iShares® Trust
Statement of Additional Information
Dated December 1, 2022
(as revised June 6, 2023)
This Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”) is not a prospectus. It should be read in conjunction with the current prospectuses (the “Prospectuses”) for the following series of iShares Trust (the “Trust”):
Fund   Ticker   Listing Exchange
iShares Currency Hedged MSCI ACWI ex U.S. ETF   HAWX   NYSE Arca
iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF   HEFA   Cboe BZX
iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE Small-Cap ETF   HSCZ   NYSE Arca
Each Fund invests its assets in individual securities, including shares of other iShares funds that, in turn, invest in equities and/or short-term instruments based on an index (each, an “Underlying Fund” and collectively, the “Underlying Funds”), as well as in currency hedging instruments. BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA” or the “Investment Adviser”), an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc., serves as investment adviser to the Funds and also serves as investment adviser to each of the Underlying Funds. References to the investments and risks of the Fund, unless otherwise indicated, should be understood as references to the investments and risks of both the Fund and the related Underlying Fund.
The Prospectuses for the above-listed funds (each, a “Fund” and collectively, the “Funds”) are dated December 1, 2022, as amended and supplemented from time to time. Capitalized terms used herein that are not defined have the same meaning as in the applicable Prospectus, unless otherwise noted. The Financial Statements and Notes contained in the applicable Annual Report or Semi-Annual Report of the Trust for the Funds are incorporated by reference into and are deemed to be part of this SAI. A copy of each Fund's Prospectus, Annual Report and Semi-Annual Report may be obtained without charge by writing to the Trust's distributor, BlackRock Investments, LLC (the “Distributor”), 1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540, calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or visiting www.iShares.com. Each Fund's Prospectus is incorporated by reference into this SAI.
References to the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “Investment Company Act” or the “1940 Act”), or other applicable law, will include any rules promulgated thereunder and any guidance, interpretations or modifications by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), SEC staff or other authority with appropriate jurisdiction, including court interpretations, and exemptive, no action or other relief or permission from the SEC, SEC staff or other authority.
iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BFA and its affiliates.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
  Page
General Description of the Trust and its Funds 1
Exchange Listing and Trading 1
Investment Strategies and Risks 2
Borrowing 3
Currency Transactions 4
Derivatives 4
Diversification Status 4
Futures, Options on Futures and Securities Options 4
Hedging 5
Investments in Underlying Funds and Other Investment Companies 6
Lending Portfolio Securities 6
Liquidity Risk Management 7
Non-U.S. Securities 7
Regulation Regarding Derivatives 8
Repurchase Agreements 9
Reverse Repurchase Agreements 9
Securities of Investment Companies 10
Short-Term Instruments and Temporary Investments 10
Swap Agreements 10
Tracking Stocks 11
Future Developments 11
General Considerations and Risks 11
Borrowing Risk 11
Custody Risk 11
Illiquid Investments Risk 11
LIBOR Risk 12
LIBOR Replacement Risk 12
National Closed Market Trading Risk 13
Operational Risk 13
Risk of Derivatives 13
Risk of Equity Securities 13
Risk of Futures and Options on Futures Transactions 14
Risk of Investing in Non-U.S. Equity Securities 14
Risk of Swap Agreements 15
Tracking Error Risk 15
Volatility Risk 15
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Risk of Investing in Africa 15
Risk of Investing in Asia 17
Risk of Investing in Australasia 18
Risk of Investing in Central and South America 18
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries 18
Risk of Investing in Eastern Europe 19
Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets 20
Risk of Investing in Europe 20
Risk of Investing in Japan 21
Risk of Investing in the Middle East 22
Risk of Investing in Russia 23
Risk of Investing in Saudi Arabia 25
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Discretionary Sector 26
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Staples Sector 26
Risk of Investing in the Energy Sector 26
Risk of Investing in the Financials Sector 27
Risk of Investing in the Healthcare Sector 28
Risk of Investing in the Industrials Sector 29
Risk of Investing in the Information Technology Sector 29
Risk of Investing in the Materials Sector 29
Risk of Investing in the Real Estate Industry 29
Risk of Investing in the Utilities Sector 31
Proxy Voting Policy 31
Portfolio Holdings Information 32
Construction and Maintenance of the Underlying Indexes 33
The MSCI Indexes 33
MSCI ACWI ex USA 100% Hedged to USD Index 36
MSCI EAFE 100% Hedged to USD Index 36
MSCI EAFE Small Cap 100% Hedged to USD Index 36
Investment Policies 37
Fundamental Investment Policies 37
Non-Fundamental Investment Policies 38
Continuous Offering 39
Management 40
Trustees and Officers 40
Committees of the Board of Trustees 48
Remuneration of Trustees and Advisory Board Members 52
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  Page
Control Persons and Principal Holders of Securities 53
Conflicts of Interest 54
Investment Advisory, Administrative and Distribution Services 62
Investment Adviser 62
Portfolio Managers 63
Codes of Ethics 65
Anti-Money Laundering Requirements 66
Administrator, Custodian and Transfer Agent 66
Distributor 66
Securities Lending 67
Payments by BFA and its Affiliates 69
Determination of Net Asset Value 70
Brokerage Transactions 72
Additional Information Concerning the Trust 76
Shares 76
DTC as Securities Depository for Shares of the Funds 76
Distribution of Shares 77
Creation and Redemption of Creation Units 78
General 78
Fund Deposit 78
Cash Purchase Method 79
Procedures for Creation of Creation Units 79
Role of the Authorized Participant 79
Purchase Orders 79
Timing of Submission of Purchase Orders 80
Acceptance of Orders for Creation Units 80
Issuance of a Creation Unit 80
Costs Associated with Creation Transactions 81
Redemption of Creation Units 81
Cash Redemption Method 82
Costs Associated with Redemption Transactions 82
Placement of Redemption Orders 83
Custom Baskets 84
Taxation on Creations and Redemptions of Creation Units 85
Taxes 86
Regulated Investment Company Qualifications 86
Taxation of RICs 86
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  Page
Excise Tax 87
Net Capital Loss Carryforwards 87
Taxation of U.S. Shareholders 87
Sales of Shares 88
Backup Withholding 89
Sections 351 and 362 89
Taxation of Certain Derivatives 89
Qualified Dividend Income 90
Corporate Dividends Received Deduction 90
Excess Inclusion Income 90
Non-U.S. Investments 91
Passive Foreign Investment Companies 91
Reporting 92
Other Taxes 92
Taxation of Non-U.S. Shareholders 92
Financial Statements 93
Miscellaneous Information 93
Counsel 93
Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm 93
Shareholder Communications to the Board 94
Investors’ Rights 94
Appendix A – iShares ETFs Proxy Voting Policies A-1
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General Description of the Trust and its Funds
The Trust currently consists of more than 310 investment series or portfolios. The Trust was organized as a Delaware statutory trust on December 16, 1999 and is authorized to have multiple series or portfolios. The Trust is an open-end management investment company registered with the SEC under the 1940 Act. The offering of the Trust’s shares is registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”). This SAI relates to the following Funds:
iShares Currency Hedged MSCI ACWI ex U.S. ETF
iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF
iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE Small-Cap ETF
Each Fund is managed by BFA, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc., and generally seeks to track the investment results of the specific benchmark index identified in the applicable Prospectus for that Fund (each, an “Underlying Index”).
Each Fund offers and issues shares at their net asset value per share (“NAV”) only in aggregations of a specified number of shares (each, a “Creation Unit”), generally in exchange for a designated portfolio of securities, assets or other positions (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) included in its Underlying Index (the “Deposit Securities” or “Creation Basket”), together with the deposit of a specified cash payment (the “Cash Component”). Shares of the Funds are listed for trading on national securities exchanges (a “Listing Exchange”) such as Cboe BZX Exchange, Inc. (“Cboe BZX”) or NYSE Arca, Inc. (“NYSE Arca”). Shares of each Fund are traded in the secondary market and elsewhere at market prices that may be at, above or below the Fund's NAV. Shares are redeemable only in Creation Units, and, generally, in exchange for portfolio securities and a Cash Amount (as defined in the Creation and Redemption of Creation Units-Role of the Authorized Participant section of this SAI). Creation Units typically are a specified number of shares, generally ranging from 10,000 to 50,000 or multiples thereof.
The Trust reserves the right to permit or require that creations and redemptions of shares are effected fully or partially in cash and reserves the right to permit or require the substitution of Deposit Securities in lieu of cash. Shares may be issued in advance of receipt of Deposit Securities, subject to various conditions, including a requirement that the Authorized Participant (as defined in the Portfolio Holding Information section of this SAI) maintain with the Trust collateral as set forth in the handbook for Authorized Participants. The Trust may use such collateral at any time to purchase Deposit Securities. See the Creation and Redemption of Creation Units section of this SAI. Transaction fees and other costs associated with creations or redemptions that include a cash portion may be higher than the transaction fees and other costs associated with in-kind creations or redemptions. In all cases, conditions with respect to creations and redemptions of shares and fees will be limited in accordance with the requirements of SEC rules and regulations applicable to management investment companies offering redeemable securities.
Exchange Listing and Trading
A discussion of exchange listing and trading matters associated with an investment in each Fund is contained in the Shareholder Information section of each Fund's Prospectus. The discussion below supplements, and should be read in conjunction with, that section of the applicable Prospectus.
Shares of each Fund are listed for trading, and trade throughout the day, on the Listing Exchange and in other secondary markets. Shares of the Funds may also be listed on certain non-U.S. exchanges. There can be no assurance that the requirements of the Listing Exchange necessary to maintain the listing of shares of any Fund will continue to be met. The Listing Exchange may, but is not required to, remove the shares of a Fund from listing if, among other things: (i) a Fund is no longer eligible to operate in reliance on Rule 6c-11 under the Investment Company Act; (ii) any of the other listing requirements are not continuously maintained; or (iii) any event shall occur or condition shall exist that, in the opinion of the Listing Exchange, makes further dealings on the Listing Exchange inadvisable. The Listing Exchange will also remove shares of a Fund from listing and trading upon termination of the Fund.
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As in the case of other publicly-traded securities, when you buy or sell shares of a Fund through a broker, you may incur a brokerage commission determined by that broker, as well as other charges.
The Trust reserves the right to adjust the share price of the Funds in the future to maintain convenient trading ranges for investors. Any adjustments would be accomplished through stock splits or reverse stock splits, which would have no effect on the net assets of the Funds or an investor's equity interest in the Funds.
Investment Strategies and Risks
Each Fund seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing a substantial portion of its assets in one Underlying Fund: the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (“EFA”), iShares MSCI ACWI ex U.S. ETF (“ACWX”) or the iShares MSCI EAFE Small-Cap ETF (“SCZ”) (each, an “Underlying Fund”), as applicable. Each Fund may also invest in securities and other instruments that compose its Underlying Index and in investments that provide substantially similar exposure to securities in the Underlying Index. Each Fund also seeks to track the currency hedging transactions embedded in its Underlying Index by entering into currency forward contracts and other instruments. Each Fund operates as an index fund and is not actively managed. Adverse performance of a security or currency hedging transaction in a Fund’s portfolio will ordinarily not result in the elimination of the security or currency hedging transaction from the Fund’s portfolio.
Each Fund engages in representative sampling, which is investing in a sample of securities selected by BFA to have a collective investment profile similar to that of the securities or other instruments comprising the Fund's Underlying Index. Securities selected have aggregate investment characteristics (based on market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability, earnings valuation and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of the Fund’s Underlying Index. A fund that uses representative sampling generally does not hold all of the securities that are in its underlying index.
Although the Funds do not seek leveraged returns, certain instruments used by the Funds may have a leveraging effect as described below.
Each Fund generally will invest at least 80% of its assets in the component securities (including indirect investments through an Underlying Fund) and other instruments of the Underlying Index and in investments that have economic characteristics that are substantially identical to the component securities of its Underlying Index (i.e., depositary receipts representing securities of the Underlying Index) and may invest up to 20% of its assets in certain futures, options and swap contracts, cash and cash equivalents, including shares of money market funds advised by BFA or its affiliates, as well as in securities not included in the Underlying Index, but which BFA believes will help the Fund track its Underlying Index. Components of the Underlying Index include equity securities and currency forward contracts both deliverable and nondeliverable designed to hedge non U.S. currency fluctuations against the U.S. dollar. The notional exposure to currency forward contracts (both deliverable and nondeliverable) generally will be a short position that hedges the currency risk of the equity portfolio. Cash and cash equivalent investments associated with a derivative position will be treated as part of that position for the purposes of calculating the percentage of investments included in the Underlying Index. Each Fund seeks to track the investment results of its Underlying Index before fees and expenses of the Fund.
Each Underlying Index is 100% hedged to the U.S. dollar by selling each foreign non-U.S. dollar currency forward at the one-month Forward weight in order to create a “hedge” against fluctuations in the relative value of the non-U.S. dollar component currencies in relation to the U.S. dollar. A currency forward contract is an over-the-counter (“OTC”) contract between two parties to buy or sell a specified amount of a specific currency in the future at an agreed-upon exchange rate. The hedge is reset monthly by MSCI and is not adjusted intra-month based on movement in the value of the component equity securities and/or currencies. The Underlying Index may therefore be slightly “over-hedged” (if equity values decline) or “under-hedged” (if the equity values increase) between the month-end rebalances. The Underlying Index is designed to have higher returns than an equivalent unhedged investment when the non- U.S. dollar component currencies are weakening relative to the U.S. dollar and appreciation in some of the non-U.S. dollar component currencies does not exceed the aggregate depreciation of the others. Conversely, the Underlying Index is designed to have lower returns than an equivalent unhedged investment when the non-U.S. dollar component currencies are rising relative to the U.S. dollar.
In order to track the hedging component of its Underlying Index, each Fund intends to enter into foreign currency forward contracts designed to offset each Fund’s exposure to the non-U.S. dollar component currencies. A foreign currency forward contract is an over-the-counter (“OTC”) contract between two parties, each of which is an eligible contract participant, as
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defined in the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”), to buy or sell a specified amount of a specific currency in the future at an agreed upon exchange rate. A Fund's exposure to foreign currency forward contracts is based on the aggregate exposure of a Fund to the non-U.S. dollar component currencies. While this approach is designed to minimize the impact of currency fluctuations on Fund returns, it does not necessarily eliminate a Fund’s exposure to the non-U.S. dollar component currencies. The return of the foreign currency forward contracts may not perfectly offset the actual fluctuations between the non-U.S. dollar component currencies and the U.S. dollar.
Each Fund may also use non-deliverable forward contracts (“NDFs”) to execute its hedging transactions. NDFs are cash-settled, short-term forward contracts that may be thinly traded or are denominated in non-convertible foreign currencies, where the profit or loss at the time of settlement date is calculated by taking the difference between the agreed upon exchange rate and the spot rate at the time of settlement, for an agreed upon notional amount of funds. NDFs generally have a fixing date and a settlement date. The fixing date is the valuation date at which the difference between the prevailing market exchange rate and the agreed upon exchange rate is calculated. The settlement date is the date by which the payment of the difference is due to the party receiving payment. NDFs are commonly quoted for time periods ranging from one month to up to two years, and are normally quoted and settled in U.S. dollars. They are often used to gain exposure to and/or hedge exposure to foreign currencies that are not internationally traded.
Foreign currency forward contracts and NDFs are subject to regulation under The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) in the U.S. and under comparable regimes in Europe, Asia and other non-U.S. jurisdictions. Physically-settled forwards between eligible contract participants, such as a Fund, are generally subject to lighter regulation in the U.S. than NDFs and cash-settled foreign currency forward contracts. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, NDFs are regulated as swaps and are subject to rules requiring central clearing and mandatory trading on an exchange or facility that is regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”). NDFs traded in the OTC market are subject to margin requirements that are expected to be finalized over the next year or two. Implementation of the regulations regarding clearing, mandatory trading and margining of NDFs are likely to increase the cost to each Fund of hedging currency risk and, as a result, may affect returns to investors in a Fund.
Set forth below is more detailed information regarding types of instruments in which a Fund or its Underlying Fund may invest, strategies BFA may employ in pursuit of a Fund's or its Underlying Fund's investment objective and related risks.
Borrowing.  Each Fund may borrow for temporary or emergency purposes, including to meet payments due from redemptions or to facilitate the settlement of securities or other transactions. The iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF, along with certain other iShares funds, have entered into a syndicated line of credit with the Bank of New York Mellon (“BNY”), which serves as administrative agent for itself and the other banks. The syndicated line of credit may be used for temporary or emergency purposes, including redemption, settlement of trades and rebalancing of portfolio holdings.
Interest rates related to the syndicated line of credit are based on the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York plus a spread. Pursuant to the terms of the credit agreement, if SOFR were to cease being published or representative, it would be replaced by a rate based on an alternate benchmark selected by BNY.
The purchase of securities while borrowings are outstanding may have the effect of leveraging a Fund. The incurrence of leverage increases a Fund’s exposure to risk, and borrowed funds are subject to interest costs that will reduce net income. Purchasing securities while borrowings are outstanding creates special risks, such as the potential for greater volatility in the NAV of Fund shares and in the yield on a Fund’s portfolio. In addition, the interest expenses from borrowings may exceed the income generated by a Fund’s portfolio and, therefore, the amount available (if any) for distribution to shareholders as dividends may be reduced. BFA may determine to maintain outstanding borrowings if it expects that the benefits to a Fund’s shareholders will outweigh the current reduced return.
Certain types of borrowings by a Fund must be made from a bank or may result in a Fund being subject to covenants in credit agreements relating to asset coverage, portfolio composition requirements and other matters. It is not anticipated that observance of such covenants would impede BFA’s management of a Fund’s portfolio in accordance with a Fund’s investment objectives and policies. However, a breach of any such covenants not cured within the specified cure period may result in acceleration of outstanding indebtedness and require a Fund to dispose of portfolio investments at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so.
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Currency Transactions.  A currency forward contract is an OTC obligation to purchase or sell a specific currency at a future date, which may be any fixed number of days greater than two days from the date on which the contract is agreed upon by the parties, at a price set at the time of the contract. A non-deliverable currency forward is an OTC currency forward settled in a specified currency, on a specified date, based on the difference between the agreed-upon exchange rate and the market exchange rate. A currency futures contract is a contract that trades on an organized futures exchange involving an obligation to deliver or acquire a specified amount of a specific currency, at a specified price and at a specified future time. Currency futures contracts may be settled on a net cash payment basis rather than by the sale and delivery of the underlying currency. The Funds expect to engage in currency transactions for the purpose of hedging against declines in the value of the Funds' assets that are denominated in a non-U.S. currency. A Fund may also enter into physically-settled non-U.S. currency forwards, non-U.S. currency futures and spot currency transactions to facilitate local securities settlements or to protect against currency exposure in connection with its distributions to shareholders.
Foreign exchange transactions may involve a significant degree of risk and the markets in which foreign exchange transactions are effected may be highly volatile, highly specialized and highly technical. Significant changes, including changes in liquidity and prices, can occur in such markets within very short periods of time, often within minutes. Foreign exchange trading risks include, but are not limited to, exchange rate risk, counterparty risk, maturity gap, interest rate risk, and potential interference by foreign governments through regulation of local exchange markets, foreign investment or particular transactions in non-U.S. currency. If BFA utilizes foreign exchange transactions at an inappropriate time or judges market conditions, trends or correlations incorrectly, foreign exchange transactions may not serve their intended purpose of improving the correlation of a Fund's return with the performance of its Underlying Index and may lower the Fund’s return. A Fund could experience losses if the value of its currency forwards and other currency transaction positions were poorly correlated with its other investments or with its other currency hedges or if it could not close out its positions because of an illiquid market or otherwise. In addition, each Fund could incur transaction costs, including trading commissions, in connection with non-U.S. currency transactions. Similarly, because the Fund seeks to hedge currency risk in accordance with the Underlying Index, investors will not share in appreciation in the securities comprising the Underlying Index to the extent that such appreciation is due to increases in the currency value of the underlying securities.
Derivatives.  Certain of the Funds may use instruments referred to as derivatives. Derivatives are financial instruments the value of which is derived from another security, a commodity (such as gold or oil), a currency or an index (a measure of value or rates, such as the S&P 500 Index or the prime lending rate). Derivatives allow a Fund to increase or decrease the level of risk to which a Fund is exposed more quickly and efficiently than transactions in other types of instruments. The Funds may use derivatives for hedging purposes. The Funds may also use derivatives for speculative purposes to seek to enhance returns. The use of a derivative is speculative if a Fund is primarily seeking to achieve gains, rather than to offset the risk of other positions. When a Fund invests in a derivative for speculative purposes, a Fund will be fully exposed to the risks of loss of that derivative, which may sometimes be greater than the derivative’s cost. Unless otherwise permitted, a Fund may not use any derivatives to gain exposure to an asset or class of assets that it would be prohibited by its investment restrictions from purchasing directly.
Diversification Status.  Each Fund is classified as a diversified fund under the 1940 Act. This means that each Fund may not purchase securities of an issuer (other than (i) obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities and (ii) securities of other investment companies) if, with respect to 75% of its total assets, (a) more than 5% of the Fund’s total assets would be invested in securities of that issuer or (b) the Fund would hold more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of that issuer. With respect to the remaining 25% of its total assets, each Fund may invest more than 5% of its assets in one issuer. Under the 1940 Act, each Fund cannot change its classification from diversified to non-diversified without shareholder approval.
Each Fund intends to maintain the required level of diversification and otherwise conduct its operations so as to qualify as a regulated investment company (“RIC”) for purposes of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Internal Revenue Code”), and to relieve the Fund of any liability for U.S. federal income tax to the extent that its earnings are distributed to shareholders, provided that the Fund satisfies a minimum distribution requirement. Compliance with the diversification requirements of the Internal Revenue Code may limit the investment flexibility of the Funds and may make it less likely that the Funds will meet their respective investment objectives.
Futures, Options on Futures and Securities Options.  Futures contracts, options on futures and securities options may be used by a Fund to simulate investment in its Underlying Index, to facilitate trading or to reduce transaction costs. Each Fund may enter into futures contracts and options on futures that are traded on a U.S. or non-U.S. futures exchange. Each Fund
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does not currently intend to use futures, options on futures or securities options for speculative purposes. Each Fund intends to use futures and options on futures in accordance with Rule 4.5 of the CFTC promulgated under the CEA. BFA, with respect to each Fund, has claimed an exclusion from the definition of the term “commodity pool operator” in accordance with Rule 4.5 so that BFA, with respect to such Funds, is not subject to registration or regulation as a commodity pool operator under the CEA. See the Regulation Regarding Derivatives section of this SAI for more information.
Futures contracts provide for the future sale by one party and purchase by another party of a specified amount of a specific instrument or index at a specified future time and at a specified price. Stock index contracts are based on investments that reflect the market value of common stock of the firms included in the investments. Each Fund may enter into futures contracts to purchase securities indexes when BFA anticipates purchasing the underlying securities and believes prices will rise before the purchase will be made. Upon entering into a futures contract, a Fund will be required to deposit with the broker an amount of cash or cash equivalents known as “initial margin,” which is similar to a performance bond or good faith deposit on the contract and is returned to the Fund upon termination of the futures contract if all contractual obligations have been satisfied. Subsequent payments, known as “variation margin,” will be made to and from the broker daily as the price of the instrument or index underlying the futures contract fluctuates, making the long and short positions in the futures contract more or less valuable, a process known as “marking-to-market.” At any time prior to the expiration of a futures contract, each Fund may elect to close the position by taking an opposite position, which will operate to terminate the Fund’s existing position in the contract. An option on a futures contract, as contrasted with a direct investment in such a contract, gives the purchaser the right, but no obligation, in return for the premium paid, to assume a position in the underlying futures contract at a specified exercise price at any time prior to the expiration date of the option. Upon exercise of an option, the delivery of the futures position by the writer of the option to the holder of the option will be accompanied by delivery of the accumulated balance in the writer’s futures margin account that represents the amount by which the market price of the futures contract exceeds (in the case of a call) or is less than (in the case of a put) the exercise price of the option on the futures contract.
The potential for loss related to the purchase of an option on a futures contract is limited to the premium paid for the option plus transaction costs. Because the value of the option is fixed at the point of sale, there are no daily cash payments by the purchaser to reflect changes in the value of the underlying contract; however, the value of the option changes daily and that change would be reflected in the NAV of each Fund. The potential for loss related to writing call options is unlimited. The potential for loss related to writing put options is limited to the agreed-upon price per share, also known as the “strike price,” less the premium received from writing the put. Certain of the Funds may purchase and write put and call options on futures contracts that are traded on an exchange as a hedge against changes in value of their portfolio securities or in anticipation of the purchase of securities, and may enter into closing transactions with respect to such options to terminate existing positions. There is no guarantee that such closing transactions can be effected.
Securities options may be used by a Fund to obtain access to securities in its Underlying Index or to dispose of securities in its Underlying Index at favorable prices, to invest cash in a securities index that offers similar exposure to that provided by its Underlying Index or otherwise to achieve the Fund’s objective of tracking its Underlying Index. A call option gives a holder the right to purchase a specific security at a specified price (“exercise price”) within a specified period of time. A put option gives a holder the right to sell a specific security at an exercise price within a specified period of time. The initial purchaser of a call option pays the “writer” a premium, which is paid at the time of purchase and is retained by the writer whether or not such option is exercised. Each Fund may purchase put options to hedge its portfolio against the risk of a decline in the market value of securities held and may purchase call options to hedge against an increase in the price of securities it is committed to purchase. Each Fund may write put and call options along with a long position in options to increase its ability to hedge against a change in the market value of the securities it holds or is committed to purchase. Each Fund may purchase or sell securities options on a U.S. or non-U.S. securities exchange or in the OTC market through a transaction with a dealer. Options on a securities index are typically settled on a net basis based on the appreciation or depreciation of the index level over the strike price. Options on single name securities may be cash- or physically-settled, depending upon the market in which they are traded. Options may be structured so as to be exercisable only on certain dates or on a daily basis. Options may also be structured to have conditions to exercise (i.e., “Knock-in Events”) or conditions that trigger termination (i.e., “Knock-out Events”).
Hedging.  Hedging is a strategy in which a derivative is used to offset particular risks associated with other Fund holdings. Losses on the other investment may be substantially reduced by gains on a derivative that reacts in an opposite manner to market movements. While hedging can reduce losses, it can also reduce or eliminate gains or cause losses if the market moves in a manner different from that anticipated by a Fund or Underlying Fund or if the cost of the derivative outweighs the
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benefit of the hedge. Establishment of hedges, if not tailored properly or timed in accordance with market changes, may not be effective in meeting a Fund’s or Underlying Fund's intended objectives. This is due to the fact that hedging also involves correlation risk, i.e., the risk that changes in the value of the derivative will not match those of the holdings being hedged as expected by a Fund or Underlying Fund, in which case any losses on the holdings being hedged may not be reduced or may be increased. In connection with its trading in foreign currency forward contracts, a Fund will contract with a foreign or domestic bank, foreign or domestic securities dealer or other intermediary, to make or take future delivery of a specified amount of a particular currency. Physically settled currency contracts are not subject to centralized clearing and trading requirements in the U.S. but may be in other jurisdictions. In the U.S., NDFs must be traded into foreign currency contracts on a regulated exchange or facility and cleared through a central counterparty (a “CCP”). A Fund may also be subject to position limits in respect to the contracts established by a regulatory authority or exchange. There are no limitations on daily price moves in such foreign currency forward contracts, and banks and dealers are not required to continue to make markets in such contracts. There have been periods during which certain banks or dealers have refused to quote prices for such foreign currency forward contracts or have quoted prices with an unusually wide spread between the price at which the bank or dealer is prepared to buy and that at which it is prepared to sell. Governmental imposition of credit controls might limit any such foreign currency forward contract trading. With respect to its trading of foreign currency forward contracts, if any, a Fund will be subject to the risk of bank or dealer failure and the inability of, or refusal by, a bank or dealer to perform with respect to such contracts or, in the case of cleared contracts, the refusal of a CCP to clear a contract that is subject to mandatory clearing. Any such default would deprive a Fund of any potential profit or force a Fund to cover its commitments for resale at the then market price and could result in a loss to a Fund. The cost to a Fund of engaging in foreign currency forward contracts varies with such factors as the currencies involved, the length of the contract period, whether the contract is cash settled and, thus, would be subject to posting and collection of margin in the U.S. and the market conditions then prevailing. The inability to close options and futures positions also could have an adverse impact on each Fund’s or Underlying Fund's ability to hedge effectively its portfolio. There is also a risk of loss by a Fund or Underlying Fund of margin deposits or collateral in the event of bankruptcy of a broker or other intermediary with whom a Fund or Underlying Fund has an open position in a currency forward or NDF, a swap, an option, a futures contract, a related option or another hedging instrument.
Investments in Underlying Funds and Other Investment Companies.  To implement its strategy, each Fund may invest some or all of its assets in an Underlying Fund. Each Underlying Fund generally invests directly in portfolio securities. Each Fund may also invest in other investment companies, including exchange-traded funds (commonly referred to as “ETFs”) that are not iShares ETFs, to the extent permitted by law.
Lending Portfolio Securities.  Each Fund and Underlying Fund may lend portfolio securities to certain borrowers that BFA determines to be creditworthy, including borrowers affiliated with BFA. The borrowers provide collateral that is maintained in an amount at least equal to the current market value of the securities loaned. No securities loan shall be made on behalf of a Fund or an Underlying Fund if, as a result, the aggregate value of all securities loans of a Fund or an Underlying Fund exceeds one-third of the value of a Fund's or an Underlying Fund's total assets (including the value of the collateral received). A Fund or an Underlying Fund may terminate a loan at any time and obtain the return of the securities loaned. Each Fund or an Underlying Fund receives, by way of substitute payment, the value of any interest or cash or non-cash distributions paid on the loaned securities that it would have otherwise received if the securities were not on loan.
With respect to loans that are collateralized by cash, the borrower may be entitled to receive a fee based on the amount of cash collateral. The Funds or the Underlying Funds are compensated by any positive difference between the amount earned on the reinvestment of cash collateral and the fee paid to the borrower. In the case of collateral other than cash, a Fund or an Underlying Fund is compensated by a fee paid by the borrower equal to a percentage of the market value of the loaned securities. Any cash collateral received by the Fund or an Underlying Fund for such loans, and uninvested cash, may be reinvested in certain short-term instruments either directly on behalf of each Fund or an Underlying Fund or through one or more joint accounts or money market funds, including those affiliated with BFA; such investments are subject to investment risk. Other investment companies in which a Fund or an Underlying Fund invests can be expected to incur fees and expenses for operations, such as investment advisory and administration fees, that would be in addition to those incurred by a Fund or an Underlying Fund.
Each Fund and Underlying Fund conduct its securities lending pursuant to an exemptive order from the SEC permitting them to lend portfolio securities to borrowers affiliated with the Fund and to retain an affiliate of the Fund to act as securities lending agent. To the extent that a Fund or an Underlying Fund engages in securities lending, BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (“BTC”) acts as securities lending agent for the Fund or an Underlying Fund, subject to the overall supervision
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of BFA. BTC administers the lending program in accordance with guidelines approved by the Trust's Board of Trustees (the “Board,” the trustees of which are the “Trustees”). JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (“JPMorgan”) serves as custodian for the Funds in connection with certain securities lending activities.
Securities lending involves exposure to certain risks, including operational risk (i.e., the risk of losses resulting from problems in the settlement and accounting process), “gap” risk (i.e., the risk of a mismatch between the return on cash collateral reinvestments and the fees a Fund or an Underlying Fund has agreed to pay a borrower), foreign exchange risk (i.e., the risk of a shortfall at default when a cash collateral investment is denominated in a currency other than the currency of the assets being loaned due to movements in foreign exchange rates), and credit, legal, counterparty and market risks (including the risk that market events could lead the Fund or an Underlying Fund to recall loaned securities or to lend less or not at all, which could lead to reduced securities lending revenue). If a securities lending counterparty were to default, a Fund or an Underlying Fund would be subject to the risk of a possible delay in receiving collateral or in recovering the loaned securities, or to a possible loss of rights in the collateral. In the event a borrower does not return a Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's securities as agreed, the Fund’s or Underlying Fund's ability to participate in a corporate action event may be impacted, or the Fund or an Underlying Fund may experience losses if the proceeds received from liquidating the collateral do not at least equal the value of the loaned security at the time the collateral is liquidated, plus the transaction costs incurred in purchasing replacement securities. This latter event could trigger adverse tax consequences for a Fund or an Underlying Fund. A Fund or an Underlying Fund could lose money if its short-term investment of the collateral declines in value over the period of the loan. Substitute payments received by a Fund or an Underlying Fund representing dividends paid on securities loaned out by the Fund or an Underlying Fund will not be considered qualified dividend income. BTC will take into account the tax effects on shareholders caused by this difference in connection with a Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's securities lending program. Substitute payments received on tax-exempt securities loaned out will not be tax-exempt income. There could also be changes in the status of issuers under applicable laws and regulations, including tax regulations, that may impact the regulatory or tax treatment of loaned securities and could, for example, result in a delay in the payment of dividend equivalent payments owed to a Fund or an Underlying Fund (as permitted by applicable law).
Regulations adopted by global prudential regulators require certain bank-regulated counterparties and certain of their affiliates to include in certain financial contracts, including many securities lending agreements, terms that delay or restrict the rights of counterparties, such as the Fund or an Underlying Fund, to terminate such agreements, foreclose upon collateral, exercise other default rights or restrict transfers of credit support in the event that the counterparty and/or its affiliates are subject to certain types of resolution or insolvency proceedings. It is possible that these requirements, as well as potential additional government regulation and other developments in the market, could adversely affect the Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's ability to terminate existing securities lending agreements or to realize amounts to be received under such agreements.
Liquidity Risk Management.  Rule 22e-4 under the Investment Company Act (the “Liquidity Rule”) requires open-end funds, including ETFs such as the Funds, to establish a liquidity risk management program (the “Liquidity Program”) and enhance disclosures regarding fund liquidity. As required by the Liquidity Rule, the Funds have implemented a Liquidity Program, and the Board, including a majority of the Independent Trustees of the Trust, has appointed BFA as the administrator of the Liquidity Program. Under the Liquidity Program, BFA assesses, manages, and periodically reviews each Fund’s liquidity risk and classifies each investment held by a Fund as a “highly liquid investment,” “moderately liquid investment,” “less liquid investment” or “illiquid investment.” The Liquidity Rule defines “liquidity risk” as the risk that a Fund could not meet requests to redeem shares issued by a Fund without significant dilution of the remaining investors’ interest in a Fund. The liquidity of a Fund's portfolio investments is determined based on relevant market, trading and investment-specific considerations under the Liquidity Program. There are exclusions from certain portions of the liquidity risk management program requirements for “in-kind” ETFs, as defined in the Liquidity Rule. To the extent that an investment is deemed to be an illiquid investment or a less liquid investment, a Fund can expect to be exposed to greater liquidity risk.
Non-U.S. Securities.  Each Fund, either directly or through its investments in an Underlying Fund, intends to purchase publicly traded common stocks of non-U.S. issuers. To the extent a Fund invests in stocks of non-U.S. issuers, the Fund's investment in such stocks may be in the form of American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”), Global Depositary Receipts (“GDRs”) and European Depositary Receipts (“EDRs”) (collectively, “depositary receipts”). Depositary receipts are receipts, typically issued by a bank or trust issuer, which evidence ownership of underlying securities issued by a non-U.S. issuer. Depositary receipts may not necessarily be denominated in the same currency as their underlying securities. ADRs typically are issued by a U.S. bank or trust company and evidence ownership of underlying securities issued by a non-U.S. issuer. EDRs, which are sometimes referred to as continental depositary receipts, are receipts issued in Europe, typically by foreign banks
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and trust companies, that evidence ownership of either foreign or domestic underlying securities. GDRs are depositary receipts structured like global debt issues to facilitate trading on an international basis. Generally, ADRs, issued in registered form, are designed for use in the U.S. securities markets, and EDRs, issued in bearer form, are designed for use in European securities markets. GDRs are tradable both in the U.S. and in Europe and are designed for use throughout the world.
Depositary receipts are generally subject to the same risks as the foreign securities that they evidence or into which they may be converted. In addition to investment risks associated with the underlying issuer, depositary receipts expose a Fund to additional risks associated with the non-uniform terms that apply to depositary receipt programs, credit exposure to the depository bank and to the sponsors and other parties with whom the depository bank establishes the programs, currency risk and liquidity risk. Unsponsored programs, which are not sanctioned by the issuer of the underlying common stock, generally expose investors to greater risks than sponsored programs and do not provide holders with many of the shareholder benefits that come from investing in a sponsored depositary receipts.
Investing in the securities of non-U.S. issuers involves special risks and considerations not typically associated with investing in U.S. issuers. These include differences in accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards; the possibility of expropriation or confiscatory taxation; adverse changes in investment or exchange control regulations; political instability, which could affect U.S. investments in non-U.S. countries; and potential restrictions on the flow of international capital. Non-U.S. issuers may be subject to less governmental regulation than U.S. issuers. Moreover, individual non-U.S. economies may differ favorably or unfavorably from the U.S. economy in such respects as growth of gross domestic product (“GDP”), rate of inflation, capital reinvestment, resource self-sufficiency and balance of payment positions.
Regulation Regarding Derivatives.  The CFTC subjects advisers to registered investment companies to regulation by the CFTC if a fund that is advised by the adviser either (i) invests, directly or indirectly, more than a prescribed level of its liquidation value in CFTC-regulated futures, options and swaps (“CFTC Derivatives”) or (ii) markets itself as providing investment exposure to such instruments. The CFTC also subjects advisers to registered investment companies to regulation by the CFTC if the registered investment company invests in one or more commodity pools. NDFs and cash-settled currency forwards as well as futures, options on futures, currency options and swaps entered into by the Fund will be treated as CFTC Derivatives for these purposes, whereas physically-settled foreign currency forward contracts generally will not be treated as CFTC Derivatives. To the extent a Fund uses CFTC Derivatives, it intends to do so below such prescribed levels and intends not to market itself as a “commodity pool” or a vehicle for trading such instruments.
BFA has claimed an exclusion from the definition of the term “commodity pool operator” under the CEA pursuant to Rule 4.5 under the CEA with respect to each of the Funds . BFA is not, therefore, subject to registration or regulation as a “commodity pool operator” under the CEA with respect to the Funds.
The iShares Currency Hedged MSCI ACWI ex U.S. ETF, iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF, and iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE Small-Cap ETF (the “No-Action Letter Funds”) may also have investments in “underlying funds” (and such underlying funds themselves may invest in underlying funds) not advised by BFA (the term “underlying fund” for purposes of the no-action letter referenced below may include, but is not limited to, certain securitized vehicles, mortgage or international real estate investment trusts, business development companies and, investment companies that may invest in CFTC Derivatives or in any of the foregoing), and therefore may be viewed by the CFTC as commodity pools. BFA may not have transparency into the holdings of these underlying funds because they are not advised by BFA. The CFTC staff issued a no-action letter on November 29, 2012 permitting the adviser of a fund that invests in such underlying funds and that would otherwise have filed a claim of exclusion pursuant to CFTC Rule 4.5 to delay registration as a “commodity pool operator” until six months from the date on which the CFTC issues additional guidance on the treatment of CFTC Derivatives held by underlying funds. BFA, the investment adviser of the No-Action Letter Funds, has filed a claim with the CFTC for the Funds to rely on this no-action relief. Accordingly, BFA should not be subject to registration or regulation as a “commodity pool operator” under the CEA in respect of the Funds.
Derivative contracts, including, without limitation, swaps, currency forwards, and NDFs, are subject to regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act in the U.S. and under comparable regimes in Europe, Asia and other non-U.S. jurisdictions. Swaps, NDFs and certain other derivatives traded in the OTC market are subject to variation margin and initial margin requirements. Implementation of the margining and other provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act regarding clearing, mandatory trading, reporting and documentation of swaps and other derivatives have impacted and may continue to impact the costs to a Fund of trading these instruments and, as a result, may affect returns to investors in a Fund.
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Rule 18f-4 under the Investment Company Act permits a Fund to enter into Derivatives Transactions (as defined below) and certain other transactions notwithstanding the restrictions on the issuance of “senior securities” under Section 18 of the Investment Company Act. Section 18 of the Investment Company Act, among other things, prohibits open-end funds, including the Funds, from issuing or selling any “senior security,” other than borrowing from a bank (subject to a requirement to maintain 300% “asset coverage”).
Under Rule 18f-4, “Derivatives Transactions” include the following: (1) any swap, security-based swap (including a contract for differences), futures contract, forward contract, option (excluding purchased options), any combination of the foregoing, or any similar instrument, under which a Fund is or may be required to make any payment or delivery of cash or other assets during the life of the instrument or at maturity or early termination, whether as margin or settlement payment or otherwise; (2) any short sale borrowing; (3) reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions (e.g., recourse and non-recourse tender option bonds, and borrowed bonds), if a Fund elects to treat these transactions as Derivatives Transactions under Rule 18f-4; and (4) when-issued or forward-settling securities (e.g., firm and standby commitments, including to-be-announced (“TBA”) commitments, and dollar rolls) and non-standard settlement cycle securities, unless the Fund intends to physically settle the transaction and the transaction will settle within 35 days of its trade date (the “Delayed-Settlement Securities Provision”).
Unless a Fund is relying on the Limited Derivatives User Exception (as defined below), the Fund must comply with Rule 18f-4 with respect to its Derivatives Transactions. Rule 18f-4, among other things, requires a Fund to adopt and implement a comprehensive written derivatives risk management program (“DRMP”) and comply with a relative or absolute limit on Fund leverage risk calculated based on value-at-risk (“VaR”). The DRMP is administered by a “derivatives risk manager,” who is appointed by the Board, including a majority of Independent Directors/Trustees, and periodically reviews the DRMP and reports to the Board.
Rule 18f-4 provides an exception from the DRMP, VaR limit and certain other requirements if a Fund's “derivatives exposure” (as defined in Rule 18f-4) is limited to 10% of its net assets (as calculated in accordance with Rule 18f-4) and the Fund adopts and implements written policies and procedures reasonably designed to manage its derivatives risks (the “Limited Derivatives User Exception”).
Repurchase Agreements.  A repurchase agreement is an instrument under which the purchaser (i.e., a Fund) acquires a security and the seller agrees, at the time of the sale, to repurchase the security at a mutually agreed-upon time and price, thereby determining the yield during the purchaser’s holding period. Repurchase agreements may be construed to be collateralized loans by the purchaser to the seller secured by the securities transferred to the purchaser. If a repurchase agreement is construed to be a collateralized loan, the underlying securities will not be considered to be owned by a Fund but only to constitute collateral for the seller’s obligation to pay the repurchase price, and, in the event of a default by the seller, the Fund may suffer time delays and incur costs or losses in connection with the disposition of the collateral.
In any repurchase transaction, the collateral for a repurchase agreement may include: (i) cash items; (ii) obligations issued by the U.S. government or its agencies or instrumentalities; or (iii) obligations that, at the time the repurchase agreement is entered into, are determined to (A) have exceptionally strong capacity to meet their financial obligations and (B) are sufficiently liquid such that they can be sold at approximately their carrying value in the ordinary course of business within seven days.
Repurchase agreements pose certain risks for a Fund, should it decide to utilize them. Such risks are not unique to the Funds, but are inherent in repurchase agreements. The Funds seek to minimize such risks, but because of the inherent legal uncertainties involved in repurchase agreements, such risks cannot be eliminated. Lower quality collateral and collateral with a longer maturity may be subject to greater price fluctuations than higher quality collateral and collateral with a shorter maturity. If the repurchase agreement counterparty were to default, lower quality collateral may be more difficult to liquidate than higher quality collateral. Should the counterparty default and the amount of collateral not be sufficient to cover the counterparty’s repurchase obligation, a Fund would likely retain the status of an unsecured creditor of the counterparty (i.e., the position a Fund would normally be in if it were to hold, pursuant to its investment policies, other unsecured debt securities of the defaulting counterparty) with respect to the amount of the shortfall. As an unsecured creditor, a Fund would be at risk of losing some or all of the principal and income involved in the transaction.
Reverse Repurchase Agreements.  Reverse repurchase agreements involve the sale of securities with an agreement to repurchase the securities at an agreed-upon price, date and interest payment and have the characteristics of borrowing. Generally, the effect of such transactions is that each Fund can recover all or most of the cash invested in the portfolio
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securities involved during the term of the reverse repurchase agreement, while in many cases the Fund is able to keep some of the interest income associated with those securities. Such transactions are advantageous only if each Fund has an opportunity to earn a rate of interest on the cash derived from these transactions that is greater than the interest cost of obtaining the same amount of cash. Opportunities to realize earnings from the use of the proceeds equal to or greater than the interest required to be paid may not always be available, and each Fund intends to use the reverse repurchase technique only when BFA believes it will be advantageous to the Fund. The use of reverse repurchase agreements may exaggerate any increase or decrease in the value of each Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's assets. The use of reverse repurchase agreements is a form of leverage, and the proceeds obtained through reverse repurchase agreements may be invested in additional securities.
Rule 18f-4 under the Investment Company Act permits each Fund to enter into reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions (e.g., recourse and non-recourse tender option bonds, borrowed bonds) notwithstanding the limitation on the issuance of senior securities in Section 18 of the Investment Company Act, provided that each Fund either (i) complies with the 300% asset coverage ratio with respect to such transactions and any other borrowings in the aggregate, or (ii) treats such transactions as Derivatives Transactions under Rule 18f-4. (See “Regulation Regarding Derivatives” above.)
Securities of Investment Companies.  Each Fund and the Underlying Funds may invest in the securities of other investment companies (including money market funds) to the extent permitted by law. Pursuant to the 1940 Act, a Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's investment in registered investment companies is generally limited to, subject to certain exceptions: (i) 3% of the total outstanding voting stock of any one investment company; (ii) 5% of a Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's total assets with respect to any one investment company; and (iii) 10% of a Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's total assets with respect to investment companies in the aggregate. To the extent allowed by law or regulation, each Fund and the Underlying Funds intend from time to time to invest their assets in the securities of investment companies, including, but not limited to, money market funds, including those advised by or otherwise affiliated with BFA, in excess of the general limits discussed above. Other investment companies in which a Fund and an Underlying Fund may invest can be expected to incur fees and expenses for operations, such as investment advisory and administration fees, which would be in addition to those incurred by a Fund and an Underlying Fund. Pursuant to guidance issued by the SEC staff, fees and expenses of money market funds used for cash collateral received in connection with loans of securities are not treated as Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, which reflect a Fund’s pro rata share of the fees and expenses incurred by investing in other investment companies (as disclosed in the Prospectus, as applicable).
Short-Term Instruments and Temporary Investments.  Each Fund and the Underlying Funds may invest in short-term instruments, including money market instruments, on an ongoing basis to provide liquidity or for other reasons. Money market instruments are generally short-term investments that may include, but are not limited to: (i) shares of money market funds (including those advised by BFA or otherwise affiliated with BFA); (ii) obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities (including government-sponsored enterprises); (iii) negotiable certificates of deposit (“CDs”), bankers’ acceptances, fixed-time deposits and other obligations of U.S. and non-U.S. banks (including non-U.S. branches) and similar institutions; (iv) commercial paper rated, at the date of purchase, “Prime-1” by Moody's® Investors Service, Inc., “F-1” by Fitch Ratings, Inc., or “A-1” by Standard & Poor's® Financial Services LLC, a subsidiary of S&P Global, Inc., or if unrated, of comparable quality as determined by BFA; (v) non-convertible corporate debt securities (e.g., bonds and debentures) with remaining maturities at the date of purchase of not more than 397 days and that have been determined to present minimal credit risks, in accordance with the requirements set forth in Rule 2a-7 under the 1940 Act; (vi) repurchase agreements; and (vii) short-term U.S. dollar-denominated obligations of non-U.S. banks (including U.S. branches) that, in the opinion of BFA, are of comparable quality to obligations of U.S. banks that may be purchased by a Fund. Any of these instruments may be purchased on a current or forward-settled basis. Time deposits are non-negotiable deposits maintained in banking institutions for specified periods of time at stated interest rates. Bankers’ acceptances are time drafts drawn on commercial banks by borrowers, usually in connection with international transactions.
Swap Agreements.  Swap agreements are contracts between parties in which one party agrees to make periodic payments to the other party based on a pre-determined underlying investment or notional amount. In return, the other party agrees to make periodic payments to the first party based on the return (or a differential in rate of return) earned or realized on the underlying investment or notional amount. Swap agreements will usually be performed on a net basis, with each Fund receiving or paying only the net amount of the two payments. The net amount of the excess, if any, of a Fund’s obligations over its entitlements with respect to each swap is accrued on a daily basis.
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Certain of the Funds or Underlying Funds may enter into swap agreements, including currency swaps, interest rate swaps and index swaps. The use of swaps is a highly specialized activity that involves investment techniques and risks different from those associated with ordinary portfolio security transactions. These transactions generally do not involve the delivery of securities or other underlying assets.
Tracking Stocks.  A tracking stock is a separate class of common stock whose value is linked to a specific business unit or operating division within a larger company and is designed to “track” the performance of such business unit or division. The tracking stock may pay dividends to shareholders independent of the parent company. The parent company, rather than the business unit or division, generally is the issuer of tracking stock. However, holders of the tracking stock may not have the same rights as holders of the company’s common stock.
Future Developments.  The board of each Fund or Underlying Fund may, in the future, authorize a Fund or an Underlying Fund to invest in securities contracts and investments, other than those listed in this SAI and in the applicable Prospectus, provided they are consistent with each Fund's or Underlying Fund's investment objective and do not violate any of its investment restrictions or policies.
General Considerations and Risks
A discussion of some of the principal risks associated with an investment in a Fund is contained in the applicable Prospectus. Because each Fund expects to obtain its exposure to the securities in its Underlying Index substantially through its investment in an Underlying Fund, shareholders should be aware that the risks of investment in particular types of securities, economic sectors and geographic locations discussed below may be borne by the Fund through its investment in the Underlying Funds. Through its investment in an Underlying Fund, each Fund will also bear the risks described below associated with the Underlying Fund’s use of portfolio management techniques, such as borrowing arrangements and use of derivatives, in addition to the risks associated with those activities if the Fund engages in them directly.
An investment in a Fund should be made with an understanding that the value of the Fund’s portfolio securities, including its investment in an Underlying Fund, may fluctuate in accordance with changes in the financial condition of the issuers of the portfolio securities, the value of stocks in general, and other factors that affect the market. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Borrowing Risk.  Borrowing may exaggerate changes in the NAV of Fund shares and in the return on a Fund’s portfolio. Borrowing will cause a Fund to incur interest expense and other fees. The costs of borrowing may reduce a Fund’s return. Borrowing may cause a Fund to liquidate positions when it may not be advantageous to do so to satisfy its obligations.
Custody Risk.  Custody risk refers to the risks inherent in the process of clearing and settling trades and to the holding of securities, cash and other assets by local banks, agents and depositories. Low trading volumes and volatile prices in less developed markets make trades harder to complete and settle, and governments or trade groups may compel local agents to hold securities in designated depositories that may not be subject to independent evaluation. Local agents are held only to the standards of care of their local markets, and thus may be subject to limited or no government oversight. Communications between the U.S. and emerging market countries may be unreliable, increasing the risk of delayed settlements or losses of security certificates. In general, the less developed a country’s securities market is, the greater the likelihood of custody problems. Practices in relation to the settlement of securities transactions in emerging markets involve higher risks than those in developed markets, in part because of the use of brokers and counterparties that are often less well capitalized, and custody and registration of assets in some countries may be unreliable. The possibility of fraud, negligence or undue influence being exerted by the issuer or refusal to recognize ownership exists in some emerging markets, and, along with other factors, could result in ownership registration being lost. In addition, the laws of certain countries may put limits on a Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's ability to recover its assets if a foreign bank or depository or issuer of a security or an agent of any of the foregoing goes bankrupt. A Fund would absorb any loss resulting from such custody problems and may have no successful claim for compensation.
Illiquid Investments Risk.  Each Fund may not acquire any illiquid investment if, immediately after the acquisition, the Fund would have invested more than 15% of its net assets in illiquid investments. An illiquid investment is any investment that a Fund reasonably expects cannot be sold or disposed of in current market conditions in seven calendar days or less without significantly changing the market value of the investment. The liquidity of an investment will be determined based on relevant market, trading and investment specific considerations as set out in the Liquidity Program as required by the
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Liquidity Rule. Illiquid investments may trade at a discount to comparable, more liquid investments and a Fund may not be able to dispose of illiquid investments in a timely fashion or at their expected prices. If illiquid investments exceed 15% of a Fund’s net assets, the Liquidity Rule and the Liquidity Program will require that certain remedial actions be taken.
LIBOR Risk.  A Fund may be exposed to financial instruments that are tied to the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) to determine payment obligations, financing terms, hedging strategies or investment value. A Fund’s investments may pay interest at floating rates based on LIBOR or may be subject to interest caps or floors based on LIBOR. A Fund may also obtain financing at floating rates based on LIBOR. Derivative instruments utilized by a Fund may also reference LIBOR.
LIBOR Replacement Risk.  As part of the phase-out of the use of LIBOR, the rate’s administrator, ICE Benchmark Administration Limited (“IBA”), discontinued two USD LIBOR settings immediately after publication on December 31, 2021. The United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”), which regulates LIBOR, and IBA previously announced that a majority of USD LIBOR settings will no longer be published after June 30, 2023. While the FCA is requiring the IBA to publish certain LIBOR settings, potentially to include USD settings, on a “synthetic” basis, the “synthetic” methodology is not based on panel bank contributions and is not intended to be representative of the interest rates in the underlying market. A Fund may have investments linked to other interbank offered rates, such as the Euro Overnight Index Average (“EONIA”), which may also cease to be published. Various financial industry groups continue planning for the transition away from LIBOR, but there are challenges to converting certain securities and transactions to a new reference rate, such as the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”), which is intended to replace USD LIBOR.
In June 2017, the Alternative Reference Rates Committee, which includes various private-market participants working with the Federal Reserve, announced its selection of the new SOFR, which is intended to be a broad measure of secured overnight U.S. Treasury repo rates, as its recommendation for an appropriate replacement for USD LIBOR. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York began publishing SOFR in 2018, and it has been used increasingly on a voluntary basis in new instruments and transactions. At times, SOFR has proven to be more volatile than the 3-month USD LIBOR. Working groups and regulators in other countries have suggested other alternatives for their markets, including the Sterling Overnight Interbank Average Rate (“SONIA”) in England.
Neither the effect of the LIBOR transition process nor its ultimate success can yet be known. The transition process might lead to increased volatility and illiquidity in markets for, and reduce the effectiveness of, new hedges placed against, instruments whose terms currently include LIBOR. While some existing LIBOR-based instruments may contemplate a scenario where LIBOR is no longer available by providing for an alternative rate-setting methodology, there may be significant uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of any such alternative methodologies to replicate LIBOR. Not all existing LIBOR-based instruments may have alternative rate-setting provisions and there remains uncertainty regarding the willingness and ability of issuers to add alternative rate-setting provisions in certain existing instruments. Global regulators have advised market participants to cease entering into new contracts using LIBOR as a reference rate, and it is possible that investments in LIBOR-based instruments could invite regulatory scrutiny. In addition, a liquid market for newly issued instruments that use a reference rate other than LIBOR still may be developing. Instruments with fallback provisions (i.e., contractual provisions specifying the trigger events for a transition to a replacement rate) to facilitate the transition from LIBOR to an alternative reference rate may also include adjustments that do not adequately compensate the holder for the different characteristics of the alternative reference rate. As a result, the fallback provision causes a value transfer from one party to the instrument to the counterparty. Because the usefulness of LIBOR as a benchmark could decline during the transition period, these and related adverse effects could occur with respect to particular LIBOR settings as they are phased out. There may also be challenges for a Fund to enter into hedging transactions against such newly issued instruments until a market for such hedging transactions develops.
The effect of any changes to, or discontinuation of, LIBOR on a Fund will vary based on, among other things, (1) existing fallback or termination provisions in individual contracts and the potential renegotiation of existing contracts and (2) whether, how, and when industry participants develop and adopt new reference rates and fallbacks for both legacy and new products and instruments. A Fund's investments may also be tied to other interbank offered rates and currencies, which may face similar issues. In many cases, if an instrument falls back to an alternative reference rate, including SOFR, the alternative reference rate will not perform the same as LIBOR because the alternative reference rate does not include a credit-sensitive component in the rate calculation. Alternative reference rates generally reflect the performance of the market for U.S. Treasury securities, which are secured by the U.S. Treasury, and not the interbank lending markets. Therefore, in the event of a credit crisis, floating rate instruments using certain alternative reference rates could perform differently than those
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instruments using a rate indexed to the interbank lending market. In addition, legislation may affect the transition of LIBOR-based instruments by permitting trustees and calculation agents to transition instruments with no LIBOR transition language to an alternative reference rate selected by such agents. Such legislation, which has been enacted in some jurisdictions, generally includes safe harbors from liability, meaning that a Fund may have limited recourse if the alternative reference rate does not fully compensate a Fund for the transition of an instrument from LIBOR. All of the aforementioned may adversely affect a Fund’s performance or NAV.
National Closed Market Trading Risk.  To the extent that the underlying securities held by a Fund trade on foreign exchanges or in foreign markets that are closed when the securities exchange on which a Fund’s shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of such an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., a Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). The impact of a closed foreign market on a Fund is likely to be greater where a large portion of a Fund’s underlying securities and/or other assets trade on that closed foreign market or when the foreign market is closed for unscheduled reasons. These deviations may result in premiums or discounts to a Fund’s NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Operational Risk.  BFA and a Fund's other service providers may experience disruptions or operating errors such as processing errors or human errors, inadequate or failed internal or external processes, or systems or technology failures, that could negatively impact the Funds. While service providers are required to have appropriate operational risk management policies and procedures, their methods of operational risk management may differ from a Fund’s in the setting of priorities, the personnel and resources available or the effectiveness of relevant controls. BFA, through its monitoring and oversight of service providers, seeks to ensure that service providers take appropriate precautions to avoid and mitigate risks that could lead to disruptions and operating errors. However, it is not possible for BFA or the other Fund service providers to identify all of the operational risks that may affect a Fund or to develop processes and controls to completely eliminate or mitigate their occurrence or effects.
Risk of Derivatives.  A derivative is a financial contract, the value of which depends on, or is derived from, the value of an underlying asset, such as a security, a commodity (such as gold or silver), a currency or an index (a measure of value or rates, such as the S&P 500® or the prime lending rate). A Fund or the Underlying Funds may invest in futures contracts, securities options and other derivatives. Compared to securities, derivatives can be more sensitive to changes in interest rates or to sudden fluctuations in market prices and thus a Fund’s losses may be greater if it invests in derivatives than if it invests only in conventional securities. Derivatives are also subject to counterparty risk, which is the risk that the other party in the transaction will not fulfill its contractual obligations. Derivatives generally involve the incurrence of leverage.
When a derivative is used as a hedge against a position that a Fund or an Underlying Fund holds or is committed to purchase, any loss generated by the derivative generally should be substantially offset by gains on the hedged investment, and vice versa. While hedging can reduce or eliminate losses, it can also reduce or eliminate gains and, in some cases, hedging can cause losses that are not offset by gains, and a Fund or Underlying Fund will recognize losses on both the investment and the hedge. Hedges are sometimes subject to imperfect matching between the derivative and the underlying security, and there can be no assurance that a Fund's or an Underlying Fund's hedging transactions, which entail additional transaction costs, will be effective.
Risk of Equity Securities.  An investment in a Fund should be made with an understanding of the risks inherent in an investment in equity securities, including the risk that the financial condition of issuers may become impaired or that the general condition of stock markets may deteriorate (either of which may cause a decrease in the value of the portfolio securities and thus in the value of shares of the Fund). Common stocks are susceptible to general stock market fluctuations and to increases and decreases in value as market confidence and perceptions of their issuers change. These investor perceptions are based on various and unpredictable factors, including expectations regarding government, economic, monetary and fiscal policies, inflation and interest rates, economic expansion or contraction, and global or regional political, economic or banking crises. Common stocks may experience extreme price volatility due to actions taken by particular investors or groups of investors (for example, retail investors influenced by social media activity or other media coverage or significant “short” positions taken by institutional investors).
Holders of common stocks incur more risks than holders of preferred stocks and debt obligations because common stockholders generally have rights to receive payments from stock issuers that are inferior to the rights of creditors, or holders of debt obligations or preferred stocks. Further, unlike debt securities, which typically have a stated principal amount payable at maturity (the value of which, however, is subject to market fluctuations prior to maturity), or preferred stocks,
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which typically have a liquidation preference and which may have stated optional or mandatory redemption provisions, common stocks have neither a fixed principal amount nor a maturity date. In addition, issuers may, in times of distress or at their own discretion, decide to reduce or eliminate dividends, which may also cause their stock price to decline.
Although most of the securities in each Underlying Index are listed on a securities exchange, the principal trading market for some of the securities may be in the OTC market. The existence of a liquid trading market for certain securities may depend on whether dealers will make a market in such securities. There can be no assurance that a market will be made or maintained or that any such market will be or remain liquid. The price at which securities may be sold and the value of a Fund’s shares will be adversely affected if trading markets for the Fund’s portfolio securities are limited or absent, or if bid/ask spreads are wide.
Risk of Futures and Options on Futures Transactions.  There are several risks accompanying the utilization of futures contracts and options on futures contracts. A position in futures contracts and options on futures contracts may be closed only on the exchange on which the contract was made (or a linked exchange). While each Fund plans to utilize futures contracts only if an active market exists for such contracts, there is no guarantee that a liquid market will exist for the contract at a specified time. Futures contracts, by definition, project price levels in the future and not current levels of valuation; therefore, market circumstances may result in a discrepancy between the price of the future and the movement in a Fund's Underlying Index. In the event of adverse price movements, a Fund would continue to be required to make daily cash payments to maintain its required margin. In such situations, if a Fund has insufficient cash, it may have to sell portfolio securities to meet daily margin requirements at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so. In addition, a Fund may be required to deliver the instruments underlying the futures contracts it has sold.
The risk of loss in trading futures contracts or uncovered call options in some strategies (e.g., selling uncovered stock index futures contracts) is potentially unlimited. The Funds do not plan to use futures and options contracts in this way. The risk of a futures position may still be large as traditionally measured due to the low margin deposits required. In many cases, a relatively small price movement in a futures contract may result in immediate and substantial loss or gain to the investor relative to the size of a required margin deposit.
Utilization of futures and options on futures by a Fund involves the risk of imperfect or even negative correlation to the Underlying Index if the index underlying the futures contract differs from the Underlying Index. There is also the risk of loss of margin deposits in the event of bankruptcy of a broker with whom a Fund has an open position in the futures contract or option. The purchase of put or call options will be based upon predictions by BFA as to anticipated trends, which predictions could prove to be incorrect.
Because the futures market generally imposes less burdensome margin requirements than the securities market, an increased amount of participation by speculators in the futures market could result in price fluctuations. Certain financial futures exchanges limit the amount of fluctuation permitted in futures contract prices during a single trading day. The daily limit establishes the maximum amount by which the price of a futures contract may vary either up or down from the previous day’s settlement price at the end of a trading session. Once the daily limit has been reached in a particular type of contract, no trades may be made on that day at a price beyond that limit. It is possible that futures contract prices could move to the daily limit for several consecutive trading days with little or no trading, thereby preventing prompt liquidation of futures positions and subjecting each Fund to substantial losses. In the event of adverse price movements, each Fund would be required to make daily cash payments of variation margin.
Risk of Investing in Non-U.S. Equity Securities.  An investment in a Fund involves risks similar to those of investing in portfolios of equity securities traded on non-U.S. exchanges. These risks include market fluctuations caused by such factors as economic and political developments in those foreign countries, changes in interest rates and perceived trends in stock prices. Investing in securities issued by issuers domiciled in countries other than the domicile of the investor and denominated in currencies other than an investor’s local currency entails certain considerations and risks not typically encountered by the investor in making investments in its home country and in that country’s currency. These considerations include favorable or unfavorable changes in interest rates, currency exchange rates, exchange control regulations and the costs that may be incurred in connection with conversions between various currencies. Investing in any of these Funds also involves certain risks and considerations not typically associated with investing in a fund whose portfolio contains exclusively securities of U.S. issuers. These risks include generally less liquid and less efficient securities markets; generally greater price volatility; less publicly available information about issuers; the imposition of withholding or other taxes; the imposition of restrictions on the expatriation of funds or other assets of the Funds; higher transaction and custody costs; delays and risks
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attendant in settlement procedures; difficulties in enforcing contractual obligations; lower liquidity and significantly smaller market capitalization; different accounting and disclosure standards; lower levels of regulation of the securities markets; more substantial government interference with the economy and businesses; higher rates of inflation; greater social, economic, and political uncertainty; the risk of nationalization or expropriation of assets; and the risk of war.
Risk of Swap Agreements.  The risk of loss with respect to swaps (including NDFs) is generally limited to the net amount of payments that a Fund is contractually obligated to make. Swap agreements are subject to the risk that the swap counterparty will default on its obligations. If such a default occurs, a Fund will have contractual remedies pursuant to the agreements related to the transaction. However, such remedies may be subject to bankruptcy and insolvency laws, which could affect such Fund’s rights as a creditor (e.g., a Fund may not receive the net amount of payments that it is contractually entitled to receive), which could result in the Fund losing the benefits of any hedging position.
A Fund is required to post and collect variation margin and initial margin (comprised of specified liquid securities subject to haircuts) in connection with trading of OTC swaps. These requirements may raise the costs for a Fund’s investment in swaps.
Tracking Error Risk.  A Fund may be subject to tracking error, which is the divergence of a Fund’s performance from that of the applicable underlying index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities and other instruments held in a Fund’s portfolio and those included in its applicable underlying index, pricing differences, transaction costs incurred by a Fund, a Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or interest received by a Fund or distributions paid to a Fund’s shareholders, the requirements to maintain pass-through tax treatment, portfolio transactions carried out to minimize the distribution of capital gains to shareholders, acceptance of custom baskets, changes to the applicable underlying index or the costs to a Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. This risk may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions. Tracking error also may result because a Fund incurs fees and expenses, while its applicable underlying index does not.
When an issuer is introduced by an index provider into an index tracked by a Fund, BFA may conduct an analysis on such issuer’s securities to identify and screen for outlier high risk behavior (such as rapid or unusual price growth that does not appear to be supported by publicly available information on the business and assets of the issuer, unusual or significant short interest or lending activity, negative sentiment, suspended trading or incorrect free-float calculations, which could be indicators of possible irregularities, miscalculations or even fraud). If it identifies such behavior, BFA may, where appropriate, alert the index provider as to the alleged issue. The index provider has sole discretion for the determination as to whether to continue to include the issuer’s securities in the rebalancing of its index. If the securities continue to be included in the index, BFA may underweight or exclude such securities from a Fund’s portfolio and, if it does so, such a fund will be subject to increased tracking error due to the divergence in the securities included in its portfolio from its underlying index. BFA’s underweighting or excluding such securities may result in a decline in a Fund’s net asset value. The application of the abovementioned analysis and screening to a Fund and its Underlying Index is in the sole discretion of BFA and its affiliates (without any guarantees). The analysis and screening may not exclude any or all high risk securities from an Underlying Index or a Fund’s portfolio, and the inclusion of such securities will result in an adverse impact to a Fund’s net asset value if one or more such securities declines in value.
Volatility Risk.  The value of a security may fluctuate due to factors affecting markets generally or particular industries. This volatility may affect the Fund's NAV. Although certain of the Underlying Indexes were created to seek lower absolute volatility, there is no guarantee that these strategies will be successful. The Index Provider may be unsuccessful in creating an index that minimizes volatility, and there is a risk that each Fund may experience more than minimum volatility. Securities in the Funds' portfolios may be subject to price volatility and their prices may not be any less volatile than the market as a whole and could be more volatile. Events or financial circumstances affecting individual securities or sectors may increase the volatility of the Funds.
Risk of Investing in Africa.  Investments in securities of issuers in certain African countries involve heightened risks including, among others, expropriation and/or nationalization of assets, confiscatory taxation, political instability, including authoritarian and/or military involvement in governmental decision-making, armed conflict, civil war, and social instability as a result of religious, ethnic and/or socio-economic unrest or widespread outbreaks of disease and, in certain countries, genocidal warfare.
Certain countries in Africa generally have less developed capital markets than traditional emerging market countries, and, consequently, the risks of investing in foreign securities are magnified in such countries. Because securities markets of
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countries in Africa are generally underdeveloped and are generally less correlated to global economic cycles than those markets located in more developed countries, securities markets in African countries are subject to greater risks associated with market volatility, lower market capitalization, lower trading volume, illiquidity, inflation, greater price fluctuations and uncertainty regarding the existence of trading markets. Moreover, trading on African securities markets may be suspended altogether.
Market volatility may also be heightened by the actions of a small number of investors. Brokerage firms in certain countries in Africa may be fewer in number and less established than brokerage firms in more developed markets. Since a Fund and an Underlying Fund may need to effect securities transactions through these brokerage firms, the Fund and an Underlying Fund are subject to the risk that these brokerage firms will not be able to fulfill their obligations to the Fund and an Underlying Fund (i.e., counterparty risk). This risk is magnified to the extent that a Fund and an Underlying Fund effect securities transactions through a single brokerage firm or a small number of brokerage firms.
Certain governments in African countries restrict or control to varying degrees the ability of foreign investors to invest in securities of issuers located or operating in those countries. Moreover, certain countries in Africa require governmental approval or special licenses prior to investment by foreign investors and may limit the amount of investment by foreign investors in a particular industry and/or issuer, and may limit such foreign investment to a certain class of securities of an issuer that may have less advantageous rights than the classes available for purchase by domestic investors of the countries and/or impose additional taxes on foreign investors. A delay in obtaining a government approval or a license would delay investments in a particular country, and, as a result, a Fund or the Underlying Funds may not be able to invest in certain securities while approval is pending. The government of a particular country may also withdraw or decline to renew a license that enables a Fund or the Underlying Funds to invest in such country. These factors make investing in issuers located or operating in countries in Africa significantly riskier than investing in issuers located or operating in more developed countries, and any one of these factors could cause a decline in the value of a Fund's and an Underlying Fund's investments. Issuers located or operating in countries in Africa are generally not subject to the same rules and regulations as issuers located or operating in more developed countries. Therefore, there may be less financial and other information publicly available with regard to issuers located or operating in countries in Africa and such issuers are generally not subject to the uniform accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards applicable to issuers located or operating in more developed countries.
In addition, governments of certain countries in Africa in which a Fund or the Underlying Funds may invest may levy withholding or other taxes on income such as dividends, interest and realized capital gains. Although in certain countries in Africa a portion of these taxes are recoverable, the non-recovered portion of foreign withholding taxes will reduce the income received from investments in such countries.
Investment in countries in Africa may be subject to a greater degree of risk associated with governmental approval in connection with the repatriation of investment income, capital or the proceeds of sales of securities by foreign investors. In addition, there is the risk that if an African country’s balance of payments declines, such African country may impose temporary restrictions on foreign capital remittances. Consequently, a Fund or the Underlying Funds could be adversely affected by delays in, or a refusal to grant, required governmental approval for repatriation of capital, as well as by the application to the Fund  or the Underlying Funds of any restrictions on investments. Additionally, investments in countries in Africa may require a Fund or the Underlying Funds to adopt special procedures, seek local government approvals or take other actions, each of which may involve additional costs to a Fund or the Underlying Funds.
Securities laws in many countries in Africa are relatively new and unsettled and, consequently, there is a risk of rapid and unpredictable change in laws regarding foreign investment, securities regulation, title to securities and shareholder rights. Accordingly, foreign investors may be adversely affected by new or amended laws and regulations. In addition, there may be no single centralized securities exchange on which securities are traded in certain countries in Africa and the systems of corporate governance to which issuers located in countries in Africa are subject may be less advanced than those systems to which issuers located in more developed countries are subject, and, therefore, shareholders of issuers located in such countries may not receive many of the protections available to shareholders of issuers located in more developed countries. Even in circumstances where adequate laws and shareholder rights exist, it may not be possible to obtain swift and equitable enforcement of the law. In addition, the enforcement of systems of taxation at federal, regional and local levels in countries in Africa may be inconsistent and subject to sudden change.
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Certain countries in Africa may be heavily dependent upon international trade and, consequently, have been and may continue to be negatively affected by trade barriers, exchange controls, managed adjustments in relative currency values and other protectionist measures imposed or negotiated by the countries with which they trade. These countries also have been and may continue to be adversely affected by economic conditions in the countries with which they trade. Certain countries in Africa depend to a significant extent upon exports of primary commodities such as gold, silver, copper and diamonds. These countries therefore are vulnerable to changes in commodity prices, which may be affected by a variety of factors. In addition, certain issuers located in countries in Africa in which a Fund or the Underlying Funds invests may operate in, or have dealings with, countries subject to sanctions and/or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government and the United Nations, and/or countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism. As a result, an issuer may sustain damage to its reputation if it is identified as an issuer which operates in, or has dealings with, such countries. A Fund or an Underlying Fund, as an investor in such issuers, will be indirectly subject to those risks.
The governments of certain countries in Africa may exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector and may own or control many companies. Future government actions could have a significant effect on the economic conditions in such countries, which could have a negative impact on private sector companies. There is also the possibility of diplomatic developments that could adversely affect investments in certain countries in Africa. Some countries in Africa may be affected by a greater degree of public corruption and crime, including organized crime.
Political instability and protests in North Africa and the Middle East have caused and may in the future cause significant disruptions to many industries. In addition, the outbreak of Ebola in Western Africa severely challenged health care industries in those countries and adversely impacted the region’s economy due to quarantines and disruptions of trade, which has further increased instability in the region. This instability has demonstrated that political and social unrest can spread quickly through the region, and that developments in one country can influence the political events in neighboring countries. Some protests have turned violent, and civil war and political reconstruction in certain countries such as Libya, Iraq and Syria pose a risk to investments in the region. Continued political and social unrest in these regions, including the ongoing warfare and terrorist activities in the Middle East and Africa, may negatively affect the value of an investment in a Fund or an Underlying Fund.
Risk of Investing in Asia.   Investments in securities of issuers in certain Asian countries involve risks not typically associated with investments in securities of issuers in other regions. Such heightened risks include, among others, expropriation and/or nationalization of assets, confiscatory taxation, piracy of intellectual property, data and other security breaches (especially of data stored electronically), political instability, including authoritarian and/or military involvement in governmental decision-making, armed conflict and social instability as a result of religious, ethnic and/or socio-economic unrest. Certain Asian economies have experienced rapid rates of economic growth and industrialization in recent years, and there is no assurance that these rates of economic growth and industrialization will be maintained.
Certain Asian countries have democracies with relatively short histories, which may increase the risk of political instability. These countries have faced political and military unrest, and further unrest could present a risk to their local economies and securities markets. Indonesia and the Philippines have each experienced violence and terrorism, which has negatively impacted their economies. North Korea and South Korea each have substantial military capabilities, and historical tensions between the two countries present the risk of war. Escalated tensions involving the two countries and any outbreak of hostilities between the two countries, or even the threat of an outbreak of hostilities, could have a severe adverse effect on the entire Asian region. Certain Asian countries have also developed increasingly strained relationships with the U.S., and if these relations were to worsen, they could adversely affect Asian issuers that rely on the U.S. for trade. Political, religious, and border disputes persist in India. India has recently experienced and may continue to experience civil unrest and hostilities with certain of its neighboring countries. Increased political and social unrest in these geographic areas could adversely affect the performance of investments in this region.
Certain governments in this region administer prices on several basic goods, including fuel and electricity, within their respective countries. Certain governments may exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector in their respective countries and may own or control many companies. Future government actions could have a significant effect on the economic conditions in this region, which in turn could have a negative impact on private sector companies. There is also the possibility of diplomatic developments adversely affecting investments in the region.
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Corruption and the perceived lack of a rule of law in dealings with international companies in certain Asian countries may discourage foreign investment and could negatively impact the long-term growth of certain economies in this region. In addition, certain countries in the region are experiencing high unemployment and corruption, and have fragile banking sectors.
Some economies in this region are dependent on a range of commodities, including oil, natural gas and coal. Accordingly, they are strongly affected by international commodity prices and particularly vulnerable to any weakening in global demand for these products. The market for securities in this region may also be directly influenced by the flow of international capital, and by the economic and market conditions of neighboring countries. China is a key trading partner of many Asian countries and any changes in trading relationships between China and other Asian countries may affect the region as a whole. Adverse economic conditions or developments in neighboring countries may increase investors' perception of the risk of investing in the region as a whole, which may adversely impact the market value of the securities issued by companies in the region.
Risk of Investing in Australasia.  The economies of Australasia, which include Australia and New Zealand, are dependent on exports from the agricultural and mining sectors. This makes Australasian economies susceptible to fluctuations in the commodity markets. Australasian economies are also increasingly dependent on their growing service industries. Australia and New Zealand are located in a part of the world that has historically been prone to natural disasters, such as drought and flooding. Any such event in the future could have a significant adverse impact on the economies of Australia and New Zealand and affect the value of securities held by a Fund or an Underlying Fund. The economies of Australia and New Zealand are dependent on trading with certain key trading partners, including Asia and the U.S. Economic events in the U.S., Asia, or in other key trading countries can have a significant economic effect on the Australasian economies. The economies of Australia and New Zealand are heavily dependent on the mining sector. Passage of new regulations limiting foreign ownership of companies in the mining sector or imposition of new taxes on profits of mining companies may dissuade foreign investment, and as a result, have a negative impact on companies to which a Fund or an Underlying Fund has exposure.
Risk of Investing in Central and South America.  The economies of certain Central and South American countries have experienced high interest rates, economic volatility, inflation, currency devaluations, government defaults, high unemployment rates and political instability which can adversely affect issuers in these countries. In addition, commodities (such as oil, gas and minerals) represent a significant percentage of exports for the regions and, as a result, many economies in these regions are particularly sensitive to fluctuations in commodity prices. Adverse economic events in one country may have a significant adverse effect on other countries of these regions.
The governments of certain countries in Central and South America may exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector and may own or control many companies. Future government actions could have a significant effect on the economic conditions in such countries, which could have a negative impact on the securities in which the Funds or the Underlying Funds invest. Diplomatic developments may also adversely affect investments in certain countries in Central and South America. Some countries in Central and South America may be affected by public corruption and crime, including organized crime.
Certain countries in Central and South America may be heavily dependent upon international trade and, consequently, have been and may continue to be negatively affected by trade barriers, exchange controls, managed adjustments in relative currency values and other protectionist measures imposed or negotiated by the countries with which they trade. These countries also have been and may continue to be adversely affected by economic conditions in the countries with which they trade. In addition, certain issuers located in countries in Central and South America in which the Funds or the Underlying Funds invest may be the subject of sanctions (for example, the U.S. has imposed sanctions on certain Venezuelan individuals, corporate entities and the Venezuelan government) or have dealings with countries subject to sanctions and/or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government and the United Nations and/or countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism. An issuer may sustain damage to its reputation if it is identified as an issuer that has dealings with such countries. Each Fund or the Underlying Fund may be adversely affected if the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests in such issuers.
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries.  Many countries with developed markets have recently experienced significant economic pressures. These countries generally tend to rely on the services sectors (e.g., the financial services sector) as the primary source of economic growth and may be susceptible to the risks of individual service sectors. For example, companies in the financial services sector are subject to governmental regulation and, recently, government intervention, which may
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adversely affect the scope of their activities, the prices they can charge and amount of capital they must maintain. Recent dislocations in the financial sector and perceived or actual governmental influence over certain financial companies may lead to credit rating downgrades and, as a result, impact, among other things, revenue growth for such companies. If financial companies experience a prolonged decline in revenue growth, certain developed countries that rely heavily on financial companies as an economic driver may experience a correlative slowdown. Recently, new concerns have emerged with respect to the economic health of certain developed countries. These concerns primarily stem from heavy indebtedness of many developed countries and their perceived inability to continue to service high debt loads without simultaneously implementing stringent austerity measures. Such concerns have led to tremendous downward pressure on the economies of these countries. As a result, it is possible that interest rates on debt of certain developed countries may rise to levels that make it difficult for such countries to service such debt. Spending on health care and retirement pensions in most developed countries has risen dramatically over the last few years. Medical innovation, extended life expectancy and higher public expectations are likely to continue the increase in health care and pension costs. Any increase in health care and pension costs will likely have a negative impact on the economic growth of many developed countries. Certain developed countries rely on imports of certain key items, such as crude oil, natural gas, and other commodities. As a result, an increase in demand for, or price fluctuations of, certain commodities may negatively affect developed country economies. Developed market countries generally are dependent on the economies of certain key trading partners. Changes in any one economy may cause an adverse impact on several developed countries. In addition, heavy regulation of, among others, labor and product markets may have an adverse effect on certain issuers. Such regulations may negatively affect economic growth or cause prolonged periods of recession. Such risks, among others, may adversely affect the value of a Fund’s investments.
Risk of Investing in Eastern Europe.  Investing in the securities of issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe is highly speculative and involves risks not usually associated with investing in the more developed markets of Western Europe. Certain Eastern European countries have high public debt levels, significant underground economies, high unemployment and emigration of skilled workers. Such countries generally have a history of political instability, limited infrastructure and an inefficient public sector prone to endemic corruption. Political and economic reforms are too recent to establish a definite trend away from centrally planned economies and state-owned industries. In the past, some Eastern European governments have expropriated substantial amounts of private property, and many claims of the property owners have never been fully settled.
Many Eastern European countries continue to move toward market economies at different paces with different characteristics. Many Eastern European securities markets are generally underdeveloped with low, irregular trading volumes, dubious investor protections, and often a dearth of reliable corporate information. Eastern European securities markets are generally subject to less government supervision and regulation and may be less liquid and more volatile than securities markets in the U.S. or Western European countries. Legal institutions governing private and foreign investments and private property may be relatively nascent, inefficient, and unevenly enforced or inequitably enforced. Certain Eastern European governments may exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector and may own or control many companies. Future government actions could have a significant effect on the economic conditions in such countries, which could have a negative impact on a Fund’s investments. Information and transaction costs, differential taxes, and sometimes political or transfer risk give a comparative advantage to the domestic investor rather than the foreign investor.
Eastern European economies may also be particularly susceptible to changes in the international credit markets due to their reliance on bank related inflows of capital. Changes to the economies of countries with substantial foreign direct investment in certain Eastern European countries may negatively affect the region’s economy. The economy of certain Eastern European countries may be adversely affected by global prices for manufactured goods or commodity price declines to the extent that a country relies on the export of such products.
Geopolitical events, including war, and other instability in certain Eastern European countries may cause uncertainty in the region’s financial markets and adversely affect the performance of the issuers to which a Fund has exposure. These markets may be particularly sensitive to social, political, economic, and currency events in Russia and may suffer heavy losses as a result of their trading and investment links to the Russian economy and currency. Russia has historically asserted its influence in the region using diplomatic, informational, military, and economic instruments of national power, as it did with Georgia in the summer of 2008 and Ukraine beginning in 2014, and most recently on February 24, 2022.
Russian Invasion of Ukraine. Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The extent and duration of the military action, resulting sanctions and resulting future market disruptions, including declines in its stock markets and the value of the ruble against the U.S. dollar, are impossible to predict, but could be significant. Disruptions caused by Russian
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military action or other actions (including cyberattacks and espionage) or resulting actual and threatened responses to such activity, including purchasing and financing restrictions, boycotts or changes in consumer or purchaser preferences, sanctions, import and export restrictions, tariffs or cyberattacks on the Russian government, Russian companies or Russian individuals, including politicians, may impact Russia's economy and Russian issuers of securities in which a Fund invests. Actual and threatened responses to Russian military action may also impact the markets for certain Russian commodities, such as oil and natural gas, as well as other sectors of the Russian economy, and are likely to have collateral impacts on such sectors globally.
Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets.  Investments in emerging markets are subject to a greater risk of loss than investments in more developed markets. In addition, emerging markets often have less uniformity in accounting and reporting requirements, unreliable valuation and greater risk associated with custody. Certain emerging markets countries may also lack the infrastructure necessary to induce large amounts of foreign trade and investments. This is due to, among other things, the potential for greater market volatility, lower trading volume, inflation, political and economic instability, greater risk of a market shutdown and more governmental limitations on foreign investments than typically found in more developed markets. Political risks of emerging markets may include unstable governments, nationalization, restrictions on foreign ownership and investment, laws preventing repatriation of assets and legal systems that do not adequately protect property rights. Market risks of emerging markets may include government intervention in securities or currency markets.
Risk of Investing in Europe.  Investing in European countries may expose a Fund to the economic and political risks associated with Europe in general and the specific European countries in which it invests. The economies and markets of European countries are often closely connected and interdependent, and events in one European country can have an adverse impact on other European countries. A Fund makes investments in securities of issuers that are domiciled in, have significant operations in, or that are listed on at least one securities exchange within member states of the European Union (the “EU”). A number of countries within the EU are also members of the Economic and Monetary Union (the “eurozone”) and have adopted the euro as their currency. Eurozone membership requires member states to comply with restrictions on inflation rates, deficits, interest rates, debt levels and fiscal and monetary controls, each of which may significantly affect every country in Europe. Changes in import or export tariffs, changes in governmental or EU regulations on trade, changes in the exchange rate of the euro and other currencies of certain EU countries which are not in the eurozone, the default or threat of default by an EU member state on its sovereign debt, and/or an economic recession in an EU member state may have a significant adverse effect on the economies of other EU member states and their trading partners, including some or all of the MSCI ACWI Index countries. Although certain European countries are not in the eurozone, many of these countries are obliged to meet the criteria for joining the eurozone.
Consequently, these countries must comply with many of the restrictions noted above. The European financial markets have experienced volatility and adverse trends due to concerns about economic downturns, government debt levels and the possible default of government debt in several European countries, including, but not limited to, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ukraine. In order to prevent further economic deterioration, certain countries, without prior warning, can institute “capital controls.” Countries may use these controls to restrict volatile movements of capital entering and exiting their country. Such controls may negatively affect a Fund’s investments. A default or debt restructuring by any European country would adversely impact holders of that country’s debt and sellers of credit default swaps linked to that country’s creditworthiness, which may be located in countries other than those listed above. In addition, the credit ratings of certain European countries were downgraded in the past. These events have adversely affected the value and exchange rate of the euro and may continue to significantly affect the economies of every country in Europe, including countries that do not use the euro and non-EU member states. Responses to the financial problems by European governments, central banks and others, including austerity measures and reforms, may not produce the desired results, may result in social unrest and may limit future growth and economic recovery or have other unintended consequences. Further defaults or restructurings by governments and other entities of their debt could have additional adverse effects on economies, financial markets and asset valuations around the world. In addition, one or more countries may abandon the euro and/or withdraw from the EU. The impact of these actions, especially if they occur in a disorderly fashion, is not clear but could be significant and far-reaching and could adversely impact the value of a Fund’s investments in the region.
The United Kingdom (the “U.K.”) left the EU (“Brexit”) on January 31, 2020. The U.K. and EU reached an agreement on the terms of their future trading relationship effective January 1, 2021, which principally relates to the trading of goods rather than services, including financial services. Further discussions are to be held between the U.K. and the EU in relation to matters not covered by the trade agreement, such as financial services. A Fund faces risks associated with the potential uncertainty and consequences that may follow Brexit, including with respect to volatility in exchange rates and interest rates.
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Brexit could adversely affect European or worldwide political, regulatory, economic or market conditions and could contribute to instability in global political institutions, regulatory agencies and financial markets. Brexit has also led to legal uncertainty and could lead to politically divergent national laws and regulations as a new relationship between the U.K. and EU is defined and the U.K. determines which EU laws to replace or replicate. Any of these effects could adversely affect any of the companies to which a Fund has exposure and any other assets in which a Fund invests. The political, economic and legal consequences of Brexit are not yet fully known. In the short term, financial markets may experience heightened volatility, particularly those in the U.K. and Europe, but possibly worldwide. The U.K. and Europe may be less stable than they have been in recent years, and investments in the U.K. and the EU may be difficult to value, or subject to greater or more frequent volatility. In the longer term, there is likely to be a period of significant political, regulatory and commercial uncertainty as the U.K. continues to negotiate the terms of its future trading relationships.
Certain European countries have also developed increasingly strained relationships with the U.S., and if these relations were to worsen, they could adversely affect European issuers that rely on the U.S. for trade. Secessionist movements, such as the Catalan movement in Spain and the independence movement in Scotland, as well as governmental or other responses to such movements, may also create instability and uncertainty in the region. In addition, the national politics of countries in the EU have been unpredictable and subject to influence by disruptive political groups and ideologies. The governments of EU countries may be subject to change and such countries may experience social and political unrest. Unanticipated or sudden political or social developments may result in sudden and significant investment losses. The occurrence of terrorist incidents throughout Europe or war in the region also could impact financial markets. The impact of these events is not clear but could be significant and far-reaching and could adversely affect the value and liquidity of a Fund's investments.
Russian Invasion of Ukraine. Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The extent and duration of the military action, resulting sanctions and resulting future market disruptions, including declines in its stock markets and the value of the ruble against the U.S. dollar, are impossible to predict, but could be significant. Disruptions caused by Russian military action or other actions (including cyberattacks and espionage) or resulting actual and threatened responses to such activity, including purchasing and financing restrictions, boycotts or changes in consumer or purchaser preferences, sanctions, import and export restrictions, tariffs or cyberattacks on the Russian government, Russian companies or Russian individuals, including politicians, may impact Russia's economy and Russian issuers of securities in which a Fund invests. Actual and threatened responses to Russian military action may also impact the markets for certain Russian commodities, such as oil and natural gas, as well as other sectors of the Russian economy, and are likely to have collateral impacts on such sectors globally.
Risk of Investing in Japan.  Japan may be subject to political, economic, nuclear, labor and other risks. Any of these risks, individually or in the aggregate, can impact an investment made in Japan.
Currency Risk. The Japanese yen has fluctuated widely at times and any increase in its value may cause a decline in exports that could weaken the Japanese economy. Japan has, in the past, intervened in the currency markets to attempt to maintain or reduce the value of the yen. Japanese intervention in the currency markets could cause the value of the yen to fluctuate sharply and unpredictably and could cause losses to investors.
Economic Risk. The growth of Japan’s economy has recently lagged that of its Asian neighbors and other major developed economies. Since 2000, Japan’s economic growth rate has generally remained low relative to other advanced economies, and it may remain low in the future. The Japanese economy is heavily dependent on international trade and has been adversely affected by trade tariffs, other protectionist measures, competition from emerging economies and the economic conditions of its trading partners. Japan is also heavily dependent on oil imports, and higher commodity prices could therefore have a negative impact on the Japanese economy.
Geographic Risk. Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons and tsunamis, could occur in Japan or surrounding areas and could negatively affect the Japanese economy, and, in turn, could negatively affect a Fund.
Labor Risk. Japan has an aging workforce and has experienced a significant population decline in recent years. Japan’s labor market appears to be undergoing fundamental structural changes, as a labor market traditionally accustomed to lifetime employment adjusts to meet the need for increased labor mobility, which may adversely affect Japan’s economic competitiveness.
Large Government and Corporate Debt Risk. The Japanese economy faces several concerns, including a financial system with large levels of nonperforming loans, over-leveraged corporate balance sheets, extensive cross-ownership by major
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corporations, a changing corporate governance structure, and large government deficits. These issues may cause a slowdown of the Japanese economy.
Political Risk. Historically, Japan has had unpredictable national politics and may experience frequent political turnover. Future political developments may lead to changes in policy that might adversely affect an Underlying Fund’s investments. In addition, China has become an important trading partner with Japan. Japan’s political relationship with China, however, has been strained. Should political tension increase, it could adversely affect the Japanese economy and destabilize the region as a whole.
Risk of Investing in the Middle East.  Many Middle Eastern countries have little or no democratic tradition, and the political and legal systems in such countries may have an adverse impact on a Fund or an Underlying Fund. Many economies in the Middle East are highly reliant on income from the sale of oil and natural gas or trade with countries involved in the sale of oil and natural gas, and their economies are therefore vulnerable to changes in the market for oil and natural gas and foreign currency values. As global demand for oil and natural gas fluctuates, many Middle Eastern economies may be significantly impacted.
In addition, many Middle Eastern governments have exercised and continue to exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector. In certain cases, a Middle Eastern country’s government may own or control many companies, including some of the largest companies in the country. Accordingly, governmental actions in the future could have a significant effect on economic conditions in Middle Eastern countries. This could affect private sector companies and a Fund or an Underlying Fund, as well as the value of securities in the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's portfolio.
Certain Middle Eastern markets are in the earliest stages of development. As a result, there may be a high concentration of market capitalization and trading volume in a small number of issuers representing a limited number of industries, as well as a high concentration of investors and financial intermediaries. Brokers in Middle Eastern countries typically are fewer in number and less capitalized than brokers in the U.S.
The legal systems in certain Middle Eastern countries also may have an adverse impact on a Fund or an Underlying Fund. For example, the potential liability of a shareholder in a U.S. corporation with respect to acts of the corporation generally is limited to the amount of the shareholder’s investment. However, the notion of limited liability is less clear in certain Middle Eastern countries. A Fund or the Underlying Funds therefore may be liable in certain Middle Eastern countries for the acts of a corporation in which it invests for an amount greater than their actual investment in that corporation. Similarly, the rights of investors in Middle Eastern issuers may be more limited than those of shareholders of a U.S. corporation. It may be difficult or impossible to obtain or enforce a legal judgment in a Middle Eastern country. Some Middle Eastern countries prohibit or impose substantial restrictions on investments in their capital markets, particularly their equity markets, by foreign entities such as a Fund and an Underlying Fund. For example, certain countries may require governmental approval prior to investment by foreign persons or limit the amount of investment by foreign persons in a particular issuer. Certain Middle Eastern countries may also limit investment by foreign persons to only a specific class of securities of an issuer that may have less advantageous terms (including price) than securities of the issuer available for purchase by nationals of the relevant Middle Eastern country.
The manner in which foreign investors may invest in companies in certain Middle Eastern countries, as well as limitations on those investments, may have an adverse impact on the operations of a Fund or an Underlying Fund. For example, in certain of these countries, a Fund or the Underlying Funds may be required to invest initially through a local broker or other entity and then have the shares that were purchased re-registered in the name of a Fund or an Underlying Fund. Re-registration in some instances may not be possible on a timely basis. This may result in a delay during which a Fund or the Underlying Funds may be denied certain of its rights as an investor, including rights as to dividends or to be made aware of certain corporate actions. There also may be instances where a Fund or the Underlying Funds places a purchase order but is subsequently informed, at the time of re-registration, that the permissible allocation of the investment to foreign investors has already been filled and, consequently, a Fund or the Underlying Funds may not be able to invest in the relevant company.
Substantial limitations may exist in certain Middle Eastern countries with respect to a Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's ability to repatriate investment income or capital gains. A Fund and an Underlying Fund could be adversely affected by delays in, or a refusal to grant, any required governmental approval for repatriation of capital, as well as by the application to a Fund and an Underlying Fund of any restrictions on investment.
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Certain Middle Eastern countries may be heavily dependent upon international trade and, consequently, have been and may continue to be negatively affected by trade barriers, exchange controls, managed adjustments in relative currency values and other protectionist measures imposed or negotiated by the countries with which they trade. These countries also have been and may continue to be adversely impacted by economic conditions in the countries with which they trade. In addition, certain issuers located in Middle Eastern countries in which a Fund invests may operate in, or have dealings with, countries subject to sanctions and/or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government and the United Nations, and/or countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism. As a result, an issuer may sustain damage to its reputation if it is identified as an issuer which operates in, or has dealings with, such countries. A Fund and an Underlying Fund, as an investor in such issuers, will be indirectly subject to those risks.
Certain Middle Eastern countries have strained relations with other Middle Eastern countries due to territorial disputes, historical animosities, international alliances, defense concerns or other reasons, which may adversely affect the economies of these Middle Eastern countries. Certain Middle Eastern countries experience significant unemployment, as well as widespread underemployment. There has also been a recent increase in recruitment efforts and an aggressive push for territorial control by terrorist groups in the region, which has led to an outbreak of warfare and hostilities. Warfare in Syria has spread to surrounding areas, including many portions of Iraq and Turkey. Such hostilities may continue into the future or may escalate at any time due to ethnic, racial, political, religious or ideological tensions between groups in the region or foreign intervention or lack of intervention, among other factors.
Risk of Investing in Russia.  Investing in the Russian securities market involves a high degree of risk and special considerations not typically associated with investing in the U.S. securities market, and should be considered highly speculative. Risks include: the absence of developed legal structures governing private and foreign investments and private property; the possibility of the loss of all or a substantial portion of an Underlying Fund’s assets invested in Russia as a result of expropriation; certain national policies which may restrict the Fund’s investment opportunities, including, without limitation, restrictions on investing in issuers or industries deemed sensitive to relevant national interests; and potentially greater price volatility in, significantly smaller capitalization of, and relative illiquidity of, the Russian market. There can also be no assurance that an Underlying Fund’s investments in the Russian securities market would not be expropriated, nationalized or otherwise confiscated. In the event of the settlement of any such claims or such expropriation, nationalization or other confiscation, an Underlying Fund could lose its entire investment. In addition, it may be difficult and more costly to obtain and enforce a judgment in the Russian court system.
Russia may also be subject to a greater degree of economic, political and social instability than is the case in other developed countries. Such instability may result from, among other things, the following: (i) an authoritarian government or military involvement in political and economic decision-making, including changes in government through extra-constitutional means; (ii) popular unrest associated with demands for improved political, economic and social conditions; (iii) internal insurgencies; (iv) hostile relations, including armed conflict, with neighboring countries; and (v) ethnic, religious and racial disaffection.
The Russian economy is heavily dependent upon the export of a range of commodities including most industrial metals, forestry products and oil and gas. Accordingly, it is strongly affected by international commodity prices and is particularly vulnerable to any weakening in global demand for these products. Any acts of terrorism or armed conflicts in Russia or internationally could have an adverse effect on the financial and commodities markets and the global economy. As Russia produces and exports large amounts of crude oil and gas, any acts of terrorism or armed conflict causing disruptions of Russian oil and gas exports could negatively affect the Russian economy and, thus, adversely affect the financial condition, results of operations or prospects of related companies. Current and future economic sanctions may also adversely affect the Russian oil, banking, mining, metals, rail, pipeline and gas sectors, among other sectors.
The Russian government may exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector and may own or control many companies. Future government actions could have a significant effect on the economic conditions in Russia, which could have a negative impact on private sector companies. There is also the possibility of diplomatic developments that could adversely affect investments in Russia. In recent years, the Russian government has begun to take bolder steps to re-assert its regional geopolitical influence (including military steps) and launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Additionally, Russia is alleged to have participated in state-sponsored cyberattacks against foreign companies and foreign governments. Such steps have increased tensions between Russia and its neighbors and Western countries and may negatively affect economic growth. Actual and threatened responses by other nation-states to Russia’s alleged cyber activity may have an adverse impact on the Russian economy and the Russian issuers of securities in which an Underlying Fund
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invests. For example, the U.S. has added certain foreign technology companies to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security’s “Entity List,” which is a list of companies believed to pose a national security risk to the U.S. Actions like these may have unanticipated and disruptive effects on the Russian economy.
Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The extent and duration of the military action, resulting sanctions and resulting future market disruptions, including declines in its stock markets and the value of the ruble against the U.S. dollar, are impossible to predict, but could be significant. Disruptions caused by Russian military action or other actions (including cyberattacks and espionage) or resulting actual and threatened responses to such activity, including purchasing and financing restrictions, boycotts or changes in consumer or purchaser preferences, sanctions, import and export restrictions, tariffs or cyberattacks on the Russian government, Russian companies or Russian individuals, including politicians, may impact Russia’s economy and Russian issuers of securities in which an Underlying Fund invests. Actual and threatened responses to Russian military action may also impact the markets for certain Russian commodities, such as oil and natural gas, as well as other sectors of the Russian economy, and are likely to have collateral impacts on such sectors globally.
Russia Sanctions. Governments in the U.S. and many other countries (collectively, the “Sanctioning Bodies”) have imposed economic sanctions on certain Russian individuals, including politicians, and Russian corporate and banking entities, including banning Russia from global payments systems that facilitate cross-border payments. The Sanctioning Bodies, or others, could also institute broader sanctions on Russia. These sanctions, or even the threat of further sanctions, may result in the decline of the value and liquidity of Russian securities, a weakening of the ruble or other adverse consequences to the Russian economy. These sanctions could also result in the immediate freeze of Russian securities and/or funds invested in prohibited assets, impairing the ability of a Fund to buy, sell, receive or deliver those securities and/or assets. Recently, Russia has issued a number of countersanctions, some of which restrict the distribution of profits by limited liability companies (e.g., dividends), and prohibits Russian persons from entering into transactions with designated persons from “unfriendly states” as well as the export of raw materials or other products from Russia to certain sanctioned persons.
The sanctions against certain Russian issuers include prohibitions on transacting in or dealing in issuances of debt or equity of such issuers. Compliance with each of these sanctions has and may continue to impair the ability of a Fund to buy, sell, hold, receive or deliver the affected securities or other securities of such issuers. If it becomes impracticable or unlawful for a Fund to hold securities subject to, or otherwise affected by, sanctions (collectively, “affected securities”), or if deemed appropriate by BFA, a Fund may prohibit in-kind deposits of the affected securities in connection with creation transactions and instead require a cash deposit, which may also increase a Fund’s transaction costs. A Fund may also be legally required to freeze assets in a blocked account.
Sanctions have resulted in Russia taking counter measures or retaliatory actions, which has impaired the value and liquidity of Russian securities. These retaliatory measures include the immediate freeze of Russian assets held by a Fund. Due to such a freeze of these assets, including depositary receipts, a Fund may need to liquidate non-restricted assets in order to satisfy any Fund redemption orders. The liquidation of Fund assets during this time may also result in a Fund receiving substantially lower prices for its securities. Russia may implement additional retaliatory measures, which may further impair the value and liquidity of Russian securities and the ability of the Fund to receive dividend payments. Recently, Russia has issued a number of countersanctions, some of which restrict the distribution of profits by limited liability companies (e.g., dividends), and prohibits Russian persons from entering into transactions with designated persons from “unfriendly states” as well as the export of raw materials or other products from Russia to certain sanctioned persons. Russian companies may be unable to pay dividends and, if they pay dividends, the Fund may be unable to receive them.
These sanctions, the decision by Russia to suspend trading on the Moscow Exchange (MOEX) and prohibit non-resident investors from executing security sales, and other events have led to changes in the Fund's Underlying Index. The Fund’s Index Provider has removed Russian securities from the Underlying Index. To the extent that the Fund rebalances its portfolio and trades in non-Russian securities to seek to track the investment results of the Underlying Index, this may result in transaction costs and increased tracking error. The Fund is currently restricted from trading in Russian securities, including those in its portfolio, while the Underlying Index has removed Russian securities. This disparity will also lead to increased tracking error. The inability of the Fund to trade in Russian securities may adversely affect the Fund’s ability to meet its investment objective. It is unknown when, or if, sanctions may be lifted or the Fund’s ability to trade in Russian securities will resume.
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Also, if an affected security is included in a Fund’s Underlying Index, a Fund may, where practicable, seek to eliminate its holdings of the affected security by employing or augmenting its representative sampling strategy to seek to track the investment results of its Underlying Index. The use of (or increased use of) a representative sampling strategy may increase a Fund’s tracking error risk. If the affected securities constitute a significant percentage of the Underlying Index, a Fund may not be able to effectively implement a representative sampling strategy, which may result in significant tracking error between a Fund’s performance and the performance of its Underlying Index.
Risk of Investing in Saudi Arabia.   The ability of foreign investors (such as the Funds) to invest in the securities of Saudi Arabian issuers is relatively new. Such ability could be restricted by the Saudi Arabian government at any time, and unforeseen risks could materialize with respect to foreign ownership in such securities. In addition, the Capital Market Authority (“CMA”) places investment limitations on the ownership of the securities of Saudi Arabian issuers by foreign investors, including a limitation on a Fund’s ownership of the securities of any single issuer listed on the Saudi Arabian Stock Exchange, which may prevent a Fund from investing in accordance with its strategy and contribute to tracking error against the Underlying Index. These restrictions may be changed or new restrictions, such as licensing requirements, special approvals or additional foreign taxes, may be instituted at any time. A Fund may not be able to obtain or maintain any such licenses or approvals and may not be able to buy and sell securities at full value. Major disruptions or regulatory changes could occur in the Saudi Arabian market, any of which could negatively impact a Fund. These risks may be exacerbated, compared to more developed markets, given the limited history of foreign investment in the Saudi Arabian market. Investments in Saudi Arabia may also be subject to loss due to expropriation or nationalization of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on additional foreign investments and repatriation of capital. Such heightened risks may include, among others, restrictions on and government intervention in international trade, confiscatory taxation, political instability, including authoritarian and/or military involvement in governmental decision making, armed conflict, crime and instability as a result of religious, ethnic and/or socioeconomic unrest. Saudi Arabia has privatized, or has begun the process of privatizing, certain entities and industries. Newly privatized companies may face strong competition from government-sponsored competitors that have not been privatized. In some instances, investors in newly privatized entities have suffered losses due to the inability of the newly privatized entities to adjust quickly to a competitive environment or changing regulatory and legal standards or, in some cases, due to re-nationalization of such privatized entities. There is no assurance that similar losses will not recur. Saudi Arabia is highly reliant on income from the sale of petroleum and trade with other countries involved in the sale of petroleum, and its economy is therefore vulnerable to changes in foreign currency values and the market for petroleum, as well as acts targeting petroleum production or processing facilities in Saudi Arabia. As global demand for petroleum fluctuates, Saudi Arabia may be significantly impacted. In the recent past, the Saudi Arabian government has explored privatization and diversification of the economy in the wake of a diminished petroleum market.
Like most Middle Eastern governments, the government of Saudi Arabia exercises substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector. Although liberalization in the wider economy is underway, in many areas it has lagged significantly: restrictions on foreign ownership persist, and the government has an ownership stake in many key industries. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Saudi Arabia is governed by an absolute monarchy. Saudi Arabia has historically experienced strained relations with economic partners worldwide, including other countries in the Middle East, due to geopolitical events. Incidents involving a Middle Eastern country’s or the region’s security, including terrorism, may cause uncertainty in their markets and may adversely affect its economy and a Fund’s investments.
Governmental actions in the future could have a significant effect on economic conditions in Saudi Arabia, which could affect private sector companies and a Fund, as well as the value of securities in a Fund’s portfolio. Any economic sanctions on Saudi Arabian individuals or Saudi Arabian corporate entities, or even the threat of sanctions, may result in the decline of the value and liquidity of Saudi Arabian securities, a weakening of the Saudi riyal or other adverse consequences to the Saudi Arabian economy. Any sanctions could also result in the immediate freeze of Saudi Arabian securities and/or funds investing in prohibited assets, impairing the ability of a Fund to buy, sell, receive or deliver those securities and/or assets. In addition, Saudi Arabia’s economy relies heavily on cheap, foreign labor, and changes in the availability of this labor supply could have an adverse effect on the economy.
The securities markets in Saudi Arabia may not be as developed as those in other countries. As a result, securities markets in Saudi Arabia are subject to greater risks associated with market volatility, lower market capitalization, lower trading volume, illiquidity, inflation, greater price fluctuations, uncertainty regarding the existence of trading markets, governmental control and heavy regulation of labor and industry. Shares of certain Saudi Arabian companies tend to trade less frequently than those of companies on exchanges in more developed markets. Such infrequent trading may adversely affect the pricing of these securities and a Fund’s ability to sell these securities in the future.
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Although the political situation in Saudi Arabia is largely stable, Saudi Arabia has historically experienced political instability, and there remains the possibility that the stability will not hold in the future or that instability in the larger Middle East region could adversely impact the economy of Saudi Arabia. Instability may be caused by military developments, government interventions in the marketplace, terrorism, extremist attitudes, attempted social or political reforms, religious differences, or other factors. Additionally, anti-Western views held by certain groups in the Middle East may influence government policies regarding foreign investment. Further developments in U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia and other Middle-Eastern countries may affect these attitudes and policies. The U.S. is a significant trading partner of, or foreign investor in, Saudi Arabia. As a result, economic conditions of Saudi Arabia may be particularly affected by changes in the U.S. economy. A decrease in U.S. imports or exports, new trade and financial regulations or tariffs, changes in the U.S. dollar exchange rate or an economic slowdown in the U.S. may have a material adverse effect on the economic conditions of Saudi Arabia and, as a result, securities to which a Fund has exposure. Political instability in North Africa and the larger Middle East region has caused significant disruptions to many industries. Continued political and social unrest in these areas may negatively affect the value of securities in a Fund’s portfolio.
Certain issuers located in Saudi Arabia may operate in, or have dealings with, countries subject to sanctions and/or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government and the United Nations and/or countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism. As a result, an issuer may sustain damage to its reputation if it is identified as an issuer which operates in, or has dealings with, such countries. A Fund, as an investor in such issuers, will be indirectly subject to those risks.
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Discretionary Sector.  Companies engaged in the design, production or distribution of products or services for the consumer discretionary sector (including, without limitation, television and radio broadcasting, manufacturing, publishing, recording and musical instruments, motion pictures, photography, amusement and theme parks, gaming casinos, sporting goods and sports arenas, camping and recreational equipment, toys and games, apparel, travel-related services, automobiles, hotels and motels, and fast food and other restaurants) are subject to the risk that their products or services may become obsolete quickly. The success of these companies can depend heavily on disposable household income and consumer spending. During periods of an expanding economy, the consumer discretionary sector may outperform the consumer staples sector, but may underperform when economic conditions worsen. Moreover, the consumer discretionary sector can be significantly affected by several factors, including, without limitation, the performance of domestic and international economies, exchange rates, changing consumer preferences, demographics, marketing campaigns, cyclical revenue generation, consumer confidence, commodity price volatility, labor relations, interest rates, import and export controls, intense competition, technological developments and government regulation.
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Staples Sector.  Companies in the consumer staples sector may be adversely affected by changes in the global economy, consumer spending, competition, demographics and consumer preferences, and production spending. Companies in the consumer staples sector may also be affected by changes in global economic, environmental and political events, economic conditions, the depletion of resources, and government regulation. For instance, government regulations may affect the permissibility of using various food additives and production methods of companies that make food products, which could affect company profitability. In addition, tobacco companies may be adversely affected by the adoption of proposed legislation and/or by litigation. Companies in the consumer staples sector also may be subject to risks pertaining to the supply of, demand for and prices of raw materials. The prices of raw materials fluctuate in response to a number of factors, including, without limitation, changes in government agricultural support programs, exchange rates, import and export controls, changes in international agricultural and trading policies, and seasonal and weather conditions. Companies in the consumer staples sector may be subject to severe competition, which may also have an adverse impact on their profitability.
Risk of Investing in the Energy Sector.  Companies in the energy sector are strongly affected by the levels and volatility of global energy prices, energy supply and demand, government regulations and policies, energy production and conservation efforts, technological change, development of alternative energy sources, and other factors that they cannot control. These companies may also lack resources and have limited business lines. Energy companies may have relatively high levels of debt and may be more likely to restructure their businesses if there are downturns in certain energy markets or in the global economy. If an energy company in a Fund's portfolio becomes distressed, a Fund could lose all or a substantial portion of its investment.
The energy sector is cyclical and is highly dependent on commodity prices; prices and supplies of energy may fluctuate significantly over short and long periods of time due to, among other things, national and international political changes,
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Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (“OPEC”) policies, changes in relationships among OPEC members and between OPEC and oil-importing nations, the regulatory environment, taxation policies, the enactment or cessation of trade sanctions, war or other geopolitical conflicts, and the economies of the key energy-consuming countries. Commodity prices have recently been subject to increased volatility, which may negatively affect companies in which a Fund invests. For example, in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak and disputes among oil-producing countries regarding potential limits on the production of crude oil, the energy sector has experienced increased volatility. In particular, significant market volatility occurred in the crude oil markets as well as the oil futures markets, which resulted in the market price of certain crude oil futures contracts falling below zero for a period of time.
Companies in the energy sector may be adversely affected by terrorism, war, cyber incidents, natural disasters or other catastrophes. Companies in the energy sector are at risk of civil liability from accidents resulting in injury, loss of life or property, pollution or other environmental damage claims. Disruptions in the oil industry or shifts in fuel consumption may significantly impact companies in this sector. Significant oil and gas deposits are located in emerging markets countries where corruption and security may raise significant risks, in addition to the other risks of investing in emerging markets. Additionally, the Middle East, where many companies in the energy sector may operate, has historically and recently experienced widespread social unrest.
Companies in the energy sector may also be adversely affected by changes in exchange rates, interest rates, economic conditions, tax treatment, government regulation and intervention, negative perception, efforts at energy conservation and world events in the regions in which the companies operate (e.g., expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and repatriation of capital, military coups, social unrest, violence or labor unrest). Because a significant portion of revenues of companies in this sector is derived from a relatively small number of customers that are largely composed of governmental entities and utilities, governmental budget constraints may have a significant impact on the stock prices of companies in this sector. The energy sector is highly regulated. Entities operating in the energy sector are subject to significant regulation of nearly every aspect of their operations by governmental agencies. Such regulation can change rapidly or over time in both scope and intensity. Stricter laws, regulations or enforcement policies could be enacted in the future which would likely increase compliance costs and may materially adversely affect the financial performance of companies in the energy sector. Energy companies may have relatively high levels of debt and may be more likely than companies in other sectors to restructure their businesses during economic downturns or adversity in global energy markets.
Russia's large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 has led to further disruptions and increased volatility in the energy and commodity futures markets due to actual and potential disruptions in the supply and demand for certain commodities, including oil and natural gas. The U.S. and certain European countries have announced bans or restrictions on imports of hydrocarbon commodities from Russia. The effect of such bans and any similar restrictions by other countries, as well as the extent, scope and duration of the conflict, resulting sanctions and associated market disruptions on the energy sector, are impossible to predict and depend on a number of factors. The effect of these events or any related developments could be significant and may have a severe adverse effect on the performance of a Fund.
Risk of Investing in the Financials Sector.  Companies in the financials sector include regional and money center banks, securities brokerage firms, asset management companies, savings banks and thrift institutions, specialty finance companies (e.g., credit card, mortgage providers), insurance and insurance brokerage firms, consumer finance firms, financial conglomerates and foreign banking and financial companies.
Most financial companies are subject to extensive governmental regulation, which limits their activities and may affect their ability to earn a profit from a given line of business. Government regulation may change frequently and may have significant adverse consequences for companies in the financials sector, including effects not intended by the regulation. Direct governmental intervention in the operations of financial companies and financial markets may materially and adversely affect the companies in which a Fund invests, including legislation in many countries that may increase government regulation, repatriation and other intervention. The impact of governmental intervention and legislative changes on any individual financial company or on the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. The valuation of financial companies has been and continues to be subject to unprecedented volatility and may be influenced by unpredictable factors, including interest rate risk and sovereign debt default. Certain financial businesses are subject to intense competitive pressures, including market share and price competition. Financial companies in foreign countries are subject to market specific and general regulatory and interest rate concerns. In particular, government regulation in certain foreign countries may include taxes and controls on interest rates, credit availability, minimum capital requirements, bans on short sales, limits on prices and
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restrictions on currency transfers. In addition, companies in the financials sector may be the targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or customer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses.
The profitability of banks, savings and loan associations and financial companies is largely dependent on the availability and cost of capital funds and can fluctuate significantly when interest rates change; for instance, when interest rates go up, the value of securities issued by many types of companies in the financials sector generally goes down. In other words, financial companies may be adversely affected in certain market cycles, including, without limitation, during periods of rising interest rates, which may restrict the availability and increase the cost of capital, and during periods of declining economic conditions, which may cause, among other things, credit losses due to financial difficulties of borrowers.
In addition, general economic conditions are important to the operations of these companies, and financial difficulties of borrowers may have an adverse effect on the profitability of financial companies. Companies in the financials sector are exposed directly to the credit risk of their borrowers and counterparties, who may be leveraged to an unknown degree, including through swaps and other derivatives products, and who at times may be unable to meet their obligations to the financial services companies. Financial services companies may have significant exposure to the same borrowers and counterparties, with the result that a borrower’s or counterparty’s inability to meet its obligations to one company may affect other companies with exposure to the same borrower or counterparty. This interconnectedness of risk, including cross-default risk, may result in significant negative impacts to the financial condition and reputation of companies with direct exposure to the defaulting counterparty as well as adverse cascading effects in the markets and the financials sector generally. Financial companies can be highly dependent upon access to capital markets, and any impediments to such access, such as adverse overall economic conditions or a negative perception in the capital markets of a financial company’s financial condition or prospects, could adversely affect its business. Deterioration of credit markets can have an adverse impact on a broad range of financial markets, causing certain financial companies to incur large losses. In these conditions, companies in the financials sector may experience significant declines in the valuation of their assets, take actions to raise capital and even cease operations. Some financial companies may also be required to accept or borrow significant amounts of capital from government sources and may face future government-imposed restrictions on their businesses or increased government intervention. In addition, there is no guarantee that governments will provide any such relief in the future. These actions may cause the securities of many companies in the financials sector to decline in value.
Risk of Investing in the Healthcare Sector.  Companies in the healthcare sector are often issuers whose profitability may be affected by extensive government regulation, restrictions on government reimbursement for medical expenses, rising or falling costs of medical products and services, pricing pressure, an increased emphasis on outpatient services, a limited number of products, industry innovation, changes in technologies and other market developments. Many healthcare companies are heavily dependent on patent protection and the actual or perceived safety and efficiency of their products.
Patents have a limited duration, and, upon expiration, other companies may market substantially similar “generic” products that are typically sold at a lower price than the patented product, which can cause the original developer of the product to lose market share and/or reduce the price charged for the product, resulting in lower profits for the original developer. As a result, the expiration of patents may adversely affect the profitability of these companies.
In addition, because the products and services of many companies in the healthcare sector affect the health and well-being of many individuals, these companies are especially susceptible to extensive litigation based on product liability and similar claims. Healthcare companies are subject to competitive forces that may make it difficult to raise prices and, in fact, may result in price discounting. Many new products in the healthcare sector may be subject to regulatory approvals. The process of obtaining such approvals may be long and costly, which can result in increased development costs, delayed cost recovery and loss of competitive advantage to the extent that rival companies have developed competing products or procedures, adversely affecting the company’s revenues and profitability. In other words, delays in the regulatory approval process may diminish the opportunity for a company to profit from a new product or to bring a new product to market, which could have a material adverse effect on a company’s business. Healthcare companies may also be strongly affected by scientific biotechnology or technological developments, and their products may quickly become obsolete. Also, many healthcare companies offer products and services that are subject to governmental regulation and may be adversely affected by changes in governmental policies or laws. Changes in governmental policies or laws may span a wide range of topics, including cost control, national health insurance, incentives for compensation in the provision of healthcare services, tax incentives and penalties related to healthcare insurance premiums, and promotion of prepaid healthcare plans. In addition, a number of
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legislative proposals concerning healthcare have been considered by the U.S. Congress in recent years. It is unclear what proposals will ultimately be enacted, if any, and what effect they may have on companies in the healthcare sector.
Additionally, the expansion of facilities by healthcare-related providers may be subject to “determinations of need” by certain government authorities. This process not only generally increases the time and costs involved in these expansions, but also makes expansion plans uncertain, limiting the revenue and profitability growth potential of healthcare-related facilities operators and negatively affecting the prices of their securities. Moreover, in recent years, both local and national governmental budgets have come under pressure to reduce spending and control healthcare costs, which could both adversely affect regulatory processes and public funding available for healthcare products, services and facilities.
Risk of Investing in the Industrials Sector.  The value of securities issued by companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by supply of and demand for both their specific products or services and for industrials sector products in general. The products of manufacturing companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction. Government regulations, trade disputes, world events and economic conditions may affect the performance of companies in the industrials sector. The industrials sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors. For example, commodity price declines and unit volume reductions resulting from an over-supply of materials used in the industrials sector can adversely affect the sector. Furthermore, companies in the industrials sector may be subject to liability for environmental damage, product liability claims, depletion of resources, and mandated expenditures for safety and pollution control.
Risk of Investing in the Information Technology Sector.  Information technology companies face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on profit margins. Like other technology companies, information technology companies may have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or personnel. The products of information technology companies may face product obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction, unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. Technology companies and companies that rely heavily on technology, especially those of smaller, less-seasoned companies, tend to be more volatile than the overall market. Companies in the information technology sector are heavily dependent on patent and intellectual property rights. The loss or impairment of these rights may adversely affect the profitability of these companies. Information technology companies are facing increased government and regulatory scrutiny and may be subject to adverse government or regulatory action. Finally, while all companies may be susceptible to network security breaches, certain companies in the information technology sector may be particular targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or consumer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses. These risks are heightened for information technology companies in foreign markets.
Risk of Investing in the Materials Sector.  Companies in the materials sector may be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, exchange rate fluctuations, social and political unrest, war, import or export controls, increased competition, depletion of resources, technical progress, labor relations and government regulations, and mandated expenditures for safety and pollution control, among other factors. Such risks may adversely affect the issuers to which the Fund has exposure. Companies in the materials sector are also at risk of liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. Production of materials may exceed demand as a result of market imbalances or economic downturns, leading to poor investment returns. These risks are heightened for companies in the materials sector located in foreign markets.
Risk of Investing in the Real Estate Industry.  Companies in the real estate industry include companies that invest in real estate, such as real estate investment trusts (“REITs”), real estate holding and operating companies or real estate development companies (collectively, “Real Estate Companies”). Investing in Real Estate Companies exposes investors to the risks of owning real estate directly, as well as to risks that relate specifically to the way in which Real Estate Companies are organized and operated. The real estate industry is highly sensitive to general and local economic conditions and developments, and characterized by intense competition and periodic overbuilding. Investing in Real Estate Companies involves various risks. Some risks that are specific to Real Estate Companies are discussed in greater detail below.
Concentration Risk. Real Estate Companies may own a limited number of properties and concentrate their investments in a particular geographic region or property type. Economic downturns affecting a particular region, industry or property type may lead to a high volume of defaults within a short period.
Distressed Investment Risk. Real Estate Companies may invest in distressed, defaulted or out-of-favor bank loans. Identification and implementation by a Real Estate Company of loan modification and restructure programs involves a high degree of uncertainty. Even successful implementation may still require adverse compromises and may not prevent
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bankruptcy. Real Estate Companies may also invest in other debt instruments that may become non-performing, including the securities of companies with higher credit and market risk due to financial or operational difficulties. Higher risk securities may be less liquid and more volatile than the securities of companies not in distress.
Illiquidity Risk. Investing in Real Estate Companies may involve risks similar to those associated with investing in small-capitalization companies. Real Estate Company securities, like the securities of small-capitalization companies, may be more volatile than, and perform differently from, shares of large-capitalization companies. There may be less trading in Real Estate Company shares, which means that buy and sell transactions in those shares could have a magnified impact on share price, resulting in abrupt or erratic price fluctuations. In addition, real estate is relatively illiquid, and, therefore, a Real Estate Company may have a limited ability to vary or liquidate properties in response to changes in economic or other conditions.
Interest Rate Risk. Rising interest rates could result in higher costs of capital for Real Estate Companies, which could negatively impact a Real Estate Company’s ability to meet its payment obligations. Declining interest rates could result in increased prepayment on loans and require redeployment of capital in less desirable investments.
Leverage Risk. Real Estate Companies may use leverage (and some may be highly leveraged), which increases investment risk and could adversely affect a Real Estate Company’s operations and market value in periods of rising interest rates. Real Estate Companies are also exposed to the risks normally associated with debt financing. Financial covenants related to a Real Estate Company’s leverage may affect the ability of the Real Estate Company to operate effectively. In addition, real property may be subject to the quality of credit extended and defaults by borrowers and tenants. If the properties do not generate sufficient income to meet operating expenses, including, where applicable, debt service, ground lease payments, tenant improvements, third-party leasing commissions and other capital expenditures, the income and ability of a Real Estate Company to make payments of any interest and principal on its debt securities will be adversely affected.
Loan Foreclosure Risk. Real Estate Companies may foreclose on loans that the Real Estate Company originated and/or acquired. Foreclosure may generate negative publicity for the underlying property that affects its market value. In addition to the length and expense of such proceedings, the validity of the terms of the applicable loan may not be recognized in foreclosure proceedings. Claims and defenses asserted by borrowers or other lenders may interfere with the enforcement of rights by a Real Estate Company. Parallel proceedings, such as bankruptcy, may also delay resolution and limit the amount of recovery on a foreclosed loan by a Real Estate Company even where the property underlying the loan is liquidated.
Management Risk. Real Estate Companies are dependent upon management skills and may have limited financial resources. Real Estate Companies are generally not diversified and may be subject to heavy cash flow dependency, default by borrowers and voluntary liquidation. In addition, transactions between Real Estate Companies and their affiliates may be subject to conflicts of interest, which may adversely affect a Real Estate Company’s shareholders. A Real Estate Company may also have joint venture investments in certain of its properties, and, consequently, its ability to control decisions relating to such properties may be limited.
Property Risk. Real Estate Companies may be subject to risks relating to functional obsolescence or reduced desirability of properties; extended vacancies due to economic conditions and tenant bankruptcies; catastrophic events such as earthquakes, hurricanes and terrorist acts; and casualty or condemnation losses. Real estate income and values also may be greatly affected by demographic trends, such as population shifts or changing tastes and values, or increasing vacancies or declining rents resulting from legal, cultural, technological, global or local economic developments.
Regulatory Risk. Real estate income and values may be adversely affected by such factors as applicable domestic and foreign laws (including tax laws). Government actions, such as tax increases, zoning law changes, mandated closures or other commercial restrictions or environmental regulations, also may have a major impact on real estate income and values. In addition, quarterly compliance with regulations limiting the proportion of asset types held by a U.S. REIT may force certain Real Estate Companies to liquidate or restructure otherwise attractive investments. Some countries may not recognize REITs or comparable structures as a viable form of real estate funds.
Underlying Investment Risk. Real Estate Companies make investments in a variety of debt and equity instruments with varying risk profiles. For instance, Real Estate Companies may invest in debt instruments secured by commercial property that have higher risks of delinquency and foreclosure than loans on single family homes due to a variety of factors associated with commercial property, including the tie between income available to service debt and productive use of the property. Real Estate Companies may also invest in debt instruments and preferred equity that are junior in an issuer’s capital structure and that involve privately negotiated structures. Subordinated debt investments, such as B-Notes and mezzanine loans, involve a
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greater credit risk of default due to the need to service more senior debt of the issuer. Similarly, preferred equity investments involve a greater risk of loss than conventional debt financing due to their non-collateralized nature and subordinated ranking. Investments in commercial mortgage-backed securities may also be junior in priority in the event of bankruptcy or similar proceedings. Investments in senior loans may be effectively subordinated if the senior loan is pledged as collateral. The ability of a holder of junior claims to proceed against a defaulting issuer is circumscribed by the terms of the particular contractual arrangement, which vary considerably from transaction to transaction.
Risk of Investing in the Utilities Sector.  The utilities sector may be adversely affected by changing commodity prices, government regulation stipulating rates charged by utilities, increased tariffs, changes in tax laws, interest rate fluctuations and changes in the cost of providing specific utility services. The utilities industry is also subject to potential terrorist attacks, natural disasters and severe weather conditions, as well as regulatory and operational burdens associated with the operation and maintenance of nuclear facilities. Government regulators monitor and control utility revenues and costs, and therefore may limit utility profits. In certain countries, regulatory authorities may also restrict a company’s access to new markets, thereby diminishing the company’s long-term prospects.
There are substantial differences among the regulatory practices and policies of various jurisdictions, and any regulatory agency may make major shifts in policy from time to time. There is no assurance that regulatory authorities will, in the future, grant rate increases. Additionally, existing and possible future regulatory legislation may make it even more difficult for utilities to obtain adequate relief. Certain of the issuers of securities held in a Fund's portfolio may own or operate nuclear generating facilities. Governmental authorities may from time to time review existing policies and impose additional requirements governing the licensing, construction and operation of nuclear power plants. Prolonged changes in climate conditions can also have a significant impact on both the revenues of an electric and gas utility as well as the expenses of a utility, particularly a hydro-based electric utility.
The rates that traditional regulated utility companies may charge their customers generally are subject to review and limitation by governmental regulatory commissions. Rate changes may occur only after a prolonged approval period or may not occur at all, which could adversely affect utility companies when costs are rising. The value of regulated utility debt securities (and, to a lesser extent, equity securities) tends to have an inverse relationship to the movement of interest rates. Certain utility companies have experienced full or partial deregulation in recent years. These utility companies are frequently more similar to industrial companies in that they are subject to greater competition and have been permitted by regulators to diversify outside of their original geographic regions and their traditional lines of business. As a result, some companies may be forced to defend their core business and may be less profitable. Deregulation may also permit a utility company to expand outside of its traditional lines of business and engage in riskier ventures.
Proxy Voting Policy
For the Funds, the Board has delegated the voting of proxies for each Fund’s securities to BFA pursuant to the Funds' Proxy Voting Policy (the “iShares ETFs Proxy Voting Policy”), and BFA has adopted policies and procedures (the “BlackRock Proxy Voting Policies”) governing proxy voting by accounts managed by BFA, including the Funds.
Under the BlackRock Proxy Voting Policies, BFA will vote proxies related to Fund securities in the best interests of a Fund and its shareholders. From time to time, a vote may present a conflict between the interests of a Fund’s shareholders, on the one hand, and those of BFA, or any affiliated person of a Fund or BFA, on the other. BFA maintains policies and procedures that are designed to prevent undue influence on BFA’s proxy voting activity that might stem from any relationship between the issuer of a proxy (or any dissident shareholder) and BFA, BFA’s affiliates, a Fund or a Fund’s affiliates. Most conflicts are managed through a structural separation of BFA’s Corporate Governance Group from BFA’s employees with sales and client responsibilities. In addition, BFA maintains procedures to ensure that all engagements with corporate issuers or dissident shareholders are managed consistently and without regard to BFA’s relationship with the issuer of the proxy or the dissident shareholder. In certain instances, BFA may determine to engage an independent fiduciary to vote proxies as a further safeguard to avoid potential conflicts of interest or as otherwise required by applicable law.
Copies of the iShares ETFs Proxy Voting Policy, the BlackRock Global Proxy Voting Policies and the BlackRock U.S. Proxy Voting Policies are attached as Appendices A1, A2 and A3, respectively.
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Information with respect to how proxies relating to the Funds' portfolio securities were voted during the 12-month period ended June 30 is available: (i) without charge, upon request, by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or through the Funds' website at www.iShares.com; and (ii) on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.
Portfolio Holdings Information
On each Business Day (as defined in the Creation and Redemption of Creation Units section of this SAI), prior to the opening of regular trading on the Fund’s primary listing exchange, a Fund discloses on its website (www.iShares.com) certain information relating to the portfolio holdings that will form the basis of a Fund’s next net asset value per share calculation.
In addition, certain information may also be made available to certain parties:
Communications of Data Files: A Fund may make available through the facilities of the National Securities Clearing Corporation (“NSCC”) or through posting on the www.iShares.com, prior to the opening of trading on each business day, a list of a Fund’s holdings (generally pro-rata) that Authorized Participants could deliver to a Fund to settle purchases of a Fund (i.e. Deposit Securities) or that Authorized Participants would receive from a Fund to settle redemptions of a Fund (i.e. Fund Securities). These files are known as the Portfolio Composition File and the Fund Data File (collectively, “Files”). The Files are applicable for the next trading day and are provided to the NSCC and/or posted on www.iShares.com after the close of markets in the U.S.
Communications with Authorized Participants and Liquidity Providers: Certain employees of BFA are responsible for interacting with Authorized Participants and liquidity providers with respect to discussing custom basket proposals as described in the Custom Baskets section of this SAI. As part of these discussions, these employees may discuss with an Authorized Participant or liquidity provider the securities a Fund is willing to accept for a creation, and securities that a Fund will provide on a redemption.
BFA employees may also discuss portfolio holdings-related information with broker/dealers, in connection with settling a Fund’s transactions, as may be necessary to conduct business in the ordinary course in a manner consistent with the disclosure in the Fund's current registration statements.
Communications with Listing Exchanges: From time to time, employees of BFA may discuss portfolio holdings information with the applicable primary listing exchange for a Fund as needed to meet the exchange listing standards.
Communications with Other Portfolio Managers: Certain information may be provided to employees of BFA who manage funds that invest a significant percentage of their assets in shares of an underlying fund as necessary to manage the fund’s investment objective and strategy.
Communication of Other Information: Certain explanatory information regarding the Files is released to Authorized Participants and liquidity providers on a daily basis, but is only done so after the Files are posted to www.iShares.com.
Third-Party Service Providers: Certain portfolio holdings information may be disclosed to Fund Trustees and their counsel, outside counsel for the Funds, auditors and to certain third-party service providers (i.e., fund administrator, custodian, proxy voting service) for which a non-disclosure, confidentiality agreement or other obligation is in place with such service providers, as may be necessary to conduct business in the ordinary course in a manner consistent with applicable policies, agreements with the Funds, the terms of the current registration statements and federal securities laws and regulations thereunder.
Liquidity Metrics: “Liquidity Metrics,” which seek to ascertain a Fund’s liquidity profile under BlackRock’s global liquidity risk methodology, include but are not limited to: (a) disclosure regarding the number of days needed to liquidate a portfolio or the portfolio’s underlying investments; and (b) the percentage of a Fund’s NAV invested in a particular liquidity tier under BlackRock’s global liquidity risk methodology. The dissemination of position-level liquidity metrics data and any non-public regulatory data pursuant to the Liquidity Rule (including SEC liquidity tiering) is not permitted unless pre-approved. Disclosure of portfolio-level liquidity metrics prior to 60 calendar days after calendar quarter-end requires a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement and approval of the Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer. Portfolio-level liquidity metrics disclosure subsequent to 60 calendar days after calendar quarter-end requires the approval of portfolio management and must be disclosed to all parties requesting the information if disclosed to any party.
The Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer or his delegate may authorize disclosure of portfolio holdings information pursuant to the above policy and procedures, subject to restrictions on selective disclosure imposed by applicable law. The Board reviews the policy and procedures for disclosure of portfolio holdings information at least annually.
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Construction and Maintenance of the Underlying Indexes
Descriptions of the Underlying Indexes are provided below.
With respect to certain underlying indexes of the iShares funds, BFA or its affiliates have held discussions with the applicable index provider regarding their business interest in licensing an index to track a particular market segment and conveyed investment concepts and strategies that could be considered for the index. The index provider designed and constituted such indices using concepts conveyed by BFA or its affiliates. For certain of these indices, the relevant fund may be the first or sole user of the underlying index. In its sole discretion, the index provider determines the composition of the securities and other instruments in such underlying index, the rebalance protocols of the underlying index, the weightings of the securities and other instruments in the underlying index, and any updates to the methodology. From time to time, BFA or its affiliates may also provide input relating to possible methodology changes of such underlying index pursuant to the index provider’s consultation process or pursuant to other communications with the index provider.
The MSCI Indexes
The MSCI indexes were founded in 1969 by Capital International S.A. as international performance benchmarks constructed to facilitate comparison of world markets. The MSCI single country standard equity indexes have covered the world's developed markets since 1969 and in 1987 MSCI commenced coverage of emerging markets.
Local stock exchanges traditionally calculated their own indexes, which were generally not comparable with one another due to differences in the representation of the local market, mathematical formulas, base dates and methods of adjusting for capital changes. MSCI, however, applies the same calculation methodology to all markets for all single country standard equity indexes, both developed and emerging.
MSCI Global Investable Market Indexes
MSCI's Global Investable Market Indexes (the “MSCI GIMI”) provide coverage and non-overlapping market segmentation by market capitalization size and by style. The MSCI GIMI intend to target approximately 99% coverage of the free float-adjusted market capitalization in each market of large-, mid- and small-cap securities. In each market, MSCI creates an Investable Market Index, Standard Index, Large Cap Index, Mid Cap Index and Small Cap Index. The Standard Index, Large Cap Index, Mid Cap Index and Small Cap Index are each subsets of the Investable Market Index for a market. The MSCI Global Standard Index is the aggregation of the Large Cap Index and Mid Cap Index and the MSCI GIMI is the aggregation of the MSCI Global Standard Index and MSCI Global Small Cap Index.
Selection Criteria. MSCI's index construction process involves: (i) defining the equity universe; (ii) determining the market investable equity universe for each market; (iii) determining market capitalization size segments for each market; (iv) applying final size segment investability requirements; and (v) applying index continuity rules for the MSCI Global Standard Index.
Defining the Equity Universe. MSCI begins with securities listed in countries in the MSCI GIMI. As of June 10, 2021, 24 are classified as developed markets, 27 as emerging markets, and 20 as frontier markets. All listed equity securities and listed securities that exhibit characteristics of equity securities, except mutual funds, exchange traded funds, equity derivatives, limited partnerships and most investment trusts, are eligible for inclusion in the equity universe. REITs in some countries and certain income trusts in Canada are also eligible for inclusion. Each company and its securities (i.e., share classes) are classified in only one country.
Determining the Market Investable Equity Universe for Each Market. The equity universe in any market is derived by applying investability screens to individual companies and securities in that market. Some investability requirements are applied at the individual security level and some at the overall company level, represented by the aggregation of individual securities of the company. As a result, the inclusion or exclusion of one security does not imply the automatic inclusion or exclusion of other securities of the same company.
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Determining Market Capitalization Size Segments for Each Market. In order to create size components that can be meaningfully aggregated into composites, individual market size segments balance the following two objectives:
Achieving global size integrity by ensuring that companies of comparable and relevant sizes are included in a given size segment across all markets in a composite index; and
Achieving consistent market coverage by ensuring that each market's size segment is represented in its proportional weight in the composite universe.
The Standard Indexes, Large Cap Indexes, Mid Cap Indexes, and Small Cap Indexes capture the following market capitalization size segments:
MSCI Global Standard Indexes cover all investable large- and mid-cap securities by including the largest issuers comprising approximately 85% of each market’s free float-adjusted market capitalization.
MSCI Global Large Cap Indexes provide coverage of all investable large-cap securities by including the largest issuers comprising approximately 70% of each market’s free float-adjusted market capitalization.
MSCI Global Mid Cap Indexes provide coverage in each market by deriving the difference between the market coverage of the MSCI Global Standard Index and the MSCI Global Large Cap Index in that market.
MSCI Global Small Cap Indexes provide coverage of companies with a market capitalization below that of the companies in the MSCI Global Standard Indexes.
Applying Final Size Segment Investability Requirements. In order to enhance replicability of the indexes, additional size segment investability requirements are set for the MSCI GIMI and MSCI Global Standard Index. These investability requirements include minimum free float-adjusted market capitalization, minimum liquidity, minimum foreign limits and minimum length of trading.
Applying Index Continuity Rules for the Standard Index. In order to achieve index continuity as well as provide some basic level of diversification within a market index, notwithstanding the effect of other index construction rules contained herein, a minimum number of five constituents will be maintained for a developed market Standard Index and a minimum number of three constituents will be maintained for an emerging market Standard Index.
Weighting. All indexes of the MSCI GIMI are free float weighted, i.e., companies are included in the indexes at the value of their free public float (free float multiplied by security price).
Regional Weights. Market capitalization-weighting, combined with a consistent target of approximately 99% of free float-adjusted market capitalization, helps ensure that each country's weight in regional and international indexes approximates its weight in the total universe of developing and emerging markets. A market is equivalent to a single country except for developed Europe, where all markets are aggregated into a single market for index construction purposes. Individual country indexes of the European developed markets are derived from the constituents of the MSCI GIMI Europe Index.
Free Float. MSCI defines the free float of a security as the proportion of shares outstanding that are deemed to be available for purchase in the public equity markets by international investors. In practice, limitations on free float available to international investors include: (i) strategic and other shareholdings not considered part of available free float; and (ii) limits on share ownership for foreigners.
MSCI calculates the free float-adjusted market capitalization of each security in the equity index universe by (i) defining and estimating the free float available to foreign investors; (ii) assigning a free float-adjustment factor to each security; and (iii) calculating the free float-adjusted market capitalization of each security.
Under MSCI's free float-adjustment methodology, a constituent's inclusion factor is equal to its estimated free float, rounded up to the closest 5% for constituents with free float equal to or exceeding 15%. For example, a constituent security with a free float of 23.2% will be included in the index at 25% of its market capitalization. For securities with a free float of less than 15%, the estimated free float is adjusted to the nearest 1%.
Price and Exchange Rates
Prices. The prices used to calculate all MSCI indexes are the official exchange closing prices or those figures accepted as such. MSCI reserves the right to use an alternative pricing source on any given day.
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Exchange Rates. MSCI uses the World Markets/Reuters Closing Spot Rates taken at 4:00 p.m. London time. In case World Markets/Reuters does not provide rates for specific markets on given days (for example, Christmas Day and New Year's Day), the previous business day's rates are normally used. MSCI independently monitors the exchange rates on all its indexes. MSCI may under exceptional circumstances elect to use alternative sources of exchange rates if the World Markets/Reuters rates are not available, or if MSCI determines that the World Markets/Reuters rates are not reflective of market circumstances for a given currency on a particular day. In such circumstances, an announcement would be sent to clients with the related information. If appropriate, MSCI may conduct a consultation with the investment community to gather feedback on the most relevant exchange rate.
Changes to the Indexes. The MSCI GIMI are maintained with the objective of reflecting, on a timely basis, the evolution of the underlying equity markets. In maintaining the MSCI indexes, emphasis is also placed on continuity, replicability and minimizing turnover in the indexes. Maintaining the MSCI indexes involves many aspects, including: (i) additions to, and deletions from, the indexes; (ii) changes in number of shares; and (iii) changes in inclusion factors as a result of updated free float estimates.
Index maintenance can be described by three broad categories of changes:
Semi-Annual Index Reviews (“SAIRs”), conducted on a fixed semi-annual timetable that systematically reassess the various dimensions of the equity universe for all markets;
Quarterly Index Reviews (“QIRs”), aimed at promptly reflecting other significant market events; and
Ongoing event-related changes, such as mergers, acquisitions, spin-offs, bankruptcies, reorganizations and other similar corporate events, which generally are implemented in the indexes as they occur.
Potential changes in the status of countries (stand-alone, frontier, emerging and developed) follow their own implementation time tables.
MSCI conducts SAIRs generally as of the close of the last business day of May and November. During the SAIRs, MSCI updates the investable equity universe and reassesses size segmentation investability requirements. MSCI also conducts QIRs generally as of the close of the last business day of February and August. During the QIRs, MSCI reflects changes in the index that were not captured at the time of their actual occurrence, but are significant enough to be included before the next SAIR. The results of the SAIR and QIR are generally announced at least ten business days in advance of implementation.
Creation of Sector and Industry Indexes using the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS®)
All securities in the Global Investable Equity Universe are assigned to the industry that best describes their business activities using the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS®). The GICS consists of sectors, industry groups, industries and sub-industries. Under the GICS, each company is assigned to one unique sub-industry according to its principal business activity (generally defined as the business activity that generates 60% or more of the company’s revenues). Narrower indexes may be derived based on industry classification, and may contain securities belonging to specific sectors, industry groups, industries, sub-industries or a combination thereof.
MSCI 25/50 Indexes
Each of the MSCI 25/50 Indexes (the “25/50 Indexes”) is a sub-index of either an MSCI Global Standard Index or an MSCI GIMI. Their construction reflects the diversification requirements applicable to RICs pursuant to Subchapter M of the Internal Revenue Code. MSCI uses the concept of “group entities” for the concentration limits of the capping methodologies in the 25/50 Indexes. A group entity is a group of companies that operate as an affiliated corporate group but may separately issue listed securities. To determine “group entities,” MSCI analyzes financial accounts of listed companies holding stakes of 20% or more in other listed companies to determine whether these stakes are controlling in nature. In certain cases, even in the absence of consolidated accounts, MSCI may also consider two companies as belonging to the same group entity where there is reasonable evidence of control based on other information. The 25/50 Indexes are free float-adjusted market capitalization-weighted indexes with a capping methodology applied to group entity weights so that no single group entity exceeds 25% of index weight, and all group entities with a weight above 5% do not cumulatively exceed 50% of the index weight. A buffer of 10% of the value of each of these caps is used in order to reduce the risk of noncompliance due to short term market movements between rebalances. As a result, at the point of constructing or rebalancing the 25/50 Indexes, the weight of any single group entity cannot exceed 22.5% of the index weight and all group entities with weight above 4.5% cannot exceed 45% of the index weight. A software application called the Barra Optimizer is utilized to calculate the capped
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index weights through an optimization function which is aimed at minimizing index turnover, tracking error and extreme deviation from the uncapped index.
MSCI Hedged Indexes
Each of the MSCI Hedged Indexes aims to represent the returns of an MSCI parent equity index with its currency risk hedged back to a single “home country” currency. MSCI provides monthly and daily hedging versions, either fully or partially hedged.
MSCI ACWI ex USA 100% Hedged to USD Index
Number of Components: approximately 2,270
Index Description. The MSCI ACWI ex USA 100% Hedged to USD Index (the “Underlying Index”) is based on the MSCI Hedged Indexes methodology and is an MSCI Global Standard Index. The Underlying Index aims to represent the returns of the MSCI ACWI ex USA Index with its currency risk hedged to the U.S. dollar on a monthly basis. The MSCI ACWI ex USA Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization-weighted index designed to measure the combined equity market performance of developed and emerging markets countries, excluding the U.S. As of July 31, 2022, the Underlying Index consisted of securities from the following countries or regions: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the U.K.
Calculation Methodology. The Fund utilizes the Underlying Index calculated with net dividends reinvested. MSCI uses the index constituent companies’ country of incorporation to determine the relevant dividend withholding tax rates in calculating the net dividends. The regular cash dividend is reinvested after deduction of withholding tax by applying the maximum rate of the company’s country of incorporation applicable to institutional investors. Net dividends means dividends after taxes withheld at the maximum rate applicable to non-resident institutional investors who do not benefit from double taxation treaties. Such withholding rates may differ from those applicable to U.S. residents.
MSCI EAFE 100% Hedged to USD Index
Number of Components: approximately 802
Index Description. The MSCI EAFE 100% Hedged to USD Index (the “Underlying Index”) is based on the MSCI Hedged Indexes methodology and is an MSCI Global Standard Index. The Underlying Index aims to represent the returns of the MSCI EAFE Index with its currency risk hedged to the U.S. dollar on a monthly basis. The MSCI EAFE Index is used as a measure of international stock performance. Constituents of the Underlying Index include securities from Europe, Australasia and the Far East.
Calculation Methodology. The Fund utilizes the Underlying Index calculated with net dividends reinvested. MSCI uses the index constituent companies’ country of incorporation to determine the relevant dividend withholding tax rates in calculating the net dividends. The regular cash dividend is reinvested after deduction of withholding tax by applying the maximum rate of the company’s country of incorporation applicable to institutional investors. Net dividends means dividends after taxes withheld at the maximum rate applicable to non-resident institutional investors who do not benefit from double taxation treaties. Such withholding rates may differ from those applicable to U.S. residents.
MSCI EAFE Small Cap 100% Hedged to USD Index
Number of Components: approximately 2,341
Index Description. The MSCI EAFE Small Cap 100% Hedged to USD Index (the “Underlying Index”) is based on the MSCI Hedged Indexes methodology and is an MSCI Global Small Cap Index. The Underlying Index aims to represent the returns of the MSCI EAFE Small Cap Index with its currency risk hedged to the U.S. dollar on a monthly basis. The MSCI EAFE Small Cap Index represents the small-cap segment (i.e., listed securities with a market capitalization as of July 31, 2022 in the range of $81 million - $9 billion of the MSCI EAFE IMI Index). Under MSCI’s GIMI methodology, the small-cap universe consists of securities of those companies not included in the large-cap or mid-cap segments of a particular market, which together comprise approximately 85% of each market’s free float-adjusted market capitalization. The small-cap segment covers the 85%-99% range of each market’s free float-adjusted market capitalization.
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Calculation Methodology. The Fund utilizes the Underlying Index calculated with net dividends reinvested. MSCI uses the index constituent companies’ country of incorporation to determine the relevant dividend withholding tax rates in calculating the net dividends. The regular cash dividend is reinvested after deduction of withholding tax by applying the maximum rate of the company’s country of incorporation applicable to institutional investors. Net dividends means dividends after taxes withheld at the maximum rate applicable to non-resident institutional investors who do not benefit from double taxation treaties. Such withholding rates may differ from those applicable to U.S. residents.
Additional Information. “MSCI,” MSCI ACWI ex USA 100% Hedged to USD Index, MSCI EAFE® 100% Hedged to USD Index and MSCI EAFE Small Cap 100% Hedged to USD Index are servicemarks of MSCI Inc. and have been licensed for use for certain purposes by BFA or its affiliates. The Funds are neither sponsored, endorsed, sold nor promoted by MSCI Inc., and MSCI Inc. makes no representation regarding the advisability of investing in any of the Funds.
Investment Policies
The Board has adopted as fundamental policies the following numbered investment policies, which cannot be changed without the approval of the holders of a majority of the applicable Fund’s outstanding voting securities. A vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of a Fund is defined in the Investment Company Act as the lesser of (i) 67% or more of the voting securities present at a shareholder meeting, if the holders of more than 50% of the outstanding voting securities of the Fund are present or represented by proxy, or (ii) more than 50% of outstanding voting securities of the Fund. Each Fund has also adopted certain non-fundamental investment policies, including its investment objective. Non-fundamental investment policies may be changed by the Board without shareholder approval. Therefore, each Fund may change its investment objective and its Underlying Index without shareholder approval.
Fundamental Investment Policies
Each Fund may not:
1. Concentrate its investments in a particular industry, as that term is used in the Investment Company Act, except that the Fund will concentrate to approximately the same extent that its Underlying Index concentrates in the securities of a particular industry or group of industries.
2. Borrow money, except as permitted under the Investment Company Act.
3. Issue senior securities to the extent such issuance would violate the Investment Company Act.
4. Purchase or hold real estate, except the Fund may purchase and hold securities or other instruments that are secured by, or linked to, real estate or interests therein, securities of REITs, mortgage-related securities and securities of issuers engaged in the real estate business, and the Fund may purchase and hold real estate as a result of the ownership of securities or other instruments.
5. Underwrite securities issued by others, except to the extent that the sale of portfolio securities by the Fund may be deemed to be an underwriting or as otherwise permitted by applicable law.
6. Purchase or sell commodities or commodity contracts, except as permitted by the Investment Company Act.
7. Make loans to the extent prohibited by the Investment Company Act.
Notations Regarding each Fund's Fundamental Investment Policies
The following notations are not considered to be part of each Fund’s fundamental investment policies and are subject to change without shareholder approval.
With respect to the fundamental policy relating to concentration set forth in (1) above, the Investment Company Act does not define what constitutes “concentration” in an industry. The SEC staff has taken the position that investment of 25% or more of a fund’s total assets in one or more issuers conducting their principal activities in the same industry or group of industries constitutes concentration. It is possible that interpretations of concentration could change in the future. The policy in (1) above will be interpreted to refer to concentration as that term may be interpreted from time to time. The policy also will be interpreted to permit investment without limit in the following: securities of the U.S. government and its agencies or instrumentalities; securities of state, territory, possession or municipal governments and their authorities, agencies, instrumentalities or political subdivisions; and repurchase agreements collateralized by any such obligations. Accordingly, issuers of the foregoing securities will not be considered to be members of any industry. There also will be no limit on
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investment in issuers domiciled in a single jurisdiction or country. Finance companies will be considered to be in the industries of their parents if their activities are primarily related to financing the activities of the parents. Each foreign government will be considered to be a member of a separate industry. With respect to each Fund's industry classifications, each Fund currently utilizes any one or more of the industry sub-classifications used by one or more widely recognized market indexes or rating group indexes, and/or as defined by Fund management. The policy also will be interpreted to give broad authority to each Fund as to how to classify issuers within or among industries.
With respect to the fundamental policy relating to borrowing money set forth in (2) above, the Investment Company Act permits each Fund to borrow money in amounts of up to one-third of the Fund's total assets from banks for any purpose, and to borrow up to 5% of the Fund's total assets from banks or other lenders for temporary purposes. (The Fund's total assets include the amounts being borrowed.) To limit the risks attendant to borrowing, the Investment Company Act requires each Fund to maintain at all times an “asset coverage” of at least 300% of the amount of its borrowings. Asset coverage means the ratio that the value of each Fund’s total assets (including amounts borrowed), minus liabilities other than borrowings, bears to the aggregate amount of all borrowings. Borrowing money to increase portfolio holdings is known as “leveraging.” Certain trading practices and investments, such as reverse repurchase agreements, may be considered to be borrowings or involve leverage and thus are subject to the Investment Company Act restrictions. In accordance with Rule 18f-4 under the Investment Company Act, when each Fund engages in reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions, the Fund may either (i) maintain asset coverage of at least 300% with respect to such transactions and any other borrowings in the aggregate, or (ii) treat such transactions as “derivatives transactions” and comply with Rule 18f-4 with respect to such transactions. Short-term credits necessary for the settlement of securities transactions and arrangements with respect to securities lending will not be considered to be borrowings under the policy. Practices and investments that may involve leverage but are not considered to be borrowings are not subject to the policy.
With respect to the fundamental policy relating to underwriting set forth in (5) above, the Investment Company Act does not prohibit a fund from engaging in the underwriting business or from underwriting the securities of other issuers; in fact, in the case of diversified funds, the Investment Company Act permits a fund to have underwriting commitments of up to 25% of its assets under certain circumstances. Those circumstances currently are that the amount of a fund’s underwriting commitments, when added to the value of a fund’s investments in issuers where a fund owns more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of those issuers, cannot exceed the 25% cap. A fund engaging in transactions involving the acquisition or disposition of portfolio securities may be considered to be an underwriter under the 1933 Act. Although it is not believed that the application of the 1933 Act provisions described above would cause a fund to be engaged in the business of underwriting, the policy in (5) above will be interpreted not to prevent a fund from engaging in transactions involving the acquisition or disposition of portfolio securities, regardless of whether a fund may be considered to be an underwriter under the 1933 Act or is otherwise engaged in the underwriting business to the extent permitted by applicable law.
With respect to the fundamental policy relating to lending set forth in (7) above, the Investment Company Act does not prohibit each Fund from making loans (including lending its securities); however, SEC staff interpretations currently prohibit funds from lending more than one-third of their total assets (including lending its securities), except through the purchase of debt obligations or the use of repurchase agreements. In addition, collateral arrangements with respect to options, forward currency and futures transactions and other derivative instruments (as applicable), as well as delays in the settlement of securities transactions, will not be considered loans.
Non-Fundamental Investment Policies
The iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF has adopted a non-fundamental policy not to invest in the securities of a company for the purpose of exercising management or control, or purchase or otherwise acquire any illiquid security, except as permitted under the 1940 Act, which currently permits up to 15% of the Fund’s net assets to be invested in illiquid securities (calculated at the time of investment).
The iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF has adopted a non-fundamental investment policy in accordance with Rule 35d-1 under the 1940 Act to invest, under normal circumstances, at least 80% of the value of its net assets, plus the amount of any borrowings for investment purposes, in the component securities in its Underlying Index or in Depositary Receipts representing component securities in its Underlying Index. The iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF also has adopted a policy to provide its shareholders with at least 60 days’ prior written notice of any change in such policy. If, subsequent to an
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investment, the 80% requirement is no longer met, the iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF's future investments will be made in a manner that will bring the Fund into compliance with this policy.
If any percentage restriction described above is complied with at the time of an investment, a later increase or decrease in percentage resulting from a change in values of assets will not constitute a violation of such restriction, except that certain percentage limitations will be observed continuously in accordance with applicable law.
All Funds
Each Fund (other than the iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF) has adopted a non-fundamental investment policy in accordance with Rule 35d-1 under the 1940 Act to invest, under normal circumstances, at least 80% of the value of its net assets, plus the amount of any borrowings for investment purposes, in the component securities (including indirect investments through the underlying fund) and other instruments of its Underlying Index or in depositary receipts representing component securities in its Underlying Index. Each Fund also has adopted a policy to provide its shareholders with at least 60 days’ prior written notice of any change in such policy. If, subsequent to an investment, the 80% requirement is no longer met, a Fund's future investments will be made in a manner that will bring the Fund into compliance with this policy.
Under each Fund’s non-fundamental investment policies, a Fund may not purchase securities of other investment companies, except to the extent permitted by the Investment Company Act. As a matter of policy, however, each Fund will not purchase shares of any registered open-end investment company or registered unit investment trust, in reliance on Section 12(d)(1)(F) or (G) (the “fund of funds” provisions) of the Investment Company Act, at any time each Fund has knowledge that its shares are purchased by another investment company investor in reliance on the provisions of subparagraph (G) of Section 12(d)(1).
Each Fund has adopted a non-fundamental policy not to make short sales of securities or maintain a short position, except to the extent permitted by each Fund's Prospectus and SAI, as amended from time to time, and applicable law.
Unless otherwise indicated, all limitations under each Fund's fundamental or non-fundamental investment policies apply only at the time that a transaction is undertaken. Any change in the percentage of each Fund's assets invested in certain securities or other instruments resulting from market fluctuations or other changes in each Fund’s total assets will not require each Fund to dispose of an investment until BFA determines that it is practicable to sell or close out the investment without undue market or tax consequences.
Continuous Offering
The method by which Creation Units are created and traded may raise certain issues under applicable securities laws. Because new Creation Units are issued and sold by the Funds on an ongoing basis, at any point a “distribution,” as such term is used in the 1933 Act, may occur. Broker-dealers and other persons are cautioned that some activities on their part may, depending on the circumstances, result in their being deemed participants in a distribution in a manner that could render them statutory underwriters and subject them to the prospectus delivery requirement and liability provisions of the 1933 Act.
For example, a broker-dealer firm or its client may be deemed a statutory underwriter if it takes Creation Units after placing an order with the Distributor, breaks them down into constituent shares and sells such shares directly to customers or if it chooses to couple the creation of new shares with an active selling effort involving solicitation of secondary market demand for shares. A determination of whether one is an underwriter for purposes of the 1933 Act must take into account all of the facts and circumstances pertaining to the activities of the broker-dealer or its client in the particular case and the examples mentioned above should not be considered a complete description of all the activities that could lead to a categorization as an underwriter.
Broker-dealer firms should also note that dealers who are not “underwriters” but are effecting transactions in shares, whether or not participating in the distribution of shares, generally are required to deliver a prospectus. This is because the prospectus delivery exemption in Section 4(a)(3) of the 1933 Act is not available in respect of such transactions as a result of Section 24(d) of the 1940 Act. Firms that incur a prospectus delivery obligation with respect to shares of the Funds are reminded that, pursuant to Rule 153 under the 1933 Act, a prospectus delivery obligation under Section 5(b)(2) of the 1933 Act owed to an exchange member in connection with a sale on the Listing Exchange generally is satisfied by the fact that the
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prospectus is available at the Listing Exchange upon request. The prospectus delivery mechanism provided in Rule 153 is available only with respect to transactions on an exchange.
Management
Trustees and Officers.  The Board has responsibility for the overall management and operations of the Funds, including general supervision of the duties performed by BFA and other service providers. Each Trustee serves until he or she resigns, is removed, dies, retires or becomes incapacitated. Each officer shall hold office until his or her successor is elected and qualifies or until his or her death, resignation or removal. Trustees who are not “interested persons” (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Trust are referred to as independent trustees (“Independent Trustees”).
The registered investment companies advised by BFA or its affiliates (the “BlackRock-advised Funds”) are organized into one complex of open-end equity, multi-asset, index and money market funds and ETFs (the “BlackRock Multi-Asset Complex”), one complex of closed-end funds and open-end non-index fixed-income funds (including ETFs) (the “BlackRock Fixed-Income Complex”) and one complex of ETFs (“Exchange-Traded Fund Complex”) (each, a “BlackRock Fund Complex”). Each Fund is included in the Exchange-Traded Fund Complex. Each Trustee also serves as a Director of iShares, Inc. and a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust and, as a result, oversees all of the funds within the Exchange-Traded Fund Complex, which consists of 382 funds as of December 1, 2022. With the exception of Robert S. Kapito, Salim Ramji, Dominik Rohé and Charles Park, the address of each Trustee and officer is c/o BlackRock, Inc., 400 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. The address of Mr. Kapito, Mr. Ramji, Mr. Rohé and Mr. Park is c/o BlackRock, Inc., 50 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001. The Board has designated John E. Kerrigan as its Independent Board Chair. Additional information about the Funds' Trustees and officers may be found in this SAI, which is available without charge, upon request, by calling toll-free 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737).
Interested Trustees
Name (Age)   Position   Principal Occupation(s)
During the Past 5 Years
  Other Directorships
Held by Trustee
Robert S. Kapito1
(65)
  Trustee
(since 2009).
  President, BlackRock, Inc. (since 2006); Vice Chairman of BlackRock, Inc. and Head of BlackRock’s Portfolio Management Group (since its formation in 1998) and BlackRock, Inc.’s predecessor entities (since 1988); Trustee, University of Pennsylvania (since 2009); President of Board of Directors, Hope & Heroes Children’s Cancer Fund (since 2002).   Director of BlackRock, Inc. (since 2006); Director of iShares, Inc. (since 2009); Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2011).
Salim Ramji2
(52)
  Trustee (since 2019).   Senior Managing Director, BlackRock, Inc. (since 2014); Global Head of BlackRock’s ETF and Index Investments Business (since 2019); Head of BlackRock’s U.S. Wealth Advisory Business (2015-2019); Global Head of Corporate Strategy, BlackRock, Inc. (2014-2015); Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company (2010-2014).   Director of iShares, Inc. (since 2019); Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2019).

1 Robert S. Kapito is deemed to be an “interested person” (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Trust due to his affiliations with BlackRock, Inc. and its affiliates.
2 Salim Ramji is deemed to be an “interested person” (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Trust due to his affiliations with BlackRock, Inc. and its affiliates.
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Independent Trustees
Name (Age)   Position   Principal Occupation(s)
During the Past 5 Years
  Other Directorships
Held by Trustee
John E. Kerrigan
(67)
  Trustee
(since 2005); Independent Board Chair
(since 2022).
  Chief Investment Officer, Santa Clara University (since 2002).   Director of iShares, Inc. (since 2005); Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2011); Independent Board Chair of iShares, Inc. and iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2022).
Jane D. Carlin
(66)
  Trustee
(since 2015); Risk Committee Chair (since 2016).
  Consultant (since 2012); Member of the Audit Committee (2012-2018), Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee (2017-2018) and Director of PHH Corporation (mortgage solutions) (2012-2018); Managing Director and Global Head of Financial Holding Company Governance & Assurance and the Global Head of Operational Risk Management of Morgan Stanley (2006-2012).   Director of iShares, Inc. (since 2015); Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2015); Member of the Audit Committee (since 2016), Chair of the Audit Committee (since 2020) and Director of The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. (since 2016).
Richard L. Fagnani
(68)
  Trustee
(since 2017); Audit Committee Chair (since 2019).
  Partner, KPMG LLP (2002-2016); Director of One Generation Away (since 2021).   Director of iShares, Inc. (since 2017); Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2017).
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Name (Age)   Position   Principal Occupation(s)
During the Past 5 Years
  Other Directorships
Held by Trustee
Cecilia H. Herbert
(73)
  Trustee
(since 2005); Nominating and Governance and Equity Plus Committee Chairs
(since 2022).
  Chair of the Finance Committee (since 2019) and Trustee and Member of the Finance, Audit and Quality Committees of Stanford Health Care (since 2016); Trustee of WNET, New York's public media company (since 2011) and Member of the Audit Committee (since 2018), Investment Committee (since 2011) and Personnel Committee (since 2022); Chair (1994-2005) and Member (1992-2021) of the Investment Committee, Archdiocese of San Francisco; Trustee of Forward Funds (14 portfolios) (2009-2018); Trustee of Salient MF Trust (4 portfolios) (2015-2018); Director (1998-2013) and President (2007-2011) of the Board of Directors, Catholic Charities CYO; Trustee (2002-2011) and Chair of the Finance and Investment Committee (2006-2010) of the Thacher School; Director of the Senior Center of Jackson Hole (since 2020); Director of the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts (since 2021); Member of the Wyoming State Investment Funds Committee (since 2022).   Director of iShares, Inc. (since 2005); Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2011).
Drew E. Lawton
(63)
  Trustee
(since 2017); 15(c) Committee Chair (since 2017).
  Senior Managing Director of New York Life Insurance Company (2010-2015).   Director of iShares, Inc. (since 2017); Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2017); Director of Jackson Financial Inc. (since 2021).
John E. Martinez
(61)
  Trustee
(since 2003);
Securities Lending Committee Chair
(since 2019).
  Director of Real Estate Equity Exchange, Inc. (since 2005); Director of Cloudera Foundation (2017-2020); and Director of Reading Partners (2012-2016).   Director of iShares, Inc. (since 2003); Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2011).
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Name (Age)   Position   Principal Occupation(s)
During the Past 5 Years
  Other Directorships
Held by Trustee
Madhav V. Rajan
(58)
  Trustee
(since 2011); Fixed Income Plus Committee Chair (since 2019).
  Dean, and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Accounting, University of Chicago Booth School of Business (since 2017); Advisory Board Member (since 2016) and Director (since 2020) of C.M. Capital Corporation; Chair of the Board for the Center for Research in Security Prices, LLC (since 2020); Robert K. Jaedicke Professor of Accounting, Stanford University Graduate School of Business (2001-2017); Professor of Law (by courtesy), Stanford Law School (2005-2017); Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Head of MBA Program, Stanford University Graduate School of Business (2010-2016).   Director of iShares, Inc. (since 2011);
Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust (since 2011).
Officers
Name (Age)   Position   Principal Occupation(s)
During the Past 5 Years
Dominik Rohé (49)   President (since 2023).   Managing Director, BlackRock, Inc. (since 2005); Head of Americas ETF and Index Investments (since 2023); Head of Latin America (2019-2023).
Trent Walker
(48)
  Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer
(since 2020).
  Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc. (since September 2019); Chief Financial Officer of iShares Delaware Trust Sponsor LLC, BlackRock Funds, BlackRock Funds II, BlackRock Funds IV, BlackRock Funds V and BlackRock Funds VI (since 2021); Executive Vice President of PIMCO (2016-2019); Senior Vice President of PIMCO (2008-2015); Treasurer (2013-2019) and Assistant Treasurer (2007-2017) of PIMCO Funds, PIMCO Variable Insurance Trust, PIMCO ETF Trust, PIMCO Equity Series, PIMCO Equity Series VIT, PIMCO Managed Accounts Trust, 2 PIMCO-sponsored interval funds and 21 PIMCO-sponsored closed-end funds.
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Name (Age)   Position   Principal Occupation(s)
During the Past 5 Years
Charles Park
(55)
  Chief Compliance Officer (since 2006).   Chief Compliance Officer of BlackRock Advisors, LLC and the BlackRock-advised Funds in the BlackRock Multi-Asset Complex and the BlackRock Fixed-Income Complex (since 2014); Chief Compliance Officer of BFA (since 2006).
Marisa Rolland
(42)
  Secretary (since 2022).   Managing Director, BlackRock, Inc. (since 2023); Director, BlackRock, Inc. (2018-2022); Vice President, BlackRock, Inc. (2010-2017).
Rachel Aguirre
(40)
  Executive Vice President (since 2022).   Managing Director, BlackRock, Inc. (since 2018); Director, BlackRock, Inc. (2009-2018); Head of U.S. iShares Product (since 2022); Head of EII U.S. Product Engineering (since 2021); Co-Head of EII’s Americas Portfolio Engineering (2020-2021); Head of Developed Markets Portfolio Engineering (2016-2019).
Jennifer Hsui
(46)
  Executive Vice President (since 2022).   Managing Director, BlackRock, Inc. (since 2009); Co-Head of Index Equity (since 2022).
James Mauro
(52)
  Executive Vice President (since 2021).   Managing Director, BlackRock, Inc. (since 2010); Head of Fixed Income Index Investments in the Americas and Head of San Francisco Core Portfolio Management (since 2020).
The Board has concluded that, based on each Trustee’s experience, qualifications, attributes or skills on an individual basis and in combination with those of the other Trustees, each Trustee should serve as a Trustee of the Board. Among the attributes common to all Trustees are their ability to review critically, evaluate, question and discuss information provided to them, to interact effectively with the Funds' investment adviser, other service providers, counsel and the independent registered public accounting firm, and to exercise effective business judgment in the performance of their duties as Trustees. A Trustee’s ability to perform his or her duties effectively may have been attained through the Trustee’s educational background or professional training; business, consulting, public service or academic positions; experience from service as a Board member of the Funds and the other funds in the Trust (and any predecessor funds), other investment funds, public companies, or non-profit entities or other organizations; and/or other life experiences. Also, set forth below is a brief discussion of the specific experience, qualifications, attributes or skills of each Trustee that led the Board to conclude that he or she should serve (or continue to serve) as a Trustee.
Robert S. Kapito has been a Trustee of the Trust since 2009. Mr. Kapito has also served as a Director of iShares, Inc. since 2009, a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2011 and a Director of BlackRock, Inc. since 2006. Mr. Kapito served as a Director of iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF, Inc. from 2010 to 2015. In addition, he has over 20 years of experience as part of BlackRock, Inc. and BlackRock’s predecessor entities. Mr. Kapito serves as President of BlackRock, Inc., and is a member of the Global Executive Committee and Chairman of the Global Operating Committee. He is responsible for day-to-day oversight of BlackRock's key operating units, including Investment Strategies, Client Businesses, Technology & Operations, and Risk & Quantitative Analysis. Prior to assuming his current responsibilities in 2007, Mr. Kapito served as Vice Chairman of BlackRock, Inc. and Head of BlackRock's Portfolio Management Group. In that role, he was responsible for overseeing all portfolio management within BlackRock, including the Fixed Income, Equity, Liquidity, and Alternative Investment Groups. Mr. Kapito serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and the Harvard Business School Board of
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Dean’s Advisors. He has also been President of the Board of Directors for the Hope & Heroes Children's Cancer Fund since 2002. Mr. Kapito earned a BS degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1979, and an MBA degree from Harvard Business School in 1983.
Salim Ramji has been a Trustee of the Trust since 2019. Mr. Ramji has also served as a Director of iShares, Inc. and a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2019. Mr. Ramji is the Global Head of BlackRock’s ETF and Index Investments business. In addition, he is a member of BlackRock’s Global Executive Committee. Prior to assuming his current responsibilities in 2019, Mr. Ramji was Head of BlackRock's U.S. Wealth Advisory business, where he was responsible for leading BlackRock's relationships with wealth management firms and platforms, for distributing BlackRock's alpha-seeking and iShares investment capabilities and for the adoption of BlackRock's portfolio construction and digital wealth technologies to financial advisors. Mr. Ramji joined BlackRock in 2014, serving initially as the Global Head of Corporate Strategy. Prior to BlackRock, Mr. Ramji was a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, where he led the Asset and Wealth Management practice areas. He started his career as a corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions lawyer at Clifford Chance LLP in London and Hong Kong. He has served as a Trustee of Graham Windham, a New York-based child care agency, since 2007. Mr. Ramji earned a bachelor's degree in economics and politics from University of Toronto, a law degree from Cambridge University and is a CFA charter holder.
John E. Kerrigan has been a Trustee of the Trust since 2005 and Chair of the Trust's Board since 2022. Mr. Kerrigan has also served as a Director of iShares, Inc. since 2005, a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2011, Chair of the Equity Plus and Nominating and Governance Committees of each Board from 2019 to 2021, and as Chair of each Board since 2022. Mr. Kerrigan served as a Director of iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF, Inc. from 2010 to 2015. Mr. Kerrigan has served as Chief Investment Officer of Santa Clara University since 2002. Mr. Kerrigan was formerly a Managing Director at Merrill Lynch & Co., including the following responsibilities: Managing Director, Institutional Client Division, Western United States. Mr. Kerrigan has been a Director, since 1999, of The BASIC Fund (Bay Area Scholarships for Inner City Children). Mr. Kerrigan has a BA degree from Boston College and is a Chartered Financial Analyst Charterholder.
Jane D. Carlin has been a Trustee of the Trust since 2015 and Chair of the Risk Committee since 2016. Ms. Carlin has also served as a Director of iShares, Inc. and a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2015, and Chair of the Risk Committee of each Board since 2016. Ms. Carlin has served as a consultant since 2012 and formerly served as Managing Director and Global Head of Financial Holding Company Governance & Assurance and the Global Head of Operational Risk Management of Morgan Stanley from 2006 to 2012. In addition, Ms. Carlin served as Managing Director and Global Head of the Bank Operational Risk Oversight Department of Credit Suisse Group from 2003 to 2006. Prior to that, Ms. Carlin served as Managing Director and Deputy General Counsel of Morgan Stanley. Ms. Carlin has over 30 years of experience in the financial sector and has served in a number of legal, regulatory, and risk management positions. Ms. Carlin has served as a member of the Audit Committee and as a Director of The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc., each since 2016, and as Chair of the Audit Committee since 2020. Ms. Carlin served as a member of the Audit Committee from 2012 to 2018, Chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee from 2017 to 2018 and as an Independent Director on the Board of PHH Corporation from 2012 to 2018. She previously served as a Director on the Boards of Astoria Financial Corporation and Astoria Bank. Ms. Carlin was appointed by the United States Treasury to the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security, where she served as Chairperson from 2010 to 2012 and Vice Chair and Chair of the Cyber Security Committee from 2009 to 2010. Ms. Carlin has a BA degree in political science from State University of New York at Stony Brook and a JD degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Richard L. Fagnani has been a Trustee of the Trust since 2017 and Chair of the Audit Committee of the Trust since 2019. Mr. Fagnani has also served as a Director of iShares, Inc. and a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2017, and Chair of the Audit Committee of each Board since 2019. Mr. Fagnani served as an Advisory Board Member of the Trust, iShares U.S. ETF Trust and iShares, Inc. from April 2017 to June 2017. Mr. Fagnani served as a Senior Audit Partner at KPMG LLP from 2002 to 2016, most recently as the U.S. asset management audit practice leader responsible for setting strategic direction and execution of the operating plan for the asset management audit practice. In addition, from 1977 to 2002, Mr. Fagnani served as an Audit Partner at Andersen LLP, where he developed and managed the asset management audit practice in the Philadelphia office. Mr. Fagnani served as a Trustee on the Board of the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia from 2009 to 2014 and as a member of the School of Business Advisory Board at LaSalle University from 2006 to 2014. Mr. Fagnani has also served as a Director of One Generation Away, a non-profit which works to bring healthy food directly to people in need, since 2021. Mr. Fagnani has a BS degree in Accounting from LaSalle University.
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Cecilia H. Herbert has been a Trustee of the Trust since 2005 and Chair of the Equity Plus and Nominating and Governance Committees of the Trust since 2022. Ms. Herbert has also served as a Director of iShares, Inc. since 2005, a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2011, Chair of the Trust's Board from 2016 to 2021, and Chair of the Equity Plus and Nominating and Governance Committees of each Board since 2022. Ms. Herbert served as a Director of iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF, Inc. from 2010 to 2015. Previously, Ms. Herbert served as Trustee of the Montgomery Funds from 1992 to 2003, the Pacific Select Funds from 2004 to 2005, the Forward Funds from 2009 to 2018, the Salient Funds from 2015 to 2018 and the Thrivent Church Loan and Income Fund from 2019 to 2022. She has served as a member of the Finance, Audit and Quality Committees and Trustee of Stanford Health Care since 2016 and became Chair of the Finance Committee of Stanford Health Care in 2019. She has served as a Trustee of WNET, New York’s public media station, since 2011 and a Member of its Audit Committee since 2018. She was appointed to the Wyoming State Investment Funds Committee in 2022. She became a member of the Governing Council of the Independent Directors Council in 2018. She has served as a Director of the Senior Center of Jackson Hole since 2020 and of the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts since 2021. She was President of the Board of Catholic Charities CYO, the largest social services agency in the San Francisco Bay Area, from 2007 to 2011 and a member of that board from 1992 to 2013. She worked from 1973 to 1990 at J.P. Morgan/Morgan Guaranty Trust doing international corporate finance and corporate lending, retiring as Managing Director and Head of the West Coast Office. Ms. Herbert has been on numerous non-profit boards, chairing investment and finance committees. She holds a double major in economics and communications from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Drew E. Lawton has been a Trustee of the Trust since 2017 and Chair of the 15(c) Committee of the Trust since 2017. Mr. Lawton has also served as a Director of iShares, Inc., a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust, and Chair of the 15(c) Committee of each Board since 2017. Mr. Lawton also served as an Advisory Board Member of the Trust, iShares, Inc. and iShares U.S. ETF Trust from 2016 to 2017. Mr. Lawton served as Director of Principal Funds, Inc., Principal Variable Contracts Funds, Inc. and Principal Exchange-Traded Funds from March 2016 to October 2016. Mr. Lawton has also served as a member of the Compensation and Finance and Risk Committees and Director of Jackson Financial Inc. since 2021. Mr. Lawton served in various capacities at New York Life Insurance Company from 2010 to 2015, most recently as a Senior Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of New York Life Investment Management. From 2008 to 2010, Mr. Lawton was the President of Fridson Investment Advisors, LLC. Mr. Lawton previously held multiple roles at Fidelity Investments from 1997 to 2008. Mr. Lawton has been an Adjunct Professor at the University of North Texas since 2021. Mr. Lawton has a BA degree in Administrative Science from Yale University and an MBA from University of North Texas.
John E. Martinez has been a Trustee of the Trust since 2003 and Chair of the Securities Lending Committee of the Trust since 2019. Mr. Martinez has also served as a Director of iShares, Inc. since 2003, a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2011, and Chair of the Securities Lending Committee of each Board since 2019. Mr. Martinez served as a Director of iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF, Inc. from 2010 to 2015. Mr. Martinez is a Director of Real Estate Equity Exchange, Inc., providing governance oversight and consulting services to this privately held firm that develops products and strategies for homeowners in managing the equity in their homes. From 2017 to 2020, Mr. Martinez served as a Board member for the Cloudera Foundation. Mr. Martinez previously served as Director of Barclays Global Investors (“BGI”) UK Holdings, where he provided governance oversight representing BGI’s shareholders (Barclays PLC, BGI management shareholders) through oversight of BGI’s worldwide activities. Mr. Martinez also previously served as Co-Chief Executive Officer of the Global Index and Markets Group of BGI, Chairman of Barclays Global Investor Services and Chief Executive Officer of the Capital Markets Group of BGI. From 2003 to 2012, he was a Director and Executive Committee Member for Larkin Street Youth Services. He now serves on the Larkin Street Honorary Board. From 2012 to 2016, Mr. Martinez served as a Director for Reading Partners. Mr. Martinez has an AB degree in economics from The University of California, Berkeley and holds an MBA degree in finance and statistics from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Madhav V. Rajan has been a Trustee of the Trust since 2011 and Chair of the Fixed Income Plus Committee of the Trust since 2019. Mr. Rajan has also served as a Director of iShares, Inc. and a Trustee of iShares U.S. ETF Trust since 2011, and Chair of the Fixed Income Plus Committee of each Board since 2019. Mr. Rajan served as a Director of iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF, Inc. from 2011 to 2015. Mr. Rajan is the Dean and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Accounting at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and also serves as Chair of the Board for the Center for Research in Security Prices, LLC, an affiliate of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, since 2020. He has served on the Advisory Board of C.M. Capital Corporation since 2016 and as a Director of C.M. Capital Corporation since 2020. From 2001 to 2017, Mr. Rajan was the Robert K. Jaedicke Professor of Accounting at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. In April 2017, he received the school’s Robert T. Davis Award for Lifetime Achievement and Service. He has taught accounting for over 25 years to undergraduate, MBA and law students, as well as to senior executives. From 2010 to 2016, Mr. Rajan served as the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and head of the MBA Program at the Stanford University Graduate School of
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Business. Mr. Rajan served as editor of “The Accounting Review” from 2002 to 2008 and is co-author of “Cost Accounting: A Managerial Emphasis,” a leading cost accounting textbook. From 2013 to 2018, Mr. Rajan served on the Board of Directors of Cavium Inc., a semiconductor company. Mr. Rajan holds MS and PhD degrees in Accounting from Carnegie Mellon University.
Board – Leadership Structure and Oversight Responsibilities
Overall responsibility for oversight of the Funds rests with the Board. The Board has engaged BFA to manage the Funds on a day-to-day basis. The Board is responsible for overseeing BFA and other service providers in the operations of the Funds in accordance with the provisions of the 1940 Act, applicable provisions of state and other laws and the Trust’s charter. The Board is currently composed of nine members, seven of whom are Independent Trustees. The Board currently conducts regular in person meetings four times a year. In addition, the Board frequently holds special in person or telephonic meetings or informal conference calls to discuss specific matters that may arise or require action between regular meetings. The Independent Trustees meet regularly outside the presence of management, in executive session or with other service providers to the Trust.
The Board has appointed an Independent Trustee to serve in the role of Board Chair. The Board Chair’s role is to preside at all meetings of the Board and to act as a liaison with service providers, officers, attorneys, and other Trustees generally between meetings. The Board Chair may also perform such other functions as may be delegated by the Board from time to time. The Board has established seven standing Committees: a Nominating and Governance Committee, an Audit Committee, a 15(c) Committee, a Securities Lending Committee, a Risk Committee, an Equity Plus Committee and a Fixed Income Plus Committee to assist the Board in the oversight and direction of the business and affairs of the Funds, and from time to time the Board may establish ad hoc committees or informal working groups to review and address the policies and practices of the Funds with respect to certain specified matters. The Chair of each standing Committee is an Independent Trustee. The role of the Chair of each Committee is to preside at all meetings of the Committee and to act as a liaison with service providers, officers, attorneys and other Trustees between meetings. Each standing Committee meets regularly to conduct the oversight functions delegated to the Committee by the Board and reports its finding to the Board. The Board and each standing Committee conduct annual assessments of their oversight function and structure. The Board has determined that the Board’s leadership structure is appropriate because it allows the Board to exercise independent judgment over management and it allocates areas of responsibility among committees of Independent Trustees and the full Board to enhance effective oversight.
Day-to-day risk management with respect to the Funds is the responsibility of BFA or other service providers (depending on the nature of the risk), subject to the supervision of BFA. Each Fund is subject to a number of risks, including investment, compliance, operational, reputational, counterparty and valuation risks, among others. While there are a number of risk management functions performed by BFA and other service providers, as applicable, it is not possible to identify and eliminate all of the risks applicable to the Funds. The Trustees have an oversight role in this area, satisfying themselves that risk management processes and controls are in place and operating effectively. Risk oversight forms part of the Board’s general oversight of each Fund and is addressed as part of various Board and committee activities. In some cases, risk management issues are specifically addressed in presentations and discussions. For example, BFA has an independent dedicated Risk and Quantitative Analysis Group (“RQA”) that assists BFA in managing fiduciary and corporate risks, including investment, operational, counterparty credit and enterprise risk. Representatives of RQA meet with the Board to discuss their analysis and methodologies, as well as specific risk topics such as operational and counterparty risks relating to the Funds. The Board, directly or through a committee, also reviews reports from, among others, management and the independent registered public accounting firm for the Trust, as appropriate, regarding risks faced by each Fund and management’s risk functions. The Board has appointed a Chief Compliance Officer who oversees the implementation and testing of the Trust's compliance program, including assessments by independent third parties, and reports to the Board regarding compliance matters for the Trust and its principal service providers. In testing and maintaining the compliance program, the Chief Compliance Officer (and his or her delegates) assesses key compliance risks affecting each Fund, and addresses them in periodic reports to the Board. In addition, the Audit Committee meets with both the Funds' independent registered public accounting firm and BFA’s internal audit group to review risk controls in place that support each Fund as well as test results. Board oversight of risk is also performed as needed between meetings through communications between BFA and the Board. The Independent Trustees have engaged independent legal counsel to assist them in performing their oversight responsibilities. From time to time, the Board may modify the manner in which it conducts risk oversight. The Board’s oversight role does not make it a guarantor of the Funds' investment performance or other activities.
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Committees of the Board of Trustees.  The members of the Audit Committee are Richard L. Fagnani (Chair), Cecilia H. Herbert and Madhav V. Rajan, each of whom is an Independent Trustee. The purposes of the Audit Committee are to assist the Board (i) in its oversight of the Trust's accounting and financial reporting principles and policies and related controls and procedures maintained by or on behalf of the Trust; (ii) in its oversight of the Trust's financial statements and the independent audit thereof; (iii) in selecting, evaluating and, where deemed appropriate, replacing the independent accountants (or nominating the independent accountants to be proposed for shareholder approval in any proxy statement); (iv) in evaluating the independence of the independent accountants; (v) in complying with legal and regulatory requirements that relate to the Trust's accounting and financial reporting, internal controls, compliance controls and independent audits; and (vi) to assume such other responsibilities as may be delegated by the Board. The Audit Committee met four times during the fiscal year ended July 31, 2022.
The members of the Nominating and Governance Committee are Cecilia H. Herbert (Chair), Madhav V. Rajan and Drew E. Lawton, each of whom is an Independent Trustee. The Nominating and Governance Committee nominates individuals for Independent Trustee membership on the Board and recommends appointments to the Advisory Board. The Nominating and Governance Committee functions include, but are not limited to, the following: (i) reviewing the qualifications of any person properly identified or nominated to serve as an Independent Trustee; (ii) recommending to the Board and current Independent Trustees the nominee(s) for appointment as an Independent Trustee by the Board and current Independent Trustees and/or for election as Independent Trustees by shareholders to fill any vacancy for a position of Independent Trustee(s) on the Board; (iii) recommending to the Board and current Independent Trustees the size and composition of the Board and Board committees and whether they comply with applicable laws and regulations; (iv) recommending a current Independent Trustee to the Board and current Independent Trustees to serve as Board Chair; (v) periodic review of the Board's retirement policy; and (vi) recommending an appropriate level of compensation for the Independent Trustees for their services as Trustees, members or chairpersons of committees of the Board, Board Chair and any other positions as the Nominating and Governance Committee considers appropriate. The Nominating and Governance Committee does not consider Board nominations recommended by shareholders (acting solely in their capacity as a shareholder and not in any other capacity). The Nominating and Governance Committee met two times during the fiscal year ended July 31, 2022.
Each Independent Trustee serves on the 15(c) Committee. The Chair of the 15(c) Committee is Drew E. Lawton. The principal responsibilities of the 15(c) Committee are to support, oversee and organize on behalf of the Board the process for the annual review and renewal of the Trust's advisory and sub-advisory agreements. These responsibilities include: (i) meeting with BlackRock, Inc. in advance of the Board meeting at which the Trust's advisory and sub-advisory agreements are to be considered to discuss generally the process for providing requested information to the Board and the format in which information will be provided; and (ii) considering and discussing with BlackRock, Inc. such other matters and information as may be necessary and appropriate for the Board to evaluate the investment advisory and sub-advisory agreements of the Trust. The 15(c) Committee met two times during the fiscal year ended July 31, 2022.
The members of the Securities Lending Committee are John E. Martinez (Chair), Jane D. Carlin and Drew E. Lawton, each of whom is an Independent Trustee. The principal responsibilities of the Securities Lending Committee are to support, oversee and organize on behalf of the Board the process for oversight of the Trust's securities lending activities. These responsibilities include: (i) requesting that certain information be provided to the Committee for its review and consideration prior to such information being provided to the Board; (ii) considering and discussing with BlackRock, Inc. such other matters and information as may be necessary and appropriate for the Board to oversee the Trust's securities lending activities and make required findings and approvals; and (iii) providing a recommendation to the Board regarding the annual approval of the Trust's Securities Lending Guidelines and the required findings with respect to, and annual approval of, the Trust's agreement with the securities lending agent. The Securities Lending Committee met six times during the fiscal year ended July 31, 2022.
The members of the Equity Plus Committee are Cecilia H. Herbert (Chair), John E. Martinez and Drew E. Lawton, each of whom is an Independent Trustee. The principal responsibilities of the Equity Plus Committee are to support, oversee and organize on behalf of the Board the process for oversight of Trust performance and related matters for equity funds. These responsibilities include: (i) reviewing quarterly reports regarding Trust performance, secondary market trading and changes in net assets to identify any matters that should be brought to the attention of the Board; and (ii) considering any performance or investment related matters as may be delegated to the Committee by the Board from time to time and providing a report or recommendation to the Board as appropriate. The Equity Plus Committee met four times during the fiscal year ended July 31, 2022.
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The members of the Fixed Income Plus Committee are Madhav V. Rajan (Chair), Jane D. Carlin and Richard L. Fagnani, each of whom is an Independent Trustee. The principal responsibilities of the Fixed Income Plus Committee are to support, oversee and organize on behalf of the Board the process for oversight of Trust performance and related matters for fixed-income or multi-asset funds. These responsibilities include: (i) reviewing quarterly reports regarding Trust performance, secondary market trading and changes in net assets to identify any matters that should be brought to the attention of the Board; and (ii) considering any performance or investment related matters as may be delegated to the Committee by the Board from time to time and providing a report or recommendation to the Board as appropriate. The Fixed Income Plus Committee met four times during the fiscal year ended July 31, 2022.
The members of the Risk Committee are Jane D. Carlin (Chair), Richard L. Fagnani and John E. Martinez, each of whom is an Independent Trustee. The principal responsibility of the Risk Committee is to consider and organize on behalf of the Board risk related matters of the Funds so the Board may most effectively structure itself to oversee them. The Risk Committee commenced on January 1, 2016. The Risk Committee met eight times during the fiscal year ended July 31, 2022.
As the Chair of the Board, John E. Kerrigan may serve as an ex-officio member of each Committee.
The following table sets forth, as of December 31, 2021, the dollar range of equity securities beneficially owned by each Trustee in the Funds and in other registered investment companies overseen by the Trustee within the same family of investment companies as the Trust. If a fund is not listed below, the Trustee did not own any securities in that fund as of the date indicated above:
Name   Fund   Dollar Range of Equity
Securities in Named Fund
  Aggregate Dollar Range
of Equity Securities in all
Registered Investment
Companies Overseen by
Trustee
in Family of
Investment Companies
Robert S. Kapito   None   None   None
             
Salim Ramji   iShares Broad USD Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF   Over $100,000   Over $100,000
    iShares Commodity Curve Carry Strategy ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
    iShares Core Dividend Growth ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core MSCI Total International Stock ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares Core S&P 500 ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares Expanded Tech Sector ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares Expanded Tech-Software Sector ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares GSCI Commodity Dynamic Roll Strategy ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
    iShares MSCI USA ESG Select ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Multisector ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares TIPS Bond ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
             
John E. Kerrigan   iShares Core S&P 500 ETF   Over $100,000   Over $100,000
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Name   Fund   Dollar Range of Equity
Securities in Named Fund
  Aggregate Dollar Range
of Equity Securities in all
Registered Investment
Companies Overseen by
Trustee
in Family of
Investment Companies
    iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
    iShares ESG Advanced MSCI EAFE ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares ESG Advanced MSCI USA ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares ESG Aware MSCI EAFE ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares ESG Aware MSCI EM ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
    iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA Small-Cap ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Exponential Technologies ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Genomics Immunology and Healthcare ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Global Clean Energy ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Global Infrastructure ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Global Tech ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares MSCI ACWI ex U.S. ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares MSCI EAFE Growth ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares MSCI EAFE Value ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares MSCI KLD 400 Social ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares MSCI USA ESG Select ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares MSCI USA Min Vol Factor ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares MSCI USA Value Factor ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
    iShares U.S. Energy ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares U.S. Financial Services ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
             
Jane D. Carlin   iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF   Over $100,000   Over $100,000
    iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Global Clean Energy ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares MSCI ACWI ex U.S. ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares MSCI Global Metals & Mining Producers ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Select Dividend ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
             
Richard L. Fagnani   iShares 0-5 Year TIPS Bond ETF   $10,001-$50,000   Over $100,000
    iShares China Large-Cap ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
    iShares Core Dividend Growth ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Core S&P 500 ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
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Name   Fund   Dollar Range of Equity
Securities in Named Fund
  Aggregate Dollar Range
of Equity Securities in all
Registered Investment
Companies Overseen by
Trustee
in Family of
Investment Companies
    iShares Core U.S. REIT ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Exponential Technologies ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Global Clean Energy ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares GSCI Commodity Dynamic Roll Strategy ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares MSCI All Country Asia ex Japan ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares MSCI Japan ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares MSCI Singapore ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares MSCI USA Equal Weighted ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares MSCI USA Quality Factor ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Multisector ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares TIPS Bond ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares U.S. Infrastructure ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares U.S. Regional Banks ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
             
Cecilia H. Herbert   iShares California Muni Bond ETF   Over $100,000   Over $100,000
    iShares Core Dividend Growth ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares Core MSCI Total International Stock ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Core S&P 500 ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core S&P U.S. Growth ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core S&P U.S. Value ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares International Select Dividend ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares MSCI EAFE ETF   $1-$10,000    
    iShares MSCI Japan ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares MSCI USA Value Factor ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares National Muni Bond ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
             
Drew E. Lawton   BlackRock Ultra Short-Term Bond ETF   Over $100,000   Over $100,000
    iShares 0-5 Year High Yield Corporate Bond ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
    iShares Biotechnology ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core Dividend Growth ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core MSCI Total International Stock ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF   Over $100,000    
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Name   Fund   Dollar Range of Equity
Securities in Named Fund
  Aggregate Dollar Range
of Equity Securities in all
Registered Investment
Companies Overseen by
Trustee
in Family of
Investment Companies
    iShares Expanded Tech Sector ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Exponential Technologies ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Global Financials ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares U.S. Financial Services ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares U.S. Financials ETF   $50,001-$100,000    
    iShares U.S. Healthcare ETF   Over $100,000    
             
John E. Martinez   iShares 1-5 Year Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF   Over $100,000   Over $100,000
    iShares Core MSCI International Developed Markets ETF   $10,001-$50,000    
    iShares Core S&P 500 ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Global Consumer Staples ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Russell 1000 ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF   Over $100,000    
    iShares Russell 2000 ETF   Over $100,000    
             
Madhav V. Rajan   None   None   None
As of December 31, 2021, none of the Independent Trustees or their immediate family members owned beneficially or of record any securities of BFA (the Funds' investment adviser), the Distributor or any person controlling, controlled by or under common control with BFA or the Distributor.
Remuneration of Trustees and Advisory Board Members.  Effective January 1, 2022, each current Independent Trustee is paid an annual retainer of $425,000 for his or her services as a Board member to the BlackRock-advised Funds in the Exchange-Traded Fund Complex, together with out-of-pocket expenses in accordance with the Board’s policy on travel and other business expenses relating to attendance at meetings. The annual retainer for services as an Advisory Board Member is the same as the annual retainer for services as a Board member.  The Independent Chair of the Board is paid an additional annual retainer of $80,000. The Chair of each of the Equity Plus Committee, Fixed Income Plus Committee, Securities Lending Committee, Nominating and Governance Committee and 15(c) Committee is paid an additional annual retainer of $25,000. The Chair of each of the Audit Committee and Risk Committee is paid an additional annual retainer of $40,000. Each Independent Trustee that served as a director of subsidiaries of the Exchange-Traded Fund Complex is paid an additional annual retainer of $10,000 (plus an additional $1,765 paid annually to compensate for taxes due in the Republic of Mauritius in connection with such Trustee’s service on the boards of certain Mauritius-based subsidiaries).
The table below sets forth the compensation earned by each Independent Trustee and Interested Trustee for services to the Fund for the fiscal year ended July 31, 2022 and the aggregate compensation paid to them for services to the Exchange-Traded Fund Complex for the calendar year ended December 31, 2021.
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Name   iShares Currency
Hedged MSCI ACWI
ex U.S. ETF
  iShares Currency
Hedged MSCI
EAFE ETF
  iShares Currency
Hedged
MSCI EAFE
Small-Cap ETF
Independent Trustees:            
             
Jane D. Carlin   $ 2,249   $4   $22
Richard L. Fagnani   2,280   4   23
Cecilia H. Herbert   2,393   5   24
John E. Kerrigan   2,419   5   24
Drew E. Lawton   2,205   4   22
John E. Martinez   2,205   4   22
Madhav V. Rajan   2,205   4   22
             
Interested Trustees:            
             
Robert S. Kapito   $ 0   $0   $0
Salim Ramji   0   0   0
    
Name   Pension or
Retirement Benefits
Accrued As Part
of Trust Expenses1
  Estimated
Annual Benefits
Upon Retirement1
  Total Compensation
From the Funds
and Fund Complex2
Independent Trustees:            
             
Jane D. Carlin   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   $420,000
Richard L. Fagnani   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   446,764
Cecilia H. Herbert   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   475,000
John E. Kerrigan   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   445,000
Drew E. Lawton   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   431,764
John E. Martinez   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   420,000
Madhav V. Rajan   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   420,000
             
Interested Trustees:            
             
Robert S. Kapito   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   $0
Salim Ramji   Not Applicable   Not Applicable   0

1 No Trustee or officer is entitled to any pension or retirement benefits from the Trust.
2 Also includes compensation for service on the Board of Trustees of iShares U.S. ETF Trust and the Board of Directors of iShares, Inc.
Control Persons and Principal Holders of Securities.
The Trustees and officers of the Trust collectively owned less than 1% of the Fund's outstanding shares as of October 31, 2022.
Although the Trust does not have information concerning the beneficial ownership of shares held in the names of Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) participants (as defined below), as of October 31, 2022, the name and percentage ownership of each DTC participant that owned of record 5% or more of the outstanding shares of a Fund were as follows:
Fund   Name   Percentage
of Ownership
iShares Currency Hedged MSCI ACWI ex U.S. ETF   Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
101 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94014
  55.45%
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Fund   Name   Percentage
of Ownership
    National Financial Services LLC
499 Washington Blvd
Jersey City, NJ 07310
  9.07%
    TD Ameritrade Clearing, Inc.
4700 Alliance Gateway Freeway
Fort Worth, TX 76177
  8.35%
    Scotia Capital Inc.
Scotia Plaza
40 King Street West
23rd Floor
Toronto, ON M5W 2X6 CA
  6.68%
    Pershing LLC
One Pershing Plaza
Jersey City, NJ 07399
  5.58%
         
iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF   Goldman, Sachs & Co.
30 Hudson Street
16th Floor
Jersey City, NJ 07302
  36.30%
    National Financial Services LLC
499 Washington Blvd
Jersey City, NJ 07310
  14.30%
    Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
101 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94014
  12.12%
    Pershing LLC
One Pershing Plaza
Jersey City, NJ 07399
  5.46%
    Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC
One New York Plaza
New York, NY 10004
  5.36%
         
iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE Small-Cap ETF   Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
101 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94014
  60.79%
    National Financial Services LLC
499 Washington Blvd
Jersey City, NJ 07310
  11.40%
    TD Ameritrade Clearing, Inc.
4700 Alliance Gateway Freeway
Fort Worth, TX 76177
  8.64%
Conflicts of Interest.  Certain activities of BFA, BlackRock, Inc. and the other subsidiaries of BlackRock, Inc. (collectively referred to in this section as “BlackRock”) and their respective directors, officers and employees, with respect to the Funds and/or other accounts managed by BlackRock, may give rise to actual or perceived conflicts of interest such as those described below.
BlackRock is one of the world's largest asset management firms. BlackRock, its subsidiaries and their respective directors, officers and employees, including the business units or entities and personnel who may be involved in the investment activities and business operations of a Fund, are engaged worldwide in businesses, including managing equities, fixed-income securities, cash and alternative investments, and have interests other than that of managing the Funds. These are
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considerations of which investors in a Fund should be aware, and which may cause conflicts of interest that could disadvantage a Fund and its shareholders. These businesses and interests include potential multiple advisory, financial and other relationships with, or interests in, companies and interests in securities or other instruments that may be purchased or sold by a Fund.
BlackRock has proprietary interests in, and may manage or advise with respect to, accounts or funds (including separate accounts and other funds and collective investment vehicles) that have investment objectives similar to those of a Fund and/or that engage in transactions in the same types of securities, currencies and instruments as the Funds. BlackRock is also a major participant in the global currency, equities, swap and fixed income markets, in each case, for the accounts of clients and, in some cases, on a proprietary basis. As such, BlackRock is or may be actively engaged in transactions in the same securities, currencies, and instruments in which a Fund invests. Such activities could affect the prices and availability of the securities, currencies, and instruments in which a Fund invests, which could have an adverse impact on a Fund's performance. Such transactions, particularly in respect of most proprietary accounts or client accounts, will be executed independently of a Fund's transactions and thus at prices or rates that may be more or less favorable than those obtained by the Funds.
When BlackRock seeks to purchase or sell the same assets for managed accounts, including a Fund, the assets actually purchased or sold may be allocated among the accounts on a basis determined in its good faith discretion to be equitable. In some cases, this system may adversely affect the size or price of the assets purchased or sold for a Fund. In addition, transactions in investments by one or more other accounts managed by BlackRock may have the effect of diluting or otherwise disadvantaging the values, prices or investment strategies of a Fund, particularly, but not limited to, with respect to small-capitalization, emerging market or less liquid strategies. This may occur with respect to BlackRock-advised accounts when investment decisions regarding a Fund are based on research or other information that is also used to support decisions for other accounts. When BlackRock implements a portfolio decision or strategy on behalf of another account ahead of, or contemporaneously with, similar decisions or strategies for a Fund, market impact, liquidity constraints, or other factors could result in the Fund receiving less favorable trading results and the costs of implementing such decisions or strategies could be increased or the Fund could otherwise be disadvantaged. BlackRock may, in certain cases, elect to implement internal policies and procedures designed to limit such consequences, which may cause a Fund to be unable to engage in certain activities, including purchasing or disposing of securities, when it might otherwise be desirable for it to do so.
Conflicts may also arise because portfolio decisions regarding a Fund may benefit other accounts managed by BlackRock. For example, the sale of a long position or establishment of a short position by a Fund may impair the price of the same security sold short by (and therefore benefit) BlackRock or its other accounts or funds, and the purchase of a security or covering of a short position in a security by a Fund may increase the price of the same security held by (and therefore benefit) BlackRock or its other accounts or funds. In addition, to the extent permitted by applicable law, certain Funds may invest their assets in other funds advised by BlackRock, including funds that are managed by one or more of the same portfolio managers, which could result in conflicts of interest relating to asset allocation, timing of Fund purchases and sales, and increased remuneration and profitability for BlackRock, and/or its personnel, including portfolio managers.
In certain circumstances, BlackRock, on behalf of the Funds, may seek to buy from or sell securities to another fund or account advised by BlackRock. BlackRock may (but is not required to) effect purchases and sales between BlackRock clients (“cross trades”), including the Funds, if BlackRock believes such transactions are appropriate based on each party's investment objectives and guidelines, subject to applicable law and regulation. There may be potential conflicts of interest or regulatory issues relating to these transactions which could limit BlackRock’s decision to engage in these transactions for the Funds. BlackRock may have a potentially conflicting division of loyalties and responsibilities to the parties in such transactions. On any occasion when a Fund participates in a cross trade, BlackRock will comply with procedures adopted under applicable rules and SEC guidance.
BlackRock and its clients may pursue or enforce rights with respect to an issuer in which a Fund has invested, and those activities may have an adverse effect on the Fund. As a result, prices, availability, liquidity and terms of a Fund's investments may be negatively impacted by the activities of BlackRock or its clients, and transactions for the Fund may be impaired or effected at prices or terms that may be less favorable than would otherwise have been the case.
The results of a Fund’s investment activities may differ significantly from the results achieved by BlackRock for its proprietary accounts or other accounts (including investment companies or collective investment vehicles) which it manages or advises.
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It is possible that one or more accounts managed or advised by BlackRock and such other accounts will achieve investment results that are substantially more or less favorable than the results achieved by a Fund. Moreover, it is possible that a Fund will sustain losses during periods in which one or more proprietary or other accounts managed or advised by BlackRock achieve significant profits. The opposite result is also possible.
From time to time, a Fund may be restricted from purchasing or selling securities, or from engaging in other investment activities because of regulatory, legal or contractual requirements applicable to BlackRock or other accounts managed or advised by BlackRock, and/or the internal policies of BlackRock designed to comply with such requirements. As a result, there may be periods, for example, when BlackRock will not initiate or recommend certain types of transactions in certain securities or instruments with respect to which BlackRock is performing services or when position limits have been reached. For example, the investment activities of BlackRock for its proprietary accounts and accounts under its management may limit the investment opportunities for a Fund in certain emerging and other markets in which limitations are imposed upon the amount of investment, in the aggregate or in individual issuers, by affiliated foreign investors.
In connection with its management of a Fund, BlackRock may have access to certain fundamental analysis and proprietary technical models developed by BlackRock. BlackRock will not be under any obligation, however, to effect transactions on behalf of a Fund in accordance with such analysis and models. In addition, BlackRock will not have any obligation to make available any information regarding its proprietary activities or strategies, or the activities or strategies used for other accounts managed by them, for the benefit of the management of a Fund and it is not anticipated that BlackRock will have access to such information for the purpose of managing the Fund. The proprietary activities or portfolio strategies of BlackRock, or the activities or strategies used for accounts managed by BlackRock or other client accounts could conflict with the transactions and strategies employed by BlackRock in managing a Fund.
The Funds may be included in investment models developed by BlackRock for use by clients and financial advisors. To the extent clients invest in these investment models and increase the assets under management of the Funds, the investment management fee amounts paid by the Funds to BlackRock may also increase. The price, availability and liquidity of a Fund may be impacted by purchases and sales of the Fund by model-driven investment portfolios, as well as by BlackRock itself and by its advisory clients.
In addition, certain principals and certain employees of a Fund’s investment adviser are also principals or employees of other business units or entities within BlackRock. As a result, these principals and employees may have obligations to such other business units or entities or their clients and such obligations to other business units or entities or their clients may be a consideration of which investors in a Fund should be aware.
BlackRock may enter into transactions and invest in securities, instruments and currencies on behalf of a Fund in which clients of BlackRock or, to the extent permitted by the SEC and applicable law, BlackRock serves as the counterparty, principal or issuer. In such cases, such party's interests in the transaction will be adverse to the interests of the Fund, and such party may have no incentive to assure that the Fund obtains the best possible prices or terms in connection with the transactions. In addition, the purchase, holding and sale of such investments by a Fund may enhance the profitability of BlackRock.
BlackRock may also create, write or issue derivatives for clients based on the underlying securities, currencies or instruments in which a Fund may invest or on the performance of the Fund. An entity in which BlackRock has a significant minority interest will create, write or issue options which may be based on the performance of certain Funds. BlackRock has the right to receive a portion of the gross revenue earned by such entity. Options writing by such entity on a Fund could potentially lead to increased purchase activity with respect to the Fund and increased assets under management for BlackRock.
BlackRock has entered into an arrangement with Markit Indices Limited, the index provider for underlying fixed-income indexes used by certain iShares funds, related to derivative fixed-income products that are based on such iShares funds. BlackRock may receive certain payments for licensing intellectual property belonging to BlackRock and for facilitating the provision of data in connection with such derivative products, which may include payments based on the trading volumes of, or revenues generated by, the derivative products. However, BlackRock will not receive any such payments on those derivative products utilized by the Funds or other BlackRock funds or accounts. Other funds and accounts managed by BlackRock may from time to time transact in such derivative products, which could contribute to the viability or success of such derivative products by making them more appealing to funds and accounts managed by third parties, and in turn lead to increased payments to BlackRock. Trading activity in such derivative products could also potentially lead to increased purchase activity with respect to these iShares funds and increased assets under management for BlackRock.
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A Fund may, subject to applicable law, purchase investments that are the subject of an underwriting or other distribution by BlackRock and may also enter into transactions with other clients of BlackRock where such other clients have interests adverse to those of the Fund.
At times, these activities may cause business units or entities within BlackRock to give advice to clients that may cause these clients to take actions adverse to the interests of a Fund. To the extent such transactions are permitted, a Fund will deal with BlackRock on an arm’s-length basis.
To the extent authorized by applicable law, BlackRock may act as broker, dealer, agent, lender or adviser or in other commercial capacities for a Fund. It is anticipated that the commissions, mark-ups, mark-downs, financial advisory fees, underwriting and placement fees, sales fees, financing and commitment fees, brokerage fees, other fees, compensation or profits, rates, terms and conditions charged by BlackRock will be in its view commercially reasonable, although BlackRock, including its sales personnel, will have an interest in obtaining fees and other amounts that are favorable to BlackRock and such sales personnel, which may have an adverse effect on the Funds. Index based funds may use an index provider that is affiliated with another service provider of a Fund or BlackRock that acts as a broker, dealer, agent, lender or in other commercial capacities for a Fund or BlackRock.
Subject to applicable law, BlackRock (and its personnel and other distributors) will be entitled to retain fees and other amounts that they receive in connection with their service to the Funds as broker, dealer, agent, lender, adviser or in other commercial capacities. No accounting to the Funds or their shareholders will be required, and no fees or other compensation payable by the Funds or their shareholders will be reduced by reason of receipt by BlackRock of any such fees or other amounts.
When BlackRock acts as broker, dealer, agent, adviser or in other commercial capacities in relation to the Funds, BlackRock may take commercial steps in its own interests, which may have an adverse effect on the Funds. A Fund will be required to establish business relationships with its counterparties based on the Fund's own credit standing. BlackRock will not have any obligation to allow its credit to be used in connection with a Fund's establishment of its business relationships, nor is it expected that the Fund's counterparties will rely on the credit of BlackRock in evaluating the Fund's creditworthiness.
BTC, an affiliate of BFA pursuant to SEC exemptive relief, acts as securities lending agent to, and receives a share of securities lending revenues from, the Funds. BlackRock will also receive compensation for managing the reinvestment of the cash collateral from securities lending. There are potential conflicts of interests in managing a securities lending program, including but not limited to: (i) BlackRock as securities lending agent may have an incentive to increase or decrease the amount of securities on loan or to lend particular securities in order to generate additional risk-adjusted revenue for BlackRock and its affiliates; and (ii) BlackRock as securities lending agent may have an incentive to allocate loans to clients that would provide more revenue to BlackRock. As described further below, BlackRock seeks to mitigate this conflict by providing its securities lending clients with equal lending opportunities over time in order to approximate pro rata allocation.
As part of its securities lending program, BlackRock indemnifies the Funds and certain other clients and/or funds against a shortfall in collateral in the event of borrower default. On a regular basis, BlackRock calculates the potential dollar exposure of collateral shortfall resulting from a borrower default (“shortfall risk”) in the securities lending program. BlackRock establishes program-wide borrower limits (“credit limits”) to actively manage borrower-specific credit exposure. BlackRock oversees the risk model that calculates projected collateral shortfall values using loan-level factors such as loan and collateral type and market value as well as specific borrower credit characteristics. When necessary, BlackRock may adjust securities lending program attributes by restricting eligible collateral or reducing borrower credit limits. As a result, the management of program-wide exposure as well as BlackRock-specific indemnification exposure may affect the amount of securities lending activity BlackRock may conduct at any given point in time by reducing the volume of lending opportunities for certain loans (including by asset type, collateral type and/or revenue profile).
BlackRock uses a predetermined systematic process in order to approximate pro rata allocation over time. In order to allocate a loan to a portfolio: (i) BlackRock as a whole must have sufficient lending capacity pursuant to the various program limits (i.e., indemnification exposure limit and borrower credit limits); (ii) the lending portfolio must hold the asset at the time a loan opportunity arrives; and (iii) the lending portfolio must also have enough inventory, either on its own or when aggregated with other portfolios into one single market delivery, to satisfy the loan request. In doing so, BlackRock seeks to provide equal lending opportunities for all portfolios, independent of whether BlackRock indemnifies the portfolio. Equal
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opportunities for lending portfolios does not guarantee equal outcomes. Specifically, short and long-term outcomes for individual clients may vary due to asset mix, asset/liability spreads on different securities, and the overall limits imposed by the firm.
BlackRock may decline to make a securities loan on behalf of a Fund, discontinue lending on behalf of a Fund or terminate a securities loan on behalf of a Fund for any reason, including but not limited to regulatory requirements and/or market rules, liquidity considerations, or credit considerations, which may impact Funds by reducing or eliminating the volume of lending opportunities for certain types of loans, loans in particular markets, loans of particular securities or types of securities, or for loans overall.
Purchases and sales of securities and other assets for a Fund may be bunched or aggregated with orders for other BlackRock client accounts, including with accounts that pay different transaction costs solely due to the fact that they have different research payment arrangements. BlackRock, however, is not required to bunch or aggregate orders if portfolio management decisions for different accounts are made separately, or if they determine that bunching or aggregating is not practicable or required, or in cases involving client direction.
Prevailing trading activity frequently may make impossible the receipt of the same price or execution on the entire volume of securities purchased or sold. When this occurs, the various prices may be averaged, and the Funds will be charged or credited with the average price. Thus, the effect of the aggregation may operate on some occasions to the disadvantage of the Funds. In addition, under certain circumstances, the Funds will not be charged the same commission or commission equivalent rates in connection with a bunched or aggregated order.
Subject to applicable law, BlackRock may select brokers that furnish BlackRock, the Funds, other BlackRock client accounts or personnel, directly or through correspondent relationships, with research or other appropriate services which provide, in BlackRock's view, appropriate assistance to BlackRock in the investment decision-making process (including with respect to futures, fixed-price offerings and OTC transactions). Such research or other services may include, to the extent permitted by law, research reports on companies, industries and securities; economic and financial data; financial publications; proxy analysis; trade industry seminars; computer data bases; research-oriented software and other services and products. Research or other services obtained in this manner may be used in servicing any or all of the Funds and other BlackRock client accounts, including in connection with BlackRock client accounts other than those that pay commissions to the broker relating to the research or other service arrangements. Such products and services may disproportionately benefit other BlackRock client accounts relative to the Funds based on the amount of brokerage commissions paid by the Funds and such other BlackRock client accounts. For example, research or other services that are paid for through one client's commissions may not be used in managing that client's account. In addition, other BlackRock client accounts may receive the benefit, including disproportionate benefits, of economies of scale or price discounts in connection with products and services that may be provided to the Funds and to such other BlackRock client accounts. To the extent that BlackRock uses soft dollars, it will not have to pay for those products and services itself.
BlackRock does not currently enter into arrangements to use the Funds' assets for, or participate in, soft dollars, although BlackRock may receive research that is bundled with the trade execution, clearing, and/or settlement services provided by a particular broker-dealer. To the extent that BlackRock receives research on this basis, many of the same conflicts related to traditional soft dollars may exist. For example, the research effectively will be paid by client commissions that also will be used to pay for the execution, clearing, and settlement services provided by the broker-dealer and will not be paid by BlackRock. BlackRock, unless prohibited by applicable law, may endeavor to execute trades through brokers who, pursuant to such arrangements, provide research or other services in order to ensure the continued receipt of research or other services BlackRock believes are useful in its investment decision-making process. BlackRock may from time to time choose not to engage in the above described arrangements to varying degrees. BlackRock, unless prohibited by applicable law, may also enter into commission sharing arrangements under which BlackRock may execute transactions through a broker-dealer, and request that the broker-dealer allocate a portion of the commissions or commission credits to another firm that provides research to BlackRock. To the extent that BlackRock engages in commission sharing arrangements, many of the same conflicts related to traditional soft dollars may exist.
BlackRock may utilize certain electronic crossing networks (“ECNs”) (including, without limitation, ECNs in which BlackRock has an investment or other interest, to the extent permitted by applicable law) in executing client securities transactions for certain types of securities. These ECNs may charge fees for their services, including access fees and transaction fees. The transaction fees, which are similar to commissions or markups/markdowns, will generally be charged to clients and, like
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commissions and markups/markdowns, would generally be included in the cost of the securities purchased. Access fees may be paid by BlackRock even though incurred in connection with executing transactions on behalf of clients, including the Funds. In certain circumstances, ECNs may offer volume discounts that will reduce the access fees typically paid by BlackRock. BlackRock will only utilize ECNs consistent with its obligation to seek to obtain best execution in client transactions.
BlackRock owns a minority interest in, and is a member of, Members Exchange (“MEMX”), a newly created U.S. stock exchange. Transactions for a Fund may be executed on MEMX if third party brokers select MEMX as the appropriate venue for execution of orders placed by BlackRock traders on behalf of such Funds. In addition, transactions in Fund shares may be executed on MEMX if third party brokers select MEMX as the appropriate venue for the execution of such orders.
BlackRock has adopted policies and procedures designed to prevent conflicts of interest from influencing proxy voting decisions that it makes on behalf of advisory clients, including the Funds, and to help ensure that such decisions are made in accordance with BlackRock's fiduciary obligations to its clients. Nevertheless, notwithstanding such proxy voting policies and procedures, actual proxy voting decisions of BlackRock may have the effect of favoring the interests of other clients or businesses of other divisions or units of BlackRock, provided that BlackRock believes such voting decisions to be in accordance with its fiduciary obligations. For a more detailed discussion of these policies and procedures, see the Proxy Voting Policy section of this SAI.
It is also possible that, from time to time, BlackRock and/or its advisory clients (including other funds and separately managed accounts) may, subject to compliance with applicable law, purchase and hold shares of a Fund. Increasing a Fund’s assets may enhance liquidity, investment flexibility and diversification and may contribute to economies of scale that tend to reduce the Fund's expense ratio. BlackRock reserves the right, subject to compliance with applicable law, to sell into the market or redeem in Creation Units through an Authorized Participant at any time some or all of the shares of a Fund acquired for its own accounts or the account of a BlackRock advisory client. A large sale or redemption of shares of a Fund by BlackRock itself or a BlackRock advisory client could significantly reduce the asset size of the Fund, which might have an adverse effect on the Fund's liquidity, investment flexibility, portfolio diversification, expense ratio or ability to comply with the listing requirements for the Fund.
It is possible that a Fund may invest in securities of, or engage in transactions with, companies in which BlackRock has significant debt or equity investments or other interests. A Fund may also invest in issuances (such as structured notes) by entities for which BlackRock provides and is compensated for cash management services relating to the proceeds from the sale of such issuances. In making investment decisions for a Fund, BlackRock is not permitted to obtain or use material non-public information acquired by any unit of BlackRock in the course of these activities. In addition, from time to time, the activities of BlackRock may limit a Fund's flexibility in purchases and sales of securities. As indicated below, BlackRock may engage in transactions with companies in which BlackRock-advised funds or other clients of BlackRock have an investment.
BlackRock, its personnel and other financial service providers may have interests in promoting sales of the Funds. With respect to BlackRock and its personnel, the remuneration and profitability relating to services to and sales of the Funds or other products may be greater than remuneration and profitability relating to services to and sales of certain funds or other products that might be provided or offered. BlackRock and its sales personnel may directly or indirectly receive a portion of the fees and commissions charged to the Funds or their shareholders. BlackRock and its advisory or other personnel may also benefit from increased amounts of assets under management. Fees and commissions may also be higher than for other products or services, and the remuneration and profitability to BlackRock and such personnel resulting from transactions on behalf of or management of the Funds may be greater than the remuneration and profitability resulting from other funds or products.
Third parties, including service providers to BlackRock or a Fund, may sponsor events (including, but not limited to, marketing and promotional activities and presentations, educational training programs and conferences) for registered representatives, other professionals and individual investors. There is a potential conflict of interest as such sponsorships may defray the costs of such activities to BlackRock, and may provide an incentive to BlackRock to retain such third parties to provide services to a Fund.
BlackRock may provide valuation assistance to certain clients with respect to certain securities or other investments and the valuation recommendations made for such clients' accounts may differ from the valuations for the same securities or investments assigned by a Fund's pricing vendors, especially if such valuations are based on broker-dealer quotes or other data sources unavailable to the Fund's pricing vendors. While BlackRock will generally communicate its valuation information
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or determinations to a Fund's pricing vendors and/or fund accountants, there may be instances where the Fund's pricing vendors or fund accountants assign a different valuation to a security or other investment than the valuation for such security or investment determined or recommended by BlackRock.
As disclosed in more detail in the Determination of Net Asset Value section in this SAI, when market quotations are not readily available or are believed by BFA to be unreliable, each Fund’s investments are valued at fair value by BFA. BFA has been designated as each Fund’s valuation designee pursuant to Rule 2a-5 under the Investment Company Act and acts through BFA’s Rule 2a-5 Committee (the “2a-5 Committee”), with assistance from other BFA pricing committees and in accordance with BFA’s policies and procedures (the “Valuation Procedures”). When determining a “fair value price,” the 2a-5 Committee seeks to determine the price that a Fund might reasonably expect to receive from the current sale of that asset or liability in an arm’s-length transaction. The price generally may not be determined based on what a Fund might reasonably expect to receive for selling an asset or liability at a later time or if it holds the asset or liability to maturity. While fair value determinations will be based upon all available factors that BFA deems relevant at the time of the determination, and may be based on analytical values determined by BFA using proprietary or third-party valuation models, fair value represents only a good faith approximation of the value of an asset or liability. The fair value of one or more assets or liabilities may not, in retrospect, be the price at which those assets or liabilities could have been sold during the period in which the particular fair values were used in determining a Fund’s NAV. As a result, a Fund’s sale or redemption of its shares at NAV, at a time when a holding or holdings are valued by the 2a-5 Committee at fair value, may have the effect of diluting or increasing the economic interest of existing shareholders and may affect the amount of revenue received by BFA with respect to services for which it receives an asset-based fee.
To the extent permitted by applicable law, a Fund may invest all or some of its short-term cash investments in any money market fund or similarly-managed private fund advised or managed by BlackRock. In connection with any such investments, a Fund, to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act, may pay its share of expenses of a money market fund or other similarly-managed private fund in which it invests, which may result in a Fund bearing some additional expenses.
BlackRock and its directors, officers and employees, may buy and sell securities or other investments for their own accounts and may have conflicts of interest with respect to investments made on behalf of a Fund. As a result of differing trading and investment strategies or constraints, positions may be taken by directors, officers and employees that are the same, different from or made at different times than positions taken for a Fund. To lessen the possibility that a Fund will be adversely affected by this personal trading, each Fund, BFA and BlackRock have each adopted a code of ethics in compliance with Section 17(j) of the 1940 Act that restricts securities trading in the personal accounts of investment professionals and others who normally come into possession of information regarding a Fund's portfolio transactions. Each code of ethics is available by contacting BlackRock at the telephone number on the back cover of each Fund’s Prospectus or by accessing the EDGAR Database on the SEC's Internet site at http://www.sec.gov, and copies may be obtained, after paying a duplicating fee, by e-mail at [email protected].
BlackRock will not purchase securities or other property from, or sell securities or other property to, a Fund, except that a Fund may in accordance with rules or guidance adopted under the 1940 Act engage in transactions with another Fund or accounts that are affiliated with a Fund as a result of common officers, directors, or investment advisers or pursuant to exemptive orders granted to the Funds and/or BlackRock by the SEC. These transactions would be effected in circumstances in which BlackRock determined that it would be appropriate for a Fund to purchase and another client of BlackRock to sell, or a Fund to sell and another client of BlackRock to purchase, the same security or instrument on the same day. From time to time, the activities of a Fund may be restricted because of regulatory requirements applicable to BlackRock and/or BlackRock's internal policies designed to comply with, limit the applicability of, or otherwise relate to such requirements. A client not advised by BlackRock would not be subject to some of those considerations. There may be periods when BlackRock may not initiate or recommend certain types of transactions, or may otherwise restrict or limit its advice in certain securities or instruments issued by or related to companies for which BlackRock is performing advisory or other services or has proprietary positions. For example, when BlackRock is engaged to provide advisory or risk management services for a company, BlackRock may be prohibited from or limited in purchasing or selling securities of that company on behalf of a Fund, particularly where such services result in BlackRock obtaining material non-public information about the company (e.g., in connection with participation in a creditors’ committee). Similar situations could arise if personnel of BlackRock serve as directors of companies the securities of which a Fund wishes to purchase or sell. However, if permitted by applicable law, and where consistent with BlackRock’s policies and procedures (including the necessary implementation of appropriate
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information barriers), the Funds may purchase securities or instruments that are issued by such companies, are the subject of an advisory or risk management assignment by BlackRock, or where personnel of BlackRock are directors or officers of the issuer.
The investment activities of BlackRock for its proprietary accounts and for client accounts may also limit the investment strategies and rights of the Funds. For example, in certain circumstances where the Funds invest in securities issued by companies that operate in certain regulated industries or in certain emerging or international markets, or are subject to corporate or regulatory ownership restrictions, or invest in certain futures or other derivative transactions, there may be limits on the aggregate amount invested by BlackRock for their proprietary accounts and for client accounts (including the Funds) that may not be exceeded without the grant of a license or other regulatory or corporate consent or, if exceeded, may cause BlackRock, the Funds or other client accounts to suffer disadvantages or business restrictions.
If certain aggregate ownership thresholds are reached either through the actions of BlackRock or a Fund or as a result of third-party transactions, the ability of BlackRock, on behalf of clients (including the Funds), to purchase or dispose of investments, or exercise rights or undertake business transactions, may be restricted by regulation or otherwise impaired. As a result, BlackRock, on behalf of its clients (including the Funds), may limit purchases, sell existing investments, or otherwise restrict, forgo or limit the exercise of rights (including transferring, outsourcing or limiting voting rights or forgoing the right to receive dividends) when BlackRock, in its sole discretion, deems it appropriate in light of potential regulatory or other restrictions on ownership or other consequences resulting from reaching investment thresholds.
In those circumstances where ownership thresholds or limitations must be observed, BlackRock seeks to allocate limited investment opportunities equitably among clients (including the Funds), taking into consideration benchmark weight and investment strategy. BlackRock has adopted certain controls designed to prevent the occurrence of a breach of any applicable ownership threshold or limits, including, for example, when ownership in certain securities nears an applicable threshold, BlackRock may remove such securities from the list of Deposit Securities to be delivered to the Fund in connection with purchases of Creation Units of such Fund and may limit purchases in such securities to the issuer's weighting in the applicable benchmark used by BlackRock to manage such Fund. If client (including Fund) holdings of an issuer exceed an applicable threshold and BlackRock is unable to obtain relief to enable the continued holding of such investments, it may be necessary to sell down these positions to meet the applicable limitations. In these cases, benchmark overweight positions will be sold prior to benchmark positions being reduced to meet applicable limitations.
In addition to the foregoing, other ownership thresholds may trigger reporting requirements to governmental and regulatory authorities, and such reports may entail the disclosure of the identity of a client or BlackRock’s intended strategy with respect to such security or asset.
BlackRock may not serve as an Authorized Participant in the creation and redemption of iShares ETFs.
BlackRock may maintain securities indices. To the extent permitted by applicable laws, the Funds may seek to license and use such indices as part of their investment strategy. Index based funds that seek to track the performance of securities indices also may use the name of the index or index provider in the fund name. Index providers, including BlackRock (to the extent permitted by applicable law), may be paid licensing fees for use of their index or index name. BlackRock may benefit from the Funds using BlackRock indices by creating increasing acceptance in the marketplace for such indices. BlackRock is not obligated to license its indices to a Fund and the Funds are under no obligation to use BlackRock indices. Any Fund that enters into a license for a BlackRock index cannot be assured that the terms of any index licensing agreement with BlackRock will be as favorable as those terms offered to other licensees.
The custody arrangement described in “Investment Advisory, Administrative and Distribution Services” may lead to potential conflicts of interest with BlackRock where BlackRock has agreed to waive fees and/or reimburse ordinary operating expenses in order to cap expenses of the Funds (or where BlackRock charges a unitary management fee). This is because the custody arrangements with certain Funds' custodian may have the effect of reducing custody fees when the Funds leave cash balances uninvested. This could be viewed as having the potential to provide BlackRock an incentive to keep high positive cash balances for Funds in order to offset fund custody fees that BlackRock might otherwise reimburse or pay. However, BlackRock’s portfolio managers do not intentionally keep uninvested balances high, but rather make investment decisions that they anticipate will be beneficial to fund performance. For funds without a unitary management fee, when a fund’s actual operating expense ratio exceeds a stated cap, a reduction in custody fees reduces the amount of waivers and/or reimbursements BlackRock would be required to make to the fund.
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BlackRock may enter into contractual arrangements with third-party service providers to a Fund (e.g., custodians, administrators and index providers) pursuant to which BlackRock receives fee discounts or concessions in recognition of BlackRock’s overall relationship with such service providers. BlackRock may also enter into contractual arrangements with such service providers pursuant to which BlackRock incurs additional costs if the service provider’s services are terminated with respect to a Fund. To the extent that BlackRock is responsible for paying these service providers out of its management fee, the benefits of any such fee discounts or concessions, or any additional costs, may accrue, in whole or in part, to BlackRock, which could result in conflicts of interest relating to the use or termination of service providers to a Fund.
BlackRock owns or has an ownership interest in certain trading, portfolio management, operations and/or information systems used by Fund service providers. These systems are, or will be, used by a Fund service provider in connection with the provision of services to accounts managed by BlackRock and funds managed and sponsored by BlackRock, including the Funds, that engage the service provider (typically the custodian). A Fund’s service provider remunerates BlackRock for the use of the systems. A Fund service provider’s payments to BlackRock for the use of these systems may enhance the profitability of BlackRock.
BlackRock’s receipt of fees from a service provider in connection with the use of systems provided by BlackRock may create an incentive for BlackRock to recommend that a Fund enter into or renew an arrangement with the service provider.
In recognition of a BlackRock client’s overall relationship with BlackRock, BlackRock may offer special pricing arrangements for certain services provided by BlackRock. Any such special pricing arrangements will not apply to the client’s investment in a Fund.
Present and future activities of BlackRock (including BFA), its directors, officers and employees, in addition to those described in this section, may give rise to additional conflicts of interest.
Investment Advisory, Administrative and Distribution Services
Investment Adviser.  BFA serves as investment adviser to each Fund pursuant to an investment advisory agreement between the Trust, on behalf of each Fund, and BFA. BFA is a California corporation indirectly owned by BlackRock, Inc. and is registered as an investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Under the investment advisory agreement, BFA, subject to the supervision of the Board and in conformity with the stated investment policies of each Fund, manages and administers the Trust and the investment of each Fund’s assets. BFA is responsible for placing purchase and sale orders and providing continuous supervision of the investment portfolio of the Funds.
Pursuant to the investment advisory agreement, BFA may, from time to time, in its sole discretion and to the extent permitted by applicable law, appoint one or more sub-advisers, including, without limitation, affiliates of BFA, to perform investment advisory or other services with respect to a Fund. In addition, BFA may delegate certain of its investment advisory functions under the investment advisory agreement to one or more of its affiliates to the extent permitted by applicable law. BFA may terminate any or all sub-advisers or such delegation arrangements in its sole discretion upon appropriate notice at any time to the extent permitted by applicable law.
BFA is responsible, under the investment advisory agreement, for substantially all expenses of the Funds, including the cost of transfer agency, custody, fund administration, legal, audit and other services. BFA is not responsible for, and the Funds will bear, the management fees, interest expenses, taxes, expenses incurred with respect to the acquisition and disposition of portfolio securities and the execution of portfolio transactions, including brokerage commissions, distribution fees or expenses, and litigation expenses and any extraordinary expenses (as determined by a majority of the Independent Trustees).
BFA may from time to time voluntarily waive and/or reimburse fees or expenses to reduce the Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses (excluding Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any). Any such voluntary waiver or reimbursement may be eliminated by BFA at any time.
The following table sets forth the management fee at the annual rate (as a percentage of each Fund's average daily net assets) BFA received from each Fund for the fiscal year ended July 31, 2022 and the management fees (net of waivers) each Fund paid BFA for the fiscal years noted:
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Fund   Management
Fee for the
Fiscal Year
Ended July 31, 2022
  Fund
Inception
Date
  Management
Fees Paid
Net of Waivers
for
Fiscal Year
Ended July 31, 2022
  Management
Fees Paid
Net of Waivers
for
Fiscal Year
Ended July 31, 2021
  Management
Fees Paid
Net of Waivers
for
Fiscal Year
Ended July 31, 2020
iShares Currency Hedged MSCI ACWI ex U.S. ETF1   0.38%   06/29/15   $ 37,295   $ 28,657   $ 22,326
iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF2   0.38%   01/31/14   945,531   742,169   818,963
iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE Small-Cap ETF3   0.43%   06/29/15   32,156   20,533   11,539

1 For the iShares Currency Hedged MSCI ACWI ex U.S. ETF, BFA has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees so that the Fund’s total annual fund operating expenses after the fee waiver is equal to the Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses attributable to the Fund’s investment in the iShares MSCI ACWI ex U.S. ETF (“ACWX”), after taking into account any fee waivers by ACWX, plus 0.03% through November 30, 2025. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to November 30, 2025 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA. For the fiscal years ended July 31, 2022, July 31, 2021 and July 31, 2020, BFA waived $437,860, $334,335 and, $260,474, respectively of its management fees.
2 For the iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF, BFA has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees so that the Fund’s total annual fund operating expenses after the fee waiver is equal to the Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses attributable to the Fund’s investment in the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (“EFA”), after taking into account any fee waivers by EFA, plus 0.03% through November 30, 2025. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to November 30, 2025 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA. For the fiscal years ended July 31, 2022, July 31, 2021 and July 31, 2020, BFA waived $11,548,989, $8,658,643, and $9,554,571, respectively of its management fees.
3 For the iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE Small-Cap ETF, BFA has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees so that the Fund’s total annual fund operating expenses after the fee waiver is equal to the Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses attributable to the Fund’s investment in the iShares MSCI EAFE Small-Cap ETF (“SCZ”), after taking into account any fee waivers by SCZ, plus 0.03% through November 30, 2025. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to November 30, 2025 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA. For the fiscal years ended July 31, 2022, July 31, 2021 and July 31, 2020, BFA waived $431,850, $273,777, and $153,855, respectively of its management fees.
The investment advisory agreement with respect to each Fund continues in effect for two years from its effective date, and thereafter is subject to annual approval by (i) the Board, or (ii) the vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the applicable Fund, provided that in either event such continuance also is approved by a majority of the Board members who are not interested persons (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the applicable Fund, by a vote cast in person at a meeting called for the purpose of voting on such approval.
The investment advisory agreement with respect to each Fund is terminable without penalty, on 60 days’ notice, by the Board or by a vote of the holders of a majority of the applicable Fund’s outstanding voting securities (as defined in the 1940 Act). The investment advisory agreement is also terminable upon 60 days’ notice by BFA and will terminate automatically in the event of its assignment (as defined in the 1940 Act).
Portfolio Managers.  As of July 31, 2022, the individuals named as Portfolio Managers in the Funds' Prospectuses were also primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of other iShares funds and certain other types of portfolios and/or accounts as follows:
Jennifer Hsui        
Types of Accounts   Number   Total Assets
Registered Investment Companies   317   $1,816,690,000,000
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles   2   4,235,000,000
Other Accounts   20   36,579,000,000
    
Orlando Montalvo        
Types of Accounts   Number   Total Assets
Registered Investment Companies   10   $4,068,000,000
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles   10   2,014,000,000
Other Accounts   8   247,000,000
    
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Greg Savage        
Types of Accounts   Number   Total Assets
Registered Investment Companies   250   $1,712,129,000,000
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles   32   7,637,000,000
Other Accounts   57   4,357,000,000
    
Paul Whitehead        
Types of Accounts   Number   Total Assets
Registered Investment Companies   297   $1,730,843,000,000
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles   2   5,810,000,000
Other Accounts   5   4,137,000,000
Each of the portfolios or accounts for which the Portfolio Managers are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management seeks to track the rate of return, risk profile and other characteristics of independent third-party indexes by either replicating the same combination of securities and other financial instruments that constitute those indexes or through a representative sampling of the securities and other financial instruments that constitute those indexes based on objective criteria and data. Pursuant to BFA’s policy, investment opportunities are allocated equitably among the Funds and other portfolios and accounts. For example, under certain circumstances, an investment opportunity may be restricted due to limited supply in the market, legal constraints or other factors, in which event the investment opportunity will be allocated equitably among those portfolios and accounts, including the Funds, seeking such investment opportunity. As a consequence, from time to time each Fund may receive a smaller allocation of an investment opportunity than it would have if the Portfolio Managers and BFA and its affiliates did not manage other portfolios or accounts.
Like the Funds, the other portfolios or accounts for which the Portfolio Managers are primarily responsible for the day-to-day portfolio management generally pay an asset-based fee to BFA or its affiliates, as applicable, for its advisory services. One or more of those other portfolios or accounts, however, may pay BFA or its affiliates a performance-based fee in lieu of, or in addition to, an asset-based fee for its advisory services. A portfolio or account with a performance-based fee would pay BFA or its affiliates a portion of that portfolio’s or account’s gains, or would pay BFA or its affiliates more for its services than would otherwise be the case if BFA or any of its affiliates meets or exceeds specified performance targets. Performance-based fee arrangements could present an incentive for BFA or its affiliates to devote greater resources, and allocate more investment opportunities, to the portfolios or accounts that have those fee arrangements, relative to other portfolios or accounts, in order to earn larger fees. Although BFA and each of its affiliates have an obligation to allocate resources and opportunities equitably among portfolios and accounts and intend to do so, shareholders of the Funds should be aware that, as with any group of portfolios and accounts managed by an investment adviser and/or its affiliates pursuant to varying fee arrangements, including performance-based fee arrangements, there is the potential for a conflict of interest, which may result in the Portfolio Managers favoring those portfolios or accounts with performance-based fee arrangements.
The tables below show, for each Portfolio Manager, the number of portfolios or accounts of the types set forth in the above tables and the aggregate of total assets in those portfolios or accounts with respect to which the investment management fees are based on the performance of those portfolios or accounts as of July 31, 2022:
Jennifer Hsui        
Types of Accounts   Number of Other Accounts
with Performance Fees
Managed by Portfolio Manager
  Aggregate
of Total Assets
Registered Investment Companies   0   N/A
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles   0   N/A
Other Accounts   0   N/A
    
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Orlando Montalvo        
Types of Accounts   Number of Other Accounts
with Performance Fees
Managed by Portfolio Manager
  Aggregate
of Total Assets
Registered Investment Companies   0   N/A
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles   0   N/A
Other Accounts   0   N/A
    
Greg Savage        
Types of Accounts   Number of Other Accounts
with Performance Fees
Managed by Portfolio Manager
  Aggregate
of Total Assets
Registered Investment Companies   0   N/A
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles   0   N/A
Other Accounts   0   N/A
    
Paul Whitehead        
Types of Accounts   Number of Other Accounts
with Performance Fees
Managed by Portfolio Manager
  Aggregate
of Total Assets
Registered Investment Companies   0   N/A
Other Pooled Investment Vehicles   0   N/A
Other Accounts   0   N/A
Portfolio Manager Compensation Overview
The discussion below describes the Portfolio Managers' compensation as of July 31, 2022.
BlackRock, Inc.'s financial arrangements with its portfolio managers, its competitive compensation and its career path emphasis at all levels reflect the value senior management places on key resources. Compensation may include a variety of components and may vary from year to year based on a number of factors. The principal components of compensation include a base salary, a performance-based discretionary bonus, participation in various benefits programs and one or more of the incentive compensation programs established by BlackRock, Inc.
Each portfolio manager receives base compensation based on their position with the firm, as well as retirement and other benefits offered to all BlackRock employees. Additionally, each portfolio manager receives discretionary incentive compensation, determined based on several components, including: the performance of BlackRock, Inc., the performance of the portfolio manager’s group within BlackRock, the performance of portfolios managed by the portfolio manager and the team relative to the portfolios’ investment objectives (which in the case of index ETFs would be how closely the ETF tracks its Underlying Index), and the individual’s performance and contribution to the overall performance of these portfolios and BlackRock. Discretionary incentive compensation is paid in cash up to a certain threshold with the remaining portion represented by deferred BlackRock, Inc. stock awards. In some cases, additional deferred BlackRock, Inc. stock may be granted to certain key employees as part of a long-term incentive award to aid in retention, align interests with long-term shareholders and motivate performance.
As of July 31, 2022, the Portfolio Managers did not beneficially own shares of the Funds.
Codes of Ethics.  The Trust, BFA and the Distributor have adopted codes of ethics pursuant to Rule 17j-1 under the 1940 Act. The codes of ethics permit personnel subject to the codes of ethics to invest in securities, subject to certain limitations, including securities that may be purchased or held by the Funds. Each code of ethics is available by contacting BlackRock at the telephone number on the back cover of each Fund’s Prospectus or by accessing the EDGAR Database on the SEC's Internet site at http://www.sec.gov, and copies may be obtained, after paying a duplicating fee, by e-mail at [email protected].
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Anti-Money Laundering Requirements.  The Fund is subject to the USA PATRIOT Act (the “Patriot Act”). The Patriot Act is intended to prevent the use of the U.S. financial system in furtherance of money laundering, terrorism or other illicit activities. Pursuant to requirements under the Patriot Act, a Fund may request information from Authorized Participants to enable it to form a reasonable belief that it knows the true identity of its Authorized Participants. This information will be used to verify the identity of Authorized Participants or, in some cases, the status of financial professionals; it will be used only for compliance with the requirements of the Patriot Act.
The Funds reserve the right to reject purchase orders from persons who have not submitted information sufficient to allow the Fund to verify their identity. Each Fund also reserves the right to redeem any amounts in a Fund from persons whose identity it is unable to verify on a timely basis. It is the Funds' policy to cooperate fully with appropriate regulators in any investigations conducted with respect to potential money laundering, terrorism or other illicit activities.
Administrator, Custodian and Transfer Agent.
State Street Bank and Trust Company (“State Street”) serves as administrator, custodian and transfer agent for the Funds under the Master Services Agreement and related Service Schedule (the “Service Module”). State Street’s principal address is 1 Lincoln Street, Boston, MA 02111. Pursuant to the Service Module for Fund Administration and Accounting Services with the Trust, State Street provides necessary administrative, legal, tax and accounting and financial reporting services for the maintenance and operations of the Trust and each Fund. In addition, State Street makes available the office space, equipment, personnel and facilities required to provide such services. Pursuant to the Service Module for Custodial Services with the Trust, State Street maintains, in separate accounts, cash, securities and other assets of the Trust and each Fund, keeps all necessary accounts and records and provides other services. State Street is required, upon the order of the Trust, to deliver securities held by State Street and to make payments for securities purchased by the Trust for each Fund. State Street is authorized to appoint certain foreign custodians or foreign custody managers for Fund investments outside the U.S. Pursuant to the Service Module for Transfer Agency Services with the Trust, State Street acts as a transfer agent for each Fund’s authorized and issued shares of beneficial interest, and as dividend disbursing agent of the Trust. As compensation for these services, State Street receives certain out-of-pocket costs, transaction fees and asset-based fees which are accrued daily and paid monthly by BFA from its management fee.
The following table sets forth the administration, custodian and transfer agency expenses of the Fund paid by BFA to State Street for the fiscal years noted:
Fund   Fund
Inception
Date
  Custody,
Administration,
Transfer Agency
Expenses
Paid During
Fiscal Year
Ended July 31, 2022
  Custody,
Administration,
Transfer Agency
Expenses
Paid During
Fiscal Year
Ended July 31, 2021
  Custody,
Administration,
Transfer Agency
Expenses
Paid During
Fiscal Year
Ended July 31, 2020
iShares Currency Hedged MSCI ACWI ex U.S. ETF   06/29/15   $ 23,685   $ 27,527   $ 27,437
iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF   01/31/14   49,898   44,728   57,542
iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE Small-Cap ETF   06/29/15   18,538   20,212   22,676
JPMorgan serves as custodian for the Funds in connection with certain securities lending activities under a Custody Services Agreement. JPMorgan’s principal address is 383 Madison Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10179. Pursuant to the Custody Services Agreement with BTC and the Trust, JPMorgan provides custody and related services required to facilitate securities lending by each Fund. JPMorgan maintains custody as may be necessary to facilitate Fund securities lending activity in coordination with other funds, maintains custodial records and provides other services. As compensation for these services, JPMorgan receives certain fees and expenses paid by BTC from its compensation for its services as securities lending agent.
Distributor.  The Distributor's principal address is 50 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001. Shares are continuously offered for sale by the Funds through the Distributor or its agent only in Creation Units, as described in the applicable Prospectus and below in the Creation and Redemption of Creation Units section of this SAI. Fund shares in amounts less than Creation Units are generally not distributed by the Distributor or its agent. The Distributor or its agent will arrange for the delivery of the applicable Prospectus and, upon request, this SAI to persons purchasing Creation Units and will maintain records of both
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orders placed with it or its agents and confirmations of acceptance furnished by it or its agents. The Distributor is a broker-dealer registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “1934 Act”), and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”). The Distributor is also licensed as a broker-dealer in all 50 U.S. states, as well as in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia.
The Distribution Agreement for each Fund provides that it may be terminated at any time, without the payment of any penalty, on at least 60 days' prior written notice to the other party following (i) the vote of a majority of the Independent Trustees, or (ii) the vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the relevant Fund. The Distribution Agreement will terminate automatically in the event of its assignment (as defined in the 1940 Act).
The Distributor may also enter into agreements with securities dealers (“Soliciting Dealers”) who will solicit purchases of Creation Units of Fund shares. Such Soliciting Dealers may also be Authorized Participants (as described below), DTC participants and/or investor services organizations.
BFA or its affiliates may, from time to time and from its own resources, pay, defray or absorb costs relating to distribution, including payments out of its own resources to the Distributor, or to otherwise promote the sale of shares.
Securities Lending.  To the extent that a Fund engages in securities lending, each Fund conducts its securities lending pursuant to SEC exemptive relief, and BTC acts as securities lending agent for the Funds, subject to the overall supervision of BFA, pursuant to a written agreement (the “Securities Lending Agency Agreement”).
Each Fund and Underlying Fund retains a portion of the securities lending income and remits the remaining portion to BTC as compensation for its services as securities lending agent. Securities lending income is generally equal to the total of income earned from the reinvestment of cash collateral (and excludes collateral investment fees as defined below), and any fees or other payments to and from borrowers of securities. As securities lending agent, BTC bears all operational costs directly related to securities lending, including custodial costs of JPMorgan. Each Fund and Underlying Fund are responsible for fees in connection with the investment of cash collateral received for securities on loan in a money market fund managed by BFA (the “collateral investment fees”); however, BTC has agreed to reduce the amount of securities lending income it receives in order to effectively limit the collateral investment fees a Fund bears to an annual rate of 0.04%. Such money market fund shares will not be subject to a sales load, redemption fee, distribution fee or service fee.