485BPOS
STATEMENT OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
July 31, 2023
Voya Funds Trust
7337 East Doubletree Ranch Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale, Arizona 85258-2034
1-800-992-0180

Voya Floating Rate Fund
Class/Ticker: A/IFRAX; C/IFRCX; I/IFRIX; R/IFRRX; W/IFRWX
Voya GNMA Income Fund
Class/Ticker: A/LEXNX; C/LEGNX; I/LEINX; R6/VGMBX; W/IGMWX
Voya High Yield Bond Fund
Class/Ticker: A/IHYAX; C/IMYCX; I/IHYIX; R/IRSTX; R6/VHYRX; W/IHYWX
Voya Intermediate Bond Fund
Class/Ticker: A/IIBAX; C/IICCX; I/IICIX; R/IIBOX; R6/IIBZX; W/IIBWX
Voya Short Duration High Income Fund
Class/Ticker: A/VVJBX; C/VVJGX; I/VVJCX; R6/VVJDX
Voya Short Term Bond Fund
Class/Ticker: A/IASBX; C/ICSBX; I/IISBX; R/VSTRX; R6/IGZAX; W/IWSBX
Voya Strategic Income Opportunities Fund
Class/Ticker: A/ISIAX; C/ISICX; I/IISIX; R/ISIRX; R6/VSIRX; W/ISIWX
  
This Statement of Additional Information (the “SAI”) contains additional information about each fund listed above (each, a “Fund” and together, the “Funds”). This SAI is not a prospectus and should be read in conjunction with the prospectus dated July 31, 2023, as supplemented or revised from time to time (the “Prospectus”). Each Fund’s financial statements for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2023, including the independent registered public accounting firm’s report thereon found in each Fund’s most recent annual report to shareholders, are incorporated into this SAI by reference. Each Fund’s Prospectus and annual or unaudited semi-annual shareholder reports may be obtained free of charge by contacting the Fund at the address and phone number written above or by visiting our website at https://individuals.voya.com/product/mutual-fund/prospectuses-reports.

Bloomberg Index Data Source: Bloomberg Index Services Limited. BLOOMBERG® is a trademark and service mark of Bloomberg Finance L.P. and its affiliates (collectively “Bloomberg”). Bloomberg or its licensors own all proprietary rights in the Bloomberg Indices. Bloomberg does not approve or endorse this material, or guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information herein, or make any warranty, express or implied, as to the results to be obtained.
SOURCE ICE DATA INDICES, LLC (“ICE DATA”), IS USED WITH PERMISSION. ICE® IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF ICE DATA OR ITS AFFILIATES AND BOFA® IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF BANK OF AMERICA CORPORATION LICENSED BY BANK OF AMERICA CORPORATION AND ITS AFFILIATES (“BOFA”) AND MAY NOT BE USED WITHOUT BOFA'S PRIOR WRITTEN APPROVAL. ICE DATA, ITS AFFILIATES AND THEIR RESPECTIVE THIRD PARTY SUPPLIERS DISCLAIM ANY AND ALL WARRANTIES AND REPRESENTATIONS, EXPRESS AND/OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE, INCLUDING THE INDICES, INDEX DATA AND ANY DATA INCLUDED IN, RELATED TO, OR DERIVED THEREFROM. NEITHER ICE DATA, ITS AFFILIATES NOR THEIR RESPECTIVE THIRD PARTY SUPPLIERS SHALL BE SUBJECT TO ANY DAMAGES OR LIABILITY WITH RESPECT TO THE ADEQUACY, ACCURACY, TIMELINESS OR COMPLETENESS OF THE INDICES OR THE INDEX DATA OR ANY COMPONENT THEREOF, AND THE INDICES AND INDEX DATA AND ALL COMPONENTS THEREOF ARE PROVIDED ON AN “AS IS” BASIS AND YOUR USE IS AT YOUR OWN RISK. ICE DATA, ITS AFFILIATES AND THEIR RESPECTIVE THIRD PARTY SUPPLIERS DO NOT SPONSOR, ENDORSE, OR RECOMMEND VOYA SERVICES COMPANY AND ITS AFFILIATES, OR ANY OF ITS PRODUCTS OR SERVICES.

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B-1

INTRODUCTION AND GLOSSARY
This SAI is designed to elaborate upon information contained in each Fund’s Prospectus, including the discussion of certain securities and investment techniques. The more detailed information contained in this SAI is intended for investors who have read the Prospectus and are interested in a more detailed explanation of certain aspects of some of each Fund’s securities and investment techniques. Some investment techniques are described only in the Prospectus and are not repeated here.
Capitalized terms used, but not defined, in this SAI have the same meaning as in the Prospectus and some additional terms are defined particularly for this SAI.
Following are definitions of general terms that may be used throughout this SAI:
1933 Act: Securities Act of 1933, as amended
1934 Act: Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended
1940 Act: Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended, including the rules and regulations thereunder, and the terms of applicable no-action relief or exemptive orders granted thereunder
Affiliated Fund: A fund within the Voya family of funds
Board: The Board of Trustees for the Trust
Business Day: Each day the NYSE opens for regular trading
CDSC: Contingent deferred sales charge
CFTC: United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Code: Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended
Distributor: Voya Investments Distributor, LLC
Distribution Agreement: The Distribution Agreement for each Fund, as described herein
ETF: Exchange-Traded Fund
EU: European Union
Expense Limitation Agreement: The Expense Limitation Agreement(s) for each Fund, as described herein
FDIC: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
FHLMC: Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation
FINRA: Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc.
Fiscal Year End of each Fund: March 31
Fitch: Fitch Ratings
FNMA: Federal National Mortgage Association
Fund: One or more of the investment management companies listed on the front cover of this SAI
GNMA: Government National Mortgage Association
Independent Trustees: The Trustees of the Board who are not “interested persons” (as defined in the 1940 Act) of each Fund

Investment Adviser: Voya Investments, LLC or Voya Investments
Investment Management Agreement: The Investment Management Agreement for each Fund, as described herein
IPO: Initial Public Offering
IRA: Individual Retirement Account
IRS: United States Internal Revenue Service
LIBOR: London Interbank Offered Rate
MLPs: Master Limited Partnerships
Moody’s: Moody’s Investors Service, Inc.
NAV: Net Asset Value
NRSRO: Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization
NYSE: New York Stock Exchange
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OTC: Over-the-counter
Principal Underwriter: Voya Investments Distributor, LLC or the “Distributor”
Prospectus: One or more prospectuses for each Fund
REIT: Real Estate Investment Trust
REMICs: Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits
RIC: A “Regulated Investment Company,” pursuant to the Code
Rule 12b-1: Rule 12b-1 (under the 1940 Act)
Rule 12b-1 Plan: A Distribution and/or Shareholder Service Plan adopted under Rule 12b-1
S&L: Savings & Loan Association
S&P: S&P Global Ratings
SEC: United States Securities and Exchange Commission
SOFR: Secured Overnight Financing Rate
Sub-Adviser: One or more sub-advisers for each Fund, as described herein
Sub-Advisory Agreement: The Sub-Advisory Agreement(s) for each Fund, as described herein
Underlying Funds: Unless otherwise stated, other mutual funds or ETFs in which each Fund may invest
Voya family of funds or the “funds”: All of the registered investment companies managed by Voya Investments
Voya IM: Voya Investment Management Co. LLC
The Trust: Voya Funds Trust
HISTORY OF the Trust
Voya Funds Trust, an open-end management investment company that is registered under the 1940 Act, was organized as a Delaware statutory trust on August 6, 1998. On February 28, 2001, the name of the Trust changed from ING Funds Trust to Pilgrim Funds Trust. On March 1, 2002, the name of the Trust changed from Pilgrim Funds Trust to ING Funds Trust. On May 1, 2014, the name of the Trust changed from ING Funds Trust to Voya Funds Trust.
SUPPLEMENTAL DESCRIPTION OF Fund INVESTMENTS AND RISKS
Diversification
Each Fund is classified as a “diversified” fund as that term is defined under the 1940 Act. The 1940 Act generally requires that a diversified fund may not, with respect to 75% of its total assets, invest more than 5% of its total assets in the securities of any one issuer and may not purchase more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of any one issuer (other than securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government or any of its agencies or instrumentalities or investments in securities of other investment companies).
A non-diversified fund under the 1940 Act means that a fund is not limited by the 1940 Act in the proportion of its assets that it may invest in the obligations of a single issuer. The investment of a large percentage of a fund’s assets in the securities of a small number of issuers may cause a fund’s share price to fluctuate more than that of a diversified fund. When compared to a diversified fund, a non-diversified fund may invest a greater portion of its assets in a particular issuer and, therefore, has greater exposure to the risk of poor earnings or losses by an issuer.
Concentration
For purposes of the 1940 Act, concentration occurs when at least 25% of a fund’s assets are invested in any one industry. Each Fund has a fundamental policy against concentration.
Investments, Investment Strategies, and Risks
The table on the following pages identifies various securities and investment techniques that the Investment Adviser or the Sub-Adviser may use in managing a Fund and provides a more detailed description of those securities and investment techniques along with the risks associated with them. A Fund may use any or all of these techniques at any one time, and the fact that a Fund may use a technique does not mean that the technique will be used. A Fund’s transactions in a particular type of security or use of a particular technique is subject to the limitations imposed by the Fund’s investment objective, policies, and restrictions described in the Fund’s Prospectus and/or in this SAI, as well as the federal securities laws. There can be no assurance that a Fund will achieve its investment objective. Each Fund’s investment objective, policies, investment strategies, and practices are non-fundamental unless otherwise indicated. The descriptions of the securities and investment techniques in this section supplement the discussion of principal investment strategies contained in each Fund’s Prospectus. Where a particular type of security or investment technique is not discussed in a Fund’s Prospectus that security or investment technique is not a principal investment strategy, and the Fund will not invest more than 5% of its assets in such security or investment technique.
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Please refer to the fundamental and non-fundamental investment restrictions following the description of securities for more information on any applicable limitations.
Asset Class/Investment Technique
Voya Floating
Rate Fund
Voya GNMA
Income Fund
Voya High
Yield Bond
Fund
Voya
Intermediate
Bond Fund
Voya Short
Duration High
Income Fund
Voya Short
Term Bond
Fund
Voya Strategic
Income
Opportunities Fund
Equity Securities
Commodities
X
Common Stocks
X
X
X
X
X
X
Convertible Securities
X
X
X
X
X
X
Initial Public Offerings
X
X
X
X
X
Master Limited Partnerships
X
Other Investment Companies and Pooled
Investment Vehicles
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Preferred Stocks
X
X
X
X
X
X
Private Investments in Public Companies
X
Real Estate Securities and Real Estate
Investment Trusts
X
X
X
X
X
Small- and Mid-Capitalization Issuers
X
X
X
X
X
X
Special Purpose Acquisition Companies
Special Situation Issuers
Trust Preferred Securities
X
X
X
X
X
Debt Instruments
Asset-Backed Securities
X
X
X
X
X
Bank Instruments
X
X
X
X
X
X
Commercial Paper
X
X
X
X
X
X
Corporate Debt Instruments
X
X
X
X
X
X
Credit-Linked Notes
X
X
X
X
X
Custodial Receipts and Trust Certificates
Delayed Funding Loans and Revolving
Credit Facilities
Event-Linked Bonds
Floating or Variable Rate Instruments
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Guaranteed Investment Contracts
X
X
X
X
X
High-Yield Securities
X
X
X
X
X
X
Inflation-Indexed Bonds
X
Inverse Floating Rate Securities
X
Mortgage-Related Securities
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Municipal Securities
X
X
X
X
X
Senior and Other Bank Loans
X
X
X
X
X
X
U.S. Government Securities and
Obligations
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Zero-Coupon, Deferred Interest and
Pay-in-Kind Bonds
X
X
X
X
X
X
Foreign Investments
Depositary Receipts
X
X
X
X
Emerging Markets Investments
X
X
X
X
X
X
Eurodollar and Yankee Dollar Instruments
X
X
X
X
Foreign Currencies
X
X
X
X
X
X
Sovereign Debt
X
X
X
X
X
Supranational Entities
X
X
X
X
X
Derivative Instruments
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Asset Class/Investment Technique
Voya Floating
Rate Fund
Voya GNMA
Income Fund
Voya High
Yield Bond
Fund
Voya
Intermediate
Bond Fund
Voya Short
Duration High
Income Fund
Voya Short
Term Bond
Fund
Voya Strategic
Income
Opportunities Fund
Forward Commitments
X
X
X
X
X
X
Futures Contracts
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Hybrid Instruments
X
Options
X
X
X
X
X
Participatory Notes
Rights and Warrants
X
X
X
X
X
X
Swap Transactions and Options on Swap
Transactions
X
X
X
X
X
X
Other Investment Techniques
Borrowing
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Illiquid Securities
X
X
X
X
X
X
Participation on Creditors' Committees
Repurchase Agreements
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Restricted Securities
X
X
X
X
X
X
Reverse Repurchase Agreements and
Dollar Roll Transactions
X
X
X
X
X
X
Securities Lending
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Short Sales
X
X
X
X
X
To Be Announced Sale Commitments
X
X
X
X
X
X
When-Issued Securities and Delayed
Delivery Transactions
X
X
X
X
-
X
X
EQUITY SECURITIES
Commodities: Commodities include equity securities of “hard assets companies” and derivative securities and instruments whose value is linked to the price of a commodity or a commodity index. The term “hard assets companies” includes companies that directly or indirectly (whether through supplier relationship, servicing agreements or otherwise) primarily derive their revenue or profit from exploration, development, production, distribution or facilitation of processes relating to precious metals (including gold), base and industrial metals, energy, natural resources and other commodities. Commodities values may be highly volatile, and may decline rapidly and without warning. The values of commodity issuers will typically be substantially affected by changes in the values of their underlying commodities. Securities of commodity issuers may experience greater price fluctuations than the relevant hard asset. In periods of rising hard asset prices, such securities may rise at a faster rate and, conversely, in times of falling commodity prices, such securities may suffer a greater price decline. Some hard asset issuers may be subject to the risks generally associated with extraction of natural resources, such as fire, drought, increased regulatory and environmental costs, and others. Because many commodity issuers have significant operations in many countries worldwide (including emerging markets), their securities may be more exposed than those of other issuers to unstable political, social and economic conditions, including expropriation and disruption of licenses or operations.
Common Stocks: Common stock represents an equity or ownership interest in an issuer. A common stock may decline in value due to an actual or perceived deterioration in the prospects of the issuer, an actual or anticipated reduction in the rate at which dividends are paid, or other factors affecting the value of an investment, or due to a decline in the values of stocks generally or of stocks of issuers in a particular industry or market sector. The values of common stocks may be highly volatile. If an issuer of common stock is liquidated or declares bankruptcy, the claims of owners of debt instruments and preferred stock take precedence over the claims of those who own common stock, and as a result the common stock could become worthless.
Convertible Securities: Convertible securities are hybrid securities that combine the investment characteristics of debt instruments and common stocks. Convertible securities typically consist of debt instruments or preferred stock that may be converted (on a voluntary or mandatory basis) within a specified period of time (normally for the entire life of the security) into a certain amount of common stock or other equity security of the same or a different issuer at a predetermined price. Convertible securities also include debt instruments with warrants or common stock attached and derivatives combining the features of debt instruments and equity securities. Other convertible securities with additional or different features and risks may become available in the future. Convertible securities involve risks similar to those of both debt instruments and equity securities. In a corporation’s capital structure, convertible securities are senior to common stock but are usually subordinated to senior debt instruments of the issuer.
The market value of a convertible security is a function of its “investment value” and its “conversion value.” A security’s “investment value” represents the value of the security without its conversion feature (i.e., a nonconvertible debt instrument). The investment value may be determined by reference to its credit quality and the current value of its yield to maturity or probable call date. At any given time, investment value is dependent upon such factors as the general level of interest rates, the yield of similar nonconvertible securities, the
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financial strength of the issuer, and the seniority of the security in the issuer’s capital structure. A security’s “conversion value” is determined by multiplying the number of shares the holder is entitled to receive upon conversion or exchange by the current price of the underlying security. If the conversion value of a convertible security is significantly below its investment value, the convertible security will trade like a nonconvertible debt instruments or preferred stock and its market value will not be influenced greatly by fluctuations in the market price of the underlying security. In that circumstance, the convertible security takes on the characteristics of a debt instrument, and the price moves in the opposite direction from interest rates. Conversely, if the conversion value of a convertible security is near or above its investment value, the market value of the convertible security will be more heavily influenced by fluctuations in the market price of the underlying security. In that case, the convertible security’s price may be as volatile as that of common stock. Because both interest rates and market movements can influence its value, a convertible security generally is not as sensitive to interest rates as a similar debt instrument, nor is it as sensitive to changes in share price as its underlying equity security. Convertible securities are often rated below investment grade or are not rated, and they are generally subject to greater levels of credit risk and liquidity risk.
Contingent Convertible Securities (“CoCos”): CoCos are a form of hybrid debt instrument. They are subordinated instruments that are designed to behave like bonds or preferred equity in times of economic health for the issuer, yet absorb losses when a pre-determined trigger event affecting the issuer occurs. CoCos are either convertible into equity at a predetermined share price or written down if a pre-specified trigger event occurs. Trigger events vary by individual security and are defined by the documents governing the contingent convertible security. Such trigger events may include a decline in the issuer’s capital below a specified threshold level, an increase in the issuer’s risk-weighted assets, the share price of the issuer falling to a particular level for a certain period of time, and certain regulatory events. CoCos are subject to credit, interest rate, high-yield securities, foreign investments and market risks associated with both debt instruments and equity securities. In addition, CoCos have no stated maturity and have fully discretionary coupons.  If the CoCos are converted into the issuer’s underlying equity securities following a conversion event, each holder will be subordinated due to their conversion from being the holder of a debt instrument to being the holder of an equity instrument, hence worsening the holder’s standing in a bankruptcy proceeding.
Initial Public Offerings: The value of an issuer’s securities may be highly unstable at the time of its IPO and for a period thereafter due to factors such as market psychology prevailing at the time of the IPO, the absence of a prior public market, the small number of shares available, and limited availability of investor information. Securities purchased in an IPO may be held for a very short period of time. As a result, investments in IPOs may increase portfolio turnover, which increases brokerage and administrative costs and may result in taxable distributions to shareholders. Investors in IPOs can be adversely affected by substantial dilution of the value of their shares due to sales of additional shares, and by concentration of control in existing management and principal shareholders.
Investments in IPOs may have a substantial beneficial effect on investment performance. Investment returns earned during a period of substantial investment in IPOs may not be sustained during other periods of more-limited, or no, investments in IPOs. In addition, as an investment portfolio increases in size, the impact of IPOs on performance will generally decrease. Investment in securities offered in an IPO may lose money. There can be no assurance that investments in IPOs will be available or improve performance. Investments in secondary public offerings may be subject to certain of the foreign risks. A Fund will not necessarily participate in an IPO in which other mutual funds or accounts managed by the Investment Adviser or Sub-Adviser participate.
Master Limited Partnerships: MLPs typically are characterized as “publicly traded partnerships” that qualify to be treated as partnerships for U.S. federal income tax purposes and are typically engaged in one or more aspects of the exploration, production, processing, transmission, marketing, storage or delivery of energy-related commodities, such as natural gas, natural gas liquids, coal, crude oil or refined petroleum products. Generally, an MLP is operated under the supervision of one or more managing general partners. Limited partners are not involved in the day-to-day management of the partnership.
Investments in MLPs are generally subject to many of the risks that apply to partnerships. For example, holders of the units of MLPs may have limited control and limited voting rights on matters affecting the partnership. There may be fewer corporate protections afforded investors in an MLP than investors in a corporation. Conflicts of interest may exist among unit holders, subordinated unit holders, and the general partner of an MLP, including those arising from incentive distribution payments. MLPs that concentrate in a particular industry or region are subject to risks associated with such industry or region. MLPs holding credit-related investments are subject to interest rate risk and the risk of default on payment obligations by debt issuers. Investments held by MLPs may be illiquid. MLP units may trade infrequently and in limited volume, and they may be subject to more abrupt or erratic price movements than securities of larger or more broadly based issuers.
The manner and extent of direct and indirect investments in MLPs and limited liability companies may be limited by an intention to qualify as a regulated investment company under the Code, and any such investments may adversely affect the ability of an investment company to so qualify.
Other Investment Companies and Pooled Investment Vehicles: Securities of other investment companies and pooled investment vehicles, including shares of closed-end investment companies, unit investment trusts, ETFs, open-end investment companies, and private investment funds represent interests in managed portfolios that may invest in various types of instruments. Investing in another investment company or pooled investment vehicle exposes a Fund to all the risks of that other investment company or pooled investment vehicle as well as additional expenses at the other investment company or pooled investment vehicle-level, such as a proportionate share of portfolio management fees and operating expenses. Such expenses are in addition to the expenses a Fund pays in connection with its own operations. Investing in a pooled investment vehicle involves the risk that the vehicle will not perform as anticipated. The amount of assets that may be invested in another investment company or pooled investment vehicle or in other investment companies or pooled investment vehicles generally may be limited by applicable law.
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The securities of other investment companies, particularly closed-end funds, may be leveraged and, therefore, will be subject to the risks of leverage. The securities of closed-end investment companies and ETFs carry the risk that the price paid or received may be higher or lower than their NAV. Closed-end investment companies and ETFs are also subject to certain additional risks, including the risks of illiquidity and of possible trading halts due to market conditions or other factors.
In making decisions on the allocation of the assets in other investment companies, the Investment Adviser and Sub-Adviser are subject to several conflicts of interest when they serve as the investment adviser and sub-adviser to one or more of the other investment companies. These conflicts could arise because the Investment Adviser or Sub-Adviser or their affiliates earn higher net advisory fees (the advisory fee received less any sub-advisory fee paid and fee waivers or expense subsidies) on some of the other investment companies than others. For example, where the other investment companies have a sub-adviser that is affiliated with the Investment Adviser, the entire advisory fee is retained by a Voya company. Even where the net advisory fee is not higher for other investment companies sub-advised by an affiliate of the Investment Adviser or Sub-Adviser, the Investment Adviser and Sub-Adviser may have an incentive to prefer affiliated sub-advisers for other reasons, such as increasing assets under management or supporting new investment strategies, which in turn would lead to increased income to Voya. Further, the Investment Adviser and Sub-Adviser may believe that redemption from another investment company will be harmful to that investment company, the Investment Adviser and Sub-Adviser or an affiliate. Therefore, the Investment Adviser and Sub-Adviser may have incentives to allocate and reallocate in a fashion that would advance its own economic interests, the economic interests of an affiliate, or the interests of another investment company.
The Investment Adviser has informed the Board that its investment process may be influenced by an affiliated insurance company that issues financial products in which a Fund may be offered as an investment option. In certain of those products an affiliated insurance company may offer guaranteed lifetime income or death benefits. The Investment Adviser’s and Sub-Adviser’s investment decisions, including their allocation decisions with respect to the other investment companies, may benefit the affiliated insurance company issuing such benefits. For example, selecting and allocating assets to other investment companies which invest primarily in debt instruments or in a more conservative or less volatile investment style, may reduce the regulatory capital requirements which the affiliated insurance company must satisfy to support its guarantees under its products, may help reduce the affiliated insurance company’s risk from the lifetime income or death benefits, or may make it easier for the insurance company to manage its risk through the use of various hedging techniques.
The Investment Adviser and Sub-Adviser have adopted various policies and procedures that are intended to identify, monitor, and address actual or potential conflicts of interest. Nonetheless, investors bear the risk that the Investment Adviser's and Sub-Adviser’s allocation decisions may be affected by their conflicts of interest.
SEC Rule 12d1-4 under the 1940 Act is designed to streamline and enhance the regulatory framework for funds of funds arrangements. Rule 12d1-4 permits acquiring funds to invest in the securities of other registered investment companies beyond certain statutory limits, subject to certain conditions. In connection with this rule, the SEC rescinded Rule 12d1-2 under the 1940 Act and most fund of funds exemptive orders, effective January 19, 2022.
Exchange-Traded Funds: ETFs are investment companies whose shares trade like a stock throughout the day. Certain ETFs use a “passive” investment strategy and will not attempt to take defensive positions in volatile or declining markets. Other ETFs are actively managed (i.e., they do not seek to replicate the performance of a particular index). The value of an ETF’s shares will change based on changes in the values of the investments it holds. The value of an ETF’s shares will also likely be affected by factors affecting trading in the market for those shares, such as illiquidity, exchange or market rules, and overall market volatility. The market price for ETF shares may be higher or lower than the ETF’s NAV. The timing and magnitude of cash flows in and out of an ETF could create cash balances that act as a drag on the ETF’s performance. An active secondary market in an ETF’s shares may not develop or be maintained and may be halted or interrupted due to actions by its listing exchange, unusual market conditions or other reasons. Substantial market or other disruptions affecting ETFs could adversely affect the liquidity and value of the shares of a Fund to the extent it invests in ETFs. There can be no assurance an ETF’s shares will continue to be listed on an active exchange.
Holding Company Depositary Receipts: Holding Company Depositary Receipts (“HOLDRs”) are securities that represent beneficial ownership in a group of common stocks of specified issuers in a particular industry. HOLDRs are typically organized as grantor trusts, and are generally not required to register as investment companies under the 1940 Act. Each HOLDR initially owns a set number of stocks, and the composition of a HOLDR does not change after issue, except in special cases like corporate mergers, acquisitions or other specified events. As a result, stocks selected for those HOLDRs with a sector focus may not remain the largest and most liquid in their industry, and may even leave the industry altogether. If this happens, HOLDRs invested may not provide the same targeted exposure to the industry that was initially expected. Because HOLDRs are not subject to concentration limits, the relative weight of an individual stock may increase substantially, causing the HOLDRs to be less diversified and creating more risk.
Private Funds: Private funds are private investment funds, pools, vehicles, or other structures, including hedge funds and private equity funds. They may be organized as corporations, partnerships, trusts, limited partnerships, limited liability companies, or any other form of business organization (collectively, “Private Funds”). Investments in Private Funds may be highly speculative and highly volatile and may produce gains or losses at rates that exceed those of a Fund’s other holdings and of publicly offered investment pools. Private Funds may engage actively in short selling. Private Funds may utilize leverage without limit and, to the extent a Fund invests in Private Funds that utilize leverage, a Fund will indirectly be exposed to the risks associated with that leverage and the values of its shares may be more volatile as a result.
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Many Private Funds invest significantly in issuers in the early stages of development, including issuers with little or no operating history, issuers operating at a loss or with substantial variation in operation results from period to period, issuers with the need for substantial additional capital to support expansion or to maintain a competitive position, or issuers with significant financial leverage. Such issuers may also face intense competition from others including those with greater financial resources or more extensive development, manufacturing, distribution or other attributes, over which a Fund will have no control.
Interests in a Private Fund will be subject to substantial restrictions on transfer and, in some instances, may be non-transferable for a period of years. Private Funds may participate in only a limited number of investments and, as a consequence, the return of a particular Private Fund may be substantially adversely affected by the unfavorable performance of even a single investment. Certain Private Funds may pay their investment managers a fee based on the performance of the Private Fund, which may create an incentive for the manager to make investments that are riskier or more speculative than would be the case if the manager was paid a fixed fee. Private Funds are not registered under the 1940 Act and, consequently, are not subject to the restrictions on affiliated transactions and other protections applicable to registered investment companies. The valuations of securities held by Private Funds, which are generally unlisted and illiquid, may be very difficult and will often depend on the subjective valuation of the managers of the Private Funds, which may prove to be inaccurate. Inaccurate valuations of a Private Fund’s portfolio holdings will affect the ability of a Fund to calculate its NAV accurately.
Preferred Stocks: Preferred stock represents an equity interest in an issuer that generally entitles the holder to receive, in preference to the holders of other stocks such as common stocks, dividends and a fixed share of the proceeds resulting from a liquidation of the issuer.
Preferred stocks may pay fixed or adjustable rates of return. Preferred stock dividends may be cumulative or noncumulative, fixed, participating, auction rate or other. If interest rates rise, a fixed dividend on preferred stocks may be less attractive, causing the value of preferred stocks to decline either absolutely or relative to alternative investments. Preferred stock may have mandatory sinking fund provisions, as well as provisions that allow the issuer to redeem or call the stock.
Preferred stock is subject to issuer-specific and market risks applicable generally to equity securities. In addition, because a substantial portion of the return on a preferred stock may be the dividend, its value may react similarly to that of a debt instrument to changes in interest rates. An issuer’s preferred stock generally pays dividends only after the issuer makes required payments to holders of its debt instruments and other debt. For this reason, the value of preferred stock will usually react more strongly than debt instruments to actual or perceived changes in the issuer’s financial condition or prospects. Preferred stocks of smaller issuers may be more vulnerable to adverse developments than preferred stock of larger issuers.
Private Investments in Public Companies: In a typical private placement by a publicly-held company (“PIPE”) transaction, a buyer will acquire, directly from an issuer seeking to raise capital in a private placement pursuant to Regulation D under the 1933 Act, common stock or a security convertible into common stock, such as convertible notes or convertible preferred stock. The issuer’s common stock is usually publicly traded on a U.S. securities exchange or in the OTC market, but the securities acquired will be subject to restrictions on resale imposed by U.S. securities laws absent an effective registration statement. In recognition of the illiquid nature of the securities being acquired, the purchase price paid in a PIPE transaction (or the conversion price of the convertible securities being acquired) will typically be fixed at a discount to the prevailing market price of the issuer’s common stock at the time of the transaction. As part of a PIPE transaction, the issuer usually will be contractually obligated to seek to register within an agreed upon period of time for public resale under the U.S. securities laws the common stock or the shares of common stock issuable upon conversion of the convertible securities. If the issuer fails to so register the shares within that period, the buyer may be entitled to additional consideration from the issuer (e.g., warrants to acquire additional shares of common stock), but the buyer may not be able to sell its shares unless and until the registration process is successfully completed. Thus PIPE transactions present certain risks not associated with open market purchases of equities.
Among the risks associated with PIPE transactions is the risk that the issuer may be unable to register the shares for public resale in a timely manner or at all, in which case the shares may be saleable only in a privately negotiated transaction at a price less than that paid, assuming a suitable buyer can be found. Disposing of the securities may involve time-consuming negotiation and legal expenses, and selling them promptly at an acceptable price may be difficult or impossible. Even if the shares are registered for public resale, the market for the issuer’s securities may nevertheless be “thin” or illiquid, making the sale of securities at desired prices or in desired quantities difficult or impossible.
While private placements may offer attractive opportunities not otherwise available in the open market, the securities purchased are usually “restricted securities” or are “not readily marketable.” Restricted securities cannot be sold without being registered under the 1933 Act, unless they are sold pursuant to an exemption from registration (such as Rules 144 or 144A under the 1933 Act). Securities that are not readily marketable are subject to other legal or contractual restrictions on resale.
Real Estate Securities and Real Estate Investment Trusts: Investments in equity securities of issuers that are principally engaged in the real estate industry are subject to certain risks associated with the ownership of real estate and with the real estate industry in general. These risks include, among others: possible declines in the value of real estate; risks related to general and local economic conditions; possible lack of availability of mortgage funds or other limitations on access to capital; overbuilding; risks associated with leverage; market illiquidity; extended vacancies of properties; increase in competition, property taxes, capital expenditures and operating expenses; changes in zoning laws or other governmental regulation; costs resulting from the clean-up of, and liability to third parties for damages resulting from, environmental problems; tenant bankruptcies or other credit problems; casualty or condemnation losses; uninsured damages from floods, earthquakes or other natural disasters; limitations on and variations in rents, including decreases in market rates for rents; investment in developments that are not completed or that are subject to delays in completion; and changes in interest rates. To the extent that
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assets underlying a Fund’s investments are concentrated geographically, by property type or in certain other respects, the Fund may be subject to certain of the foregoing risks to a greater extent. Investments by a Fund in securities of issuers providing mortgage servicing will be subject to the risks associated with refinancing and their impact on servicing rights.
In addition, if a Fund receives rental income or income from the disposition of real property acquired as result of a default on securities the Fund owns, the receipt of such income may adversely affect the Fund’s ability to qualify as a RIC because of certain income source requirements applicable to RICs under the Code.
REITs are pooled investment vehicles that invest primarily in income-producing real estate or real estate-related loans or interests. The affairs of REITs are managed by the REIT's sponsor and, as such, the performance of the REIT is dependent on the management skills of the REIT's sponsor. REITs are not diversified, and are subject to the risks of financing projects. REITs possess certain risks which differ from an investment in common stocks. REITs are financial vehicles that pool investor’s capital to purchase or finance real estate. REITs may concentrate their investments in specific geographic areas or in specific property types, i.e., hotels, shopping malls, residential complexes and office buildings. REITs are subject to management fees and other expenses, and so a Fund that invests in REITs will bear its proportionate share of the costs of the REITs’ operations. There are three general categories of REITs: Equity REITs, Mortgage REITs and Hybrid REITs. Equity REITs invest primarily in direct fee ownership or leasehold ownership of real property; they derive most of their income from rents. Mortgage REITs invest mostly in mortgages on real estate, which may secure construction, development or long-term loans; the main source of their income is mortgage interest payments. Hybrid REITs hold both ownership and mortgage interests in real estate.
Investing in REITs involves certain unique risks in addition to those risks associated with investing in the real estate industry in general. The market value of REIT shares and the ability of the REITs to distribute income may be adversely affected by several factors, including rising interest rates, changes in the national, state and local economic climate and real estate conditions, perceptions of prospective tenants of the safety, convenience and attractiveness of the properties, the ability of the owners to provide adequate management, maintenance and insurance, the cost of complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act, increased competition from new properties, the impact of present or future environmental legislation and compliance with environmental laws, failing to maintain their eligibility for favorable tax-treatment under the Code and for exemptions from registration under the 1940 Act, changes in real estate taxes and other operating expenses, adverse changes in governmental rules and fiscal policies, adverse changes in zoning laws and other factors beyond the control of the issuers of the REITs.
REITs (especially mortgage REITs) are also subject to interest rate risk. Rising interest rates may cause REIT investors to demand a higher annual yield, which may, in turn, cause a decline in the market price of the equity securities issued by a REIT. Rising interest rates also generally increase the costs of obtaining financing, which could cause the value of investments in REITs to decline. During periods when interest rates are declining, mortgages are often refinanced. Refinancing may reduce the yield on investments in mortgage REITs. In addition, since REITs depend on payment under their mortgage loans and leases to generate cash to make distributions to their shareholders, investments in REITs may be adversely affected by defaults on such mortgage loans or leases.
Investing in certain REITs, which often have small market capitalizations, may also involve the same risks as investing in other small-capitalization issuers. REITs may have limited financial resources and their securities may trade less frequently and in limited volume and may be subject to more abrupt or erratic price movements than larger issuer securities. Historically, small capitalization stocks, such as REITs, have been more volatile in price than the larger capitalization stocks such as those included in the S&P 500® Index. The management of a REIT may be subject to conflicts of interest with respect to the operation of the business of the REIT and may be involved in real estate activities competitive with the REIT. REITs may own properties through joint ventures or in other circumstances in which the REIT may not have control over its investments. REITs may involve significant amounts of leverage.
Small- and Mid-Capitalization Issuers: Issuers with smaller market capitalizations, including small- and mid-capitalization issuers, may have limited product lines, markets, or financial resources, may lack the competitive strength of larger issuers, may have inexperienced managers or depend on a few key employees. In addition, their securities often are less widely held and trade less frequently and in lesser quantities, and their market prices are often more volatile, than the securities of issuers with larger market capitalizations. Issuers with smaller market capitalizations may include issuers with a limited operating history (unseasoned issuers). Investment decisions for these securities may place a greater emphasis on current or planned product lines and the reputation and experience of the issuer’s management and less emphasis on fundamental valuation factors than would be the case for more mature issuers. In addition, investments in unseasoned issuers are more speculative and entail greater risk than do investments in issuers with an established operating record. The liquidation of significant positions in small- and mid-capitalization issuers with limited trading volume, particularly in a distressed market, could be prolonged and result in investment losses.
Special Purpose Acquisition Companies: A Fund may invest in stock, rights, and warrants of special purpose acquisition companies (“SPACs”). Also known as a “blank check company,” a SPAC is a company with no commercial operations that is formed solely to raise capital from investors for the purpose of acquiring one or more existing private companies. The typical SPAC IPO involves the sale of units consisting of one share of common stock combined with one or more warrants or fractions of warrants to purchase common stock at a fixed price upon or after consummation of the acquisition. SPACs often have pre-determined time frames to make an acquisition after going public (typically two years) or the SPAC will liquidate, at which point invested funds are returned to the entity’s shareholders (less certain permitted expenses) and any rights or warrants issued by the SPAC expire worthless. Unless and until an acquisition is completed, a SPAC generally holds its assets in U.S. government securities, money market securities and cash. To the extent the SPAC holds cash or similar securities, this may impact a Fund’s ability to meet its investment objective.
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Because SPACs have no operating history or ongoing business other than seeking acquisitions, the value of a SPAC’s securities is particularly dependent on the ability of the entity’s management to identify and complete a favorable acquisition. Some SPACs may pursue acquisitions only within certain industries or regions, which may increase the volatility of their prices. At the time a Fund invests in a SPAC, there may be little or no basis for the Fund to evaluate the possible merits or risks of the particular industry in which the SPAC may ultimately operate or the target business which the SPAC may ultimately acquire. There is no guarantee that a SPAC in which a Fund invests will complete an acquisition or that any acquisitions that are completed will be profitable.
It is possible that a significant portion of the funds raised by a SPAC for the purpose of identifying and effecting an acquisition or merger may be expended during the search for a target transaction. Attractive acquisition or merger targets may become scarce if the number of SPACs seeking to acquire operating businesses increases. Only a thinly traded market for shares of or interests in a SPAC may develop, leaving a Fund unable to sell its interest in a SPAC or able to sell its interest only at a price below what the Fund believes is the SPAC security’s value.
SPACs are subject to increasing scrutiny, and potential legal challenges or regulatory developments may limit their effectiveness or prevalence. For example, the SEC has proposed additional disclosure and other rules that would apply to SPACs; it is impossible to predict the potential impact of these developments on the use of SPACs.
Special Situation Issuers: A special situation arises when, in the opinion of the manager, the securities of a particular issuer can be purchased at prices below the anticipated future value of the cash, securities or other consideration to be paid or exchanged for such securities solely by reason of a development applicable to that issuer and regardless of general business conditions or movements of the market as a whole. Developments creating special situations might include, among others: liquidations, reorganizations, recapitalizations, mergers, material litigation, technical breakthroughs, and new management or management policies. Investments in special situations often involve much greater risk than is inherent in ordinary investment securities, because of the high degree of uncertainty that can be associated with such events.
If a security is purchased in anticipation of a proposed transaction and the transaction later appears unlikely to be consummated or in fact is not consummated or is delayed, the market price of the security may decline sharply. There is typically asymmetry in the risk/reward payout of special situations strategies – the losses that can occur in the event of deal break-ups can far exceed the gains to be had if deals close successfully. The consummation of a proposed transaction can be prevented or delayed by a variety of factors, including regulatory and antitrust restrictions, political developments, industry weakness, stock specific events, failed financings, and general market declines. Certain special situation investments prevent ownership interest therein from being withdrawn until the special situation investment, or a portion thereof, is realized or deemed realized, which may negatively impact Fund performance.
Trust Preferred Securities: Trust preferred securities have the characteristics of both subordinated debt and preferred stock. Generally, trust preferred securities are issued by a trust that is wholly owned by a financial institution or other corporate entity, typically a bank holding company. The financial institution creates the trust and owns the trust’s common stocks, which may typically represent a small percentage of the trust’s capital structure. The remainder of the trust’s capital structure typically consists of trust preferred securities, which are sold to investors. The trust uses the sale proceeds of its common stocks to purchase subordinated debt instruments issued by the financial institution. The financial institution uses the proceeds from the sale of the subordinated debt instruments to increase its capital while the trust receives periodic interest payments from the financial institution for holding the subordinated debt instruments. The interests of the holders of the trust preferred securities are senior to those of common stockholders in the event that the financial institution is liquidated, although their interests are typically subordinated to those of other holders of other debt instruments issued by the financial institution. The primary advantage of this structure to the financial institution is that the trust preferred securities issued by the trust are treated by the financial institution as debt instruments for U.S. federal income tax purposes, the interest on which is generally a deductible expense for U.S. federal income tax purposes, and as equity for the calculation of capital requirements.
The trust uses interest payments it receives from the financial institution to make dividend payments to the holders of the trust preferred securities. Trust preferred securities typically bear a market rate coupon comparable to interest rates available on debt of a similarly rated issuer. Typical characteristics of trust preferred securities include long-term maturities, early redemption option by the issuer, and maturities at face value. Holders of trust preferred securities have limited voting rights to control the activities of the trust and no voting rights with respect to the financial institution. The market value of trust preferred securities may be more volatile than those of conventional debt instruments. Trust preferred securities may be issued in reliance on Rule 144A under the 1933 Act and subject to restrictions on resale. There can be no assurance as to the liquidity of trust preferred securities and the ability of holders to sell their holdings. The condition of the financial institution can be considered when seeking to identify the risks of trust preferred securities as the trust typically has no business operations other than to issue the trust preferred securities. If the financial institution defaults on interest payments to the trust, the trust will not be able to make dividend payments to holders of its securities.
DEBT INSTRUMENTS
Asset-Backed Securities: Asset-backed securities are securities backed by home equity loans, installment sale contracts, credit card receivables or other assets. Asset-backed securities are “pass-through” securities, meaning that principal and interest payments – net of expenses – made by the borrower on the underlying assets (such as credit card receivables) are passed through to the investor. The value of asset-backed securities based on debt instruments, like that of traditional debt instruments, typically increases when interest rates fall and decreases when interest rates rise. However, these asset-backed securities differ from traditional debt instruments because of their potential for prepayment. The price paid for asset-backed securities, the yield expected from such securities and the average life of the securities are based on a number of factors, including the anticipated rate of prepayment of the underlying assets. In a period of declining interest rates, borrowers may prepay the underlying assets more quickly than anticipated, thereby reducing the yield to maturity and the average
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life of the asset-backed security. Moreover, when the proceeds of a prepayment are reinvested in these circumstances, a rate of interest will likely be received that is lower than the rate on the security that was prepaid. To the extent that asset-backed securities are purchased at a premium, prepayments may result in a loss to the extent of the premium paid. If such securities are bought at a discount, both scheduled payments and unscheduled prepayments generally will also result in the recognition of income. In a period of rising interest rates, prepayments of the underlying assets may occur at a slower than expected rate, creating maturity extension risk. This particular risk may effectively change a security that was considered short- or intermediate-term at the time of purchase into a longer term security. Since the value of longer-term asset-backed securities generally fluctuates more widely in response to changes in interest rates than the value of shorter term asset-backed securities maturity extension risk could increase volatility. When interest rates decline, the value of an asset-backed security with prepayment features may not increase as much as that of other debt instruments, and as noted above, changes in market rates of interest may accelerate or retard prepayments and thus affect maturities. During periods of deteriorating economic conditions, such as recessions or periods of rising unemployment, delinquencies and losses generally increase, sometimes dramatically, with respect to securitizations involving loans, sales contracts, receivables and other obligations underlying asset-backed securities. The effects of COVID-19, and governmental responses to the effects of the pandemic may result in increased delinquencies and losses and may have other, potentially unanticipated, adverse effects on such investments and the markets for those investments.
The credit quality of asset-backed securities depends primarily on the quality of the underlying assets, the rights of recourse available against the underlying assets and/or the issuer, the level of credit enhancement, if any, provided for the securities, and the credit quality of the credit-support provider, if any. The values of asset-backed securities may be affected by other factors, such as the availability of information concerning the pool of assets and its structure, the market’s perception of the asset backing the security, the creditworthiness of the servicing agent for the pool of assets, the originator of the underlying assets, or the entities providing the credit enhancement. The market values of asset-backed securities also can depend on the ability of their servicers to service the underlying assets and are, therefore, subject to risks associated with servicers’ performance. In some circumstances, a servicer’s or originator’s mishandling of documentation related to the underlying assets (e.g., failure to document a security interest in the underlying assets properly) may affect the rights of the security holders in and to the underlying assets. In addition, the insolvency of an entity that generated the assets underlying an asset-backed security is likely to result in a decline in the market price of that security as well as costs and delays. Asset-backed securities that do not have the benefit of a security interest in the underlying assets present certain additional risks that are not present with asset-backed securities that do have a security interest in the underlying assets. For example, many securities backed by credit card receivables are unsecured.
Collateralized Debt Obligations: Collateralized Debt Obligations (“CDOs”) are a type of asset-backed security and include collateralized bond obligations (“CBOs”), collateralized loan obligations (“CLOs”), and other similarly structured securities. A CBO is an obligation of a trust or other special purpose vehicle backed by a pool of bonds. A CLO is an obligation of a trust or other special purpose vehicle typically collateralized by a pool of loans, which may include senior secured and unsecured loans and subordinate corporate loans, including loans that may be rated below investment grade, or equivalent unrated loans. CDOs may incur management fees and administrative expenses.
For both CBOs and CLOs, the cash flows from the trust are split into two or more portions, called tranches, which vary in risk and yield. The riskier portions are the residual, equity, and subordinate tranches, which bear some or all of the risk of default by the debt instruments or loans in the trust, and therefore protect the other, more senior tranches from default in all but the most severe circumstances. Since they are partially protected from defaults, senior tranches of a CBO trust or CLO trust typically have higher ratings and lower yields than junior tranches. Despite the protection from the riskier tranches, senior CBO or CLO tranches can experience substantial losses due to actual defaults (including collateral default), the total loss of the riskier tranches due to losses in the collateral, market anticipation of defaults, fraud by the trust, and the illiquidity of CBO or CLO securities.
The risks of an investment in a CDO largely depend on the type of underlying collateral securities and the tranche in which there are investments. Typically, CBOs, CLOs, and other CDOs are privately offered and sold, and thus are not registered under the securities laws. As a result, investments in CDOs may be characterized as illiquid. CDOs are subject to the typical risks associated with debt instruments discussed elsewhere in this SAI and the Prospectus, including interest rate risk, prepayment and extension risk, credit risk, liquidity risk and market risk. Additional risks of CDOs include: (i) the possibility that distributions from collateral securities will be insufficient to make interest or other payments; (ii) the possibility that the quality of the collateral may decline in value or default, due to factors such as the availability of any credit enhancement, the level and timing of payments and recoveries on and the characteristics of the underlying collateral, remoteness of those collateral assets from the originator or transferor, the adequacy of and ability to realize upon any related collateral, and the capability of the servicer of the securitized assets; and (iii) market and liquidity risks affecting the price of a structured finance investment, if required to be sold, at the time of sale. In addition, due to the complex nature of a CDO, an investment in a CDO may not perform as expected. An investment in a CDO also is subject to the risk that the issuer and the investors may interpret the terms of the instrument differently, giving rise to disputes.
Bank Instruments: Bank instruments include certificates of deposit (“CDs”), fixed-time deposits, and other debt and deposit-type obligations (including promissory notes that earn a specified rate of return) issued by: (i) a U.S. branch of a U.S. bank; (ii) a non-U.S. branch of a U.S. bank; (iii) a U.S. branch of a non-U.S. bank; or (iv) a non-U.S. branch of a non-U.S. bank. Bank instruments may be structured as fixed-, variable- or floating-rate obligations.
CDs typically are interest-bearing debt instruments issued by banks and have maturities ranging from a few weeks to several years. Yankee dollar certificates of deposit are negotiable CDs issued in the United States by branches and agencies of non-U.S. banks. Eurodollar certificates of deposit are CDs issued by non-U.S. banks with interest and principal paid in U.S. dollars. Eurodollar and Yankee Dollar CDs typically have maturities of less than two years and have interest rates that typically are pegged to SOFR. Bankers’ acceptances are negotiable drafts or bills of exchange, normally drawn by an importer or exporter to pay for specific merchandise, which are “accepted”
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by a bank, meaning, in effect, that the bank unconditionally agrees to pay the face value of the instrument on maturity. Bankers’ acceptances are a customary means of effecting payment for merchandise sold in import-export transactions and are a general source of financing. A fixed-time deposit is a bank obligation payable at a stated maturity date and bearing interest at a fixed rate. There are generally no contractual restrictions on the right to transfer a beneficial interest in a fixed-time deposit to a third party, although there is generally no market for such deposits. Typically, there are penalties for early withdrawals of time deposits. Promissory notes are written commitments of the maker to pay the payee a specified sum of money either on demand or at a fixed or determinable future date, with or without interest.
Certain bank instruments, such as some CDs, are insured by the FDIC up to certain specified limits. Many other bank instruments, however, are neither guaranteed nor insured by the FDIC or the U.S. government. These bank instruments are “backed” only by the creditworthiness of the issuing bank or parent financial institution. U.S. and non-U.S. banks are subject to different governmental regulation. They are subject to the risks of investing in the particular issuing bank and of investing in the banking and financial services sector generally. Certain obligations of non-U.S. banks, including Eurodollar and Yankee dollar obligations, involve different and/or heightened investment risks than those affecting obligations of U.S. banks, including, among others, the possibilities that: (i) their liquidity could be impaired because of political or economic developments; (ii) the obligations may be less marketable than comparable obligations of U.S. banks; (iii) a non-U.S. jurisdiction might impose withholding and other taxes at high levels on interest income; (iv) non-U.S. deposits may be seized or nationalized; (v) non-U.S. governmental restrictions such as exchange controls may be imposed, which could adversely affect the payment of principal and/or interest on those obligations; (vi) there may be less publicly available information concerning non-U.S. banks issuing the obligations; and (vii) the reserve requirements and accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards, practices and requirements applicable to non-U.S. banks may differ (including those that are less stringent) from those applicable to U.S. banks. Non-U.S. banks generally are not subject to examination by any U.S. government agency or instrumentality.
Commercial Paper: Commercial paper represents short-term unsecured promissory notes issued in bearer form by banks or bank holding companies, corporations and finance companies. Commercial paper may consist of U.S. dollar- or foreign currency-denominated obligations of U.S. or non-U.S. issuers, and may be rated or unrated. The rate of return on commercial paper may be linked or indexed to the level of exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and a foreign currency or currencies.
Section 4(a)(2) commercial paper is commercial paper issued in reliance on the so-called “private placement” exemption from registration afforded by Section 4(a)(2) of the 1933 Act, as amended (“Section 4(a)(2) paper”). Section 4(a)(2) paper is restricted as to disposition under the federal securities laws, and generally is sold to investors who agree that they are purchasing the paper for investment and not with a view to public distribution. Any resale by the purchaser must be in an exempt transaction. Section 4(a)(2) paper is normally resold to other investors through or with the assistance of the issuer or dealers who make a market in Section 4(a)(2) paper, thus providing liquidity.
Corporate Debt Instruments: Corporate debt instruments are long and short-term debt instruments typically issued by businesses to finance their operations. Corporate debt instruments are issued by public or private issuers, as distinct from debt instruments issued by a government or its agencies. The issuer of a corporate debt instrument typically has a contractual obligation to pay interest at a stated rate on specific dates and to repay principal periodically or on a specified maturity date. The broad category of corporate debt instruments includes debt issued by U.S. or non-U.S. issuers of all kinds, including those with small-, mid- and large-capitalizations. The category also includes bank loans, as well as assignments, participations and other interests in bank loans. Corporate debt instruments may be rated investment grade or below investment grade and may be structured as fixed-, variable or floating-rate obligations or as zero-coupon, pay-in-kind and step-coupon securities and may be privately placed or publicly offered. They may also be senior or subordinated obligations. Because of the wide range of types and maturities of corporate debt instruments, as well as the range of creditworthiness of issuers, corporate debt instruments can have widely varying risk/return profiles.
Corporate debt instruments carry both credit risk and interest rate risk. Credit risk is the risk that an investor could lose money if the issuer of a corporate debt instrument is unable to pay interest or repay principal when it is due. Some corporate debt instruments that are rated below investment grade (commonly referred to as “junk bonds”) are generally considered speculative because they present a greater risk of loss, including default, than higher rated debt instruments. The credit risk of a particular issuer’s debt instrument may vary based on its priority for repayment. For example, higher-ranking (senior) debt instruments have a higher priority than lower ranking (subordinated) debt instruments. This means that the issuer might not make payments on subordinated debt instruments while continuing to make payments on senior debt instruments. In addition, in the event of bankruptcy, holders of higher-ranking senior debt instruments may receive amounts otherwise payable to the holders of more junior securities. The market value of corporate debt instruments may be expected to rise and fall inversely with interest rates generally. In general, corporate debt instruments with longer terms tend to fall more in value when interest rates rise than corporate debt instruments with shorter terms. The value of a corporate debt instrument may also be affected by supply and demand for similar or comparable securities in the marketplace. Fluctuations in the value of portfolio securities subsequent to their acquisition will not affect cash income from such securities but will be reflected in NAV. Corporate debt instruments generally trade in the over-the-counter market and can be less liquid that other types of investments, particularly during adverse market and economic conditions.
Credit-Linked Notes: Credit-linked notes are privately negotiated obligations whose returns are linked to the returns of one or more designated securities or other instruments that are referred to as “reference securities,” such as an emerging market bond. A credit-linked note typically is issued by a special purpose trust or similar entity and is a direct obligation of the issuing entity. The entity, in turn, invests in debt instruments or derivative contracts in order to provide the exposure set forth in the credit-linked note. The periodic interest payments and principal obligations payable under the terms of the note typically are conditioned upon the entity’s receipt of payments on its underlying
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investment. Purchasing a credit-linked note assumes the risk of the default or, in some cases, other declines in credit quality of the reference securities. There is also exposure to the issuer of the credit-linked note in the full amount of the purchase price of the note and the note is often not secured by the reference securities or other collateral.
The market for credit-linked notes may be or may become illiquid. The number of investors with sufficient understanding to support transacting in the notes may be quite limited, and may include only the parties to the original purchase/sale transaction. Changes in liquidity may result in significant, rapid and unpredictable changes in the value for credit-linked notes. In certain cases, a market price for a credit-linked note may not be available and it may be difficult to determine a fair value of the note.
Custodial Receipts and Trust Certificates: Custodial receipts and trust certificates, which may be underwritten by securities dealers or banks, represent interests in instruments held by a custodian or trustee. The instruments so held may include U.S. government securities or other types of instruments. The custodial receipts or trust certificates may evidence ownership of future interest payments, principal payments or both on the underlying instruments, or, in some cases, the payment obligation of a third party that has entered into an interest rate swap or other arrangement with the custodian or trustee. The holder of custodial receipts and trust certificates will bear its proportionate share of the fees and expenses charged to the custodial account or trust. There may also be investments in separately issued interests in custodial receipts and trust certificates. Custodial receipts may be issued in multiple tranches, representing different interests in the payment streams in the underlying instruments (including as to priority of payment).
In the event an underlying issuer fails to pay principal and/or interest when due, a holder could be required to assert its rights through the custodian bank, and assertion of those rights may be subject to delays, expenses, and risks that are greater than those that would have been involved if the holder had purchased a direct obligation of the issuer. In addition, in the event that the trust or custodial account in which the underlying instruments have been deposited is determined to be an association taxable as a corporation instead of a non-taxable entity, the yield on the underlying instruments would be reduced by the amount of any taxes paid.
Certain custodial receipts and trust certificates may be synthetic or derivative instruments that pay interest at rates that reset inversely to changing short-term rates and/or have embedded interest rate floors and caps that require the issuer to pay an adjusted interest rate if market rates fall below, or rise above, a specified rate. These instruments include inverse and range floaters. Because some of these instruments represent relatively recent innovations and the trading market for these instruments is less developed than the markets for traditional types of instruments, it is uncertain how these instruments will perform under different economic and interest-rate scenarios. Also, because these instruments may be leveraged, their market values may be more volatile than other types of instruments and may present greater potential for capital gain or loss, including potentially loss of the entire principal investment. The possibility of default by an issuer or the issuer’s credit provider may be greater for these derivative instruments than for other types of instruments. In some cases, it may be difficult to determine the fair value of a derivative instrument because of a lack of reliable objective information, and an established secondary market for some instruments may not exist. In many cases, the IRS has not ruled on the tax treatment of the interest or payments received on such derivative instruments.
Delayed Funding Loans and Revolving Credit Facilities: Delayed funding loans and revolving credit facilities are borrowing arrangements in which the lender agrees to make loans, up to a maximum amount, upon demand by the borrower during a specified term. A revolving credit facility differs from a delayed funding loan in that, as the borrower repays the loan, an amount equal to the repayment may be borrowed again during the term of the revolving credit facility (whereas, in the case of a delayed funding loan, such amounts may not be “re-borrowed”). Delayed funding loans and revolving credit facilities usually provide for floating or variable rates of interest. Agreeing to participate in a delayed fund loan or a revolving credit facility may have the effect of requiring an increased investment in an issuer at a time when such investment might not otherwise have been made (including at a time when the issuer’s financial condition makes it unlikely that such amounts will be repaid). To the extent that there is such a commitment to advancing additional funds, assets that are determined to be liquid by the Investment Adviser or the Sub-Adviser in accordance with procedures established by the Board will at times be segregated, in an amount sufficient to meet such commitments.
Delayed funding loans and revolving credit facilities may be subject to restrictions on transfer and only limited opportunities may exist to resell such instruments. As a result, such investments may not be sold at an opportune time or may have to be resold at less than fair market value.
Event-Linked Bonds: Event-linked exposure typically results in gains or losses depending on the occurrence of a specific “trigger” event, such as a hurricane, earthquake, or other physical or weather-related phenomena. Some event-linked bonds are commonly referred to as “catastrophe bonds.” They may be issued by government agencies, insurance companies, reinsurers, special purpose corporations or other on-shore or off-shore entities. If a trigger event causes losses exceeding a specific amount in the geographic region and time period specified in a bond, there may be a loss of a portion, or all, of the principal invested in the bond. If no trigger event occurs, the principal plus interest will be recovered. For some event-linked bonds, the trigger event or losses may be based on issuer-wide losses, index-portfolio losses, industry indices, or readings of scientific instruments rather than specified actual losses. Event-linked bonds often provide for extensions of maturity that are mandatory, or optional, at the discretion of the issuer, in order to process and audit loss claims in those cases where a trigger event has, or possibly has, occurred.
Floating or Variable Rate Instruments: Variable and floating rate instruments are a type of debt instrument that provides for periodic adjustments in the interest rate paid on the instrument. Variable rate instruments provide for the automatic establishment of a new interest rate on set dates, while floating rate instruments provide for an automatic adjustment in the interest rate whenever a specified interest rate changes. Variable rate instruments will be deemed to have a maturity equal to the period remaining until the next readjustment of the interest rate.
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There is a risk that the current interest rate on variable and floating rate instruments may not accurately reflect current market interest rates or adequately compensate the holder for the current creditworthiness of the issuer. Some variable or floating rate instruments are structured with liquidity features such as: (1) put options or tender options that permit holders (sometimes subject to conditions) to demand payment of the unpaid principal balance plus accrued interest from the issuers or certain financial intermediaries; or (2) auction rate features, remarketing provisions, or other maturity-shortening devices designed to enable the issuer to refinance or redeem outstanding debt instruments (market-dependent liquidity features). The market-dependent liquidity features may not operate as intended as a result of the issuer’s declining creditworthiness, adverse market conditions, or other factors or the inability or unwillingness of a participating broker-dealer to make a secondary market for such instruments. As a result, variable or floating rate instruments that include market-dependent liquidity features may lose value and the holders of such instruments may be required to retain them for an extended period of time or indefinitely.
Generally, changes in interest rates will have a smaller effect on the market value of variable and floating rate instruments than on the market value of comparable debt instruments. Thus, investing in variable and floating rate instruments generally allows less potential for capital appreciation and depreciation than investing in comparable debt instruments.
Guaranteed Investment Contracts: Guaranteed Investment Contracts (“GICs”) are issued by insurance companies. An insurance company issuing a GIC typically agrees, in return for the purchase price of the contract, to pay interest at an agreed upon rate (which may be a fixed or variable rate) and to repay principal. GICs typically guarantee that the interest rate will not be less than a certain minimum rate. The insurance company may assess periodic charges against a GIC for expense and service costs allocable to it, and the charges will be deducted from the value of the deposit fund. A GIC is a general obligation of the issuing insurance company and not a separate account. The purchase price paid for a GIC becomes part of the general assets of the insurance company, and the contract is paid from the insurance company’s general assets. Generally, a GIC is not assignable or transferable without the permission of the issuing insurance company, and an active secondary market in GICs does not currently exist. In addition, the issuer may not be able to pay the principal amount to a Fund on seven days’ notice or less, at which time the investment may be considered illiquid securities. GICs are not backed by the U.S. government nor are they insured by the FDIC. GICs are generally guaranteed only by the insurance companies that issue them.
High-Yield Securities: High-yield securities (commonly referred to as “junk bonds”) are debt instruments that are rated below investment grade. Investing in high-yield securities involves special risks in addition to the risks associated with investments in higher rated debt instruments. While investments in high-yield securities generally provide greater income and increased opportunity for capital appreciation than investments in higher quality securities, investments in high-yield securities typically entail greater price volatility as well as principal and income risk. High-yield securities are regarded as predominantly speculative with respect to the issuer’s continuing ability to meet principal and interest payments. Analysis of the creditworthiness of issuers of high-yield securities may be more complex than for issuers of higher quality debt instruments.
High-yield securities may be more susceptible to real or perceived adverse economic and competitive industry conditions than investment grade securities. The prices of high-yield securities are likely to be sensitive to adverse economic downturns or individual corporate developments. A projection of an economic downturn or of a period of rising interest rates, for example, could cause a decline in high-yield security prices because the advent of a recession could lessen the ability of a highly leveraged issuer to make principal and interest payments on its debt instruments. If an issuer of high-yield securities defaults, in addition to risking payment of all or a portion of interest and principal, additional expenses to seek recovery may be incurred.
The secondary market on which high-yield securities are traded may be less liquid than the market for higher grade securities. Less liquidity in the secondary trading market could adversely affect the price at which a high-yield security could be sold, and could adversely affect daily NAV. Adverse publicity and investor perceptions, whether or not based on fundamental analysis, may decrease the values and liquidity of high-yield securities, especially in a thinly traded market. When secondary markets for high-yield securities are less liquid than the market for higher grade securities, it may be more difficult to value lower rated securities because such valuation may require more research, and elements of judgment may play a greater role in the valuation because there is less reliable, objective data available.
Credit ratings issued by credit rating agencies are designed to evaluate the safety of principal and interest payments of rated securities. They do not, however, evaluate the market value risk of lower-quality securities and, therefore, may not fully reflect the true risks of an investment. In addition, credit rating agencies may or may not make timely changes in a rating to reflect changes in the economy or in the condition of the issuer that affect the market value of the securities. Consequently, credit ratings are used only as a preliminary indicator of investment quality. Each credit rating agency applies its own methodology in measuring creditworthiness and uses a specific rating scale to publish its ratings. For more information on credit agency ratings, please see Appendix A. Furthermore, high-yield debt instruments may not be registered under the 1933 Act, and, unless so registered, a Fund will not be able to sell such high-yield debt instruments except pursuant to an exemption from registration under the 1933 Act. This may further limit a Fund's ability to sell high-yield debt instruments or to obtain the desired price for such securities.
Special tax considerations are associated with investing in high-yield securities structured as zero-coupon or pay-in-kind instruments. Income accrues on these instruments prior to the receipt of cash payments, which income must be distributed to shareholders when it accrues, potentially requiring the liquidation of other investments, including at times when such liquidation may not be advantageous, in order to comply with the distribution requirements applicable to RICs under the Code.
Inflation-Indexed Bonds: Inflation-indexed bonds are debt instruments whose principal and/or interest value are adjusted periodically according to a rate of inflation (usually a consumer price index). Two structures are most common. The U.S. Treasury and some other issuers use a structure that accrues inflation into the principal value of the bond. Most other issuers pay out the inflation accruals as part of a semi-annual coupon.
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U.S. Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (“TIPS”) currently are issued with maturities of five, ten, or thirty years, although it is possible that bonds with other maturities will be issued in the future. The principal amount of TIPS adjusts for inflation, although the inflation-adjusted principal is not paid until maturity. Semi-annual coupon payments are determined as a fixed percentage of the inflation-adjusted principal at the time the payment is made.
If the rate measuring inflation falls, the principal value of inflation-indexed bonds will be adjusted downward, and consequently the interest payable on these bonds (calculated with respect to a smaller principal amount) will be reduced. At maturity, TIPS are redeemed at the greater of their inflation-adjusted principal or at the par amount at original issue. If an inflation-indexed bond does not provide a guarantee of principal at maturity, the adjusted principal value of the bond repaid at maturity may be less than the original principal.
The value of inflation-indexed bonds is expected to change in response to changes in real interest rates. Real interest rates in turn are tied to the relationship between nominal interest rates and the rate of inflation. For example, if inflation were to rise at a faster rate than nominal interest rates, real interest rates would likely decline, leading to an increase in value of inflation-indexed bonds. In contrast, if nominal interest rates increase at a faster rate than inflation, real interest rates would likely rise, leading to a decrease in value of inflation-indexed bonds.
While these bonds, if held to maturity, are expected to be protected from long-term inflationary trends, short-term increases in inflation may lead to a decline in value. If nominal interest rates rise due to reasons other than inflation (for example, due to an expansion of non-inflationary economic activity), investors in these bonds may not be protected to the extent that the increase in rates is not reflected in the bond’s inflation measure.
The inflation adjustment of TIPS is tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (“CPI-U”), which is calculated monthly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The CPI-U is a measurement of price changes in the cost of living, made up of components such as housing, food, transportation, and energy.
Other issuers of inflation-protected bonds include other U.S. government agencies or instrumentalities, corporations, and foreign governments. There can be no assurance that the CPI-U or any foreign inflation index will accurately measure the real rate of inflation in the prices of goods and services. Moreover, there can be no assurance that the rate of inflation in a foreign country will be correlated to the rate of inflation in the United States. If interest rates rise due to reasons other than inflation (for example, due to changes in currency exchange rates), investors in these bonds may not be protected to the extent that the increase is not reflected in the bond’s inflation measure.
Any increase in principal for an inflation-protected bond resulting from inflation adjustments is considered to be taxable income in the year it occurs. For direct holders of inflation-protected bonds, this means that taxes must be paid on principal adjustments even though these amounts are not received until the bond matures. Similarly, with respect to inflation-protected instruments held by each Fund, both interest income and the income attributable to principal adjustments must currently be distributed to shareholders in the form of cash or reinvested shares.
Inverse Floating Rate Securities: Inverse floaters have variable interest rates that typically move in the opposite direction from movements in prevailing interest rates, most often short-term rates. Accordingly, the values of inverse floaters, or other instruments or certificates structured to have similar features, generally move in the opposite direction from interest rates. The value of an inverse floater can be considerably more volatile than the value of other debt instruments of comparable maturity and quality. Inverse floaters incorporate varying degrees of leverage. Generally, greater leverage results in greater price volatility for any given change in interest rates. Inverse floaters may be subject to legal or contractual restrictions on resale and therefore may be less liquid than other types of instruments.
LIBOR: The obligations of the parties under many financial arrangements, such as debt instruments (including senior loans) and derivatives, may be determined based in whole or in part on LIBOR. In 2017, the United Kingdom (“UK”) Financial Conduct Authority announced its intention to cease compelling banks to provide the quotations needed to sustain LIBOR after 2021. ICE Benchmark Administration, the administrator of LIBOR, ceased publication of most LIBOR settings on a representative basis at the end of 2021 and ceased publication of a majority of U.S. dollar LIBOR settings on a representative basis after June 30, 2023. In addition, global regulators have announced that, with limited exceptions, no new LIBOR-based contracts should be entered into after 2021. Actions by regulators have resulted in the establishment of alternative reference rates to LIBOR in most major currencies, including for example, SOFR for U.S. Dollar LIBOR and the Sterling Overnight Interbank Average Rate for Sterling LIBOR. SOFR is a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by U.S. Treasury securities in the repurchase agreement market. SOFR is published in various forms including as a daily, compounded and forward-looking term rate. Discontinuance of LIBOR and adoption/implementation of alternative rates pose a number of risks, including, among others, whether any substitute rate will experience the market participation and liquidity necessary to provide a workable substitute for LIBOR; the effect on parties' existing contractual arrangements, hedging transactions, and investment strategies generally from a conversion from LIBOR to alternative rates; the effect on a Fund's existing investments, including the possibility that some of those investments may terminate or their terms may be adjusted to the disadvantage of a Fund; and the risk of general market disruption during the period of the conversion. Markets relying on new, non-LIBOR rates are developing slowly, and may offer limited liquidity. In addition, the transition process away from LIBOR may involve increased volatility or illiquidity in markets for instruments that currently rely on LIBOR. The transition may also result in a reduction in the value of certain LIBOR-based investments held by a Fund or reduce the effectiveness of related transactions such as hedges. The effect of any changes to or discontinuation of LIBOR on a Fund's existing investments and obligations will vary depending on, among other things, (1) existing fallback provisions in individual contracts and (2) whether, how, and when industry participants develop and widely adopt new reference rates and fallbacks for both legacy and new products or instruments. The general unavailability of LIBOR and the transition away from LIBOR to other rates could have a substantial adverse impact on the performance of a Fund.
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Mortgage-Related Securities: Mortgage-related securities are interests in pools of residential or commercial mortgage loans, including mortgage loans made by savings and loan institutions, mortgage bankers, commercial banks and others. Pools of mortgage loans are assembled as securities for sale to investors by various governmental, government-related and private organizations. There may also be investments in debt instruments which are secured with collateral consisting of mortgage-related securities (see “Collateralized Mortgage Obligations”).
Financial downturns (particularly an increase in delinquencies and defaults on residential mortgages, falling home prices, and unemployment) may adversely affect the market for mortgage-related securities. Many so-called sub-prime mortgage pools become distressed during periods of economic distress and may trade at significant discounts to their face value during such periods. In addition, various market and governmental actions may impair the ability to foreclose on or exercise other remedies against underlying mortgage holders, or may reduce the amount received upon foreclosure. These factors may cause certain mortgage-related securities to experience lower valuations and reduced liquidity. There is also no assurance that the U.S. government will take further action to support the mortgage-related securities industry, as it has in the past, should the economy experience another downturn. Further, legislative action and any future government actions may significantly alter the manner in which the mortgage-related securities market functions. Each of these factors could ultimately increase the risk of losses on mortgage-related securities.
Mortgage Pass-Through Securities: Interests in pools of mortgage-related securities differ from other forms of debt instruments, which normally provide for periodic payment of interest in fixed amounts with principal payments at maturity or specified call dates. Instead, these securities provide a monthly payment which consists of both interest and principal payments. In effect, these payments are a “pass-through” of the monthly payments made by the individual borrowers on their residential or commercial mortgage loans, net of any fees paid to the issuer or guarantor of such securities. Additional payments are caused by repayments of principal resulting from the sale of the underlying property, refinancing or foreclosure, net of fees or costs which may be incurred. Some mortgage-related securities (such as securities issued by GNMA) are described as “modified pass-through.” These securities entitle the holder to receive all interest and principal payments owed on the mortgage pool, net of certain fees, at the scheduled payment dates regardless of whether or not the mortgagor actually makes the payment.
The rate of pre-payments on underlying mortgages will affect the price and volatility of a mortgage-related security, and may have the effect of shortening or extending the effective duration of the security relative to what was anticipated at the time of purchase. To the extent that unanticipated rates of pre-payment on underlying mortgages increase the effective duration of a mortgage-related security, the volatility of such security can be expected to increase. The residential mortgage market in the United States has in the past experienced difficulties that may adversely affect the performance and market value of certain mortgage-related investments. Delinquencies and losses on residential mortgage loans (especially subprime and second-lien mortgage loans) generally have increased in the past and may continue to increase, and a decline in or flattening of housing values (as has occurred in the past and which may continue to occur in many housing markets) may exacerbate such delinquencies and losses. Borrowers with adjustable rate mortgage loans are more sensitive to changes in interest rates, which affect their monthly mortgage payments, and may be unable to secure replacement mortgages at comparably low interest rates. Also, a number of residential mortgage loan originators have experienced serious financial difficulties or bankruptcy. Due largely to the foregoing, reduced investor demand for mortgage loans and mortgage-related securities and increased investor yield requirements have caused limited liquidity in the secondary market for certain mortgage-related securities, which can adversely affect the market value of mortgage-related securities. It is possible that such limited liquidity in such secondary markets could continue or worsen.
Adjustable Rate Mortgage-Backed Securities: Adjustable rate mortgage-backed securities (“ARM MBSs”) have interest rates that reset at periodic intervals. Acquiring ARM MBSs permits participation in increases in prevailing current interest rates through periodic adjustments in the coupons of mortgages underlying the pool on which ARM MBSs are based. Such ARM MBSs generally have higher current yield and lower price fluctuations than is the case with more traditional debt instruments of comparable rating and maturity. In addition, when prepayments of principal are made on the underlying mortgages during periods of rising interest rates, there can be reinvestment in the proceeds of such prepayments at rates higher than those at which they were previously invested. Mortgages underlying most ARM MBSs, however, have limits on the allowable annual or lifetime increases that can be made in the interest rate that the mortgagor pays. Therefore, if current interest rates rise above such limits over the period of the limitation, there is no benefit from further increases in interest rates. Moreover, when interest rates are in excess of coupon rates (i.e., the rates being paid by mortgagors) of the mortgages, ARM MBSs behave more like debt instruments and less like adjustable rate debt instruments and are subject to the risks associated with debt instruments. In addition, during periods of rising interest rates, increases in the coupon rate of adjustable rate mortgages generally lag current market interest rates slightly, thereby creating the potential for capital depreciation on such securities.
Agency Mortgage-Related Securities: The principal governmental guarantor of mortgage-related securities is GNMA. GNMA is a wholly owned U.S. government corporation within the Department of Housing and Urban Development. GNMA is authorized to guarantee, with the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, the timely payment of principal and interest on securities issued by institutions approved by GNMA (such as savings and loan institutions, commercial banks and mortgage bankers) and backed by pools of mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (the “FHA”), or guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (the “VA”). Government-related guarantors (i.e., not backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government) include FNMA and FHLMC. FNMA is a government-sponsored corporation. FNMA purchases conventional (i.e., not insured or guaranteed by any government agency) residential mortgages from a list of approved sellers/servicers which include state and federally chartered savings and loan associations, mutual savings banks, commercial banks and credit unions and mortgage bankers. Pass-through securities issued by FNMA are guaranteed as to timely payment of principal and interest by FNMA, but are not backed by the full faith and mortgage credit for residential housing. It is a government-sponsored corporation that issues Participation Certificates (“PCs”), which are pass-through securities, each representing an undivided interest in a pool of residential mortgages. FHLMC guarantees the timely payment of interest and ultimate collection of principal, but PCs are not backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.
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On September 6, 2008, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA”) placed FNMA and FHLMC into conservatorship. As the conservator, FHFA succeeded to all rights, titles, powers and privileges of FNMA and FHLMC and of any stockholder, officer or director of FNMA and FHLMC with respect to FNMA and FHLMC and the assets of FNMA and FHLMC. FHFA selected a new chief executive officer and chairman of the board of directors for each of FNMA and FHLMC.
FNMA and FHLMC are continuing to operate as going concerns while in conservatorship and each remain liable for all of its obligations, including its guaranty obligations, associated with its mortgage-backed securities. The Senior Preferred Stock Purchase Agreement is intended to enhance each of FNMA’s and FHLMC’s ability to meet its obligations. The FHFA has indicated that the conservatorship of each enterprise will end when the director of FHFA determines that FHFA’s plan to restore the enterprise to a safe and solvent condition has been completed.
Under the Federal Housing Finance Regulatory Reform Act of 2008 (the “Reform Act”), which was included as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, FHFA, as conservator or receiver, has the power to repudiate any contract entered into by FNMA or FHLMC prior to FHFA’s appointment as conservator or receiver, as applicable, if FHFA determines, in its sole discretion, that performance of the contract is burdensome and that repudiation of the contract promotes the orderly administration of FNMA’s or FHLMC’s affairs. The Reform Act requires FHFA to exercise its right to repudiate any contract within a reasonable period of time after its appointment as conservator or receiver.
FHFA, in its capacity as conservator, has indicated that it has no intention to repudiate the guaranty obligations of FNMA or FHLMC because FHFA views repudiation as incompatible with the goals of the conservatorship. However, in the event that FHFA, as conservator or if it is later appointed as receiver for FNMA or FHLMC, were to repudiate any such guaranty obligation, the conservatorship or receivership estate, as applicable, would be liable for actual direct compensatory damages in accordance with the provisions of the Reform Act. Any such liability could be satisfied only to the extent of FNMA’s or FHLMC’s assets available therefor.
In the event of repudiation, the payments of interest to holders of FNMA or FHLMC mortgage-backed securities would be reduced if payments on the mortgage loans represented in the mortgage loan groups related to such mortgage-backed securities are not made by the borrowers or advanced by the servicer. Any actual direct compensatory damages for repudiating these guaranty obligations may not be sufficient to offset any shortfalls experienced by such mortgage-backed security holders.
Further, in its capacity as conservator or receiver, FHFA has the right to transfer or sell any asset or liability of FNMA or FHLMC without any approval, assignment or consent. Although FHFA has stated that it has no present intention to do so, if FHFA, as conservator or receiver, were to transfer any such guaranty obligation to another party, holders of FNMA or FHLMC mortgage-backed securities would have to rely on that party for satisfaction of the guaranty obligation and would be exposed to the credit risk of that party.
In addition, certain rights provided to holders of mortgage-backed securities issued by FNMA and FHLMC under the operative documents related to such securities may not be enforced against FHFA, or enforcement of such rights may be delayed, during the conservatorship or any future receivership. The operative documents for FNMA and FHLMC mortgage-backed securities may provide (or with respect to securities issued prior to the date of the appointment of the conservator may have provided) that upon the occurrence of an event of default on the part of FNMA or FHLMC, in its capacity as guarantor, which includes the appointment of a conservator or receiver, holders of such mortgage-backed securities have the right to replace FNMA or FHLMC as trustee if the requisite percentage of mortgage-backed securities holders consent. The Reform Act prevents mortgage-backed security holders from enforcing such rights if the event of default arises solely because a conservator or receiver has been appointed. The Reform Act also provides that no person may exercise any right or power to terminate, accelerate or declare an event of default under certain contracts to which FNMA or FHLMC is a party, or obtain possession of or exercise control over any property of FNMA or FHLMC, or affect any contractual rights of FNMA or FHLMC, without the approval of FHFA, as conservator or receiver, for a period of 45 or 90 days following the appointment of FHFA as conservator or receiver, respectively.
To the extent third party entities involved with mortgage-backed securities issued by private issuers are involved in litigation relating to the securities, actions may be taken that are adverse to the interests of holders of the mortgage-backed securities, including each Fund. For example, third parties may seek to withhold proceeds due to holders of the mortgage-related securities, including each Fund, to cover legal or related costs. Any such action could result in losses to each Fund.
Collateralized Mortgage Obligations: Collateralized Mortgage Obligations (“CMOs”) are debt obligations of a legal entity that are collateralized by mortgages and divided into classes. Similar to a bond, interest and prepaid principal is paid, in most cases, on a monthly basis. CMOs may be collateralized by whole mortgage loans or private mortgage bonds, but are more typically collateralized by portfolios of mortgage pass-through securities guaranteed by GNMA, FHLMC, or FNMA, and their income streams.
CMOs are structured into multiple classes, often referred to as “tranches,” with each class bearing a different stated maturity and entitled to a different schedule for payments of principal and interest, including pre-payments. Actual maturity and average life will depend upon the pre-payment experience of the collateral. In the case of certain CMOs (known as “sequential pay” CMOs), payments of principal received from the pool of underlying mortgages, including pre-payments, are applied to the classes of CMOs in the order of their respective final distribution dates. Thus, no payment of principal will be made to any class of sequential pay CMOs until all other classes having an earlier final distribution date have been paid in full.
As CMOs have evolved, some classes of CMO bonds have become more common. For example, there may be investments in parallel-pay and planned amortization class (“PAC”) CMOs and multi-class pass-through certificates. Parallel-pay CMOs and multi-class pass-through certificates are structured to provide payments of principal on each payment date to more than one class. These simultaneous payments are taken into account in calculating the stated maturity date or final distribution date of each class, which, as with other CMO and multi-class
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pass-through structures, must be retired by its stated maturity date or final distribution date but may be retired earlier. PACs generally require payments of a specified amount of principal on each payment date. PACs are parallel-pay CMOs with the required principal amount on such securities having the highest priority after interest has been paid to all classes. Any CMO or multi-class pass through structure that includes PAC securities must also have support tranches—known as support bonds, companion bonds or non-PAC bonds—which lend or absorb principal cash flows to allow the PAC securities to maintain their stated maturities and final distribution dates within a range of actual prepayment experience. These support tranches are subject to a higher level of maturity risk compared to other mortgage-related securities, and usually provide a higher yield to compensate investors. If principal cash flows are received in amounts outside a pre-determined range such that the support bonds cannot lend or absorb sufficient cash flows to the PAC securities as intended, the PAC securities are subject to heightened maturity risk. A manager may invest in various tranches of CMO bonds, including support bonds.
CMO Residuals: CMO residuals are mortgage securities issued by agencies or instrumentalities of the U.S. government or by private originators of, or investors in, mortgage loans, including savings and loan associations, homebuilders, mortgage banks, commercial banks, investment banks and special purpose entities of the foregoing.
The cash flow generated by the mortgage assets underlying a series of CMOs is applied first to make required payments of principal and interest on the CMOs and second to pay the related administrative expenses and any management fee of the issuer. The residual in a CMO structure generally represents the interest in any excess cash flow remaining after making the foregoing payments. Each payment of such excess cash flow to a holder of the related CMO residual represents income and/or a return of capital. The amount of residual cash flow resulting from a CMO will depend on, among other things, the characteristics of the mortgage assets, the coupon rate of each class of CMO, prevailing interest rates, the amount of administrative expenses and the pre-payment experience on the mortgage assets. In particular, the yield to maturity on CMO residuals is extremely sensitive to pre-payments on the related underlying mortgage assets, in the same manner as an interest-only (“IO”) class of stripped mortgage-backed securities. See “Mortgage-Related Securities—Stripped Mortgage-Backed Securities.” In addition, if a series of a CMO includes a class that bears interest at an adjustable rate, the yield to maturity on the related CMO residual will also be extremely sensitive to changes in the level of the index upon which interest rate adjustments are based. As described below with respect to stripped mortgage-backed securities, in certain circumstances, the initial investment in a CMO residual may never be fully recouped.
CMO residuals are generally purchased and sold by institutional investors through several investment banking firms acting as brokers or dealers. Transactions in CMO residuals are generally completed only after careful review of the characteristics of the securities in question. In addition, CMO residuals may, or pursuant to an exemption therefrom may not, have been registered under the 1933 Act. CMO residuals, whether or not registered under the 1933 Act, may be subject to certain restrictions on transferability.
Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities: Commercial mortgage-backed securities include securities that reflect an interest in, and are secured by, mortgage loans on commercial real property. Many of the risks of investing in commercial mortgage-backed securities reflect the risks of investing in the real estate securing the underlying mortgage loans. These risks reflect the effects of local and other economic conditions on real estate markets, the ability of tenants to make loan payments, and the ability of a property to attract and retain tenants. Commercial mortgage-backed securities may be less liquid and exhibit greater price volatility than other types of mortgage- or asset-backed securities.
Reverse Mortgage-Related Securities and Other Mortgage-Related Securities: Reverse mortgage-related securities and other mortgage-related securities include securities other than those described above that directly or indirectly represent a participation in, or are secured by and payable from, mortgage loans on real property, including mortgage dollar rolls, or stripped mortgage-backed securities (“SMBS”). Other mortgage-related securities may be equity or debt instruments issued by agencies or instrumentalities of the U.S. government or by private originators of, or investors in, mortgage loans, including savings and loan associations, homebuilders, mortgage banks, commercial banks, investment banks, partnerships, trusts and special purpose entities of the foregoing.
Mortgage-related securities include, among other things, securities that reflect an interest in reverse mortgages. In a reverse mortgage, a lender makes a loan to a homeowner based on the homeowner’s equity in his or her home. While a homeowner must be age 62 or older to qualify for a reverse mortgage, reverse mortgages may have no income restrictions. Repayment of the interest or principal for the loan is generally not required until the homeowner dies, sells the home, or ceases to use the home as his or her primary residence.
There are three general types of reverse mortgages: (1) single-purpose reverse mortgages, which are offered by certain state and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations; (2) federally-insured reverse mortgages, which are backed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and (3) proprietary reverse mortgages, which are privately offered loans. A mortgage-related security may be backed by a single type of reverse mortgage. Reverse mortgage-related securities include agency and privately issued mortgage-related securities. The principal government guarantor of reverse mortgage-related securities is GNMA.
Reverse mortgage-related securities may be subject to risks different than other types of mortgage-related securities due to the unique nature of the underlying loans. The date of repayment for such loans is uncertain and may occur sooner or later than anticipated. The timing of payments for the corresponding mortgage-related security may be uncertain. Because reverse mortgages are offered only to persons 62 and older and there may be no income restrictions, the loans may react differently than traditional home loans to market events.
Stripped Mortgage-Backed Securities: SMBS are derivative multi-class mortgage securities. SMBS may be issued by agencies or instrumentalities of the U.S. government, or by private originators of, or investors in, mortgage loans, including savings and loan associations, mortgage banks, commercial banks, investment banks and special purpose entities of the foregoing.
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SMBS are usually structured with two classes that receive different proportions of the interest and principal distributions on a pool of mortgage assets. A common type of SMBS will have one class receiving some of the interest and most of the principal from the mortgage assets, while the other class will receive most of the interest and the remainder of the principal. In the most extreme case, one class will receive all of the interest (the “IO class”), while the other class will receive all of the principal (the principal-only or “PO class”). The yield to maturity on an IO class is extremely sensitive to the rate of principal payments (including pre-payments) on the related underlying mortgage assets, and a rapid rate of principal payments may have a material adverse effect on a yield to maturity from these securities. If the underlying mortgage assets experience greater than anticipated pre-payments of principal, there may be failure to recoup some or all of the initial investment in these securities even if the security is in one of the highest rating categories.
Privately Issued Mortgage-Related Securities: Commercial banks, savings and loan institutions, private mortgage insurance companies, mortgage bankers and other secondary market issuers also create pass-through pools of conventional residential mortgage loans. Such issuers may be the originators and/or servicers of the underlying mortgage loans as well as the guarantors of the mortgage-related securities. Pools created by such non-governmental issuers generally offer a higher rate of interest than government and government-related pools because there are no direct or indirect government or agency guarantees of payments in the former pools. However, timely payment of interest and principal of these pools may be supported by various forms of insurance or guarantees, including individual loan, title, pool and hazard insurance and letters of credit, which may be issued by governmental entities or private insurers. Such insurance and guarantees and the creditworthiness of the issuers thereof will be considered in determining whether a mortgage-related security meets certain investment quality standards. There can be no assurance that insurers or guarantors can meet their obligations under the insurance policies or guarantee arrangements. Mortgage-related securities without insurance or guarantees may be bought if, through an examination of the loan experience and practices of the originators/servicers and poolers, the Investment Adviser or Sub-Adviser determines that the securities meet certain quality standards. Securities issued by certain private organizations may not be readily marketable.
Privately issued mortgage-related securities are not subject to the same underwriting requirements for the underlying mortgages that are applicable to those mortgage-related securities that have a government or government-sponsored entity guarantee. As a result, the mortgage loans underlying privately issued mortgage-related securities may, and frequently do, have less favorable collateral, credit risk or other underwriting characteristics than government or government-sponsored mortgage-related securities and have wider variances in a number of terms including interest rate, term, size, purpose and borrower characteristics. Mortgage pools underlying privately issued mortgage-related securities more frequently include second mortgages, high loan-to-value ratio mortgages and manufactured housing loans, in addition to commercial mortgages and other types of mortgages where a government or government sponsored entity guarantee is not available. The coupon rates and maturities of the underlying mortgage loans in a privately-issued mortgage-related securities pool may vary to a greater extent than those included in a government guaranteed pool, and the pool may include subprime mortgage loans. Subprime loans are loans made to borrowers with weakened credit histories or with a lower capacity to make timely payments on their loans. For these reasons, the loans underlying these securities have had in many cases higher default rates than those loans that meet government underwriting requirements.
The risk of non-payment is greater for mortgage-related securities that are backed by loans that were originated under weak underwriting standards, including loans made to borrowers with limited means to make repayment. A level of risk exists for all loans, although, historically, the poorest performing loans have been those classified as subprime. Other types of privately issued mortgage-related securities, such as those classified as pay-option adjustable rate or Alt-A have also performed poorly. Even loans classified as prime have experienced higher levels of delinquencies and defaults. Market factors that may adversely affect mortgage loan repayment include adverse economic conditions, unemployment, a decline in the value of real property, or an increase in interest rates.
Privately issued mortgage-related securities are not traded on an exchange and there may be a limited market for the securities, especially when there is a perceived weakness in the mortgage and real estate market sectors. Without an active trading market, mortgage-related securities may be particularly difficult to value because of the complexities involved in assessing the value of the underlying mortgage loans.
Privately issued mortgage-related securities are originated, packaged and serviced by third party entities. It is possible that these third parties could have interests that are in conflict with the holders of mortgage-related securities, and such holders could have rights against the third parties or their affiliates. For example, if a loan originator, servicer or its affiliates engaged in negligence or willful misconduct in carrying out its duties, then a holder of the mortgage-related security could seek recourse against the originator/servicer or its affiliates, as applicable. Also, as a loan originator/servicer, the originator/servicer or its affiliates may make certain representations and warranties regarding the quality of the mortgages and properties underlying a mortgage-related security. If one or more of those representations or warranties is false, then the holders of the mortgage-related securities could trigger an obligation of the originator/servicer or its affiliates, as applicable, to repurchase the mortgages from the issuing trust. Notwithstanding the foregoing, many of the third parties that are legally bound by trust and other documents have failed to perform their respective duties, as stipulated in such trust and other documents, and investors have had limited success in enforcing terms.
Mortgage-related securities that are issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities, are not subject to the investment restrictions related to industry concentration by virtue of the exclusion from that test available to all U.S. government securities. The assets underlying such securities may be represented by a portfolio of residential or commercial mortgages (including both whole mortgage loans and mortgage participation interests that may be senior or junior in terms of priority of repayment) or portfolios of mortgage pass-through securities issued or guaranteed by GNMA, FNMA or FHLMC. Mortgage loans underlying a mortgage-related security may in turn be insured or guaranteed by the FHA or the VA. In the case of privately issued mortgage-related securities whose underlying assets are neither U.S. government securities nor U.S. government-insured mortgages, to the extent that real properties securing
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such assets may be located in the same geographical region, the security may be subject to a greater risk of default than other comparable securities in the event of adverse economic, political or business developments that may affect such region and, ultimately, the ability of residential homeowners to make payments of principal and interest on the underlying mortgages.
Tiered Index Bonds: Tiered index bonds are relatively new forms of mortgage-related securities. The interest rate on a tiered index bond is tied to a specified index or market rate. So long as this index or market rate is below a predetermined “strike” rate, the interest rate on the tiered index bond remains fixed. If, however, the specified index or market rate rises above the “strike” rate, the interest rate of the tiered index bond will decrease. Thus, under these circumstances, the interest rate on a tiered index bond, like an inverse floater, will move in the opposite direction of prevailing interest rates, with the result that the price of the tiered index bond may be considerably more volatile than that of a fixed-rate bond.
Municipal Securities: Municipal securities are debt instruments issued by state and local governments, municipalities, territories and possessions of the United States, regional government authorities, and their agencies and instrumentalities of states, and multi-state agencies or authorities, the interest of which, in the opinion of bond counsel to the issuer at the time of issuance, is exempt from U.S. federal income tax. Municipal securities include both notes (which have maturities of less than one (1) year) and bonds (which have maturities of one (1) year or more) that bear fixed or variable rates of interest.
In general, municipal securities are issued to obtain funds for a variety of public purposes such as the construction, repair, or improvement of public facilities including airports, bridges, housing, hospitals, mass transportation, schools, streets, water and sewer works. Municipal securities may be issued to refinance outstanding obligations as well as to raise funds for general operating expenses and lending to other public institutions and facilities.
The two principal classifications of municipal securities are “general obligation” securities and “revenue” securities. General obligation securities are obligations secured by the issuer’s pledge of its full faith, credit, and taxing power for the payment of principal and interest. Characteristics and methods of enforcement of general obligation bonds vary according to the law applicable to a particular issuer, and the taxes that can be levied for the payment of debt instruments may be limited or unlimited as to rates or amounts of special assessments. Revenue securities are payable only from the revenues derived from a particular facility, a class of facilities or, in some cases, from the proceeds of a special excise tax. Revenue bonds are issued to finance a wide variety of capital projects including, among others: electric, gas, water, and sewer systems; highways, bridges, and tunnels; port and airport facilities; colleges and universities; and hospitals. Conditions in those sectors may affect the overall municipal securities markets.
Some longer-term municipal bonds give the investor the right to “put” or sell the security at par (face value) to the issuer within a specified number of days following the investor’s request. This demand feature enhances a security’s liquidity by shortening its effective maturity and enables it to trade at a price equal to or very close to par. If a demand feature terminates prior to being exercised, the longer-term securities still held could experience substantially more volatility.
Insured municipal debt involves scheduled payments of interest and principal guaranteed by a private, non-governmental or governmental insurance company. The insurance does not guarantee the market value of the municipal debt or the value of the shares.
Municipal securities are subject to credit and market risk. Generally, prices of higher quality issues tend to fluctuate less with changes in market interest rates than prices of lower quality issues and prices of longer maturity issues tend to fluctuate more than prices of shorter maturity issues. The secondary market for municipal bonds typically has been less liquid than that for taxable debt instruments, and this may affect a Fund’s ability to sell particular municipal bonds at then-current market prices, especially in periods when other investors are attempting to sell the same securities.
Prices and yields on municipal bonds are dependent on a variety of factors, including general money-market conditions, the financial condition of the issuer, general conditions of the municipal bond market, the size of a particular offering, the maturity of the obligation and the rating of the issue. A number of these factors, including the ratings of particular issues, are subject to change from time to time. Information about the financial condition of an issuer of municipal bonds may not be as extensive as that which is made available by corporations whose securities are publicly traded.
Securities, including municipal securities, are subject to the provisions of bankruptcy, insolvency and other laws affecting the rights and remedies of creditors, such as the federal Bankruptcy Code (including special provisions related to municipalities and other public entities), and laws, if any, that may be enacted by Congress or state legislatures extending the time for payment of principal or interest, or both, or imposing other constraints upon enforcement of such obligations. There is also the possibility that, as a result of litigation or other conditions, the power, ability or willingness of issuers to meet their obligations for the payment of interest and principal on their municipal securities may be materially affected or their obligations may be found to be invalid or unenforceable. Such litigation or conditions may from time to time have the effect of introducing uncertainties in the market for municipal securities or certain segments thereof, or of materially affecting the credit risk with respect to particular securities. Adverse economic, business, legal or political developments might affect all or a substantial portion of a Fund’s municipal securities in the same manner.
From time to time, proposals have been introduced before Congress that, if enacted, would have the effect of restricting or eliminating the federal income tax exemption for interest on debt instruments issued by states and their political subdivisions. Federal tax laws limit the types and amounts of tax-exempt bonds issuable for certain purposes, especially industrial development bonds and private activity bonds. Such limits may affect the future supply and yields of these types of municipal securities. Further proposals limiting the issuance of municipal securities may well be introduced in the future.
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Industrial Development and Pollution Control Bonds: Industrial development bonds and pollution control bonds, which in most cases are revenue bonds and generally are not payable from the unrestricted revenues of an issuer, are issued by or on behalf of public authorities to raise money to finance privately operated facilities for business, manufacturing, housing, sport complexes, and pollution control. The principal security for these bonds is generally the net revenues derived from a particular facility, group of facilities, or in some cases, the proceeds of a special excise tax or other specific revenue sources. Consequently, the credit quality of these securities is dependent upon the ability of the user of the facilities financed by the bonds and any guarantor to meet its financial obligations.
Moral Obligation Securities: Moral obligation securities are usually issued by special purpose public authorities. A moral obligation security is a type of state issued municipal bond which is backed by a moral, not a legal, obligation. If the issuer of a moral obligation security cannot fulfill its financial responsibilities from current revenues, it may draw upon a reserve fund, the restoration of which is a moral commitment, but not a legal obligation, of the state or municipality that created the issuer.
Municipal Lease Obligations and Certificates of Participation: Municipal lease obligations and participations in municipal leases are undivided interests in an obligation in the form of a lease or installment purchase or conditional sales contract which is issued by a state, local government, or a municipal financing corporation to acquire land, equipment, and/or facilities (collectively hereinafter referred to as “Lease Obligations”). Generally Lease Obligations do not constitute general obligations of the municipality for which the municipality’s taxing power is pledged. Instead, a Lease Obligation is ordinarily backed by the municipality’s covenant to budget for, appropriate, and make the payments due under the Lease Obligation. As a result of this structure, Lease Obligations are generally not subject to state constitutional debt limitations or other statutory requirements that may apply to other municipal securities.
Lease Obligations may contain “non-appropriation” clauses, which provide that the municipality has no obligation to make lease or installment purchase payments in future years unless money is appropriated for that purpose on a yearly basis. If the municipality does not appropriate in its budget enough to cover the payments on the Lease Obligation, the lessor may have the right to repossess and relet the property to another party. Depending on the property subject to the lease, the value of the property may not be sufficient to cover the debt.
In addition to the risk of “non-appropriation,” municipal lease securities may not have as highly liquid a market as conventional municipal bonds.
Short-Term Municipal Obligations: Short-term municipal securities include tax anticipation notes, revenue anticipation notes, bond anticipation notes, construction loan notes and short-term discount notes. Tax anticipation notes are used to finance working capital needs of municipalities and are issued in anticipation of various seasonal tax revenues, to be payable from these specific future taxes. They are usually general obligations of the issuer, secured by the taxing power of the municipality for the payment of principal and interest when due. Revenue anticipation notes are generally issued in expectation of receipt of other kinds of revenue, such as the revenues expected to be generated from a particular project. Bond anticipation notes normally are issued to provide interim financing until long-term financing can be arranged. The long-term bonds then provide the money for the repayment of the notes. Construction loan notes are sold to provide construction financing for specific projects. After successful completion and acceptance, many such projects may receive permanent financing through another source. Short-term Discount notes (tax-exempt commercial paper) are short-term (365 days or less) promissory notes issued by municipalities to supplement their cash flow. Revenue anticipation notes, construction loan notes, and short-term discount notes may, but will not necessarily, be general obligations of the issuer.
Senior and Other Bank Loans: Investments in variable or floating rate loans or notes (“Senior Loans”) are typically made by purchasing an assignment of a portion of a Senior Loan from a third party, either in connection with the original loan transaction (i.e., the primary market) or after the initial loan transaction (i.e., in the secondary market). A Fund may also make its investments in Senior Loans through the use of derivative instruments as long as the reference obligation for such instrument is a Senior Loan. In addition, a Fund has the ability to act as an agent in originating and administering a loan on behalf of all lenders or as one of a group of co-agents in originating loans.
Investment Quality and Credit Analysis
The Senior Loans in which a Fund may invest generally are rated below investment grade credit quality or are unrated. In acquiring a loan, the manager will consider some or all of the following factors concerning the borrower: ability to service debt from internally generated funds; adequacy of liquidity and working capital; appropriateness of capital structure; leverage consistent with industry norms; historical experience of achieving business and financial projections; the quality and experience of management; and adequacy of collateral coverage. The manager performs its own independent credit analysis of each borrower. In so doing, the manager may utilize information and credit analyses from agents that originate or administer loans, other lenders investing in a loan, and other sources. The manager also may communicate directly with management of the borrowers. These analyses continue on a periodic basis for any Senior Loan held by a Fund.
Senior Loan Characteristics
Senior Loans are loans that are typically made to business borrowers to finance leveraged buy-outs, recapitalizations, mergers, stock repurchases, and internal growth. Senior Loans generally hold the most senior position in the capital structure of a borrower and are usually secured by liens on the assets of the borrowers; including tangible assets such as cash, accounts receivable, inventory, property, plant and equipment, common and/or preferred stocks of subsidiaries; and intangible assets including trademarks, copyrights, patent rights, and franchise value. They may also provide guarantees as a form of collateral. Senior Loans are typically structured to include two or more types of loans within a single credit agreement. The most common structure is to have a revolving loan and a term loan. A revolving loan is a loan that can be drawn upon, repaid fully or partially, and then the repaid portions can be drawn upon again. A term loan is a loan that is fully drawn upon immediately and once repaid it cannot be drawn upon again.
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Sometimes there may be two or more term loans and they may be secured by different collateral, have different repayment schedules and maturity dates. In addition to revolving loans and term loans, Senior Loan structures can also contain facilities for the issuance of letters of credit and may contain mechanisms for lenders to pre-fund letters of credit through credit-linked deposits.
By virtue of their senior position and collateral, Senior Loans typically provide lenders with the first right to cash flows or proceeds from the sale of a borrower’s collateral if the borrower becomes insolvent (subject to the limitations of bankruptcy law, which may provide higher priority to certain claims such as employee salaries, employee pensions, and taxes). This means Senior Loans are generally repaid before unsecured bank loans, corporate bonds, subordinated debt, trade creditors, and preferred or common stockholders.
Senior Loans typically pay interest at least quarterly at rates, which equal a fixed percentage spread over a base rate such as the LIBOR. For example, if LIBOR were 3% and the borrower was paying a fixed spread of 2.50%, the total interest rate paid by the borrower would be 5.50%. Base rates, and therefore the total rates paid on Senior Loans, float, i.e., they change as market rates of interest change.
Although a base rate such as LIBOR can change every day, loan agreements for Senior Loans typically allow the borrower the ability to choose how often the base rate for its loan will change. A single loan may have multiple reset periods at the same time, with each reset period applicable to a designated portion of the loan. Such periods can range from one day to one year, with most borrowers choosing monthly or quarterly reset periods. During periods of rising interest rates, borrowers will tend to choose longer reset periods, and during periods of declining interest rates, borrowers will tend to choose shorter reset periods. The fixed spread over the base rate on a Senior Loan typically does not change.
Agents
Senior Loans generally are arranged through private negotiations between a borrower and several financial institutions represented by an agent who is usually one of the originating lenders. In larger transactions, it is common to have several agents; however, generally only one such agent has primary responsibility for ongoing administration of a Senior Loan. Agents are typically paid fees by the borrower for their services.
The agent is primarily responsible for negotiating the loan agreement which establishes the terms and conditions of the Senior Loan and the rights of the borrower and the lenders. An agent for a loan is required to administer and manage the loan and to service or monitor the collateral. The agent is also responsible for the collection of principal, interest, and fee payments from the borrower and the apportionment of these payments to the credit of all lenders which are parties to the loan agreement. The agent is charged with the responsibility of monitoring compliance by the borrower with the restrictive covenants in the loan agreement and of notifying the lenders of any adverse change in the borrower’s financial condition. In addition, the agent generally is responsible for determining that the lenders have obtained a perfected security interest in the collateral securing the loan.
Loan agreements may provide for the termination of the agent’s agency status in the event that it fails to act as required under the relevant loan agreement, becomes insolvent, enters FDIC receivership or, if not FDIC insured, enters into bankruptcy. Should such an agent, lender or assignor with respect to an assignment inter-positioned between a Fund and the borrower become insolvent or enter FDIC receivership or bankruptcy, any interest in the Senior Loan of such person and any loan payment held by such person for the benefit of the fund should not be included in such person’s or entity’s bankruptcy estate. If, however, any such amount were included in such person’s or entity’s bankruptcy estate, a Fund would incur certain costs and delays in realizing payment or could suffer a loss of principal or interest. In this event, a Fund could experience a decrease in the NAV.
Typically, under loan agreements, the agent is given broad discretion in enforcing the loan agreement and is obligated to use the same care it would use in the management of its own property. The borrower compensates the agent for these services. Such compensation may include special fees paid on structuring and funding the loan and other fees on a continuing basis. The precise duties and rights of an agent are defined in the loan agreement.
When a Fund is an agent it has, as a party to the loan agreement, a direct contractual relationship with the borrower and, prior to allocating portions of the loan to the lenders if any, assumes all risks associated with the loan. The agent may enforce compliance by the borrower with the terms of the loan agreement. Agents also have voting and consent rights under the applicable loan agreement. Action subject to agent vote or consent generally requires the vote or consent of the holders of some specified percentage of the outstanding principal amount of the loan, which percentage varies depending on the relative loan agreement. Certain decisions, such as reducing the amount or increasing the time for payment of interest on or repayment of principal of a loan, or relating collateral therefor, frequently require the unanimous vote or consent of all lenders affected.
Pursuant to the terms of a loan agreement, the agent typically has sole responsibility for servicing and administering a loan on behalf of the other lenders. Each lender in a loan is generally responsible for performing its own credit analysis and its own investigation of the financial condition of the borrower. Generally, loan agreements will hold the agent liable for any action taken or omitted that amounts to gross negligence or willful misconduct. In the event of a borrower’s default on a loan, the loan agreements provide that the lenders do not have recourse against a Fund for its activities as agent. Instead, lenders will be required to look to the borrower for recourse.
At times a Fund may also negotiate with the agent regarding the agent’s exercise of credit remedies under a Senior Loan.
Additional Costs
When a Fund purchases a Senior Loan in the primary market, it may share in a fee paid to the original lender. When a Fund purchases a Senior Loan in the secondary market, it may pay a fee to, or forego a portion of the interest payments from, the lending making the assignment.
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A Fund may be required to pay and receive various fees and commissions in the process of purchasing, selling, and holding loans. The fee component may include any, or a combination of, the following elements: arrangement fees, non-use fees, facility fees, letter of credit fees, and ticking fees. Arrangement fees are paid at the commencement of a loan as compensation for the initiation of the transaction. A non-use fee is paid based upon the amount committed but not used under the loan. Facility fees are on-going annual fees paid in connection with a loan. Letter of credit fees are paid if a loan involves a letter of credit. Ticking fees are paid from the initial commitment indication until loan closing or for an extended period. The amount of fees is negotiated at the time of closing.
Loan Participation and Assignments
A Fund’s investment in loan participations typically will result in the fund having a contractual relationship only with the lender and not with the borrower. A Fund will have the right to receive payments of principal, interest, and any fees to which it is entitled only from the lender selling the participation and only upon receipt by the lender of the payments from the borrower. In connection with purchasing participation, a Fund generally will have no right to enforce compliance by the borrower with the terms of the loan agreement relating to the loan, nor any right of set-off against the borrower, and a Fund may not directly benefit from any collateral supporting the loan in which it has purchased the participation. As a result, a Fund may be subject to the credit risk of both the borrower and the lender that is selling the participation. In the event of the insolvency of the lender selling the participation, a Fund may be treated as a general creditor of the lender and may not benefit from any set-off between the lender and the borrower.
When a Fund is a purchaser of an assignment, it succeeds to all the rights and obligations under the loan agreement of the assigning lender and becomes a lender under the loan agreement with the same rights and obligations as the assigning lender. These rights include the ability to vote along with the other lenders on such matters as enforcing the terms of the loan agreement (e.g., declaring defaults, initiating collection action, etc.). Taking such actions typically requires at least a vote of the lenders holding a majority of the investment in the loan and may require a vote by lenders holding two-thirds or more of the investment in the loan. Because a Fund usually does not hold a majority of the investment in any loan, it will not be able by itself to control decisions that require a vote by the lenders.
Because assignments are arranged through private negotiations between potential assignees and potential assignors, the rights and obligations acquired by a Fund as the purchaser of an assignment may differ from, and be more limited than, those held by the assigning lender. Because there is no liquid market for such assets, a Fund anticipates that such assets could be sold only to a limited number of institutional investors. The lack of a liquid secondary market may have an adverse impact on the value of such assets and a Fund’s ability to dispose of particular assignments or participations when necessary to meet redemption of fund shares, to meet a Fund’s liquidity needs or, in response to a specific economic event such as deterioration in the creditworthiness of the borrower. The lack of a liquid secondary market for assignments and participations also may make it more difficult for a Fund to value these assets for purposes of calculating its NAV.
Additional Information on Loans
The loans in which a Fund may invest usually include restrictive covenants which must be maintained by the borrower. Such covenants, in addition to the timely payment of interest and principal, may include mandatory prepayment provisions arising from free cash flow and restrictions on dividend payments, and usually state that a borrower must maintain specific minimum financial ratios as well as establishing limits on total debt. A breach of covenant, that is not waived by the agent, is normally an event of acceleration, i.e., the agent has the right to call the loan. In addition, loan covenants may include mandatory prepayment provisions stemming from free cash flow. Free cash flow is cash that is in excess of capital expenditures plus debt service requirements of principal and interest. The free cash flow shall be applied to prepay the loan in an order of maturity described in the loan documents. Under certain interests in loans, a Fund may have an obligation to make additional loans upon demand by the borrower. A Fund generally ensures its ability to satisfy such demands by segregating sufficient assets in high quality short-term liquid investments or borrowing to cover such obligations.
A principal risk associated with acquiring loans from another lender is the credit risk associated with the borrower of the underlying loan. Additional credit risk may occur when a Fund acquires a participation in a loan from another lender because the fund must assume the risk of insolvency or bankruptcy of the other lender from which the loan was acquired.
Loans, unlike certain bonds, usually do not have call protection. This means that investments, while having a stated one to ten year term, may be prepaid, often without penalty. A Fund generally holds loans to maturity unless it becomes necessary to sell them to satisfy any shareholder repurchase offers or to adjust the fund’s portfolio in accordance with the manager’s view of current or expected economics or specific industry or borrower conditions.
Loans frequently require full or partial prepayment of a loan when there are asset sales or a securities issuance. Prepayments on loans may also be made by the borrower at its election. The rate of such prepayments may be affected by, among other things, general business and economic conditions, as well as the financial status of the borrower. Prepayment would cause the actual duration of a loan to be shorter than its stated maturity. Prepayment may be deferred by a Fund. Prepayment should, however, allow a Fund to reinvest in a new loan and would require a Fund to recognize as income any unamortized loan fees. In many cases reinvestment in a new loan will result in a new facility fee payable to a Fund.
Because interest rates paid on these loans fluctuate periodically with the market, it is expected that the prepayment and a subsequent purchase of a new loan by a Fund will not have a material adverse impact on the yield of the portfolio.
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Bridge Loans
A Fund may acquire interests in loans that are designed to provide temporary or “bridge” financing to a borrower pending the sale of identified assets or the arrangement of longer-term loans or the issuance and sale of debt obligations. Bridge loans often are unrated. A Fund may also invest in loans of borrowers that have obtained bridge loans from other parties. A borrower’s use of bridge loans involves a risk that the borrower may be unable to locate permanent financing to replace the bridge loan, which may impair the borrower’s perceived creditworthiness.
Covenant-Lite Loans
Loans in which a Fund may invest or to which a Fund may gain exposure indirectly through its investments in CDOs, CLOs or other types of structured securities may be considered “covenant-lite” loans. Covenant-lite refers to loans which do not incorporate traditional performance-based financial maintenance covenants. Covenant-lite does not refer to a loan’s seniority in the borrower’s capital structure nor to a lack of the benefit from a legal pledge of the borrower’s assets, and it also does not necessarily correlate to the overall credit quality of the borrower. Covenant-lite loans generally do not include terms which allow the lender to take action based on the borrower’s performance relative to its covenants. Such actions may include the ability to renegotiate and/or re-set the credit spread on the loan with the borrower, and even to declare a default or force a borrower into bankruptcy restructuring if certain criteria are breached. Covenant-lite loans typically still provide lenders with other covenants that restrict a company from incurring additional debt or engaging in certain actions. Such covenants can only be breached by an affirmative action of the borrower, rather than by a deterioration in the borrower’s financial condition. Accordingly, a Fund may have fewer rights against a borrower when it invests in or has exposure to covenant-lite loans and, accordingly, may have a greater risk of loss on such investments as compared to investments in or exposure to loans with additional or more conventional covenants.
U.S. Government Securities and Obligations: Some U.S. government securities, such as Treasury bills, notes, and bonds and mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by GNMA, are supported by the full faith and credit of the United States; others are supported by the right of the issuer to borrow from the U.S. Treasury; others are supported by the discretionary authority of the U.S. government to purchase the agency’s obligations; still others are supported only by the credit of the issuing agency, instrumentality, or enterprise. Although U.S. government-sponsored enterprises may be chartered or sponsored by Congress, they are not funded by Congressional appropriations, and their securities are not issued by the U.S. Treasury, their obligations are not supported by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, and so investments in their securities or obligations issued by them involve greater risk than investments in other types of U.S. government securities. In addition, certain governmental entities have been subject to regulatory scrutiny regarding their accounting policies and practices and other concerns that may result in legislation, changes in regulatory oversight and/or other consequences that could adversely affect the credit quality, availability or investment character of securities issued or guaranteed by these entities.
The events surrounding the U.S. federal government debt ceiling and any resulting agreement could adversely affect a Fund. On August 5, 2011, S&P lowered its long-term sovereign credit rating on the United States. The downgrade by S&P and other future downgrades could increase volatility in both stock and bond markets, result in higher interest rates and lower Treasury prices and increase the costs of all kinds of debt. These events and similar events in other areas of the world could have significant adverse effects on the economy generally and could result in significant adverse impacts on a Fund or issuers of securities held by a Fund. The Investment Adviser and Sub-Adviser cannot predict the effects of these or similar events in the future on the U.S. economy and securities markets or on a Fund’s portfolio. The Investment Adviser and Sub-Adviser may not timely anticipate or manage existing, new or additional risks, contingencies or developments.
Government Trust Certificates: Government trust certificates represent an interest in a government trust, the property of which consists of: (i) a promissory note of a foreign government, no less than 90% of which is backed by the full faith and credit guarantee issued by the federal government of the United States pursuant to Title III of the Foreign Operations, Export, Financing and Related Borrowers Programs Appropriations Act of 1998; and (ii) a security interest in obligations of the U.S. Treasury backed by the full faith and credit of the United States sufficient to support the remaining balance (no more than 10%) of all payments of principal and interest on such promissory note; provided that such obligations shall not be rated less than AAA by S&P or less than Aaa by Moody’s or have received a comparable rating by another NRSRO.
Zero-Coupon, Deferred Interest and Pay-in-Kind Bonds: Zero-coupon and deferred interest bonds are debt instruments that do not entitle the holder to any periodic payment of interest prior to maturity or a specified date when the securities begin paying current interest and therefore are issued and traded at a discount from their face amounts or par values. The values of zero-coupon and pay-in-kind bonds are more volatile in response to interest rate changes than debt instruments of comparable maturities that make regular distributions of interest. Pay-in-kind bonds allow the issuer, at its option, to make current interest payments on the bonds either in cash or in additional bonds.
Zero-coupon bonds either may be issued at a discount by a corporation or government entity or may be created by a brokerage firm when it strips the coupons from a bond or note and then sells the bond or note and the coupon separately. This technique is used frequently with U.S. Treasury bonds. Zero-coupon bonds also are issued by municipalities.
Interest income from these types of securities accrues prior to the receipt of cash payments and must be distributed to shareholders when it accrues, potentially requiring the liquidation of other investments, including at times when such liquidation may not be advantageous, in order to comply with the distribution requirements applicable to RICs under the Code.
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FOREIGN INVESTMENTS
Investments in non-U.S. issuers (including depositary receipts) entail risks not typically associated with investing in U.S. issuers. Similar risks may apply to instruments traded on a U.S. exchange that are issued by issuers with significant exposure to non-U.S. countries. The less developed a country’s securities market is, the greater the level of risk. In certain countries, legal remedies available to investors may be more limited than those available with regard to U.S. investments. Because non-U.S. instruments are normally denominated and traded in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, the value of the assets may be affected favorably or unfavorably by currency exchange rates, exchange control regulations, and restrictions or prohibitions on the repatriation of non-U.S. currencies. Income and gains with respect to investments in certain countries may be subject to withholding and other taxes. There may be less information publicly available about a non-U.S. issuer than about a U.S. issuer, and many non-U.S. issuers are not subject to accounting, auditing, and financial reporting standards, regulatory framework and practices comparable to those in the United States. The securities of some non-U.S. issuers are less liquid and at times more volatile than securities of comparable U.S. issuers. Foreign (non-U.S.) security trading, settlement, and custodial practices (including those involving securities settlement where the assets may be released prior to receipt of payment) are often less well developed than those in U.S. markets, and may result in increased risk of substantial delays in the event of a failed trade or in insolvency of, or breach of obligation by, a foreign broker-dealer, securities depository, or foreign sub-custodian. Non-U.S. transaction costs, such as brokerage commissions and custody costs, may be higher than in the United States. In addition, there may be a possibility of nationalization or expropriation of assets, imposition of currency exchange controls, imposition of tariffs or other economic and trade sanctions, entering or exiting trade or other intergovernmental agreements, confiscatory taxation, political of financial instability, and diplomatic developments that could adversely affect the values of the investments in certain non-U.S. countries. In certain foreign markets an issuer’s securities are blocked from trading at the custodian or sub-custodian level for a specified number of days before and, in certain instances, after a shareholder meeting where such shares are voted. This is referred to as “share blocking.” The blocking period can last up to several weeks. Share blocking may prevent buying or selling securities during this period, because during the time shares are blocked, trades in such securities will not settle. It may be difficult or impossible to lift blocking restrictions, with the particular requirements varying widely by country. Economic or other sanctions imposed on a foreign country or issuer by the U.S., or on the U.S. by a foreign country, could impair a Fund’s ability to buy, sell, hold, receive, deliver, or otherwise transact in certain securities. Sanctions could also affect the value and/or liquidity of a foreign (non-U.S.) security. The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which regulates auditors of U.S. public companies, is unable to inspect audit work papers in certain foreign countries. Investors in foreign countries often have limited rights and few practical remedies to pursue shareholder claims, including class actions or fraud claims, and the ability of the SEC, the U.S. Department of Justice and other authorities to bring and enforce actions against foreign issuers or foreign persons is limited.
Depositary Receipts: Depositary receipts are typically trust receipts issued by a U.S. bank or trust company that evince an indirect interest in underlying securities issued by a foreign entity, and are in the form of sponsored or unsponsored American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”), European Depositary Receipts (“EDRs”) and Global Depositary Receipts (“GDRs”).
Generally, ADRs are publicly traded on a U.S. stock exchange or in the OTC market, and are denominated in U.S. dollars, and the depositaries are usually a U.S. financial institution, such as a bank or trust company, but the underlying securities are issued by a foreign issuer.
GDRs may be traded in any public or private securities markets in U.S dollars or other currencies and generally represent securities held by institutions located anywhere in the world. For GDRs, the depositary may be a foreign or a U.S. entity, and the underlying securities may have a foreign or a U.S issuer.
EDRs are generally issued by a European bank and traded on local exchanges.
Depositary receipts may be sponsored or unsponsored. Although the two types of depositary receipt facilities are similar, there are differences regarding a holder’s rights and obligations and the practices of market participants. With sponsored facilities, the underlying issuer typically bears some of the costs of the depositary receipts (such as dividend payment fees of the depositary), although most sponsored depositary receipt holders may bear costs such as deposit and withdrawal fees. Depositaries of most sponsored depositary receipts agree to distribute notices of shareholder meetings, voting instructions, and other shareholder communications and financial information to the depositary receipt holders at the underlying issuer’s request. Holders of unsponsored depositary receipts generally bear all the costs of the facility. The depositary usually charges fees upon the deposit and withdrawal of the underlying securities, the conversion of dividends into U.S. dollars or other currency, the disposition of non-cash distributions, and the performance of other services. The depositary of an unsponsored facility frequently is under no obligation to distribute shareholder communications received from the underlying issuer or to pass through voting rights with respect to the underlying securities to depositary receipt holders.
ADRs, GDRs and EDRs are subject to many of the same risks associated with investing directly in foreign issuers. Investments in depositary receipts may be less liquid and more volatile than the underlying securities in their primary trading market. If a depositary receipt is denominated in a different currency than its underlying securities it will be subject to the currency risk of both the investment in the depositary receipt and the underlying securities. The value of depositary receipts may have limited or no rights to take action with respect to the underlying securities or to compel the issuer of the receipts to take action.
Emerging Markets Investments: Investments in emerging markets are generally subject to a greater risk of loss than investments in developed markets. This may be due to, among other things, the possibility of greater market volatility, lower trading volume and liquidity, greater risk of expropriation, nationalization, and social, political and economic instability, greater reliance on a few industries, international trade or revenue from particular commodities, less developed accounting, legal and regulatory systems, higher levels of inflation, deflation or currency devaluation, greater risk of market shut down, and more significant governmental limitations on investment activity as compared to those typically found in a developed market. In addition, issuers (including governments) in emerging market countries may have less financial stability than in other countries. As a result, there will tend to be an increased risk of price volatility in investments in emerging
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market countries, which may be magnified by currency fluctuations relative to a base currency. Settlement and asset custody practices for transactions in emerging markets may differ from those in developed markets. Such differences may include possible delays in settlement and certain settlement practices, such as delivery of securities prior to receipt of payment, which increases the likelihood of a “failed settlement.” Failed settlements can result in losses. For these and other reasons, investments in emerging markets are often considered speculative.
Investing through Bond Connect: Chinese debt instruments trade on the China Interbank Bond Market (“CIBM”) and may be purchased through a market access program that is designed to, among other things, enable foreign investment in the People’s Republic of China (“Bond Connect”). There are significant risks inherent in investing in Chinese debt instruments, similar to the risks of other debt instruments markets in emerging markets. The prices of debt instruments traded on the CIBM may fluctuate significantly due to low trading volume and potential lack of liquidity. The rules to access debt instruments that trade on the CIBM through Bond Connect are relatively new and subject to change, which may adversely affect a Fund's ability to invest in these instruments and to enforce its rights as a beneficial owner of these instruments. Trading through Bond Connect is subject to a number of restrictions that may affect a Fund’s investments and returns.
Investments made through Bond Connect are subject to order, clearance and settlement procedures that are relatively untested in China, which could pose risks to a Fund. CIBM does not support all trading strategies (such as short selling) and investments in Chinese debt instruments that trade on the CIBM are subject to the risks of suspension of trading without cause or notice, trade failure or trade rejection and default of securities depositories and counterparties. Furthermore, Chinese debt instruments purchased via Bond Connect will be held via a book entry omnibus account in the name of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority Central Money Markets Unit (“CMU”) maintained with a China-based depository (either the China Central Depository & Clearing Co. (“CDCC”) or the Shanghai Clearing House (“SCH”)). A Fund’s ownership interest in these Chinese debt instruments will not be reflected directly in book entry with CSDCC or SCH and will instead only be reflected on the books of a Fund’s Hong Kong sub-custodian. Therefore, a Fund’s ability to enforce its rights as a bondholder may depend on CMU’s ability or willingness as record-holder of the bonds to enforce the Fund’s rights as a bondholder. Additionally, the omnibus manner in which Chinese debt instruments are held could expose a Fund to the credit risk of the relevant securities depositories and a Fund’s Hong Kong sub-custodian. While a Fund holds a beneficial interest in the instruments it acquires through Bond Connect, the mechanisms that beneficial owners may use to enforce their rights are untested. In addition, courts in China have limited experience in applying the concept of beneficial ownership. Moreover, Chinese debt instruments acquired through Bond Connect generally may not be sold, purchased or otherwise transferred other than through Bond Connect in accordance with applicable rules.
A Fund’s investments in Chinese debt instruments acquired through Bond Connect are generally subject to a number of regulations and restrictions, including Chinese securities regulations and listing rules, loss recovery limitations and disclosure of interest reporting obligations. A Fund will not benefit from access to Hong Kong investor compensation funds, which are set up to protect against defaults of trades, when investing through Bond Connect. Bond Connect can only operate when both China and Hong Kong markets are open for trading and when banking services are available in both markets on the corresponding settlement days. The rules applicable to taxation of Chinese debt instruments acquired through Bond Connect remain subject to further clarification. Uncertainties in the Chinese tax rules governing taxation of income and gains from investments via Bond Connect could result in unexpected tax liabilities for a Fund, which may negatively affect investment returns for shareholders.
Investing through Stock Connect: A Fund may, directly or indirectly (through, for example, participation notes or other types of equity-linked notes), purchase shares in mainland China-based companies that trade on Chinese stock exchanges such as the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (“China A-Shares”) through the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect (“Stock Connect”), a mutual market access program designed to, among other things, enable foreign investment in the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) via brokers in Hong Kong. There are significant risks inherent in investing in China A-Shares through Stock Connect. The underdeveloped state of PRC’s investment and banking systems subjects the settlement, clearing, and registration of China A-Shares transactions to heightened risks. Stock Connect can only operate when both PRC and Hong Kong markets are open for trading and when banking services are available in both markets on the corresponding settlement days. As such, if either or both markets are closed on a U.S. trading day, a Fund may not be able to dispose of its China A-Shares in a timely manner, which could adversely affect the Fund’s performance. PRC regulations require that a Fund that wishes to sell its China A-Shares pre-deliver the China A-Shares to a broker. If the China A-Shares are not in the broker’s possession before the market opens on the day of sale, the sell order will be rejected. This requirement could also limit a Fund’s ability to dispose of its China A-Shares purchased through Stock Connect in a timely manner. Additionally, Stock Connect is subject to daily quota limitations on purchases of China A Shares. Once the daily quota is reached, orders to purchase additional China A-Shares through Stock Connect will be rejected. A Fund’s investment in China A-Shares may only be traded through Stock Connect and is not otherwise transferable. Stock Connect utilizes an omnibus clearing structure, and the Fund’s shares will be registered in its custodian’s name on the Central Clearing and Settlement System. This may limit the ability of the Investment Adviser or Sub-Adviser to effectively manage a Fund, and may expose the Fund to the credit risk of its custodian or to greater risk of expropriation. Investment in China A-Shares through Stock Connect may be available only through a single broker that is an affiliate of the Fund’s custodian, which may affect the quality of execution provided by such broker. Stock Connect restrictions could also limit the ability of a Fund to sell its China A-Shares in a timely manner, or to sell them at all. Further, different fees, costs and taxes are imposed on foreign investors acquiring China A-Shares acquired through Stock Connect, and these fees, costs and taxes may be higher than comparable fees, costs and taxes imposed on owners of other securities providing similar investment exposure. Stock Connect trades are settled in Renminbi (“RMB”), the official currency of PRC, and investors must have timely access to a reliable supply of RMB in Hong Kong, which cannot be guaranteed.
Europe: European financial markets are vulnerable to volatility and losses arising from concerns about the potential exit of member countries from the EU and/or the European Economic and Monetary Union (the “EMU”) and, in the latter case, the reversion of those countries to their national currencies. Defaults by EMU member countries on sovereign debt, as well as any future discussions about exits from the
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EMU, may negatively affect a Fund’s investments in the defaulting or exiting country, in issuers, both private and governmental, with direct exposure to that country, and in European issuers generally. In March 2017, the UK formally notified the European Council of its intention to leave the EU and on January 31, 2020 withdrew from the EU (commonly known as “Brexit”), when the UK entered into an 11-month transition period during which the UK remained part of the EU single market and customs union, the laws of which govern the economic, trade and security relations between the UK and EU. The transition period concluded on December 31, 2020 and the UK left the EU single market and customs union under the terms of a new trade agreement. The agreement governs the new relationship between the UK and the EU with respect to trading goods and services, but critical aspects of the relationship remain unresolved and subject to further negotiation and agreement. Brexit has resulted in volatility in European and global markets and could have negative long-term impacts on financial markets in the UK and throughout Europe. There is considerable uncertainty about the potential consequences of Brexit and how the financial markets will react. As this process unfolds, markets may be further disrupted. Given the size and importance of the UK’s economy, uncertainty about its legal, political and economic relationship with the remaining member states of the EU may continue to be a source of instability.
Eurodollar and Yankee Dollar Instruments: Eurodollar instruments are bonds that pay interest and principal in U.S. dollars held in banks outside the United States, primarily in Europe. Eurodollar instruments are usually issued on behalf of multinational companies and foreign governments by large underwriting groups composed of banks and issuing houses from many countries. The Eurodollar market is relatively free of regulations resulting in deposits that may pay somewhat higher interest than onshore markets. Their offshore locations make them subject to political and economic risk in the country of their domicile. Yankee dollar instruments are U.S. dollar-denominated bonds issued in the United States by foreign banks and corporations. These investments involve risks that are different from investments in securities issued by U.S. issuers and may carry the same risks as investing in foreign (non-U.S.) securities.
Foreign Currencies: Investments in issuers in different countries are often denominated in foreign currencies. Changes in the values of those currencies relative to the U.S. dollar may have a positive or negative effect on the values of investments denominated in those currencies. Investments may be made in currency exchange contracts or other currency-related transactions (including derivatives transactions) to manage exposure to different currencies. Also, these contracts may reduce or eliminate some or all of the benefits of favorable currency fluctuations. The values of foreign currencies may fluctuate in response to, among other factors, interest rate changes, intervention (or failure to intervene) by national governments, central banks, or supranational entities such as the International Monetary Fund, the imposition of currency controls, and other political or regulatory developments. Currency values can decrease significantly both in the short term and over the long term in response to these and other developments. Continuing uncertainty as to the status of the Euro and the EMU has created significant volatility in currency and financial markets generally. Any partial or complete dissolution of the EMU, or any continued uncertainty as to its status, could have significant adverse effects on currency and financial markets, and on the values of portfolio investments. Some foreign countries have managed currencies, which do not float freely against the U.S. dollar.
Sovereign Debt: Investments in debt instruments issued by governments or by government agencies and instrumentalities (so called sovereign debt) involve the risk that the governmental entities responsible for repayment may be unable or unwilling to pay interest and repay principal when due. A governmental entity’s willingness or ability to pay interest and repay principal in a timely manner may be affected by a variety of factors, including its cash flow, the size of its reserves, its access to foreign exchange, the relative size of its debt service burden to its economy as a whole, and political constraints. A governmental entity may default on its obligations or may require renegotiation or rescheduling of debt payment. Any restructuring of a sovereign debt obligation will likely have a significant adverse effect on the value of the obligation. In the event of default of sovereign debt, legal action against the sovereign issuer, or realization on collateral securing the debt, may not be possible. The sovereign debt of many non-U.S. governments, including their sub-divisions and instrumentalities, is rated below investment grade. Sovereign debt risk may be greater for debt instruments issued or guaranteed by emerging and/or frontier countries.
Sovereign debt includes Brady bonds, U.S. dollar-denominated bonds issued by an emerging market and collateralized by U.S. Treasury zero-coupon bonds. Brady bonds arose from an effort in the 1980s to reduce the debt held by less-developed countries that frequently defaulted on loans. The bonds are named for Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady, who helped international monetary organizations institute the program of debt-restructuring. Defaulted loans were converted into bonds with U.S. Treasury zero-coupon bonds as collateral. Because the Brady bonds were backed by zero-coupon bonds, repayment of principal was insured. The Brady bonds themselves are coupon-bearing bonds with a variety of rate options (fixed, variable, step, etc.) with maturities of between 10 and 30 years. Issued at par or at a discount, Brady bonds often include warrants for raw material available in the country of origin or other options.
Supranational Entities: Obligations of supranational entities include securities designated or supported by governmental entities to promote economic reconstruction or development of international banking institutions and related government agencies. Examples include the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (the “World Bank”), the European Coal and Steel Community, the Asian Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. There is no assurance that participating governments will be able or willing to honor any commitments they may have made to make capital contributions to a supranational entity, or that a supranational entity will otherwise have resources sufficient to meet its commitments.
DERIVATIVE INSTRUMENTS
Derivatives are financial contracts whose values change based on changes in the values of one or more underlying assets or the difference between underlying assets. Underlying assets may include a security or other financial instrument, asset, currency, interest rate, credit rating, commodity, volatility measure, or index. Examples of derivative instruments include swap agreements, forward commitments, futures contracts, and options. Derivatives may be traded on contract markets or exchanges, or may take the form of contractual arrangements between private counterparties. Investing in derivatives involves counterparty risk, particularly with respect to contractual arrangements between private counterparties. Derivatives can be highly volatile and involve risks in addition to, and potentially greater than, the risks of the underlying asset(s). Gains or losses from derivatives can be substantially greater than the derivatives’ original cost and can sometimes
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be unlimited. Derivatives typically involve leverage. Derivatives can be complex instruments and can involve analysis and processing that differs from that required for other investment types. If the value of a derivative does not correlate well with the particular market or other asset class the derivative is intended to provide exposure to, the derivative may not have the effect intended. Derivatives can also reduce the opportunity for gains or result in losses by offsetting positive returns in other investments. Derivatives can be less liquid than other types of investments. Legislation and regulation of derivatives in the United States and other countries, including margin, clearing, trading, reporting, and position limits, may make derivatives more costly and/or less liquid, limit the availability of certain types of derivatives, cause changes in the use of derivatives, or otherwise adversely affect the use of derivatives.
Certain derivative transactions require margin or collateral to be posted to and/or exchanged with a broker, prime broker, futures commission merchant, exchange, clearing house, or other third party, whether directly or through a segregated custodial account. If an entity holding the margin or collateral becomes bankrupt or insolvent or otherwise fails to perform its obligations due to financial difficulties, there could be delays and/or losses in liquidating open positions purchased or sold through such entity and/or recovering amounts owed, including a loss of all or part of its collateral or margin deposits with such entity.
Some derivatives may be used for “hedging,” meaning that they may be used when the manager seeks to protect investments from a decline in value, which could result from changes in interest rates, market prices, currency fluctuations, and other market factors. Derivatives may also be used when the manager seeks to increase liquidity; implement a cash management strategy; invest in a particular stock, bond, or segment of the market in a more efficient or less expensive way; modify the characteristics of portfolio investments; and/or to enhance return. However, when derivatives are used, their successful use is not assured and will depend upon the manager’s ability to predict and understand relevant market movements.
Derivatives Regulation. The U.S. government has enacted legislation that provides for regulation of the derivatives market, including clearing, margin, reporting, and registration requirements. The EU, the UK, and some other countries have implemented similar requirements, which will affect derivatives transactions with a counterparty organized in, or otherwise subject to, the EU’s or other country’s derivatives regulations. Clearing rules and other new rules and regulations could, among other things, restrict a registered investment company's ability to engage in, or increase the cost of, derivatives transactions, for example, by eliminating the availability of some types of derivatives, increasing margin or capital requirements, or otherwise limiting liquidity or increasing transaction costs. While the new rules and regulations and central clearing of some derivatives transactions are designed to reduce systemic risk (i.e., the risk that the interdependence of large derivatives dealers could cause them to suffer liquidity, solvency, or other challenges simultaneously), there is no assurance that they will achieve that result, and in the meantime, central clearing and related requirements may expose investors to new kinds of costs and risks. For example, in the event of a counterparty's (or its affiliate's) insolvency, a Fund's ability to exercise remedies (such as the termination of transactions, netting of obligations and realization on collateral) could be stayed or eliminated under new special resolution regimes adopted in the United States, the EU, the UK and various other jurisdictions. Such regimes provide government authorities with broad authority to intervene when a financial institution is experiencing financial difficulty. In particular, the liabilities of counterparties who are subject to such proceedings in the EU and the UK could be reduced, eliminated, or converted to equity in such counterparties (sometimes referred to as a “bail in”).
Additionally, U.S. regulators, the EU, the UK, and certain other jurisdictions have adopted minimum margin and capital requirements for uncleared derivatives transactions. It is expected that these regulations will have a material impact on the use of uncleared derivatives. These rules impose minimum margin requirements on derivatives transactions between a registered investment company and its counterparties and may increase the amount of margin required. They impose regulatory requirements on the timing of transferring margin and the types of collateral that parties are permitted to exchange.
The SEC recently adopted Rule 18f-4 under the 1940 Act (“Rule 18f-4”), related to the use of derivatives, reverse repurchase agreements, and certain other transactions by registered investment companies. In connection with the adoption of Rule 18f-4, the SEC withdrew prior guidance requiring compliance with an asset segregation framework for covering certain derivative instruments and related transactions. Rule 18f-4, like the prior guidance, provides a mechanism by which a Fund is able to engage in derivatives transactions, even if the derivatives are considered to be “senior securities” for purposes of Section 18 of the 1940 Act, and it is expected that a Fund will continue to rely on that exemption, to the extent applicable. Rule 18f-4, among other things, requires a fund to apply value-at-risk (“VaR”) leverage limits to its investments in derivatives transactions and certain other transactions that create future payment and delivery obligations as well as implement a derivatives risk management program. Generally, these requirements apply unless a fund satisfies Rule 18f-4's “limited derivatives users” exception. When a fund invests in reverse repurchase agreements or similar financing transactions, including certain tender option bonds, Rule 18f-4 requires the fund to either aggregate the amount of indebtedness associated with the reverse repurchase agreements or similar financing transactions with the aggregate amount of any other senior securities representing indebtedness when calculating the fund’s asset coverage ratio or treat all such transactions as derivatives transactions.
Exclusions of the Investment Adviser from commodity pool operator definition. With respect to each Fund, the Investment Adviser has claimed relief from the requirement to register as a “commodity pool operator” (“CPO”) under the Commodity Exchange Act (the “CEA”) and the rules thereunder and, therefore, is not subject to CFTC registration or regulation as a CPO. In addition, with respect to each Fund, the Investment Adviser is relying upon a related exclusion from the definition of “commodity trading advisor” under the CEA and the rules of the CFTC.
The terms of the CPO exclusion require each Fund, among other things, to adhere to certain limits on its investments in “commodity interests.” Commodity interests include commodity futures, commodity options, and swaps, which, in turn, include non-deliverable forward currency contracts, as further described below. Compliance with the terms of the CPO exclusion may limit the ability of the Investment
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Adviser to manage the investment program of each Fund in the same manner as it would in the absence of CPO exclusion requirements. Each Fund is not intended as a vehicle for trading in the commodity futures, commodity options, or swaps markets. The CFTC has neither reviewed nor approved the Investment Adviser’s reliance on these exclusions, or each Fund, its investment strategies, or this SAI.
Forward Commitments: Forward commitments are contracts to purchase securities for a fixed price at a future date beyond customary settlement time. A forward commitment may be disposed of prior to settlement. Such a disposition would result in the realization of short-term profits or losses.
Payment for the securities pursuant to one of these transactions is not required until the delivery date. However, the purchaser assumes the risks of ownership (including the risks of price and yield fluctuations) and the risk that the security will not be issued or delivered as anticipated. If a Fund makes additional investments while a delayed delivery purchase is outstanding, this may result in a form of leverage. Forward commitments involve a risk of loss if the value of the security to be purchased declines prior to the settlement date, or if the other party fails to complete the transaction.
Forward Currency Contracts: A forward currency contract is an obligation to purchase or sell a specified currency against another currency at a future date and price as agreed upon by the parties. Forward contracts usually are entered into with banks and broker-dealers and usually are for less than one year, but may be renewed. Forward contracts may be held to maturity and make the contemplated payment and delivery, or, prior to maturity, enter into a closing transaction involving the purchase or sale of an offsetting contract. Secondary markets generally do not exist for forward currency contracts, with the result that closing transactions generally can be made for forward currency contracts only by negotiating directly with the counterparty. Thus, there can be no assurance that a Fund would be able to close out a forward currency contract at a favorable price or time prior to maturity.
Forward currency transactions may be used for hedging purposes. For example, a Fund might sell a particular currency forward if it holds bonds denominated in that currency but the Investment Adviser (or Sub-Adviser, if applicable) anticipates, and seeks to protect the Fund against, a decline in the currency against the U.S. dollar. Similarly, a Fund might purchase a currency forward to “lock in” the dollar price of securities denominated in that currency which the Investment Adviser (or Sub-Adviser, if applicable) anticipates purchasing for the Fund.
Hedging against a decline in the value of a currency does not limit fluctuations in the prices of portfolio securities or prevent losses to the extent they arise from factors other than changes in currency exchange rates. In addition, hedging transactions may limit opportunities for gain if the value of the hedged currency should rise. Moreover, it may not be possible to hedge against a devaluation that is so generally anticipated that no contracts are available to sell the currency at a price above the devaluation level it anticipates. The cost of engaging in currency exchange transactions varies with such factors as the currency involved, the length of the contract period, and prevailing market conditions. Because currency exchange transactions are usually conducted on a principal basis, no fees or commissions are involved.
Futures Contracts: A financial futures contract is an agreement between two parties to buy or sell in the future a specific quantity of an underlying asset at a specific price and time agreed upon when the contract is made. Futures contracts are traded in the U.S. only on commodity exchanges or boards of trade - known as “contract markets” - approved for such trading by the CFTC, and must be executed through a futures commission merchant (also referred to herein as a “broker”) which is a member of the relevant contract market. Futures are subject to the creditworthiness of the futures commission merchant(s) and clearing organizations involved in the transaction.
Certain futures contracts are physically settled (i.e., involve the making and taking of delivery of a specified amount of an underlying asset). For instance, the sale of futures contracts on foreign currencies or financial instruments creates an obligation of the seller to deliver a specified quantity of an underlying foreign currency or financial instrument called for in the contract for a stated price at a specified time. Conversely, the purchase of such futures contracts creates an obligation of the purchaser to pay for and take delivery of the underlying asset called for in the contract for a stated price at a specified time. In some cases, the specific instruments delivered or taken, respectively, on the settlement date are not determined until on or near that date. That determination is made in accordance with the rules of the exchange on which the sale or purchase was made.
Some futures contracts are cash settled (rather than physically settled), which means that the purchase price is subtracted from the current market value of the instrument and the net amount, if positive, is paid to the purchaser by the seller of the futures contract and, if negative, is paid by the purchaser to the seller of the futures contract. See, for example, “Index Futures Contracts” below.
The value of a futures contract typically fluctuates in correlation with the increase or decrease in the value of the underlying indicator. The buyer of a futures contract enters into an agreement to purchase the underlying indicator on the settlement date and is said to be “long” the contract. The seller of a futures contract enters into an agreement to sell the underlying indicator on the settlement date and is said to be “short” the contract.
The purchaser or seller of a futures contract is not required to deliver or pay for the underlying indicator unless the contract is held until the settlement date. The purchaser or seller of a futures contract is required to deposit “initial margin” with a futures commission merchant when the futures contract is entered into. Initial margin is typically calculated as a percentage of the contract's notional amount. A futures contract is valued daily at the official settlement price of the exchange on which it is traded. Each day cash is paid or received, called “variation margin,” equal to the daily change in value of the futures contract. The minimum margin required for a futures contract is set by the exchange on which the contract is traded and may be modified during the term of the contract.
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The risk of loss in trading futures contracts can be substantial, because of the low margin required, the extremely high degree of leverage involved in futures pricing, and the potential high volatility of the futures markets. As a result, a relatively small price movement in a futures position may result in immediate and substantial loss (or gain) to the investor. Thus, a purchase or sale of a futures contract may result in unlimited losses. In the event of adverse price movements, an investor would continue to be required to make daily cash payments to maintain its required margin. In addition, on the settlement date, an investor may be required to make delivery of the indicators underlying the futures positions it holds.
Futures can be held until their delivery dates, or can be closed out by offsetting purchases or sales of futures contracts before then if a liquid market is available. It may not be possible to liquidate or close out a futures contract at any particular time or at an acceptable price and an investor would remain obligated to meet margin requirements until the position is closed. Moreover, most futures exchanges limit the amount of fluctuation permitted in futures contract prices during a single trading day. The daily limit establishes the maximum amount that 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. The daily limit governs only price movement during a particular trading day and therefore does not limit potential losses, because the limit may prevent the liquidation of unfavorable positions. Futures contract prices have occasionally moved to the daily limit for several consecutive trading days with little or no trading, thereby preventing prompt liquidation of future positions and potentially resulting in substantial losses. The inability to close futures positions could require maintaining a futures positions under circumstances where the manager would not otherwise have done so, resulting in losses.
If a Fund buys or sells a futures contract as a hedge to protect against a decline in the value of a portfolio investment, changes in the value of the futures position may not correlate as expected with changes in the value of the portfolio investment. As a result, it is possible that the futures position will not provide the desired hedging protection, or that money will be lost on both the futures position and the portfolio investment.
Index Futures Contracts: An index futures contract is a contract to buy or sell specified units of an index at a specified future date at a price agreed upon when the contract is made. The value of a unit is based on the current value of the index. Under such contracts no delivery of the actual securities or other assets making up the index takes place. Rather, upon expiration of the contract, settlement is made by exchanging cash in an amount equal to the difference between the contract price and the closing price of the index at expiration, net of variation margin previously paid.
Interest Rate Futures Contracts: An interest rate futures contract is an agreement to take or make delivery of either: (i) an amount of cash equal to the difference between the value of a particular index of debt instruments at the beginning and at the end of the contract period; or (ii) a specified amount of a particular debt instrument at a future date at a price set at the time of the contract. Interest rate futures contracts may be bought or sold in an attempt to protect against the effects of interest rate changes on current or intended investments in debt instruments or generally to adjust the duration and interest rate sensitivity of an investment portfolio. For example, if a Fund owned long-term bonds and interest rates were expected to increase, the Fund might enter into interest rate futures contracts for the sale of debt instruments. Such a sale would have much the same effect as selling some of the long-term bonds in a Fund’s portfolio. If interest rates did increase, the value of the debt instruments in the portfolio would decline, but the value of the interest rate futures contracts would be expected to increase, subject to the correlation risks described below, thereby keeping the NAV of a Fund from declining as much as it otherwise would have.
Similarly, if interest rates were expected to decline, interest rate futures contracts may be purchased to hedge in anticipation of subsequent purchases of long-term bonds at higher prices. Since the fluctuations in the value of the interest rate futures contracts should be similar to that of long-term bonds, an interest rate futures contract may protect against the effects of the anticipated rise in the value of long-term bonds until the necessary cash becomes available or the market stabilizes. At that time, the interest rate futures contracts could be liquidated and cash could then be used to buy long-term bonds on the cash market. Similar results could be achieved by selling bonds with long maturities and investing in bonds with short maturities when interest rates are expected to increase. However, the futures market may be more liquid than the cash market in certain cases or at certain times.
Gold Futures Contracts: A gold futures contract is a standardized contract which is traded on a regulated commodity futures exchange, and which provides for the future delivery of a specified amount of gold at a specified date, time, and price. If a Fund purchases a gold futures contract, it becomes obligated to take delivery and pay for the gold from the seller in accordance with the terms of the contract. If a Fund sells a gold futures contract, it becomes obligated to make delivery of the gold to the purchaser in accordance with the terms of the contract.
Foreign Currency Futures: Currency futures contracts are similar to deliverable currency forward contracts (described above), except that they are traded on exchanges (and have margin requirements) and are standardized as to contract size and delivery date. Most currency futures call for payment of delivery in U.S. dollars. A foreign currency futures contract is a standardized exchange-traded contract for the future delivery of a specified amount of a foreign currency at a price set at the time of the contract. Foreign currency futures contracts traded in the U.S. are designed by and traded on exchanges regulated by the CFTC, such as the New York Mercantile Exchange, and have margin requirements.
At the maturity of a futures contract, a Fund either may accept or make delivery of the currency specified in the contract, or at or prior to maturity enter into a closing transaction involving the purchase or sale of an offsetting contract. Closing transactions with respect to futures contracts may be effected only on a commodities exchange or board of trade which provides a secondary market in such contracts.
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There is no assurance that a secondary market on an exchange or board of trade will exist for any particular contract or at any particular time. In such event, it may not be possible to close a futures position and, in the event of adverse price movements, a Fund would continue to be required to make daily cash payments of variation margin.
Margin Payments: If a Fund purchases or sells a futures contract, it is required to deposit with a futures commission merchant an amount of cash, U.S. Treasury bills, or other permissible collateral equal to a small percentage of the amount of the futures contract. This amount is known as “initial margin.” The nature of initial margin is different from that of margin in security transactions in that it does not involve borrowing money to finance transactions. Rather, initial margin is similar to a performance bond or good faith deposit that is returned to a Fund upon termination of the contract, assuming the Fund satisfies its contractual obligations.
Subsequent payments to and from the broker occur on a daily basis in a process known as “marking to market.” These payments are called “variation margin” and are made as the value of the underlying futures contract fluctuates. For example, when a Fund sells a futures contract and the price of the underlying asset rises above the delivery price, the Fund’s position declines in value. A Fund then pays the broker a variation margin payment generally equal to the difference between the delivery price of the futures contract and the market price of the underlying asset. Conversely, if the price of the underlying asset falls below the delivery price of the contract, a Fund’s futures position increases in value. The broker then must make a variation margin payment generally equal to the difference between the delivery price of the futures contract and the market price of the underlying asset. If an exchange raises margin rates, a Fund would have to provide additional capital to cover the higher margin rates which could require closing out other positions earlier than anticipated.
If a Fund terminates a position in a futures contract, a final determination of variation margin would be made, additional cash would be paid by or to the Fund, and the Fund would realize a loss or a gain. Such closing transactions involve additional commission costs.
Options on Futures Contracts: Options on futures contracts generally operate in the same manner as options purchased or written directly on the underlying assets. A futures option gives the holder, in return for the premium paid, the right, but not the obligation, to assume a position in a futures contract (a long position if the option is a call and a short position if the option is a put) at a specified exercise price at any time during the period of the option. Upon exercise of the 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 which represents the amount by which the market price of the futures contract, at exercise, 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. If an option is exercised on the last trading day prior to its expiration date, the settlement will be made entirely in cash. Purchasers of options who fail to exercise their options prior to the exercise date suffer a loss of the premium paid.
Like the buyer or seller of a futures contract, the holder or writer of an option has the right to terminate its position prior to the scheduled expiration of the option by selling or purchasing an option of the same series, at which time the person entering into the closing purchase transaction will realize a gain or loss. There is no guarantee that such closing purchase transactions can be effected.
A Fund would be required to deposit initial margin and maintenance margin with respect to put and call options on futures contracts written by it pursuant to brokers’ requirements similar to those described above in connection with the discussion on futures contracts. See “Margin Payments” above.
Risks of transactions in futures contracts and related options: Successful use of futures contracts is subject to the ability of the Investment Adviser (or Sub-Adviser, if applicable) to predict movements in various factors affecting financial markets. Compared to the purchase or sale of futures contracts, the purchase of call or put options on futures contracts involves less potential risk to a Fund because the maximum amount at risk is the premium paid for the options (plus transaction costs). However, there may be circumstances when the purchase of a call or put option on a futures contract would result in a loss when the purchase or sale of a futures contract would not result in a loss, such as when there is no movement in the prices of the underlying futures contracts. The writing of an option on a futures contract involves risks similar to those risks relating to the sale of futures contracts.
The use of futures and related options involves the risk of imperfect correlation among movements in the prices of the securities underlying the futures and options, of the options and futures contracts themselves, and, in the case of hedging transactions, of the underlying assets which are the subject of a hedge. The successful use of these strategies further depends on the ability of the Investment Adviser (or Sub-Adviser, if applicable) to forecast interest rates and market movements correctly. It is possible that, where a Fund has purchased puts on futures contracts to hedge its portfolio against a decline in the market, the securities or index on which the puts are purchased may increase in value and the value of securities held in the portfolio may decline. If this occurred, a Fund would lose money on the puts and also experience a decline in value in its portfolio securities. In addition, the prices of futures, for a number of reasons, may not correlate perfectly with movements in the underlying asset due to certain market distortions. For example, all participants in the futures market are subject to margin deposit requirements. Such requirements may cause investors to close futures contracts through offsetting transactions, which could distort the normal relationship between the underlying asset and futures markets. The margin requirements in the futures markets are less onerous than margin requirements in the securities markets in general, and as a result the futures markets may attract more speculators than the securities markets do. Increased participation by speculators in the futures markets may also cause temporary price distortions.
There is no assurance that higher than anticipated trading activity or other unforeseen events might not, at times, render certain market clearing facilities inadequate, and thereby result in the institution by exchanges of special procedures which may interfere with the timely execution of customer orders.
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The ability to establish and close out positions will be subject to the development and maintenance of a liquid secondary market. It is not certain that this market will develop or continue to exist for a particular futures contract or option. A Fund’s futures commission merchant may limit a Fund’s ability to invest in certain futures contracts. Such restrictions may adversely affect a Fund’s performance and its ability to achieve its investment objective.
The CFTC and U.S. futures exchanges have established (and continue to evaluate and monitor) speculative position limits, referred to as “position limits,” on the maximum net long or net short positions which any person may hold or control in particular options and futures contracts. In addition, starting January 1, 2023, federal position limits apply to swaps that are economically equivalent to futures contracts that are subject to CFTC set speculative limits. All positions owned or controlled by the same person or entity, even if in different accounts, must be aggregated for purposes of complying with these speculative limits. Thus, even if a Fund’s holding does not exceed applicable position limits, it is possible that some or all of the client accounts managed by the Investment Adviser (or Sub-Adviser, if applicable) and its affiliates may be aggregated for this purpose. It is possible that the trading decisions of the Investment Adviser (or Sub-Adviser, if applicable) may be affected by the sizes of such aggregate positions. The modification of investment decisions or the elimination of open positions, if it occurs, may adversely affect the performance of a Fund. A violation of position limits could also lead to regulatory action materially adverse to a Fund’s investment strategy.
Hybrid Instruments: A hybrid instrument may be a debt instrument, preferred stock, depositary share, trust certificate, warrant, convertible security, certificate of deposit or other evidence of indebtedness on which a portion of or all interest payments, and/or the principal or stated amount payable at maturity, redemption or retirement, is determined by reference to prices, changes in prices, or differences between prices, of securities, currencies, intangibles, goods, commodities, indexes, economic factors or other measures, including interest rates, currency exchange rates, or commodities or securities indices, or other indicators. Thus, hybrid instruments may take a variety of forms, including, but not limited to, debt instruments with interest or principal payments or redemption terms determined by reference to the value of a currency or commodity or securities index at a future point in time, preferred stocks with dividend rates determined by reference to the value of a currency, or convertible securities with the conversion terms related to a particular commodity.
Hybrid instruments can be an efficient means of creating exposure to a particular market, or segment of a market, with the objective of enhancing total return. For example, a Fund may wish to take advantage of expected declines in interest rates in several European countries, but avoid the transaction costs associated with buying and currency-hedging the foreign bond positions. One solution would be to purchase a U.S. dollar-denominated hybrid instrument whose redemption price is linked to the average three-year interest rate in a designated group of countries. The redemption price formula would provide for payoffs of greater than par if the average interest rate was lower than a specified level and payoffs of less than par if rates were above the specified level. Furthermore, a Fund could limit the downside risk of the security by establishing a minimum redemption price so that the principal paid at maturity could not be below a predetermined minimum level if interest rates were to rise significantly. The purpose of this arrangement, known as a structured security with an embedded put option, would be to give a Fund the desired European bond exposure while avoiding currency risk, limiting downside market risk, and lowering transactions costs. Of course, there is no guarantee that the strategy would be successful, and a Fund could lose money if, for example, interest rates do not move as anticipated or credit problems develop with the issuer of the hybrid instrument.
Risks of Investing in Hybrid Instruments: The risks of investing in hybrid instruments reflect a combination of the risks of investing in securities, swaps, options, futures and currencies. An investment in a hybrid instrument may entail significant risks that are not associated with a similar investment in a traditional debt instrument. The risks of a particular hybrid instrument will depend upon the terms of the instrument, but may include the possibility of significant changes in the benchmark(s) or the prices of the underlying assets to which the instrument is linked. Such risks generally depend upon factors unrelated to the operations or credit quality of the issuer of the hybrid instrument, which may not be foreseen by the purchaser, such as economic and political events, the supply and demand profiles of the underlying assets and interest rate movements. Hybrid instruments may be highly volatile.
The return on a hybrid instrument will be reduced by the costs of the swaps, options, or other instruments embedded in the instrument.
Hybrid instruments are potentially more volatile and carry greater market risks than traditional debt instruments. Depending on the structure of the particular hybrid instrument, changes in an underlying asset may be magnified by the terms of the hybrid instrument and have an even more dramatic and substantial effect upon the value of the hybrid instrument. Also, the prices of the hybrid instrument and the underlying asset may not move in the same direction or at the same time.
Hybrid instruments may bear interest or pay preferred dividends at below market (or even nominal) rates. Alternatively, hybrid instruments may bear interest at above market rates but bear an increased risk of principal loss (or gain). Leverage risk occurs when the hybrid instrument is structured so that a given change in an underlying asset is multiplied to produce a greater value change in the hybrid instrument, thereby magnifying the risk of loss as well as the potential for gain.
If a hybrid instrument is used as a hedge against, or as a substitute for, a portfolio investment, the hybrid instrument may not correlate as expected with the portfolio investment, resulting in losses. While hedging strategies involving hybrid instruments can reduce the risk of loss, they can also reduce the opportunity for gain or even result in losses by offsetting favorable price movements in other investments.
Hybrid instruments may also carry liquidity risk since the instruments are often “customized” to meet the portfolio needs of a particular investor. A Fund may be prohibited from transferring a hybrid instrument, or the number of possible purchasers may be limited by applicable law or because few investors have an interest in purchasing such a customized product. Because hybrid instruments are typically privately negotiated contracts between two parties, the value of a hybrid instrument will depend on the willingness and ability of the issuer of the instrument to meet its obligations. Hybrid instruments also may not be subject to regulation by the CFTC, which generally regulates the trading of commodity futures, options, and swaps.
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Synthetic Convertible Securities: Synthetic convertible securities are derivative positions composed of two or more different securities whose investment characteristics, taken together, resemble those of convertible securities. For example, a Fund may purchase a non-convertible debt instrument and a warrant or option, which enables the Fund to have a convertible-like position with respect to a company, group of companies, or stock index. Synthetic convertible securities are typically offered by financial institutions and investment banks in private placement transactions. Upon conversion, a Fund generally receives an amount in cash equal to the difference between the conversion price and the then-current value of the underlying security. Unlike a true convertible security, a synthetic convertible security comprises two or more separate securities, each with its own market value. Therefore, the market value of a synthetic convertible security is the sum of the values of its debt component and its convertible component. For this reason, the value of a synthetic convertible security and a true convertible security may respond differently to market fluctuations.
Options: An option gives the holder the right, but not the obligation, to purchase (in the case of a call option) or sell (in the case of a put option) a specific amount or value of a particular underlying asset at a specific price (called the “exercise” or “strike” price) at one or more specific times before the option expires. The underlying asset of an option contract can be a security, currency, index, future, swap, commodity, or other type of financial instrument. The seller of an option is called an option writer. The purchase price of an option is called the premium. The potential loss to an option purchaser is limited to the amount of the premium plus transaction costs. This will be the case, for example, if the option is held and not exercised prior to its expiration date.
Options can be traded either through established exchanges (“exchange-traded options”) or privately negotiated transactions OTC options. Exchange-traded options are standardized with respect to, among other things, the underlying asset, expiration date, contract size and strike price. The terms of OTC options are generally negotiated by the parties to the option contract which allows the parties greater flexibility in customizing the agreement, but OTC options are generally less liquid than exchange-traded options.
All option contracts involve credit risk if the counterparty to the option contract (e.g., the clearing house or OTC counterparty) or the third party effecting the transaction in the case of cleared options (e.g., futures commission merchant or broker/dealer) fails to perform. The value of an OTC option that is not cleared is dependent on the credit worthiness of the individual counterparty to the contract and may be greater than the credit risk associated with cleared options.
The purchaser of a put option obtains the right (but not the obligation) to sell a specific amount or value of a particular asset to the option writer at a fixed strike price. In return for this right, the purchaser pays the option premium. The purchaser of a typical put option can expect to realize a gain if the price of the underlying asset falls. However, if the underlying asset’s price does not fall enough to offset the cost of purchasing the option, the purchaser of a put option can expect to suffer a loss (limited to the amount of the premium, plus related transaction costs).
The purchaser of a call option obtains the right (but not the obligation) to purchase a specified amount or value of an underlying asset from the option writer at a fixed strike price. In return for this right, the purchaser pays the option premium. The purchaser of a typical call option can expect to realize a gain if the price of the underlying asset rises. However, if the underlying asset’s price does not rise enough to offset the cost of purchasing the option, the buyer of a call option can expect to suffer a loss (limited to the amount of the premium, plus related transaction costs).
The purchaser of a call or put option may terminate its position by allowing the option to expire, exercising the option or closing out its position by entering into an offsetting option transaction if a liquid market is available. If the option is allowed to expire, the purchaser will lose the entire premium. If the option is exercised, the purchaser would complete the purchase or sale, as applicable, of the underlying asset to the option writer at the strike price.
The writer of a put or call option takes the opposite side of the transaction from the option’s purchaser. In return for receipt of the premium, the writer assumes the obligation to buy or sell (depending on whether the option is a put or a call) a specified amount or value of a particular asset at the strike price if the purchaser of the option chooses to exercise it. A call option written on a security or other instrument held by the Fund (commonly known as “writing a covered call option”) limits the opportunity to profit from an increase in the market price of the underlying asset above the exercise price of the option. A call option written on securities that are not currently held by the Fund is commonly known as “writing a naked call option.” During periods of declining securities prices or when prices are stable, writing these types of call options can be a profitable strategy to increase income with minimal capital risk. However, when securities prices increase, a Fund would be exposed to an increased risk of loss, because if the price of the underlying asset or instrument exceeds the option’s exercise price, the Fund would suffer a loss equal to the amount by which the market price exceeds the exercise price at the time the call option is exercised, minus the premium received. Calls written on securities that a Fund does not own are riskier than calls written on securities owned by the Fund because there is no underlying asset held by the Fund that can act as a partial hedge. When such a call is exercised, a Fund must purchase the underlying asset to meet its call obligation or make a payment equal to the value of its obligation in order to close out the option. Calls written on securities that a Fund does not own have speculative characteristics and the potential for loss is theoretically unlimited. There is also a risk, especially with less liquid preferred and debt instruments, that the asset may not be available for purchase.
Generally, an option writer sells options with the goal of obtaining the premium paid by the option purchaser. If an option sold by an option writer expires without being exercised, the writer retains the full amount of the premium. The option writer’s potential loss is equal to the amount the option is “in-the-money” when the option is exercised offset by the premium received when the option was written. A call option is in-the-money if the value of the underlying asset exceeds the strike price of the option, and so the call option writer’s loss is theoretically unlimited. A put option is in-the-money if the strike price of the option exceeds the value of the underlying asset, and so the put option writer’s loss is limited to the strike price. Generally, any profit realized by an option purchaser represents a loss for the option
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writer. The writer of an option may seek to terminate a position in the option before exercise by closing out its position by entering into an offsetting option transaction if a liquid market is available. If the market is not liquid for an offsetting option, however, the writer must continue to be prepared to sell or purchase the underlying asset at the strike price while the option is outstanding, regardless of price changes.
If a Fund is the writer of a cleared option, the Fund is required to deposit initial margin. Additional variation margin may also be required. If a Fund is the writer of an uncleared option, the Fund may be required to deposit initial margin and additional variation margin.
A physical delivery option gives its owner the right to receive physical delivery (if it is a call), or to make physical delivery (if it is a put) of the underlying asset when the option is exercised. A cash-settled option gives its owner the right to receive a cash payment based on the difference between a determined value of the underlying asset at the time the option is exercised and the fixed exercise price of the option. In the case of physically settled options, it may not be possible to terminate the position at any particular time or at an acceptable price. A cash-settled call conveys the right to receive a cash payment if the determined value of the underlying asset at exercise exceeds the exercise price of the option, and a cash-settled put conveys the right to receive a cash payment if the determined value of the underlying asset at exercise is less than the exercise price of the option.
Combination option positions are positions in more than one option at the same time. A spread involves being both the buyer and writer of the same type of option on the same underlying asset but different exercise prices and/or expiration dates. A straddle consists of purchasing or writing both a put and a call on the same underlying asset with the same exercise price and expiration date.
The principal factors affecting the market value of a put or call option include supply and demand, interest rates, the current market price of the underlying asset in relation to the exercise price of the option, the volatility of the underlying asset and the remaining period to the expiration date.
If a trading market in particular options were illiquid, investors in those options would be unable to close out their positions until trading resumes, and option writers may be faced with substantial losses if the value of the underlying asset moves adversely during that time. There can be no assurance that a liquid market will exist for any particular options product at any specific time. Lack of investor interest, changes in volatility, or other factors or conditions might adversely affect the liquidity, efficiency, continuity, or even the orderliness of the market for particular options. Exchanges or other facilities on which options are traded may establish limitations on options trading, may order the liquidation of positions in excess of these limitations, or may impose other sanctions that could adversely affect parties to an options transaction.
Many options, in particular OTC options, are complex and often valued based on subjective factors. Improper valuations can result in increased cash payment requirements to counterparties or a loss of value to a Fund.
Foreign Currency Options: Put and call options on foreign currencies may be bought or sold either on exchanges or in the OTC market. A put option on a foreign currency gives the purchaser of the option the right to sell a foreign currency at the exercise price until the option expires. A call option on a foreign currency gives the purchaser of the option the right to purchase the currency at the exercise price until the option expires. Currency options traded on U.S. or other exchanges may be subject to position limits which may limit the ability of a Fund to reduce foreign currency risk using such options.
Index Options: An index option is a put or call option on a securities index or other (typically securities-related) index. In contrast to an option on a security, the holder of an index option has the right to receive a cash settlement amount upon exercise of the option. This settlement amount is equal to: (i) the amount, if any, by which the fixed exercise price of the option exceeds (in the case of a call) or is below (in the case of a put) the closing value of the underlying index on the date of exercise, multiplied; by (ii) a fixed “index multiplier.” The index underlying an index option may be a “broad-based” index, such as the S&P 500® Index or the NYSE Composite Index, the changes in value of which ordinarily will reflect movements in the stock market in general. In contrast, certain options may be based on narrower market indices, such as the S&P 100 Index, or on indices of securities of particular industry groups, such as those of oil and gas or technology issuers. A stock index assigns relative values to the stocks included in the index, and the index fluctuates with changes in the market values of the stocks so included. The composition of the index is changed periodically. The risks of purchasing and selling index options are generally similar to the risks of purchasing and selling options on securities.
Participatory Notes: Participatory notes are a type of derivative instrument used by foreign investors to access local markets and to gain exposure to, primarily, equity securities of issuers listed on a local exchange. Rather than purchasing securities directly, a Fund may purchase a participatory note from a broker-dealer, which holds the securities on behalf of the noteholders.
Participatory notes are similar to depositary receipts except that: (1) brokers, not U.S. banks, are depositories for the securities; and (2) noteholders may remain anonymous to market regulators.
The value of the participatory notes will be directly related to the value of the underlying securities. Any dividends or capital gains collected from the underlying securities are remitted to the noteholder.
The risks of investing in participatory notes include derivatives risk and foreign investments risk. The foreign investments risk associated with participatory notes is similar to those of investing in depositary receipts. However, unlike depositary receipts, participatory notes are subject to counterparty risk based on the uncertainty of the counterparty’s (i.e., the broker’s) ability to meet its obligations.
Rights and Warrants: Warrants and rights are types of securities that give a holder a right to purchase shares of common stock. Warrants usually are issued in conjunction with a bond or preferred stock and entitle a holder to purchase a specified amount of common stock at a specified price typically for a period of years. Rights are instruments, frequently distributed to an issuer’s shareholders as a dividend,
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that usually entitle the holder to purchase a specified amount of common stock at a specified price on a specific date or during a specific period of time (typically for a period of only weeks). The exercise price on a right is normally at a discount from the market value of the common stock at the time of distribution.
Warrants may be used to enhance the marketability of a bond or preferred stock. Rights are frequently used outside of the United States as a means of raising additional capital from an issuer’s current shareholders.
Warrants and rights do not carry with them the right to dividends or to vote, do not represent any rights in the assets of the issuer and may or may not be transferable. Investments in warrants and rights may be considered more speculative than certain other types of investments. In addition, the value of a warrant or right does not necessarily change with the value of the underlying securities, and expires worthless if it is not exercised on or prior to its expiration date, if any.
Bonds issued with warrants attached to purchase equity securities have many characteristics of convertible bonds and their prices may, to some degree, reflect the performance of the underlying stock. Bonds also may be issued with warrants attached to purchase additional debt instruments.
Equity-linked warrants are purchased from a broker, who in turn is expected to purchase shares in the local market. If a Fund exercises its warrant, the shares are expected to be sold and the warrant redeemed with the proceeds. Typically, each warrant represents one share of the underlying stock. Therefore, the price and performance of the warrant are directly linked to the underlying stock, less transaction costs. In addition to the market risk related to the underlying holdings, a Fund bears counterparty risk with respect to the issuing broker. There is currently no active trading market for equity-linked warrants, and they may be highly illiquid.
Index-linked warrants are put and call warrants where the value varies depending on the change in the value of one or more specified securities indices. Index-linked warrants are generally issued by banks or other financial institutions and give the holder the right, at any time during the term of the warrant, to receive upon exercise of the warrant a cash payment from the issuer based on the value of the underlying index at the time of exercise. In general, if the value of the underlying index rises above the exercise price of the index-linked warrant, the holder of a call warrant will be entitled to receive a cash payment from the issuer upon exercise based on the difference between the value of the index and the exercise price of the warrant; if the value of the underlying index falls, the holder of a put warrant will be entitled to receive a cash payment from the issuer upon exercise based on the difference between the exercise price of the warrant and the value of the index. The holder of a warrant would not be entitled to any payments from the issuer at any time when, in the case of a call warrant, the exercise price is greater than the value of the underlying index, or, in the case of a put warrant, the exercise price is less than the value of the underlying index. If a Fund were not to exercise an index-linked warrant prior to its expiration, then the Fund would lose the amount of the purchase price paid by it for the warrant.
Index-linked warrants are normally used in a manner similar to its use of options on securities indices. The risks of index-linked warrants are generally similar to those relating to its use of index options. Unlike most index options, however, index-linked warrants are issued in limited amounts and are not obligations of a regulated clearing agency, but are backed only by the credit of the bank or other institution that issues the warrant. Also, index-linked warrants may have longer terms than index options. Index-linked warrants are not likely to be as liquid as certain index options backed by a recognized clearing agency. In addition, the terms of index-linked warrants may limit a Fund’s ability to exercise the warrants at such time, or in such quantities, as the Fund would otherwise wish to do.
Indirect investment in foreign equity securities may be made through international warrants, local access products, participation notes, or low exercise price warrants. International warrants are financial instruments issued by banks or other financial institutions, which may or may not be traded on a foreign exchange. International warrants are a form of derivative security that may give holders the right to buy or sell an underlying security or a basket of securities from or to the issuer for a particular price or may entitle holders to receive a cash payment relating to the value of the underlying security or basket of securities. International warrants are similar to options in that they are exercisable by the holder for an underlying security or the value of that security, but are generally exercisable over a longer term than typical options. These types of instruments may be American style exercise, which means that they can be exercised at any time on or before the expiration date of the international warrant, or European style exercise, which means that they may be exercised only on the expiration date. International warrants have an exercise price, which is typically fixed when the warrants are issued.
Low exercise price warrants are warrants with an exercise price that is very low relative to the market price of the underlying instrument at the time of issue (e.g., one cent or less). The buyer of a low exercise price warrant effectively pays the full value of the underlying common stock at the outset. In the case of any exercise of warrants, there may be a time delay between the time a holder of warrants gives instructions to exercise and the time the price of the common stock relating to exercise or the settlement date is determined, during which time the price of the underlying security could change significantly. These warrants entail substantial credit risk, since the issuer of the warrant holds the purchase price of the warrant (approximately equal to the value of the underlying investment at the time of the warrant’s issue) for the life of the warrant.
The exercise or settlement date of the warrants and other instruments described above may be affected by certain market disruption events, such as difficulties relating to the exchange of a local currency into U.S. dollars, the imposition of capital controls by a local jurisdiction or changes in the laws relating to foreign investments. These events could lead to a change in the exercise date or settlement currency of the instruments, or postponement of the settlement date. In some cases, if the market disruption events continue for a certain period of time, the warrants may become worthless, resulting in a total loss of the purchase price of the warrants.
Investments in these instruments involve the risk that the issuer of the instrument may default on its obligation to deliver the underlying security or cash in lieu thereof. These instruments may also be subject to liquidity risk because there may be a limited secondary market for trading the warrants. They are also subject, like other investments in foreign (non-U.S.) securities, to foreign risk and currency risk.
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Swap Transactions and Options on Swap Transactions: Swap agreements are two-party contracts entered into primarily by institutional investors for periods ranging from a few weeks to more than one year. In a standard “swap” transaction, two parties agree to exchange the returns (or differentials in rates of return) earned or realized on particular predetermined underlying assets, which may be adjusted for an interest factor. The gross returns to be exchanged or “swapped” between the parties are generally calculated with respect to a “notional amount,” (i.e., the return on or increase in value of a particular dollar amount invested at a particular interest rate or in a “basket” of securities representing a particular index). When a Fund enters into an interest rate swap, it typically agrees to make payments to its counterparty based on a specified long- or short-term interest rate, and will receive payments from its counterparty based on another interest rate. Other forms of swap agreements include interest rate caps, under which, in return for a specified payment stream, one party agrees to make payments to the other to the extent that interest rates exceed a specified rate, or “cap”; interest rate floors, under which, in return for a specified payment stream, one party agrees to make payments to the other to the extent that interest rates fall below a specified rate, or “floor”; and interest rate collars, under which a party sells a cap and purchases a floor or vice versa in an attempt to protect itself against interest rate movements exceeding given minimum or maximum levels. A Fund may enter into an interest rate swap in order, for example, to hedge against the effect of interest rate changes on the value of specific securities in its portfolio, or to adjust the interest rate sensitivity (duration) or the credit exposure of its portfolio overall, or otherwise as a substitute for a direct investment in debt instruments.
In a total return swap, one party typically agrees to pay to the other a short-term interest rate in return for a payment at one or more times in the future based on the increase in the value of an underlying asset; if the underlying asset declines in value, the party that pays the short-term interest rate must also pay to its counterparty a payment based on the amount of the decline. A swap may create a long or short position in the underlying asset. A total return swap may be used to hedge against an exposure in an investment portfolio (including to adjust the duration or credit quality of a bond portfolio) or generally to put cash to work efficiently in the markets in anticipation of, or as a replacement for, cash investments. A total return swap may also be used to gain exposure to securities or markets which may not be accessed directly (in so-called market access transactions).
In a credit default swap, one party provides what is in effect insurance against a default or other adverse credit event affecting an issuer of debt instruments (typically referred to as a “reference entity”). In general, the protection “buyer” in a credit default swap is obligated to pay the protection “seller” an upfront amount or a periodic stream of payments over the term of the swap. If a “credit event” occurs, the buyer has the right to deliver to the seller bonds or other obligations of the reference entity (with a value up to the full notional value of the swap), and to receive a payment equal to the par value of the bonds or other obligations. Rather than exchange the bonds for the par value, a single cash payment may be due from the seller representing the difference between the par value of the bonds and the current market value of the bonds (which may be determined through an auction). Credit events that would trigger a request that the seller make payment are specific to each credit default swap agreement, but generally include bankruptcy, failure to pay, restructuring, obligation acceleration, obligation default, or repudiation/moratorium. If a Fund buys protection, it may or may not own securities of the reference entity. If it does own securities of the reference entity, the swap serves as a hedge against a decline in the value of the securities due to the occurrence of a credit event involving the issuer of the securities. If a Fund does not own securities of the reference entity, the credit default swap may be seen to create a short position in the reference entity. If a Fund is a buyer and no credit event occurs, the Fund will typically recover nothing under the swap, but will have had to pay the required upfront payment or stream of continuing payments under the swap. If a Fund sells protection under a credit default swap, the position may have the effect of creating leverage in the Fund’s portfolio through the Fund’s indirect long exposure to the issuer or securities on which the swap is written. If a Fund sells protection, it may do so either to earn additional income or to create such a “synthetic” long position. Credit default swaps involve general market risks, illiquidity risk, counterparty risk, and credit risk.
A cross-currency swap is a contract between two counterparties to exchange interest and principal payments in different currencies. A cross-currency swap normally has an exchange of principal at maturity (the final exchange); an exchange of principal at the start of the swap (the initial exchange) is optional. An initial exchange of notional principal amounts at the spot exchange rate serves the same function as a spot transaction in the foreign exchange market (for an immediate exchange of foreign exchange risk). An exchange at maturity of notional principal amounts at the spot exchange rate serves the same function as a forward transaction in the foreign exchange market (for a future transfer of foreign exchange risk). The currency swap market convention is to use the spot rate rather than the forward rate for the exchange at maturity. The economic difference is realized through the coupon exchanges over the life of the swap. In contrast to single currency interest rate swaps, cross-currency swaps involve both interest rate risk and foreign exchange risk.
A portfolio may enter into swap transactions for any legal purpose consistent with its investment objective and policies, such as for the purpose of attempting to obtain or preserve a particular return or spread at a lower cost than obtaining a return or spread through purchases and/or sales of instruments in other markets, to protect against currency fluctuations, as a duration management technique, to protect against any increase in the price of securities the portfolio anticipates purchasing at a later date, or to gain exposure to certain markets in a more economical way.
An interest rate cap is a right to receive periodic cash payments over the life of the cap equal to the difference between any higher actual level of interest rates in the future and a specified strike (or “cap”) level. The cap buyer purchases protection for a floating rate move above the strike. An interest rate floor is the right to receive periodic cash payments over the life of the floor equal to the difference between any lower actual level of interest rates in the future and a specified strike (or “floor”) level. The floor buyer purchases protection for a floating rate move below the strike. The strikes are based on a reference rate chosen by the parties and are typically measured quarterly. Rights arising pursuant to both caps and floors are typically exercised automatically if the strike is in the money. Caps and floors can eliminate the risk that the buyer fails to exercise an in-the-money option.
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The swap market has grown over the years, with a large number of banks and investment banking firms acting both as principals and agents utilizing standard swap documentation, which has contributed to greater liquidity in certain areas of the swap market under normal market conditions.
An option on swap agreement (“swaption”) is a contract that gives a counterparty the right (but not the obligation) to enter into a new swap agreement or to shorten, extend, cancel, or otherwise modify an existing swap agreement, at some designated future time on specified terms. Depending on the terms of the particular swaption, generally a greater degree of risk is incurred when writing a swaption than when purchasing a swaption. If a Fund purchases a swaption, it risks losing only the amount of the premium it has paid should it decide to let the option expire unexercised. However, if a Fund writes a swaption, upon exercise of the option the Fund will become obligated according to the terms of the underlying agreement.
The successful use of swap agreements or swaptions depends on the manager’s ability to predict correctly whether certain types of investments are likely to produce greater returns than other investments. Moreover, a Fund bears the risk of loss of the amount expected to be received under a swap agreement in the event of the default or bankruptcy of a swap agreement counterparty.
Swaps are highly specialized instruments that require investment techniques and risk analyses different from those associated with traditional investments. The use of a swap requires an understanding not only of the referenced asset, reference rate, or index but also of the swap itself, without the benefit of observing the performance of the swap under all possible market conditions. Because they are two-party contracts that may be subject to contractual restrictions on transferability and termination and because they may have terms of greater than seven days, swap agreements may be considered to be illiquid. To the extent that a swap is not liquid, it may not be possible to initiate a transaction or liquidate a position at an advantageous time or price, which may result in significant losses.
Like most other investments, swap agreements are subject to the risk that the market value of the instrument will change in a way detrimental to a Fund’s interest. A Fund bears the risk that its manager will not accurately forecast future market trends or the values of assets, reference rates, indices, or other economic factors in establishing swap positions for the Fund. If the manager attempts to use a swap as a hedge against, or as a substitute for, a portfolio investment, a Fund would be exposed to the risk that the swap will have or will develop imperfect or no correlation with the portfolio investment. This could cause substantial losses for a Fund. While hedging strategies involving swap instruments can reduce the risk of loss, they can also reduce the opportunity for gain or even result in losses by offsetting favorable price movements in other Fund investments. Many swaps are complex and often valued subjectively.
Counterparty risk with respect to derivatives has been and may continue to be affected by new rules and regulations concerning the derivatives market. Some interest rate swaps and credit default index swaps are required to be centrally cleared, and a party to a cleared derivatives transaction is subject to the credit risk of the clearing house and the clearing member through which it holds the position. Credit risk of market participants with respect to derivatives that are centrally cleared is concentrated in a few clearing houses and clearing members, and it is not clear how an insolvency proceeding of a clearing house or clearing member would be conducted, what effect the insolvency proceeding would have on any recovery by a Fund, and what impact an insolvency of a clearing house or clearing member would have on the financial system more generally. In some ways, cleared derivative arrangements are less favorable to a Fund than bilateral arrangements, for example, by requiring that a Fund provide more margin for its cleared derivatives positions. Also, as a general matter, in contrast to a bilateral derivatives position, following a period of notice to a Fund, the clearing house or the clearing member through which it holds its position at any time can require termination of an existing cleared derivatives position or an increase in the margin required at the outset of a transaction. Any increase in margin requirements or termination of existing cleared derivatives positions by the clearing member or the clearing house could interfere with the ability of a Fund to pursue its investment strategy.
Also, in the event of a counterparty's (or its affiliate's) insolvency, the possibility exists that a Fund's ability to exercise remedies, such as the termination of transactions, netting of obligations and realization on collateral, could be stayed or eliminated under new special resolution regimes adopted in the U.S., the EU, the UK, and various other jurisdictions. Such regimes provide government authorities with broad authority to intervene when a financial institution is experiencing financial difficulty. In particular, the regulatory authorities could reduce, eliminate, or convert to equity the liabilities to a Fund of a counterparty who is subject to such proceedings in the EU and the UK (sometimes referred to as a “bail in”).
The U.S. government, the EU, and the UK have also adopted mandatory minimum margin requirements for bilateral derivatives. Such requirements could increase the amount of margin required to be provided by a Fund in connection with its derivatives transactions and, therefore, make derivatives transactions more expensive.
The U.S. Congress, various exchanges and regulatory and self-regulatory authorities have undertaken reviews of derivatives trading in recent periods. Among the actions that have been taken or proposed to be taken are new position limits and reporting requirements, and new or more stringent daily price fluctuation limits for futures and options transactions. Additional measures are under active consideration and as a result there may be further actions that adversely affect the regulation of instruments in which a Fund may invest. It is possible that these or similar measures could potentially limit or completely restrict the ability of a Fund to use these instruments as a part of its investment strategy. Limits or restrictions applicable to the counterparties with which a Fund may engage in derivative transactions could also prevent the Fund from using these instruments.
Foreign Currency Warrants: Foreign currency warrants such as Currency Exchange WarrantsSM (“CEWsSM”) are warrants that entitle the holder to receive from their issuer an amount of cash (generally, for warrants issued in the U.S., in U.S. dollars) which is calculated pursuant to a predetermined formula and based on the exchange rate between a specified foreign currency and the U.S. dollar as of the exercise date of the warrant. Foreign currency warrants generally are exercisable upon their issuance and expire as of a specified date
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and time. The formula used to determine the amount payable upon exercise of a foreign currency warrant may make the warrant worthless unless the applicable foreign currency exchange rate moves in a particular direction (e.g., unless the U.S. dollar appreciates or depreciates against the particular foreign currency to which the warrant is linked or indexed).
OTHER INVESTMENT TECHNIQUES
Borrowing: Borrowing will result in leveraging of a Fund’s assets. This borrowing may be secured or unsecured. Borrowing, like other forms of leverage, will tend to exaggerate the effect on NAV of any increase or decrease in the market value of a Fund’s portfolio. Money borrowed will be subject to interest costs which may or may not be recovered by appreciation of the securities purchased, if any. A Fund also may be required to maintain minimum average balances in connection with such borrowing or to pay a commitment or other fee to maintain a line of credit; either of these requirements would increase the cost of borrowing over the stated interest rate. Provisions of the 1940 Act require a Fund to maintain continuous asset coverage (that is, total assets including borrowings, less liabilities exclusive of borrowings) of 300% of the amount borrowed, with an exception for borrowings not in excess of 5% of the Fund’s total assets made for temporary administrative purposes. Any borrowings for temporary administrative purposes in excess of 5% of total assets must maintain continuous asset coverage. If the 300% asset coverage should decline as a result of market fluctuations or other reasons, a Fund may be required to sell some of its portfolio holdings within three days to reduce the debt and restore the 300% asset coverage, even though it may be disadvantageous from an investment standpoint to sell holdings at that time.
From time to time, a Fund may enter into, and make borrowings for temporary purposes related to the redemption of shares under, a credit agreement with third-party lenders. Borrowings made under such credit agreements will be allocated pursuant to guidelines approved by the Board.
A Fund may engage in other transactions that may have the effect of creating leverage in the Fund’s portfolio, including, by way of example, reverse repurchase agreements, dollar rolls, and derivatives transactions. A Fund will generally not treat such transactions as borrowings of money.
Illiquid Securities: Illiquid investment means any investment that a Fund reasonably expects cannot be sold or disposed of in current market conditions in seven calendar days or less without the sale or disposition significantly changing the market value of the investment. A Fund may not invest more than 15% of its net assets in illiquid investments. With the exception of money market funds, Rule 22e-4 under the 1940 Act requires a Fund to adopt a liquidity risk management program to assess and manage its liquidity risk. Under its program, a Fund is required to classify its investments into specific liquidity categories and monitor compliance with limits on investments in illiquid securities. While the liquidity risk management program attempts to assess and manage liquidity risk, there is no guarantee it will be effective in its operations and it may not reduce the liquidity risk inherent in a Fund’s investments. The SEC has recently proposed amendments to Rule 22e-4 under the 1940 Act and Rule 22c-1 under the 1940 Act that, if adopted, would, among other things, cause more investments to be treated as illiquid, which could prevent a Fund from investing in securities that the Investment Adviser or Sub-Adviser believes are attractive investment opportunities.
Participation on Creditors’ Committees: A Fund may from time to time participate on committees formed by creditors to negotiate with the management of financially troubled issuers of securities held by a Fund. Such participation may incur additional expenses such as legal fees and may make a Fund an “insider” of the issuer for purposes of the federal securities laws, which may restrict such Fund’s ability to trade in or acquire additional positions in a particular security when it might otherwise desire to do so. Participation on such committees may also expose a Fund to potential liabilities under the federal bankruptcy laws or other laws governing the rights of creditors and debtors.
Repurchase Agreements: A repurchase agreement is a contract under which a Fund acquires a security for a relatively short period (usually not more than one week) subject to the obligation of the seller to repurchase and the Fund to resell such security at a fixed time and price. Repurchase agreements may be viewed as loans which are collateralized by the securities subject to repurchase. The value of the underlying securities in such transactions will be at least equal at all times to the total amount of the repurchase obligation, including the interest factor. If the seller defaults, a Fund could realize a loss on the sale of the underlying security to the extent that the proceeds of sale including accrued interest are less than the resale price provided in the agreement including interest. In addition, if the seller should be involved in bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings, a Fund may incur delay and costs in selling the underlying security or may suffer a loss of principal and interest if the Fund is treated as an unsecured creditor and required to return the underlying collateral to the seller’s estate. To the extent that a Fund has invested a substantial portion of its assets in repurchase agreements, the investment return on such assets, and potentially the ability to achieve the investment objectives, will depend on the counterparties’ willingness and ability to perform their obligations under the repurchase agreements.
Restricted Securities: A Fund may invest in securities that are legally restricted as to resale (such as those issued in private placements). These investments may include securities governed by Rule 144A under the 1933 Act (“Rule 144A”) and securities that are offered in reliance on Section 4(a)(2) of the 1933 Act and restricted as to their resale. A Fund may incur additional expenses when disposing of restricted securities, including costs to register the sale of the securities. The Board has delegated to Fund management the responsibility for monitoring and determining the liquidity of restricted securities, subject to the Board’s oversight.
Reverse Repurchase Agreements and Dollar Roll Transactions: Reverse repurchase agreements involve sales of portfolio securities to another party and an agreement by a Fund to repurchase the same securities at a later date at a fixed price. During the reverse repurchase agreement period, a Fund continues to receive principal and interest payments on the securities and also has the opportunity to earn a return on the collateral furnished by the counterparty to secure its obligation to redeliver the securities.
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Dollar rolls involve selling securities (e.g., mortgage-backed securities or U.S. Treasury securities) and simultaneously entering into a commitment to purchase those or similar securities on a specified future date and price from the same party. Mortgage-dollar rolls and U.S. Treasury rolls are types of dollar rolls. During the roll period, principal and interest paid on the securities is not received but proceeds from the sale can be invested.
Reverse repurchase agreement and dollar rolls involve the risk that the market value of the securities to be repurchased under the agreement may decline below the repurchase price. If the buyer of securities under a reverse repurchase agreement or dollar rolls files for bankruptcy or becomes insolvent, such a buyer or its trustee or receiver may receive an extension of time to determine whether to enforce the obligation to repurchase the securities and use of the proceeds of the reverse repurchase agreement may effectively be restricted pending such decision. Additionally, reverse repurchase agreements entail many of the same risks as OTC derivatives. These include the risk that the counterparty to the reverse repurchase agreement may not be able to fulfill its obligations, that the parties may disagree as to the meaning or application of contractual terms, or that the instrument may not perform as expected.
Securities Lending: Securities lending involves lending of portfolio securities to qualified broker/dealers, banks or other financial institutions who may need to borrow securities in order to complete certain transactions, such as covering short sales, avoiding failure to deliver securities, or completing arbitrage operations. Securities are loaned pursuant to a securities lending agreement approved by the Board and under the terms, structure and the aggregate amount of such loans consistent with the 1940 Act. Lending portfolio securities increases the lender’s income by receiving a fixed fee or a percentage of the collateral, in addition to receiving the interest or dividend on the securities loaned. As collateral for the loaned securities, the borrower gives the lender collateral equal to at least 100% of the value of the loaned securities. The collateral may consist of cash (including U.S. dollars and foreign currency), securities issued by the U.S. Government or its agencies or instrumentalities, or such other collateral as may be approved by the Board. The borrower must also agree to increase the collateral if the value of the loaned securities increases but may request some of the collateral be returned if the market value of the loaned securities goes down.
During the existence of the loan, the lender will receive from the borrower amounts equivalent to any dividends, interest or other distributions on the loaned securities, as well as interest on such amounts. Loans are subject to termination by the lender or a borrower at any time. A Fund may choose to terminate a loan in order to vote in a proxy solicitation.
During the time a security is on loan and the issuer of the security makes an interest or dividend payment, the borrower pays the lender a substitute payment equal to any interest or dividends the lender would have received directly from the issuer of the security if the lender had not loaned the security. When a lender receives dividends directly from domestic or certain foreign corporations, a portion of the dividends paid by the lender itself to its shareholders and attributable to those dividends (but not the portion attributable to substitute payments) may be eligible for (i) treatment as “qualified dividend income” in the hands of individuals or (ii) the federal dividends received deduction in the hands of corporate shareholders. The Investment Adviser expects generally to follow the practice of causing a Fund to terminate a securities loan – and forego any income on the loan after the termination – in anticipation of a dividend payment. By doing so, a lender would receive the dividend directly from the issuer of the securities, rather than a substitute payment from the borrower of the securities, and thereby preserve the possibility of those tax benefits for certain shareholders. A lender’s shares may be held by affiliates of the Investment Adviser, and the Investment Adviser’s termination of securities loans under these circumstances (resulting in the lender’s foregoing income from the loans after the termination) may provide an economic benefit to those affiliates.
Securities lending involves counterparty risk, including the risk that a borrower may not provide additional collateral when required or return the loaned securities in a timely manner. Counterparty risk also includes a potential loss of rights in the collateral if the borrower or the Lending Agent defaults or fails financially. This risk is increased if loans are concentrated with a single borrower or limited number of borrowers. There are no limits on the number of borrowers that may be used and securities may be loaned to only one or a small group of borrowers. Participation in securities lending also incurs the risk of loss in connection with investments of cash collateral received from the borrowers. Cash collateral is invested in accordance with investment guidelines contained in the Securities Lending Agreement and approved by the Board. Some or all of the cash collateral received in connection with the securities lending program may be invested in one or more pooled investment vehicles, including, among other vehicles, money market funds managed by the Lending Agent (or its affiliates). The Lending Agent shares in any income resulting from the investment of such cash collateral, and an affiliate of the Lending Agent may receive asset-based fees for the management of such pooled investment vehicles, which may create a conflict of interest between the Lending Agent (or its affiliates) and a Fund with respect to the management of such cash collateral. To the extent that the value or return on investments of the cash collateral declines below the amount owed to a borrower, a Fund may incur losses that exceed the amount it earned on lending the security. The Lending Agent will indemnify a Fund from losses resulting from a borrower’s failure to return a loaned security when due, but such indemnification does not extend to losses associated with declines in the value of cash collateral investments. The Investment Adviser is not responsible for any loss incurred by a Fund in connection with the securities lending program.
Short Sales: Short sales can be made “against the box” or not “against the box.” A short sale that is not made “against the box” is a transaction in which a party sells a security it does not own, in anticipation of a decline in the market value of that security. To complete such a transaction, the seller must borrow the security to make delivery to the buyer. To borrow the security, the seller also may be required to pay a premium, which would increase the cost of the security sold. The seller then is obligated to replace the security borrowed by purchasing it at the market price at the time of replacement. It may not be possible to liquidate or close out the short sale at any particular time or at an acceptable price. The price at such a time may be more or less than the price at which the security was sold by the seller. The seller will incur a loss if the price of the security increases between the date of the short sale and the date on which the seller replaced the borrowed security. Such loss may be unlimited. The seller will realize a gain if the security declines in price between those dates. The amount of any gain will decrease, and the amount of a loss will increase, by the amount of the premium, dividends or
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interest the seller may be required to pay in connection with a short sale. The proceeds of the short sale will be retained by the broker, to the extent necessary to meet the margin requirements, until the short position is closed out. Short sales of forward commitments and derivatives do not involve borrowing a security. These types of short sales may include futures, options, contracts for differences, forward contracts on financial instruments and options such as contracts, credit-linked instruments, and swap contracts.
The seller may also make short sales “against the box.” A short sale “against the box” is a transaction in which a security identical to one owned by the seller is borrowed and sold short. If the seller enters into a short sale against the box, it is required to hold securities equivalent in-kind and in amount to the securities sold short (or securities convertible or exchangeable into such securities) while the short sale is outstanding. The seller will incur transaction costs, including interest, in connection with opening, maintaining, and closing short sales against the box and will forgo an opportunity for capital appreciation in the security.
Selling short “against the box” typically limits the amount of effective leverage. Short sales “against the box” may be used to hedge against market risks when the manager believes that the price of a security may decline, causing a decline in the value of a security or a security convertible into or exchangeable for such security. In such case, any future losses in the long position would be reduced by a gain in the short position. The extent to which such gains or losses in the long position are reduced will depend upon the amount of securities sold short relative to the amount of the securities owned, either directly or indirectly, and, in the case of convertible securities, changes in the investment values or conversion premiums of such securities.
In response to market events, the SEC and regulatory authorities in other jurisdictions may adopt (and in certain cases, have adopted) bans on, and/or reporting requirements for, short sales of certain securities, including short positions on such securities acquired through swaps.
To Be Announced Sale Commitments: To be announced commitments represent an agreement to purchase or sell securities on a delayed delivery or forward commitment basis through the “to-be announced” (“TBA”) market. With TBA transactions, a commitment is made to either purchase or sell securities for a fixed price, without payment, and delivery at a scheduled future dated beyond the customary settlement period for securities. In addition, with TBA transactions, the particular securities to be delivered or received are not identified at the trade date; however, securities delivered to a purchaser must meet specified criteria (such as yield, duration, and credit quality) and contain similar characteristics. TBA securities may be sold to hedge positions or to dispose of securities under delayed delivery arrangements.
Although the particular TBA securities must meet industry-accepted “good delivery” standards, there can be no assurance that a security purchased on a forward commitment basis will ultimately be issued or delivered by the counterparty. During the settlement period, the purchaser will still bear the risk of any decline in the value of the security to be delivered. Because these transactions do not require the purchase and sale of identical securities, the characteristics of the security delivered to the purchaser may be less favorable than the security delivered to the dealer. The purchaser of TBA securities generally is subject to increased market risk and interest rate risk because the delivered securities may be less favorable than anticipated by the purchaser. TBA securities have the effect of creating leverage.
Recently proposed FINRA rules include mandatory margin requirements for the TBA market with limited exceptions. TBAs historically have not been required to be collateralized. The collateralization of TBA trades is intended to mitigate counterparty credit risk between trade and settlement, but could increase the cost of TBA transactions and impose added operational complexity.
When-Issued Securities and Delayed Delivery Transactions: When-issued securities and delayed delivery transactions involve the purchase or sale of securities at a predetermined price or yield with payment and delivery taking place in the future after the customary settlement period for that type of security. Upon the purchase of the securities, liquid assets with an amount equal to or greater than the purchase price of the security will be set aside to cover the purchase of that security. The value of these securities is reflected in the net assets value as of the purchase date; however, no income accrues from the securities prior to their delivery.
There can be no assurance that a security purchased on a when-issued basis will be issued or that a security purchased or sold on a delayed delivery basis will be delivered. When a Fund engages in when-issued or delayed delivery transactions, it relies on the other party to consummate the trade. Failure of such party to do so may result in a Fund’s incurring a loss or missing an opportunity to obtain a price considered to be advantageous.
The purchase of securities in this type of transaction increases an overall investment exposure and involves a risk of loss if the value of the securities declines prior to settlement. If deemed advisable as a matter of investment strategy, the securities may be disposed of or the transaction renegotiated after it has been entered into, and the securities sold before those securities are delivered on the settlement date.
OTHER RISKS
Cyber Security Issues: The Voya family of funds, and their service providers, may be prone to operational and information security risks resulting from cyber-attacks. Cyber-attacks include, among other behaviors, stealing or corrupting data maintained online or digitally, denial of service attacks on websites, the unauthorized release of confidential information or various other forms of cyber security breaches. Cyber-attacks affecting a Fund or its service providers may adversely impact the Fund. For instance, cyber-attacks may interfere with the processing of shareholder transactions, impact a Fund’s ability to calculate its NAV, cause the release of private shareholder information or confidential business information, impede trading, subject the Fund to regulatory fines or financial losses and/or cause reputational damage. A Fund may also incur additional costs for cyber security risk management purposes. Similar types of cyber security risks are also present for issuers of securities in which a Fund may invest, which could result in material adverse consequences for such issuers and may cause the Fund’s investment in such companies to lose value. In addition, substantial costs may be incurred in order to prevent any cyber-attacks in the future. While each Fund has established a business continuity plan in the event of, and risk management systems
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to prevent, such cyber-attacks, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified. Furthermore, a Fund cannot control the cyber security plans and systems put in place by service providers to the Fund, and such third party service providers may have limited indemnification obligations to the Investment Adviser or the Fund, each of whom could be negatively impacted as a result. A Fund and its shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result. Similar types of operational and technology risks are also present for issuers of securities or other instruments in which a Fund invests, which could result in material adverse consequences for such issuers, and may cause the Fund's investments to lose value. In addition, cyber-attacks involving a Fund’s counterparty could affect such counterparty's ability to meet its obligations to the Fund, which may result in losses to the Fund and its shareholders. Furthermore, as a result of cyber-attacks, disruptions or failures, an exchange or market may close or issue trading halts on specific securities or the entire market, which may result in a Fund being, among other things, unable to buy or sell certain securities or unable to accurately price its investments. There may be an increased risk of cyber-attacks during periods of geo-political or military conflict and new ways to carry out cyber-attacks are always developing. Therefore, there is a chance that some risks have not been identified or prepared for, or that an attack may not be detected, which puts limitations on a Fund’s ability to plan for or respond to a cyber-attack.
Qualified Financial Contracts: A Fund’s investments may involve qualified financial contracts (“QFCs”). QFCs include, but are not limited to, securities contracts, commodities contracts, forward contracts, repurchase agreements, securities lending agreements and swaps agreements, as well as related master agreements, security agreements, credit enhancements, and reimbursement obligations. Under regulations adopted by federal banking regulators pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, certain QFCs with counterparties that are part of U.S. or foreign global systemically important banking organizations are required to include contractual restrictions on close-out and cross-default rights. If a covered counterparty of a Fund or certain of the covered counterparty's affiliates were to become subject to certain insolvency proceedings, the Fund may be temporarily, or in some cases permanently, unable to exercise certain default rights, and the QFC may be transferred to another entity. These requirements may impact a Fund’s credit and counterparty risks.
TEMPORARY DEFENSIVE STRATEGIES
When the Investment Adviser or the Sub-Adviser to a Fund anticipates unusual market, economic, political, or other conditions, the Fund may temporarily depart from its principal investment strategies as a defensive measure. In such circumstances, a Fund may invest in securities believed to present less risk, such as cash, cash equivalents, money market fund shares and other money market instruments, debt instruments that are high quality or higher quality than normal, more liquid securities, or others. While a Fund invests defensively, it may not achieve its investment objective. A Fund's defensive investment position may not be effective in protecting its value. It is impossible to predict accurately how long such alternative strategies may be utilized.
PORTFOLIO TURNOVER
A change in securities held in a Fund’s portfolio is known as portfolio turnover and may involve the payment by a Fund of dealer mark-ups or brokerage or underwriting commissions and other transaction costs associated with the purchase or sale of securities.
Each Fund may sell a portfolio investment soon after its acquisition if the Investment Adviser or Sub-Adviser believes that such a disposition is consistent with the Fund’s investment objective. Portfolio investments may be sold for a variety of reasons, such as a more favorable investment opportunity or other circumstances bearing on the desirability of continuing to hold such investments. Portfolio turnover rate for a fiscal year is the percentage determined by dividing (i) the lesser of the cost of purchases or sales of portfolio securities by (ii) the monthly average of the value of portfolio securities owned by the Fund during the fiscal year. Securities with maturities at acquisition of one year or less are excluded from this calculation. A Fund cannot accurately predict its turnover rate; however, the rate will be higher when the Fund finds it necessary or desirable to significantly change its portfolio to adopt a temporary defensive position or respond to economic or market events.
A portfolio turnover rate of 100% or more is considered high, although the rate of portfolio turnover will not be a limiting factor in making portfolio decisions. A high rate of portfolio turnover involves correspondingly greater brokerage commission expenses and transaction costs which are ultimately borne by a Fund’s shareholders. High portfolio turnover may result in the realization of substantial capital gains.
Each Fund’s historical turnover rates are included in the Financial Highlights table(s) in the Prospectus.
Significant Portfolio Turnover During the Last Two Fiscal Years
Voya Floating Rate Fund’s portfolio turnover rate decreased from 89% in 2022 to 38% in 2023. The Fund’s decrease in portfolio turnover was due primarily to a reduction in trading activity caused by a decline in assets due to Fund outflows.
Voya GNMA Income Fund’s portfolio turnover rate decreased from 539% in 2022 to 353% in 2023. The Fund’s decrease in portfolio turnover was due primarily to a decrease in the number of its TBA holdings, resulting in a corresponding decrease in simultaneous sell/buy transactions used to “roll” TBA positions forward to the next month.
Voya Intermediate Bond Fund’s portfolio turnover rate increased from 159% in 2021 to 222% in 2022. The increase was due to an increase in interest rate hedging and trading to reduce the risk profile of the Fund.
Voya Short Term Bond Fund’s portfolio turnover rate increased from 145% in 2021 to 250% in 2022. The increase was due to an increase in interest rate hedging and trading to reduce the risk profile of the Fund.
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FUNDAMENTAL AND NON-FUNDAMENTAL INVESTMENT RESTRICTIONS
Unless otherwise noted, whenever an investment policy or limitation states a maximum percentage of a Fund’s assets that may be invested in any security or other asset, or sets forth a policy regarding quality standards, such percentage limitation or standard will be determined immediately after and as a result of the Fund’s acquisition of such security or other asset, except in the case of borrowing (or other activities that may be deemed to result in the issuance of a “senior security” under the 1940 Act). Accordingly, any subsequent change in value, net assets or other circumstances will not be considered when determining whether the investment complies with a Fund’s investment policies and limitations.
Unless otherwise stated, if a Fund’s holdings of illiquid securities exceeds 15% of its net assets because of changes in the value of the Fund’s investments, the Fund will take action to reduce its holdings of illiquid securities within a time frame deemed to be in the best interest of the Fund.
Illiquid investment means any investment that a Fund reasonably expects cannot be sold or disposed of in current market conditions in seven calendar days or less without the sale or disposition significantly changing the market value of the investment. Such securities include, but are not limited to, fixed time deposits and repurchase agreements with maturities longer than seven days. Securities that may be resold under Rule 144A, securities offered pursuant to Section 4(a)(2) of the 1933 Act, or securities otherwise subject to restrictions on resale under the 1933 Act (“Restricted Securities”) shall not be deemed illiquid solely by reason of being unregistered.
FUNDAMENTAL INVESTMENT RESTRICTIONS
Each Fund has adopted the following investment restrictions as fundamental policies, which means they cannot be changed without the approval of the holders of a “majority” of the Fund’s outstanding voting securities, as that term is defined in the 1940 Act. The term “majority” is defined in the 1940 Act as the lesser of: (i) 67% or more of the Fund’s voting securities present at a meeting of shareholders at which the holders of more than 50% of the outstanding voting securities of the Fund are present in person or represented by proxy; or (ii) more than 50% of the Fund’s outstanding voting securities.
Voya Floating Rate Fund
As a matter of fundamental policy, the Fund may not:
1.
purchase any securities which would cause 25% or more of the value of its total assets at the time of purchase to be invested in securities of one or more issuers conducting their principal business activities in the same industry, provided that: (i) there is no limitation with respect to obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, or tax exempt securities issued by any state or territory of the United States, or any of their agencies, instrumentalities or political subdivisions; and (ii) notwithstanding this limitation or any other fundamental investment limitation, assets may be invested in the securities of one or more management investment companies to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act, the rules and regulations thereunder, and any exemptive relief obtained by the Fund;
2.
purchase securities of any issuer if, as a result, with respect to 75% of the Fund’s total assets, more than 5% of the value of its total assets would be invested in the securities of any one issuer or the Fund’s ownership would be more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of any issuer, provided that this restriction does not limit the Fund’s investments in securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies and instrumentalities, or investments in securities of other investment companies;
3.
borrow money, except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act, including the rules, regulations, interpretations thereunder, and any exemptive relief obtained by the Fund;
4.
make loans, except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act, including the rules, regulations, interpretations, and any exemptive relief obtained by the Fund. For the purposes of this limitation, entering into repurchase agreements, lending securities, and acquiring debt securities are not deemed to be making of loans;
5.
underwrite any issue of securities within the meaning of the 1933 Act except when it might technically be deemed to be an underwriter either: (i) in connection with the disposition of a portfolio security; or (ii) in connection with the purchase of securities directly from the issuer thereof in accordance with its investment objective. This restriction shall not limit the Fund’s ability to invest in securities issued by other registered management investment companies;
6.
purchase or sell real estate, except that the Fund may: (i) acquire or lease office space for its own use; (ii) invest in securities of issuers that invest in real estate or interests therein; (iii) invest in mortgage-related securities and other securities that are secured by real estate or interests therein; or (iv) hold and sell real estate acquired by the Fund as a result of the ownership of securities;
7.
issue senior securities except to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act, the rules and regulations thereunder, and any exemptive relief obtained by the Fund; or
8.
purchase or sell physical commodities, unless acquired as a result of ownership of securities or other instruments (but this shall not prevent the Fund from purchasing or selling options and futures contracts or from investing in securities or other instruments backed by physical commodities). This limitation does not apply to foreign currency transactions, including, without limitation, forward currency contracts.
Voya GNMA Income Fund
As a matter of fundamental policy, the Fund may not:
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1.
issue senior securities;
2.
borrow money, except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act, including the rules, regulations, interpretations thereunder and any exemptive relief obtained by the Fund;
3.
underwrite securities of other issuers;
4.
concentrate its investments in a particular industry to an extent greater than 25% of its total assets, provided that such limitation shall not apply to securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government or its agencies;
5.
purchase or sell real estate, commodity contracts or commodities (however, the Fund may purchase interests in GNMA mortgage-backed certificates);
6.
make loans, except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act, including the rules, regulations, interpretations, and any exemptive relief obtained by the Fund. For the purposes of this limitation, entering into repurchase agreements, lending securities, and acquiring debt securities are not deemed to be making of loans;
7.
purchase the securities of another investment company or investment trust, except in the open market and then only if no profit, other than the customary broker’s commission, results to a sponsor or dealer, or by merger or other reorganization;
8.
purchase any security on margin or effect a short sale of a security;
9.
buy securities from or sell securities (other than securities issued by the Fund) to any of its officers, directors, or its adviser, as principal;
10.
contract to sell any security or evidence of interest therein, except to the extent that the same shall be owned by the Fund;
11.
purchase or retain securities of an issuer when one or more of the officers and directors of the Fund or of Voya Investments, LLC, or a person owning more than 10% of the stock of either, own beneficially more than ½ of 1% of the securities of such issuer and such persons owning more than ½ of 1% of such securities together own beneficially more than 5% of the securities of such issuer;
12.
invest more than 5% of its total assets in the securities of any one issuer (except securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government or its agencies), except that such restriction shall not apply to 25% of the Fund’s portfolio so long as the NAV of the portfolio does not exceed $2,000,000;
13.
purchase any securities if such purchase would cause the Fund to own at the time of purchase more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of any one issuer;
14.
purchase any security restricted as to disposition under federal securities laws;
15.
invest in interests in oil, gas, or other mineral exploration or development programs; or
16.
buy or sell puts, calls, or other options.
Voya High Yield Bond Fund and Voya Intermediate Bond Fund
As a matter of fundamental policy, each Fund may not:
1.
borrow money, except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act (which currently limits borrowing to no more than 33 1/3% of the value of the Fund’s total assets). For purposes of this investment restriction, the entry into reverse repurchase agreements, options, forward contracts, futures contracts, including those relating to indices, and options on futures contracts or indices shall not constitute borrowing;
2.
issue senior securities, except insofar as the Fund may be deemed to have issued a senior security in connection with any repurchase agreement or any permitted borrowing;
3.
make loans, except loans of portfolio securities and except that the Fund may enter into repurchase agreements with respect to its portfolio securities and may purchase the types of debt instruments described in its Prospectus or this SAI;
4.
invest in companies for the purpose of exercising control or management;
5.
purchase, hold, or deal in real estate, or oil, gas, or other mineral leases or exploration or development programs, but the Fund may purchase and sell securities that are secured by real estate or issued by companies that invest or deal in real estate or REITs;
6.
engage in the business of underwriting securities of other issuers, except to the extent that the disposal of an investment position may technically cause it to be considered an underwriter as that term is defined under the 1933 Act;
7.
purchase securities on margin, except that the Fund may obtain such short-term credits as may be necessary for the clearance of purchases and sales of securities;
8.
purchase a security if, as a result, more than 25% of the value of its total assets would be invested in securities of one or more issuers conducting their principal business activities in the same industry, provided that: (i) this limitation shall not apply to obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government or its agencies and instrumentalities; (ii) wholly-owned finance companies will be considered to be in the industries of their parents; and (iii) utilities will be divided according to their services. For example, gas, gas transmission, electric and gas, electric, and telephone will each be considered a separate industry; or
42

9.
purchase or sell commodities or commodity contracts except for stock futures contracts, interest rate futures contracts, index futures contracts, and foreign currency futures contracts and options thereon, in accordance with the applicable restrictions under the 1940 Act.
Voya Short Duration High Income Fund
As a matter of fundamental policy:
1.
The Fund may not issue any class of securities which is senior to the Fund’s shares of beneficial interest, except to the extent the Fund is permitted to borrow money and except as otherwise consistent with applicable law from time to time.
2.
The Fund may borrow money to the extent permitted by applicable law from time to time.
3.
The Fund may not act as underwriter of securities of other issuers except to the extent that, in connection with the disposition of portfolio securities or in connection with the purchase of securities directly from the issuer thereof, it may be deemed to be an underwriter under certain federal securities laws.
4.
The Fund may not purchase any security if as a result 25% or more of the Fund’s total assets (taken at current value) would be invested in securities of issuers in a single industry (for purposes of this restriction, (i) bank loans and loan participations will be considered investments in the industry of the underlying borrower, (ii) investment companies are not considered to constitute an industry, and (iii) derivatives counterparties are not considered to be part of any industry). This restriction does not apply to securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. Government or its agencies or instrumentalities (or repurchase agreements with respect thereto).
5.
The Fund may make loans, including to affiliated investment companies, except to the extent the Fund is prohibited from doing so by applicable law. The Fund may purchase loan participations or otherwise invest in loans or similar obligations, and may make loans directly to borrowers, itself or as part of a lending syndicate. The Fund may purchase debt obligations or other financial instruments in which the Fund may invest consistent with its investment policies, enter into repurchase agreements, or lend its portfolio securities.
6.
The Fund may purchase or sell commodities to the extent permitted by applicable law from time to time.
7.
The Fund will not purchase real estate directly, but may possess, hold, purchase and/or dispose of it in connection with managing or exercising its rights in respect of its investments. The Fund may, for clarity, (i) purchase interests in issuers which deal or invest in real estate, including limited partnership interests of limited partnerships that invest or deal in real estate, (ii) purchase securities which are secured by real estate or interests in real estate, including real estate mortgage loans, and (iii) acquire (by way of foreclosure or otherwise), hold and/or dispose of real estate that secured, or is otherwise related to, an investment of the Fund. (For purposes of this restriction, investments by the Fund in mortgage-backed securities and other securities representing interests in mortgage pools shall not constitute the purchase or sale of real estate.)
Voya Short Term Bond Fund
As a matter of fundamental policy, the Fund may not:
1.
purchase any securities which would cause 25% or more of the value of its total assets at the time of purchase to be invested in securities of one or more issuers conducting their principal business activities in the same industry, provided that: (i) there is no limitation with respect to obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, or tax exempt securities issued by any state or territory of the United States, or any of their agencies, instrumentalities or political subdivisions; and (ii) notwithstanding this limitation or any other fundamental investment limitation, assets may be invested in the securities of one or more management investment companies to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act, the rules and regulations thereunder, and any exemptive relief obtained by the Fund;
2.
purchase securities of any issuer if, as a result, with respect to 75% of the Fund’s total assets, more than 5% of the value of its total assets would be invested in the securities of any one issuer or the Fund’s ownership would be more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of any issuer, provided that this restriction does not limit the Fund’s investments in securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies and instrumentalities, or investments in securities of other investment companies;
3.
borrow money, except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act, including the rules, regulations, interpretations thereunder, and any exemptive relief obtained by the Fund;
4.
make loans, except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act, including the rules, regulations, interpretations, and any exemptive relief obtained by the Fund. For the purposes of this limitation, entering into repurchase agreements, lending securities, and acquiring debt securities are not deemed to be making of loans;
5.
underwrite any issue of securities within the meaning of the 1933 Act except when it might technically be deemed to be an underwriter either: (i) in connection with the disposition of a portfolio security; or (ii) in connection with the purchase of securities directly from the issuer thereof in accordance with its investment objective. This restriction shall not limit the Fund’s ability to invest in securities issued by other registered management investment companies;
6.
purchase or sell real estate, except that the Fund may: (i) acquire or lease office space for its own use; (ii) invest in securities of issuers that invest in real estate or interests therein; (iii) invest in mortgage-related securities and other securities that are secured by real estate or interests therein; or (iv) hold and sell real estate acquired by the Fund as a result of the ownership of securities;
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7.
issue senior securities except to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act, the rules and regulations thereunder, and any exemptive relief obtained by the Fund; or
8.
purchase or sell physical commodities, unless acquired as a result of ownership of securities or other instruments (but this shall not prevent the Fund from purchasing or selling options and futures contracts or from investing in securities or other instruments backed by physical commodities). This limitation does not apply to foreign currency transactions, including, without limitation, forward currency contracts.
Voya Strategic Income Opportunities Fund
As a matter of fundamental policy, the Fund may not:
1.
purchase any securities which would cause 25% or more of the value of its total assets at the time of purchase to be invested in securities of one or more issuers conducting their principal business activities in the same industry, provided that: (i) there is no limitation with respect to obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, or tax exempt securities issued by any state or territory of the United States, or any of their agencies, instrumentalities, or political subdivisions; and (ii) notwithstanding this limitation or any other fundamental investment limitation, assets may be invested in the securities of one or more management investment companies to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act, the rules and regulations thereunder and any exemptive relief obtained by the Fund;
2.
purchase securities of any issuer if as a result, with respect to 75% of the Fund’s total assets, more than 5% of the value of its total assets would be invested in the securities of any one issuer or the Fund’s ownership would be more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of any issuer, provided that this restriction does not limit the Fund’s investments in securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies and instrumentalities, or investments in securities of other investment companies;
3.
borrow money, except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act, including the rules, regulations, interpretations thereunder, and any exemptive relief obtained by the Fund;
4.
make loans, except to the extent permitted under the 1940 Act, including the rules, regulations, interpretations, and any exemptive relief obtained by the Fund. For the purposes of this limitation, entering into repurchase agreements, lending securities, and acquiring debt securities are not deemed to be making of loans;
5.
underwrite any issue of securities within the meaning of the 1933 Act except when it might technically be deemed to be an underwriter either: (i) in connection with the disposition of a portfolio security; or (ii) in connection with the purchase of securities directly from the issuer thereof in accordance with its investment objective. This restriction shall not limit the Fund’s ability to invest in securities issued by other registered management investment companies;
6.
purchase or sell real estate, except that the Fund may: (i) acquire or lease office space for its own use; (ii) invest in securities of issuers that invest in real estate or interests therein; (iii) invest in mortgage-related securities and other securities that are secured by real estate or interests therein; or (iv) hold and sell real estate acquired by the Fund as a result of the ownership of securities;
7.
issue senior securities except to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act, the rules and regulations thereunder and any exemptive relief obtained by the Fund; or
8.
purchase or sell physical commodities, unless acquired as a result of ownership of securities or other instruments (but this shall not prevent the Fund from purchasing or selling options and futures contracts or from investing in securities or other instruments backed by physical commodities). This limitation does not apply to foreign currency transactions, including, without limitation, forward currency contracts.
The Fund takes the position, with respect to concentration in any particular industry or group of industries under Fundamental Investment Restriction No. 1 above, that agency mortgage-backed securities that are issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities, non-agency residential mortgage-backed securities, commercial mortgage-backed securities, collateralized mortgage obligations, or any asset-backed securities do not represent interests in any particular industry or group of industries and Fundamental Investment Restriction No. 1 above is not a limitation on the ability of the Fund to purchase any such securities in any amount.
NON-FUNDAMENTAL INVESTMENT RESTRICTIONS
The Board has adopted the following non-fundamental investment restrictions, which may be changed by a vote of each Fund’s Board and without shareholder vote.
Voya Floating Rate Fund
The Fund may make indirect foreign investments through other investment companies that have comparable investment objectives and policies as the Fund.
Over-the-Counter Options are subject to the Fund’s limitation on investment in illiquid securities measured at the time of purchase.
The Fund may not invest more than 15% of their net assets in illiquid securities, measured at the time of investment.
Reverse repurchase agreements, together with other permitted borrowings, may constitute up to 33 1/3% of the Fund’s total assets.
The Fund may lend Fund securities in an amount up to 33 1/3% of its total assets to broker-dealers, major banks, or other recognized domestic institutional borrowers of securities.
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The Fund may purchase or sell securities on a when-issued (for the purpose of acquiring portfolio securities and not for the purpose of leverage) or a delayed delivery basis (generally 15 or 45 days after the commitment is made).
Voya GNMA Income Fund
The Fund may make indirect foreign investments through other investment companies that have comparable investment objectives and policies as the Fund.
The Fund may only purchase other investment companies in the open market and if no profit (other than the customary broker’s commission) is paid.
Over-the-Counter Options are subject to the Fund’s limitation on investment in illiquid securities measured at the time of purchase.
The Fund may invest in repurchase agreements secured by securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government (including Treasury Bills, Notes, or Bonds), Government National Mortgage Association Certificates, and securities issued by other agencies and instrumentalities of the U.S. government. No more than 10% of the Fund’s assets may be invested in repurchase agreements which mature in more than 7 days.
The Fund may not invest more than 15% of their net assets in illiquid securities, measured at the time of investment.
Reverse repurchase agreements, together with other permitted borrowings, may constitute up to 33 1/3% of the Fund’s total assets.
The Fund may lend Fund securities in an amount up to 33 1/3% of its total assets to broker-dealers, major banks, or other recognized domestic institutional borrowers of securities.
The Fund may purchase or sell securities on a when-issued (for the purpose of acquiring portfolio securities and not for the purpose of leverage) or a delayed delivery basis (generally 15 or 45 days after the commitment is made). The Fund may not make contracts to purchase securities for a fixed price at a future date beyond customary settlement time “forward commitments.”
Voya High Yield Bond Fund
The Fund may make indirect foreign investments through other investment companies that have comparable investment objectives and policies as the Fund.
Over-the-Counter Options are subject to the Fund’s limitation on investment in illiquid securities measured at the time of purchase.
The Fund may borrow from banks up to 1/3 of its total assets for temporary or emergency purchases or to purchase securities.
The Fund may invest without limitation in Eurodollar Convertible Securities that are convertible into foreign equity securities listed or represented by American Depositary Receipts listed on either exchange or converted into publicly traded common stock of U.S. companies.
The Fund may not invest more than 15% of their net assets in illiquid securities, measured at the time of investment.
Reverse repurchase agreements, together with other permitted borrowings, may constitute up to 33 1/3% of the Fund’s total assets.
The Fund may lend Fund securities in an amount up to 33 1/3% of its total assets to broker-dealers, major banks, or other recognized domestic institutional borrowers of securities.
The Fund may purchase or sell securities on a when-issued (for the purpose of acquiring portfolio securities and not for the purpose of leverage) or a delayed delivery basis (generally 15 or 45 days after the commitment is made).
Voya Intermediate Bond Fund
The Fund may make indirect foreign investments through other investment companies that have comparable investment objectives and policies as the Fund.
Over-the-Counter Options are subject to the Fund’s limitation on investment in illiquid securities measured at the time of purchase.
The Fund may invest without limitation in Eurodollar Convertible Securities that are convertible into foreign equity securities listed or represented by American Depositary Receipts listed on either exchange or converted into publicly traded common stock of U.S. companies.
The Fund may borrow from banks up to 1/3 of its total assets for temporary or emergency purchases or to purchase securities.
The Fund may not invest more than 15% of their net assets in illiquid securities, measured at the time of investment.
Reverse repurchase agreements, together with other permitted borrowings, may constitute up to 33 1/3% of the Fund’s total assets.
The Fund may lend Fund securities in an amount up to 33 1/3% of its total assets to broker-dealers, major banks, or other recognized domestic institutional borrowers of securities.
The Fund may purchase or sell securities on a when-issued (for the purpose of acquiring portfolio securities and not for the purpose of leverage) or a delayed delivery basis (generally 15 or 45 days after the commitment is made).
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Under normal market conditions, the Fund invests at least 80% of its net assets (plus borrowings for investment purposes) in a portfolio of bonds, including but not limited to corporate, government, and mortgage bonds which, at the time of purchase, are rated investment grade (for example, rated at least BBB- by S&P or Baa3 by Moody’s) or have an equivalent rating by a NRSRO, or of comparable quality if unrated. An underlying fund’s investment in bonds or its investments in derivatives and synthetic instruments that have economic characteristics similar to the above investments, and the Fund’s investment in derivatives and synthetic instruments that have economic characteristics similar to the above investments may be counted toward satisfaction of the 80% policy.
Voya Short Term Bond Fund
The Fund may make indirect foreign investments through other investment companies that have comparable investment objectives and policies as the Fund.
Over-the-Counter Options are subject to the Fund’s limitation on investment in illiquid securities measured at the time of purchase.
The Fund may not invest more than 15% of their net assets in illiquid securities, measured at the time of investment.
Reverse repurchase agreements, together with other permitted borrowings, may constitute up to 33 1/3% of the Fund’s total assets.
The Fund may lend Fund securities in an amount up to 33 1/3% of its total assets to broker-dealers, major banks, or other recognized domestic institutional borrowers of securities.
The Fund may purchase or sell securities on a when-issued (for the purpose of acquiring portfolio securities and not for the purpose of leverage) or a delayed delivery basis (generally 15 or 45 days after the commitment is made).
Voya Strategic Income Opportunities Fund
The Fund may make indirect foreign investments through other investment companies that have comparable investment objectives and policies as the Fund.
Over-the-Counter Options are subject to the Fund’s limitation on investment in illiquid securities measured at the time of purchase.
The Fund may not invest more than 15% of their net assets in illiquid securities, measured at the time of investment.
Reverse repurchase agreements, together with other permitted borrowings, may constitute up to 33 1/3% of the Fund’s total assets.
The Fund may lend Fund securities in an amount up to 33 1/3% of its total assets to broker-dealers, major banks, or other recognized domestic institutional borrowers of securities.
The Fund may purchase or sell securities on a when-issued (for the purpose of acquiring portfolio securities and not for the purpose of leverage) or a delayed delivery basis (generally 15 or 45 days after the commitment is made).
DISCLOSURE OF each Fund’s PORTFOLIO SECURITIES
Each Fund is required to file its complete portfolio holdings schedule with the SEC on a quarterly basis. This schedule is filed with each Fund’s annual and semi-annual shareholder reports on Form N-CSR for the second and fourth fiscal quarters and on Form NPORT-P for the first and third fiscal quarters. Each Fund’s NPORT-P is available on the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov and may be obtained, free of charge, by contacting a Fund at the address and phone number on the cover of this SAI or by visiting our website at https://individuals.voya.com/product/mutual-fund/prospectuses-reports.
In addition, each Fund posts its portfolio holdings schedule on Voya’s website on a monthly basis and makes it available on the 15th calendar day following the end of the previous calendar month, or as soon thereafter as practicable. The portfolio holdings schedule is as of the last day of the previous calendar month.
Each Fund may also post its complete or partial portfolio holdings on its website as of a specified date. Each Fund may also file information on portfolio holdings with the SEC or other regulatory authority as required by applicable law.
Each Fund also compiles a list of its ten largest (“Top Ten”) holdings and/or its Top Ten largest issuers. This information is made available on Voya’s website on the 10th calendar day following the end of the previous calendar month, or as soon thereafter as practicable. The Top Ten holdings and/or issuer information shall be as of the last day of the previous calendar month.
Investors (both individual and institutional), financial intermediaries that distribute each Fund’s shares, and most third parties may receive each Fund’s annual or semi-annual shareholder reports, or view them on Voya’s website, along with each Fund’s portfolio holdings schedule.
The Top Ten list is also provided in quarterly Fund descriptions that are included in the offering materials of variable life insurance products, variable annuity contracts and other retirement plans.
Other than in regulatory filings or on Voya’s website, each Fund may provide its complete portfolio holdings to certain unaffiliated third parties and affiliates when a Fund has a legitimate business purpose for doing so. Unless otherwise noted below, each Fund’s disclosure of its portfolio holdings will be on an as-needed basis, with no lag time between the date of which the information is requested and the date the information is provided. Specifically, a Fund’s disclosure of its portfolio holdings may include disclosure:
to a Fund’s independent registered public accounting firm, named herein, for use in providing audit opinions, as well as to the independent registered public accounting firm of an entity affiliated with the Investment Adviser if the Fund is consolidated into the financial results of the affiliated entity;
to financial printers for the purpose of preparing Fund regulatory filings;
for the purpose of due diligence regarding a merger or acquisition involving a Fund;
46

to a new adviser or sub-adviser or a transition manager prior to the commencement of its management of a Fund;
to rating and ranking agencies such as Bloomberg L.P., Morningstar, Inc., Lipper Leaders Rating System, and S&P (such agencies may receive more raw data from a Fund than is posted on a Fund’s website);
to consultants for use in providing asset allocation advice in connection with investments by affiliated funds-of-funds in a Fund;
to service providers, on a daily basis, in connection with their providing services benefiting a Fund including, but not limited to, the provision of custodial and transfer agency services, the provision of analytics for securities lending oversight and reporting, compliance oversight, and proxy voting or class action service providers;
to a third party for purposes of effecting in-kind redemptions of securities to facilitate orderly redemption of portfolio assets and minimal impact on remaining Fund shareholders;
to certain wrap fee programs, on a weekly basis, on the first Business Day following the previous calendar week;
to a third party who acts as a “consultant” and supplies the consultant’s analysis of holdings (but not actual holdings) to the consultant’s clients (including sponsors of retirement plans or their consultants) or who provides regular analysis of Fund portfolios. The types, frequency and timing of disclosure to such parties vary depending upon information requested; or
to legal counsel to a Fund and the Trustees.
In all instances of such disclosure, the receiving party is subject to a duty or obligation of confidentiality, including a duty not to trade on such information.
In addition, the Sub-Adviser may provide portfolio holdings information to third-party service providers in connection with the Sub-Adviser carrying out its duties pursuant to the Sub-Advisory Agreement in place between the Sub-Adviser and the Investment Adviser, provided however that the Sub-Adviser is responsible for such third-party’s confidential treatment of such data pursuant to the Sub-Advisory Agreement. This portfolio holdings information may be provided on an as-needed basis, with no lag time between the date of which the information is requested and the date the information is provided. The Sub-Adviser is also obligated, pursuant to its fiduciary duty to the relevant Fund, to ensure that any third-party service provider has a duty not to trade on any portfolio holdings information it receives other than on behalf of a Fund until public disclosure by the Fund.
In addition to the situations discussed above, disclosure of a Fund's complete portfolio holdings on a more frequent basis to any unaffiliated third party or affiliates may be permitted if approved by the Chief Legal Officer of the Investment Adviser or the Chief Compliance Officer of the Funds (each an “Authorized Party”) pursuant to the Board's procedures. In each such case, the Authorized Party would determine whether the proposed disclosure of a Fund's complete portfolio holdings is for a legitimate business interest; whether such disclosure is in the best interest of Fund shareholders; whether such disclosure will create any conflicts between the interests of a Fund's shareholders, on the one hand, and those of the Investment Adviser, Principal Underwriter or any affiliated person of a Fund, its Investment Adviser, or its Principal Underwriter, on the other; and the third party must execute an agreement setting forth its duty of confidentiality with regards to the portfolio holdings, including a duty not to trade on such information. An Authorized Party would report to the Board regarding the implementation of these procedures.
The Board has authorized the senior officers of the Investment Adviser or its affiliates to authorize the release of a Fund’s portfolio holdings, as necessary, in conformity with the foregoing principles and to monitor for compliance with these policies and procedures. The Investment Adviser or its affiliates report quarterly to the Board regarding the implementation of these policies and procedures.
QUARTERLY PORTFOLIO HOLDINGS
Each Fund files its complete schedule of portfolio holdings with the SEC for the first and third quarters of each fiscal year on Form NPORT-P. Each Fund’s Form NPORT-P is available on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. Each Fund’s complete schedule of portfolio holdings is also available at https://individuals.voya.com/product/mutual-fund/prospectuses-reports and without charge upon request from the Fund by calling Shareholder Services toll-free at 1-800-992-0180.
47

MANAGEMENT OF the Trust
The business and affairs of the Trust are managed under the direction of the Trust’s Board according to the applicable laws of the State of Delaware.
The Board governs each Fund and is responsible for protecting the interests of shareholders. The Trustees are experienced executives who oversee each Fund’s activities, review contractual arrangements with companies that provide services to each Fund, and review each Fund’s performance.
Set forth in the table below is information about each Trustee of each Fund.
Name, Address and
Year of Birth
Position(s)
Held
with the Trust
Term of Office
and Length
of Time
Served1
Principal Occupation(s)
During the Past 5 Years
Number
of Funds
in the
Fund Complex
Overseen by
Trustees2
Other Board
Positions Held
by Trustees
Independent Trustees
Colleen D. Baldwin

(1960)

7337 East
Doubletree Ranch
Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale, Arizona
85258-2034
Chairperson
Trustee
January 2020 –
Present
November 2007 –
Present
President, Glantuam Partners,
LLC, a business consulting firm
(January 2009 – Present).
139
Stanley Global Engineering (2020
– Present).
John V. Boyer

(1953)

7337 East
Doubletree Ranch
Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale, Arizona
85258-2034
Trustee
January 2005 –
Present
Retired. Formerly, President and
Chief Executive Officer, Bechtler
Arts Foundation, an arts and
education foundation (January
2008 – December 2019).
139
None.
Patricia W. Chadwick

(1948)

7337 East
Doubletree Ranch
Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale, Arizona
85258-2034
Trustee
January 2006 –
Present
Consultant and President,
Ravengate Partners LLC, a
consulting firm that provides
advice regarding financial
markets and the global economy
(January 2000 – Present).
139
The Royce Funds (22 funds)
(December 2009 – Present); and
AMICA Mutual Insurance
Company (1992 – Present).
Martin J. Gavin

(1950)

7337 East
Doubletree Ranch
Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale, Arizona
85258-2034
Trustee
August 2015 –
Present
Retired.
139
None.
48

Name, Address and
Year of Birth
Position(s)
Held
with the Trust
Term of Office
and Length
of Time
Served1
Principal Occupation(s)
During the Past 5 Years
Number
of Funds
in the
Fund Complex
Overseen by
Trustees2
Other Board
Positions Held
by Trustees
Joseph E. Obermeyer

(1957)

7337 East
Doubletree Ranch
Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale, Arizona
85258-2034
Trustee
May 2013 – Present
President, Obermeyer &
Associates, Inc., a provider of
financial and economic
consulting services (November
1999 – Present).
139
None.
Sheryl K. Pressler

(1950)

7337 East
Doubletree Ranch
Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale, Arizona
85258-2034
Trustee
January 2006 –
Present
Consultant (May 2001 –
Present).
139
Centerra Gold Inc. (May 2008 –
Present).
Christopher P.
Sullivan

(1954)

7337 East
Doubletree Ranch
Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale, Arizona
85258-2034
Trustee
October 2015 –
Present
Retired.
139
None.
1
Trustees serve until their successors are duly elected and qualified. The tenure of each Trustee who is not an “interested person” as defined in the 1940 Act, of each Fund (as defined below, “Independent Trustee”) is subject to the Board’s retirement policy, which states that each duly elected or appointed Independent Trustee shall retire from and cease to be a member of the Board of Trustees at the close of business on December 31 of the calendar year in which the Independent Trustee attains the age of 75. A majority vote of the Board’s other Independent Trustees may extend the retirement date of an Independent Trustee if the retirement would trigger a requirement to hold a meeting of shareholders of the Trust under applicable law, whether for the purposes of appointing a successor to the Independent Trustee or otherwise complying under applicable law, in which case the extension would apply until such time as the shareholder meeting can be held or is no longer required (as determined by a vote of a majority of the other Independent Trustees).
2
For the purposes of this table, “Fund Complex” includes the following investment companies: Voya Asia Pacific High Dividend Equity Income Fund; Voya Balanced Portfolio, Inc.; Voya Credit Income Fund; Voya Emerging Markets High Dividend Equity Fund; Voya Equity Trust; Voya Funds Trust; Voya Global Advantage and Premium Opportunity Fund; Voya Global Equity Dividend and Premium Opportunity Fund; Voya Government Money Market Portfolio; Voya Infrastructure, Industrials and Materials Fund; Voya Intermediate Bond Portfolio; Voya Investors Trust; Voya Mutual Funds; Voya Partners, Inc.; Voya Separate Portfolios Trust; Voya Strategic Allocation Portfolios, Inc.; Voya Variable Funds; Voya Variable Insurance Trust; Voya Variable Portfolios, Inc.; and Voya Variable Products Trust. The number of funds in the Fund Complex is as of May 31, 2023.
Information Regarding Officers of the Trust
Set forth in the table below is information for each Officer of the Trust.
49

Name, Address and
Year of Birth
Position(s) Held
with the Trust
Term of Office and
Length of Time Served1
Principal Occupation(s) During the Past 5 Years
Andy Simonoff

(1973)

5780 Powers Ferry
Road NW
Atlanta, Georgia
30327
President and
Chief Executive
Officer
January 2023 – Present
Director, President, and Chief Executive Officer, Voya Funds Services, LLC, Voya Capital,
LLC, and Voya Investments, LLC (January 2023 – Present); Managing Director, Chief
Strategy and Transformation Officer, Voya Investment Management (January 2020 –
Present). Formerly, Managing Director, Head of Business Management, Voya Investment
Management (March 2019 – January 2020); Managing Director, Head of Business
Management, Fixed Income, Voya Investment Management (November 2015 – March
2019).
Jonathan Nash

(1967)

230 Park Avenue
New York, New York
10169
Executive Vice
President
Chief Investment
Risk Officer
March 2020 – Present
Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Risk Officer, Voya Investments, LLC (March
2020 – Present); Senior Vice President, Investment Risk Management, Voya Investment
Management (March 2017 – Present). Formerly, Vice President, Voya Investments, LLC
(September 2018 – March 2020).
James M. Fink

(1958)

5780 Powers Ferry
Road NW
Atlanta, Georgia
30327
Executive Vice
President
March 2018 – Present
Senior Vice President, Voya Investments Distributor, LLC (April 2018 – Present); Managing
Director, Voya Investments, LLC, Voya Capital, LLC, and Voya Funds Services, LLC (March
2018 – Present); Chief Administrative Officer, Voya Investment Management (September
2017 – Present).
Steven Hartstein

(1963)

230 Park Avenue
New York, New York
10169
Chief Compliance
Officer
December 2022 –
Present
Senior Vice President, Voya Investment Management (December 2022 – Present).
Formerly, Head of Funds Compliance, Brighthouse Financial, Inc.; and Chief Compliance
Officer, Brighthouse Funds and Brighthouse Investment Advisers, LLC (March 2017 –
December 2022).
Todd Modic

(1967)

7337 East
Doubletree Ranch
Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale, Arizona
85258-2034
Senior Vice
President,
Chief/Principal
Financial Officer
and Assistant
Secretary
March 2005 – Present
Director and Senior Vice President, Voya Capital, LLC and Voya Funds Services, LLC
(September 2022 – Present); Director, Voya Investments, LLC (September 2022 –
Present); Senior Vice President, Voya Investments, LLC (April 2005 – Present). Formerly,
President, Voya Funds Services, LLC (March 2018 – September 2022).
Kimberly A. Anderson

(1964)

7337 East
Doubletree Ranch
Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale, Arizona
85258-2034
Senior Vice
President
November 2003 –
Present
Senior Vice President, Voya Investments, LLC (September 2003 – Present).
Sara M. Donaldson

(1959)

7337 East
Doubletree Ranch
Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale, Arizona
85258-2034
Senior Vice
President
June 2022 – Present
Senior Vice President, Voya Investments, LLC (February 2022 – Present); Senior Vice
President, Head of Active Ownership, Voya Investment Management (September 2021 –
Present). Formerly, Vice President, Voya Investments, LLC (October 2015 – February
2022); Vice President, Head of Proxy Voting, Voya Investment Management (October 2015
– August 2021).
50

Name, Address and
Year of Birth
Position(s) Held
with the Trust
Term of Office and
Length of Time Served1
Principal Occupation(s) During the Past 5 Years
Andrew K. Schlueter

(1976)

7337 East
Doubletree Ranch
Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale, Arizona
85258-2034
Senior Vice
President
June 2022 – Present
Senior Vice President, Head of Investment Operations Support, Voya Investment
Management (April 2023 - Present); Vice President, Voya Investments Distributor, LLC
(April 2018 - Present); Vice President, Voya Investments, LLC and Voya Funds Services,
LLC (March 2018 - Present). Formerly, Senior Vice President, Head of Mutual Fund
Operations, Voya Investment Management (March 2022 - March 2023); Vice President,
Head of Mutual Fund Operations, Voya Investment Management (February 2018 - February
2022).
Joanne F. Osberg

(1982)

7337 East
Doubletree Ranch
Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale, Arizona
85258-2034
Senior Vice
President
Secretary
March 2023 - Present
September 2020 –
Present
Senior Vice President and Secretary, Voya Investments, LLC, Voya Capital, LLC, and
Voya Funds Services, LLC and Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel, Voya Investment
Management – Mutual Fund Legal Department (March 2023 – Present). Formerly,
Secretary, Voya Capital, LLC (August 2022 – March 2023); Vice President and Secretary,
Voya Investments, LLC and Voya Funds Services, LLC and Vice President and Senior
Counsel, Voya Investment Management – Mutual Fund Legal Department (September 2020
– March 2023); Vice President and Counsel, Voya Investment Management – Mutual Fund
Legal Department (January 2013 – September 2020).
Robert Terris

(1970)

5780 Powers Ferry
Road NW
Atlanta, Georgia
30327
Senior Vice
President
May 2006 – Present
Senior Vice President, Voya Investments Distributor, LLC (April 2018 – Present); Senior
Vice President, Head of Investment Services, Voya Investments, LLC (April 2018 –
Present); Senior Vice President, Head of Investment Services, Voya Funds Services, LLC
(March 2006 – Present).
Fred Bedoya

(1973)

7337 East
Doubletree Ranch
Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale, Arizona
85258-2034
Vice President,
Principal
Accounting Officer
and Treasurer
September 2012 –
Present
Vice President, Voya Investments, LLC (October 2015 – Present); Vice President,
Voya Funds Services, LLC (July 2012 – Present).
Robyn L. Ichilov

(1967)

7337 East
Doubletree Ranch
Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale, Arizona
85258-2034
Vice President
October 2000 – Present
Vice President Voya Investments, LLC (August 1997 – Present); Vice President, Voya Funds
Services, LLC (November 1995 – Present).
Jason Kadavy

(1976)

7337 East
Doubletree Ranch
Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale, Arizona
85258-2034
Vice President
September 2012 –
Present
Vice President, Voya Investments, LLC (October 2015 – Present); Vice President,
Voya Funds Services, LLC (July 2007 – Present).