Section 3(c)(7) Hedge Funds

Almost all hedge funds which trade securities are deemed to be “investment companies” under the Investment Company Act of 1940.  All “investment companies” are required to register under the Investment Company Act (like all mutual funds must do) unless the “investment company” falls within an exemption from the registration provisions.

In addition to the Section 3(c)(1) exemption discussed in a previous post, this article describes the section 3(c)(7) exemption.

A 3(c)(7) hedge fund is exempt under the Investment Company Act and must comply with two basic requirements: (1) the fund can have only qualified purchasers as investors and (2) the fund can have no more than 499 investors.  These requirements are detailed below.

Qualified Purchaser Requirement

There are two exemptions from the Investment Company Act registration provisions for hedge funds.  Under the first regulation, each investor must be a qualified purchaser.  Section 3(c)(7) states:

None of the following persons is an investment company within the meaning of this title: any issuer, the outstanding securities of which are owned exclusively by persons who, at the time of acquisition of such securities, are qualified purchasers, and which is not making and does not at that time propose to make a public offering of such securities. Securities that are owned by persons who received the securities from a qualified purchaser as a gift or bequest, or in a case in which the transfer was caused by legal separation, divorce, death, or other involuntary event, shall be deemed to be owned by a qualified purchaser, subject to such rules, regulations, and orders as the Commission may prescribe as necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors.

Generally, a qualified purchaser is an individual with a liquid net worth of $5 million or an institution with a net worth of $25 million. You will notice that in additional to the qualified purchaser requirement, the fund cannot make a public offering of its securities.  Because almost all hedge funds are offered pursuant to the Regulation D offering rules, this requirement will always be met.

500 or Fewer Investors

Unlike the Section 3(c)(1) exemption which limits the amount of investors in this type of fund, the Section 3(c)(7) exemption does not contain any such limit on the amount of qualified purchasers who can invest in the fund. However, hedge funds are subject to all of the federal securities laws which include the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  Under the Exchange Act, Section 12(g)(1) provides that a Section 3(c)(7) hedge fund would be required to register under the Exchange Act as a reporting company if the hedge fund had more than $10,000,000 in assets and 500 or more investors.  As 3(c)(7) hedge funds are available only to qualified purchasers, the $10 million in assets would be an easy threshold to meet and this is why 3(c)(7) funds are limited to 499 investors.

While registration under Exchange Act is not as onerous as under the Securities Act of 1933, it is still undesirable for hedge fund managers.  If a hedge fund manager did register under the Exchange Act (which some have chosen to do, although mostly in the non-securities context), the fund would become a “reporting company” and would need to submit certain periodic reports to the SEC.  Because these reports are time consuming and expensive to produce, most 3(c)(7) hedge funds will specifically state that no more than 499 investors may participate in the offering.

Other related articles include:

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