Plans for the world's first U.S.-listed ETF based on the Nikkei 225-Japan's rough equivalent of the large-cap S&P 500 benchmark-moved forward this week with a regulatory filing that not only put the fund into actual registration, but also disclosed both the ticker symbol and the price of the new security. Such detail in a filing sometimes suggests a fund is nearing launch.
The latest paperwork filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission comes a week after an updated exemptive relief filing in which the ETF sponsor said the fund will be named the Maxis Nikkei 225 Index Fund. The new N-1 filing dated June 13 that put the fund into registration said the ETF will trade under the symbol "NKY" on the New York Stock Exchange's electronic platform, Arca, and will come with an annual expense ratio of 0.50 percent.
That's less expensive than the nearly $7 billion iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund (NYSEArca:EWJ), which costs 0.54 percent, but more expensive than the 0.48 percent expense ratio of the $446 million WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity Fund (NYSEArca:DXJ). DXJ is designed to neutralize exposure to the Japanese yen relative to the dollar.
The Nikkei 225 has been the premier index of Japanese stocks for the last 60 years. Many financial products are linked to the Nikkei 225, including investment trusts and index futures. They have been developed and are traded on exchanges worldwide. A number of Nikkei 225 ETFs exist, but they're available only to Japanese investors or those with foreign accounts. Also, they're not denominated in dollars, as the Maxis Nikkei 225 Index Fund will be.
While the Nikkei 225 is perhaps more akin to the Dow Jones industrial average, as both are price weighted, the proposed fund could end up being the Japan equivalent of the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca:SPY) in terms of liquidity. SPY is the world's largest exchange-traded fund, and is now widely used by buy-and-hold investors and day traders alike.
Cart Before The Horse?
It wasn't immediately clear whether the petitioner, Precidian ETFs Trust, had obtained exemptive relief that would give it official permission to market ETFs. An official at the firm declined to comment, citing SEC regulations that prohibit public comments on securities that are in some stage of planning at the commission.
Firms sometimes put funds into registration before obtaining exemptive relief because they believe such approval is imminent.
Exemptive relief filings such as the one made by Precidian grant ETF firms exception to sections of the Investment Act of 1940, and are just the first step in the path to launching ETFs. It often takes at least six to 12 months from the date of the initial filing for a company's first ETF to hit the market.
In the new exemptive relief filing dated June 3, Bedminster, N.J.-based Precidian said Foreside Fund Services LLC, a firm incorporated in Delaware but based in Portland, Maine, would be the distributor of the Maxis Nikkei 225 Index Fund.
Change In Advisor
When plans of the Nikkei 225 ETF first became public in an initial exemptive relief filing with the SEC last August, the petitioner said NEXT ETFs LLC would be the advisor.
But the updated exemptive relief filing a week ago said the fund advisor had become Precidian Funds.
It wasn't immediately clear whether the change in advisor meant that NEXT Investments, an ETF consulting firm also based in Bedminster, N.J., would be changing its name to Precidian. An official from the company declined to comment at that time, again citing regulations that prohibit comments on filings that are still coursing their way through the SEC.
On its website last summer, NEXT said it is launching the planned ETF with Mitsubishi UFJ Asset Management Co. Ltd. and Nikkei Inc.
The Nikkei index is sponsored by Nikkei Inc., a Japanese media company that publishes five newspapers and operates an online news site, according to the first exemptive relief filing. Nikkei Inc. focuses on business and economic news and information.
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