as permitted by applicable law).
Regulations adopted by global prudential regulators require certain bank-regulated counterparties and certain of their affiliates to include in certain financial contracts, including many securities lending agreements, terms that delay or restrict the rights of counterparties, such as the Fund, to terminate such agreements, foreclose upon collateral, exercise other default rights or restrict transfers of credit support in the event that the counterparty and/or its affiliates are subject to certain types of resolution or insolvency proceedings. It is possible that these requirements, as well as potential additional government regulation and other developments in the market, could adversely affect the Fund’s ability to terminate existing securities lending agreements or to realize amounts to be received under such agreements.
Liquidity Risk Management.Rule 22e-4 under the Investment Company Act (the Liquidity Rule) requires open-end funds, including exchange-traded funds (ETFs) such as the Funds, to establish a liquidity risk management program (the Liquidity Program) and enhance disclosures regarding fund liquidity. As required by the Liquidity Rule, the Funds have implemented a Liquidity Program, and the Board, including a majority of the Independent Trustees of the Trust, has appointed BFA as the administrator of the Liquidity Program. Under the Liquidity Program, BFA assesses, manages, and periodically reviews each Fund’s liquidity risk and classifies each investment held by a Fund as a highly liquid investment, moderately liquid investment, less liquid investment or illiquid investment. The Liquidity Rule defines liquidity risk as the risk that a Fund could not meet requests to redeem shares issued by a Fund without significant dilution of the remaining investors’ interest in a Fund. The liquidity of a Fund's portfolio investments is determined based on relevant market, trading and investment-specific considerations under the Liquidity Program. There are exclusions from certain portions of the liquidity risk management program requirements for in-kind ETFs, as defined in the Liquidity Rule. To the extent that an investment is deemed to be an illiquid investment or a less liquid investment, a Fund can expect to be exposed to greater liquidity risk.
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Non-U.S. Securities.Each Fund intends to purchase publicly traded common stocks of non-U.S. issuers. To the extent a Fund invests in stocks of non-U.S. issuers, the Fund's investment in such stocks may be in the form of American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), Global Depositary Receipts (GDRs) and European Depositary Receipts (EDRs) (collectively, depositary receipts). Depositary receipts are receipts, typically issued by a bank or trust issuer, which evidence ownership of underlying securities issued by a non-U.S. issuer. Depositary receipts may not necessarily be denominated in the same currency as their underlying securities. ADRs typically are issued by a U.S. bank or trust company and evidence ownership of underlying securities issued by a non-U.S. issuer. EDRs, which are sometimes referred to as continental depositary receipts, are receipts issued in Europe, typically by foreign banks and trust companies, that evidence ownership of either foreign or domestic underlying securities. GDRs are depositary receipts structured like global debt issues to facilitate trading on an international basis. Generally, ADRs, issued in registered form, are designed for use in the U.S. securities markets, and EDRs, issued in bearer form, are designed for use in European securities markets. GDRs are tradable both in the U.S. and in Europe and are designed for use throughout the world.
Depositary receipts are generally subject to the same risks as the foreign securities that they evidence or into which they may be converted. In addition to investment risks associated with the underlying issuer, depositary receipts expose a Fund to additional risks associated with the non-uniform terms that apply to depositary receipt programs, credit exposure to the depository bank and to the sponsors and other parties with whom the depository bank establishes the programs, currency risk and liquidity risk. Unsponsored programs, which are not sanctioned by the issuer of the underlying common stock, generally expose investors to greater risks than sponsored programs and do not provide holders with many of the shareholder benefits that come from investing in a sponsored depositary receipts.
Investing in the securities of non-U.S. issuers involves special risks and considerations not typically associated with investing in U.S. issuers. These 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; and potential restrictions on the flow of international capital. 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 (GDP), rate of inflation, capital reinvestment, resource self-sufficiency and balance of payment positions.
Regulation Regarding Derivatives.The CFTC subjects advisers to registered investment companies to regulation by the CFTC if a fund that is advised by the adviser either (i) invests, directly or indirectly, more than a prescribed level of its liquidation value in CFTC-regulated futures, options and swaps(CFTC Derivatives) or (ii) markets itself as providing investment exposure to such instruments. The CFTC also subjects advisers to registered investment companies to regulation by the CFTC if the registered investment company invests in one or more commodity pools. To the extent a Fund uses CFTC Derivatives, it intends to do so below such prescribed levels and intends not to market itself as a commodity pool or a vehicle for trading such instruments.
BFA has claimed an exclusion from the definition of the term commodity pool operator under the CEA pursuant to Rule 4.5 under the CEA with respect to each of the Funds. BFA is not, therefore, subject to registration or regulation as a commodity pool operator under the CEA with respect to the Funds.
The iShares Asia 50 ETF, iShares Blockchain and Tech ETF, iShares Environmental Infrastructure and Industrials ETF, iShares Global 100 ETF, iShares Global Consumer Staples ETF, iShares Global Energy ETF, iShares Global Financials ETF, iShares Global Infrastructure ETF, iShares Global Timber & Forestry ETF, iShares International Developed Property ETF, iShares International Dividend Growth ETF and iShares Latin America 40 ETF (the No-Action Letter Funds) may also have investments in underlying funds (and such underlying funds themselves may invest in underlying funds) not advised by BFA ( the term underlying fund for purposes of the no-action letter referenced below may include, but is not limited to, certain securitized vehicles, mortgage or international real estate investment trusts (REITs), business development companies, and investment companies that may invest in CFTC Derivatives or in any of the foregoing), and therefore may be viewed by the CFTC as commodity pools. BFA has no transparency into the holdings of these underlying funds because they are not advised by BFA. To address this issue of lack of transparency, the CFTC staff issued a no-action letter on November 29, 2012 permitting the advisor of a fund that invests in such underlying funds and that would otherwise have filed a claim of exclusion pursuant to CFTC Rule 4.5 to delay registration as a commodity pool operator until six months from the date on which the CFTC issues additional guidance on the treatment of CFTC Derivatives held by underlying funds. BFA, the advisor of the No-Action Letter Funds, has filed a claim with the CFTC for such Fund to rely on this no-action relief. Accordingly, BFA is not currently subject to registration or regulation as a commodity pool operator under the CEA in respect of such Fund.
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Derivative contracts, including, without limitation, swaps, currency forwards, and non-deliverable forwards, are subject to regulation under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) in the U.S. and under comparable regimes in Europe, Asia and other non-U.S. jurisdictions. Swaps, non-deliverable forwards and certain other derivatives traded in the OTC market are subject to variation margin and initial margin requirements. Implementation of the margining and other provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act regarding clearing, mandatory trading, reporting and documentation of swaps and other derivatives have impacted and may continue to impact the costs to a Fund of trading these instruments and, as a result, may affect returns to investors in a Fund.
Rule 18f-4 under the Investment Company Act permits a Fund to enter into Derivatives Transactions (as defined below) and certain other transactions notwithstanding the restrictions on the issuance of senior securities under Section 18 of the Investment Company Act. Section 18 of the Investment Company Act, among other things, prohibits open-end funds, including the Funds, from issuing or selling any senior security, other than borrowing from a bank (subject to a requirement to maintain 300% asset coverage).
Under Rule 18f-4, Derivatives Transactions include the following: (1) any swap, security-based swap (including a contract for differences), futures contract, forward contract, option (excluding purchased options), any combination of the foregoing, or any similar instrument, under which a Fund is or may be required to make any payment or delivery of cash or other assets during the life of the instrument or at maturity or early termination, whether as margin or settlement payment or otherwise; (2) any short sale borrowing; (3) reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions (e.g., recourse and non-recourse tender option bonds, and borrowed bonds), if a Fund elects to treat these transactions as Derivatives Transactions under Rule 18f-4; and (4) when-issued or forward-settling securities (e.g., firm and standby commitments, including to-be-announced (TBA) commitments, and dollar rolls) and non-standard settlement cycle securities, unless the Fund intends to physically settle the transaction and the transaction will settle within 35 days of its trade date (the Delayed-Settlement Securities Provision).
Unless a Fund is relying on the Limited Derivatives User Exception (as defined below), the Fund must comply with Rule 18f-4 with respect to its Derivatives Transactions. Rule 18f-4, among other things, requires a Fund to adopt and implement a comprehensive written derivatives risk management program (DRMP) and comply with a relative or absolute limit on Fund leverage risk calculated based on value-at-risk (VaR). The DRMP is administered by a derivatives risk manager, who is appointed by the Board, including a majority of Independent Directors/Trustees, and periodically reviews the DRMP and reports to the Board.
Rule 18f-4 provides an exception from the DRMP, VaR limit and certain other requirements if a Fund's derivatives exposure (as defined in Rule 18f-4) is limited to 10% of its net assets (as calculated in accordance with Rule 18f-4) and the Fund adopts and implements written policies and procedures reasonably designed to manage its derivatives risks (the Limited Derivatives User Exception).
Repurchase Agreements.A repurchase agreement is an instrument under which the purchaser (i.e., a 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, thereby determining the yield during the purchaser’s holding period. 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 a Fund but only to constitute collateral for the seller’s obligation to pay the repurchase price, and, in the event of a default by the seller, the Fund may suffer time delays and incur costs or losses in connection with the disposition of the collateral.
In any repurchase transaction, the collateral for a repurchase agreement may include: (i) cash items; (ii) obligations issued by the U.S. government or its agencies or instrumentalities; or (iii) obligations that, at the time the repurchase agreement is entered into, are determined to (A) have exceptionally strong capacity to meet their financial obligations and (B) are sufficiently liquid such that they can be sold at approximately their carrying value in the ordinary course of business within seven days.
Repurchase agreements pose certain risks for a Fund that utilizes them. Such risks are not unique to the Funds, but are inherent in repurchase agreements. The Funds seek to minimize such risks, but because of the inherent legal uncertainties involved in repurchase agreements, such risks cannot be eliminated. Lower quality collateral and collateral with a longer maturity may be subject to greater price fluctuations than higher quality collateral and collateral with a shorter maturity. If the repurchase agreement counterparty were to default, lower quality collateral may be more difficult to liquidate than higher quality collateral. Should the counterparty default and the amount of collateral not be sufficient to cover the counterparty’s
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repurchase obligation, a Fund would likely retain the status of an unsecured creditor of the counterparty (i.e., the position a Fund would normally be in if it were to hold, pursuant to its investment policies, other unsecured debt securities of the defaulting counterparty) with respect to the amount of the shortfall. As an unsecured creditor, a Fund would be at risk of losing some or all of the principal and income involved in the transaction.
Reverse Repurchase Agreements.Reverse repurchase agreements involve the sale of securities with an agreement to repurchase the securities at an agreed-upon price, date and interest payment and have the characteristics of borrowing. Generally, the effect of such transactions is that a Fund can recover all or most of the cash invested in the portfolio securities involved during the term of the reverse repurchase agreement, while in many cases the Fund is able to keep some of the interest income associated with those securities. Such transactions are advantageous only if a Fund has an opportunity to earn a rate of interest on the cash derived from these transactions that is greater than the interest cost of obtaining the same amount of cash. Opportunities to realize earnings from the use of the proceeds equal to or greater than the interest required to be paid may not always be available, and a Fund intends to use the reverse repurchase technique only when BFA believes it will be advantageous to the Fund. The use of reverse repurchase agreements may exaggerate any increase or decrease in the value of a Fund’s assets. The use of reverse repurchase agreements is a form of leverage, and the proceeds obtained by a Fund through reverse repurchase agreements may be invested in additional securities.
Rule 18f-4 under the Investment Company Act permits a Fund to enter into reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions (e.g., recourse and non-recourse tender option bonds, borrowed bonds) notwithstanding the limitation on the issuance of senior securities in Section 18 of the Investment Company Act, provided that a Fund either (i) complies with the 300% asset coverage ratio with respect to such transactions and any other borrowings in the aggregate, or (ii) treats such transactions as Derivatives Transactions under Rule 18f-4. (See Regulation Regarding Derivatives above.)
Securities of Investment Companies.Each Fund may invest in the securities of other investment companies (including money market funds) to the extent permitted by law. Pursuant to the 1940 Act, a Fund’s investment in registered investment companies is generally limited to, subject to certain exceptions: (i) 3% of the total outstanding voting stock of any one investment company; (ii) 5% of a Fund’s total assets with respect to any one investment company; and (iii) 10% of a Fund’s total assets with respect to investment companies in the aggregate. To the extent allowed by law or regulation, each Fund intends from time to time to invest its assets in the securities of investment companies, including, but not limited to, money market funds, including those advised by or otherwise affiliated with BFA, in excess of the general limits discussed above. Other investment companies in which a Fund may invest can be expected to incur fees and expenses for operations, such as investment advisory and administration fees, which would be in addition to those incurred by the Fund. In addition, the iShares Emerging Markets Infrastructure ETF, in order to improve its portfolio liquidity and its ability to track its Underlying Index, may invest up to 10% of its assets in shares of other iShares funds that provide exposure similar to certain of the markets included in its Underlying Index. BFA has contractually agreed to waive its management fees and expenses in an amount equal to the iShares Emerging Markets Infrastructure ETF's pro rata share of the fees and expenses attributable to the Fund's investments in other iShares funds. Pursuant to guidance issued by the SEC staff, fees and expenses of money market funds used for cash collateral received in connection with loans of securities are not treated as Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, which reflect a Fund’s pro rata share of the fees and expenses incurred by investing in other investment companies (as disclosed in the Prospectus, as applicable).
Short-Term Instruments and Temporary Investments.Each Fund may invest in short-term instruments, including money market instruments, on an ongoing basis to provide liquidity or for other reasons. Money market instruments are generally short-term investments that may include, but are not limited to: (i) shares of money market funds (including those advised by BFA or otherwise affiliated with BFA); (ii) obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities (including government-sponsored enterprises); (iii) negotiable certificates of deposit (CDs), bankers’ acceptances, fixed-time deposits and other obligations of U.S. and non-U.S. banks (including non-U.S. branches) and similar institutions; (iv) commercial paper rated, at the date of purchase, Prime-1 by Moody's® Investors Service, Inc., F-1 by Fitch Ratings, Inc., or A-1 by Standard & Poor's® Financial Services LLC, a subsidiary of S&P Global, Inc., or if unrated, of comparable quality as determined by BFA; (v) non-convertible corporate debt securities (e.g., bonds and debentures) with remaining maturities at the date of purchase of not more than 397 days and that have been determined to present minimal credit risks, in accordance with the requirements set forth in Rule 2a-7 under the 1940 Act; (vi) repurchase agreements; and (vii) short-term U.S. dollar-denominated obligations of non-U.S. banks (including U.S. branches) that, in the opinion of BFA, are of comparable quality to obligations of U.S. banks that may be purchased by a Fund. Any of these instruments may be
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purchased on a current or forward-settled basis. Time deposits are non-negotiable deposits maintained in banking institutions for specified periods of time at stated interest rates. Bankers’ acceptances are time drafts drawn on commercial banks by borrowers, usually in connection with international transactions.
Swap Agreements.Swap agreements are contracts between parties in which one party agrees to make periodic payments to the other party based on a pre-determined underlying investment or notional amount. In return, the other party agrees to make periodic payments to the first party based on the return (or a differential in rate of return) earned or realized on the underlying investment or notional amount. Swap agreements will usually be performed on a net basis, with a Fund receiving or paying only the net amount of the two payments. The net amount of the excess, if any, of a Fund’s obligations over its entitlements with respect to each swap is accrued on a daily basis.
Certain of the Funds may enter into swap agreements, including currency swaps, interest rate swaps and index swaps. The use of swaps is a highly specialized activity that involves investment techniques and risks different from those associated with ordinary portfolio security transactions. These transactions generally do not involve the delivery of securities or other underlying assets.
Tracking Stocks.A tracking stock is a separate class of common stock whose value is linked to a specific business unit or operating division within a larger company and is designed to track the performance of such business unit or division. The tracking stock may pay dividends to shareholders independent of the parent company. The parent company, rather than the business unit or division, generally is the issuer of tracking stock. However, holders of the tracking stock may not have the same rights as holders of the company’s common stock.
Future Developments.The Board may, in the future, authorize each Fund to invest in securities contracts and investments, other than those listed in this SAI and in the applicable Prospectus, provided they are consistent with each Fund's investment objective and do not violate any of its investment restrictions or policies.
General Considerations and Risks
A discussion of some of the principal risks associated with an investment in a Fund is contained in the applicable Prospectus.
An investment in a Fund should be made with an understanding that the value of the Fund’s portfoliosecurities may fluctuate in accordance with changes in the financial condition of the issuers of the portfolio securities, the value of stocks in general, and other factors that affect the market. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Borrowing Risk. Borrowing may exaggerate changes in the NAV of Fund shares and in the return on a Fund’s portfolio. Borrowing will cause a Fund to incur interest expense and other fees. The costs of borrowing may reduce a Fund’s return. Borrowing may cause a Fund to liquidate positions when it may not be advantageous to do so to satisfy its obligations.
Custody Risk. Custody risk refers to the risks inherent in the process of clearing and settling trades and to the holding of securities, cash and other assets by local banks, agents and depositories. Low trading volumes and volatile prices in less developed markets make trades harder to complete and settle, and governments or trade groups may compel local agents to hold securities in designated depositories that may not be subject to independent evaluation. Local agents are held only to the standards of care of their local markets, and thus may be subject to limited or no government oversight. Communications between the U.S. and emerging market countries may be unreliable, increasing the risk of delayed settlements or losses of security certificates. In general, the less developed a country’s securities market is, the greater the likelihood of custody problems. Practices in relation to the settlement of securities transactions in emerging markets involve higher risks than those in developed markets, in part because of the use of brokers and counterparties that are often less well capitalized, and custody and registration of assets in some countries may be unreliable. The possibility of fraud, negligence or undue influence being exerted by the issuer or refusal to recognize ownership exists in some emerging markets, and, along with other factors, could result in ownership registration being lost. In addition, the laws of certain countries may put limits on a Fund’s ability to recover its assets if a foreign bank or depository or issuer of a security or an agent of any of the foregoing goes bankrupt. A Fund would absorb any loss resulting from such custody problems and may have no successful claim for compensation.
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Dividend-Paying Stock Risk. Investing in dividend-paying stocks involves the risk that such stocks may fall out of favor with investors and underperform the broader market. Companies that issue dividend-paying stocks are not required to pay or continue paying dividends on such stocks. It is possible that issuers of the stocks held by a Fund will not declare dividends in the future or will reduce or eliminate the payment of dividends (including reducing or eliminating anticipated accelerations or increases in the payment of dividends) in the future.
Illiquid Investments Risk.Each Fund may not acquire any illiquid investment if, immediately after the acquisition, the Fund would have invested more than 15% of its net assets in illiquid investments. An illiquid investment is any investment that a 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. The liquidity of an investment will be determined based on relevant market, trading and investment specific considerations as set out in the Liquidity Program as required by the Liquidity Rule. Illiquid investments may trade at a discount to comparable, more liquid investments and a Fund may not be able to dispose of illiquid investments in a timely fashion or at their expected prices. If illiquid investments exceed 15% of a Fund’s net assets, the Liquidity Rule and the Liquidity Program will require that certain remedial actions be taken.
LIBOR Replacement Risk. A Fund may be exposed to financial instruments that are tied to the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) to determine payment obligations, financing terms, hedging strategies or investment value. The United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, announced that a majority of USD LIBOR settings will no longer be published after June 30, 2023. All other LIBOR settings and certain other interbank offered rates ceased to be published after December 31, 2021. The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR), which is a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by U.S. Treasury securities in the repurchase agreement market, has been used increasingly on a voluntary basis in new instruments and transactions. Under U.S. regulations that implement a statutory fallback mechanism to replace LIBOR, benchmark rates based on SOFR will replace LIBOR in different categories of financial contracts after June 30, 2023.
Neither the effect of the LIBOR transition process nor its ultimate success can yet be known. 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. Parties to contracts, securities, or other instruments using LIBOR may disagree on transition rates or the application of transition regulation, potentially resulting in uncertainty of performance and the possibility of litigation. A Fund may have instruments linked to other interbank offered rates that may also cease to be published in the future.
Money Market Instruments Risk. A Fund may hold money market instruments. The value of money market instruments may be affected by changes in interest rates or in the credit ratings of the investments, among other things. If a significant amount of a Fund's assets is invested in money market instruments, it may 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 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. It is possible to lose money by investing in a money market fund. Money market funds other than U.S. government money market funds and retail money market funds float their NAV instead of using a stable $1.00 per share price.
Operational Risk.BFA and a Fund's other service providers may experience disruptions or operating errors such as processing errors or human errors, inadequate or failed internal or external processes, or systems or technology failures, that could negatively impact the Funds. While service providers are required to have appropriate operational risk management policies and procedures, their methods of operational risk management may differ from a Fund’s in the setting of priorities, the personnel and resources available or the effectiveness of relevant controls. BFA, through its monitoring and oversight of service providers, seeks to ensure that service providers take appropriate precautions to avoid and mitigate risks that could lead to disruptions and operating errors. However, it is not possible for BFA or the other Fund service providers to identify all of the operational risks that may affect a Fund or to develop processes and controls to completely eliminate or mitigate their occurrence or effects.
Risk of Derivatives.A derivative is a financial contract, the value of which depends on, or is derived from, the value of an underlying asset, such as a security, a commodity (such as gold or silver), a currency or an index (a measure of value or rates, such as the S&P 500® or the prime lending rate). A Fund may invest in futures contracts, securities options and other derivatives. Compared to securities, derivatives can be more sensitive to changes in interest rates or to sudden fluctuations in
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market prices and thus a Fund’s losses may be greater if it invests in derivatives than if it invests only in conventional securities. Derivatives are also subject to counterparty risk, which is the risk that the other party in the transaction will not fulfill its contractual obligations. Derivatives generally involve the incurrence of leverage.
When a derivative is used as a hedge against a position that a Fund holds or is committed to purchase, any loss generated by the derivative generally should be substantially offset by gains on the hedged investment, and vice versa. While hedging can reduce or eliminate losses, it can also reduce or eliminate gains and, in some cases, hedging can cause losses that are not offset by gains, and a Fund will recognize losses on both the investment and the hedge. Hedges are sometimes subject to imperfect matching between the derivative and the underlying security, and there can be no assurance that a Fund's hedging transactions, which entail additional transaction costs, will be effective.
Risk of Equity Securities.An investment in a Fund should be made with an understanding of the risks inherent in an investment in equity securities, including the risk that the financial condition of issuers may become impaired or that the general condition of stock markets may deteriorate (either of which may cause a decrease in the value of the portfolio securities and thus in the value of shares of the Fund). Common stocks are susceptible to general stock market fluctuations and to increases and decreases in value as market confidence and perceptions of their issuers change. These investor perceptions are based on various and unpredictable factors, including expectations regarding government, economic, monetary and fiscal policies, inflation and interest rates, economic expansion or contraction, and global or regional political, economic or banking crises. Common stocks may experience extreme price volatility due to actions taken by particular investors or groups of investors (for example, retail investors influenced by social media activity or other media coverage or significant short positions taken by institutional investors).
Holders of common stocks incur more risks than holders of preferred stocks and debt obligations because common stockholders generally have rights to receive payments from stock issuers that are inferior to the rights of creditors, or holders of debt obligations or preferred stocks. Further, unlike debt securities, which typically have a stated principal amount payable at maturity (the value of which, however, is subject to market fluctuations prior to maturity), or preferred stocks, which typically have a liquidation preference and which may have stated optional or mandatory redemption provisions, common stocks have neither a fixed principal amount nor a maturity date. In addition, issuers may, in times of distress or at their own discretion, decide to reduce or eliminate dividends, which may also cause their stock price to decline.
Although most of the securities in each Underlying Index are listed on a securities exchange, the principal trading market for some of the securities may be in the OTC market. The existence of a liquid trading market for certain securities may depend on whether dealers will make a market in such securities. There can be no assurance that a market will be made or maintained or that any such market will be or remain liquid. The price at which securities may be sold and the value of a Fund’s shares will be adversely affected if trading markets for the Fund’s portfolio securities are limited or absent, or if bid/ask spreads are wide.
Risk of Futures and Options on Futures Transactions.There are several risks accompanying the utilization of futures contracts and options on futures contracts. A position in futures contracts and options on futures contracts may be closed only on the exchange on which the contract was made (or a linked exchange). While each Fund plans to utilize futures contracts only if an active market exists for such contracts, there is no guarantee that a liquid market will exist for the contract at a specified time. Futures contracts, by definition, project price levels in the future and not current levels of valuation; therefore, market circumstances may result in a discrepancy between the price of the future and the movement in a Fund's Underlying Index. In the event of adverse price movements, a Fund would continue to be required to make daily cash payments to maintain its required margin. In such situations, if a Fund has insufficient cash, it may have to sell portfolio securities to meet daily margin requirements at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so. In addition, a Fund may be required to deliver the instruments underlying the futures contracts it has sold.
The risk of loss in trading futures contracts or uncovered call options in some strategies (e.g., selling uncovered stock index futures contracts) is potentially unlimited. The Funds do not plan to use futures and options contracts in this way. The risk of a futures position may still be large as traditionally measured due to the low margin deposits required. In many cases, a relatively small price movement in a futures contract may result in immediate and substantial loss or gain to the investor relative to the size of a required margin deposit. The Funds, however, intend to utilize futures and options contracts in a manner designed to limit their risk exposure to levels comparable to a direct investment in the types of stocks in which they invest.
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Utilization of futures and options on futures by a Fund involves the risk of imperfect or even negative correlation to its Underlying Index if the index underlying the futures contract differs from the Underlying Index. There is also the risk of loss of margin deposits in the event of bankruptcy of a broker with whom a Fund has an open position in the futures contract or option. The purchase of put or call options will be based upon predictions by BFA as to anticipated trends, which predictions could prove to be incorrect.
Because the futures market generally imposes less burdensome margin requirements than the securities market, an increased amount of participation by speculators in the futures market could result in price fluctuations. Certain financial futures exchanges limit the amount of fluctuation permitted in futures contract prices during a single trading day. The daily limit establishes the maximum amount by which the price of a futures contract may vary either up or down from the previous day’s settlement price at the end of a trading session. Once the daily limit has been reached in a particular type of contract, no trades may be made on that day at a price beyond that limit. It is possible that futures contract prices could move to the daily limit for several consecutive trading days with little or no trading, thereby preventing prompt liquidation of futures positions and subjecting each Fund to substantial losses. In the event of adverse price movements, each Fund would be required to make daily cash payments of variation margin.
Risk of Investing in Non-U.S. Equity Securities. An investment in each Fund involves risks similar to those of investing in portfolios of equity securities traded on non-U.S. exchanges. These risks include market fluctuations caused by such factors as economic and political developments in those foreign countries, changes in interest rates and perceived trends in stock prices. Investing in securities issued by issuers domiciled in countries other than the domicile of the investor and denominated in currencies other than an investor’s local currency entails certain considerations and risks not typically encountered by the investor in making investments in its home country and in that country’s currency. These considerations include favorable or unfavorable changes in interest rates, currency exchange rates, exchange control regulations and the costs that may be incurred in connection with conversions between various currencies. Investing in the Funds also involves certain risks and considerations not typically associated with investing in a fund whose portfolio contains exclusively securities of U.S. issuers. These risks include generally less liquid and less efficient securities markets; generally greater price volatility; less publicly available information about issuers; the imposition of withholding or other taxes; the imposition of restrictions on the expatriation of funds or other assets of the Funds; in the case of the iShares India 50 ETF, restrictions on ownership of Indian and other foreign countries' securities by foreign entities; higher transaction and custody costs; delays and risks attendant in settlement procedures; difficulties in enforcing contractual obligations; lower liquidity and significantly smaller market capitalization; different accounting and disclosure standards; lower levels of regulation of the securities markets; more substantial government interference with the economy and businesses; higher rates of inflation; greater social, economic, and political uncertainty; the risk of nationalization or expropriation of assets; and the risk of war.
Risk of Swap Agreements.The risk of loss with respect to swaps is generally limited to the net amount of payments that a Fund is contractually obligated to make. Swap agreements are subject to the risk that the swap counterparty will default on its obligations. If such a default occurs, a Fund will have contractual remedies pursuant to the agreements related to the transaction. However, such remedies may be subject to bankruptcy and insolvency laws, which could affect such Fund’s rights as a creditor (e.g., a Fund may not receive the net amount of payments that it is contractually entitled to receive).
A Fund is required to post and collect variation margin and initial margin (comprised of specified liquid securities subject to haircuts) in connection with trading of OTC swaps. These requirements may raise the costs for a Fund’s investment in swaps.
Tax Risk. The iShares India 50 ETF invests in securities of Indian issuers. The Fund is subject to tax in India on the purchase and sale of Indian securities, which will reduce the Fund’s returns. For more information regarding the tax implications of investing in Indian securities, please see the section entitled Indian Tax Disclosure.
Criteria for Residence of Companies in India. A foreign company will be considered a resident in India if its place of effective management (POEM) (defined as a place where key management and commercial decisions that are necessary for the conduct of the business of an entity as a whole are in substance made) is in India in the relevant financial year. This test is to be applied taking the relevant financial year as a whole into consideration. However, the Fund expects that its place of effective management will be outside of India and, as a result, the Fund does not expect to be considered an Indian resident for tax purposes.
Indirect Transfers. The Indian Income Tax Act, 1961 (IT Act) imposes Indian tax and withholding obligations with respect to the transfer of shares and interest in an overseas company that derives its value substantially from assets situated in India (indirect transfers). The share or interest of the foreign entity shall be deemed to derive its value substantially from the
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assets located in India, if the value of such Indian assets exceeds INR 100 million, and represents at least 50% of the value of all the assets owned by the foreign entity. The value of an asset shall be the fair market value as of the specified date, without reduction of liabilities, determined in accordance with Rule 11UB of the Income Tax Rule, 1962 (IT Rules). In cases where all the assets of the foreign entity are not located in India, only such part of the income as is reasonably attributable to the Indian assets shall be subject to capital gains tax in India.
If such gains are taxable in India, then the purchaser of the securities will be required to withhold applicable Indian taxes. Because the Fund invests in Indian securities, the Fund may be considered to derive substantial value from Indian assets, and accordingly, shareholder redemptions and sales of Fund shares may have been subject to Indian tax and withholding obligations. However, the IT Act provides for an exemption to non-resident shareholders in Category I Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPI), registered under SEBI (Foreign Portfolio Investors) Regulations, 2019 (2019 Regulations) from the applicability of indirect transfer taxation. The Fund is a Category I FPI under the 2019 Regulations. Therefore, any redemptions or transfers non-resident shareholders in the Fund should not be subject to Indian indirect transfer tax.
Further, the IT Act provides an exemption from the indirect transfer provisions for non-resident shareholders of the Fund who, at any time in the twelve months preceding the year of transfer, neither hold the right of control or management in the Fund, nor hold voting power or share capital or interest exceeding 5% of the total voting power or total share capital or total interest in the Fund.
General Anti-Avoidance Rules. The current legislation provides general anti-avoidance rules (GAAR) to curb aggressive tax planning through the use of sophisticated structures. GAAR became applicable with effect from April 1, 2017. The GAAR provides the Indian tax authorities a mechanism to deny any tax benefits in a transaction or any other arrangement that is believed to not have any commercial substance or purpose other than to obtain tax benefit(s) under a treaty. The provisions of GAAR will be applicable to arrangements (including a step in or a part thereof) entered into by a taxpayer, which may be declared as an impermissible avoidance arrangement.
As per the provisions of GAAR, an arrangement entered into by a taxpayer may be declared to be an impermissible avoidance arrangement, if the main purpose of the arrangement is to obtain a tax benefit and the arrangement:
creates rights, or obligations, which are not ordinarily created between persons dealing at arm’s length;
results, directly or indirectly, in the misuse, or abuse, of the provisions of IT Act;
lacks commercial substance; or
is entered into, or carried out, by means, or in a manner, which are not ordinarily employed for bona fide purposes.
Once an arrangement is declared to be an impermissible avoidance arrangement, wide powers have been granted to tax authorities to deny tax treaty benefits, disregard or re-characterize transactions, re-characterize equity into debt and vice versa, which may have a material adverse effect on the Fund’s business and financial conditions and results of operations.
In this context, it is pertinent to note that provisions of GAAR shall not be applicable to:
An FPI who has not availed itself of any benefit under a tax treaty and has made investment in accordance with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Foreign Portfolio Investors) Regulations, 2019;
An investment made by a non‑resident, directly or indirectly, in an FPI; and
Any arrangement where the aggregate tax benefit to all the parties of the arrangement in the relevant financial year does not exceed INR 30 million.
Tracking Error Risk.A Fund may be subject to tracking error, which is the divergence of a Fund’s performance from that of the applicable underlying index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities and other instruments held in a Fund’s portfolio and those included in its applicable underlying index, pricing differences, transaction costs incurred by a Fund, a Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or interest received by a Fund or distributions paid to a Fund’s shareholders, the requirements to maintain pass-through tax treatment, portfolio transactions carried out to minimize the distribution of capital gains to shareholders, acceptance of custom baskets, changes to the applicable underlying index or the costs to a Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. This risk may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other
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unusual market conditions. Tracking error also may result because a Fund incurs fees and expenses, while its applicable underlying index does not. Tracking error may occur due to differences between the methodologies used in calculating the value of the applicable Underlying Index and determining a Fund’s NAV.
When an issuer is introduced by an index provider into an index tracked by a Fund, BFA may conduct an analysis on such issuer’s securities to identify and screen for outlier high risk behavior (such as rapid or unusual price growth that does not appear to be supported by publicly available information on the business and assets of the issuer, unusual or significant short interest or lending activity, negative sentiment, suspended trading or incorrect free-float calculations, which could be indicators of possible irregularities, miscalculations or even fraud). If it identifies such behavior, BFA may, where appropriate, alert the index provider as to the alleged issue. The index provider has sole discretion for the determination as to whether to continue to include the issuer’s securities in the rebalancing of its index. If the securities continue to be included in the index, BFA may underweight or exclude such securities from a Fund’s portfolio and, if it does so, such a fund will be subject to increased tracking error due to the divergence in the securities included in its portfolio from its underlying index. BFA’s underweighting or excluding such securities may result in a decline in a Fund’s net asset value. The application of the abovementioned analysis and screening to a Fund and its Underlying Index is in the sole discretion of BFA and its affiliates (without any guarantees). The analysis and screening may not exclude any or all high risk securities from an Underlying Index or a Fund’s portfolio, and the inclusion of such securities will result in an adverse impact to a Fund’s net asset value if one or more such securities declines in value.
Risk of Investing in Mid-Capitalization Companies.Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies may be more volatile than those of large-capitalization companies, and, therefore, a Fund’s share price may be more volatile than that of funds that invest a larger percentage of their assets in stocks issued by large-capitalization companies. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies are also more vulnerable than those of large-capitalization companies to adverse business or economic developments, and the stocks of mid-capitalization companies may be less liquid than those of large-capitalization companies, making it more difficult for the Funds to buy and sell shares of mid-capitalization companies. In addition, mid-capitalization companies generally have less diverse product lines than large-capitalization companies and are more susceptible to adverse developments related to their products.
Risk of Investing in Small-Capitalization Companies.Stock prices of small-capitalization companies may be more volatile than those of larger companies, and, therefore, a Fund's share price may be more volatile than that of funds that invest a larger percentage of their assets in stocks issued by large-capitalization or mid-capitalization companies. Stock prices of small-capitalization companies are generally more vulnerable than those of large-capitalization or mid-capitalization companies to adverse business and economic developments. The stocks of small-capitalization companies may be thinly traded, making it difficult for the Funds to buy and sell them. In addition, small-capitalization companies are typically less financially stable than larger, more established companies and may depend on a small number of essential personnel, making them more vulnerable to loss of personnel. Small-capitalization companies also normally have less diverse product lines than large-capitalization companies and are more susceptible to adverse developments concerning their products.
Risk of Investing in Africa.Investments in securities of issuers in certain African countries involve heightened risks including, among others, expropriation and/or nationalization of assets, confiscatory taxation, political instability, including authoritarian and/or military involvement in governmental decision-making, armed conflict, civil war, and social instability as a result of religious, ethnic and/or socio-economic unrest or widespread outbreaks of disease and, in certain countries, genocidal warfare.
Certain countries in Africa generally have less developed capital markets than traditional emerging market countries, and, consequently, the risks of investing in foreign securities are magnified in such countries. Because securities markets of countries in Africa are generally underdeveloped and are generally less correlated to global economic cycles than those markets located in more developed countries, securities markets in African countries are subject to greater risks associated with market volatility, lower market capitalization, lower trading volume, illiquidity, inflation, greater price fluctuations and uncertainty regarding the existence of trading markets. Moreover, trading on African securities markets may be suspended altogether.
Market volatility may also be heightened by the actions of a small number of investors. Brokerage firms in certain countries in Africa may be fewer in number and less established than brokerage firms in more developed markets. Since a Fund may need to effect securities transactions through these brokerage firms, the Fund is subject to the risk that these brokerage firms will
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not be able to fulfill their obligations to the Fund (i.e., counterparty risk). This risk is magnified to the extent that a Fund effects securities transactions through a single brokerage firm or a small number of brokerage firms.
Certain governments in African countries restrict or control to varying degrees the ability of foreign investors to invest in securities of issuers located or operating in those countries. Moreover, certain countries in Africa require governmental approval or special licenses prior to investment by foreign investors and may limit the amount of investment by foreign investors in a particular industry and/or issuer, and may limit such foreign investment to a certain class of securities of an issuer that may have less advantageous rights than the classes available for purchase by domestic investors of the countries and/or impose additional taxes on foreign investors. A delay in obtaining a government approval or a license would delay investments in a particular country, and, as a result, a Fund may not be able to invest in certain securities while approval is pending. The government of a particular country may also withdraw or decline to renew a license that enables a Fund to invest in such country. These factors make investing in issuers located or operating in countries in Africa significantly riskier than investing in issuers located or operating in more developed countries, and any one of these factors could cause a decline in the value of a Fund's investments. Issuers located or operating in countries in Africa are generally not subject to the same rules and regulations as issuers located or operating in more developed countries. Therefore, there may be less financial and other information publicly available with regard to issuers located or operating in countries in Africa and such issuers are generally not subject to the uniform accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards applicable to issuers located or operating in more developed countries.
In addition, governments of certain countries in Africa in which a Fund may invest may levy withholding or other taxes on income such as dividends, interest and realized capital gains. Although in certain countries in Africa a portion of these taxes are recoverable, the non-recovered portion of foreign withholding taxes will reduce the income received from investments in such countries.
Investment in countries in Africa may be subject to a greater degree of risk associated with governmental approval in connection with the repatriation of investment income, capital or the proceeds of sales of securities by foreign investors. In addition, there is the risk that if an African country’s balance of payments declines, such African country may impose temporary restrictions on foreign capital remittances. Consequently, a Fund could be adversely affected by delays in, or a refusal to grant, required governmental approval for repatriation of capital, as well as by the application to the Fund of any restrictions on investments. Additionally, investments in countries in Africa may require a Fund to adopt special procedures, seek local government approvals or take other actions, each of which may involve additional costs to a Fund.
Securities laws in many countries in Africa are relatively new and unsettled and, consequently, there is a risk of rapid and unpredictable change in laws regarding foreign investment, securities regulation, title to securities and shareholder rights. Accordingly, foreign investors may be adversely affected by new or amended laws and regulations. In addition, there may be no single centralized securities exchange on which securities are traded in certain countries in Africa and the systems of corporate governance to which issuers located in countries in Africa are subject may be less advanced than those systems to which issuers located in more developed countries are subject, and, therefore, shareholders of issuers located in such countries may not receive many of the protections available to shareholders of issuers located in more developed countries. Even in circumstances where adequate laws and shareholder rights exist, it may not be possible to obtain swift and equitable enforcement of the law. In addition, the enforcement of systems of taxation at federal, regional and local levels in countries in Africa may be inconsistent and subject to sudden change.
Certain countries in Africa may be heavily dependent upon international trade and, consequently, have been and may continue to be negatively affected by trade barriers, exchange controls, managed adjustments in relative currency values and other protectionist measures imposed or negotiated by the countries with which they trade. These countries also have been and may continue to be adversely affected by economic conditions in the countries with which they trade. Certain countries in Africa depend to a significant extent upon exports of primary commodities such as gold, silver, copper and diamonds. These countries therefore are vulnerable to changes in commodity prices, which may be affected by a variety of factors. In addition, certain issuers located in countries in Africa in which a Fund invests may operate in, or have dealings with, countries subject to sanctions and/or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government and the United Nations, and/or countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism. As a result, an issuer may sustain damage to its reputation if it is identified as an issuer which operates in, or has dealings with, such countries. A Fund, as an investor in such issuers, will be indirectly subject to those risks.
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The governments of certain countries in Africa may exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector and may own or control many companies. Future government actions could have a significant effect on the economic conditions in such countries, which could have a negative impact on private sector companies. There is also the possibility of diplomatic developments that could adversely affect investments in certain countries in Africa. Some countries in Africa may be affected by a greater degree of public corruption and crime, including organized crime.
Political instability and protests in North Africa and the Middle East have caused and may in the future cause significant disruptions to many industries. In addition, the outbreak of Ebola in Western Africa severely challenged health care industries in those countries and adversely impacted the region’s economy due to quarantines and disruptions of trade, which has further increased instability in the region. This instability has demonstrated that political and social unrest can spread quickly through the region, and that developments in one country can influence the political events in neighboring countries. Some protests have turned violent, and civil war and political reconstruction in certain countries such as Libya, Iraq and Syria pose a risk to investments in the region. Continued political and social unrest in these regions, including the ongoing warfare and terrorist activities in the Middle East and Africa, may negatively affect the value of an investment in a Fund.
Risk of Investing in Asia. Investments in securities of issuers in certain Asian countries involve risks not typically associated with investments in securities of issuers in other regions. Such heightened risksinclude, among others, expropriation and/or nationalization of assets, confiscatory taxation, piracy of intellectual property, data and other security breaches (especially of data stored electronically), political instability, including authoritarian and/or military involvement in governmental decision-making, armed conflict and social instability as a result of religious, ethnic and/or socio-economic unrest. Certain Asian economies have experienced rapid rates of economic growth and industrialization in recent years, and there is no assurance that these rates of economic growth and industrialization will be maintained.
Certain Asian countries have democracies with relatively short histories, which may increase the risk of political instability. These countries have faced political and military unrest, and further unrest could present a risk to their local economies and securities markets. Indonesia and the Philippines have each experienced violence and terrorism, which has negatively impacted their economies. North Korea and South Korea each have substantial military capabilities, and historical tensions between the two countries present the risk of war. Escalated tensions involving the two countries and any outbreak of hostilities between the two countries, or even the threat of an outbreak of hostilities, could have a severe adverse effect on the entire Asian region. Certain Asian countries have also developed increasingly strained relationships with the U.S., and if these relations were to worsen, they could adversely affect Asian issuers that rely on the U.S. for trade. Political, religious, and border disputes persist in India. India has recently experienced and may continue to experience civil unrest and hostilities with certain of its neighboring countries. Increased political and social unrest in these geographic areas could adversely affect the performance of investments in this region.
Certain governments in this region administer prices on several basic goods, including fuel and electricity, within their respective countries. Certain governments may exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector in their respective countries and may own or control many companies. Future government actions could have a significant effect on the economic conditions in this region, which in turn could have a negative impact on private sector companies. There is also the possibility of diplomatic developments adversely affecting investments in the region.
Corruption and the perceived lack of a rule of law in dealings with international companies in certain Asian countries may discourage foreign investment and could negatively impact the long-term growth of certain economies in this region. In addition, certain countries in the region are experiencing high unemployment and corruption, and have fragile banking sectors.
Some economies in this region are dependent on a range of commodities, including oil, natural gas and coal. Accordingly, they are strongly affected by international commodity prices and particularly vulnerable to any weakening in global demand for these products. The market for securities in this region may also be directly influenced by the flow of international capital, and by the economic and market conditions of neighboring countries. China is a key trading partner of many Asian countries and any changes in trading relationships between China and other Asian countries may affect the region as a whole. Adverse economic conditions or developments in neighboring countries may increase investors' perception of the risk of investing in the region as a whole, which may adversely impact the market value of the securities issued by companies in the region.
Risk of Investing in Australasia. The economies of Australasia, which include Australia and New Zealand, are dependent on exports from the agricultural and mining sectors. This makes Australasian economies susceptible to fluctuations in the commodity markets. Australasian economies are also increasingly dependent on their growing service and tourism
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industries. Australia and New Zealand are located in a part of the world that has historically been prone to natural disasters, such as drought and flooding. Any such event in the future could have a significant adverse impact on the economies of Australia and New Zealand and affect the value of securities held by a Fund. The economies of Australia and New Zealand are dependent on trading with certain key trading partners, including Asia and the U.S. Economic events in the U.S., Asia, or in other key trading countries can have a significant economic effect on the Australasian economies. The economies of Australia and New Zealand are heavily dependent on the mining sector. Passage of new regulations limiting foreign ownership of companies in the mining sector or imposition of new taxes on profits of mining companies may dissuade foreign investment, and as a result, have a negative impact on companies to which a Fund has exposure.
Risk of Investing in Brazil. Investment in securities of companies domiciled in Brazil involves a high degree of risk and special considerations not typically associated with investing in the U.S. securities markets. Such heightened risks include, among others, a high level of price volatility in the Brazilian equity and currency markets, political unrest, chronic structural public sector deficits, a rising unemployment rate and disparities of wealth.
Brazil has historically experienced high rates of inflation and may continue to do so in the future. An increase in prices for commodities, the depreciation of the Brazilian currency (the real) and potential future governmental measures seeking to maintain the value of the real in relation to the U.S. dollar, may trigger increases in inflation in Brazil and may slow the rate of growth of the Brazilian economy. Inflationary pressures also may limit the ability of certain Brazilian issuers to access foreign financial markets and may lead to further government intervention in the economy, including the introduction of government policies that may adversely affect the overall performance of the Brazilian economy, which in turn could adversely affect a Fund's investments.
The Brazilian government has exercised, and continues to exercise, significant influence over the Brazilian economy, which may have significant effects on Brazilian companies and on market conditions and prices of Brazilian securities. The Brazilian economy has been characterized by frequent, and occasionally drastic, intervention by the Brazilian government. The Brazilian government has often changed monetary, taxation, credit, tariff and other policies to influence the core of Brazil’s economy. The Brazilian government’s actions to control inflation and affect other economic policies have involved, among others, the setting of wage and price controls, blocking access to bank accounts, fluctuation of the base interest rates, imposing exchange controls and limiting imports into Brazil. In the past, the Brazilian government has maintained domestic price controls, and no assurances can be given that price controls will not be re-imposed in the future.
Investments in Brazilian securities may be subject to certain restrictions on foreign investment. Brazilian law provides that whenever a serious imbalance in Brazil’s balance of payments exists or is anticipated, the Brazilian government may impose temporary restrictions on the remittance to foreign investors of the proceeds of their investment in Brazil and on the conversion of Brazilian currency into foreign currency. The likelihood of such restrictions may be affected by the extent of Brazil’s foreign currency reserves, the size of Brazil’s debt service burden relative to the economy as a whole, and political constraints to which Brazil may be subject. There can be no assurance that the Brazilian government will not impose restrictions or restrictive exchange control policies in the future, which could have the effect of preventing or restricting access to foreign currency.
The market for Brazilian securities is directly influenced by the flow of international capital, and economic and market conditions of certain countries, especially other emerging market countries in Central and South America. Adverse economic conditions or developments in other emerging market countries have at times significantly affected the availability of credit in the Brazilian economy and resulted in considerable outflows of funds and declines in the amount of foreign currency invested in Brazil. Crises in neighboring emerging market countries also may increase investors’ risk aversion, which may adversely impact the market value of the securities issued by Brazilian companies, including securities in which a Fund may invest.
Risk of Investing in Central and South America. The economies of certain Central and South American countries have experienced high interest rates, economic volatility, inflation, currency devaluations, government defaults, regime changes, high unemployment rates and political instability which can adversely affect issuers in these countries. In addition, commodities (such as oil, gas and minerals) represent a significant percentage of exports for the regions and many economies in these regions are particularly sensitive to fluctuations in commodity prices. Adverse economic events in one country may have a significant adverse effect on other countries of these regions.
The governments of certain countries in Central and South America may exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector and may own or control many companies. Future government actions could have a significant effect on the economic conditions in such countries, which could have a negative impact on the securities in which a Fund invests.
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Diplomatic developments may also adversely affect investments in certain countries in Central and South America. Some countries in Central and South America may be affected by public corruption and crime, including organized crime.
Certain countries in Central and South America may be heavily dependent upon international trade and, consequently, have been and may continue to be negatively affected by trade barriers, exchange controls, managed adjustments in relative currency values and other protectionist measures imposed or negotiated by the countries with which they trade. These countries also have been and may continue to be adversely affected by economic conditions in the countries with which they trade. In addition, certain issuers located in countries in Central and South America in which a Fund invests may be the subject of sanctions (for example, the U.S. has imposed sanctions on certain Venezuelan individuals, corporate entities and the Venezuelan government) or have dealings with countries subject to sanctions and/or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government and the United Nations and/or countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism. An issuer may sustain damage to its reputation if it is identified as an issuer that has dealings with such countries. A Fund may be adversely affected if it invests in such issuers.
Risk of Investing in China. Investments in securities of companies domiciled in China involve a high degree of risk and special considerations not typically associated with investing in the U.S. securities markets. Such heightened risks include, among others, an authoritarian government, popular unrest associated with demands for improved political, economic and social conditions, the impact of regional conflict on the economy and hostile relations with neighboring countries.
Military conflicts, either in response to internal social unrest or conflicts with other countries, could disrupt economic development. The Chinese economy is vulnerable to the long-running disagreements and religious and nationalist disputes with Tibet and the Xinjiang region. Since 1997, there have been tensions between the Chinese government and many people in Hong Kong who perceive China as tightening control over Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous liberal political, economic, legal, and social framework. Recent protests and unrest have increased tensions even further. Due to the interconnected nature of the Hong Kong and Chinese economies, this instability in Hong Kong may cause uncertainty in the Hong Kong and Chinese markets. China has a complex territorial dispute regarding the sovereignty of Taiwan and has made threats of invasion. Taiwan-based companies and individuals are significant investors in China. Military conflict between China and Taiwan may adversely affect securities of Chinese issuers. In addition, China has strained international relations with Japan, India, Russia and other neighbors due to territorial disputes, historical animosities and other defense concerns. Additionally, China is alleged to have participated in state-sponsored cyberattacks against foreign companies and foreign governments. Actual and threatened responses to such activity and strained international relations, including purchasing restrictions, sanctions, tariffs or cyberattacks on the Chinese government or Chinese companies, may impact China’s economy and Chinese issuers of securities in which a Fund invests. China could be affected by military events on the Korean peninsula or internal instability within North Korea. These situations may cause uncertainty in the Chinese market and may adversely affect the performance of the Chinese economy.
The Chinese government has implemented significant economic reforms in order to liberalize trade policy, promote foreign investment in the economy, reduce government control of the economy and develop market mechanisms. However, there can be no assurance that these reforms will continue or that they will be effective. Despite reforms and privatizations of companies in certain sectors, the Chinese government still exercises substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector and may own or control many companies. Chinese companies, such as those in the financial services or technology sectors, and potentially other sectors in the future, are subject to the risk that Chinese authorities can intervene in their operations and structure. The Chinese government continues to maintain a major role in economic policymaking. Investing in China involves risk of loss due to expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investmentsand on repatriation of capital invested.
A Fund may invest in securities issued by variable interest entities (VIEs), which are subject to the investment risks associated with the underlying Chinese operating company. A VIE enters into service contracts and other contracts with the Chinese operating company, which provide the VIE with exposure to the company. Although the VIE has no equity ownership of the Chinese operating company, the contractual arrangements permit the VIE to consolidate the Chinese operating company into its financial statements. Intervention by the Chinese government with respect to VIEs could significantly affect the Chinese operating company’s performance and the enforceability of the VIE’s contractual arrangements with the Chinese company.
In addition, there is less regulation and monitoring of Chinese securities markets and the activities of investors, brokers and other participants than in the U.S. Accordingly, issuers of securities in China, including Chinese companies that are listed on
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U.S. exchanges, are not subject to the same degree of regulation as are U.S. issuers with respect to such matters as insider trading rules, tender offer regulation, accounting standards or auditor oversight, stockholder proxy requirements and the requirements mandating timely and accurate disclosure of information. Securities markets in China are in the process of change and further development. This may lead to trading volatility, difficulty in the settlement and recording of transactions and difficulty in interpreting and applying the relevant regulation.
There may be significant obstacles to obtaining information necessary for investigations into or litigation against Chinese companies, and shareholders may have limited legal remedies. The Funds are not actively managed and do not select investments based on investor protection considerations.
While the Chinese economy has experienced past periods of rapid growth, there is no assurance that such growth rates will recur. China may experience substantial rates of inflation or economic recessions, causing a negative effect on the economy and securities market. China’s economy is heavily dependent on export growth. Reduction in spending on Chinese products and services, institution of additional tariffs or other trade barriers (including as a result of heightened trade tensions between China and the U.S. or in response to actual or alleged Chinese cyber activity) or a downturn in any of the economies of China’s key trading partners may have an adverse impact on the Chinese economy and the Chinese issuers of securities in which a Fund invests. For example, the U.S. has added certain foreign technology companies to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security’s Entity List, which is a list of companies believed to pose a national security risk to the U.S. Actions like these may have unanticipated and disruptive effects on the Chinese economy. Any such response that targets Chinese financial markets or securities exchanges could interfere with orderly trading, delay settlement or cause market disruptions.
The tax laws and regulations in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are subject to change, including the issuance of authoritative guidance or enforcement, possibly with retroactive effect. The interpretation, applicability and enforcement of such laws by PRC tax authorities are not as consistent and transparent as those of more developed nations, and may vary over time and from region to region. The application and enforcement of PRC tax rules could have a significant adverse effect on a Fund and its investors, particularly in relation to capital gains withholding tax imposed upon non-residents. In addition, the accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards and practices applicable to Chinese companies may be less rigorous, and may result in significant differences between financial statements prepared in accordance with the PRC accounting standards and practice and those prepared in accordance with international accounting standards.
Risk of Investing in the Chinese Equity Markets.Certain Funds may invest in H-shares (securities of companies incorporated in the PRC that are denominated in Hong Kong dollars and listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (SEHK)), A-shares (securities of companies incorporated in the PRC that are denominated in renminbi and listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE)) and/or B-shares (securities of companies incorporated in the PRC that are denominated in U.S. dollars (in the case of the SSE) or Hong Kong dollars (in the case of the SZSE) and listed on the SSE and the SZSE). Certain Funds may also invest in certain Hong Kong-listed securities known as Red-Chips (securities issued by companies that are incorporated in certain foreign jurisdictions and that are controlled, directly or indirectly, by entities owned by the national government or local governments in the PRC and derive substantial revenues from or allocate substantial assets in the PRC) and P-Chips (securities issued by companies that are incorporated in certain foreign jurisdictions and that are controlled, directly or indirectly, by individuals in the PRC and derive substantial revenues from or allocate substantial assets in the PRC).
Securities listed on the SSE or the SZSE are divided into two classes: A-shares, which are mostly limited to domestic investors, and B-shares, which are allocated for both international and domestic investors. The A-shares market is generally subject to greater government restrictions, including trading suspensions, which may lead to increased liquidity risks. The B-shares market is generally smaller and less liquid and has a smaller issuer base than the A-shares market, which may lead to significant price volatility. B-shares, H-shares, P-Chips or Red-Chips of issuers that also issue A-shares may trade at significant discounts to their A-shares counterparts. The issuance of B-shares and H-shares by Chinese companies and the ability to obtain a back-door listing through Red-Chips or P-Chips is still regarded by the Chinese authorities as an experiment in economic reform. Back-door listing is a means by which a mainland Chinese company issues Red-Chips or P-Chips to obtain quick access to international listing and international capital. These share mechanisms are subject to the political and economic policies in China. Market developments, adverse investor perceptions, regulatory and government intervention (including the possibility of widespread trading suspensions implemented by regulators) and other factors may make it difficult to acquire, dispose of or value Chinese securities, which would lead to adverse effects to a Fund.
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Risk of Investing in A-shares through Stock Connect.
The iShares Core MSCI Total International Stock ETF, iShares Exponential Technologies ETF, iShares MSCI ACWI ETF, iShares MSCI ACWI ex U.S. ETF, iShares MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target ETF, iShares MSCI All Country Asia ex Japan ETF and iShares MSCI Global Multifactor ETF may invest in A-shares through the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect program (Shanghai Connect) or the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect program (Shenzhen Connect, and together with Shanghai Connect, Stock Connect). Stock Connect is a securities trading and clearing program with an aim to achieve mutual stock market access between the PRC and Hong Kong. Stock Connect was developed by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, the SSE (in the case of Shanghai Connect) or the SZSE (in the case of Shenzhen Connect), and China Securities Depository and Clearing Corporation Limited (CSDCC). Under Stock Connect, a Fund’s trading of eligible A-shares listed on the SSE or the SZSE, as applicable, would be effectuated through its Hong Kong brokers. Investing in A-shares through Stock Connect is subject to trading, clearance, settlement and other procedures, which could pose risks to a Fund.
Although no individual investment quotas or licensing requirements apply to investors in Stock Connect, trading through Stock Connect is subject to a daily quota (the Daily Quota), which limits the maximum net purchases under Stock Connect each day. The Daily Quota does not belong to a Fund and is utilized on a first-come-first-serve basis. As such, buy orders for A-shares would be rejected once the Daily Quota is exceeded (although a Fund will be permitted to sell A-shares regardless of the Daily Quota balance). The Daily Quota may restrict a Fund’s ability to invest in A-shares through Stock Connect on a timely basis, which could affect the Fund’s ability to effectively pursue its investment strategy. The Daily Quota is also subject to change.
A-shares purchased through Stock Connect generally may only be sold or otherwise transferred through Stock Connect and in accordance with applicable rules. In order to comply with applicable local market rules and to facilitate orderly operations of a Fund, including the timely settlement of Stock Connect trades placed by or on behalf of the Fund, BFA utilizes an operating model that will only be used by iShares ETFs with investments in A-shares through Stock Connect. Such operating model may reduce the risks of trade failures; however, it will also allow Stock Connect trades to be settled without the prior verification by a Fund. Accordingly, this operating model may subject a Fund to additional risks, including an increased risk of inadvertently exceeding certain trade or other restrictions or limits placed on the Fund and/or its affiliates, and a heightened risk of erroneous trades, which may negatively impact the Fund.
While A-shares must be designated as eligible to be traded through Stock Connect (such eligible A-shares listed on the SSE, the SSE Securities, and such eligible A-shares listed on the SZSE, the SZSE Securities), those A-shares may also lose such designation, and if this occurs, such A-shares may be sold but could no longer be purchased through Stock Connect. With respect to sell orders through Stock Connect, the SEHK carries out pre-trade checks to ensure an investor has sufficient A-shares in its account before the market opens on the trading day. Accordingly, if there are insufficient A-shares in an investor’s account before the market opens on the trading day, the sell order will be rejected, which may adversely impact a Fund’s performance.
In addition, Stock Connect operates only on days when both the Chinese and the Hong Kong markets are open for trading and when banking services are available in both markets on the corresponding settlement days. Therefore, an investment in A-shares through Stock Connect may subject a Fund to the risk of price fluctuations on days when the Chinese markets are open, but Stock Connect is not trading. Each of the SEHK, SSE and SZSE reserves the right to suspend trading through Stock Connect under certain circumstances. Where such a suspension of trading is effected, a Fund’s ability to access A-shares through Stock Connect will be adversely affected. In addition, if one or both of the Chinese and Hong Kong markets are closed on a U.S. trading day, a Fund may not be able to acquire or dispose of A-shares through Stock Connect in a timely manner, which could adversely affect the Fund’s performance.
A Fund’s investments in A-shares through Stock Connect are held by its custodian in accounts in the Central Clearing and Settlement System (CCASS) maintained by the Hong Kong Securities Clearing Company Limited (HKSCC), which in turn holds the A-shares, as the nominee holder, through an omnibus securities account in its name registered with the CSDCC. The precise nature and rights of a Fund as the beneficial owner of the SSE Securities or SZSE Securities through HKSCC as nominee is not well defined under PRC law. There is a lack of a clear definition of, and distinction between, legal ownership and beneficial ownership under PRC law and there have been few cases involving a nominee account structure in the PRC courts. The exact nature and methods of enforcement of the rights and interests of a Fund under PRC law is also uncertain. In the unlikely event that HKSCC becomes subject to winding up proceedings in Hong Kong, there is a risk that the SSE
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Securities or SZSE Securities may not be regarded as held for the beneficial ownership of a Fund or as part of the general assets of HKSCC available for general distribution to its creditors.
Notwithstanding the fact that HKSCC does not claim proprietary interests in the SSE Securities or SZSE Securities held in its omnibus stock account in the CSDCC, the CSDCC as the share registrar for SSE- or SZSE-listed companies will still treat HKSCC as one of the shareholders when it handles corporate actions in respect of such SSE Securities or SZSE Securities. HKSCC monitors the corporate actions affecting SSE Securities and SZSE Securities and keeps participants of CCASS informed of all such corporate actions that require CCASS participants to take steps in order to participate in them. A Fund will therefore depend on HKSCC for both settlement and notification and implementation of corporate actions.
The HKSCC is responsible for the clearing, settlement and provision of depositary, nominee and other related services of the trades executed by Hong Kong market participants and investors. Accordingly, investors do not hold SSE Securities or SZSE Securities directly; rather, they are held through their brokers’ or custodians’ accounts with CCASS. The HKSCC and the CSDCC establish clearing links and each has become a participant of the other to facilitate clearing and settlement of cross-border trades. Should CSDCC default and the CSDCC be declared as a defaulter, HKSCC’s liabilities in Stock Connect under its market contracts with clearing participants will be limited to assisting clearing participants in pursuing their claims against the CSDCC. In that event, a Fund may suffer delays in the recovery process or may not be able to fully recover its losses from the CSDCC.
Market participants are able to participate in Stock Connect subject to meeting certain information technology capability, risk management and other requirements as may be specified by the relevant exchange and/or clearing house. Further, the connectivity in Stock Connect requires the routing of orders across the borders of Hong Kong and the PRC. This requires the development of new information technology systems on the part of the SEHK and exchange participants. There is no assurance that these systems will function properly or will continue to be adapted to changes and developments in both markets. In the event that the relevant systems fail to function properly, trading in A-shares through Stock Connect could be disrupted, and a Fund’s ability to achieve its investment objective may be adversely affected.
The Shanghai Connect program, launched in November 2014, and the Shenzhen Connect program, launched in December 2016, do not have an extensive operating history. Stock Connect is subject to regulations promulgated by regulatory authorities and implementation rules made by the stock exchanges in the PRC and Hong Kong. There is no certainty as to how the current regulations will be applied or interpreted going forward, and new or revised regulations may be issued from time to time by the regulators and stock exchanges in China and Hong Kong in connection with operations, legal enforcement and cross-border trades under Stock Connect. In addition, there can be no assurance that Stock Connect will not be discontinued. A Fund may be adversely affected as a result of such changes. Furthermore, the securities regimes and legal systems of China and Hong Kong differ significantly and issues may arise based on these differences. Further, different fees, costs and taxes are imposed on foreign investors acquiring A-shares through Stock Connect, and these fees, costs and taxes may be higher than comparable fees, costs and taxes imposed on owners of other Chinese securities providing similar investment exposure.
A-Share Market Suspension Risk.
A-shares may only be bought from, or sold to, a Fund at times when the relevant A-shares may be sold or purchased on the relevant Chinese stock exchange. The A-shares market can have a higher propensity for trading suspensions than many other global equity markets. Trading suspensions in certain stocks could lead to greater market execution risk, valuation risks and liquidity risks and costs for a Fund, as well as for Authorized Participants that create and redeem Creation Units of the Fund. The SSE and SZSE currently apply a daily limit, set at 10%, of the amount of fluctuation permitted in the prices of A-shares during a single trading day. The daily limit refers to price movements only and does not restrict trading within the relevant limit. There can be no assurance that a liquid market on an exchange will exist for any particular A-share or for any particular time. This could increase a Fund’s tracking error and/or cause a Fund to trade in the market at greater bid-ask spreads or greater premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV. Given that the A-shares market is considered volatile and unstable (with the risk of widespread trading suspensions or government intervention), the creation and redemption of Creation Units may also be disrupted.
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. Many countries with developed markets have recently experienced significant economic pressures. These countries generally tend to rely on the services sectors (e.g., the financial services sector) as the primary source of economic growth and may be susceptible to the risks of individual service sectors. For example, companies in the financial services sector are subject to governmental regulation and, recently, government intervention, which may
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adversely affect the scope of their activities, the prices they can charge and amount of capital they must maintain. Dislocations in the financial sector and perceived or actual governmental influence over certain financial companies may lead to credit rating downgrades and, as a result, impact, among other things, revenue growth for such companies. If financial companies experience a prolonged decline in revenue growth, certain developed countries that rely heavily on financial companies as an economic driver may experience a correlative slowdown. Concerns have emerged with respect to the economic health of certain developed countries. These concerns primarily stem from heavy indebtedness of many developed countries and their perceived inability to continue to service high debt loads without simultaneously implementing stringent austerity measures. Such concerns have led to tremendous downward pressure on the economies of these countries. As a result, it is possible that interest rates on debt of certain developed countries may rise to levels that make it difficult for such countries to service such debt. Spending on health care and retirement pensions in most developed countries has risen dramatically. Medical innovation, extended life expectancy and higher public expectations are likely to continue the increase in health care and pension costs. Any increase in health care and pension costs will likely have a negative impact on the economic growth of many developed countries. Certain developed countries rely on imports of certain key items, such as crude oil, natural gas, and other commodities. As a result, an increase in demand for, or price fluctuations of, certain commodities may negatively affect developed country economies. Developed market countries generally are dependent on the economies of certain key trading partners. Changes in any one economy may cause an adverse impact on several developed countries. In addition, heavy regulation of, among others, 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. Such risks, among others, may adversely affect the value of a Fund’s investments.
Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets. Investments in emerging market countries may be subject to greater risks than investments in developed countries. These risks include: (i) less social, political, and economic stability; (ii) greater illiquidity and price volatility due to smaller or limited local capital markets for such securities, or low or non-existent trading volumes; (iii) companies, custodians, clearinghouses, foreign exchanges and broker-dealers may be subject to less scrutiny and regulation by local authorities; (iv) local governments may decide to seize or confiscate securities held by foreign investors and/or local governments may decide to suspend or limit an issuer's ability to make dividend or interest payments; (v) local governments may limit or entirely restrict repatriation of invested capital, profits, and dividends; (vi) capital gains may be subject to local taxation, including on a retroactive basis; (vii) issuers facing restrictions on standard payments imposed by local governments may attempt to make dividend or interest payments to foreign investors in the local currency; (viii) there may be significant obstacles to obtaining information necessary for investigations into or litigation against companies and investors may experience difficulty in enforcing legal claims related to the securities and/or local judges may favor the interests of the issuer over those of foreign parties; (ix) bankruptcy judgments may only be permitted to be paid in the local currency; (x) limited public information regarding the issuer may result in greater difficulty in determining market valuations of the securities; and (xi) lack of financial reporting on a regular basis, substandard disclosure and differences in accounting standards may make it difficult to ascertain the financial health of an issuer. The Funds are not actively managed and do not select investments based on investor protection considerations.
Emerging market securities markets are typically marked by a high concentration of market capitalization and trading volume in a small number of issuers representing a limited number of industries, as well as a high concentration of ownership of such securities by a limited number of investors. In addition, brokerage and other costs associated with transactions in emerging market securities can be higher, sometimes significantly, than similar costs incurred in securities markets in developed countries. Although some emerging markets have become more established and tend to issue securities of higher credit quality, the markets for securities in other emerging market countries are in the earliest stages of their development, and these countries issue securities across the credit spectrum. Even the markets for relatively widely traded securities in emerging market countries may not be able to absorb, without price disruptions, a significant increase in trading volume or trades of a size customarily undertaken by institutional investors in the securities markets of developed countries. The limited size of many of these securities markets can cause prices to be erratic for reasons apart from factors that affect the soundness and competitiveness of the securities issuers. For example, prices may be unduly influenced by traders who control large positions in these markets. Additionally, market making and arbitrage activities are generally less extensive in such markets, which may contribute to increased volatility and reduced liquidity of such markets. The limited liquidity of emerging market country securities may also affect a Fund's ability to accurately value its portfolio securities or to acquire or dispose of securities at the price and time it wishes to do so or in order to meet redemption requests.
Many emerging market countries suffer from uncertainty and corruption in their legal frameworks. Legislation may be difficult to interpret and laws may be too new to provide any precedential value. Laws regarding foreign investment and private property may be weak or non-existent. Sudden changes in governments may result in policies which are less
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favorable to investors such as policies designed to expropriate or nationalize sovereign assets. Certain emerging market countries in the past have expropriated large amounts of private property, in many cases with little or no compensation, and there can be no assurance that such expropriation will not occur in the future.
Investment in the securities markets of certain emerging market countries is restricted or controlled to varying degrees. These restrictions may limit a Fund's investment in certain emerging market countries and may increase the expenses of the Fund. Certain emerging market countries require governmental approval prior to investments by foreign persons or limit investment by foreign persons to only a specified percentage of an issuer's outstanding securities or a specific class of securities which may have less advantageous terms (including price) than securities of the company available for purchase by nationals.
Many emerging market countries lack the social, political, and economic stability characteristic of the U.S. Political instability among emerging market countries can be common and may be caused by an uneven distribution of wealth, social unrest, labor strikes, civil wars, and religious oppression. Economic instability in emerging market countries may take the form of: (i) high interest rates; (ii) high levels of inflation, including hyperinflation; (iii) high levels of unemployment or underemployment; (iv) changes in government economic and tax policies, including confiscatory taxation; and (v) imposition of trade barriers.
A Fund's income and, in some cases, capital gains from foreign securities will be subject to applicable taxation in certain of the emerging market countries in which it invests, and treaties between the U.S. and such countries may not be available in some cases to reduce the otherwise applicable tax rates.
Emerging markets also have different clearance and settlement procedures, and in certain of these emerging markets there have been times when settlements have been unable to keep pace with the volume of securities transactions, making it difficult to conduct such transactions.
In the past, certain governments in emerging market countries have become overly reliant on the international capital markets and other forms of foreign credit to finance large public spending programs, which in the past have caused huge budget deficits. Often, interest payments have become too overwhelming for a government to meet, representing a large percentage of total GDP. These foreign obligations have become the subject of political debate and served as fuel for political parties of the opposition, which pressure the government not to make payments to foreign creditors, but instead to use these funds for, among other things, social programs. Either due to an inability to pay or submission to political pressure, foreign governments have been forced to seek a restructuring of their loan and/or bond obligations, have declared a temporary suspension of interest payments or have defaulted. These events have adversely affected the values of securities issued by foreign governments and corporations domiciled in those countries and have negatively affected not only their cost of borrowing, but their ability to borrow in the future as well.
Risk of Investing in Europe. Investing in European countries may expose a Fund to the economic and political risks associated with Europe in general and the specific European countries in which it invests. The economies and markets of European countries are often closely connected and interdependent, and events in one European country can have an adverse impact on other European countries. A Fund makes investments in securities of issuers that are domiciled in, have significant operations in, or that are listed on at least one securities exchange within member states of the European Union (the EU). A number of countries within the EU are also members of the Economic and Monetary Union (the EMU) (the eurozone) and have adopted the euro as their currency. Eurozone membership requires member states to comply with restrictions on inflation rates, deficits, interest rates, debt levels and fiscal and monetary controls, each of which may significantly affect every country in Europe. Changes in import or export tariffs, changes in governmental or EU regulations on trade, changes in the exchange rate of the euro and other currencies of certain EU countries which are not in the eurozone, 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. Although certain European countries are not in the eurozone, many of these countries are obliged to meet the criteria for joining the eurozone.
Consequently, these countries must comply with many of the restrictions noted above. The European financial markets have experienced volatility and adverse trends due to concerns about economic downturns, government debt levels and the possible default of government debt in several European countries, including, but not limited to, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ukraine. In order to prevent further economic deterioration, certain countries, without prior warning, can institute capital controls. Countries may use these controls to restrict volatile
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movements of capital entering and exiting their country. Such controls may negatively affect a Fund’s investments. A default or debt restructuring by any European country would adversely impact holders of that country’s debt and sellers of credit default swaps linked to that country’s creditworthiness, which may be located in countries other than those listed above. In addition, the credit ratings of certain European countries were downgraded in the past. These events have adversely affected the value and exchange rate of the euro and may continue to significantly affect the economies of every country in Europe, including countries that do not use the euro and non-EU member states. Responses to the 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 and may limit future growth and economic recovery or 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 impact of these actions, especially if they occur in a disorderly fashion, is not clear but could be significant and far-reaching and could adversely impact the value of a Fund’s investments in the region.
The United Kingdom (the U.K.) left the EU (Brexit) on January 31, 2020. 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.
Certain European countries have also developed increasingly strained relationships with the U.S., and if these relations were to worsen, they could adversely affect European issuers that rely on the U.S. for trade. The national politics of countries in Europe have been unpredictable and subject to influence by disruptive political groups and ideologies, including for example, secessionist movements. The governments of European 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 or war in the region also could impact financial markets. The impact of these events is not clear but could be significant and far-reachingand could adversely affect the value and liquidity of a Fund's investments.
Russian Invasion of Ukraine. Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The extent and duration of the military action, resulting sanctions and resulting future market disruptions, including declines in its stock markets and the value of the ruble against the U.S. dollar, are impossible to predict, but could be significant. Disruptions caused by Russian military action or other actions (including cyberattacks and espionage) or resulting actual and threatened responses to such activity, including purchasing and financing restrictions, boycotts or changes in consumer or purchaser preferences, sanctions, import and export restrictions, tariffs or cyberattacks on the Russian government, Russian companies or Russian individuals, including politicians, may impact Russia's economy, Russian issuers of securities in which a Fund invests, or the economies of Europe as a whole. Actual and threatened responses to Russian military action may also impact the markets for certain Russian commodities, such as oil and natural gas, as well as other sectors of the Russian economy, and are likely to have collateral impacts on such sectors across Europe and globally.
Risk of Investing in India. India is an emerging market and demonstrates significantly higher volatility from time to time in comparison to more developed markets. Political, religious, and border disputes persist in India. India has recently experienced and may continue to experience civil unrest and hostilities with certain of its neighboring countries, including Pakistan, and the Indian government has confronted separatist movements in several Indian states, including Kashmir and Punjab. Government control over the economy, currency fluctuations or blockage, and the risk of nationalization or expropriation of assets offer higher potential for losses. Governmental actions could have a negative effect on the economic conditions in India, which could adversely affect the value and liquidity of investments made by a Fund. The securities markets in India are comparatively underdeveloped and with some exceptions, consist of a small number of listed companies with small market capitalization, greater price volatility and substantially less liquidity than companies in more developed markets. Stockbrokers and other intermediaries in India may not perform as well as their counterparts in the U.S. or other, more developed countries. The limited liquidity of the Indian securities markets may also affect a Fund’s ability to acquire or dispose of securities at the price or time that it desires or the Fund’s ability to track its Underlying Index.
Global factors and foreign actions may inhibit the flow of foreign capital on which India is dependent to sustain its growth. In addition, the Reserve Bank of India has imposed limits on foreign ownership of Indian companies, which may decrease the liquidity of a Fund’s portfolio and result in extreme volatility in the prices of Indian securities. In November 2016, the Indian government eliminated certain large denomination cash notes as legal tender, causing uncertainty in certain financial markets. These factors, coupled with the lack of extensive accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards and practices, as applicable in the U.S., may increase the risk of loss for a Fund.
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Securities laws in India are relatively new and unsettled and, as a result, there is a risk of significant and unpredictable change in laws governing foreign investment, securities regulation, title to securities and shareholder rights. Foreign investors in particular may be adversely affected by new or amended laws and regulations. Certain Indian regulatory approvals, including approvals from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the central government and the tax authorities (to the extent that tax benefits need to be utilized), may be required before a Fund can make investments in Indian companies. Capital gains from Indian securities may be subject to local taxation.
Technology and software sectors represent a significant portion of the total capitalization of the Indian securities markets. The value of these companies will generally fluctuate in response to technological and regulatory developments, and, as a result, a Fund’s holdings are expected to experience correlated fluctuations.
Natural disasters, such as tsunamis, flooding or droughts, could occur in India or surrounding areas and could negatively affect the Indian economy or operations of a Subsidiary, and, in turn, could negatively affect a Fund.
Risk of Investing in Japan. Japan may be subject to political, economic, labor and other risks. Any of these risks, individually or in the aggregate, can impact an investment made in Japan.
Currency Risk. The Japanese yen has fluctuated widely at times and any increase in its value may cause a decline in exports that could weaken the Japanese economy. Japan has, in the past, intervened in the currency markets to attempt to maintain or reduce the value of the yen. Japanese intervention in the currency markets could cause the value of the yen to fluctuate sharply and unpredictably and could cause losses to investors.
Economic Risk. The growth of Japan’s economy has recently lagged that of its Asian neighbors and other major developed economies. Since 2000, Japan’s economic growth rate has generally remained low relative to other advanced economies, and it may remain low in the future. The Japanese economy is heavily dependent on international trade and has been adversely affected by trade tariffs, other protectionist measures, competition from emerging economies and the economic conditions of its trading partners. Japan is also heavily dependent on oil imports, and higher commodity prices could therefore have a negative impact on the Japanese economy.
Geographic Risk. Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons and tsunamis, could occur in Japan or surrounding areas and could negatively affect the Japanese economy, and, in turn, could negatively affect a Fund.
Labor Risk. Japan has an aging workforce and has experienced a significant population decline in recent years. Japan’s labor market appears to be undergoing fundamental structural changes, as a labor market traditionally accustomed to lifetime employment adjusts to meet the need for increased labor mobility, which may adversely affect Japan’s economic competitiveness.
Large Government and Corporate Debt Risk. The Japanese economy faces several concerns, including a financial system with large levels of nonperforming loans, over-leveraged corporate balance sheets, extensive cross-ownership by major corporations, a changing corporate governance structure, and large government deficits. These issues may cause a slowdown of the Japanese economy.
Political Risk. Historically, Japan has had unpredictable national politics and may experience frequent political turnover. Future political developments may lead to changes in policy that might adversely affect a Fund’s investments. In addition, China has become an important trading partner with Japan. Japan’s political relationship with China, however, has been strained. Should political tension increase, it could adversely affect the Japanese economy and destabilize the region as a whole.
Security Risk. Japan's relations with its neighbors, particularly China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, have at times been strained due to territorial disputes, historical animosities and defense concerns. Most recently, the Japanese government has shown concern over the increased nuclear and military activity by North Korea and China. Strained relations may cause uncertainty in the Japanese markets and adversely affect the overall Japanese economy, particularly in times of crisis.
Risk of Investing in Latin America. A number of Latin American countries are among the largest debtors of developing countries and have a long history of foreign debt and default. In 2001, Argentina defaulted on its debt and many investors suffered significant losses.
The majority of the region's economies have become highly dependent upon foreign credit and loans from external sources to fuel their state-sponsored economic plans. Historically, government profligacy and ill-conceived plans for modernization
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have exhausted these resources with little benefit accruing to the economy. Most countries have been forced to restructure their loans or risk default on their debt obligations. In addition, interest on the debt is subject to market conditions and may reach levels that would impair economic activity and create a difficult and costly environment for borrowers. Accordingly, these governments may be forced to reschedule or freeze their debt repayment, which could negatively affect local markets. Because of their dependence on foreign credit and loans, a number of Latin American economies face significant economic difficulties and some economies fell into recession as the recent global economic crisis tightened international credit supplies. While the region has recently shown signs of economic improvement, recovery from past economic downturns in Latin America has historically been slow, and any such recovery, if sustained, may be gradual.
Substantial limitations may exist in certain Latin American countries with respect to a Fund’s ability to repatriate investment income, capital or the proceeds of sales of securities. A Fund could be adversely affected by delays in, or a refusal to grant, any required governmental approval for repatriation of capital, as well as by the application to the Fund of any restrictions on investments and difficulties in enforcing legal judgments in non-U.S. courts. Legal remedies available to investors in certain Latin American countries may be less extensive than those available to investors in the U.S. or other countries. In addition, certain Latin American countries may have legal systems that may make it difficult for the Fund to vote proxies, exercise shareholder rights, and pursue legal remedies with respect to its investments. In the past, many Latin American countries have experienced substantial, and in some periods extremely high, rates of inflation for many years. For companies that keep accounting records in the local currency, inflation accounting rules in some Latin American countries require, for both tax and accounting purposes, that certain assets and liabilities be restated on the company’s balance sheet in order to express items in terms of currency of constant purchasing power. Inflation accounting may indirectly generate losses or profits for certain Latin American companies.
Certain Latin American countries have entered into regional trade agreements that are designed to, among other things, reduce barriers between countries, increase competition among companies and reduce government subsidies in certain industries. No assurance can be given that these changes will be successful in the long term, or that these changes will result in the economic stability intended. There is a possibility that these trade arrangements will not be fully implemented, or will be partially or completely unwound. It is also possible that a significant participant could choose to abandon a trade agreement, which could diminish its credibility and influence. Any of these occurrences could have adverse effects on the markets of both participating and non-participating countries, including sharp appreciation or depreciation of participants’ national currencies and a significant increase in exchange rate volatility, a resurgence in economic protectionism, an undermining of confidence in the Latin American markets, an undermining of Latin American economic stability, the collapse or slowdown of the drive towards Latin American economic unity, and/or reversion of the attempts to lower government debt and inflation rates that were introduced in anticipation of such trade agreements. Such developments could have an adverse impact on a Fund’s investments in Latin America generally or in specific countries participating in such trade agreements.
Risk of Investing in the Middle East. Many Middle Eastern countries have little or no democratic tradition, and the political and legal systems in such countries may have an adverse impact on a Fund. Many economies in the Middle East are highly reliant on income from the sale of oil and natural gas or trade with countries involved in the sale of oil and natural gas, and their economies are therefore vulnerable to changes in the market for oil and natural gas and foreign currency values. As global demand for oil and natural gas fluctuates, many Middle Eastern economies may be significantly impacted.
In addition, many Middle Eastern governments have exercised and continue to exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector. In certain cases, a Middle Eastern country’s government may own or control many companies, including some of the largest companies in the country. Accordingly, governmental actions in the future could have a significant effect on economic conditions in Middle Eastern countries. This could affect private sector companies and a Fund, as well as the value of securities in the Fund's portfolio.
Certain Middle Eastern markets are in the earliest stages of development. As a result, there may be a high concentration of market capitalization and trading volume in a small number of issuers representing a limited number of industries, as well as a high concentration of investors and financial intermediaries. Brokers in Middle Eastern countries typically are fewer in number and less capitalized than brokers in the U.S.
The legal systems in certain Middle Eastern countries also may have an adverse impact on a Fund. For example, the potential liability of a shareholder in a U.S. corporation with respect to acts of the corporation generally is limited to the amount of the shareholder’s investment. However, the notion of limited liability is less clear in certain Middle Eastern countries. Each Fund
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therefore may be liable in certain Middle Eastern countries for the acts of a corporation in which it invests for an amount greater than its actual investment in that corporation. Similarly, the rights of investors in Middle Eastern issuers may be more limited than those of shareholders of a U.S. corporation. It may be difficult or impossible to obtain or enforce a legal judgment in a Middle Eastern country. Some Middle Eastern countries prohibit or impose substantial restrictions on investments in their capital markets, particularly their equity markets, by foreign entities such as a Fund. For example, certain countries may require governmental approval prior to investment by foreign persons or limit the amount of investment by foreign persons in a particular issuer. Certain Middle Eastern countries may also limit investment by foreign persons to only a specific class of securities of an issuer that may have less advantageous terms (including price) than securities of the issuer available for purchase by nationals of the relevant Middle Eastern country.
The manner in which foreign investors may invest in companies in certain Middle Eastern countries, as well as limitations on those investments, may have an adverse impact on the operations of a Fund. For example, in certain of these countries, a Fund may be required to invest initially through a local broker or other entity and then have the shares that were purchased re-registered in the name of a Fund. Re-registration in some instances may not be possible on a timely basis. This may result in a delay during which a Fund may be denied certain of its rights as an investor, including rights as to dividends or to be made aware of certain corporate actions. There also may be instances where a Fund places a purchase order but is subsequently informed, at the time of re-registration, that the permissible allocation of the investment to foreign investors has already been filled and, consequently, a Fund may not be able to invest in the relevant company.
Substantial limitations may exist in certain Middle Eastern countries with respect to a Fund’s ability to repatriate investment income or capital gains. A Fund could be adversely affected by delays in, or a refusal to grant, any required governmental approval for repatriation of capital, as well as by the application to a Fund of any restrictions on investment.
Certain Middle Eastern countries may be heavily dependent upon international trade and, consequently, have been and may continue to be negatively affected by trade barriers, exchange controls, managed adjustments in relative currency values and other protectionist measures imposed or negotiated by the countries with which they trade. These countries also have been and may continue to be adversely impacted by economic conditions in the countries with which they trade. In addition, certain issuers located in Middle Eastern countries in which a Fund invests may operate in, or have dealings with, countries subject to sanctions and/or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government and the United Nations, and/or countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism. As a result, an issuer may sustain damage to its reputation if it is identified as an issuer which operates in, or has dealings with, such countries. A Fund, as an investor in such issuers, will be indirectly subject to those risks.
Certain Middle Eastern countries have strained relations with other Middle Eastern countries due to territorial disputes, historical animosities, international alliances, defense concerns or other reasons, which may adversely affect the economies of these Middle Eastern countries. Certain Middle Eastern countries experience significant unemployment, as well as widespread underemployment. There has also been a recent increase in recruitment efforts and an aggressive push for territorial control by terrorist groups in the region, which has led to an outbreak of warfare and hostilities. Warfare in Syria has spread to surrounding areas, including many portions of Iraq and Turkey. Such hostilities may continue into the future or may escalate at any time due to ethnic, racial, political, religious or ideological tensions between groups in the region or foreign intervention or lack of intervention, among other factors.
Risk of Investing in North America. A decrease in imports or exports, changes in trade regulations or an economic recession in any North American country can have a significant economic effect on the entire North American region and on some or all of the North American countries in which a Fund invests.
The U.S. is Canada's and Mexico's largest trading and investment partner. The Canadian and Mexican economies are significantly affected by developments in the U.S. economy. Since the implementation of NAFTA in 1994 among Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, total merchandise trade among the three countries has increased. However, political developments including the implementation of tariffs by the U.S., and the renegotiation of NAFTA in the form of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced NAFTA on July 1, 2020, could negatively affect North America’s economic outlook and, as a result, the value of securities held by a Fund. Policy and legislative changes in one country may have a significant effect on North American markets generally, as well as on the value of certain securities held by a Fund.
Risk of Investing in Russia. Investing in the Russian securities market involves a high degree of risk and special considerations not typically associated with investing in the U.S. securities market, and should be considered highly speculative. Risks include: the absence of developed legal structures governing private and foreign investments and private
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property; the possibility of the loss of all or a substantial portion of a Fund’s assets invested in Russia as a result of expropriation; certain national policies which may restrict the Fund’s investment opportunities, including, without limitation, restrictions on investing in issuers or industries deemed sensitive to relevant national interests; and potentially greater price volatility in, significantly smaller capitalization of, and relative illiquidity of, the Russian market. There can also be no assurance that a Fund’s investments in the Russian securities market would not be expropriated, nationalized or otherwise confiscated. In the event of the settlement of any such claims or such expropriation, nationalization or other confiscation, a Fund could lose its entire investment. In addition, it may be difficult and more costly to obtain and enforce a judgment in the Russian court system.
Russia may also be subject to a greater degree of economic, political and social instability than is the case in other developed countries. Such instability may result from, among other things, the following: (i) an authoritarian government or military involvement in political and economic decision-making, including changes in government through extra-constitutional means; (ii) popular unrest associated with demands for improved political, economic and social conditions; (iii) internal insurgencies; (iv) hostile relations, including armed conflict, with neighboring countries; and (v) ethnic, religious and racial disaffection.
The Russian economy is heavily dependent upon the export of a range of commodities including most industrial metals, forestry products and oil and gas. Accordingly, it is strongly affected by international commodity prices and is particularly vulnerable to any weakening in global demand for these products. Any acts of terrorism or armed conflicts in Russia or internationally could have an adverse effect on the financial and commodities markets and the global economy. As Russia produces and exports large amounts of crude oil and gas, any acts of terrorism or armed conflict causing disruptions of Russian oil and gas exports could negatively affect the Russian economy and, thus, adversely affect the financial condition, results of operations or prospects of related companies. Current and future economic sanctions may also adversely affect the Russian oil, banking, mining, metals, rail, pipeline and gas sectors, among other sectors.
The Russian government may exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector and may own or control many companies. Future government actions could have a significant effect on the economic conditions in Russia, which could have a negative impact on private sector companies. There is also the possibility of diplomatic developments that could adversely affect investments in Russia. In recent years, the Russian government has begun to take bolder steps to re-assert its regional geopolitical influence (including military steps) and launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Additionally, Russia is alleged to have participated in state-sponsored cyberattacks against foreign companies and foreign governments. Such steps have increased tensions between Russia and its neighbors and Western countries and may negatively affect economic growth. Actual and threatened responses by other nation-states to Russia’s alleged cyber activity may have an adverse impact on the Russian economy and the Russian issuers of securities in which a Fund invests. For example, the U.S. has added certain foreign technology companies to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security’s Entity List, which is a list of companies believed to pose a national security risk to the U.S. Actions like these may have unanticipated and disruptive effects on the Russian economy.
Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The extent and duration of the military action, resulting sanctions and resulting future market disruptions, including declines in its stock markets and the value of the ruble against the U.S. dollar, are impossible to predict, but could be significant. Disruptions caused by Russian military action or other actions (including cyberattacks and espionage) or resulting actual and threatened responses to such activity, including purchasing and financing restrictions, boycotts or changes in consumer or purchaser preferences, sanctions, import and export restrictions, tariffs or cyberattacks on the Russian government, Russian companies or Russian individuals, including politicians, may impact Russia’s economy, Russian issuers of securities in which a Fund invests, or the economies of Europe as a whole. Actual and threatened responses to Russian military action may also impact the markets for certain Russian commodities, such as oil and natural gas, as well as other sectors of the Russian economy, and are likely to have collateral impacts on such sectors across Europe and globally.
Russia Sanctions. Governments in the U.S. and many other countries (collectively, the Sanctioning Bodies) have imposed economic sanctions on certain Russian individuals, including politicians, and Russian corporate and banking entities, including banning Russia from global payments systems that facilitate cross-border payments. The Sanctioning Bodies, or others, could also institute broader sanctions on Russia. These sanctions, or even the threat of further sanctions, may result in the decline of the value and liquidity of Russian securities, a weakening of the ruble or other adverse consequences to the Russian economy. These sanctions could also result in the immediate freeze of Russian securities and/or funds invested in prohibited assets, impairing the ability of a Fund to buy, sell, receive or deliver those securities and/or assets. Recently, Russia
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has issued a number of countersanctions, some of which restrict the distribution of profits by limited liability companies (e.g., dividends), and prohibits Russian persons from entering into transactions with designated persons from unfriendly states as well as the export of raw materials or other products from Russia to certain sanctioned persons.
The sanctions against certain Russian issuers include prohibitions on transacting in or dealing in issuances of debt or equity of such issuers. Compliance with each of these sanctions has and may continue to impair the ability of a Fund to buy, sell, hold, receive or deliver the affected securities or other securities of such issuers. If it becomes impracticable or unlawful for a Fund to hold securities subject to, or otherwise affected by, sanctions (collectively, affected securities), or if deemed appropriate by BFA, a Fund may prohibit in-kind deposits of the affected securities in connection with creation transactions and instead require a cash deposit, which may also increase a Fund’s transaction costs. A Fund may also be legally required to freeze assets in a blocked account.
Sanctions have resulted in Russia taking counter measures or retaliatory actions, which has impaired the value and liquidity of Russian securities. These retaliatory measures include the immediate freeze of Russian assets held by a Fund. Due to such a freeze of these assets, including depositary receipts, a Fund may need to liquidate non-restricted assets in order to satisfy any Fund redemption orders. The liquidation of Fund assets during this time may also result in a Fund receiving substantially lower prices for its securities. Russia may implement additional retaliatory measures, which may further impair the value and liquidity of Russian securities and the ability of the Fund to receive dividend payments. Recently, Russia has issued a number of countersanctions, some of which restrict the distribution of profits by limited liability companies (e.g., dividends), and prohibits Russian persons from entering into transactions with designated persons from unfriendly states as well as the export of raw materials or other products from Russia to certain sanctioned persons. Russian companies may be unable to pay dividends and, if they pay dividends, the Fund may be unable to receive them.
These sanctions, the decision by Russia to suspend trading on the Moscow Exchange (MOEX) and prohibit non-resident investors from executing security sales, and other events have led to changes in the Fund's Underlying Index. The Fund’s Index Provider has removed Russian securities from the Underlying Index. To the extent that the Fund rebalances its portfolio and trades in non-Russian securities to seek to track the investment results of the Underlying Index, this may result in transaction costs and increased tracking error. The Fund is currently restricted from trading in Russian securities, including those in its portfolio, while the Underlying Index has removed Russian securities. This disparity will also lead to increased tracking error. The inability of the Fund to trade in Russian securities may adversely affect the Fund’s ability to meet its investment objective. It is unknown when, or if, sanctions may be lifted or the Fund’s ability to trade in Russian securities will resume.
Also, if an affected security is included in a Fund’s Underlying Index, a Fund may, where practicable, seek to eliminate its holdings of the affected security by employing or augmenting its representative sampling strategy to seek to track the investment results of its Underlying Index. The use of (or increased use of) a representative sampling strategy may increase a Fund’s tracking error risk. If the affected securities constitute a significant percentage of the Underlying Index, a Fund may not be able to effectively implement a representative sampling strategy, which may result in significant tracking error between a Fund’s performance and the performance of its Underlying Index.
Risk of Investing in Saudi Arabia. Certain of the Funds' Underlying Indexes include Saudi Arabian equity securities. The ability of foreign investors (such as the Funds) to invest in the securities of Saudi Arabian issuers is relatively new. Such ability could be restricted by the Saudi Arabian government at any time, and unforeseen risks could materialize with respect to foreign ownership in such securities. In addition, the Capital Market Authority (CMA) places investment limitations on the ownership of the securities of Saudi Arabian issuers by foreign investors, including a limitation on a Fund’s ownership of the securities of any single issuer listed on the Saudi Arabian Stock Exchange, which may prevent a Fund from investing in accordance with its strategy and contribute to tracking error against the Underlying Index. These restrictions may be changed or new restrictions, such as licensing requirements, special approvals or additional foreign taxes, may be instituted at any time. A Fund may not be able to obtain or maintain any such licenses or approvals and may not be able to buy and sell securities at full value. Major disruptions or regulatory changes could occur in the Saudi Arabian market, any of which could negatively impact a Fund. These risks may be exacerbated, compared to more developed markets, given the limited history of foreign investment in the Saudi Arabian market. Investments in Saudi Arabia may also be subject to loss due to expropriation or nationalization of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on additional foreign investments and repatriation of capital. Such heightened risks may include, among others, restrictions on and government intervention in international trade, confiscatory taxation, political instability, including authoritarian and/or military involvement in governmental decision making, armed conflict, crime and instability as a result of religious, ethnic and/or socioeconomic unrest. Saudi Arabia has
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privatized, or has begun the process of privatizing, certain entities and industries. Newly privatized companies may face strong competition from government-sponsored competitors that have not been privatized. In some instances, investors in newly privatized entities have suffered losses due to the inability of the newly privatized entities to adjust quickly to a competitive environment or changing regulatory and legal standards or, in some cases, due to re-nationalization of such privatized entities. There is no assurance that similar losses will not recur. Further, under income tax laws imposed by the General Authority of Zakat and Tax, dividends paid by a Saudi Arabian company to foreign stockholders are generally subject to a 5% withholding tax (different tax rates may apply pursuant to an applicable treaty). Saudi Arabia is highly reliant on income from the sale of petroleum and trade with other countries involved in the sale of petroleum, and its economy is therefore vulnerable to changes in foreign currency values and the market for petroleum, as well as acts targeting petroleum production or processing facilities in Saudi Arabia. As global demand for petroleum fluctuates, Saudi Arabia may be significantly impacted. In the recent past, the Saudi Arabian government has explored privatization and diversification of the economy in the wake of a diminished petroleum market.
Like most Middle Eastern governments, the government of Saudi Arabia exercises substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector. Although liberalization in the wider economy is underway, in many areas it has lagged significantly: restrictions on foreign ownership persist, and the government has an ownership stake in many key industries. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Saudi Arabia is governed by an absolute monarchy. Saudi Arabia has historically experienced strained relations with economic partners worldwide, including other countries in the Middle East, due to geopolitical events. Incidents involving a Middle Eastern country’s or the region’s security, including terrorism, may cause uncertainty in their markets and may adversely affect its economy and a Fund’s investments.
Governmental actions in the future could have a significant effect on economic conditions in Saudi Arabia, which could affect private sector companies and a Fund, as well as the value of securities in a Fund’s portfolio. Any economic sanctions on Saudi Arabian individuals or Saudi Arabian corporate entities, or even the threat of sanctions, may result in the decline of the value and liquidity of Saudi Arabian securities, a weakening of the Saudi riyal or other adverse consequences to the Saudi Arabian economy. Any sanctions could also result in the immediate freeze of Saudi Arabian securities and/or funds investing in prohibited assets, impairing the ability of a Fund to buy, sell, receive or deliver those securities and/or assets. In addition, Saudi Arabia’s economy relies heavily on cheap, foreign labor, and changes in the availability of this labor supply could have an adverse effect on the economy.
The securities markets in Saudi Arabia may not be as developed as those in other countries. As a result, securities markets in Saudi Arabia are subject to greater risks associated with market volatility, lower market capitalization, lower trading volume, illiquidity, inflation, greater price fluctuations, uncertainty regarding the existence of trading markets, governmental control and heavy regulation of labor and industry. Shares of certain Saudi Arabian companies tend to trade less frequently than those of companies on exchanges in more developed markets. Such infrequent trading may adversely affect the pricing of these securities and a Fund’s ability to sell these securities in the future.
Although the political situation in Saudi Arabia is largely stable, Saudi Arabia has historically experienced political instability, and there remains the possibility that the stability will not hold in the future or that instability in the larger Middle East region could adversely impact the economy of Saudi Arabia. Instability may be caused by military developments, government interventions in the marketplace, terrorism, extremist attitudes, attempted social or political reforms, religious differences, or other factors. Additionally, anti-Western views held by certain groups in the Middle East may influence government policies regarding foreign investment. Further developments in U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia and other Middle-Eastern countries may affect these attitudes and policies. The U.S. is a significant trading partner of, or foreign investor in, Saudi Arabia. As a result, economic conditions of Saudi Arabia may be particularly affected by changes in the U.S. economy. A decrease in U.S. imports or exports, new trade and financial regulations or tariffs, changes in the U.S. dollar exchange rate or an economic slowdown in the U.S. may have a material adverse effect on the economic conditions of Saudi Arabia and, as a result, securities to which a Fund has exposure. Political instability in North Africa and the larger Middle East region has caused significant disruptions to many industries. Continued political and social unrest in these areas may negatively affect the value of securities in a Fund’s portfolio.
Certain issuers located in Saudi Arabia may operate in, or have dealings with, countries subject to sanctions and/or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government and the United Nations and/or countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism. As a result, an issuer may sustain damage to its reputation if it is identified as an issuer which operates in, or has dealings with, such countries. A Fund, as an investor in such issuers, will be indirectly subject to those risks.
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Risk of Investing in South Korea. Investments in South Korean issuers involve risks that are specific to South Korea, including legal, regulatory, political, currency, security and economic risks. Substantial political tensions exist between North Korea and South Korea. Escalated tensions involving the two nations and the outbreak of hostilities between the two nations, or even the threat of an outbreak of hostilities, could have a severe adverse effect on the South Korean economy. In addition, South Korea's economic growth potential has recently been on a decline, because of a rapidly aging population and structural problems, among other factors. The South Korean economy is heavily reliant on trading exports and disruptions or decreases in trade activity could lead to further declines.
Risk of Investing in Taiwan. Investment in Taiwanese issuers may subject a Fund to loss in the event of adverse political, economic, regulatory and other developments that affect Taiwan, including fluctuations of the New Taiwan dollar versus the U.S. dollar. Taiwan has few natural resources. Any fluctuation or shortage in the commodity markets could have a negative impact on the Taiwanese economy. Appreciation of the New Taiwan dollar, rising labor costs, and increasing environmental consciousness have led some labor-intensive industries to relocate to other countries with cheaper work forces. Continued labor outsourcing may adversely affect the Taiwanese economy. Taiwanese firms are among the world’s largest suppliers of computer monitors and leaders in personal computer manufacturing. A slowdown in global demand for these products will likely have an adverse impact on the Taiwanese economy. The Chinese government views Taiwan as a renegade province and continues to contest Taiwan’s sovereignty. The outbreak of hostilities between the two nations, or even the threat of an outbreak of hostilities, will likely adversely impact the Taiwanese economy. Such risks, among others, may adversely affect the value of a Fund’s investments.
Risk of Investing in the Basic Materials Industry. Issuers in the basic materials industry could be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, inflation, exchange rate fluctuations, social and political unrest, import controls and increased competition. Companies in the basic materials industry may be subject to swift fluctuations in supply and demand. Fluctuations may be caused by events relating to political and economic developments, the environmental impact of basic materials operations, and the success of exploration projects. Production of industrial materials often exceeds demand as a result of over-building or economic downturns, leading to poor investment returns. Issuers in the basic materials industry are at risk for environmental damage and product liability claims and may be adversely affected by depletion of resources, delays in technical progress, labor relations, tax and government regulations related to changes to, among other things, energy and environmental policies.
Risk of Investing in the Communication Services Sector. The communication services sector consists of both companies in the telecommunication services industry as well as those in the media and entertainment industry. Examples of companies in the telecommunication services industry group include providers of fiber-optic, fixed-line, cellular and wireless telecommunications networks. Companies in the media and entertainment industry group encompass a variety of services and products including television broadcasting, gaming products, social media, networking platforms, online classifieds, online review websites, and Internet search engines. Companies in the communication services sector may be affected by industry competition, substantial capital requirements, government regulation, and obsolescence of communications products and services due to technological advancement. Fluctuating domestic and international demand, shifting demographics and often unpredictable changes in consumer tastes can drastically affect a communication services company's profitability. In addition, while all companies may be susceptible to network security breaches, certain companies in the communication services sector may be particular targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or consumer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses.
The communication services sector of a country’s economy is often subject to extensive government regulation. The costs of complying with governmental regulations, delays or failure to receive required regulatory approvals, or the enactment of new regulatory requirements may negatively affect the business of communications companies. Government actions around the world, specifically in the area of pre-marketing clearance of products and prices, can be arbitrary and unpredictable. The communications services industry can also be significantly affected by intense competition for market share, including competition with alternative technologies such as wireless communications, product compatibility and standardization, consumer preferences, rapid product obsolescence, research and development of new products, lack of standardization or compatibility with existing technologies, and a dependency on patent and copyright protections. Companies in the communication services sector may encounter distressed cash flows due to the need to commit substantial capital to meet increasing competition, particularly in developing new products and services using new technology. Technological innovations may make the products and services of certain communications companies obsolete.
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Telecommunications providers with exposure to the U.S. are generally required to obtain franchises or licenses in order to provide services in a given location. Licensing and franchise rights in the telecommunications sector are limited, which may provide an advantage to certain participants. Limited availability of such rights, high barriers to market entry and regulatory oversight, among other factors, have led to consolidation of companies within the sector, which could lead to further regulation or other negative effects in the future. Telecommunication providers investing in non-U.S. countries may be subject to similar risks. Additional risks include those related to competitive challenges in the U.S. from non-U.S. competitors engaged in strategic joint ventures with U.S. companies and in non-U.S. markets from both U.S. and non-U.S. competitors.
Companies in the media and entertainment industries can be significantly affected by several factors, including competition, particularly in formulation of products and services using new technologies, cyclicality of revenues and earnings, a potential decrease in the discretionary income of targeted individuals, changing consumer tastes and interests, and the potential increase in government regulation. Companies in the media and entertainment industries may become obsolete quickly. Advertising spending can be an important revenue source for media and entertainment companies. During economic downturns advertising spending typically decreases and, as a result, media and entertainment companies tend to generate less revenue.
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Cyclical Industry. A Fund may invest in consumer cyclical companies, which rely heavily on business cycles and economic conditions. Consumer cyclical companies include automotive manufacturers, retail companies, and housing-related companies. The consumer cyclical industry can be significantly affected by several factors, including, without limitation, the performance of domestic and international economies, exchange rates, changing consumer tastes and trends, marketing campaigns, cyclical revenue generation, consumer confidence, commodity price volatility, labor relations, interest rates, import and export controls, intense competition, technological developments and government regulation.
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Defensive Industry. A Fund is subject to risks faced by companies in the consumer defensive industry, including: governmental regulation affecting the permissibility of using various food additives and production methods, which could affect profitability; new laws or litigation that may adversely affect tobacco companies; fads, marketing campaigns and other factors affecting supply and demand that may strongly affect securities prices and profitability of food, beverage and fashion related products; and international events that may affect food and beverage companies that derive a substantial portion of their net income from foreign countries.
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Discretionary Sector. Companies engaged in the design, production or distribution of products or services for the consumer discretionary sector (including, without limitation, television and radio broadcasting, manufacturing, publishing, recording and musical instruments, motion pictures, photography, amusement and theme parks, gaming casinos, sporting goods and sports arenas, camping and recreational equipment, toys and games, apparel, travel-related services, automobiles, hotels and motels, and fast food and other restaurants) are subject to the risk that their products or services may become obsolete quickly. The success of these companies can depend heavily on disposable household income and consumer spending. During periods of an expanding economy, the consumer discretionary sector may outperform the consumer staples sector, but may underperform when economic conditions worsen. Moreover, the consumer discretionary sector can be significantly affected by several factors, including, without limitation, the performance of domestic and international economies, exchange rates, changing consumer preferences, demographics, marketing campaigns, cyclical revenue generation, consumer confidence, commodity price volatility, labor relations, interest rates, import and export controls, intense competition, technological developments and government regulation.
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Staples Sector. Companies in the consumer staples sector may be adversely affected by changes in the global economy, consumer spending, competition, demographics and consumer preferences, and production spending. Companies in the consumer staples sector may also be affected by changes in global economic, environmental and political events, economic conditions, the depletion of resources, and government regulation. For instance, government regulations may affect the permissibility of using various food additives and production methods of companies that make food products, which could affect company profitability. In addition, tobacco companies may be adversely affected by the adoption of proposed legislation and/or by litigation. Companies in the consumer staples sector also may be subject to risks pertaining to the supply of, demand for and prices of raw materials. The prices of raw materials fluctuate in response to a number of factors, including, without limitation, changes in government agricultural support programs, exchange rates, import and export controls, changes in international agricultural and trading policies, and seasonal and weather conditions. Companies in the consumer staples sector may be subject to severe competition, which may also have an adverse impact on their profitability.
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Risk of Investing in the Energy Sector. Companies in the energy sector are strongly affected by the changes in and volatility of global energy prices, energy supply and demand, government regulations and policies, energy production and conservation efforts, technological change, development of alternative energy sources, and other factors that they cannot control. Energy companies may have relatively high levels of debt and may be more likely to restructure their businesses if there are downturns in energy markets or in the global economy. If an energy company in a Fund's portfolio becomes distressed, a Fund could lose all or a substantial portion of its investment. The energy sector is cyclical and is highly dependent on commodity prices. Prices and supplies of energy may fluctuate significantly over short and long periods of time due to, among other things, national and international political changes, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) policies, changes in relationships among OPEC members and between OPEC and oil-importing nations, the regulatory environment, taxation policies, the enactment or cessation of trade sanctions, war or other geopolitical conflicts, and the economies of key energy-consuming countries. Companies in the energy sector may be adversely affected by terrorism, cyber incidents, natural disasters or other catastrophes. Companies in the energy sector are at risk of liability from accidents resulting in injury, loss of life or property, pollution or other environmental damage claims. Significant oil and gas deposits are located in emerging markets countries where corruption and security may raise significant risks, in addition to the other risks of investing in emerging markets. Additionally, the Middle East, where many companies in the energy sector may operate, has experienced conflict and unrest. Companies in the energy sector may also be adversely affected by changes in exchange rates, interest rates, economic conditions, tax treatment, government regulation and intervention, negative perception, efforts at energy conservation and world events in the regions in which the companies operate (e.g., expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and repatriation of capital, military coups, social unrest, violence or labor unrest). Because a significant portion of revenues of companies in this sector is derived from a relatively small number of customers that are largely composed of governmental entities and utilities, governmental budget constraints may have a significant impact on companies in this sector. The energy sector is highly regulated. Entities operating in the energy sector are subject to significant regulation of nearly every aspect of their operations by governmental agencies. Such regulation can change rapidly or over time in both scope and intensity. Stricter laws, regulations or enforcement policies could be enacted, which would likely increase compliance costs and may materially adversely affect the financial performance of companies in the energy sector.
The energy sector may experience significant market volatility. For example, Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 led to further disruptions and increased volatility in the energy and commodity futures markets due to actual and potential disruptions in the supply and demand for certain commodities, including oil and natural gas. The U.S. and other actors have enacted various sanctions and restrictions on business dealings with Russia, which include restrictions on imports of oil, natural gas and coal. The effect of the current sanctions and restrictions, as well as the extent and duration of the Russian military action, additional sanctions and associated market disruptions on the energy sector, are impossible to predict and depend on a number of factors. The effect of these events or any related developments could be significant and may have a severe adverse effect on the performance of a Fund.
Risk of Investing in the Financials Sector. Companies in the financials sector include small, regional and money center banks, securities brokerage firms, asset management companies, savings banks and thrift institutions, specialty finance companies (e.g., credit card, mortgage providers), insurance and insurance brokerage firms, consumer finance firms, financial conglomerates and foreign banking and financial companies.
Most financial companies are subject to extensive governmental regulation, which limits their activities and may affect their ability to earn a profit from a given line of business. Government regulation may change frequently and may have significant adverse consequences for companies in the financials sector, including effects not intended by the regulation. Direct governmental intervention in the operations of financial companies and financial markets may materially and adversely affect the companies in which a Fund invests, including legislation in many countries that may increase government regulation, repatriation and other intervention. The impact of governmental intervention and legislative changes on any individual financial company or on the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. The valuation of financial companies has been and continues to be subject to unprecedented volatility and may be influenced by unpredictable factors, including interest rate risk and sovereign debt default. Certain financial businesses are subject to intense competitive pressures, including market share and price competition. Financial companies in foreign countries are subject to market-specific and general regulatory and interest rate concerns. In particular, government regulation in certain foreign countries may include taxes and controls on interest rates, credit availability, minimum capital requirements, bans on short sales, limits on prices and restrictions on currency transfers. In addition, companies in the financials sector may be the targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or customer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses.
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The profitability of banks, savings and loan associations and other financial companies is largely dependent on the availability and cost of capital funds and can fluctuate significantly when interest rates change; for instance, when interest rates go up, the value of securities issued by many types of companies in the financials sector generally goes down. In other words, financial companies may be adversely affected in certain market cycles, including, without limitation, during periods of rising interest rates, which may restrict the availability and increase the cost of capital, and during periods of declining economic conditions, which may cause, among other things, credit losses due to financial difficulties of borrowers.
In addition, general economic conditions are important to the operations of these companies, and financial difficulties of borrowers may have an adverse effect on the profitability of financial companies. 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, and who at times may be unable to meet their obligations to the financial services companies. 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, including cross-default risk, may result in significant negative impacts to the financial condition and reputation of companies with direct exposure to the defaulting counterparty as well as adverse cascading effects in the markets and the financials sector generally. Financial companies can be highly dependent upon access to capital markets, and any impediments to such access, such as adverse overall economic conditions or a negative perception in the capital markets of a financial company’s financial condition or prospects, could adversely affect its business. Deterioration of credit markets can have an adverse impact on a broad range of financial markets, causing certain financial companies to incur large losses. In these conditions, companies in the financials sector may experience significant declines in the valuation of their assets, take actions to raise capital and even cease operations. Some financial companies may also be required to accept or borrow significant amounts of capital from government sources and may face future government-imposed restrictions on their businesses or increased government intervention. In addition, there is no guarantee that governments will provide any such relief in the future. These actions may cause the securities of many companies in the financials sector to decline in value.
Risk of Investing in the Healthcare Sector. Companies in the healthcare sector are often issuers whose profitability may be affected by extensive government regulation, restrictions on government reimbursement for medical expenses, rising or falling costs of medical products and services, pricing pressure, an increased emphasis on outpatient services, a limited number of products, industry innovation, changes in technologies and other market developments. Many healthcare companies are heavily dependent on patent protection and the actual or perceived safety and efficiency of their products.
Patents have a limited duration, and, upon expiration, other companies may market substantially similar generic products that are typically sold at a lower price than the patented product, which can cause the original developer of the product to lose market share and/or reduce the price charged for the product, resulting in lower profits for the original developer. As a result, the expiration of patents may adversely affect the profitability of these companies.
In addition, because the products and services of many companies in the healthcare sector affect the health and well-being of many individuals, these companies are especially susceptible to extensive litigation based on product liability and similar claims. Healthcare companies are subject to competitive forces that may make it difficult to raise prices and, in fact, may result in price discounting. Many new products in the healthcare sector may be subject to regulatory approvals. The process of obtaining such approvals may be long and costly, which can result in increased development costs, delayed cost recovery and loss of competitive advantage to the extent that rival companies have developed competing products or procedures, adversely affecting the company’s revenues and profitability. In other words, delays in the regulatory approval process may diminish the opportunity for a company to profit from a new product or to bring a new product to market, which could have a material adverse effect on a company’s business. Healthcare companies may also be strongly affected by scientific biotechnology or technological developments, and their products may quickly become obsolete. Also, many healthcare companies offer products and services that are subject to governmental regulation and may be adversely affected by changes in governmental policies or laws. Changes in governmental policies or laws may span a wide range of topics, including cost control, national health insurance, incentives for compensation in the provision of healthcare services, tax incentives and penalties related to healthcare insurance premiums, and promotion of prepaid healthcare plans. In addition, a number of legislative proposals concerning healthcare have been considered by the U.S. Congress in recent years. It is unclear what proposals will ultimately be enacted, if any, and what effect they may have on companies in the healthcare sector.
Additionally, the expansion of facilities by healthcare-related providers may be subject to determinations of need by certain government authorities. This process not only generally increases the time and costs involved in these expansions, but also
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makes expansion plans uncertain, limiting the revenue and profitability growth potential of healthcare-related facilities operators and negatively affecting the prices of their securities. Moreover, in recent years, both local and national governmental budgets have come under pressure to reduce spending and control healthcare costs, which could both adversely affect regulatory processes and public funding available for healthcare products, services and facilities.
Risk of Investing in the Industrials Sector. The value of securities issued by companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by supply of and demand for both their specific products or services and for industrials sector products in general. The products of manufacturing companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction. Government regulations, trade disputes, world events and economic conditions may affect the performance of companies in the industrials sector. The industrials sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors.Aerospace and defense companies, a component of the industrials sector, can be significantly affected by government spending policies because companies involved in this industry rely, to a significant extent, on government demand for their products and services. Thus, the financial condition of, and investor interest in, aerospace and defense companies are heavily influenced by governmental defense spending policies, which are typically under pressure from efforts to control government budgets. Transportation stocks, a component of the industrials sector, are cyclical and can be significantly affected by economic changes, fuel prices, labor relations and insurance costs. Transportation companies in certain countries may also be subject to significant government regulation and oversight, which may adversely affect their businesses. For example, commodity price declines and unit volume reductions resulting from an over-supply of materials used in the industrials sector can adversely affect the sector. Furthermore, companies in the industrials sector may be subject to liability for environmental damage, product liability claims, depletion of resources, and mandated expenditures for safety and pollution control.
Risk of Investing in the Information Technology Sector. Information technology companies face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on profit margins. Like other technology companies, information technology companies may have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or personnel. The products of information technology companies may face product obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction, unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. Technology companies and companies that rely heavily on technology, especially those of smaller, less-seasoned companies, tend to be more volatile than the overall market. Companies in the information technology sector are heavily dependent on patent and intellectual property rights. The loss or impairment of these rights may adversely affect the profitability of these companies. Information technology companies are facing increased government and regulatory scrutiny and may be subject to adverse government or regulatory action. Finally, while all companies may be susceptible to network security breaches, certain companies in the information technology sector may be particular targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or consumer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses. These risks are heightened for information technology companies in foreign markets.
Risk of Investing in the Infrastructure Industry. Companies in the infrastructure industry may be subject to a variety of factors that could adversely affect their business or operations, including 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. Infrastructure companies may be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, changes in exchange rates, import controls, depletion of resources, technological developments, and labor relations. There is also the risk that corruption may negatively affect publicly funded infrastructure projects, especially in emerging markets, resulting in delays and cost overruns. Infrastructure issuers can be significantly affected by government spending policies because companies involved in this industry rely to a significant extent on U.S. and other government demand for their products.
Infrastructure companies in the oil and gas industry may be adversely affected by government regulation or world events in the regions where the companies operate (e.g., expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and repatriation of capital, military coups, social unrest, violence or labor unrest). Infrastructure companies may have significant capital investments in, or engage in transactions involving, emerging market countries, which may heighten these risks.
Operations Risk. The failure of an infrastructure company 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.
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Customer Risk. Infrastructure companies can be dependent upon a narrow customer base. Additionally, if these customers fail to pay their obligations, significant revenues could be lost and may not be replaceable.
Regulatory Risk. Infrastructure companies 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 companies 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.
Interest Rate Risk. Rising interest rates could result in higher costs of capital for infrastructure companies, which could negatively impact their ability to meet payment obligations.
Leverage Risk. Infrastructure companies can be highly leveraged, which increases investments risk and other risks normally associated with debt financing and could adversely affect an infrastructure company's operations and market value in periods of rising interest rates.
Inflation Risk. Many infrastructure companies may have fixed income streams. Consequently, their market values may decline in times of higher inflation. Additionally, the prices that an infrastructure company is able to charge users of its assets may be linked to inflation, whether by government regulation, contractual arrangement or other factors. In this case, changes in the rate of inflation may affect the company's profitability.
Transportation Risk. The stock prices of companies in the transportation industry group are affected by both supply and demand for their specific product. Government regulation, world events and economic conditions may affect the performance of companies in the transportation industry group.
Oil and Gas Risk. The profitability of oil and gas companies is related to worldwide energy prices, exploration, and production spending.
Utilities Risk. Utilities companies face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on their profit margins. The rates charged by regulated utility companies are subject to review and limitation by governmental regulatory commissions.
Risk of Investing in the Materials Sector. Companies in the materials sector may be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, exchange rate fluctuations, social and political unrest, war, import or export controls, increased competition, depletion of resources, technical progress, labor relations and government regulations, and mandated expenditures for safety and pollution control, among other factors. Such risks may adversely affect the issuers to which a Fund has exposure. Companies in the materials sector are also at risk of liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. Production of materials may exceed demand as a result of market imbalances or economic downturns, leading to poor investment returns. These risks are heightened for companies in the materials sector located in foreign markets.
Risk of Investing in the Media Sub-Industry. Companies in the media sub-industry may encounter distressed cash flows due to the need to commit substantial capital to meet increasing competition, particularly in formulating new products and services using new technology. Media companies are subject to risks that include cyclicality of revenues and earnings, a potential decrease in the discretionary income of targeted individuals, changing consumer tastes and interests, competition in the industry and the potential for increased state and federal regulation. Advertising spending is an important source of revenue for media companies. During economic downturns, advertising spending typically decreases and, as a result, media companies tend to generate less revenue.
Risk of Investing in the Natural Resources Industry. The profitability of companies in the natural resources industry can be affected by worldwide energy prices, limits on exploration, and production spending. Companies in the natural resources industry are affected by government regulation, world events and economic conditions. Companies in the natural resources industry are at risk for environmental damage claims. Companies in the natural resources industry could be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, changes in exchange rates, imposition of import controls and increased competition. Companies in the natural resources industry may be adversely affected by depletion of natural resources, technological developments, and labor relations.
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Risk of Investing in the Real Estate Industry. Companies in the real estate industry include companies that invest in real estate, such as REITs, real estate holding and operating companies or real estate development companies (collectively, Real Estate Companies). Investing in Real Estate Companies exposes investors to the risks of owning real estate directly, as well as to risks that relate specifically to the way in which Real Estate Companies are organized and operated. The real estate industry is highly sensitive to general and local economic conditions and developments, and characterized by intense competition and periodic overbuilding. Investing in Real Estate Companies involves various risks. Some risks that are specific to Real Estate Companies are discussed in greater detail below.
Concentration Risk. Real Estate Companies may own a limited number of properties and concentrate their investments in a particular geographic region or property type. Economic downturns affecting a particular region, industry or property type may lead to a high volume of defaults within a short period.
Distressed Investment Risk. Real Estate Companies may invest in distressed, defaulted or out-of-favor bank loans. Identification and implementation by a Real Estate Company of loan modification and restructure programs involves a high degree of uncertainty. Even successful implementation may still require adverse compromises and may not prevent bankruptcy. Real Estate Companies may also invest in other debt instruments that may become non-performing, including the securities of companies with higher credit and market risk due to financial or operational difficulties. Higher risk securities may be less liquid and more volatile than the securities of companies not in distress.
Illiquidity Risk. Investing in Real Estate Companies may involve risks similar to those associated with investing in small-capitalization companies. Real Estate Company securities, like the securities of small-capitalization companies, may be more volatile than, and perform differently from, shares of large-capitalization companies. There may be less trading in Real Estate Company shares, which means that buy and sell transactions in those shares could have a magnified impact on share price, resulting in abrupt or erratic price fluctuations. In addition, real estate is relatively illiquid, and, therefore, a Real Estate Company may have a limited ability to vary or liquidate properties in response to changes in economic or other conditions.
Indian Tax Risk: The IT Act has been amended by the Finance Act, 2020 to tax the distributions made by REITS, out of the dividends received, in the hands of the unit holders. Earlier, a company distributing dividends to a REIT, was not liable to pay dividend distribution tax on such dividends, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions. Such dividends were considered a pass through income for the REIT and the distributions made by the REIT to the unit holders from such dividends was also exempt from tax in the hands of the non-resident unit holders.
Pursuant to the Finance Act, 2020, the dividend distribution tax has been abolished. Accordingly, under the amended IT Act, a company distributing dividends to a REIT would not be liable to pay dividend distribution tax irrespective of the satisfaction of any condition. However, the amended IT Act provides that though such dividend income would continue to be treated as pass through income for the REIT, the distributions made from such dividends by the REITs may be taxed in the hands of the unit holders (i.e. investors) in the REIT depending on the taxation regime adopted by the investee company. This may have a bearing on the returns of the Fund from investments in Indian REITs.
Interest Rate Risk. Rising interest rates could result in higher costs of capital for Real Estate Companies, which could negatively impact a Real Estate Company’s ability to meet its payment obligations. Declining interest rates could result in increased prepayment on loans and require redeployment of capital in less desirable investments.
Leverage Risk. Real Estate Companies may use leverage (and some may be highly leveraged), which increases investment risk and could adversely affect a Real Estate Company’s operations and market value in periods of rising interest rates. Real Estate Companies are also exposed to the risks normally associated with debt financing. Financial covenants related to a Real Estate Company’s leverage may affect the ability of the Real Estate Company to operate effectively. In addition, real property may be subject to the quality of credit extended and defaults by borrowers and tenants. If the properties do not generate sufficient income to meet operating expenses, including, where applicable, debt service, ground lease payments, tenant improvements, third-party leasing commissions and other capital expenditures, the income and ability of a Real Estate Company to make payments of any interest and principal on its debt securities will be adversely affected.
Loan Foreclosure Risk. Real Estate Companies may foreclose on loans that the Real Estate Company originated and/or acquired. Foreclosure may generate negative publicity for the underlying property that affects its market value. In addition to the length and expense of such proceedings, the validity of the terms of the applicable loan may not be recognized in foreclosure proceedings. Claims and defenses asserted by borrowers or other lenders may interfere with the enforcement of
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rights by a Real Estate Company. Parallel proceedings, such as bankruptcy, may also delay resolution and limit the amount of recovery on a foreclosed loan by a Real Estate Company even where the property underlying the loan is liquidated.
Management Risk. Real Estate Companies are dependent upon management skills and may have limited financial resources. Real Estate Companies are generally not diversified and may be subject to heavy cash flow dependency, default by borrowers and voluntary liquidation. In addition, transactions between Real Estate Companies and their affiliates may be subject to conflicts of interest, which may adversely affect a Real Estate Company’s shareholders. A Real Estate Company may also have joint venture investments in certain of its properties, and, consequently, its ability to control decisions relating to such properties may be limited.
Property Risk. Real Estate Companies may be subject to risks relating to functional obsolescence or reduced desirability of properties; extended vacancies due to economic conditions and tenant bankruptcies; catastrophic events such as earthquakes, hurricanes and terrorist acts; and casualty or condemnation losses. Real estate income and values also may be greatly affected by demographic trends, such as population shifts or changes in consumer preferences and values, or increasing vacancies or declining rents resulting from legal, cultural, technological, global or local economic developments.
Regulatory Risk. Real estate income and values may be adversely affected by such factors as applicable domestic and foreign laws (including tax laws). Government actions, such as tax increases, zoning law changes, mandated closures or other commercial restrictions or environmental regulations, also may have a major impact on real estate income and values. In addition, quarterly compliance with regulations limiting the proportion of asset types held by a U.S. REIT may force certain Real Estate Companies to liquidate or restructure otherwise attractive investments. Some countries may not recognize REITs or comparable structures as a viable form of real estate funds.
Underlying Investment Risk. Real Estate Companies make investments in a variety of debt and equity instruments with varying risk profiles. For instance, Real Estate Companies may invest in debt instruments secured by commercial property that have higher risks of delinquency and foreclosure than loans on single family homes due to a variety of factors associated with commercial property, including the tie between income available to service debt and productive use of the property. Real Estate Companies may also invest in debt instruments and preferred equity that are junior in an issuer’s capital structure and that involve privately negotiated structures. Subordinated debt investments, such as B-Notes and mezzanine loans, involve a greater credit risk of default due to the need to service more senior debt of the issuer. Similarly, preferred equity investments involve a greater risk of loss than conventional debt financing due to their non-collateralized nature and subordinated ranking. Investments in commercial mortgage-backed securities may also be junior in priority in the event of bankruptcy or similar proceedings. Investments in senior loans may be effectively subordinated if the senior loan is pledged as collateral. The ability of a holder of junior claims to proceed against a defaulting issuer is circumscribed by the terms of the particular contractual arrangement, which vary considerably from transaction to transaction.
U.S. Tax Risk. Certain U.S. Real Estate Companies are subject to special U.S. federal tax requirements. A REIT that fails to comply with such tax requirements may be subject to U.S. federal income taxation, which may affect the value of the REIT and the characterization of the REIT’s distributions. The U.S. federal tax requirement that a REIT distribute substantially all of its net income to its shareholders may result in a REIT having insufficient capital for future expenditures. A REIT that successfully maintains its qualification may still become subject to U.S. federal, state and local taxes, including excise, penalty, franchise, payroll, mortgage recording, and transfer taxes, both directly and indirectly through its subsidiaries. Because REITs often do not provide complete tax information until after the calendar year-end, a Fund may at times need to request permission to extend the deadline for issuing your tax reporting statement or supplement the information otherwise provided to you.
Risk of Investing in the Semiconductor Industry. Semiconductor companies face intense competition, both domestically and internationally; such competition may have an adverse effect on profit margins. Semiconductor companies may have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or personnel. The products of semiconductor companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction, unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. Capital equipment expenditures could be substantial and equipment generally suffers from rapid obsolescence. Companies in the semiconductor industry are heavily dependent on patent and intellectual property rights. The loss or impairment of these rights would adversely affect the profitability of these companies.
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Risk of Investing in the Technology Sector. Technology companies are characterized by periodic new product introductions, innovations and evolving industry standards, and, as a result, face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on profit margins. Companies in the technology sector are often smaller and less experienced companies and may be subject to greater risks than larger companies; these risks may be heightened for technology companies in foreign markets. Technology companies may have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or personnel. The products of technology companies may face product obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction, changes in consumer and business purchasing patterns, unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. In addition, a rising interest rate environment tends to negatively affect companies in the technology sector because, in such an environment, those companies with high market valuations may appear less attractive to investors, which may cause sharp decreases in the companies’ market prices. Companies in the technology sector are heavily dependent on patent and intellectual property rights. The loss or impairment of these rights may adversely affect the profitability of these companies. Companies in the technology sector are facing increased government and regulatory scrutiny and may be subject to adverse government or regulatory action. The technology sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced or characterized by unpredictable factors. Finally, while all companies may be susceptible to network security breaches, certain companies in the technology sector may be particular targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or consumer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses.
Risk of Investing in the Telecommunications Sector. The telecommunications sector of a country’s economy is often subject to extensive government regulation. The costs of complying with governmental regulations, delays or failure to receive required regulatory approvals, or the enactment of new regulatory requirements may negatively affect the business of telecommunications companies. Government actions around the world, specifically in the area of pre-marketing clearance of products and prices, can be arbitrary and unpredictable. Companies in the telecommunications sector may experience distressed cash flows due to the need to commit substantial capital to meet increasing competition, particularly in developing new products and services using new technology. Technological innovations may make the products and services of certain telecommunications companies obsolete. Finally, while all companies may be susceptible to network security breaches, certain companies in the telecommunications sector may be particular targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or consumer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses.
Risk of Investing in the Timber and Forestry Industry. The market value of timber and forestry companies may be negatively affected by events occurring in nature and by international and local politics. Natural disasters such as wild fires, volcanic eruptions, flooding, and severe weather conditions may affect the output of timber and timber-related products, and demand for timber and timber-related products in the U.S. and internationally may decrease due to new or changed tariffs, quotas or trade agreements. Rising interest rates or unfavorable economic conditions could also negatively affect the prices of or demand for timber and timber-related products.
Risk of Investing in the Transportation Industry. Companies in the transportation industry may be adversely affected by changes in the economy, increases in fuel and operating costs, labor relations, technology developments, exchange rates, insurance costs, industry competition and government regulation. Companies in the transportation industry are also affected by severe weather events, mass casualty accidents or environmental catastrophes, acts of terrorism and other similar events that target or damage transportation infrastructure or vessels, war or risk of war, widespread disruption of technology systems and increasing equipment and operational costs. Such global or regional events and conditions may adversely affect the operations, financial condition and liquidity of companies in the transportation industry and cause insurance premiums to increase dramatically or result in insurance coverage becoming unavailable for certain business lines or assets. Securities of companies in the transportation industry are generally cyclical and occasionally subject to sharp price movements.
Risk of Investing in the Utilities Sector. The utilities sector may be adversely affected by changing commodity prices, government regulation stipulating rates charged by utilities, increased tariffs, changes in tax laws, interest rate fluctuations and changes in the cost of providing specific utility services. The utilities industry is also subject to potential terrorist attacks, natural disasters and severe weather conditions, as well as regulatory and operational burdens associated with the operation and maintenance of nuclear facilities. Government regulators monitor and control utility revenues and costs, and therefore may limit utility profits. In certain countries, regulatory authorities may also restrict a company’s access to new markets, thereby diminishing the company’s long-term prospects.
There are substantial differences among the regulatory practices and policies of various jurisdictions, and any regulatory agency may make major shifts in policy from time to time. There is no assurance that regulatory authorities will, in the future,
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grant rate increases. Additionally, existing and possible future regulatory legislation may make it even more difficult for utilities to obtain adequate relief. Certain of the issuers of securities held in a Fund's portfolio may own or operate nuclear generating facilities. Governmental authorities may from time to time review existing policies and impose additional requirements governing the licensing, construction and operation of nuclear power plants. Prolonged changes in climate conditions can also have a significant impact on both the revenues of an electric and gas utility as well as the expenses of a utility, particularly a hydro-based electric utility.
The rates that traditional regulated utility companies may charge their customers generally are subject to review and limitation by governmental regulatory commissions. Rate changes may occur only after a prolonged approval period or may not occur at all, which could adversely affect utility companies when costs are rising. The value of regulated utility debt securities (and, to a lesser extent, equity securities) tends to have an inverse relationship to the movement of interest rates. Certain utility companies have experienced full or partial deregulation in recent years. These utility companies are frequently more similar to industrial companies in that they are subject to greater competition and have been permitted by regulators to diversify outside of their original geographic regions and their traditional lines of business. As a result, some companies may be forced to defend their core business and may be less profitable. Deregulation may also permit a utility company to expand outside of its traditional lines of business and engage in riskier ventures.
Proxy Voting Policy
For the Funds, the Board has delegated the voting of proxies for each Fund’s securities to BFA pursuant to the Funds' Proxy Voting Policy, and BFA has adopted policies and procedures (collectively, the iShares ETFs Proxy Voting Policies) governing proxy voting by accounts managed by BFA, including the Funds.
Under the iShares ETFs Proxy Voting Policies, BFA will vote proxies related to Fund securities in the best interests of a Fund and its shareholders. From time to time, a vote may present a conflict between the interests of a Fund’s shareholders, on the one hand, and those of BFA, or any affiliated person of a Fund or BFA, on the other. BFA maintains policies and procedures that are designed to prevent undue influence on BFA’s proxy voting activity that might stem from any relationship between the issuer of a proxy (or any dissident shareholder) and BFA, BFA’s affiliates, a Fund or a Fund’s affiliates. Most conflicts are managed through a structural separation of BFA’s Corporate Governance Group from BFA’s employees with sales and client responsibilities. In addition, BFA maintains procedures to ensure that all engagements with corporate issuers or dissident shareholders are managed consistently and without regard to BFA’s relationship with the issuer of the proxy or the dissident shareholder. In certain instances, BFA may determine to engage an independent fiduciary to vote proxies as a further safeguard to avoid potential conflicts of interest or as otherwise required by applicable law.
Copies of the iShares ETFs Proxy Voting Policies are attached as Appendix A.
Information with respect to how proxies relating to the Funds' portfolio securities were voted during the 12-month period ended June 30 is available: (i) without charge, upon request, by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or through the Funds' website at www.iShares.com; and (ii) on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.
Portfolio Holdings Information
On each Business Day (as defined in the Creation and Redemption of Creation Units section of this SAI), prior to the opening of regular trading on the Fund’s primary listing exchange, a Fund discloses on its website (www.iShares.com) certain information relating to the portfolio holdings that will form the basis of a Fund’s next net asset value per share calculation.
In addition, certain information may also be made available to certain parties:
Communications of Data Files: A Fund may make available through the facilities of the National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC) or through posting on the www.iShares.com, prior to the opening of trading on each business day, a list of a Fund’s holdings (generally pro-rata) that Authorized Participants could deliver to a Fund to settle purchases of a Fund (i.e. Deposit Securities) or that Authorized Participants would receive from a Fund to settle redemptions of a Fund (i.e. Fund Securities). These files are known as the Portfolio Composition File and the Fund Data File (collectively, Files). The Files are applicable for the next trading day and are provided to the NSCC and/or posted on www.iShares.com after the close of markets in the U.S.
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Communications with Authorized Participants and Liquidity Providers: Certain employees of BFA are responsible for interacting with Authorized Participants and liquidity providers with respect to discussing custom basket proposals as described in the Custom Baskets section of this SAI. As part of these discussions, these employees may discuss with an Authorized Participant or liquidity provider the securities a Fund is willing to accept for a creation, and securities that a Fund will provide on a redemption.
BFA employees may also discuss portfolio holdings-related information with broker/dealers, in connection with settling a Fund’s transactions, as may be necessary to conduct business in the ordinary course in a manner consistent with the disclosure in the Funds' current registration statements.
Communications with Listing Exchanges: From time to time, employees of BFA may discuss portfolio holdings information with the applicable primary listing exchange for a Fund as needed to meet the exchange listing standards.
Communications with Other Portfolio Managers: Certain information may be provided to employees of BFA who manage funds that invest a significant percentage of their assets in shares of an underlying fund as necessary to manage the fund’s investment objective and strategy.
Communication of Other Information: Certain explanatory information regarding the Files is released to Authorized Participants and liquidity providers on a daily basis, but is only done so after the Files are posted to www.iShares.com.
Third-Party Service Providers: Certain portfolio holdings information may be disclosed to Fund Trustees and their counsel, outside counsel for the Funds, auditors and to certain third-party service providers (i.e., fund administrator, custodian, proxy voting service) for which a non-disclosure, confidentiality agreement or other obligation is in place with such service providers, as may be necessary to conduct business in the ordinary course in a manner consistent with applicable policies, agreements with the Funds, the terms of the current registration statements and federal securities laws and regulations thereunder.
Liquidity Metrics: Liquidity Metrics, which seek to ascertain a Fund’s liquidity profile under BlackRock’s global liquidity risk methodology, include but are not limited to: (a) disclosure regarding the number of days needed to liquidate a portfolio or the portfolio’s underlying investments; and (b) the percentage of a Fund’s NAV invested in a particular liquidity tier under BlackRock’s global liquidity risk methodology. The dissemination of position-level liquidity metrics data and any non-public regulatory data pursuant to the Liquidity Rule (including SEC liquidity tiering) is not permitted unless pre-approved. Disclosure of portfolio-level liquidity metrics prior to 60 calendar days after calendar quarter-end requires a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement and approval of the Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer. Portfolio-level liquidity metrics disclosure subsequent to 60 calendar days after calendar quarter-end requires the approval of portfolio management and must be disclosed to all parties requesting the information if disclosed to any party.
The Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer or his delegate may authorize disclosure of portfolio holdings information pursuant to the above policy and procedures, subject to restrictions on selective disclosure imposed by applicable law. The Board reviews the policy and procedures for disclosure of portfolio holdings information at least annually.
Construction and Maintenance of the Underlying Indexes
Descriptions of the Underlying Indexes are provided below.
With respect to certain underlying indexes of the iShares funds, BFA or its affiliates have held discussions with the applicable index provider regarding their business interest in licensing an index to track a particular market segment and conveyed investment concepts and strategies that could be considered for the index. The index provider designed and constituted such indices using concepts conveyed by BFA or its affiliates. For certain of these indices, the relevant fund may be the first or sole user of the underlying index. In its sole discretion, the index provider determines the composition of the securities and other instruments in such underlying index, the rebalance protocols of the underlying index, the weightings of the securities and other instruments in the underlying index, and any updates to the methodology. From time to time, BFA or its affiliates may also provide input relating to possible methodology changes of such underlying index pursuant to the index provider’s consultation process or pursuant to other communications with the index provider.
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Nifty 50 IndexTM
Number of Components: 50
Index Description. The Nifty 50 IndexTM is designed to measure the equity performance of the top 50 companies by free float market capitalization whose equity securities trade in the Indian securities markets that are available to international investors on the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd. (NSE). The securities in the Underlying Index are free float market capitalization-weighted so that securities with higher total free float market capitalization have a larger representation in the Underlying Index.
Index Committee. NSE Indices Ltd. (formerly known as India Index Services & Products Limited) (NSEI) indexes are primarily rules-based and monitored by a governing committee.
NSEI has constituted an Index Advisory Committee – Equity that provides guidance on macro issues pertaining to equity indices. The Index Maintenance Sub-Committee – Equity takes all decisions on additions and deletions of companies in indices.
Index Maintenance. Changes in the Nifty 50 IndexTM level reflect changes in the free-float market capitalization of the constituents of the Nifty 50 IndexTM which are caused by stock price movements in the market. When a stock is replaced by another stock within the Nifty 50 IndexTM, the index divisor is adjusted so the change in Nifty 50 IndexTM market value that results from the addition and deletion does not change the index level.
Index Availability. The Nifty 50 IndexTM is calculated continuously and is available from major data vendors. For purposes of reporting performance of the Fund, the index provider will also make available to the Fund Nifty 50 IndexTM values in U.S. dollars on an end of day basis by applying a foreign exchange rate calculation to the Nifty 50 IndexTM as determined by the index provider.
Component Selection Criteria. In addition to domicile within India and a listing on the NSE, component security selection decisions include the following criteria:
Eligible Securities:
Constituents of Nifty 100 Index that are available for trading in NSE’s Futures & Options segment are eligible for inclusion in the Nifty 50 IndexTM.
Trading Frequency:
The company’s trading frequency should be 100% in the last six months.
Liquidity:
For inclusion in the index, the security should have traded at an average impact cost of 0.50% or less during the last six months for 90% of the observations for a portfolio of 100 million Indian Rupees. Impact cost is the cost of executing a transaction in a security in proportion to its index weight, measured by market capitalization at any point in time. This is the percentage mark-up suffered while buying/selling the desired quantity of a security compared to its ideal price – (best buy + best sell)/2.
Float-Adjusted Market Capitalization:
Companies will be eligible for inclusion in the Nifty 50 IndexTM provided the average free-float market capitalization is at least 1.5 times the average free-float market capitalization of the smallest constituent in the index.
The FTSE Indexes
FTSE Green Revenues Select Infrastructure and Industrials Index
Number of Components: approximately 54
Index Description. The FTSE Green Revenues Select Infrastructure and Industrials Index is an equity index designed to reflect the performance of U.S. and non-U.S. companies, selected from the FTSE Global All Cap Index (the Parent Index). The Parent Index is composed of large-, mid- and small-capitalization stocks from developed and emerging markets. The Underlying Index is designed to reflect the equity performance of U.S. and non-U.S. companies that derive at least 40% of
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their combined annual green revenues in aggregate from a combination of 29 selected FTSE Green Revenues Classification System (GRCS) micro-sectors (as defined by the Index Provider), which were determined based on relevance to the three key themes: (1) energy efficiency and emissions mitigation, (2) pollution reduction, or (3) land and resource optimization.
The energy efficiency and emissions mitigation theme includes: (i) energy efficient infrastructure solutions such as energy or resource efficient products for buildings, semiconductor and microgrid controllers, and smart grid components; (ii) clean transportation or freight solutions including electric or magnetic trains, low emissions buses, airplanes, and ships; and (iii) emissions mitigation infrastructure solutions such as carbon capture and particle or emissions reduction devices. The pollution reduction theme includes: (i) clean water solutions such as wastewater or stormwater management, water distribution, monitoring and purification, and advanced irrigation; (ii) solutions for land pollution including sustainable waste management and land decontamination services and devices; and (iii) air pollution solutions across industrial, transport, and atmospheric settings. The land and resource optimization theme includes: (i) solutions that minimize land-use and local environmental impacts such as environmental testing and desalination equipment; and (ii) recycling solutions and solutions that optimize natural resource-use including advanced and low-weight materials, smart city design, and engineering.
The Index Provider begins with the Parent Index and excludes the securities of companies that it identifies as being involved in the business of tobacco, companies involved with controversial weapons, producers and retailers of civilian firearms, and companies involved in thermal coal mining, thermal coal-based power generation or the extraction of oil sands. Certain exclusions (e.g., controversial weapons or manufacturing tobacco products) are categorical, and others are based on percentage of revenue or ownership thresholds. Additionally, the Index Provider excludes companies that it determines are involved in controversies related to the ten United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) principles, which are classified into four categories: human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. The Index Provider also excludes companies with less than $100 million free float adjusted market capitalization or less than $1 million average daily trading volume in the last sixty trading days. A minimum of 30 trading days must exist to calculate average daily trading volume. Securities with insufficient data will not be eligible for inclusion. These ESG screens are applied on a semi-annual basis and the liquidity and minimum market capitalization screens are applied quarterly. The Underlying Index is reviewed and reconstituted semi-annually and rebalanced quarterly.
The Underlying Index is constructed from constituents of the Parent Index and selected using GRCS. A company is eligible for inclusion in the Underlying Index if it has at least 40% of its combined annual green revenues in aggregate from a combination of 29 selected GRCS micro-sectors (as defined by the Index Provider), which were determined based on relevance to the three key themes. The GRCS is calculated as follows:
Aggregate green revenues percentage from eligible infrastructure and industrials GRCS micros-sectors for a company is the ratio of green revenues as classified by the FTSE GRCS to total company revenue. Eligible GRCS micro-sectors include, among others, Carbon Capture and Storage, Smart City Design and Engineering, and Industrial Pollution Reduction, each as defined by the Index Provider.
Includes companies identified by the Index Provider as deriving green revenue from Tier 1 activities (i.e., activities with significant and clear environmental benefits, such as solar) and Tier 2 activities (i.e., activities with more limited but net positive environmental benefits, such as water utilities) but excludes companies deriving revenue from Tier 3 activities (i.e., activities with some environmental benefits but overall net neutral or negative, such as nuclear).
Company assessments using sector-specific estimates of green revenues are not used for determining index eligibility.
To reduce index turnover, a buffer threshold will also be employed. At reviews of the index, new constituents will only be eligible for inclusion if they have 40% or more eligible green revenues. In addition, at reviews of the index, current constituents will only be removed if they fall below 35% in eligible green revenues.
Only companies from the Utilities, Industrials, and Basic Materials Industry Classification Benchmark (ICB) sectors are eligible for inclusion.
The Underlying Index is reviewed and reconstituted semi-annually in March and September and rebalanced quarterly in March, June, September, and December. New constituents will be eligible for inclusion if they have green revenues of 40% or more. Current constituents will be removed if their green revenues fall below 35%.
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ICE® Data Indexes
NYSE® FactSet® Global Blockchain Technologies IndexTM
Number of Components: approximately 35
Index Description. The NYSE FactSet Global Blockchain Technologies Index is a rules-based, modified float-adjusted market capitalization-weighted equity index that measures the performance of U.S. and non-U.S. companies that are involved in the development, innovation, and utilization of blockchain and crypto technologies.
IDI defines blockchain as technologies characterized by a shared, peer-to-peer, decentralized, and immutable ledger ideally suited for recording information. Immutability – an essential blockchain characteristic – is enabled by cryptography. Blockchain and cryptography (crypto) are referenced jointly due to their close connection and technological adjacency.
Constituents are selected using revenue exposure as defined by the FactSet Revere Business Industry Classification System (RBICS) and Revere Hierarchy classifications. The Underlying Index is composed of (i) blockchain technology companies, (ii) cryptocurrency mining, (iii) cryptocurrency trading/exchanges, (iv) crypto-mining systems, and (v) video multimedia semiconductors. The Underlying Index makes distinction between Tier 1 names, which derive more than 50% of their revenues from sources (i)-(iv), and Tier 2 names, which derive less than 50% of revenues from sources (i)-(iv), or which also include companies that derive more than 50% of revenues from source (v). The Underlying Index is reviewed and reconstituted semi-annually, rebalanced quarterly, and weighted by float adjusted market capitalization. Tier 1 securities will be allocated a minimum weight of 75% in aggregate, subject to capping constraints. Each Tier 1 security is capped at 12%, and each Tier 2 security is capped at 4% of the Underlying Index at rebalance. Securities with weights greater than 4.5% shall not in aggregate exceed 45% of the Underlying Index weight at rebalance. Additionally, Tier 1 securities whose constituent weight is greater than ten (10) times their three-month average daily traded volume (ADTV) will have their weights determined by their liquidity weight instead of by float-adjusted market capitalization. The Index Provider determines the liquidity weight of a security as follows: index weight assigned to a security based on the relative three-month median daily value traded of the security compared to that measure for the overall index. The Underlying Index will have a minimum of 35 constituents at selection and will include all Tier 1 securities and a minimum of 10 Tier 2 securities, selected in descending order of float-adjusted market capitalization.
Eligibility. The following rules are used for the initial constituent selection and ongoing reconstitution:
Companies must be primarily listed in one of the following 43 countries or regions: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, U.K., and United States;
The Underlying Index will include China A shares;
The companies initially included in the Underlying Index or new to the Underlying Index must have a float-adjusted market capitalization of $100 million or greater and three-month ADTV of $1 million or greater; and
Existing constituents are not removed from the Underlying Index unless their float-adjusted market capitalization is less than $75 million, and three month ADTV is less than $0.75 million.
The Morningstar Indexes
Component Selection Criteria. The Morningstar® Global ex-US Dividend Growth IndexSM is a subset of the Morningstar® Global Markets ex-US IndexSM, which is a diversified broad market index that represents approximately 97% of the market capitalization in international developed and emerging markets. To be eligible for inclusion in the Morningstar® Global ex-US Dividend Growth IndexSM, companies must pay a qualified dividend, must have at least five years of uninterrupted annual dividend growth and their earnings payout ratio must be less than 75%. Companies that are in the top decile based on dividend yield are excluded from the Underlying Index prior to the dividend growth and payout ratio screens.
Issue Changes. Securities are added or deleted from the index based on rules outlined for security selection, exclusion, rebalancing, and adjustments for corporate actions as set forth in the Morningstar Index Rulebook. Morningstar makes no subjective determinations related to index composition.
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Index Maintenance. The Morningstar® Global Markets ex-US IndexSM is reconstituted twice annually, on the Monday following the third Friday of June and the Monday following the third Friday of December. The Morningstar® Global ex-US Dividend Growth IndexSM is reconstituted once annually on the Monday following the third Friday December. If the Monday is a holiday, reconstitution occurs on the Tuesday immediately following. Reconstitution is carried out after the day’s closing index values have been determined.
Index Availability. Morningstar Indexes are calculated continuously and are available from major data vendors.
Morningstar® Global ex-US Dividend Growth IndexSM
Number of Components: approximately 473
Index Description. The Morningstar® Global ex-US Dividend Growth IndexSM, the Underlying Index, is a dividend dollars weighted index that seeks to measure the performance of international equities selected based on a consistent history of growing dividends. The Underlying Index is a subset of the Morningstar® Global Markets ex-US IndexSM, which is a diversified broad market index that represents approximately 97% of the market capitalization in international developed and emerging markets. As of March 31, 2023, the Underlying Index was comprised of securities of companies in the following markets: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and the U.K. Eligible companies must pay a qualified dividend, must have at least five years of uninterrupted annual dividend growth and their earnings payout ratio must be less than 75%. Companies that are in the top decile based on dividend yield are excluded from the Underlying Index prior to the dividend growth, payout ratio, and passive foreign investment company (PFIC) screens.
Index Methodology. The Underlying Index methodology is as follows:
(1) a security must be a member of the Morningstar® Global Markets ex-US IndexSM
(2) security must pay a qualified dividend (e.g., REITs are excluded);
(3) top decile yield payers are excluded;
(4.1) apply dividend growth screen: must be currently paying dividends and have at least five years of uninterrupted annual dividend growth; dividend growth condition is considered met if the trailing twelve months aggregated dividend increased from the previous to the current reconstitution date;
(4.2) spinoff exception to growth rule: for a current constituent of the index, the requirement to raise dividend year-over-year to remain in the index after reconstitution will be waived if the constituent completed a spin-off in the preceding twelve months; any publicly trading spun-off entity of a current constituent will be immediately included in the index, but it will have to start increasing its dividend starting with the year following the next reconstitution to remain in the index. The current constituent will not require dividend growth in the spin-off year, where year means the twelve-month period between annual index reconstitutions;
(4.3) share repurchase exception to growth rule: for a current constituent of the index, the requirement to raise dividend year-over-year to remain in the index after reconstitution will be waived if the constituent kept the dividend constant and executed share repurchases in the preceding twelve months resulting in net decrease in its shares outstanding; this exception does not apply to constituents that decreased their dividend;
(5) apply growth sustainability screen: payout ratio must be less than 75%, and must have positive consensus earnings forecast. Payout ratio is forward looking and is calculated by the trailing twelve month divided by the forward 12 month consensus earnings forecast;
(6) apply PFIC screen: exclude PFICs based on best efforts to identify them;
(7) weight by dividend dollars (float adjusted common shares multiplied by the current trailing twelve month dividend rate per share);
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(8) apply 3% weight cap on individual names to maintain sufficient diversification. The weight capping algorithm will preserve, starting with the smallest security, the relative weights between as many constituents as possible while enforcing the weight cap;
(9) apply 20% single country cap to maintain sufficient geographical diversification. The weight capping algorithm will preserve, starting with the smallest country, the relative weights between as many countries as possible while enforcing the weight cap; and
(10) the index is reconstituted annually and rebalanced quarterly; at rebalance, index constituent list is not altered, but the weights of the constituents are re-adjusted back to the dividend dollar weighting and the weight constraints are re-applied.
Morningstar Global Metaverse & Virtual Interaction Select Index
Number of Components: approximately 38
Index Description. The Morningstar Global Metaverse & Virtual Interaction Select Index is a rules-based, modified float-adjusted market capitalization-weighted equity benchmark designed to track the performance of globally listed companies that provide products and services that are expected to contribute to the metaverse in areas including virtual platforms, social media, gaming, 3D software, digital assets, and virtual and augmented reality, as determined by the index provider. The Underlying Index is a subset of the Morningstar Global Markets ex-India Index (the Parent Index). The Index Provider defines metaverse as a three-dimensional immersive digital world.
Morningstar evaluates the constituents based on five-year net profit and revenue projections as a producer or supplier with respect to six themes:
Metaverse Platforms: Technologies that facilitate virtual interactions across a high volume of users, combining elements of 3D rendering and simulation software, wearable technology, immersive gaming, enhanced social media, and digital assets and payments.
Wearable Technology and VR/AR: Virtual reality (VR) is the use of computer technology to create the effect of an interactive three-dimensional world in which the objects have a sense of spatial presence. Augmented reality (AR) is an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device.
Enhanced Social Media: Interactive digital channels, enhanced by the use of VR and AR platforms, that allow users to create and share content.
Immersive Gaming: All-encompassing online games that many players can play simultaneously and the associated tools and hardware that facilitate their development.
3D Rendering and Simulation Software: Software and tools leveraged by businesses, consumers, and brands to build and develop content for VR and AR platforms.
Digital Assets and Payments: A digital asset is a collection of binary data which is self-contained, uniquely identifiable, and has a value, such as non-fungible tokens and cryptocurrencies. Digital payments are transfers of value from one payment account to another by use of a digital device, with no exchange of cash. This theme targets companies that facilitate the use of payment solutions or digital assets in the metaverse or enhanced shared virtual spaces.
Index Methodology. Securities from the Parent Index are eligible for inclusion in the Underlying Index based on the following criteria:
Securities must have at least $2 million in three-month average daily trading volume (ADTV) and at least a $300 million free float market capitalization. Current index constituents are eliminated if they have less than $1.5 million in three-month ADTV or less than $200 million free float market capitalization.
The issuer must be classified by Morningstar as a producer of goods or services related to a theme of the Underlying Index or a supplier of such producers.
The issuer must have current exposure from at least one theme, as determined by Morningstar, and must be highly likely to experience at least a 5% increase in net profit over the next five years from exposure to that theme.
Morningstar research analysts estimate the percentage of total revenue that a company will derive over the next five years from its exposure to each theme of the Underlying Index. In making these projections, the research analysts may take into
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account, among other things, financial statements, historical growth rates, competitive and industry analyses, macroeconomic factors, and news and other data sources. Based on the analysts’ revenue projections, each company is assigned an exposure score for each theme as follows:
Score of 0: Less than 10% of the issuer’s total revenue
Score of 1: 10-25% of the issuer’s total revenue
Score of 2: 25-50% of the issuer’s total revenue
Score of 3: Greater than 50% of the total revenue of an issuer that is a supplier
Score of 4: Greater than 50% of the total revenue of an issuer that is a producer
A Morningstar committee reviews the scores assigned by analysts to help ensure internal consistency.
If a company has an exposure score of zero for each theme, it is excluded from the Underlying Index. The remaining potential constituents are designated as Tier 1 or Tier 2. Tier 1 issuers are those with an aggregate score (the sum of all exposure scores) of 3 or more and at least an aggregate, non-overlapping revenue exposure of 25% across all themes relative to company-wide revenue. Tier 2 issuers are those with an aggregate score of less than 3. Morningstar ranks Tier 2 issuers with preference given to:
Higher aggregate score
Number of themes in which a constituent scores 2
Number of themes in which a constituent scores 1
Preference for smaller float market capitalization
All Tier 1 constituents are selected for the Underlying Index. However, if there are fewer than 50 Tier 1 constituents, the shortfall is filled with Tier 2 constituents, and the Underlying Index is capped at 50 constituents.
Constituents are float-adjusted market capitalization-weighted with a minimum 80% weight, in aggregate, allocated to Tier 1 constituents. Individual Tier 1 constituents have a 6% cap, while individual Tier 2 constituents have a 3% cap. Constituents with an aggregate score of 1, or an aggregate score of 2 of which a theme is Metaverse Platforms, are constrained to 10% of the Underlying Index. Of the 10% weight, at most only 5% can be in sectors outside of technology or communications. At each rebalance, issuers with weights over 4.5% shall not in aggregate exceed 45% of the Underlying Index. In case there is no feasible solution for capping, the Index Provider will loosen constraints until a solution can be found, such as reducing the minimum weight of Tier 1 constituents in 1% increments until that capping is feasible.
The Underlying Index is reconstituted each December and rebalanced quarterly. The themes are reviewed annually by the Index Provider and are subject to change as they evolve and new themes emerge.
Calculation Methodology. The Fund utilizes the Underlying Index calculated with net dividends reinvested. Morningstar uses the country of incorporation of the constituents to determine the relevant dividend withholding tax rates in calculating the net dividends. The regular cash dividend is reinvested after deduction of withholding tax by applying the maximum rate of the company’s country of incorporation applicable to institutional investors. Net dividends means dividends after taxes withheld at the rate applicable to non-resident institutional investors who do not benefit from double taxation treaties. Such withholding rates may differ from those applicable to U.S. residents.
The S&P Indexes
Component Selection Criteria for Domestic Indexes. S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC’s (SPDJI) various Index Committees are responsible for the overall management of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC's indices (S&P DJI Indices). Issuers (i.e., the components) selected for the Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC (S&P) U.S. indexes represent a broad range of industry segments within the U.S. economy. The starting universe of publicly traded U.S. issuers classified by the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS®) is screened to eliminate ADRs, mutual funds, limited partnerships, royalty trusts, certain holding issuers, OTC bulletin board issues, pink sheet-listed issues, closed-end funds, ETFs and tracking stocks. REITs, except for mortgage REITs, are eligible for inclusion in the Indexes. The stock of each constituent must trade on either the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the NYSE Amex Equities or on NASDAQ. Additionally, only one share class per constituent will be included in an Index. The share class is selected by SPDJI and is generally defined as the largest, most
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liquid share class. Issuers with multiple share classes will have the classes combined for purposes of calculation of market capitalization. The following criteria are then analyzed to determine an issuer’s eligibility for inclusion in the S&P Indexes: (i) ownership of an issuer’s outstanding common stock, in order to screen out closely held issuers; (ii) trading volume of an issuer’s shares, in order to ensure ample liquidity and efficient share pricing; and (iii) the financial and operating condition of an issuer.
The S&P DJI’s Indices are capitalization-weighted, based on the following formula: number of outstanding shares of a constituent (as determined by the float-adjusted market capitalization using SPDJI’s methodology) multiplied by the constituent’s share price. Issuers with float-adjusted market capitalizations below certain thresholds are not eligible for the Indexes. In addition, the market capitalization of an issuer eligible for inclusion typically must be greater than the Index’s minimum market capitalization at the time it is being considered for Index inclusion. The market capitalizations of an Index’s components are adjusted to reflect changes in capitalization resulting from mergers, acquisitions, stock rights, substitutions and other capital events. The market capitalizations of an Index’s constituent are adjusted for all strategic holdings, including private, corporate, and government holdings.
Component Selection Criteria for International Indexes. Stocks are eligible for the S&P Global Indices if they meet criteria for size, liquidity, profitability, and sector and market representation. Each of the S&P Global Indices is balanced across country and sector weights in the region/market. The S&P Global Indices begin with an eligible investable universe of stocks covering approximately 95% of each country’s total market capitalization. In some cases, the S&P Global Indexes may include ADRs and GDRs. Stocks with relatively small market capitalization or insufficient liquidity are excluded by SPDJI. To identify a candidate pool for index constituent selection, all stocks are carefully examined using a set of general criteria. The specific securities are then screened for industry sector classification; thus, the eligible securities are ranked according to GICS. Then, the Index components, now determined, are weighted on the basis of SPDJI’s float-adjusted, market capitalization methodology. Generally, SPDJI observes a prospective constituent’s liquidity over a period of at least twelve months before consideration for inclusion. However, there may be extraordinary situations when issuers should be added immediately (e.g., certain privatizations). When a particular issuer dominates its home market, it may be excluded from an Index if analysis of the sectors reveals that its securities are not as liquid as those of similar issuers in other countries. Once a year, the float adjustments will be reviewed and potentially changed based on such review. The values of an Index’s components are adjusted to reflect changes in capitalization resulting from mergers, acquisitions, stock rights, substitutions and other capital events. The market capitalization of index constituent issuers is adjusted for all strategic holdings, including private, corporate, and government holdings.
With respect to the non-U.S. components of the S&P Global Indexes, the eligible universe of index components that are considered for inclusion are from the following S&P DJI Indices: (i) the S&P/TSX 60 (Toronto Stock Exchange), which represents the liquid, large-cap stocks of the publicly listed issuers in the Canadian equities market; (ii) the S&P/TOPIX 150 (Tokyo Stock Exchange) which represents the liquid, large-cap stocks of the publicly listed issuers in the Japanese equities market; (iii) S&P/ASX All-Australian 50 Index (Australian Stock Exchange), which represents the liquid, large-cap stocks in the Australian equities market; (iv) the S&P Asia 50, which represents the liquid, large-cap stocks of four major equities markets in Asia (Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore); (v) the S&P Latin America 40, which represents the liquid, large-cap stocks from major sectors of the Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Chilé equity markets; and (vi) the S&P Europe 350, which represents the liquid, large-cap stocks of the publicly listed issuers in the region, covering approximately 70% of the region’s market capitalization.
Issue Changes. General oversight responsibility for the S&P DJI Indices, including overall policy guidelines and methodology, is handled by the S&P Global Index Committee. Maintenance of component investments, including additions and deletions to these investments, is the responsibility of separate regional index committees composed of S&P staff specialized in the various regional equity markets and, in some cases, with the assistance of local stock exchanges. Public announcements of index changes as the result of committee decisions will generally be made two business days in advance of the anticipated effective date whenever possible, although for exceptional corporate events announcements may be made earlier.
Index Maintenance. Maintaining the S&P DJI Indices includes monitoring and completing the adjustments for issuer additions and deletions, share changes, stock splits, stock dividends, and stock price adjustments due to restructuring and spin-offs. An issuer will be removed from the S&P DJI Indices as a result of mergers/acquisitions, bankruptcy, or restructuring. An issuer is removed from the relevant index as close as possible to the actual date on which the event
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occurred. An issuer can be removed from an index because it no longer meets current criteria for inclusion and/or is no longer representative of its industry group. All replacement issuers are selected based on the above component section criteria.
When calculating index weights, individual components shares held by governments, corporations, strategic partners, or other control groups are excluded from the issuer’s shares outstanding. Shares owned by other issuers are also excluded regardless of whether they are index components. In countries with regulated environments, where a foreign investment limit exists at the sector or issuer level, the constituent’s weight will reflect either the foreign investment limit or the percentage float, whichever is the more restrictive.
Each issuer’s financial statements will be used to update the major shareholders’ ownership. However, during the course of the year, SPDJI also monitors each issuer’s Investable Weight Factor (IWF) which is SPDJI’s term for the mathematical float factor used to calculate the float adjustment. If a change in IWF is caused by a major corporate action (i.e., privatization, merger, takeover, or share offering) and the change equal to or greater than 5%, a float adjustment will be implemented as soon as reasonably possible.
Changes in the number of shares outstanding driven by corporate events such as stock dividends, splits, and rights issues will be adjusted on the ex-date. Share changes of 5% or greater are implemented when they occur. Share changes of less than 5% are only updated on a quarterly basis on the Friday near the end of the calendar quarter. Generally, index changes due to rebalancing are announced two days before the effective date by way of a news release posted on www.us.spindices.com.
Index Availability. The S&P Indexes are calculated continuously and are available from major data vendors.
Exchange Rates. SPDJI uses the World Markets/Reuters Closing Spot Rates taken at 4:00 p.m. London timefor the following funds:iShares Global 100 ETF, iShares Global Comm Services ETF, iShares Global Consumer Discretionary ETF, iShares Global Consumer Staples ETF, iShares Global Energy ETF, iShares Global Financials ETF, iShares Global Healthcare ETF, iShares Global Industrials ETF, iShares Global Materials ETF, iShares Global Tech ETF, iShares Global Utilities ETF and iShares Latin America 40 ETF. Prior to January 31, 2013, SPDJI used the currency exchange (FX) rate corresponding to 5:15 p.m. Eastern time (with the exception of iShares Asia 50 ETF). In case World Markets/Reuters does not provide rates for specific markets on given days (for example, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day), the previous business day’s rates are normally used. SPDJI independently monitors the exchange rates on all its indexes. SPDJI may under exceptional circumstances elect to use alternative sources of exchange rates if the World Markets/Reuters rates are not available, or if SPDJI determines that the World Markets/Reuters rates are not reflective of market circumstances for a given currency on a particular day.
S&P Asia 50TM
Number of Components: approximately 53
Index Description. The S&P Asia 50TM is a float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that is designed to measure the performance of the 50 leading companies listed in four Asian countries or regions: Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. The S&P Asia 50TM generally has representation from each of the eleven sectors of the GICS.
S&P Developed ex-U.S. Property IndexTM
Number of Components: approximately 391
Index Description. The S&P Developed ex-U.S. Property IndexTM is a free float-adjusted market capitalization weighted index that defines and measures the investable universe of publicly-traded property companies domiciled in developed countries outside of the U.S.
S&P Emerging Markets Infrastructure IndexTM
Number of Components: approximately 30
Index Description. The S&P Emerging Markets Infrastructure IndexTM is designed to track the performance of 30 of the largest publicly listed companies in the infrastructure industry in emerging markets.
The index provider starts with the S&P Emerging BMI plus South Korea as the starting universe. Companies domiciled in an emerging or developed market country are eligible for inclusion as long as the majority of the company's revenues are derived from emerging market operations. Listing criteria gives preference to developed market listings such as ADRs, GDRs
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or H Shares that meet liquidity criterion. To be eligible, constituents must have 3-month Average Daily Value Traded of at least $1 million, a minimum total market capitalization of $250 million and a minimum float-adjusted market capitalization of $200 million.
The index provider begins by classifying eligible securities into one of three clusters: energy, transportation or utilities. Within each cluster, the index provider first selects developed market listings in order of float-adjusted market capitalization until it reaches a target of 6 constituents for the energy cluster, 12 constituents for the transportation cluster, and 12 constituents for the utilities cluster. If necessary to reach the target number of constituents in each cluster, the index provider next selects from emerging market listings in order of float-adjusted market capitalization. If there is an insufficient number of securities to meet the target in any cluster, the largest companies from the eligible universe are added until the total number of constituents is 30.
Each individual constituent is limited to a weight of 10%, while the energy cluster is limited to an aggregate weight of 20% and the transportation and utilities clusters are each limited to an aggregate weight of 40%.
S&P Global 100TM
Number of Components: approximately 102
Index Description. The S&P Global 100TM measures the performance of 102 large multi-national companies that S&P deems to be of major importance in the global markets. A global company is defined as a corporation that has production facilities and/or other fixed assets in at least one foreign country outside the company's home country, and makes its major management decisions in a global context. The degree to which sales are executed outside the home country is a factor in determining a company’s global reach. The market capitalization of index constituent companies is adjusted for all strategic holdings, including private, corporate, and government holdings. The composition of the Underlying Index is derived from the S&P Global 1200TM and only includes transnational corporations under the above definition with a minimum adjusted market capitalization of US $5 billion. The Underlying Index is adjusted to reflect changes in capitalization resulting from mergers, acquisitions, stock rights, substitutions and other capital events.
S&P Global 1200 Communication Services 4.5/22.5/45 Capped IndexTM
Number of Components: approximately 69
Index Description. The S&P Global 1200 Communication Services 4.5/22.5/45 Capped IndexTM measures the performance of companies that S&P deems to be part of the communication services sector of the economy and that S&P believes are important to global markets. The Underlying Index is a subset of the S&P Global 1200TM.
The Underlying Index uses a capping methodology to limit the weight of the securities of any single issuer to a maximum of 25% of the Underlying Index. Additionally, the capping methodology limits the sum of the weights of the securities of all issuers that individually constitute more than 5% of the weight of the Underlying Index to a maximum of 50% of the weight of the Underlying Index in the aggregate. In order to implement this capping methodology, the Underlying Index constrains at quarterly rebalance: (i) the weight of any single issuer to a maximum of 22.5%, and (ii) the aggregate weight of all issuers that individually exceed 4.5% of the index weight to a maximum of 45.00%. In implementing this capping methodology, SPDJI may consider two or more companies as belonging to the same issuer where there is reasonable evidence of common control.
S&P Global 1200 Consumer Discretionary (Sector) Capped IndexTM
Number of Components: approximately 141
Index Description. The S&P Global 1200 Consumer Discretionary (Sector) Capped Index is designed to measure the performance of global equities in the consumer discretionary sector. Component companies include consumer product manufacturing, service and retail companies.
The Underlying Index uses a capping methodology to limit the weight of the securities of any single issuer to a maximum of 10% of the Underlying Index. Additionally, the capping methodology limits the sum of the weights of the securities of all issuers that individually constitute more than 5% of the weight of the Underlying Index to a maximum of 25% of the weight of the Underlying Index in the aggregate. In order to implement this capping methodology, the Underlying Index rebalances quarterly to limit: (i) the weight of any single issuer to a maximum of 10%, and (ii) the aggregate weight of all issuers that individually exceed 4.50% of the index weight to a maximum of 22.50%. Between scheduled quarterly index reviews, the
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Underlying Index is rebalanced at the end of any day on which issuers that individually constitute more than 5% of the weight of the Underlying Index collectively represent more than 25% of the weight of the Underlying Index in the aggregate. In implementing this capping methodology, SPDJI may consider two or more companies as belonging to the same issuer where there is reasonable evidence of common control.
S&P Global 1200 Consumer Staples (Sector) Capped IndexTM
Number of Components: approximately 94
Index Description. The S&P Global 1200 Consumer Staples (Sector) Capped IndexTM measures the performance of companies that S&P deems to be part of the consumer staples sector of the economy and that S&P believes are important to global markets. It is a subset of the S&P Global 1200TM.
The Underlying Index uses a capping methodology to limit the weight of the securities of any single issuer to a maximum of 10% of the Underlying Index. Additionally, the capping methodology limits the sum of the weights of the securities of all issuers that individually constitute more than 5% of the weight of the Underlying Index to a maximum of 25% of the weight of the Underlying Index in the aggregate. In order to implement this capping methodology, the Underlying Index constrains at quarterly rebalance: (i) the weight of any single issuer to a maximum of 10%, and (ii) the aggregate weight of all issuers that individually exceed 4.50% of the index weight to a maximum of 22.50%. Between scheduled quarterly index reviews, the Underlying Index is rebalanced at the end of any day on which the following constraints are breached: 25.00% for all issuers that individually represent more than 5.00% of the weight of the Underlying Index. In implementing this capping methodology, SPDJI may consider two or more companies as belonging to the same issuer where there is reasonable evidence of common control.
S&P Global 1200 Energy 4.5/22.5/45 Capped IndexTM
Number of Components: approximately 52
Index Description. The S&P Global 1200 Energy 4.5/22.5/45 Capped IndexTM measures the performance of global equities in the energy sector. The Underlying Index is a subset of the S&P Global 1200, which measures the performance of large-capitalization stocks from major global markets, as determined by SPDJI.
The Underlying Index uses a capping methodology to limit the weight of the securities of any single issuer (as determined by SPDJI) to a maximum of 25% of the Underlying Index. Additionally, the capping methodology limits the sum of the weights of the securities of all issuers that individually constitute more than 5% of the weight of the Underlying Index to a maximum of 50% of the weight of the Underlying Index in the aggregate. In order to implement this capping methodology, the Underlying Index constrains at quarterly rebalance: (i) the weight of any single issuer to a maximum of 22.5%, and (ii) the aggregate weight of all issuers that individually exceed 4.5% of the index weight to a maximum of 45%. In implementing this capping methodology, SPDJI may consider two or more companies as belonging to the same issuer where there is reasonable evidence of common control.
S&P Global 1200 Financials IndexTM
Number of Components: approximately 209
Index Description. The S&P Global 1200 Financials IndexTM measures the performance of companies that S&P deems to be part of the financials sector of the economy and that S&P believes are important to global markets. The Underlying Index is a subset of the S&P Global 1200TM.
S&P Global 1200 Health Care IndexTM
Number of Components: approximately 114
Index Description. The S&P Global 1200 Health Care IndexTM measures the performance of companies that S&P deems to be part of the healthcare sector of the economy and that S&P believes are important to global markets. The Underlying Index is a subset of the S&P Global 1200TM. Component companies include healthcare providers, biotechnology companies and manufacturers of medical supplies, advanced medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
S&P Global 1200 Industrials IndexTM
Number of Components: approximately 200
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Index Description. The S&P Global 1200 Industrials IndexTM measures the performance of companies that S&P deems to be part of the industrials sector of the economy and that S&P believes are important to global markets. It is a subset of the S&P Global 1200TM.
S&P Global Infrastructure IndexTM
Number of Components: approximately 73
Index Description. The S&P Global Infrastructure IndexTM is designed to track the performance of the stocks of large infrastructure companies in developed or emerging markets. Only developed market listings are eligible for stocks domiciled in emerging markets. The Underlying Index includes companies involved in: utilities, energy and transportation infrastructure, such as the management or ownership of oil and gas storage and transportation; airport services; highways and rail tracks; marine ports and services; and electric, gas and water utilities.
S&P Global 1200 Information Technology 4.5/22.5/45 Capped IndexTM
Number of Components: approximately 113
Index Description. The S&P Global 1200 Information Technology 4.5/22.5/45 Capped IndexTM measures the performance of global equities in the information technology sector. The Underlying Index is a subset of the S&P Global 1200, which measures the performance of large-capitalization stocks from major global markets, as determined by SPDJI.
The Underlying Index uses a capping methodology to limit the weight of the securities of any single issuer (as determined by SPDJI) to a maximum of 25% of the Underlying Index. Additionally, the capping methodology limits the sum of the weights of the securities of all issuers that individually constitute more than 5% of the weight of the Underlying Index to a maximum of 50% of the weight of the Underlying Index in the aggregate. In order to implement this capping methodology, the Underlying Index constrains at quarterly rebalance: (i) the weight of any single issuer to a maximum of 22.5%, and (ii) the aggregate weight of all issuers that individually exceed 4.5% of the index weight to a maximum of 45%. In implementing this capping methodology, SPDJI may consider two or more companies as belonging to the same issuer where there is reasonable evidence of common control.
S&P Global 1200 Materials IndexTM
Number of Components: approximately 104
Index Description. The S&P Global 1200 Materials IndexTM measures the performance of companies that S&P deems to be part of the materials sector of the economy and that S&P believes are important to global markets. It is a subset of the S&P Global 1200TM.
S&P Global 1200 Utilities (Sector) Capped IndexTM
Number of Components: approximately 65
Index Description. The S&P Global 1200 Utilities (Sector) Capped Index measures the performance of companies that S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC (SPDJI) deems to be part of the utilities sector of the economy. The Underlying Index is a subset of the S&P Global 1200, which is designed to measure the performance of large-capitalization stocks from major global markets, as determined by SPDJI. The Underlying Index uses a capping methodology to limit the weight of the securities of any single issuer (as determined by SPDJI) to a maximum of 10% of the Underlying Index. Additionally, the capping methodology limits the sum of the weights of the securities of all issuers that individually constitute more than 5% of the weight of the Underlying Index to a maximum of 25% of the weight of the Underlying Index in the aggregate. In order to implement this capping methodology, the Underlying Index constrains at quarterly rebalance: (i) the weight of any single issuer to a maximum of 10%, and (ii) the aggregate weight of all issuers that individually exceed 4.5% of the index weight to a maximum of 22.5%. Between scheduled quarterly index reviews, the Underlying Index is rebalanced at the end of any day on which all issuers that individually constitute more than 5% of the weight of the Underlying Index constitute more than 25% of the weight of the Underlying Index in the aggregate. In implementing this capping methodology, SPDJI considers two or more companies as belonging to the same issuer where more than 20% of all voting shares in a subsidiary are controlled by the same issuer control group.
S&P Global Timber & Forestry IndexTM
Number of Components: approximately 29
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Index Description. The S&P Global Timber & Forestry IndexTM is comprised of the largest publicly traded companies engaged in the ownership, management or upstream supply chain of forests and timberlands. These include forest products companies, timber REITs, paper products companies, paper packaging companies, and agricultural product companies. Companies are eligible for inclusion if they have a minimum total market capitalization of greater than or equal to $300 million, a float adjusted market capitalization (FMC) of greater than or equal to $100 million and a median daily value traded of at least $3 million ($2 million for existing constituents) for the six months prior to the rebalancing reference date. Stocks that meet the above eligibility criteria are reviewed for specific practices related to Timber and Forestry. Constituents are drawn from the S&P Global BMI. The preliminary universe of companies is identified based on any of the following screens:
Companies that derive at least 25% in aggregate revenue from Timber and Forestry-related businesses as defined by FactSet’s Revere Business Industry Classification System (RBICS) data.
Companies that have a GICS classification of Specialized REITs (and are defined as Timber REITs).
Companies in the universe at the previous rebalancing that were assigned an Exposure Score of at least 0.5 (including companies that were not actually selected for inclusion).
In addition, S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC (SPDJI) uses company exclusion criteria related to business activity (e.g., controversial weapons, tobacco, thermal coal, etc.) and other exclusionary guidelines based on a company’s compliance with the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) provided by Sustainalytics. Lastly, the index provider uses RepRisk, a leading provider of business intelligence on environmental, social, and governance risks, for screening and analysis of controversies related to companies within the Underlying Index. Companies without Sustainalytics coverage are ineligible for index inclusion until they receive such coverage.
After determining the eligible universe, SPDJI assigns an Exposure Score to each company. Companies eligible due to GICS classification described above in the Prospectus are assigned a score of 1. The remaining eligible companies are assigned an Exposure Score from 0 to 1 based on the company’s aggregate revenue from Timber and Forestry-related business and the company’s engagement in the ownership or management of forests, timberlands or pulp mills as a captive raw material source. Companies with greater than 75% aggregate revenue from Timber and Forestry-related businesses are assigned a score of 1. Companies with at least 25% but less than 50% aggregate revenue from Timber and Forestry-related businesses are assigned a score of .5. Companies with less than 25% are assigned a score of 0. All stocks with an exposure score of 1 are selected for the S&P Global Timber & Forestry Index. If the total number of companies is less than 100, SPDJI selects additional constituents ranked by Exposure Score and then FMC until the constituent count reaches 100 or until all constituents with an Exposure Score of 0.5 or above are selected.
At each rebalancing, constituents are weighted based on the product of each constituent’s FMC and Exposure Score, subject to the following constraints:
Constituents with an Exposure Score of 1 are capped at the lower of 8% or five times the constituent’s relative trading volume which is based on its median daily value traded over the past six months.
Constituents with an Exposure Score of 0.75 are capped at the lower of 6% or five times the constituent’s relative trading volume.
Constituents with an Exposure Score of 0.5 are capped at the lower of 4% or five times the constituent’s relative trading volume.
The cumulative weight of all constituents within the S&P Global Timber & Forestry Index which have a weight greater than 4.5% cannot exceed 40%.
This is done using an optimization procedure that chooses the final weights in such a way to minimize the sum of the squared difference of the capped and uncapped weights, divided by the uncapped weight for each stock.
The S&P Global Timber & Forestry Index is reconstituted semi-annually after the close of the last business day in March and September. The reference date for the reconstitutions is after the close of the last business day of February and August, respectively. In addition, the S&P Global Timber & Forestry Index is reweighted quarterly after the close on the last business day of March, June, September, and December. The pricing reference date used for re-weighting purposes is seven business days prior to the effective date.
S&P Latin America 40TM
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Number of Components: approximately 41
Index Description. The S&P Latin America 40TM is comprised of selected equities trading on the exchanges of five Latin American countries and includes securities that S&P DJI considers to be highly liquid from major economic sectors of the Mexican and South American equity markets. Companies from Brazil, Chilé, Colombia, Mexico and Peru are represented in the Underlying Index and mirror the sector weights of the broader universe of stocks from the five markets. Similarly, the Underlying Index mirrors the country weights of the five markets within that same universe of stocks.
For more information about SPDJI, including its limited relationship with BlackRock, Inc. and its affiliates and the limitations of the S&P DJI indices, please refer to the applicableProspectus.
Investment Policies
The Board has adopted as fundamental policies the following numbered investment policies, which cannot be changed without the approval of the holders of a majority of the applicable Fund’s outstanding voting securities. A vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of a Fund is defined in the 1940 Act as the lesser of (i) 67% or more of the voting securities present at a shareholder meeting, if the holders of more than 50% of the outstanding voting securities of the Fund are present or represented by proxy, or (ii) more than 50% of outstanding voting securities of the Fund. Each Fund has also adopted certain non-fundamental investment policies, including its investment objective. Non-fundamental investment policies may be changed by the Board without shareholder approval. Therefore, each Fund may change its investment objective and its Underlying Index without shareholder approval.
Fundamental Investment Policies
The iShares Global 100 ETF, iShares Global Comm Services ETF and iShares Global Financials ETF will not:
1.
Concentrate its investments (i.e., hold 25% or more of its total assets in the stocks of a particular industry or group of industries), except that each Fund will concentrate to approximately the same extent that its Underlying Index concentrates in the stocks of such particular industry or group of industries. For purposes of this limitation, securities of the U.S. government (including its agencies and instrumentalities), repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities, and securities of state or municipal governments and their political subdivisions are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.
2.
Borrow money, except that (i) each Fund may borrow from banks for temporary or emergency (not leveraging) purposes, including the meeting of redemption requests which might otherwise require the untimely disposition of securities, and (ii) each Fund may, to the extent consistent with its investment policies, enter into repurchase agreements, reverse repurchase agreements, forward roll transactions and similar investment strategies and techniques. To the extent that it engages in transactions described in (i) and (ii), each Fund will be limited so that no more than 33 1/3% of the value of its total assets (including the amount borrowed) is derived from such transactions. Any borrowings which come to exceed this amount will be reduced in accordance with applicable law.
3.
Issue any senior security, except as permitted under the 1940 Act, as amended, andas interpreted, modified or otherwise permitted by regulatory authority having jurisdiction, from time to time.
4.
Make loans, except as permitted under the 1940 Act, as amended, andas interpreted, modified or otherwise permitted by regulatory authority having jurisdiction, from time to time.
5.
Purchase or sell real estate, real estate mortgages, commodities or commodity contracts, but this restriction shall not prevent each Fund from trading in futures contracts and options on futures contracts (including options on currencies to the extent consistent with each Fund’s investment objective and policies).
6.
Engage in the business of underwriting securities issued by other persons, except to the extent that each Fund may technically be deemed to be an underwriter under the 1933 Act, in disposing of portfolio securities.
The iShares Global Energy ETF, iShares Global Healthcare ETF, iShares Global Tech ETF and iShares Latin America 40 ETF will not:
1.
Concentrate its investments (i.e., hold 25% or more of its total assets in the stocks of a particular industry or group of industries), except that each Fund will concentrate to approximately the same extent that its Underlying Index concentrates in the stocks of such particular industry or group of industries. For purposes of this limitation, securities of the U.S. government (including its agencies and instrumentalities), repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S.
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government securities, and securities of state or municipal governments and their political subdivisions are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.
2.
Borrow money, except that (i) each Fund may borrow from banks for temporary or emergency (not leveraging) purposes, including the meeting of redemption requests which might otherwise require the untimely disposition of securities, and (ii) each Fund may, to the extent consistent with its investment policies, enter into repurchase agreements, reverse repurchase agreements, forward roll transactions and similar investment strategies and techniques. To the extent that it engages in transactions described in (i) and (ii), each Fund will be limited so that no more than 33 1/3% of the value of its total assets (including the amount borrowed) is derived from such transactions. Any borrowings which come to exceed this amount will be reduced in accordance with applicable law.
3.
Issue senior securities as defined in the 1940 Act and the rules, regulations and orders thereunder, except as permitted under the 1940 Act and the rules, regulations and orders thereunder.
4.
Make loans. This restriction does not apply to: (i) the purchase of debt obligations in which each Fund may invest consistent with its investment objectives and policies; (ii) repurchase agreements and reverse repurchase agreements; and (iii) loans of its portfolio securities, to the fullest extent permitted under the 1940 Act.
5.
Purchase or sell real estate, real estate mortgages, commodities or commodity contracts, but this restriction shall not prevent each Fund from trading in futures contracts and options on futures contracts (including options on currencies to the extent consistent with each Fund’s investment objective and policies).
6.
Engage in the business of underwriting securities issued by other persons, except to the extent that each Fund may technically be deemed to be an underwriter under the 1933 Act in disposing of portfolio securities.
The iShares Global Consumer Discretionary ETF, iShares Global Consumer Staples ETF, iShares Global Industrials ETF, iShares Global Materials ETF and iShares Global Utilities ETF will not:
1.
Concentrate its investments (i.e., hold 25% or more of its total assets in the stocks of a particular industry or group of industries), except that each Fund will concentrate to approximately the same extent that its Underlying Index concentrates in the stocks of such particular industry or group of industries. For purposes of this limitation, securities of the U.S. government (including its agencies and instrumentalities), repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities, and securities of state or municipal governments and their political subdivisions are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.
2.
Borrow money, except that (i) each Fund may borrow from banks for temporary or emergency (not leveraging) purposes, including the meeting of redemption requests which might otherwise require the untimely disposition of securities, and (ii) each Fund may, to the extent consistent with its investment policies, enter into repurchase agreements, reverse repurchase agreements, forward roll transactions and similar investment strategies and techniques. To the extent that it engages in transactions described in (i) and (ii), each Fund will be limited so that no more than 33 1/3% of the value of its total assets (including the amount borrowed) is derived from such transactions. Any borrowings which come to exceed this amount will be reduced in accordance with applicable law.
3.
Issue any senior security, except as permitted under the 1940 Act, as amended, and as interpreted, modified or otherwise permitted by regulatory authority having jurisdiction, from time to time.
4.
Make loans, except as permitted under the 1940 Act.
5.
Purchase or sell real estate, real estate mortgages, commodities or commodity contracts, but this restriction shall not prevent each Fund from trading in futures contracts and options on futures contracts (including options on currencies to the extent consistent with each Fund’s investment objective and policies).
6.
Engage in the business of underwriting securities issued by other persons, except to the extent that each Fund may technically be deemed to be an underwriter under the 1933 Act in disposing of portfolio securities.
Each of the iShares Asia 50 ETF, iShares Emerging Markets Infrastructure ETF, iShares Global Infrastructure ETF, iShares Global Timber & Forestry ETF, iShares India 50 ETF and iShares International Developed Property ETF will not:
1.
Concentrate its investments (i.e., invest 25% or more of its total assets in the securities of a particular industry or group of industries), except that each Fund will concentrate to approximately the same extent that its Underlying Index concentrates in the securities of a particular industry or group of industries. For purposes of this limitation, securities of the U.S. government (including its agencies and instrumentalities), repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S.
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government securities, and securities of state or municipal governments and their political subdivisions are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.
2.
Borrow money, except that (i) each Fund may borrow from banks for temporary or emergency (not leveraging) purposes, including the meeting of redemption requests which might otherwise require the untimely disposition of securities; and (ii) each Fund may, to the extent consistent with its investment policies, enter into repurchase agreements, reverse repurchase agreements, forward roll transactions and similar investment strategies and techniques. To the extent that it engages in transactions described in (i) and (ii), each Fund will be limited so that no more than 33 1/3% of the value of its total assets (including the amount borrowed) is derived from such transactions. Any borrowings which come to exceed this amount will be reduced in accordance with applicable law.
3.
Issue any senior security, except as permitted under the 1940 Act, as interpreted, modified or otherwise permitted by any regulatory authority having jurisdiction, from time to time.
4.
Make loans, except as permitted under the 1940 Act, as interpreted, modified or otherwise permitted by regulatory authority having jurisdiction, from time to time.
5.
Purchase or sell real estate unless acquired as a result of ownership of securities or other instruments (but this restriction shall not prevent each Fund from investing in securities of companies engaged in the real estate business or securities or other instruments backed by real estate or mortgages), or commodities or commodity contracts (but this restriction shall not prevent each Fund from trading in futures contracts and options on futures contracts, including options on currencies to the extent consistent with each Fund’s investment objective and policies).
6.
Engage in the business of underwriting securities issued by other persons, except to the extent that each Fund may technically be deemed to be an underwriter under the 1933 Act, in disposing of portfolio securities.
Each of the iShares Blockchain and Tech ETF, iShares Environmental Infrastructure and Industrials ETF, iShares Future Metaverse Tech and Communications ETF and iShares International Dividend Growth ETF may not:
1.
Concentrate its investments in a particular industry, as that term is used in the 1940 Act, except that the Fund will concentrate to approximately the same extent that its Underlying Index concentrates in the securities of a particular industry or group of industries.
2.
Borrow money, except as permitted under the 1940 Act.
3.
Issue senior securities to the extent such issuance would violate the 1940 Act.
4.
Purchase or hold real estate, except the Fund may purchase and hold securities or other instruments that are secured by, or linked to, real estate or interests therein, securities of real estate investment trusts, mortgage-related securities and securities of issuers engaged in the real estate business, and the Fund may purchase and hold real estate as a result of the ownership of securities or other instruments.
5.
Underwrite securities issued by others, except to the extent that the sale of portfolio securities by the Fund may be deemed to be an underwriting or as otherwise permitted by applicable law.
6.
Purchase or sell commodities or commodity contracts, except as permitted by the 1940 Act.
7.
Make loans to the extent prohibited by the 1940 Act.
Notations Regarding the iShares Blockchain and Tech ETF's, iShares Environmental Infrastructure and Industrials ETF's, iShares Future Metaverse Tech and Communications ETF's and iShares International Dividend Growth ETF’s Fundamental Investment Policies
The following notations are not considered to be part of each Fund’s fundamental investment policies and are subject to change without shareholder approval.
With respect to the fundamental policy relating to concentration set forth in (1) above, the Investment Company Act does not define what constitutes concentration in an industry. The SEC staff has taken the position that investment of 25% or more of a fund’s total assets in one or more issuers conducting their principal activities in the same industry or group of industries constitutes concentration. It is possible that interpretations of concentration could change in the future. The policy in (1) above will be interpreted to refer to concentration as that term may be interpreted from time to time. The policy also will be interpreted to permit investment without limit in the following: securities of the U.S. government and its agencies or instrumentalities; securities of state, territory, possession or municipal governments and their authorities, agencies, instrumentalities or political subdivisions; and repurchase agreements collateralized by any such obligations. Accordingly,
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issuers of the foregoing securities will not be considered to be members of any industry. There also will be no limit on investment in issuers domiciled in a single jurisdiction or country. Finance companies will be considered to be in the industries of their parents if their activities are primarily related to financing the activities of the parents. Each foreign government will be considered to be a member of a separate industry. With respect to each Fund’s industry classifications, the Fund currently utilizes any one or more of the industry sub-classifications used by one or more widely recognized market indexes or rating group indexes, and/or as defined by Fund management. The policy also will be interpreted to give broad authority to each Fund as to how to classify issuers within or among industries.
With respect to the fundamental policy relating to borrowing money set forth in (2) above, the Investment Company Act permits the Fund to borrow money in amounts of up to one-third of the Fund’s total assets from banks for any purpose, and to borrow up to 5% of the Fund’s total assets from banks or other lenders for temporary purposes. (Each Fund’s total assets include the amounts being borrowed.) To limit the risks attendant to borrowing, the Investment Company Act requires the Fund to maintain at all times an asset coverage of at least 300% of the amount of its borrowings. Asset coverage means the ratio that the value of each Fund’s total assets (including amounts borrowed), minus liabilities other than borrowings, bears to the aggregate amount of all borrowings. Borrowing money to increase portfolio holdings is known as leveraging. Certain trading practices and investments, such as reverse repurchase agreements, may be considered to be borrowings or involve leverage and thus are subject to the Investment Company Act restrictions. In accordance with Rule 18f-4 under the Investment Company Act, when each Fund engages in reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions, each Fund may either (i) maintain asset coverage of at least 300% with respect to such transactions and any other borrowings in the aggregate, or (ii) treat such transactions as derivatives transactions and comply with Rule 18f-4 with respect to such transactions. Short-term credits necessary for the settlement of securities transactions and arrangements with respect to securities lending will not be considered to be borrowings under the policy. Practices and investments that may involve leverage but are not considered to be borrowings are not subject to the policy.
With respect to the fundamental policy relating to underwriting set forth in (5) above, the Investment Company Act does not prohibit a fund from engaging in the underwriting business or from underwriting the securities of other issuers; in fact, in the case of diversified funds, the Investment Company Act permits a fund to have underwriting commitments of up to 25% of its assets under certain circumstances. Those circumstances currently are that the amount a fund’s underwriting commitments, when added to the value of a fund’s investments in issuers where a fund owns more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of those issuers, cannot exceed the 25% cap. A fund engaging in transactions involving the acquisition or disposition of portfolio securities may be considered to be an underwriter under the 1933 Act. Although it is not believed that the application of the 1933 Act provisions described above would cause a fund to be engaged in the business of underwriting, the policy in (5) above will be interpreted not to prevent a fund from engaging in transactions involving the acquisition or disposition of portfolio securities, regardless of whether a fund may be considered to be an underwriter under the 1933 Act or is otherwise engaged in the underwriting business to the extent permitted by applicable law.
With respect to the fundamental policy relating to lending set forth in (7) above, the Investment Company Act does not prohibit each Fund from making loans (including lending its securities); however, SEC staff interpretations currently prohibit funds from lending more than one-third of their total assets (including lending its securities), except through the purchase of debt obligations or the use of repurchase agreements. In addition, collateral arrangements with respect to options, forward currency and futures transactions and other derivative instruments (as applicable), as well as delays in the settlement of securities transactions, will not be considered loans.
Non-Fundamental Investment Policies
iShares Blockchain and Tech ETF, iShares Environmental and Infrastructure ETF, iShares Future Metaverse Tech and Communications ETF and iShares International Dividend Growth ETF
The Fund has adopted a non-fundamental policy not to make short sales of securities or maintain a short position, except to the extent permitted by the Fund’s Prospectus and SAI, as amended from time to time, and applicable law.
All Funds Other Than the iShares Blockchain and Tech ETF, iShares Environmental Infrastructure and Industrials ETF, iShares Future Metaverse Tech and Communications ETF and iShares International Dividend Growth ETF
Each Fund has adopted a non-fundamental policy not to invest in the securities of a company for the purpose of exercising management or control, or purchase or otherwise acquire any illiquid investment, except as permitted under the 1940 Act,
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which currently limits each Fund's holdings in illiquid investments to 15% of a Fund's net assets. BFA mon