California Private Fund Adviser Exemption Approved

California Hedge Fund Managers Relieved of IA Registration Requirement

On August 27, 2012 (“Effective Date”), the California Office of Administrative Law approved the long awaited private fund adviser exemption (“Private Fund Exemption”). The immediately effective exemption is only available to advisers who provide advice solely to “qualifying private funds,” which include venture capital funds, Section 3(c)(1), and Section 3(c)(7) funds. The Private Fund Exemption is not available to advisers who also manage separate accounts.

Currently, a California based adviser who manages less than $100,000,000 must either register as an investment adviser with the California Department of Corporations (“Department”), or rely on an exemption from registration. Under the new Private Fund Exemption advisers can file as “exempt reporting advisers” (“ERAs”) and thereby avoid the burdensome registration process.

Requirements Generally

To qualify for the Private Fund Exemption, the adviser must

  1. have not violated any securities laws;
  2. file and periodically update certain items on Part 1 of the Form ADV;
  3. pay California’s investment adviser registration and renewal fees; and
  4. fulfill any additional requirements when advising funds organized under Section 3(c)(1).

Additional Requirements for 3(c)(1) Fund Managers

The additional requirements for advisers advising 3(c)(1) funds include:

1. All investors in the fund must either (i) be accredited investors; (ii) be managers, directors, officers or employees of the adviser; or (ii) have received the fund interest via a transfer not involving a sale.

2. Advisers may only charge performance fees to qualified clients; and

3. Advisers shall provide each investor with annual audited financial statement of the fund within 120 days after the end of each fiscal year; provided, however, advisers who begin operations more than 180 days into a fiscal year may include the audit of the initial fiscal year in the fiscal year immediately succeeding the initial fiscal year.

Other Information

An adviser to 3(c)(1) funds that existed prior to Effective Date may take advantage of the Private Adviser Exemption if, as of the Effective Date, it complies with the requirements enumerated above. Any investors in funds existing prior to the Effective Date who do not meet the standards outlined in Item 1 above, will be allowed to remain in the funds provided that they do not make any additional capital contributions. Furthermore, as of the Effective Date, advisers must cease charging performance fees to any investors who do not meet the “qualified client” definition.

To take advantage of the Private Fund Exemption, an adviser must file a partial Form ADV with the Department via the IARD system no later than 60 days from the Effective Date. Advisers currently registered with the Department may choose to withdraw their registration and make a filing under the Private Fund Exemption.

For information on whether your firm may be able to claim an exemption from registration, please see the California Private Fund Adviser Exemption Chart.

If you would like help to utilize the California exemption, please contact us directly.

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Bart Mallon is a partner with Cole-Frieman Mallon & Hunt LLP, an investment management law firm which provides legal services to the hedge fund industry. Bart can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

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