Venture Capital Funds May Not Have to Register with Hedge Funds
While hedge funds have reluctantly resigned to the likely fate of SEC registration (see MFA Supports Registration), the venture capital community has been fighting hard to remain unregistered. On this front, the VC community enjoyed a victory last week as Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA) proposed an amendment to the Obama administration’s Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act of 2009 (“PFIARA”). The new proposed bill provides an exemption from registration for certain managers to “venture capital funds” as that term will be defined by the SEC. The following section provides the full wording of the new exemption and I end this posts with some of my thoughts on this exemption.
Venture Capital Fund Registration Exemption
The following section has replaced the previous section 6 (which now becomes section 7). Besides this change the PFIARA remains the same.
SEC. 6. EXEMPTION OF AND REPORTING BY VENTURE CAPITAL FUND ADVISERS.
Section 203 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80b-3) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
‘‘(l) EXEMPTION OF AND REPORTING BY VENTURE CAPITAL FUND ADVISERS.—The Commission shall identify and define the term ‘venture capital fund’ and shall provide an adviser to such a fund an exemption from the registration requirements under this section. The Commission shall require such advisers to maintain such records and provide to the Commission such annual or other reports as the Commission determines necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors.’’.
Discussion of the Exemption
From a political perspective, I am actually pretty surprised that this was added to the bill. First, I find it interesting that a bill named the “Private Fund” registration act (not “Hedge Fund” registration act) would then exempt certain private funds. Second, it is curious that the drafter left it to the SEC to create a definition of “venture capital fund” – it will be interesting to see how the SEC interprets this Congressional mandate. Finally, it is also curious that VC funds are specifically exempted and potentially not private equity funds. Generally VC funds are regarded as a type of private equity fund – presumably the SEC could fix this by creating a very broad definition for “venture capital funds” which would also include private equity. Unfortunately this puts the SEC in a difficult position as they will now have to deal with the politics of creating definitions.
We will keep you up to date on this and other bills. Please also remember that this current version of the bill is subject to future change.
For the full proposed bill, please see: Hedge Fund Registration Bill – No VC Registration
10/1/09: Kanjorski Releases Financial Reform Drafts on Investor Protection, Private Advisor Registration
Capital Markets Chairman Addresses Key Pieces of Financial Regulatory Reform Through Comprehensive Bills and Administration Input
WASHINGTON – Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA), Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises, today released discussion drafts of three pieces of legislation aimed at tackling key parts of reforming the regulatory structure of the U.S. financial services industry. The draft bills include the Investor Protection Act, the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act, and the Federal Insurance Office Act.
Chairman Kanjorski introduced bipartisan legislation earlier this year and in the last Congress to create a federal insurance office, which was backed by the Obama Administration and included in its proposals for financial services regulatory reform. Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-IL), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, joined as an original co-sponsor of the 2009 bill when it was first introduced. Chairman Kanjorski also worked to revise and significantly enhance the Investor Protection Act and the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act proposed by the Obama Administration this summer.
“Today, we take another step forward in overhauling the regulatory structure of the financial services industry,” said Chairman Kanjorski. “With these three bills we will address many of the shortcomings and loopholes laid bare by the current financial crisis. The Investor Protection Act will better protect investors and increase the funding and enforcement powers of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. We must ensure that investor confidence continues to increase for the betterment of our financial system.
“Additionally, we need to ensure that everyone who swims in our capital markets has an annual pool pass. The Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act will force many more financial providers to register with the SEC. Many financial firms skirt government oversight and get away like bandits, but now the advisers to hedge funds, private equity firms, and other private pools of capital would become subject to more scrutiny by the SEC.
“Finally, bipartisan legislation which I first introduced in the last Congress to create a federal insurance office to fill a gap in the federal government’s knowledge base on financial activities. For several years, including in this Congress, I have worked to advance bipartisan legislation to address this issue, and I am pleased that the Administration also understands the need for this office and welcome the refinements they suggested to my bill.”
Summaries of the three legislative discussion drafts follow:
Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act
Everyone Registers. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. By mandating the registration of private advisers to hedge funds and other private pools of capital, regulators will better understand exactly how those entities operate and whether their actions pose a threat to the financial system as a whole.
Better Regulatory Information. New recordkeeping and disclosure requirements for private advisers will give regulators the information needed to evaluate both individual firms and entire market segments that have until this time largely escaped any meaningful regulation, without posing undue burdens on those industries.
Level the Playing Field. The advisers to hedge funds, private equity firms, single-family offices, and other private pools of capital will have to obey some basic ground rules in order to continue to play in our capital markets. Regulators will have authority to examine the records of these previously secretive investment advisers.
THE NATIONAL VENTURE CAPITAL ASSOCIATION APPLAUDS VENTURE CAPITAL EXEMPTION LANGUAGE IN DRAFT OF PRIVATE FUND INVESTMENT ADVISERS REGISTRATION ACT
Washington D.C., October 1, 2009 —
The following statement is attributed to Mark G. Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association:
“The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) applauds the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act proposal announced today by Representative Paul Kanjorski (DPA), Chairman of the House Financial Services Capital Markets Subcommittee. We are extremely appreciative of the work done in drafting this legislation by the Subcommittee and Members of the full Committee under the leadership of Chairman Barney Frank (DMA). This proposal recognizes that venture capital firms do not pose systemic financial risk and that requiring them to register under the Advisers Act would place an undue burden on the venture industry and the entrepreneurial community. The venture capital industry supports a level of transparency which gives policy makers ongoing comfort in assessing risk. The NVCA is committed to working with Congress, the SEC and the Administration on the most effective implementation of this proposal.
We look forward to sharing specific thoughts with Members of the Committee on Tuesday, October 6 when NVCA Chairman Terry McGuire is scheduled to testify at the hearing, “Capital Markets Regulatory Reform: Strengthening Investor Protection, Enhancing Oversight of Private Pools of Capital, and Creating a National Insurance Office.” The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) represents more than 400 venture capital firms in the United States. NVCA’s mission is to foster greater understanding of the importance of venture capital to the U.S. economy and support entrepreneurial activity and innovation. According to a 2009 Global Insight study, venture-backed companies accounted for 12.1 million jobs and $2.9 trillion in revenue in the United States in 2006.
The NVCA represents the public policy interests of the venture capital community, strives to maintain high professional standards, provides reliable industry data, sponsors professional development, and facilitates interaction among its members. For more information about the NVCA, please visit www.nvca.org.
Bart Mallon, Esq. of Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP runs hedge fund law blog and has written most all of the articles which appear on this website. Mr. Mallon’s legal practice is devoted to helping emerging and start up hedge fund managers successfully launch a hedge fund. Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP helps hedge fund managers to register as investment advisors with the SEC or the state securities divisions. If you are a hedge fund manager who is looking to start a hedge fund or register as an investment advisor, please contact us or call Mr. Mallon directly at 415-296-8510. Other related hedge fund law articles include: