Table of Contents

As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 6, 2018

Securities Act File No. 33-54126

Investment Company Act File No. 811-07332

 

 

 

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

 

FORM N-1A

 

REGISTRATION STATEMENT UNDER THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933  
Pre-Effective Amendment No.  
Post-Effective Amendment No. 283  
and/or  
REGISTRATION STATEMENT UNDER THE  
INVESTMENT COMPANY ACT OF 1940  
Amendment No. 287  
(Check appropriate box or boxes)  

 

 

BLACKROCK FUNDS III

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Charter)

400 Howard Street

San Francisco, California 94105

(Address of Principal Executive Office)

Registrant’s Telephone Number, including Area Code: 1-800-882-0052

John M. Perlowski

BlackRock Funds III

55 East 52nd Street

New York, New York 10055

United States of America

(Name and Address of Agent for Service)

 

 

Copies to:

 

John A. MacKinnon, Esq.

Sidley Austin LLP

787 Seventh Avenue

New York, New York 10019-6018

 

Benjamin Archibald, Esq.

BlackRock Fund Advisors

55 East 52nd Street

New York, NY 10055

 

 

It is proposed that this filing will become effective (check appropriate box)

 

  Immediately upon filing pursuant to paragraph (b)

 

  On (date) pursuant to paragraph (b)

 

  60 days after filing pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)

 

  On (date) pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)

 

  75 days after filing pursuant to paragraph (a)(2)

 

  On (date) pursuant to paragraph (a)(2) of Rule 485.

If appropriate, check the following box:

 

  This post-effective amendment designates a new effective date for a previously filed post-effective amendment.

Title of Securities Being Registered: Shares of Beneficial Interest.

Master Investment Portfolio has also executed this Registration Statement.

 

 

 


Table of Contents

JULY 6, 2018

 

 

PROSPECTUS

 

   

LOGO

 

BlackRock Funds III  |  Investor P Shares

 

  iShares U.S. Aggregate Bond Index Fund

Investor P: BMOPX

 

This Prospectus contains information you should know before investing, including information about risks. Please read it before you invest and keep it for future reference.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has not approved or disapproved these securities or passed upon the adequacy of this Prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 

Not FDIC Insured • May Lose Value • No Bank Guarantee


Table of Contents

Table of Contents

 

 

 

Fund Overview    Key facts and details about the Fund, including investment objective, principal investment strategies, principal risk factors, fee and expense information and historical performance information  
   Investment Objective     3  
   Fees and Expenses of the Fund     3  
   Principal Investment Strategies of the Fund     4  
   Principal Risks of Investing in the Fund     4  
   Performance Information     6  
   Investment Adviser     7  
   Portfolio Managers     7  
   Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares     7  
   Tax Information     7  
   Payments to Broker/Dealers and Other Financial Intermediaries     7  
Details About the Fund    Information about how the Fund invests, including investment objectives, investment processes, principal strategies and risk factors  
   Details About the Fund’s Investment Strategies     8  
   Investment Risks     9  
Account Information    Information about account services, sales charges and waivers, shareholder transactions, and distribution and other payments  
   Details About the Share Class     15  
   Distribution and Shareholder Servicing Payments     18  
   How to Buy, Sell and Exchange Shares     18  
   Account Services and Privileges     22  
   Fund’s Rights     23  
   Calculating the Share Price     23  
   Short-Term Trading Policy     23  
   Master/Feeder Mutual Fund Structure     24  
Management of the Fund    Information about BlackRock Fund Advisors and the Portfolio Managers  
   Investment Adviser     26  
   Portfolio Managers     26  
   Administrative Services     27  
   Conflicts of Interest     27  
   Valuation of Fund Investments     28  
   Dividends, Distributions and Taxes     29  
Financial Highlights    Financial Performance of the Fund     30  
General Information    Shareholder Documents     31  
   Certain Fund Policies     31  
   Statement of Additional Information     32  
For More Information    Fund and Service Providers     Inside Back Cover  
   Additional Information     Back Cover  


Table of Contents

Fund Overview

 

 

 

Key Facts About iShares U.S. Aggregate Bond Index Fund

Investment Objective

 

iShares U.S. Aggregate Bond Index Fund (formerly known as BlackRock U.S. Total Bond Index Fund) (the “Fund”), a series of BlackRock Funds III (the “Trust”), seeks to provide investment results that correspond to the total return performance of fixed-income securities in the aggregate, as represented by the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index (the “Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index” or the “Underlying Index”).

Fees and Expenses of the Fund

 

This table describes the fees and expenses that you may pay if you buy and hold shares of the Fund. You may qualify for sales charge discounts if you and your family invest, or agree to invest in the future, at least $25,000 in the fund complex advised by BlackRock Advisors, LLC (“BlackRock”) or its affiliates. More information about these and other discounts is available from your Financial Intermediary (as defined below) and in the “Details About the Share Class” section on page 15 of the Fund’s prospectus and in the “Purchase of Shares” section on page II-73 of Part II of the Fund’s Statement of Additional Information (the “SAI”).

 

Shareholder Fees

(fees paid directly from your investment)

   Investor P
Shares

Maximum Sales Charge (Load) Imposed on Purchases (as a percentage of offering price)

       4.00%

Maximum Deferred Sales Charge (Load) (as a percentage of offering price of redemption proceeds, whichever is lower)

       None
Annual Fund Operating Expenses
(expenses that you pay each year as a percentage of the value of your investment)1
   Investor P
Shares

Management Fee1,2,3

       0.04%

Distribution and/or Service (12b-1) Fees

       0.25%

Other Expenses4,5

       0.06%

Administration Fees

       0.06%     

Independent Expenses4,5

       —           

Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses6

       0.01%

Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses

       0.36%

Fee Waivers and/or Expense Reimbursements2,3,5

       (0.01)%

Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses After Fee Waivers and/or Expense Reimbursements2,3,5

       0.35%

 

1 The fees and expenses shown in the table above and the example that follows include the expenses of both the Fund and the Fund’s share of the allocated expenses of U.S. Total Bond Index Master Portfolio (the “Master Portfolio”), a series of Master Investment Portfolio (“MIP”). Management fees are paid by the Master Portfolio.

 

2 BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”), the investment adviser for the Master Portfolio, has contractually agreed to waive its management fee by the amount of investment advisory fees the Master Portfolio pays to BFA indirectly through its investment in affiliated money market funds through April 30, 2020. The agreement may be terminated upon 90 days’ notice by a majority of the non-interested trustees of MIP or by a vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of the Master Portfolio.

 

3  As described in the “Management of the Fund” section of the Fund’s prospectus beginning on page 26, BFA has contractually agreed to waive the management fee with respect to any portion of the Master Portfolio’s assets estimated to be attributable to investments in other equity and fixed-income mutual funds and exchange-traded funds managed by BFA or its affiliates that have a contractual management fee, through April 30, 2020. The contractual agreement may be terminated upon 90 days’ notice by a majority of the non-interested trustees of MIP or by a vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of the Master Portfolio.

 

4  Independent Expenses are based on estimated amounts for the current fiscal year.

 

5  Independent Expenses consist of the Fund’s allocable portion of the fees and expenses of the independent trustees of the Trust and MIP, counsel to such independent trustees and the independent registered public accounting firm that provides audit services to the Fund and the Master Portfolio. BlackRock Advisors, LLC (“BAL”), the administrator for the Fund, and BFA have contractually agreed to reimburse, or provide offsetting credits to, the Fund and the Master Portfolio, as applicable, for Independent Expenses through April 30, 2020. After giving effect to such contractual arrangements, Independent Expenses will be 0.00%. Such contractual arrangements may not be terminated prior to May 1, 2020 without the consent of the Boards of Trustees of the Trust and of MIP.

 

6  Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses are based on estimated amounts for the current year.

 

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Example:

This Example is intended to help you compare the cost of investing in shares of the Fund with the cost of investing in other mutual funds. The Example assumes that you invest $10,000 in shares of the Fund for the time periods indicated and then redeem all of your shares at the end of those periods. The Example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions your costs would be:

 

      1 Year        3 Years        5 Years        10 Years  

Investor P Shares

   $ 434        $ 510        $ 593        $ 836  

Portfolio Turnover:

The Master Portfolio pays transaction costs, such as commissions, when it buys and sells securities (or “turns over” its portfolio). A higher portfolio turnover rate may indicate higher transaction costs and may result in higher taxes when shares are held in a taxable account. These costs, which are not reflected in annual fund operating expenses or in the Example, affect the Fund’s performance. During the most recent fiscal year, the Master Portfolio’s portfolio turnover rate was 345% of the average value of its portfolio.

Principal Investment Strategies of the Fund

 

The Fund pursues its investment objective by seeking to match the total return performance of the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index, which is composed of approximately 10,000 fixed-income securities. The fixed-income securities that comprise the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index include U.S. Government securities and corporate bonds, as well as mortgage-backed securities, asset-backed securities and commercial mortgage-backed securities. All securities in the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index are investment-grade. The Fund maintains a weighted average maturity consistent with that of the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index, which generally ranges between 5 and 10 years. The Fund invests in a representative sample of these securities. Securities are selected for investment by the Fund in accordance with their relative proportion within the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index as well as based on credit quality, issuer sector, maturity structure, coupon rates and callability, among other factors. BFA, the investment adviser to the Master Portfolio in which the Fund invests, considers investments that provide substantially similar exposure to securities in the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index to be investments comprising the Fund’s benchmark index.

The Fund is managed by determining which securities are to be purchased or sold to reflect, to the extent feasible, the investment characteristics of its benchmark index. Under normal circumstances, at least 90% of the value of the Fund’s assets, plus the amount of any borrowing for investment purposes, is invested in securities comprising the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index, which, for the Fund, are considered bonds.

The Fund is a “feeder” fund that invests all of its assets in the Master Portfolio of MIP, which has the same investment objective and strategies as the Fund. All investments are made at the Master Portfolio level. This structure is sometimes called a “master/feeder” structure. The Fund’s investment results will correspond directly to the investment results of the Master Portfolio. For simplicity, the prospectus uses the name of the Fund or the term “Fund” (as applicable) to include the Master Portfolio.

Principal Risks of Investing in the Fund

 

Risk is inherent in all investing. The value of your investment in the Fund, as well as the amount of return you receive on your investment, may fluctuate significantly from day to day and over time. You may lose part or all of your investment in the Fund or your investment may not perform as well as other similar investments. The following is a summary description of the principal risks of investing in the Fund.

 

  Debt Securities Risk — Debt securities, such as bonds, involve interest rate risk, credit risk, extension risk, and prepayment risk, among other things.

Interest Rate Risk — The market value of bonds and other fixed-income securities changes in response to interest rate changes and other factors. Interest rate risk is the risk that prices of bonds and other fixed-income securities will increase as interest rates fall and decrease as interest rates rise.

The Fund may be subject to a greater risk of rising interest rates due to the current period of historically low rates. For example, if interest rates increase by 1%, assuming a current portfolio duration of ten years, and all other factors being equal, the value of the Fund’s investments would be expected to decrease by 10%. The magnitude of these fluctuations in the market price of bonds and other fixed-income securities is generally greater for those securities with longer maturities. Fluctuations in the market price of the Fund’s investments will not affect interest income derived from instruments already owned by the Fund, but will be reflected in the Fund’s net asset value. The Fund may lose money if short-term or long-term interest rates rise sharply in a manner not anticipated by Fund management.

 

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To the extent the Fund invests in debt securities that may be prepaid at the option of the obligor (such as mortgage-backed securities), the sensitivity of such securities to changes in interest rates may increase (to the detriment of the Fund) when interest rates rise. Moreover, because rates on certain floating rate debt securities typically reset only periodically, changes in prevailing interest rates (and particularly sudden and significant changes) can be expected to cause some fluctuations in the net asset value of the Fund to the extent that it invests in floating rate debt securities.

These basic principles of bond prices also apply to U.S. Government securities. A security backed by the “full faith and credit” of the U.S. Government is guaranteed only as to its stated interest rate and face value at maturity, not its current market price. Just like other fixed-income securities, government-guaranteed securities will fluctuate in value when interest rates change.

A general rise in interest rates has the potential to cause investors to move out of fixed-income securities on a large scale, which may increase redemptions from funds that hold large amounts of fixed-income securities. Heavy redemptions could cause the Fund to sell assets at inopportune times or at a loss or depressed value and could hurt the Fund’s performance.

Credit Risk — Credit risk refers to the possibility that the issuer of a debt security (i.e., the borrower) will not be able to make payments of interest and principal when due. Changes in an issuer’s credit rating or the market’s perception of an issuer’s creditworthiness may also affect the value of the Fund’s investment in that issuer. The degree of credit risk depends on both the financial condition of the issuer and the terms of the obligation.

Extension Risk — When interest rates rise, certain obligations will be paid off by the obligor more slowly than anticipated, causing the value of these obligations to fall.

Prepayment Risk — When interest rates fall, certain obligations will be paid off by the obligor more quickly than originally anticipated, and the Fund may have to invest the proceeds in securities with lower yields.

 

  High Portfolio Turnover Risk — The Fund may engage in active and frequent trading of its portfolio securities. High portfolio turnover (more than 100%) may result in increased transaction costs to the Fund, including brokerage commissions, dealer mark-ups and other transaction costs on the sale of the securities and on reinvestment in other securities. The sale of Fund portfolio securities may result in the realization and/or distribution to shareholders of higher capital gains or losses as compared to a fund with less active trading policies. These effects of higher than normal portfolio turnover may adversely affect Fund performance. In addition, investment in mortgage dollar rolls and participation in to-be-announced (“TBA”) transactions may significantly increase the Fund’s portfolio turnover rate. A TBA transaction is a method of trading mortgage-backed securities where the buyer and seller agree upon general trade parameters such as agency, settlement date, par amount and price at the time the contract is entered into but the mortgage-backed securities are delivered in the future, generally 30 days later.

 

  Index Fund Risk — An index fund has operating and other expenses while an index does not. As a result, while the Fund will attempt to track the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index as closely as possible, it will tend to underperform the index to some degree over time. If an index fund is properly correlated to its stated index, the fund will perform poorly when the index performs poorly.

 

  Index-Related Risk — There is no guarantee that the Fund’s investment results will have a high degree of correlation to those of the Underlying Index or that the Fund will achieve its investment objective. Market disruptions and regulatory restrictions could have an adverse effect on the Fund’s ability to adjust its exposure to the required levels in order to track the Underlying Index. Errors in index data, index computations or the construction of the Underlying Index in accordance with its methodology may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the index provider for a period of time or at all, which may have an adverse impact on the Fund and its shareholders.

 

  Market Risk and Selection Risk — Market risk is the risk that one or more markets in which the Fund invests will go down in value, including the possibility that the markets will go down sharply and unpredictably. Selection risk is the risk that the securities selected by Fund management will underperform the markets, the relevant indices or the securities selected by other funds with similar investment objectives and investment strategies. This means you may lose money.

 

  Mortgage- and Asset-Backed Securities Risks — Mortgage- and asset-backed securities represent interests in “pools” of mortgages or other assets, including consumer loans or receivables held in trust. Mortgage- and asset-backed securities are subject to credit, interest rate, prepayment and extension risks. These securities also are subject to risk of default on the underlying mortgage or asset, particularly during periods of economic downturn. Small movements in interest rates (both increases and decreases) may quickly and significantly reduce the value of certain mortgage-backed securities.

 

 

Tracking Error Risk Tracking error is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities and other instruments held in the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences, differences in transaction costs, the Fund’s

 

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holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or interest, tax gains or losses, changes to the Underlying Index or the costs to the 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 the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not.

 

  U.S. Government Obligations Risk — Certain securities in which the Fund may invest, including securities issued by certain U.S. Government agencies and U.S. Government sponsored enterprises, are not guaranteed by the U.S. Government or supported by the full faith and credit of the United States.

Performance Information

 

The information shows how the Fund’s performance has varied year by year and provides some indication of the risks of investing in the Fund. Investor P Shares do not have a performance history as of the date of this prospectus. As a result, the chart and the table give you a picture of the long-term performance for Investor A Shares of the Fund, which are not offered in this prospectus. The actual returns of Investor P Shares would have been lower than those of the Investor A Shares because Investor P Shares have a sales charge and Investor A Shares do not.

Investor A Shares of the Fund commenced operations on March 31, 2011. As a result, the returns in the chart for Investor A Shares and the average annual total return table for Investor A Shares, prior to their commencement of operations on March 31, 2011, are based on the Fund’s Class K Shares, which are offered in a separate prospectus, adjusted to reflect the fees and expenses applicable to Investor A Shares. The average annual total returns table compares the Fund’s performance to that of the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index. To the extent that dividends and distributions have been paid by the Fund, the performance information of the Fund in the chart and table assumes reinvestment of the dividends and distributions. As with all such investments, past performance (before and after taxes) is not an indication of future results. The table includes all applicable fees. If BFA, BAL and their affiliates had not waived or reimbursed certain Fund expenses during these periods, the Fund’s returns would have been lower. Updated information on the Fund’s performance, including its current net asset value, can be obtained by visiting www.blackrock.com or can be obtained by phone at (800) 882-0052.

Investor A Shares

ANNUAL TOTAL RETURNS

iShares U.S. Aggregate Bond Index Fund

As of 12/31

LOGO

During the ten-year period shown in the bar chart, the highest return for a quarter was 4.49% (quarter ended December 31, 2008) and the lowest return for a quarter was –3.21% (quarter ended December 31, 2016).

 

As of 12/31/17
Average Annual Total Returns
   1 Year      5 Years      10 Years  

iShares U.S. Aggregate Bond Index Fund — Investor A Shares

        

Return Before Taxes

     3.19      1.64      3.58

Return After Taxes on Distributions

     2.32      0.52      2.34

Return After Taxes on Distributions and Sale of Fund Shares

     1.80      0.75      2.28

Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index (Reflects no deduction for fees, expenses or taxes)

     3.54      2.10      4.01

 

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After-tax returns are calculated using the historical highest individual federal marginal income tax rates and do not reflect the impact of state and local taxes. Actual after-tax returns depend on the investor’s tax situation and may differ from those shown, and the after-tax returns shown are not relevant to investors who hold their shares through tax-deferred arrangements, such as 401(k) plans or individual retirement accounts.

Investment Adviser

 

The Master Portfolio’s investment adviser is BlackRock Fund Advisors (previously defined as “BFA”).

Portfolio Managers

 

 

Name

   Portfolio Manager of the
Master Portfolio Since
   Title

James Mauro

   2011    Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc.

Scott Radell

   2009    Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc.

Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares

 

You may purchase or redeem shares of the Fund each day the New York Stock Exchange is open. Investor P Shares are only available to investors purchasing shares through registered representatives of an insurance company’s broker-dealer that has entered into an agreement with the Fund’s distributor to offer such shares (the “Financial Intermediary”). The Fund’s initial and subsequent investment minimums generally are as follows, although the Fund may reduce or waive the minimums in some cases:

 

Minimum Initial Investment  

$1,000 for all accounts except:

•  $50, if establishing an Automatic Investment Plan.

•  There is no investment minimum for employer-sponsored retirement plans (not including SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs or SARSEPs).

•  There is no investment minimum for certain fee-based programs.

Minimum Additional Investment   $50 for all accounts (with the exception of certain employer-sponsored retirement plans which may have a lower minimum).

Tax Information

 

The Fund’s dividends and distributions may be subject to U.S. federal income taxes and may be taxed as ordinary income or capital gains, unless you are a tax-exempt investor or are investing through a qualified tax-exempt plan described in section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, in which case you may be subject to U.S. federal income tax when distributions are received from such tax-deferred arrangements.

Payments to Broker/Dealers and Other Financial Intermediaries

 

The Fund and BlackRock Investments, LLC, the Fund’s distributor, or its affiliates may pay your Financial Intermediary for the sale of Fund shares and related services. These payments may create a conflict of interest by influencing your Financial Intermediary to recommend the Fund over another investment. Ask your individual financial professional or visit your Financial Intermediary’s website for more information.

 

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Details About the Fund

 

 

 

Included in this prospectus are sections that tell you about buying and selling shares, management information, shareholder features of iShares U.S. Aggregate Bond Index Fund (formerly known as BlackRock U.S. Total Bond Index Fund) (the “Fund”), a series of BlackRock Funds III (the “Trust”), and your rights as a shareholder.

The Fund is a “feeder fund” that invests all of its assets in U.S. Total Bond Index Master Portfolio (the “Master Portfolio”), a series of Master Investment Portfolio (“MIP”), that has the same investment objective and strategies as the Fund. All investments will be made at the Master Portfolio level. This structure is sometimes called a “master/feeder” structure. The Fund’s investment results will correspond directly to the investment results of the Master Portfolio. For simplicity, this prospectus uses the name of the Fund or the term “Fund” to include, where applicable, the Master Portfolio.

Details About the Fund’s Investment Strategies

 

Investment Objective

The Fund seeks to provide investment results that correspond to the total return performance of fixed-income securities in the aggregate, as represented by the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index (the “Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index” or the “Underlying Index”). The Fund’s investment objective may be changed by the Trust’s Board of Trustees without shareholder approval.

Investment Strategies

Under normal circumstances, at least 90% of the value of the Fund’s assets, plus the amount of any borrowing for investment purposes, is invested in securities comprising the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index, which, for the Fund, are considered bonds. The Fund will provide shareholders with at least 60 days’ notice of any change to this policy. The Fund attempts to achieve, in both rising and falling markets, a correlation of at least 95% between the total return of its net assets before fees and expenses and the total return of the Fund’s benchmark index, the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index. Notwithstanding the factors described below, perfect (100%) correlation would be achieved if the total return of the Fund’s net assets, before fees and expenses, increased or decreased exactly as the total return of the Fund’s benchmark index increased or decreased. The Fund’s ability to match its investment performance to the investment performance of its benchmark index may be affected by, among other things, the Fund’s expenses, the amount of cash and cash equivalents held by the Fund, the manner in which the total return of the Fund’s benchmark index is calculated, the size of the Fund’s investment portfolio, and the timing, frequency and size of shareholder purchases and redemptions.

The Fund utilizes sampling techniques that are designed to allow the Fund to duplicate substantially the investment performance of the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index. However, the Fund is not expected to track the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index with the same degree of accuracy that complete replication of the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index would provide. No attempt is made to manage the Fund using economic, financial or market analysis. In addition, at times, the portfolio composition of the Fund may be altered (or “rebalanced”) to reflect changes in the characteristics of the index that the Fund tracks.

The Fund also may engage in futures and options transactions and other derivative securities transactions and lend its portfolio securities, each of which involves risk. The Fund may use futures contracts, options and other derivative transactions to manage its short-term liquidity and/or as substitutes for comparable market positions in the securities in its benchmark index. The Fund may also invest in high-quality money market instruments, including shares of money market funds advised by BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”) or its affiliates.

Investors look to indexes as a standard of market performance. Indexes are model portfolios, that is, groups of stocks or bonds selected to represent an entire market or market segment. One way an index fund seeks to match an index’s performance, before fees and expenses, is by buying and selling all of the index’s securities in the same proportion as they are reflected in the index.

There were approximately 10,000 fixed-income securities included in the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index. The Fund maintains a weighted average maturity consistent with that of the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index, which generally ranges between 5 and 10 years. As a practical matter, it would be inefficient for the Fund to hold each security included in the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index. The Fund can, however, substantially replicate the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index’s profile by holding a representative sample of securities in the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index. It may, for example, hold U.S. Government obligations and corporate bonds in a similar proportion to the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index. Additionally, it can match certain Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index features such as:

 

  Average time to maturity for both government and corporate securities;

 

  Securities’ coupon rates, which are the interest rates securities pay based on their face values;

 

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  Economic sectors represented by securities;

 

  Credit quality of securities (all securities in the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index are rated investment-grade); and

 

  Whether or not securities are callable, which means the issuer has the right to repay principal and interest before maturity.

The Fund is designed for investors who desire a convenient way to invest in bonds issued in the United States. Although this market has increased in value over the long term, it fluctuates and has also decreased in value over shorter time periods.

The Fund does not by itself constitute a balanced investment program. Diversifying your investments by buying shares in other funds may improve your long-term return as well as reduce volatility.

The Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index is maintained by Bloomberg Index Services Limited (the “Index Provider”). The Index Provider does not sponsor, endorse, sell or promote the Fund or the Master Portfolio. The Index Provider makes no representation or warranty, expressed or implied, regarding the advisability of investing in the Fund or its Master Portfolio. Neither BFA nor BlackRock Advisors, LLC (“BAL”) has or will have a role in maintaining the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index.

The past performance of the Underlying Index is not a guide to future performance. BFA does not guarantee the accuracy or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein and BFA shall have no liability for any errors, omissions or interruptions therein. BFA makes no warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or to any other person or entity, as to results to be obtained by the Fund from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall BFA have any liability for any special, punitive, direct, indirect or consequential damages (including lost profits), even if notified of the possibility of such damages.

 

ABOUT THE PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT TEAM OF THE FUND/MASTER PORTFOLIO
 
The Master Portfolio is managed by a team of financial professionals. James Mauro and Scott Radell are the portfolio managers and are jointly and primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Master Portfolio. Please see “Management of the Fund — Portfolio Managers” for additional information about the portfolio management team.

Investment Risks

 

This section contains a discussion of the general risks of investing in the Fund. The “Investment Objective and Policies” section in the Fund’s Statement of Additional Information (the “SAI”) also includes more information about the Fund, its investments and the related risks. As with any fund, there can be no guarantee that the Fund will meet its investment objective or that the Fund’s performance will be positive for any period of time. An investment in the Fund is not a deposit in any bank and is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or by any bank or governmental agency.

Principal Risks of Investing in the Fund

 

  Debt Securities Risk — Debt securities, such as bonds, involve interest rate risk, credit risk, extension risk, and prepayment risk, among other things.

Interest Rate Risk — The market value of bonds and other fixed-income securities changes in response to interest rate changes and other factors. Interest rate risk is the risk that prices of bonds and other fixed-income securities will increase as interest rates fall and decrease as interest rates rise. The Fund may be subject to a greater risk of rising interest rates due to the current period of historically low rates. For example, if interest rates increase by 1%, assuming a current portfolio duration of ten years, and all other factors being equal, the value of the Fund’s investments would be expected to decrease by 10%. The magnitude of these fluctuations in the market price of bonds and other fixed-income securities is generally greater for those securities with longer maturities. Fluctuations in the market price of the Fund’s investments will not affect interest income derived from instruments already owned by the Fund, but will be reflected in the Fund’s net asset value. The Fund may lose money if short-term or long-term interest rates rise sharply in a manner not anticipated by Fund management. To the extent the Fund invests in debt securities that may be prepaid at the option of the obligor (such as mortgage-backed securities), the sensitivity of such securities to changes in interest rates may increase (to the detriment of the Fund) when interest rates rise. Moreover, because rates on certain floating rate debt securities typically reset only periodically, changes in prevailing interest rates (and particularly sudden and significant changes) can be expected to cause some fluctuations in the net asset value of the Fund to the extent that it invests in floating rate debt securities. These basic principles of bond prices also apply to U.S. Government securities. A security backed by the “full faith and

 

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credit” of the U.S. Government is guaranteed only as to its stated interest rate and face value at maturity, not its current market price. Just like other fixed-income securities, government-guaranteed securities will fluctuate in value when interest rates change.

Following the financial crisis that began in 2007, the Federal Reserve has attempted to stabilize the economy and support the economic recovery by keeping the federal funds rate (the interest rate at which depository institutions lend reserve balances to other depository institutions overnight) at or near zero percent. In addition, as part of its monetary stimulus program known as quantitative easing, the Federal Reserve has purchased on the open market large quantities of securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. Government, its agencies or instrumentalities. As the Federal Reserve “tapers” or reduces the amount of securities it purchases pursuant to quantitative easing, and/or if the Federal Reserve raises the federal funds rate, there is a risk that interest rates will rise. A general rise in interest rates has the potential to cause investors to move out of fixed-income securities on a large scale, which may increase redemptions from mutual funds that hold large amounts of fixed-income securities. Heavy redemptions could cause the Fund to sell assets at inopportune times or at a loss or depressed value and could hurt the Fund’s performance.

During periods of very low or negative interest rates, the Fund may be unable to maintain positive returns. Certain countries have recently experienced negative interest rates on certain fixed-income instruments. Very low or negative interest rates may magnify interest rate risk. Changing interest rates, including rates that fall below zero, may have unpredictable effects on markets, may result in heightened market volatility and may detract from Fund performance to the extent the Fund is exposed to such interest rates.

Credit Risk — Credit risk refers to the possibility that the issuer of a debt security (i.e., the borrower) will not be able to make payments of interest and principal when due. Changes in an issuer’s credit rating or the market’s perception of an issuer’s creditworthiness may also affect the value of the Fund’s investment in that issuer. The degree of credit risk depends on both the financial condition of the issuer and the terms of the obligation.

Extension Risk — When interest rates rise, certain obligations will be paid off by the obligor more slowly than anticipated, causing the value of these obligations to fall. Rising interest rates tend to extend the duration of securities, making them more sensitive to changes in interest rates. The value of longer-term securities generally changes more in response to changes in interest rates than shorter-term securities. As a result, in a period of rising interest rates, securities may exhibit additional volatility and may lose value.

Prepayment Risk — When interest rates fall, certain obligations will be paid off by the obligor more quickly than originally anticipated, and the Fund may have to invest the proceeds in securities with lower yields. In periods of falling interest rates, the rate of prepayments tends to increase (as does price fluctuation) as borrowers are motivated to pay off debt and refinance at new lower rates. During such periods, reinvestment of the prepayment proceeds by the management team will generally be at lower rates of return than the return on the assets that were prepaid. Prepayment reduces the yield to maturity and the average life of the security.

 

  High Portfolio Turnover Risk — The Fund may engage in active and frequent trading of its portfolio securities. High portfolio turnover (more than 100%) may result in increased transaction costs to the Fund, including brokerage commissions, dealer mark-ups and other transaction costs on the sale of the securities and on reinvestment in other securities. The sale of Fund portfolio securities may result in the realization and/or distribution to shareholders of higher capital gains or losses as compared to a fund with less active trading policies. These effects of higher than normal portfolio turnover may adversely affect Fund performance.

 

  Index Fund Risk — An index fund has operating and other expenses while an index does not. As a result, while the Fund will attempt to track the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index as closely as possible, it will tend to underperform the index to some degree over time. If an index fund is properly correlated to its stated index, the fund will perform poorly when the index performs poorly.

 

 

Index-Related Risk — The Fund seeks to achieve a return that corresponds generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Underlying Index as published by the Index Provider. There is no assurance that the Index Provider or any agents that may act on its behalf will compile the Underlying Index accurately, or that the Underlying Index will be determined, composed or calculated accurately. While the Index Provider provides descriptions of what the Underlying Index is designed to achieve, neither the Index Provider nor its agents provide any warranty or accept any liability in relation to the quality, accuracy or completeness of the Underlying Index or its related data, and they do not guarantee that the Underlying Index will be in line with the Index Provider’s methodology. BlackRock’s mandate as described in this prospectus is to manage the Fund consistently with the Underlying Index provided by the Index Provider to BlackRock. BlackRock does not provide any warranty or guarantee against the Index Provider’s or any agent’s errors. Errors in respect of the quality, accuracy and completeness of the data used to compile the Underlying Index may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, particularly where the indices are less commonly used as benchmarks by funds or managers. Therefore, gains, losses or costs associated with errors of the Index Provider or its agents will generally be borne by the Fund and its shareholders. For example, during a

 

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period where the Underlying Index contains incorrect constituents, the Fund would have market exposure to such constituents and would be underexposed to the Underlying Index’s other constituents. Such errors may negatively or positively impact the Fund and its shareholders.

Apart from scheduled rebalances, the Index Provider or its agents may carry out additional ad hoc rebalances to the Underlying Index in order, for example, to correct an error in the selection of index constituents. When the Underlying Index is rebalanced and the Fund in turn rebalances its portfolio to attempt to increase the correlation between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index, any transaction costs and market exposure arising from such portfolio rebalancing will be borne directly by the Fund and its shareholders. Unscheduled rebalances to the Underlying Index may expose the Fund to additional tracking error risk, which is the risk that the Fund’s returns may not track those of the Underlying Index. Therefore, errors and additional ad hoc rebalances carried out by the Index Provider or its agents to the Underlying Index may increase the costs to and the tracking error risk of the Fund.

 

  Market Risk and Selection Risk — Market risk is the risk that one or more markets in which the Fund invests will go down in value, including the possibility that the markets will go down sharply and unpredictably. Selection risk is the risk that the securities selected by Fund management will underperform the markets, the relevant indices or the securities selected by other funds with similar investment objectives and investment strategies. This means you may lose money.

 

  Mortgage- and Asset-Backed Securities Risks — Mortgage-backed securities (residential and commercial) and asset-backed securities represent interests in “pools” of mortgages or other assets, including consumer loans or receivables held in trust. Although asset-backed and commercial mortgage-backed securities (“CMBS”) generally experience less prepayment than residential mortgage-backed securities, mortgage-backed and asset-backed securities, like traditional fixed-income securities, are subject to credit, interest rate, prepayment and extension risks.

Small movements in interest rates (both increases and decreases) may quickly and significantly reduce the value of certain mortgage-backed securities. The Fund’s investments in asset-backed securities are subject to risks similar to those associated with mortgage-related securities, as well as additional risks associated with the nature of the assets and the servicing of those assets. These securities also are subject to the risk of default on the underlying mortgages or assets, particularly during periods of economic downturn. Certain CMBS are issued in several classes with different levels of yield and credit protection. The Fund’s investments in CMBS with several classes may be in the lower classes that have greater risks than the higher classes, including greater interest rate, credit and prepayment risks.

Mortgage-backed securities may be either pass-through securities or collateralized mortgage obligations (“CMOs”). Pass-through securities represent a right to receive principal and interest payments collected on a pool of mortgages, which are passed through to security holders. CMOs are created by dividing the principal and interest payments collected on a pool of mortgages into several revenue streams (“tranches”) with different priority rights to portions of the underlying mortgage payments. Certain CMO tranches may represent a right to receive interest only (“IOs”), principal only (“POs”) or an amount that remains after floating-rate tranches are paid (an “inverse floater”). These securities are frequently referred to as “mortgage derivatives” and may be extremely sensitive to changes in interest rates. Interest rates on inverse floaters, for example, vary inversely with a short-term floating rate (which may be reset periodically). Interest rates on inverse floaters will decrease when short-term rates increase, and will increase when short-term rates decrease. These securities have the effect of providing a degree of investment leverage. In response to changes in market interest rates or other market conditions, the value of an inverse floater may increase or decrease at a multiple of the increase or decrease in the value of the underlying securities. If the Fund invests in CMO tranches (including CMO tranches issued by government agencies) and interest rates move in a manner not anticipated by Fund management, it is possible that the Fund could lose all or substantially all of its investment. Certain mortgage-backed securities in which the Fund may invest may also provide a degree of investment leverage, which could cause the Fund to lose all or substantially all of its investment.

The mortgage market in the United States has experienced difficulties that may adversely affect the performance and market value of certain of the Fund’s mortgage-related investments. Delinquencies and losses on mortgage loans (including subprime and second-lien mortgage loans) generally have increased and may continue to increase, and a decline in or flattening of real estate values (as has been experienced and may continue to be experienced in many housing markets) may exacerbate such delinquencies and losses. Also, a number of mortgage loan originators have experienced serious financial difficulties or bankruptcy. Reduced investor demand for mortgage loans and mortgage-related securities and increased investor yield requirements have caused limited liquidity in the secondary market for mortgage-related securities, which can adversely affect the market value of mortgage-related securities. It is possible that such limited liquidity in such secondary markets could continue or worsen.

Asset-backed securities entail certain risks not presented by mortgage-backed securities, including the risk that in certain states it may be difficult to perfect the liens securing the collateral backing certain asset-backed securities. In addition, certain asset-backed securities are based on loans that are unsecured, which means that there is no collateral to seize if the underlying borrower defaults.

 

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  Tracking Error Risk Tracking error is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities and other instruments held in the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences, differences in transaction costs, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or interest, tax gains or losses, changes to the Underlying Index or the costs to the 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 the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not.

 

  U.S. Government Obligations Risk — Not all U.S. Government securities are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. Obligations of certain agencies, authorities, instrumentalities and sponsored enterprises of the U.S. Government are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States (e.g., the Government National Mortgage Association); other obligations are backed by the right of the issuer to borrow from the U.S. Treasury (e.g., the Federal Home Loan Banks) and others are supported by the discretionary authority of the U.S. Government to purchase an agency’s obligations. Still others are backed only by the credit of the agency, authority, instrumentality or sponsored enterprise issuing the obligation. No assurance can be given that the U.S. Government would provide financial support to any of these entities if it is not obligated to do so by law.

Other Risks of Investing in the Fund

The Fund may also be subject to certain other risks associated with its investments and investment strategies, including:

 

  Concentration Risk The Fund reserves the right to concentrate its investments (i.e., invest 25% or more of its total assets in securities of issuers in a particular industry) to approximately the same extent that the Underlying Index concentrates in a particular industry. To the extent the Fund concentrates in a particular industry, it may be more susceptible to economic conditions and risks affecting that industry.

 

  Derivatives Risk — The Fund’s use of derivatives may increase its costs, reduce the Fund’s returns and/or increase volatility. Derivatives involve significant risks, including:

Volatility Risk — The Fund’s use of derivatives may reduce the Fund’s returns and/or increase volatility. Volatility is defined as the characteristic of a security, an index or a market to fluctuate significantly in price within a short time period. A risk of the Fund’s use of derivatives is that the fluctuations in their values may not correlate with the overall securities markets.

Counterparty Risk — Derivatives are also subject to counterparty risk, which is the risk that the other party in the transaction will not fulfill its contractual obligation.

Market and Liquidity Risk — Some derivatives are more sensitive to interest rate changes and market price fluctuations than other securities. The possible lack of a liquid secondary market for derivatives and the resulting inability of the Fund to sell or otherwise close a derivatives position could expose the Fund to losses and could make derivatives more difficult for the Fund to value accurately. The Fund could also suffer losses related to its derivatives positions as a result of unanticipated market movements, which losses are potentially unlimited. Finally, BFA may not be able to predict correctly the direction of securities prices, interest rates and other economic factors, which could cause the Fund’s derivatives positions to lose value.

Valuation Risk — Valuation may be more difficult in times of market turmoil since many investors and market makers may be reluctant to purchase complex instruments or quote prices for them. Derivatives may also expose the Fund to greater risk and increase its costs. Certain transactions in derivatives involve substantial leverage risk and may expose the Fund to potential losses that exceed the amount originally invested by the Fund.

Hedging Risk — When a derivative is used as a hedge against a position that the Fund holds, 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. Hedges are sometimes subject to imperfect matching between the derivative and the underlying security, and there can be no assurance that the Fund’s hedging transactions will be effective. The use of hedging may result in certain adverse tax consequences noted below.

Tax Risk — The federal income tax treatment of a derivative may not be as favorable as a direct investment in an underlying asset and may adversely affect the timing, character and amount of income the Fund realizes from its investments. As a result, a larger portion of the Fund’s distributions may be treated as ordinary income rather than capital gains. In addition, certain derivatives are subject to mark-to-market or straddle provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Internal Revenue Code”). If such provisions are applicable, there could be an increase (or decrease) in the amount of taxable dividends paid by the Fund. In addition, the tax treatment of certain derivatives, such as swaps, is unsettled and may be subject to future legislation, regulation or administrative pronouncements issued by the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”).

 

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Regulatory Risk — Derivative contracts, including, without limitation, swaps, currency forwards and non-deliverable forwards, are subject to regulation under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) in the United States and under comparable regimes in Europe, Asia and other non-U.S. jurisdictions. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, certain derivatives are subject to margin requirements and swap dealers are required to collect margin from the Fund with respect to such derivatives. Specifically, regulations are now in effect that require swap dealers to post and collect variation margin (comprised of specified liquid instruments and subject to a required haircut) in connection with trading of over-the-counter (“OTC”) swaps with the Fund. Shares of investment companies (other than certain money market funds) may not be posted as collateral under these regulations. Requirements for posting of initial margin in connection with OTC swaps will be phased-in through 2020. In addition, regulations adopted by prudential regulators that will begin to take effect in 2019 will require certain bank-regulated counterparties and certain of their affiliates to include in certain financial contracts, including many derivatives contracts, terms that delay or restrict the rights of counterparties, such as the Fund, to terminate such contracts, 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. The implementation of these requirements with respect to derivatives, as well as regulations under the Dodd-Frank Act regarding clearing, mandatory trading and margining of other derivatives, may increase the costs and risks to the Fund of trading in these instruments and, as a result, may affect returns to investors in the Fund.

Future regulatory developments may impact the Fund’s ability to invest or remain invested in certain derivatives. Legislation or regulation may also change the way in which the Fund itself is regulated. BFA cannot predict the effects of any new governmental regulation that may be implemented on the ability of the Fund to use swaps or any other financial derivative product, and there can be no assurance that any new governmental regulation will not adversely affect the Fund’s ability to achieve its investment objective.

Risks Specific to Certain Derivatives Used by the Fund

Futures – Futures are standardized, exchange-traded contracts that obligate a purchaser to take delivery, and a seller to make delivery, of a specific amount of an asset at a specified future date at a specified price. The primary risks associated with the use of futures contracts and options are: (a) the imperfect correlation between the change in market value of the instruments held by the Fund and the price of the futures contract or option; (b) the possible lack of a liquid secondary market for a futures contract and the resulting inability to close a futures contract when desired; (c) losses caused by unanticipated market movements, which are potentially unlimited; (d) the investment adviser’s inability to predict correctly the direction of securities prices, interest rates, currency exchange rates and other economic factors; and (e) the possibility that the counterparty will default in the performance of its obligations.

Options – An option is an agreement that, for a premium payment or fee, gives the option holder (the purchaser) the right but not the obligation to buy (a “call option”) or sell (a “put option”) the underlying asset (or settle for cash in an amount based on an underlying asset, rate, or index) at a specified price (the “exercise price”) during a period of time or on a specified date. Investments in options are considered speculative. When the Fund purchases an option, it may lose the total premium paid for it if the price of the underlying security or other assets decreased, remained the same or failed to increase to a level at or beyond the exercise price (in the case of a call option) or increased, remained the same or failed to decrease to a level at or below the exercise price (in the case of a put option). If a put or call option purchased by the Fund were permitted to expire without being sold or exercised, its premium would represent a loss to the Fund. To the extent that the Fund writes or sells an option, if the decline or increase in the underlying asset is significantly below or above the exercise price of the written option, the Fund could experience a substantial loss.

 

  Expense Risk — Fund expenses are subject to a variety of factors, including fluctuations in the Fund’s net assets. Accordingly, actual expenses may be greater or less than those indicated. For example, to the extent that the Fund’s net assets decrease due to market declines or redemptions, the Fund’s expenses will increase as a percentage of Fund net assets. During periods of high market volatility, these increases in the Fund’s expense ratio could be significant.

 

  Foreign Securities Risk — Because the Fund may invest in companies located in countries other than the United States, the Fund may be exposed to risks associated with foreign investments.

 

    The value of holdings traded outside the United States (and any hedging transactions in foreign currencies) will be affected by changes in currency exchange rates.

 

    The costs of non-U.S. securities transactions tend to be higher than those of U.S. transactions.

 

    Foreign holdings may be adversely affected by foreign government action.

 

    International trade barriers or economic sanctions against certain non-U.S. countries may adversely affect these holdings.

 

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    The economies of certain countries may compare unfavorably with the U.S. economy.

 

    Foreign securities markets may be smaller than the U.S. markets, which may make trading more difficult.

 

  Leverage Risk — Some transactions may give rise to a form of economic leverage. These transactions may include, among others, derivatives, and may expose the Fund to greater risk and increase its costs. As an open-end investment company registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), the Fund is subject to the federal securities laws, including the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “Investment Company Act”), the rules thereunder, and various SEC and SEC staff interpretive positions. In accordance with these laws, rules and positions, the Fund must “set aside” liquid assets (often referred to as “asset segregation”), or engage in other SEC- or staff-approved measures, to “cover” open positions with respect to certain kinds of instruments. The use of leverage may cause the Fund to liquidate portfolio positions when it may not be advantageous to do so to satisfy its obligations or to meet any required asset segregation requirements. Increases and decreases in the value of the Fund’s portfolio will be magnified when the Fund uses leverage.

 

  Liquidity Risk Liquidity risk exists when particular investments are difficult to purchase or sell. The Fund’s investments in illiquid securities may reduce the returns of the Fund because it may be difficult to sell the illiquid securities at an advantageous time or price. To the extent that the Fund’s principal investment strategies involve derivatives or securities with substantial market and/or credit risk, the Fund will tend to have the greatest exposure to liquidity risk. Liquidity risk may be the result of, among other things, the reduced number and capacity of traditional market participants to make a market in fixed-income securities or the lack of an active market. Liquid investments may become illiquid or less liquid after purchase by the Fund, particularly during periods of market turmoil. Illiquid and relatively less liquid investments may be harder to value, especially in changing markets, and if the Fund is forced to sell these investments to meet redemption requests or for other cash needs, the Fund may suffer a loss. This may be magnified in a rising interest rate environment or other circumstances where investor redemptions from fixed-income mutual funds may be higher than normal. In addition, when there is illiquidity in the market for certain securities, the Fund, due to limitations on illiquid investments, may be subject to purchase and sale restrictions.

 

  Passive Investment Risk Because BFA does not select individual companies in the index that the Fund tracks, the Fund may hold securities of companies that present risks that an investment adviser researching individual securities might seek to avoid.

 

  Securities Lending Risk — Securities lending involves the risk that the borrower may fail to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. As a result, the Fund may lose money and there may be a delay in recovering the loaned securities. The Fund could also lose money if it does not recover the securities and/or the value of the collateral falls, including the value of investments made with cash collateral. These events could trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund.

 

  Valuation Risk The price the Fund could receive upon the sale of any particular portfolio investment may differ from the Fund’s valuation of the investment, particularly for securities that trade in thin or volatile markets or that are valued using a fair valuation methodology or a price provided by an independent pricing service. As a result, the price received upon the sale of an investment may be less than the value ascribed by the Fund, and the Fund could realize a greater than expected loss or lesser than expected gain upon the sale of the investment. Pricing services that value fixed-income securities generally utilize a range of market-based and security-specific inputs and assumptions, as well as considerations about general market conditions, to establish a price. Pricing services generally value fixed-income securities assuming orderly transactions of an institutional round lot size, but may be held or transactions may be conducted in such securities in smaller, odd lot sizes. Odd lots may trade at lower prices than institutional round lots. The Fund’s ability to value its investments may also be impacted by technological issues and/or errors by pricing services or other third-party service providers.

For a description of the Fund’s policies and procedures with respect to disclosure of the Master Portfolio’s portfolio holdings and a further discussion of the Fund’s investments and risks, please refer to the Fund’s SAI.

 

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Account Information

 

 

 

Details About the Share Class

 

The Fund currently offers multiple share classes (Investor P Shares in this prospectus), others of which do not have a sales charge and offer a different expense structure, allowing you to invest in the way that best suits your needs. Each share class represents an ownership interest in the same investment portfolio of the Fund. When you choose your class of shares, you should consider the size of your investment and how long you plan to hold your shares. Investor P Shares are only available to investors purchasing shares through registered representatives of an insurance company’s broker dealer that has entered into an agreement with the Fund’s distributor to offer such shares (the “Financial Intermediary”). Your Financial Intermediary can help you determine whether you are eligible to buy Investor P Shares.

The Fund’s shares are distributed by BlackRock Investments, LLC (the “Distributor”), an affiliate of BFA. BFA and its affiliates are referred to in this prospectus as “BlackRock.”

The table below summarizes key features of Investor P Shares of the Fund.

 

Investor P Shares at a Glance

 

Availability    Only available through registered representatives of an insurance company’s broker-dealer that has entered into an agreement with the Fund’s distributor to offer such shares.
Minimum Investment   

$1,000 for all accounts except:

•  $50, if establishing an Automatic Investment Plan (“AIP”).

•  There is no investment minimum for employer-sponsored retirement plans (not including SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs or SARSEPs).

•  There is no investment minimum for certain fee-based programs.

Initial Sales Charge?    Yes. Payable at time of purchase. Lower sales charges are available for larger investments.
Deferred Sales Charge?    No.
Distribution and Service (12b-1) Fees?   

No Distribution Fee.

0.25% Annual Service Fee.

Redemption Fees?    No.

The following pages will cover the additional details of Investor P Shares, including the sales charge table, reduced sales charge information and sales charge waivers.

More information about existing sales charge reductions and waivers is available free of charge in a clear and prominent format via hyperlink at www.blackrock.com and in the SAI, which is available on the website or on request.

Investor P Shares — Initial Sales Charge

The following table shows the front-end sales charges that you may pay if you buy Investor P Shares. The offering price for Investor P Shares includes any front-end sales charge. The front-end sales charge expressed as a percentage of the offering price may be higher or lower than the charge described below due to rounding. You may qualify for a reduced front-end sales charge. Purchases of Investor P Shares at certain fixed dollar levels, known as “breakpoints,” cause a reduction in the front-end sales charge. Once you achieve a breakpoint, you pay that sales charge on your entire purchase amount (and not just the portion above the breakpoint). If you select Investor P Shares, you will pay a sales charge at the time of purchase as shown in the following table.

 

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Your Investment

   Sales Charge
as a % of
Offering Price
       Sales Charge
as a % of Your
Investment1
       Dealer
Compensation
as a % of
Offering Price
 

Less than $25,000

     4.00%          4.17%          3.75%  

$25,000 but less than $100,000

     3.75%          3.90%          3.50%  

$100,000 but less than $250,000

     3.50%          3.63%          3.25%  

$250,000 but less than $500,000

     2.50%          2.56%          2.25%  

$500,000 but less than $750,000

     2.00%          2.04%          1.75%  

$750,000 but less than $1,000,000

     1.50%          1.52%          1.25%  

$1,000,000 and over2

     0.00%          0.00%           

 

1 Rounded to the nearest one-hundredth percent.

No initial sales charge applies to Investor P Shares that you buy through reinvestment of Fund dividends or capital gains.

Sales Charges Reduced or Eliminated for Investor P Shares

There are several ways in which the sales charge can be reduced or eliminated. Purchases of Investor P Shares at certain fixed dollar levels, known as “breakpoints,” cause a reduction in the front-end sales charge (as described above in the “Investor P Shares — Initial Sales Charge” section). Additionally, the front-end sales charge can be reduced or eliminated through one or a combination of the following: a Letter of Intent, the right of accumulation, the reinstatement privilege (described under “Account Services and Privileges”), or a waiver of the sales charge (described below).

Reductions or eliminations through a Letter of Intent or the right of accumulation will apply to the value of all qualifying holdings in shares of mutual funds sponsored and advised by BlackRock or its affiliates (“BlackRock Funds”) owned by (a) the investor, or (b) the investor’s spouse and any children and a trust, custodial account or fiduciary account for the benefit of any such individuals. For this purpose, the value of an investor’s holdings means the offering price of the newly purchased shares (including any applicable sales charge) plus the current value (including any sales charges paid) of all other shares the investor already holds taken together.

Qualifying Holdings — Investor A and A1, Investor B, Investor C, C1, C2 and C3, Investor P (“Investor Shares”) and Institutional Shares (in most BlackRock Funds) and investments in the BlackRock CollegeAdvantage 529 Program.

Qualifying Holdings may include shares held in accounts held at a Financial Intermediary, including personal accounts, certain retirement accounts, UGMA/UTMA accounts, Joint Tenancy accounts, trust accounts and Transfer on Death accounts, as well as shares purchased by a trust of which the investor is a beneficiary. For purposes of the Letter of Intent and right of accumulation, the investor may not combine with the investor’s other holdings shares held in pension, profit sharing or other employer-sponsored retirement plans if those shares are held in the name of a nominee or custodian.

In order to receive a reduced sales charge, at the time an investor purchases shares of the Fund, the investor should inform the Financial Intermediary and/or BlackRock Funds of any other shares of the Fund or any other BlackRock Fund that qualify for a reduced sales charge. Failure by the investor to notify the Financial Intermediary or BlackRock Funds may result in the investor not receiving the sales charge reduction to which the investor is otherwise entitled.

The Financial Intermediary or BlackRock Funds may request documentation — including account statements and records of the original cost of the shares owned by the investor, the investor’s spouse and/or children showing that the investor qualifies for a reduced sales charge. The investor should retain these records because — depending on where an account is held or the type of account — the Fund and/or the Financial Intermediary or BlackRock Funds may not be able to maintain this information.

For more information, see the SAI or contact your Financial Intermediary.

Letter of Intent

An investor may qualify for a reduced front-end sales charge immediately by signing a “Letter of Intent” stating the investor’s intention to buy a specified amount of Investor A, Investor B, Investor C, Investor P and/or Institutional Shares and/or make an investment through the BlackRock CollegeAdvantage 529 Program in one or more BlackRock Funds within the next 13 months that would, if bought all at once, qualify the investor for a reduced sales charge. The initial investment must meet the minimum initial purchase requirement. The 13-month Letter of Intent period commences on the day that the Letter of Intent is received by the Fund.

The market value of current holdings in the BlackRock Funds (including Investor A, Investor B, Investor C, Investor P and Institutional Shares and the BlackRock CollegeAdvantage 529 Program Class A and Class C Units) as of the date of commencement that are eligible under the Right of Accumulation may be counted towards the sales charge reduction.

 

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The investor must notify the Fund of (i) any current holdings in the BlackRock Funds and/or the BlackRock CollegeAdvantage 529 Program that should be counted towards the sales charge reduction and (ii) any subsequent purchases that should be counted towards the Letter of Intent.

During the term of the Letter of Intent, the Fund will hold Investor P Shares representing up to 5% of the indicated amount in an escrow account for payment of a higher sales load if the full amount indicated in the Letter of Intent is not purchased. If the full amount indicated is not purchased within the 13-month period, and the investor does not pay the higher sales load within 20 days, the Fund will redeem enough of the Investor P Shares held in escrow to pay the difference.

Right of Accumulation

Investors have a “right of accumulation” under which the current value of an investor’s existing Investor Shares and Institutional Shares in most BlackRock Funds and the investment in the BlackRock CollegeAdvantage 529 Program by the investor or by or on behalf of the investor’s spouse and children may be combined with the amount of the current purchase in determining whether an investor qualifies for a breakpoint and a reduced front-end sales charge. Financial intermediaries may value current holdings of their customers differently for purposes of determining whether an investor qualifies for a breakpoint and a reduced front-end sales charge, although customers of the same financial intermediary will be treated similarly. In order to use this right, the investor must alert BlackRock to the existence of any previously purchased shares.

Other Front-End Sales Charge Waivers

The following persons may also buy Investor P Shares without paying a sales charge:

 

  Certain employer-sponsored retirement plans. For purposes of this waiver, employer-sponsored retirement plans do not include SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs or SARSEPs;

 

  Rollovers of current investments through certain employer-sponsored retirement plans, provided the shares are transferred to the same BlackRock Fund as either a direct rollover, or subsequent to distribution, the rolled-over proceeds are contributed to a BlackRock IRA through an account directly with the Fund; or purchases by IRA programs that are sponsored by the Financial Intermediary firm provided the Financial Intermediary firm has entered into an Investor P Net Asset Value agreement with respect to such program with the Distributor;

 

  Insurance company separate accounts;

 

  Registered investment advisers, trust companies and bank trust departments exercising discretionary investment authority with respect to amounts to be invested in the Fund;

 

  Persons participating in a fee-based program (such as a wrap account) under which they pay advisory fees to a broker-dealer or other financial institution;

 

  Financial intermediaries who have entered into an agreement with the Distributor and have been approved by the Distributor to offer Fund shares to self-directed investment brokerage accounts that may or may not charge a transaction fee;

 

  Persons associated with the Fund, the Fund’s manager, the Fund’s sub-adviser, transfer agent, Distributor, fund accounting agents, Barclays PLC (“Barclays”) and their respective affiliates (to the extent permitted by these firms) including: (a) officers, directors and partners; (b) employees and retirees; (c) employees or registered representatives of firms who have entered into selling agreements to distribute shares of BlackRock Funds; (d) immediate family members of such persons; and (e) any trust, pension, profit-sharing or other benefit plan for any of the persons set forth in (a) through (d);

 

  State sponsored 529 college savings plans.

In addition, a sales charge waiver may be available for investors exchanging Investor A Shares of another BlackRock Fund for Investor P Shares of the Fund through an intermediary-processed exchange, provided that the investor had previously paid a sales charge with respect to such shares.

Contact your Financial Intermediary for more information.

Investor P Shares at Net Asset Value

Some BlackRock Funds impose a different initial or deferred sales charge schedule. If you received Investor P Shares through an intermediary-processed exchange from Investor A Shares of another BlackRock Fund that are subject to a contingent deferred sales charge (“CDSC”), the CDSC will continue to be measured from the date of the original purchase. The CDSC schedule applicable to your original purchase will apply to the shares you receive in the intermediary-processed exchange and any subsequent exchange.

More information about existing sales charge reductions and waivers is available free of charge in a clear and prominent format via hyperlink at www.blackrock.com and in the SAI, which is available on the website or on request.

 

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Distribution and Shareholder Servicing Payments

 

Plan Payments

The Trust, on behalf of the Fund, has adopted a plan (the “Plan”) pursuant to Rule 12b-1 under the Investment Company Act with respect to the Investor Shares that allows the Fund to pay distribution fees for the sale of its shares and/or shareholder servicing fees for certain services provided to its shareholders. Investor P Shares do not pay distribution fees.

Under the Plan, the Fund pays shareholder servicing fees (also referred to as general shareholder liaison services fees) to the Financial Intermediary for providing support services to their customers who own Investor P Shares of the Fund. The shareholder servicing fee payment is calculated as a percentage of the average daily net asset value of Investor P Shares of the Fund. All Investor P Shares pay this shareholder servicing fee.

In return for the shareholder servicing fee, your Financial Intermediary may provide one or more of the following services to their customers who own Investor P Shares:

 

  Answering customer inquiries regarding account status and history, the manner in which purchases, exchanges and redemptions or repurchases of shares may be effected and certain other matters pertaining to the customers’ investments;

 

  Assisting customers in designating and changing dividend options, account designations and addresses; and

 

  Providing other similar shareholder liaison services.

The shareholder servicing fees payable pursuant to the Plan are paid to compensate your Financial Intermediary for the administration and servicing of shareholder accounts and are not costs which are primarily intended to result in the sale of the Fund’s shares.

Because the fees paid by the Fund under the Plan are paid out of Fund assets on an ongoing basis, over time these fees will increase the cost of your investment and may cost you more than paying other types of sales charges. For more information on the Plan, including a complete list of services provided thereunder, see the SAI.

Other Payments by the Fund

In addition to fees that the Fund may pay to the Financial Intermediary pursuant to the Plan and fees the Fund pays to its transfer agent, BNY Mellon Investment Servicing (US) Inc. (the “Transfer Agent”), BFA, on behalf of the Fund, may enter into non-Plan agreements with the Financial Intermediary pursuant to which the Fund will pay the Financial Intermediary for administrative, networking, recordkeeping, sub-transfer agency, sub-accounting and/or shareholder services. These non-Plan payments are generally based on either (1) a percentage of the average daily net assets of Fund shareholders serviced by the Financial Intermediary or (2) a fixed dollar amount for each account serviced by the Financial Intermediary. The aggregate amount of these payments may be substantial.

Other Payments by BFA

From time to time, BFA, the Distributor or their affiliates also may pay a portion of the fees for administrative, networking, recordkeeping, sub-transfer agency, sub-accounting and shareholder services described above at its or their own expense and out of its or their profits. BFA, the Distributor or their affiliates may also compensate your Financial Intermediary for the sale and distribution of shares of the Fund. These payments would be in addition to the Fund payments described in this prospectus and may be a fixed dollar amount, may be based on the number of customer accounts maintained by the Financial Intermediary, may be based on a percentage of the value of shares sold to, or held by, customers of the Financial Intermediary or may be calculated on another basis. The aggregate amount of these payments by BFA, the Distributor and their affiliates may be substantial and, in some circumstances, may create an incentive for your Financial Intermediary, its employees or associated persons to recommend or sell shares of the Fund to you.

Please contact your Financial Intermediary for details about payments it may receive from the Fund or from BFA, the Distributor or their affiliates. For more information, see the SAI.

How to Buy, Sell and Exchange Shares

 

The chart on the following pages summarizes how to buy, sell, and exchange shares through your Financial Intermediary. Because the selection of a mutual fund involves many considerations, your Financial Intermediary may help you with this decision.

With certain limited exceptions, the Fund is generally available only to investors residing in the United States and may not be distributed by a foreign financial intermediary. Under this policy, in order to accept new accounts or additional investments (including by way of exchange from another BlackRock Fund) into existing accounts, the Fund generally requires that (i) a shareholder that is a natural person be a U.S. citizen or resident alien, in each case residing within the United States or a U.S. territory (including APO/FPO/DPO addresses), and have a valid U.S. taxpayer identification

 

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number, and (ii) a financial intermediary or a shareholder that is an entity be domiciled in the United States and have a valid U.S. taxpayer identification number or be domiciled in a U.S. territory and have a valid U.S. taxpayer identification number or IRS Form W-8. Any existing account that is updated to reflect a non-U.S. address will also be restricted from making additional investments.

The Fund may reject any purchase order, modify or waive the minimum initial or subsequent investment requirements for any shareholders and suspend and resume the sale of any share class of the Fund at any time for any reason. In addition, the Fund may waive certain requirements regarding the purchase, sale or exchange of shares described below. Under certain circumstances, if no activity occurs in an account within a time period specified by state law, a shareholder’s shares in the Fund may be transferred to that state.

 

How to Buy Shares        
     Your Choices        Important Information for You to Know
Initial Purchase   Determine the amount of your investment       Refer to the minimum initial investment in the “Investor P Shares at a Glance” table of this prospectus (be sure to read this prospectus carefully). See “Account Information — Details About the Share Class” for information on a lower initial investment requirement for certain Fund investors if their purchase, combined with purchases by other investors received together by the Fund, meets the minimum investment requirement.
    Have your Financial Intermediary submit your purchase order      

The price of your shares is based on the next calculation of the Fund’s net asset value after your order is placed. Any purchase orders placed prior to the close of business on the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) (generally 4:00 p.m. Eastern time) will be priced at the net asset value determined that day. Your Financial Intermediary, however, may require submission of orders prior to that time. Purchase orders placed after that time will be priced at the net asset value determined on the next business day.

 

A broker-dealer or financial institution maintaining the account in which you hold shares may charge a separate account, service or transaction fee on the purchase or sale of Fund shares that would be in addition to the fees and expenses shown in the Fund’s “Fees and Expenses” table.

 

The Fund may reject any order to buy shares and may suspend the sale of shares at any time. Your Financial Intermediary may charge a processing fee to confirm a purchase.

Add to Your Investment   Purchase additional shares       For Investor P Shares, the minimum investment for additional purchases is generally $50 for all accounts (with the exception of certain employer-sponsored retirement plans which may have a lower minimum for additional purchases). The minimums for additional purchases may be waived under certain circumstances.
  Have your Financial Intermediary submit your purchase order for additional shares       To purchase additional shares, you may contact your Financial Intermediary.
  Acquire additional shares by reinvesting dividends and capital gains       All dividends and capital gains distributions are automatically reinvested without a sales charge. To make any changes to your dividend and/or capital gains distributions options, please contact your Financial Intermediary.
    Participate in the Automatic Investment Plan (“AIP”)      

BlackRock’s AIP allows you to invest a specific amount on a periodic basis from your checking or savings account into your investment account.

 

Refer to the “Account Services and Privileges” section of this prospectus for additional information.

How to Pay for Shares   Making payment for purchases       Payment for an order must be made in Federal funds or other immediately available funds by the time specified by your Financial Intermediary, but in no event later than 4:00 p.m. (Eastern time) on the first business day following BlackRock’s receipt of the order. If payment is not received by this time, the order will be canceled and you and your Financial Intermediary will be responsible for any loss to the Fund.

 

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How to Sell Shares        
     Your Choices        Important Information for You to Know

Full or Partial Redemption of Shares

 

 

 

Have your Financial Intermediary submit your sales order

 

     

You can make redemption requests through your Financial Intermediary. Shareholders should indicate that they are redeeming Investor P Shares. The price of your shares is based on the next calculation of the Fund’s net asset value after your order is placed. For your redemption request to be priced at the net asset value on the day of your request, you must submit your request to your Financial Intermediary prior to that day’s close of business on the NYSE (generally, 4:00 p.m. Eastern time). Your Financial Intermediary, however, may require submission of orders prior to that time. Any redemption request placed after that time will be priced at the net asset value at the close of business on the next business day.

 

Regardless of the method the Fund uses to make payment of your redemption proceeds (check, wire or ACH), your redemption proceeds typically will be sent one to two business days after your request is submitted, but in any event, within seven days.

 

Your Financial Intermediary may charge a fee to process a redemption of shares.

 

The Fund may reject an order to sell shares under certain circumstances.

 

Payment of Redemption Proceeds

Redemption proceeds may be paid by check or, if the Fund has verified banking information on file, through ACH or by wire transfer.

 

Payment by Check: BlackRock will normally mail redemption proceeds within three business days following receipt of a properly completed request, but in any event within seven days. Proceeds sent by check will be mailed to the shareholder at the address on record. Shareholders will pay $15 for redemption proceeds sent by check via overnight mail. You are responsible for any additional charges imposed by your bank for this service.

 

The Fund reserves the right to reinvest any dividend or distribution amounts (e.g., income dividends or capital gains) which you have elected to receive by check should your check be returned as undeliverable or remain uncashed for more than 6 months. No interest will accrue on amounts represented by uncashed checks. Your check will be reinvested in your account at the net asset value next calculated, on the day of the investment. When reinvested, those amounts are subject to the risk of loss like any fund investment. If you elect to receive distributions in cash and a check remains undeliverable or uncashed for more than 6 months, your cash election may also be changed automatically to reinvest and your future dividend and capital gains distributions will be reinvested in the Fund at the net asset value as of the date of payment of the distribution.

 

Payment by Wire Transfer: Payment for redeemed shares for which a redemption order is received before 4:00 p.m. (Eastern time) on a business day is normally made in Federal funds wired to the redeeming shareholder on the next business day, provided that the Fund’s custodian is also open for business. Payment for redemption orders received after 4:00 p.m. (Eastern time) or on a day when the Fund’s custodian is closed is normally wired in Federal funds on the next business day following redemption on which the Fund’s custodian is open for business. The Fund reserves the right to wire redemption proceeds within seven days after receiving a redemption order if, in the judgment of the Fund, an earlier payment could adversely affect the Fund.

 

If a shareholder has given authorization for expedited redemption, shares can be redeemed by Federal wire transfer to a single previously designated bank account. Shareholders will pay $7.50 for redemption proceeds sent by Federal wire transfer. You are responsible for any additional charges imposed by your bank for this service.

 

The Fund is not responsible for the efficiency of the Federal wire system or the shareholder’s firm or bank. To change the name of the single, designated bank account to receive wire redemption proceeds, it is

 

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How to Sell Shares (continued)        
     Your Choices        Important Information for You to Know

 

Full or Partial Redemption of Shares (continued)

 

 

Have your Financial Intermediary submit your sales order (continued)

     

 

necessary to send a written request to the Fund at the address on the back cover of this prospectus.

 

Payment by ACH: Redemption proceeds may be sent to the shareholder’s bank account (checking or savings) via ACH. Payment for redeemed shares for which a redemption order is received before 4:00 p.m. (Eastern time) on a business day is normally sent to the redeeming shareholder the next business day, with receipt at the receiving bank within the next two business days (48-72 hours), provided that the Fund’s custodian is also open for business. Payment for redemption orders received after 4:00 p.m. (Eastern time) or on a day when the Fund’s custodian is closed is normally sent on the next business day following redemption on which the Fund’s custodian is open for business.

 

The Fund reserves the right to send redemption proceeds within seven days after receiving a redemption order if, in the judgment of the Fund, an earlier payment could adversely affect the Fund. No charge for sending redemption payments via ACH is imposed by the Fund.

 

* * *

 

If you make a redemption request before the Fund has collected payment for the purchase of shares, the Fund may delay mailing your proceeds. This delay will usually not exceed ten days.

Redemption Proceeds          

Under normal circumstances, the Fund expects to meet redemption requests by using cash or cash equivalents in its portfolio or by selling portfolio assets to generate cash. During periods of stressed market conditions, when a significant portion of the Fund’s portfolio may be comprised of less-liquid investments, the Fund may be more likely to limit cash redemptions and may determine to pay redemption proceeds by (i) borrowing under a line of credit it has entered into with a group of lenders, (ii) borrowing from another BlackRock Fund pursuant to an interfund lending program, to the extent permitted by the Fund’s investment policies and restrictions as set forth in the SAI, and/or (iii) transferring portfolio securities in-kind to you. The SAI includes more information about the Fund’s line of credit and interfund lending program, to the extent applicable.

 

If the Fund pays redemption proceeds by transferring portfolio securities in-kind to you, you may pay transaction costs to dispose of the securities, and you may receive less for them than the price at which they were valued for purposes of redemption.

 

How to Exchange Shares        
     Your Choices        Important Information for You to Know
Exchange Privilege   Selling shares of one BlackRock Fund to purchase shares of another BlackRock Fund (“exchanging”)      

Investor P Shares of the Fund are generally exchangeable for Investor P Shares of another BlackRock Fund, to the extent such shares are offered by your Financial Intermediary. You can exchange $1,000 or more of Investor P Shares from one fund into another fund (you can exchange less than $1,000 of Investor P Shares if you already have an account in the fund into which you are exchanging). You may only exchange into a share class and fund that are open to new investors or in which you have a current account if the fund is closed to new investors.

 

Some of the BlackRock Funds impose a different initial or deferred sales charge schedule. Therefore the exchange of Investor P Shares may be subject to that sales charge. Investor P Shares of the Fund that were obtained with the exchange privilege and that originally were shares of a BlackRock Fund that were subject to a sales charge can be exchanged for Investor P Shares of another BlackRock Fund based on their respective NAVs. The CDSC will continue to be measured from the date of the original purchase. The CDSC schedule applicable to your original purchase will apply to the shares you receive in the exchange and any subsequent exchange.

 

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How to Exchange Shares (continued)

       
     Your Choices        Important Information for You to Know

 

Exchange Privilege (continued)

 

 

Selling shares of one BlackRock Fund to purchase shares of another BlackRock Fund (“exchanging”) (continued)

     

 

To exercise the exchange privilege, you may contact your Financial Intermediary.

 

Although there is currently no limit on the number of exchanges that you can make, the exchange privilege may be modified or terminated at any time in the future. The Fund may suspend or terminate your exchange privilege at any time for any reason, including if the Fund believes, in its sole discretion, that you are engaging in market timing activities. See “Short-Term Trading Policy” below. For U.S. federal income tax purposes, a share exchange is a taxable event and a capital gain or loss may be realized.

 

Please consult your tax adviser or Financial Intermediary before making an exchange request.

No Transfer of Shares to Another Financial Intermediary           You may not transfer your Investor P Shares of the Fund to another financial intermediary or to an account with the Fund.

Account Services and Privileges

 

The following table provides examples of account services and privileges available in your BlackRock account. Please contact your Financial Intermediary for assistance in requesting one or more of the following services and privileges.

 

Automatic Investment Plan   Allows systematic investments on a periodic basis from your checking or savings account.       BlackRock’s AIP allows you to invest a specific amount on a periodic basis from your checking or savings account into your investment account. You may apply for this option upon account opening or by completing the Automatic Investment Plan application. The minimum investment amount for an automatic investment is $50 per portfolio.
Dividend Allocation Plan   Automatically invests your distributions into another BlackRock Fund of your choice pursuant to your instructions, without any fees or sales charges.       Dividend and capital gains distributions may be reinvested in your account to purchase additional shares or paid in cash. Using the Dividend Allocation Plan, you can direct your distributions to your bank account (checking or savings), to purchase shares of another fund at BlackRock without any fees or sales charges, or by check to a special payee. Please call (800) 441-7762 for details. If investing in another BlackRock Fund, the receiving fund must be open to new purchases.
EZ Trader   Allows an investor to purchase or sell Investor P Shares by telephone or over the Internet through ACH.      

(NOTE: This option is offered to shareholders whose accounts are held directly with BlackRock. Please speak with your Financial Intermediary if your account is held elsewhere.)

 

Prior to establishing an EZ Trader account, please contact your bank to confirm that it is a member of the ACH system. Once confirmed, complete an application, making sure to include the appropriate bank information, and return the application to the address listed on the form.

 

Prior to placing a telephone or Internet purchase or sale order, please call (800) 441-7762 to confirm that your bank information has been updated on your account. Once this is established, you may place your request to sell shares with the Fund by telephone or Internet. Proceeds will be sent to your pre-designated bank account.

Systematic Exchange Plan   This feature can be used by investors to systematically exchange money from one fund to up to four other funds.       A minimum of $10,000 in the initial BlackRock Fund is required, and investments in any additional funds must meet minimum initial investment requirements.
Systematic Withdrawal Plan (“SWP”)   This feature can be used by investors who want to receive regular distributions from their accounts.      

To start an SWP, a shareholder must have a current investment of $10,000 or more in a BlackRock Fund.

 

Shareholders can elect to receive cash payments of $50 or more at any interval they choose. Shareholders may sign up by completing the SWP Application Form, which may be obtained from BlackRock. Shareholders should realize that if withdrawals exceed income the invested principal in their account will be depleted.

 

To participate in the SWP, shareholders must have their dividends reinvested. Shareholders may change or cancel the SWP at any time, with a minimum of 24 hours’ notice. If a shareholder purchases

 

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Systematic Withdrawal Plan (“SWP”) (continued)          

additional Investor P Shares of a fund at the same time he or she redeems shares through the SWP, that investor may lose money because of any applicable sales charge.

 

Ask your Financial Intermediary for details.

Reinstatement Privilege           If you redeem Investor P Shares and buy new Investor A or Investor P Shares of the same or another BlackRock Fund (equal to all or a portion of the redemption amount) within 90 days of such redemption, you will not pay a sales charge on the new purchase amount. This right may be exercised within 90 days of the redemption, provided that the Investor A or Investor P Share class, as applicable, of that fund is currently open to new investors or the shareholder has a current account in that closed fund. Shares will be purchased at the net asset value calculated at the close of trading on the day the request is received. To exercise this privilege, the Fund must receive written notification from the shareholder of record or the financial intermediary of record, at the time of purchase. Investors should consult a tax adviser concerning the tax consequences of exercising this reinstatement privilege.

Fund’s Rights

 

The Fund may:

 

  Suspend the right of redemption if trading is halted or restricted on the NYSE or under other emergency conditions described in the Investment Company Act;

 

  Postpone the date of payment upon redemption if trading is halted or restricted on the NYSE or under other emergency conditions described in the Investment Company Act or if a redemption request is made before the Fund has collected payment for the purchase of shares;

 

  Redeem shares for property other than cash as may be permitted under the Investment Company Act; and

 

  Redeem shares involuntarily in certain cases, such as when the value of a shareholder account falls below a specified level.

Note on Low Balance Accounts. Because of the high cost of maintaining smaller shareholder accounts, BlackRock has set a minimum balance of $500 in each Fund position you hold within your account (the “Fund Minimum”), and may redeem the shares in your account if the net asset value of those shares in your account falls below $500 for any reason, including market fluctuation.

You will be notified that the value of your account is less than the Fund Minimum before the Fund makes any involuntary redemption. This notification will provide you with a 90 calendar day period to make an additional investment in order to bring the value of your account to at least $500 before the Fund makes an involuntary redemption. This involuntary redemption will not charge any deferred sales charge, and may not apply to accounts of certain employer-sponsored retirement plans (not including IRAs), qualified state tuition plan (529 Plan) accounts, and select fee-based programs at your Financial Intermediary.

Calculating the Share Price

 

The share price of each class of the Fund’s shares is calculated by dividing the value of the net assets of the Fund attributable to a particular share class (i.e., the value of its total assets less total liabilities) by the total number of outstanding shares of such share class of the Fund, generally rounded to the nearest cent.

The net asset value of each share class of the Fund is calculated at the close of regular trading on the NYSE (generally, 4:00 p.m. Eastern time) on each business day. If regular trading on the NYSE closes early, the time for calculating the net asset value and the deadline for share transactions will be accelerated to the earlier closing time. The net asset value of the Fund is calculated based on the net asset value of the Master Portfolio in which the Fund invests. The Fund’s SAI includes a description of the methods for valuing the Master Portfolio’s investments, including a description of the circumstances in which the Master Portfolio’s investments would be valued using fair value pricing and the effects of using fair value pricing.

Short-Term Trading Policy

 

The Boards of Trustees of the Trust and MIP have determined that the interests of long-term shareholders and the Fund’s ability to manage its investments may be adversely affected when shares are repeatedly bought, sold or exchanged in response to short-term market fluctuations — also known as “market timing.” The Fund is not designed

 

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for market timing organizations or other entities using programmed or frequent purchases and sales or exchanges. The exchange privilege is not intended as a vehicle for short-term trading. Excessive purchase and sale or exchange activity may interfere with portfolio management, increase expenses and taxes and may have an adverse effect on the performance of the Fund and its returns to shareholders. For example, large flows of cash into and out of the Fund may require the management team to allocate a significant amount of assets to cash or other short-term investments or sell securities, rather than maintaining such assets in securities selected to achieve the Fund’s investment objective. Frequent trading may cause the Fund to sell securities at less favorable prices, and transaction costs, such as brokerage commissions, can reduce the Fund’s performance.

A fund’s investment in non-U.S. securities is subject to the risk that an investor may seek to take advantage of a delay between the change in value of the fund’s portfolio securities and the determination of the fund’s net asset value as a result of different closing times of U.S. and non-U.S. markets by buying or selling fund shares at a price that does not reflect their true value. A similar risk exists for funds that invest in securities of small capitalization companies, securities of issuers located in emerging markets or high yield securities (“junk bonds”) that are thinly traded and therefore may have actual values that differ from their market prices. This short-term arbitrage activity can reduce the return received by long-term shareholders. The Fund will seek to eliminate these opportunities by using fair value pricing, as described in “Management of the Fund — Valuation of Fund Investments“ below.

The Fund discourages market timing and seeks to prevent frequent purchases and sales or exchanges of Fund shares that it determines may be detrimental to the Fund or long-term shareholders. The Boards of Trustees of the Trust and MIP have approved the policies discussed below to seek to deter market timing activity. The Boards of Trustees of the Trust and MIP have not adopted any specific numerical restrictions on purchases, sales and exchanges of Fund shares because certain legitimate strategies will not result in harm to the Fund or its shareholders.

If as a result of its own investigation, information provided by your Financial Intermediary or other third party, or otherwise, the Fund believes, in its sole discretion, that your short-term trading is excessive or that you are engaging in market timing activity, it reserves the right to reject any specific purchase or exchange order. If the Fund rejects your purchase or exchange order, you will not be able to execute that transaction, and the Fund will not be responsible for any losses you therefore may suffer. For transactions placed directly with the Fund, the Fund may consider the trading history of accounts under common ownership or control for the purpose of enforcing these policies.

Transactions placed through your Financial Intermediary on an omnibus basis may be deemed part of a group for the purpose of this policy and may be rejected in whole or in part by the Fund. Certain accounts, such as accounts at your Financial Intermediary, however, include multiple investors and such accounts typically provide the Fund with net purchase or redemption and exchange requests on any given day where purchases, redemptions and exchanges of shares are netted against one another and the identity of individual purchasers, redeemers and exchangers whose orders are aggregated may not be known by the Fund. While the Fund monitors for market timing activity, the Fund may be unable to identify such activities because the netting effect in omnibus accounts often makes it more difficult to locate and eliminate market timers from the Fund. The Distributor has entered into an agreement with respect to your Financial Intermediary that maintains omnibus accounts with the Fund pursuant to which the Financial Intermediary undertakes to cooperate with the Distributor in monitoring purchase, exchange and redemption orders by their customers in order to detect and prevent short-term or excessive trading in the Fund’s shares through such accounts. Identification of market timers may also be limited by operational systems and technical limitations. In the event that your Financial Intermediary is determined by the Fund to be engaged in market timing or other improper trading activity, the Fund’s Distributor may terminate such Financial Intermediary’s agreement with the Distributor, suspend such Financial Intermediary’s trading privileges or take other appropriate actions.

There is no assurance that the methods described above will prevent market timing or other trading that may be deemed abusive.

The Fund may from time to time use other methods that it believes are appropriate to deter market timing or other trading activity that may be detrimental to the Fund or long-term shareholders.

Master/Feeder Mutual Fund Structure

 

The Fund does not have its own investment adviser. Instead, the Fund invests all of its assets in the Master Portfolio, which has an investment objective, strategies and policies substantially identical to those of the Fund. BFA serves as investment adviser to the Master Portfolio. The Master Portfolio may accept investments from other feeder funds. Certain actions involving other feeder funds, such as a substantial withdrawal, could affect the Master Portfolio and, therefore, the Fund.

Feeder Fund Expenses

Feeder funds, including the Fund, bear their respective master portfolio’s expenses in proportion to the amount of assets each invests in the master portfolio. The feeder fund can set its own transaction minimums, fund-specific expenses and conditions.

 

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Feeder Fund Rights

Under the master/feeder structure, the Trust’s Board of Trustees retains the right to withdraw the Fund’s assets from its Master Portfolio if it believes doing so is in the best interests of the Fund’s shareholders. If the Trust’s Board of Trustees decides to withdraw the Fund’s assets, it would then consider whether the Fund should hire its own investment adviser, invest in another master portfolio or take other action.

 

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Management of the Fund

 

 

 

Investment Adviser

 

The Fund is a “feeder” fund that invests all of its assets in the Master Portfolio, which has the same investment objective, strategies and policies as the Fund. BFA, a registered investment adviser, serves as investment adviser to the Master Portfolio. BFA manages the investment of the Master Portfolio’s assets and provides the Master Portfolio with investment guidance and policy direction in connection with daily portfolio management, subject to the supervision of MIP’s Board of Trustees.

BFA is located at 400 Howard Street, San Francisco, California 94105. BFA is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc. As of March 31, 2018, BFA and its affiliates had approximately $6.317 trillion in investment company and other portfolio assets under management.

BFA receives as compensation for its services to the Master Portfolio a management fee equal to 0.04% of the Master Portfolio’s average daily net assets.

BFA has contractually agreed to waive the management fee with respect to any portion of the Master Portfolio’s assets estimated to be attributable to investments in other equity and fixed-income mutual funds and exchange-traded funds managed by BFA or its affiliates that have a contractual management fee, through April 30, 2020. The contractual agreement may be terminated upon 90 days’ notice by a majority of the non-interested trustees of MIP or by a vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of the Master Portfolio.

BFA has contractually agreed to waive its management fees by the amount of investment advisory fees the Master Portfolio pays to BFA indirectly through its investment in affiliated money market funds, through April 30, 2020.

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017, BFA received management fees, net of any applicable waivers, at the annual rate of 0.03% of the Master Portfolio’s average daily net assets.

A discussion regarding the basis for approval by the Trust’s Board of Trustees and MIP’s Board of Trustees of the investment advisory agreement with BFA is available in the Fund’s semi-annual report for the period ended June 30, 2017.

Legal Proceedings. On May 27, 2014, certain purported investors in the BlackRock Global Allocation Fund, Inc. (“Global Allocation”) and the BlackRock Equity Dividend Fund (“Equity Dividend”) filed a consolidated complaint (the “Consolidated Complaint”) in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey against BlackRock Advisors, LLC, BlackRock Investment Management, LLC and BlackRock International Limited (collectively, the “Defendants”) under the caption In re BlackRock Mutual Funds Advisory Fee Litigation. The Consolidated Complaint, which purports to be brought derivatively on behalf of Global Allocation and Equity Dividend, alleges that the Defendants violated Section 36(b) of the Investment Company Act by receiving allegedly excessive investment advisory fees from Global Allocation and Equity Dividend. The Consolidated Complaint seeks, among other things, to recover on behalf of Global Allocation and Equity Dividend all allegedly excessive advisory fees received by the Defendants in the period beginning one year prior to the filing of the lawsuit and ending on the date of judgment, along with purported lost investment returns on those amounts, plus interest. The Defendants believe the claims in the Consolidated Complaint are without merit and intend to vigorously defend the action.

Portfolio Managers

 

Information regarding the portfolio managers of the Master Portfolio is set forth below. Further information regarding the portfolio managers, including other accounts managed, compensation, ownership of Fund shares, and possible conflicts of interest, is available in the Fund’s SAI.

 

Name    Primary Role    Since        Title and Recent Biography
James Mauro    Jointly and primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Master Portfolio’s portfolio, including setting the Master Portfolio’s overall investment strategy and overseeing the management of the Master Portfolio.      2011        Managing Director and Deputy Head of San Francisco Fixed Income Core PM within BlackRock’s Systematic Fixed Income Portfolio Management Group since 2016. Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc. since 2015; Director of BlackRock, Inc. from 2010 to 2014; Vice President of State Street Global Advisors from 2001 to 2010.

 

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Name    Primary Role    Since        Title and Recent Biography
Scott Radell    Jointly and primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Master Portfolio’s portfolio, including setting the Master Portfolio’s overall investment strategy and overseeing the management of the Master Portfolio.      2009        Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc. since 2009; Head of San Francisco Fixed Income Core PM within BlackRock’s Systematic Fixed Income Portfolio Management Group since 2009; Portfolio Manager of Barclays Global Investors from 2003 to 2009.

Administrative Services

 

BAL provides the following services, among others, as the Fund’s administrator:

 

  Supervises the Fund’s administrative operations;

 

  Provides or causes to be provided management reporting and treasury administration services;

 

  Financial reporting;

 

  Legal, blue sky and tax services;

 

  Preparation of proxy statements and shareholder reports; and

 

  Engaging and supervising the shareholder servicing agents on behalf of the Fund.

BAL is entitled to receive fees for these services at the annual rate of 0.06% of the average daily net assets of the Fund attributable to Investor P Shares. In addition to performing these services, BAL has agreed to bear all costs of operating the Fund, other than brokerage expenses, management fees, 12b-1 distribution or service fees, certain fees and expenses related to the Trust’s trustees who are not “interested persons” of the Fund or the Trust as defined in the Investment Company Act, and their counsel, auditing fees, litigation expenses, taxes and other extraordinary expenses.

Conflicts of Interest

 

The investment activities of BFA and its affiliates (including BlackRock, Inc. and PNC and their affiliates, directors, partners, trustees, managing members, officers and employees (collectively, the “Affiliates”)) in the management of, or their interest in, their own accounts and other accounts they manage, may present conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders.

BFA and its Affiliates provide investment management services to other funds and discretionary managed accounts that follow investment programs similar to those of the Fund. BFA and its Affiliates are involved worldwide with a broad spectrum of financial services and asset management activities and may engage in the ordinary course of business in activities in which their interests or the interests of their clients may conflict with those of the Fund. One or more Affiliates act or may act as an investor, investment banker, research provider, investment manager, commodity pool operator, commodity trading advisor, financier, underwriter, adviser, market maker, trader, prime broker, lender, index provider, agent and principal, and have other direct and indirect interests in securities, currencies, commodities, derivatives and other instruments in which the Fund may directly or indirectly invest. Thus, it is likely that the Fund will have multiple business relationships with and will invest in, engage in transactions with, make voting decisions with respect to, or obtain services from, entities for which an Affiliate performs or seeks to perform investment banking or other services. Specifically, the Fund may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies with which an Affiliate has developed or is trying to develop investment banking relationships or in which an Affiliate has significant debt or equity investments or other interests. The Fund also may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies for which an Affiliate provides or may in the future provide research coverage. An Affiliate may have business relationships with, and purchase, or distribute or sell services or products from or to, distributors, consultants or others who recommend the Fund or who engage in transactions with or for the Fund, and may receive compensation for such services. The Fund may also make brokerage and other payments to Affiliates in connection with the Fund’s portfolio investment transactions. An Affiliate may engage in proprietary trading and advise accounts and funds that have investment objectives similar to those of the Fund and/or that engage in and compete for transactions in the same types of securities, currencies and other instruments as the Fund. This may include transactions in securities issued by other open-end and closed-end investment companies (which may include investment companies that are affiliated with the Fund and BlackRock, to the extent permitted under the Investment Company Act). The trading activities of these Affiliates are carried out without reference to positions held directly or indirectly by the Fund and may result in an Affiliate having positions in certain securities that are senior or junior to, or have interests different from or adverse to, the securities that are owned by the Fund.

 

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No Affiliate is under any obligation to share any investment opportunity, idea or strategy with the Fund. As a result, an Affiliate may compete with the Fund for appropriate investment opportunities. The results of the Fund’s investment activities, therefore, may differ from those of an Affiliate and of other accounts managed by an Affiliate, and it is possible that the Fund could sustain losses during periods in which one or more Affiliates and other accounts achieve profits on their trading for proprietary or other accounts. The opposite result is also possible.

In addition, the Fund may, from time to time, enter into transactions in which an Affiliate or its other clients have an adverse interest. Furthermore, transactions undertaken by Affiliate-advised clients may adversely impact the Fund. Transactions by one or more Affiliate-advised clients or BFA may have the effect of diluting or otherwise disadvantaging the values, prices or investment strategies of the Fund. The Fund’s activities may be limited because of regulatory restrictions applicable to one or more Affiliates and/or their internal policies designed to comply with such restrictions.

Under a securities lending program approved by MIP’s Board of Trustees, MIP, on behalf of the Master Portfolio, has retained BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A., an Affiliate of BFA, to serve as the securities lending agent for the Master Portfolio to the extent that the Master Portfolio participates in the securities lending program. For these services, the lending agent will receive a fee from the Master Portfolio, including a fee based on the returns earned on the Master Portfolio’s investment of the cash received as collateral for the loaned securities. In addition, one or more Affiliates may be among the entities to which the Master Portfolio may lend its portfolio securities under the securities lending program.

The activities of Affiliates may give rise to other conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA has adopted policies and procedures designed to address these potential conflicts of interest. See the SAI for further information.

Valuation of Fund Investments

 

When you buy shares, you pay the net asset value. This is the offering price. Shares are also redeemed at their net asset value. The Fund calculates the net asset value of each class of its shares each day the NYSE is open, generally as of the close of regular trading hours on the NYSE, based on prices at the time of closing. The NYSE generally closes at 4:00 p.m. (Eastern time). The net asset value used in determining your share price is the next one calculated after your purchase or redemption order is received.

Equity securities and other instruments for which market quotations are readily available are valued at market value, which is generally determined using the last reported closing price or, if a reported closing price is not available, the last traded price on the exchange or market on which the security or instrument is primarily traded at the time of valuation. The Fund values fixed-income portfolio securities and non-exchange traded derivatives using last available bid prices or current market quotations provided by dealers or prices (including evaluated prices) supplied by the Fund’s approved independent third-party pricing services, each in accordance with valuation procedures approved by the Board. Pricing services may use matrix pricing or valuation models that utilize certain inputs and assumptions to derive values. Pricing services generally value fixed-income securities assuming orderly transactions of institutional round lot size, but the Fund may hold or transact in such securities in smaller, odd lot sizes. Odd lots may trade at lower prices than institutional round lots. Short-term debt securities with remaining maturities of 60 days or less may be valued on the basis of amortized cost.

Foreign currency exchange rates are generally determined as of the close of business on the NYSE. Foreign securities owned by the Fund may trade on weekends or other days when the Fund does not price its shares. As a result, the Fund’s net asset value may change on days when you will not be able to purchase or redeem the Fund’s shares.

Generally, trading in foreign securities, U.S. Government securities, money market instruments and certain fixed-income securities is substantially completed each day at various times prior to the close of business of the NYSE. The values of such securities used in computing the net asset value of the Fund’s shares are determined as of such times.

When market quotations are not readily available or are not believed by BFA to be reliable, the Fund’s investments are valued at fair value. Fair value determinations are made by BFA in accordance with procedures approved by the Board.

BFA may conclude that a market quotation is not readily available or is unreliable if a security or other asset or liability does not have a price source due to its lack of liquidity, if BFA believes a market quotation from a broker-dealer or other source is unreliable, where the security or other asset or other liability is thinly traded (e.g., municipal securities, certain small cap and emerging growth companies and certain non-U.S. securities) or where there is a significant event subsequent to the most recent market quotation. For this purpose, a “significant event” is deemed to occur if BFA determines, in its business judgment prior to or at the time of pricing the Fund’s assets or liabilities, that it is likely that the event will cause a material change to the last closing market price of one or more assets or liabilities held by the Fund. For instance, significant events may occur between the foreign market close and the close of business on the NYSE that may not be reflected in the computation of the Fund’s net assets. If such event occurs, those instruments may be fair valued. Similarly, foreign securities whose values are affected by volatility that occurs in U.S. markets on a trading day after the close of foreign securities markets may be fair valued.

 

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For certain foreign securities, a third-party vendor supplies evaluated, systematic fair value pricing based upon the movement of a proprietary multi-factor model after the relevant foreign markets have closed. This systematic fair value pricing methodology is designed to correlate the prices of foreign securities following the close of the local markets to the price that might have prevailed as of the Fund’s pricing time.

Fair value represents a good faith approximation of the value of a security. The fair value of one or more securities may not, in retrospect, be the price at which those assets could have been sold during the period in which the particular fair values were used in determining the Fund’s net asset value.

The Fund may accept orders from the Financial Intermediary or its designees. The Fund will be deemed to receive an order when accepted by the Financial Intermediary or designee, and the order will receive the net asset value next computed by the Fund after such acceptance. If the payment for a purchase order is not made by a designated later time, the order will be canceled and the Financial Intermediary could be held liable for any losses.

Dividends, Distributions and Taxes

 

 

BUYING A DIVIDEND
 
Unless your investment is in a tax-deferred account, you may want to avoid buying shares shortly before the Fund pays a dividend. The reason? If you buy shares when the Fund has declared but not yet distributed ordinary income or capital gains, you will pay the full price for the shares and then receive a portion of the price back in the form of a taxable dividend. Before investing you may want to consult your tax adviser.

The Fund will distribute net investment income, if any, and net realized capital gains, if any, at least annually. The Fund may also pay a special distribution at the end of the calendar year to comply with federal tax requirements. Dividends may be reinvested automatically in shares of the Fund at net asset value without a sales charge or may be taken in cash. If you would like to receive dividends in cash, contact your Financial Intermediary or the Fund. Although this cannot be predicted with any certainty, the Fund anticipates that a significant amount of its dividends, if any, will consist of ordinary income. Capital gains may be taxable to you at different rates depending on how long the Fund held the assets sold.

You will pay tax on dividends from the Fund whether you receive them in cash or additional shares. If you redeem Fund shares or exchange them for shares of another fund, you generally will be treated as having sold your shares and any gain on the transaction may be subject to tax. Fund distributions derived from qualified dividend income, which consists of dividends received from U.S. corporations and qualifying foreign corporations, and from long-term capital gains are eligible for taxation at a maximum rate of 15% or 20% for individuals, depending on whether their income exceeds certain threshold amounts, which are adjusted annually for inflation.

A 3.8% Medicare tax is imposed on the net investment income (which includes, but is not limited to, interest, dividends and net gain from investments) of U.S. individuals with income exceeding $200,000, or $250,000 if married filing jointly, and of trusts and estates.

Your dividends and redemption proceeds will be subject to backup withholding tax if you have not provided a taxpayer identification number or social security number or the number you have provided is incorrect.

If you are neither a tax resident nor a citizen of the United States or if you are a foreign entity (other than a pass-through entity to the extent owned by U.S. persons), the Fund’s ordinary income dividends will generally be subject to a 30% U.S. withholding tax, unless a lower treaty rate applies. However, certain distributions reported by the Fund as capital gain dividends, interest-related dividends or short-term capital gain dividends and paid to a foreign shareholder may be eligible for an exemption from U.S. withholding tax.

Separately, a 30% withholding tax is currently imposed on U.S.-source dividends, interest and other income items and will be imposed on proceeds from the sale, redemption or disposition of property producing U.S.-source dividends and interest paid after December 31, 2018, to (i) certain foreign financial institutions and investment funds, and (ii) certain other foreign entities. To avoid withholding, foreign financial institutions and investment funds will generally either need to (a) collect and report to the IRS detailed information identifying their U.S. accounts and U.S. account holders, comply with due diligence procedures for identifying U.S. accounts and withhold tax on certain payments made to noncomplying foreign entities and account holders or (b) if an intergovernmental agreement is entered into and implementing legislation is adopted, comply with the agreement and legislation. Other foreign entities will generally either need to provide detailed information identifying each substantial U.S. owner or certify there are no such owners. This section summarizes some of the consequences under current federal tax law of an investment in the Fund. It is not a substitute for individualized tax advice. Consult your tax adviser about the potential tax consequences of an investment in the Fund under all applicable tax laws.

 

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Financial Highlights

 

Since Investor P Shares of the Fund have no performance history, the financial information in the table below shows the Fund’s financial performance for the periods indicated for Investor A Shares of the Fund. The actual returns of Investor P Shares would have been lower than those of Investor A Shares because Investor P Shares have a sales charge and Investor A Shares do not. Certain information reflects results for a single Fund share. The total returns in the table represent the rate that an investor would have earned or lost on an investment in the Fund (assuming reinvestment of all dividends and/or distributions). The information has been audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, whose report, along with the Fund’s audited financial statements, is included in the Fund’s Annual Report. The Fund’s Annual Report is available upon request.

iShares U.S. Aggregate Bond Index Fund

 

     Investor A  
     Year Ended December 31,  
(For a share outstanding throughout each period)    2017      2016      2015      2014      2013  

Net asset value, beginning of year

   $ 10.01      $ 9.99      $ 10.17      $ 9.85      $ 10.65  

Net investment income(a)

     0.19        0.17        0.16        0.15        0.11  

Net realized and unrealized gain (loss)

     0.13        0.05        (0.15      0.41        (0.39

Net increase (decrease) from investment operations

     0.32        0.22        0.01        0.56        (0.28

Distributions:(b)

              

From net investment income

     (0.20      (0.19      (0.17      (0.15      (0.15

From net realized gain

            (0.01      (0.02      (0.09      (0.37

From return of capital

            (0.00 )(c)                      

Total distributions

     (0.20      (0.20      (0.19      (0.24      (0.52

Net asset value, end of year

   $ 10.13      $ 10.01      $ 9.99      $ 10.17      $ 9.85  

Total Return(d)

                                            

Based on net asset value

     3.19      2.14      0.08      5.63      (2.63 )% 

Ratios to Average Net Assets(e)

                                            

Total expenses(f)

     0.34      0.35      0.37      0.41      0.51

Total expenses after fees waived and/or reimbursed(f)

     0.34      0.35      0.36      0.40      0.50

Net investment income(f)

     1.91      1.69      1.61      1.44      1.10

Supplemental Data

                                            

Net assets, end of year (000)

   $ 121,690      $ 71,391      $ 19,145      $ 10,732      $ 3,735  

Portfolio turnover rate of the Master Portfolio(g)

     345      278      356      476      417
(a)  Based on average shares outstanding.
(b)  Distributions for annual periods determined in accordance with U.S. federal income tax regulations.
(c)  Amount is greater than $(0.005) per share.
(d)  Where applicable, assumes the reinvestment of distributions.
(e)  Includes the Fund’s share of the Master Portfolio’s allocated expenses and/or net investment income.
(f)  Includes the Fund’s share of its corresponding Master Portfolio’s allocated fees waived and expenses and/or net investment income. Excludes expenses incurred indirectly as a result of the Master Portfolio’s investments in underlying funds as follows:

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
      2017      2016      2015      2014      2013  

Allocated fees waived

     0.01      0.01      0.02      0.02      0.01

Investments in underlying funds

     0.01        0.01        0.02        0.02         
(g)  Includes mortgage dollar roll transactions (“MDRs”). Additional information regarding portfolio turnover rate is as follows:

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
      2017      2016      2015      2014      2013  

Portfolio turnover rate (excluding MDRs)

     193      164      300      244      214

 

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General Information

 

 

 

Shareholder Documents

 

Electronic Access to Annual Reports, Semi-Annual Reports and Prospectuses

Electronic copies of most financial reports and prospectuses are available on BlackRock’s website. Shareholders can sign up for e-mail notifications of annual and semi-annual reports and prospectuses by enrolling in the Fund’s electronic delivery program. To enroll:

Shareholders Who Hold Accounts with Investment Advisers, Banks or Brokerages: Please contact your Financial Intermediary. Please note that not all investment advisers, banks or brokerages may offer this service.

Shareholders Who Hold Accounts Directly With BlackRock:

  Access the BlackRock website at http://www.blackrock.com/edelivery; and

 

  Log into your account.

Delivery of Shareholder Documents

The Fund delivers only one copy of shareholder documents, including prospectuses, shareholder reports and proxy statements, to shareholders with multiple accounts at the same address. This practice is known as “householding” and is intended to eliminate duplicate mailings and reduce expenses. Mailings of your shareholder documents may be householded indefinitely unless you instruct us otherwise. If you do not want the mailing of these documents to be combined with those for other members of your household, please contact the Fund at (800) 441-7762.

Certain Fund Policies

 

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, the Fund is required to obtain sufficient information from shareholders to enable it to form a reasonable belief that it knows the true identity of its shareholders. This information will be used to verify the identity of investors or, in some cases, the status of financial intermediaries. Such information may be verified using third-party sources. This information will be used only for compliance with the Patriot Act or other applicable laws, regulations and rules in connection with money laundering, terrorism or economic sanctions.

The Fund reserves the right to reject purchase orders from persons who have not submitted information sufficient to allow the Fund to verify their identity. The Fund also reserves the right to redeem any amounts in the Fund from persons whose identity it is unable to verify on a timely basis. It is the Fund’s policy to cooperate fully with appropriate regulators in any investigations conducted with respect to potential money laundering, terrorism or other illicit activities.

BlackRock Privacy Principles

BlackRock is committed to maintaining the privacy of its current and former fund investors and individual clients (collectively, “Clients”) and to safeguarding their non-public personal information. The following information is provided to help you understand what personal information BlackRock collects, how we protect that information and why in certain cases we share such information with select parties.

If you are located in a jurisdiction where specific laws, rules or regulations require BlackRock to provide you with additional or different privacy-related rights beyond what is set forth below, then BlackRock will comply with those specific laws, rules or regulations.

BlackRock obtains or verifies personal non-public information from and about you from different sources, including the following: (i) information we receive from you or, if applicable, your Financial Intermediary, on applications, forms or other documents; (ii) information about your transactions with us, our affiliates, or others; (iii) information we receive from a consumer reporting agency; and (iv) from visits to our website.

BlackRock does not sell or disclose to non-affiliated third parties any non-public personal information about its Clients, except as permitted by law, or as is necessary to respond to regulatory requests or to service Client accounts. These non-affiliated third parties are required to protect the confidentiality and security of this information and to use it only for its intended purpose.

 

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We may share information with our affiliates to service your account or to provide you with information about other BlackRock products or services that may be of interest to you. In addition, BlackRock restricts access to non-public personal information about its Clients to those BlackRock employees with a legitimate business need for the information. BlackRock maintains physical, electronic and procedural safeguards that are designed to protect the non-public personal information of its Clients, including procedures relating to the proper storage and disposal of such information.

Statement of Additional Information

 

If you would like further information about the Fund, including how it invests, please see the SAI.

For a discussion of the Fund’s policies and procedures regarding the selective disclosure of its portfolio holdings, please see the SAI.

 

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For More Information

 

 

Fund and Service Providers

 

 

THE FUND

BlackRock Funds III

iShares U.S. Aggregate Bond Index Fund

400 Howard Street

San Francisco, California 94105

(800) 441-7762

MANAGER

BlackRock Fund Advisors

400 Howard Street

San Francisco, California 94105

ADMINISTRATOR

BlackRock Advisors, LLC

100 Bellevue Parkway

Wilmington, Delaware 19809

TRANSFER AGENT

BNY Mellon Investment Servicing (US) Inc.

301 Bellevue Parkway

Wilmington, Delaware 19809

INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

Two Commerce Square

2001 Market Street, Suite 1800

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103

ACCOUNTING SERVICES PROVIDER

State Street Bank and Trust Company

One Lincoln Street

Boston, Massachusetts 02111

DISTRIBUTOR

BlackRock Investments, LLC

40 East 52nd Street

New York, New York 10022

CUSTODIAN

State Street Bank and Trust Company

One Lincoln Street

Boston, Massachusetts 02111

COUNSEL

Sidley Austin LLP

787 Seventh Avenue

New York, New York 10019-6018

 


Table of Contents

Additional Information

 

 

For more information:

This prospectus contains important information you should know before investing, including information about risks. Please read it before you invest and keep it for future reference. More information about the Fund is available at no charge upon request. This information includes:

Annual/Semi-Annual Reports

These reports contain additional information about the Fund’s investments. The annual report describes the Fund’s performance, lists portfolio holdings, and discusses recent market conditions, economic trends and Fund investment strategies that significantly affected the Fund’s performance for the last fiscal year.

Statement of Additional Information

A Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”), dated July 6, 2018, has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). The SAI, which includes additional information about the Fund, may be obtained free of charge, along with the Fund’s annual and semi-annual reports, by calling (800) 441-7762. The SAI, as supplemented from time to time, is incorporated by reference into this prospectus.

Questions

If you have any questions about the Fund, please call: (800) 441-7762 (toll-free) 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Eastern time) on any business day.

World Wide Web

General Fund information and specific Fund performance, including the SAI and annual/semi-annual reports, can be accessed free of charge at www.blackrock.com/prospectus. Mutual fund prospectuses and literature can also be requested via this website.

Written Correspondence

BlackRock Funds III

P.O. Box 9819

Providence, Rhode Island 02940

Overnight Mail

BlackRock Funds III

4400 Computer Drive

Westborough, Massachusetts 01588

Portfolio Characteristics and Holdings

A description of the Fund’s policies and procedures related to disclosure of portfolio characteristics and holdings is available in the SAI.

For information about portfolio holdings and characteristics, BlackRock fund shareholders and prospective investors may call (800) 882-0052.

Securities and Exchange Commission

You may also view and copy public information about the Fund, including the SAI, by visiting the EDGAR database on the SEC’s website (http://www.sec.gov) or the SEC’s Public Reference Room in Washington, D.C. Copies of this information can be obtained, for a duplicating fee, by electronic request at the following e-mail address: publicinfo@sec.gov, or by writing to the Public Reference Room of the SEC, Washington, D.C. 20549. Information about obtaining documents on the SEC’s website without charge may be obtained by calling (800) SEC-0330.

You should rely only on the information contained in this prospectus. No one is authorized to provide you with information that is different from information contained in this prospectus.

The SEC has not approved or disapproved these securities or passed upon the adequacy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

INVESTMENT COMPANY ACT FILE # 811-07332

 

 

 

PRO-USABI-P-0718     


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STATEMENT OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

BLACKROCK FUNDS III

iSHARES U.S. AGGREGATE BOND INDEX FUND

400 Howard Street, San Francisco, California 94105 • Phone No. (800) 441-7762

BlackRock Funds III (the “Trust”) is an open-end, series management investment company. This Statement of Additional Information contains additional information about iShares U.S. Aggregate Bond Index Fund (formerly known as BlackRock U.S. Total Bond Index Fund) (the “Fund”), a series of the Trust.

The Fund invests substantially all of its assets in U.S. Total Bond Index Master Portfolio (the “Master Portfolio”), a series of Master Investment Portfolio (“MIP”), which has the same investment objective as the Fund. MIP is an open-end, series management investment company. BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA” or the “Manager”) serves as investment adviser to the Master Portfolio. References to the investments, investment policies and risks of the Fund, unless otherwise indicated, should be understood to include references to the investments, investment policies and risks of the Master Portfolio.

This Statement of Additional Information of the Fund is not a prospectus and should be read in conjunction with the prospectus of the Fund, dated July 6, 2018, as it may be amended or supplemented from time to time (the “Prospectus”), which has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission” or the “SEC”) and can be obtained, without charge, by calling (800) 441-7762 or by writing to the Fund at the above address. The Fund’s Prospectus is incorporated by reference into this Statement of Additional Information, and Part I of this Statement of Additional Information and the portions of Part II of this Statement of Additional Information that relate to the Fund have been incorporated by reference into the Fund’s Prospectus. The portions of Part II of this Statement of Additional Information that do not relate to the Fund do not form a part of the Fund’s Statement of Additional Information, have not been incorporated by reference into the Fund’s Prospectus and should not be relied upon by investors in the Fund. The audited financial statements of the Fund and the Master Portfolio are incorporated into this Statement of Additional Information by reference to the Fund’s 2017 Annual Report to Shareholders for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017 (the “Annual Report”). You may request a copy of the Annual Report at no charge by calling (800) 441-7762 between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Eastern time on any business day.

References to the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “Investment Company Act”), or other applicable law, will include any rules promulgated thereunder and any guidance, interpretations or modifications by the Commission, Commission staff or other authority with appropriate jurisdiction, including court interpretations, and exemptive, no-action or other relief or permission from the Commission, Commission staff or other authority.

 

Class

   Ticker Symbol
Investor P Shares    BMOPX

BLACKROCK FUND ADVISORS — MANAGER

BLACKROCK INVESTMENTS, LLC — DISTRIBUTOR

The date of this Statement of Additional Information is July 6, 2018.


Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

    Page  

PART I

 

Investment Objective and Policies

    I-2  

Investment Restrictions

    I-6  

Information on Trustees and Officers

    I-10  

Management, Advisory and Other Service Arrangements

    I-19  

Information on Sales Charges and Distribution Related Expenses

    I-25  

Computation of Offering Price Per Share

    I-25  

Portfolio Transactions and Brokerage

    I-25  

Additional Information

    I-27  

Financial Statements

    I-29  

PART II

 

Investment Risks and Considerations

    II-1  

Management and Other Service Arrangements

    II-60  

Selective Disclosure of Portfolio Holdings

    II-62  

Purchase of Shares

    II-73  

Redemption of Shares

    II-88  

Shareholder Services

    II-90  

Pricing of Shares

    II-94  

Portfolio Transactions and Brokerage

    II-97  

Dividends and Taxes

    II-101  

Performance Data

    II-108  

Proxy Voting Policies and Procedures

    II-109  

General Information

    II-110  

Appendix A — Description of Bond Ratings

    A-1  

Appendix B — Proxy Voting Policies

    B-1  


Table of Contents

PART I: INFORMATION ABOUT THE FUND

Part I of this Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”) sets forth information about iShares U.S. Aggregate Bond Index Fund (formerly known as BlackRock U.S. Total Bond Index Fund) (the “Fund”), (a series of BlackRock Funds III (the “Trust”). It includes information about the Trust’s Board of Trustees (the “Board” or the “Board of Trustees”), the advisory and management services provided to and the management fees applicable to the Fund and information about other fees applicable to and services provided to the Fund. This Part I of this SAI should be read in conjunction with the Fund’s Prospectus and those portions of Part II of this SAI that pertain to the Fund.

 

I.   Investment Objective and Policies

Please see the Fund’s Prospectus for more information about the Fund’s investment objective and policies. The Fund’s investment objective is non-fundamental, which means it can be changed by the Board without shareholder approval. The Fund invests all of its assets in U.S. Total Bond Index Master Portfolio (the “Master Portfolio”) of Master Investment Portfolio (“MIP”), which has substantially the same investment objective, policies and restrictions as the Fund.

In implementing the Fund’s investment strategy, from time to time, BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA” or the “Manager”), the Fund’s investment manager, may consider and employ techniques and strategies designed to minimize and defer the U.S. federal income taxes which may be incurred by shareholders in connection with their investment in the Fund.

The Fund is classified as diversified under the Investment Company Act.

Master/Feeder Structure

The Fund seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing all of its assets in the Master Portfolio. In other words, the Fund is a “Feeder Fund” into the Master Portfolio, and the Master Portfolio in turn is a “Fund of Funds.” The Board of Trustees believes that neither the Fund nor its shareholders will be adversely affected by investing its assets in the Master Portfolio. However, if another feeder fund or other investor withdraws its investment from the Master Portfolio, the economic efficiencies (e.g., spreading fixed expenses among a larger asset base) that the Board of Trustees believes may be available through investment in the Master Portfolio may not be fully achieved. In addition, although it is unlikely, the master/feeder structure may give rise to accounting or operational difficulties.

The Fund may withdraw its investment in the Master Portfolio only if the Board of Trustees determines that such action is in the best interests of the Fund and its shareholders. Prior to any such withdrawal, the Board of Trustees would consider alternative investments, including investing all of the Fund’s assets in another investment company with substantially the same investment objective as the Fund or hiring an investment adviser to manage the Fund’s assets in accordance with the investment policies described herein with respect to the Fund and its Master Portfolio.

Whenever the Fund, as an interestholder of the Master Portfolio, is requested to vote on any matter submitted to interestholders of the Master Portfolio, the Fund will either hold a meeting of its shareholders to consider such matters and cast its votes in proportion to the votes received from its shareholders (shares for which the Fund receives no voting instructions will be voted in the same proportion as the votes received from the other Fund shareholders) or cast its votes, as an interestholder of the Master Portfolio, in proportion to the votes received by the Master Portfolio from all other interestholders of the Master Portfolio.

Certain policies of the Master Portfolio that are non-fundamental may be changed by the vote of a majority of MIP’s Trustees without interestholder approval. If the Master Portfolio’s investment objective or fundamental or non-fundamental policies are changed, the Fund may elect to change its investment objective or policies to correspond to those of the Master Portfolio.

The Fund also may elect to redeem its interests from its Master Portfolio and either seek a new investment company with a matching investment objective in which to invest or retain its own investment adviser to

 

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manage its portfolio in accordance with its investment objective. In the latter case, the Fund’s inability to find a substitute investment company in which to invest or equivalent management services could adversely affect shareholders’ investments in the Fund. The Fund will provide its shareholders with written notice 30 days prior to the implementation of any change in the investment objective of the Fund or the Master Portfolio, to the extent possible.

Set forth below is a listing of some of the types of investments and investment strategies that the Fund may use, and the risks and considerations associated with those investments and investment strategies. Please see Part II of this SAI for further information on these investments and investment strategies.

Only information that is clearly identified as applicable to the Fund is considered to form a part of the Fund’s SAI.

 

     iShares U.S.
Aggregate
Bond Index
Fund

144A Securities

  X

Asset-Backed Securities

  X

Asset-Based Securities

   

Precious Metal-Related Securities

   

Bank Loans

   

Borrowing and Leverage

  X

Cash Flows; Expenses

   

Cash Management

  X

Collateralized Debt Obligations

   

Collateralized Bond Obligations

   

Collateralized Loan Obligations

   

Commercial Paper

  X

Commodity-Linked Derivative Instruments and Hybrid Instruments

   

Qualifying Hybrid Instruments

   

Hybrid Instruments Without Principal Protection

   

Limitations on Leverage

   

Counterparty Risk

   

Convertible Securities

   

Cyber Security Issues

  X

Debt Securities

  X

Depositary Receipts (ADRs, EDRs and GDRs)

  X

Derivatives

  X

Hedging

   

Indexed and Inverse Securities

   

Swap Agreements

  X

Interest Rate Swaps, Caps and Floors

  X

Credit Default Swap Agreements and Similar Instruments

   

Contracts for Difference

   

Credit Linked Securities

   

Interest Rate Transactions and Swaptions

   

Total Return Swap Agreements

  X

 

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     iShares U.S.
Aggregate
Bond Index
Fund

Types of Options

  X

Options on Securities and Securities Indices

  X

Call Options

  X

Put Options

  X

Options on Government National Mortgage Association (“GNMA”) Certificates

   

Risks Associated with Options

   

Futures

  X

Risks Associated with Futures

  X

Foreign Exchange Transactions

   

Forward Foreign Exchange Transactions

   

Currency Futures

   

Currency Options

   

Currency Swaps

   

Limitations on Currency Transactions

   

Risk Factors in Hedging Foreign Currency

   

Risk Factors in Derivatives

  X

Credit Risk

  X

Currency Risk

   

Leverage Risk

  X

Liquidity Risk

  X

Correlation Risk

  X

Index Risk

  X

Additional Risk Factors of OTC Transactions; Limitations on the Use of OTC Derivatives

   

Distressed Securities

   

Dollar Rolls

  X

Equity Securities

  X

Exchange Traded Notes (“ETNs”)

   

Foreign Investment Risks

  X

Foreign Market Risk

  X

Foreign Economy Risk

  X

Currency Risk and Exchange Risk

  X

Governmental Supervision and Regulation / Accounting Standards

  X

Certain Risks of Holding Fund Assets Outside the United States

  X

Publicly Available Information

   

Settlement Risk

  X

Funding Agreements

   

Guarantees

  X

Illiquid or Restricted Securities

  X

Inflation-Indexed Bonds

   

Inflation Risk

  X

Information Concerning the Indexes

  X

Bloomberg Barclays Indices

  X

ICE BofAML Indices

   

 

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     iShares U.S.
Aggregate
Bond Index
Fund

Interfund Lending Program

  X

Borrowing, to the extent permitted by the Fund’s investment policies and restrictions

  X

Lending, to the extent permitted by the Fund’s investment policies and restrictions

  X

Investment Grade Debt Obligations

  X

Investment in Emerging Markets

  X

Brady Bonds

   

Investment in Other Investment Companies

  X

Exchange-Traded Funds

  X

Junk Bonds

   

Lease Obligations

   

Liquidity Management

  X

Master Limited Partnerships

  X

Mezzanine Investments

   

Money Market Obligations of Domestic Banks, Foreign Banks and Foreign Branches of U.S. Banks

  X

Money Market Securities

  X

Mortgage-Related Securities

  X

Mortgage-Backed Securities

  X

Collateralized Mortgage Obligations (“CMOs”)

  X

Adjustable Rate Mortgage Securities

  X

CMO Residuals

   

Stripped Mortgage-Backed Securities

   

Tiered Index Bonds

   

TBA Commitments

  X

Municipal Investments

  X

Risk Factors and Special Considerations Relating to Municipal Bonds

  X

Description of Municipal Bonds

  X

General Obligation Bonds

  X

Revenue Bonds

  X

Private Activity Bonds (“PABs”)

   

Moral Obligation Bonds

   

Municipal Notes

   

Municipal Commercial Paper

   

Municipal Lease Obligations

  X

Tender Option Bonds

   

Yields

   

Variable Rate Demand Obligations (“VRDOs”) and Participating VRDOs

   

Transactions in Financial Futures Contracts

   

Call Rights

   

Municipal Interest Rate Swap Transactions

   

Insured Municipal Bonds

  X

Build America Bonds

  X

 

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     iShares U.S.
Aggregate
Bond Index
Fund

Participation Notes

   

Pay-in-kind Bonds

   

Portfolio Turnover Rates

  X

Preferred Stock

   

Real Estate Related Securities

   

Real Estate Investment Trusts (“REITs”)

  X

Repurchase Agreements and Purchase and Sale Contracts

  X

Reverse Repurchase Agreements

  X

Rights Offerings and Warrants to Purchase

   

Securities Lending

  X

Short Sales

   

Sovereign Debt

  X

Standby Commitment Agreements

   

Stripped Securities

   

Structured Notes

   

Supranational Entities

  X

Tax-Exempt Derivatives

   

Tax-Exempt Preferred Shares

   

Taxability Risk

  X

Trust Preferred Securities

  X

U.S. Government Obligations

  X

U.S. Treasury Obligations

  X

Utility Industries

  X

When-Issued Securities, Delayed Delivery Securities and Forward Commitments

  X

Yields and Ratings

   

Zero Coupon Securities

   

Regulation Regarding Derivatives. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) subjects advisers to registered investment companies to regulation by the CFTC if a fund that is advised by the investment 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. To the extent the Fund uses CFTC Derivatives, it intends to do so below such prescribed levels and will not market itself as a “commodity pool” or a vehicle for trading such instruments. Accordingly, BFA has claimed an exclusion from the definition of the term “commodity pool operator” under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”) pursuant to Rule 4.5 under the CEA. BFA is not, therefore, subject to registration or regulation as a “commodity pool operator” under the CEA in respect of the Fund.

 

II.   Investment Restrictions

The Trust, on behalf of the Fund, has adopted restrictions and policies relating to the investment of the Fund’s assets and its activities. Certain of the restrictions are fundamental policies of the Fund and may not be changed without the approval of the holders of a majority of the Fund’s outstanding voting securities (which for this purpose and under the Investment Company Act, means the lesser of (i) 67% of the shares represented at a meeting at which more than 50% of the outstanding shares are represented or (ii) more than 50% of the outstanding shares). The Trust, on behalf of the Fund, has also adopted certain non-fundamental investment restrictions, which may be changed by the Board of Trustees without shareholder approval. None of the

 

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following fundamental or non-fundamental investment restrictions shall prevent the Fund from investing all of its assets in shares of another registered investment company with the same investment objective and fundamental policies (in a master/feeder structure).

Fundamental Investment Restrictions

The Fund is subject to the following investment restrictions, all of which are fundamental policies. The Fund may not:

(1) Purchase the securities of issuers conducting their principal business activity in the same industry if, immediately after the purchase and as a result thereof, the value of the Fund’s investments in that industry would equal or exceed 25% of the current value of the Fund’s total assets, provided that this restriction does not limit the Fund’s: (i) investments in securities of other investment companies, (ii) investments in securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. Government, its agencies or instrumentalities, or (iii) investments in repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. Government securities, and provided further that the Fund reserves the right to concentrate in any industry in which the index that the Fund tracks becomes concentrated to approximately the same degree during the same period;

(2) Purchase the securities of any single issuer if, as a result, with respect to 75% of the Fund’s total assets, more than 5% of the value of its total assets would be invested in the securities of such issuer or the Fund’s ownership would be more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of such issuer, provided that this restriction does not limit the Fund’s cash or cash items, investments in securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. Government, its agencies and instrumentalities, or investments in securities of other investment companies;

(3) Borrow money or issue senior securities, except to the extent permitted under the Investment Company Act, including the rules, regulations and any orders obtained thereunder;

(4) Make loans to other parties, except to the extent permitted under the Investment Company Act, including the rules, regulations and any orders obtained thereunder. For the purposes of this limitation, entering into repurchase agreements, lending securities and acquiring any debt securities are not deemed to be the making of loans;

(5) Underwrite securities of other issuers, except to the extent that the purchase of permitted investments directly from the issuer thereof or from an underwriter for an issuer and the later disposition of such securities in accordance with the Fund’s investment program may be deemed to be an underwriting; and provided further, that the purchase by the Fund of securities issued by an open-end management investment company, or a series thereof, with substantially the same investment objective, policies and restrictions as the Fund shall not constitute an underwriting for purposes of this paragraph;

(6) Purchase or sell real estate unless acquired as a result of ownership of securities or other instruments (but this shall not prevent the Fund from investing in securities or other instruments backed by real estate or securities of companies engaged in the real estate business);

(7) Purchase or sell commodities, provided that (i) currency will not be deemed to be a commodity for purposes of this restriction, (ii) this restriction does not limit the purchase or sale of futures contracts, forward contracts or options, and (iii) this restriction does not limit the purchase or sale of securities or other instruments backed by commodities or the purchase or sale of commodities acquired as a result of ownership of securities or other instruments; and

(8) Purchase securities on margin (except for short-term credit necessary for the clearance of transactions and except for margin payments in connection with options, futures and options on futures) or make short sales of securities.

Notations Regarding the Fund’s Fundamental Investment Restrictions

The following notations are not considered to be part of the Fund’s fundamental investment restrictions and are subject to change without shareholder approval.

 

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While certain swaps are now considered commodity interests for purposes of the Commodity Exchange Act and the rules thereunder, at the time of the Fund’s adoption of fundamental investment restriction no. 7 above, many swaps were treated as securities for purposes of the Fund’s compliance with applicable law. Accordingly, fundamental investment restriction no. 7 above is being interpreted to permit the Fund to engage in transactions in swaps and options on swaps related to financial instruments, such as securities, securities indices and currencies, but not to engage in transactions in swaps or options on swaps related to physical commodities, such as oil or metals.

With respect to fundamental investment restriction no. 3 above, the Investment Company Act currently allows the Fund to borrow up to one-third of the value of its total assets (including the amount borrowed) valued at the lesser of cost or market, less liabilities (not including the amount borrowed) at the time the borrowing is made. In addition, the Fund has received an exemptive order from the SEC permitting it to borrow through the Interfund Lending Program (discussed below), subject to the conditions of the exemptive order. With respect to fundamental investment restriction no. 4 above, the 1940 Act and regulatory interpretations currently limit the percentage of the Fund’s securities that may be loaned to one-third of the value of its total assets.

Non-Fundamental Investment Restrictions

Under its non-fundamental investment restrictions, which may be changed by the Board without shareholder approval, the Fund may not:

(1) Purchase securities of other investment companies, except to the extent permitted by the Investment Company Act. As a matter of policy, however, the 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 the 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).

Notwithstanding any other investment policy or restriction (whether or not fundamental), the Fund may and does invest all of its assets in the securities of a single open-end management investment company with substantially the same fundamental investment objective, policies and limitations as the Fund. See “Investment Objective and Policies — Master/Feeder Structure.”

Investment Restrictions of the Master Portfolio

The Master Portfolio has adopted the following investment restrictions as fundamental policies. These restrictions cannot be changed, as to the Master Portfolio, without approval by the holders of a majority (as defined in the Investment Company Act) of the Master Portfolio’s outstanding voting interests. The Master Portfolio may not:

(1) Purchase the securities of issuers conducting their principal business activity in the same industry if, immediately after the purchase and as a result thereof, the value of the Master Portfolio’s investments in that industry would equal or exceed 25% of the current value of the Master Portfolio’s total assets, provided that this restriction does not limit the Master Portfolio’s: (i) investments in securities of other investment companies, (ii) investments in securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. Government, its agencies or instrumentalities, or (iii) investments in repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. Government securities, and provided further that the Master Portfolio reserves the right to concentrate in any industry in which the index that the Master Portfolio tracks becomes concentrated to approximately the same degree during the same period;

(2) Purchase the securities of any single issuer if, as a result, with respect to 75% of the Master Portfolio’s total assets, more than 5% of the value of its total assets would be invested in the securities of such issuer or the Master Portfolio’s ownership would be more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of such issuer, provided that this restriction does not limit the Master Portfolio’s cash or cash items, investments in securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. Government, its agencies and instrumentalities, or investments in securities of other investment companies;

 

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(3) Borrow money or issue senior securities, except to the extent permitted under the Investment Company Act, including the rules, regulations and any orders obtained thereunder;

(4) Make loans to other parties, except to the extent permitted under the Investment Company Act, including the rules, regulations and any orders obtained thereunder. For the purposes of this limitation, entering into repurchase agreements, lending securities and acquiring any debt securities are not deemed to be the making of loans;

(5) Underwrite securities of other issuers, except to the extent that the purchase of permitted investments directly from the issuer thereof or from an underwriter for an issuer and the later disposition of such securities in accordance with the Master Portfolio’s investment program may be deemed to be an underwriting; and provided further, that the purchase by the Master Portfolio of securities issued by an open-end management investment company, or a series thereof, with substantially the same investment objective, policies and restrictions as the Master Portfolio shall not constitute an underwriting for purposes of this paragraph;

(6) Purchase or sell real estate unless acquired as a result of ownership of securities or other instruments (but this shall not prevent the Master Portfolio from investing in securities or other instruments backed by real estate or securities of companies engaged in the real estate business);

(7) Purchase or sell commodities, provided that (i) currency will not be deemed to be a commodity for purposes of this restriction, (ii) this restriction does not limit the purchase or sale of futures contracts, forward contracts or options, and (iii) this restriction does not limit the purchase or sale of securities or other instruments backed by commodities or the purchase or sale of commodities acquired as a result of ownership of securities or other instruments; and

(8) Purchase securities on margin (except for short-term credit necessary for the clearance of transactions and except for margin payments in connection with options, futures and options on futures) or make short sales of securities.

Notations Regarding the Master Portfolio’s Fundamental Investment Restrictions

The following notations are not considered to be part of the Master Portfolio’s fundamental investment restrictions and are subject to change without shareholder approval.

While certain swaps are now considered commodity interests for purposes of the Commodity Exchange Act and the rules thereunder, at the time of the Master Portfolio’s adoption of fundamental investment restriction no. 7 above, many swaps were treated as securities for purposes of the Master Portfolio’s compliance with applicable law. Accordingly, fundamental investment restriction no. 7 above is being interpreted to permit the Master Portfolio to engage in transactions in swaps and options on swaps related to financial instruments, such as securities, securities indices and currencies, but not to engage in transactions in swaps or options on swaps related to physical commodities, such as oil or metals.

With respect to fundamental investment restriction no. 3 above, the Investment Company Act currently allows the Master Portfolio to borrow up to one-third of the value of its total assets (including the amount borrowed) valued at the lesser of cost or market, less liabilities (not including the amount borrowed) at the time the borrowing is made. In addition, the Master Portfolio has received an exemptive order from the SEC permitting it to borrow through the Interfund Lending Program (discussed below), subject to the conditions of the exemptive order. With respect to fundamental investment restriction no. 4 above, the Investment Company Act and regulatory interpretations currently limit the percentage of the Master Portfolio’s securities that may be loaned to one-third of the value of its total assets.

Under its non-fundamental investment restrictions, which may be changed by the Board without shareholder approval, the Fund may not:

(1) Purchase securities of other investment companies, except to the extent permitted by the Investment Company Act. As a matter of policy, however, the Master Portfolio 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)

 

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(the “fund of funds” provisions) of the Investment Company Act, at any time the Master Portfolio 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).

 

III.   Information on Trustees and Officers

The Board consists of thirteen individuals (each a “Trustee”), eleven of whom are not “interested persons” of the Trust as defined in the Investment Company Act (the “Independent Trustees”). The same individuals serve on the Board of Trustees of MIP. The registered investment companies advised by the Manager or its affiliates (the “BlackRock-advised Funds”) are organized into one complex of closed-end funds (the “Closed-End Complex”), two complexes of open-end funds (the “Equity-Liquidity Complex” and the “Equity-Bond Complex”) and one complex of exchange-traded funds (each a “BlackRock Fund Complex”). The Trust and MIP are included in the BlackRock Fund Complex referred to as the Equity-Liquidity Complex. The Trustees also oversee as board members the operations of the other open-end registered investment companies included in the Equity-Liquidity Complex.

The Board has overall responsibility for the oversight of the Trust and the Fund. Each of the Chair and the Chair Elect of the Board is an Independent Trustee, and the Chair of each Board committee (each, a “Committee”) is an Independent Trustee. The Board has five standing Committees: an Audit Committee, a Governance and Nominating Committee, a Compliance Committee, a Performance Oversight and Contract Committee and an Executive Committee. The role of the Chair of the Board 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 Chair of each Committee performs a similar role with respect to the Committee. The Chair of the Board or the Chair of a Committee may also perform such other functions as may be delegated by the Board or the Committee from time to time. The Independent Trustees meet regularly outside the presence of Fund management, in executive session or with other service providers to the Fund. The Board has regular meetings five times a year, and may hold special meetings if required before its next regular meeting. Each Committee meets regularly to conduct the oversight functions delegated to that Committee by the Board and reports its findings 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 to allocate areas of responsibility among Committees and the full Board to enhance effective oversight.

The Board has engaged the Manager to manage the Fund on a day-to-day basis. The Board is responsible for overseeing the Manager, other service providers, the operations of the Fund and associated risks in accordance with the provisions of the Investment Company Act, state law, other applicable laws, the Trust’s charter, and the Fund’s investment objective and strategies. The Board reviews, on an ongoing basis, the Fund’s performance, operations, and investment strategies and techniques. The Board also conducts reviews of the Manager and its role in running the operations of the Fund.

Day-to-day risk management with respect to the Fund is the responsibility of the Manager or of sub-advisers or other service providers (depending on the nature of the risk), subject to the supervision of the Manager. The Fund is subject to a number of risks, including investment, compliance, operational and valuation risks, among others. While there are a number of risk management functions performed by the Manager and the sub-advisers or other service providers, as applicable, it is not possible to eliminate all of the risks applicable to the Fund. Risk oversight forms part of the Board’s general oversight of the Fund and is addressed as part of various Board and Committee activities. The Board, directly or through a Committee, also reviews reports from, among others, management, the independent registered public accounting firm for the Fund, sub-advisers, and internal auditors for the investment adviser or its affiliates, as appropriate, regarding risks faced by the Fund and management’s or the service provider’s risk functions. The Committee system facilitates the timely and efficient consideration of matters by the Trustees, and facilitates effective oversight of compliance with legal and regulatory requirements and of the Fund’s activities and associated risks. The Board has appointed a Chief Compliance Officer, who oversees the implementation and testing of the Fund’s

 

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compliance program and reports to the Board regarding compliance matters for the Fund and its service providers. The Independent Trustees have engaged independent legal counsel to assist them in performing their oversight responsibilities.

The members of the Audit Committee (the “Audit Committee”) are Kenneth L. Urish (Chair), Neil A. Cotty, Claire A. Walton and Frederick W. Winter, all of whom are Independent Trustees. The principal responsibilities of the Audit Committee are to approve, and recommend to the full Board for approval, the selection, retention, termination and compensation of the Trust’s independent registered public accounting firm (the “Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm”) and to oversee the Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm’s work. The Audit Committee’s responsibilities include, without limitation, to (1) evaluate the qualifications and independence of the Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm; (2) approve all audit engagement terms and fees for the Fund; (3) review the conduct and results of each independent audit of the Fund’s annual financial statements; (4) review any issues raised by the Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm or Fund management regarding the accounting or financial reporting policies and practices of the Fund and the internal controls of the Fund and certain service providers; (5) oversee the performance of the Fund’s Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm; (6) review and discuss with management and the Fund’s Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm the performance and findings of the Fund’s internal auditors; (7) discuss with Fund management its policies regarding risk assessment and risk management as such matters relate to the Fund’s financial reporting and controls; (8) resolve any disagreements between Fund management and the Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm regarding financial reporting; and (9) undertake such other duties and responsibilities as may from time to time be delegated by the Board to the Audit Committee. The Board has adopted a written charter for the Audit Committee. During the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017, the Audit Committee met four times.

The members of the Governance and Nominating Committee (the “Governance Committee”) are Cynthia A. Montgomery (Chair), Susan J. Carter, Collette Chilton and Robert C. Robb, Jr., all of whom are Independent Trustees. The principal responsibilities of the Governance Committee are to (1) identify individuals qualified to serve as Independent Trustees of the Trust and recommend Independent Trustee nominees for election by shareholders or appointment by the Board; (2) advise the Board with respect to Board composition, procedures and committees (other than the Audit Committee); (3) oversee periodic self-assessments of the Board and committees of the Board (other than the Audit Committee); (4) review and make recommendations regarding Independent Trustee compensation; (5) monitor corporate governance matters and develop appropriate recommendations to the Board; (6) act as the administrative committee with respect to Board policies and procedures, committee policies and procedures (other than the Audit Committee) and codes of ethics as they relate to Independent Trustees; and (7) undertake such other duties and responsibilities as may from time to time be delegated by the Board to the Governance Committee. The Governance Committee may consider nominations for the office of Trustee made by Fund shareholders as it deems appropriate. Fund shareholders who wish to recommend a nominee should send nominations to the Secretary of the Trust that include biographical information and set forth the qualifications of the proposed nominee. The Board has adopted a written charter for the Governance Committee. During the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017, the Governance Committee met five times.

The members of the Compliance Committee (the “Compliance Committee”) are Joseph P. Platt (Chair), Neil A. Cotty, Robert C. Robb, Jr. and Claire A. Walton, all of whom are Independent Trustees. The Compliance Committee’s purpose is to assist the Board in fulfilling its responsibility to oversee regulatory and fiduciary compliance matters involving the Trust, the fund-related activities of BFA and any sub-adviser and the Trust’s third-party service providers. The Compliance Committee’s responsibilities include, without limitation, to (1) oversee the compliance policies and procedures of the Trust and its service providers and recommend changes or additions to such policies and procedures; (2) review information on and, where appropriate, recommend policies concerning the Trust’s compliance with applicable law; (3) review reports from, oversee the annual performance review of, and make certain recommendations and determinations regarding the Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer (the “CCO”), including determining the amount and structure of the CCO’s compensation and recommending such amount and structure to the full Board for approval and ratification;

 

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and (4) undertake such other duties and responsibilities as may from time to time be delegated by the Board to the Compliance Committee. The Board has adopted a written charter for the Compliance Committee. During the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017, the Compliance Committee met four times.

The members of the Performance Oversight and Contract Committee (the “Performance Oversight Committee”) are Mark Stalnecker (Chair), Susan J. Carter, Collette Chilton and Frederick W. Winter, all of whom are Independent Trustees. The Performance Oversight Committee’s purpose is to assist the Board in fulfilling its responsibility to oversee the Fund’s investment performance relative to its agreed-upon performance objectives and to assist the Independent Trustees in their consideration of investment advisory agreements. The Performance Oversight Committee’s responsibilities include, without limitation, to (1) review information on, and make recommendations to the full Board in respect of, the Fund’s investment objective, policies and practices; (2) review information on the Fund’s investment performance; (3) review information on appropriate benchmarks and competitive universes and unusual or exceptional investment matters; (4) review personnel and other resources devoted to management of the Fund and evaluate the nature and quality of information furnished to the Performance Oversight Committee; (5) recommend any required action regarding changes in fundamental and non-fundamental investment policies and restrictions, fund mergers or liquidations; (6) request and review information on the nature, extent and quality of services provided to the shareholders; (7) make recommendations to the Board concerning the approval or renewal of investment advisory agreements; and (8) undertake such other duties and responsibilities as may from time to time be delegated by the Board to the Performance Oversight Committee. The Board has adopted a written charter for the Performance Oversight Committee. During the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017, the Performance Oversight Committee met four times.

The members of the Executive Committee (the “Executive Committee”) are Rodney D. Johnson (Chair) and Collette Chilton, both of whom are Independent Trustees, and Robert Fairbairn, who serves as an interested Trustee. The principal responsibilities of the Executive Committee are to (1) act on routine matters between meetings of the Board; (2) act on such matters as may require urgent action between meetings of the Board; and (3) exercise such other authority as may from time to time be delegated to the Executive Committee by the Board. The Board has adopted a written charter for the Executive Committee. During the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017, the Executive Committee held no formal meetings. The Executive Committee met informally numerous times throughout the fiscal year.

The Governance Committee has adopted a statement of policy that describes the experience, qualifications, skills and attributes that are necessary and desirable for potential Independent Trustee candidates (the “Statement of Policy”). The Board believes that each Independent Trustee satisfied, at the time he or she was initially elected or appointed a Trustee, and continues to satisfy, the standards contemplated by the Statement of Policy. Furthermore, in determining that a particular Independent Trustee was and continues to be qualified to serve as a Trustee, the Board has considered a variety of criteria, none of which, in isolation, was controlling. The Board believes that, collectively, the Independent Trustees have balanced and diverse experience, skills, attributes and qualifications, which allow the Board to operate effectively in governing the Trust and protecting the interests of shareholders. Among the attributes common to all Independent Trustees are their ability to review critically, evaluate, question and discuss information provided to them, to interact effectively with the Fund’s investment adviser, sub-advisers, 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.

Each Trustee’s ability to perform his or her duties effectively is evidenced by his or her educational background or professional training; business, consulting, public service or academic positions; experience from service as a board member of the Trust and the other funds in the BlackRock Fund Complexes (and any predecessor funds), other investment funds, public companies, non-profit entities or other organizations; ongoing commitment to and participation in Board and Committee meetings, as well as his or her leadership of standing and ad hoc committees throughout the years; or other relevant life experiences.

 

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The table below discusses some of the experiences, qualifications and skills of each of the Trustees that support the conclusion that each Trustee should serve (or continue to serve) on the Board.

 

Trustees

 

Experience, Qualifications and Skills

Independent Trustees  
Susan J. Carter   Susan J. Carter has over 35 years of experience in investment management. She has served as President & Chief Executive Officer of Commonfund Capital, Inc. (“CCI”), a registered investment adviser focused on non-profit investors, from 1997 to 2013, Chief Executive Officer of CCI from 2013 to 2014 and Senior Advisor to CCI in 2015. Ms. Carter currently serves as director to Pacific Pension Institute, Advisory Board Member for the Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurship at Tuck School of Business, Advisory Board Member for Girls Who Invest, Advisory Board Member for Bridges Fund Management and Practitioner Advisory Board Member for Private Capital Research Institute (“PCRI”). These positions have provided her with insight and perspective on the markets and the economy.
Collette Chilton   Collette Chilton has over 20 years of experience in investment management. She has held the position of Chief Investment Officer of Williams College since October 2006. Prior to that she was President and Chief Investment Officer of Lucent Asset Management Corporation, where she oversaw approximately $40 billion in pension and retirement savings assets for the company. These positions have provided her with insight and perspective on the markets and the economy.
Neil A. Cotty   Neil A. Cotty has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, including 19 years at Bank of America Corporation and its affiliates, where he served, at different times, as the Chief Financial Officer of various businesses including Investment Banking, Global Markets, Wealth Management and Consumer and also served ten years as the Chief Accounting Officer for Bank of America Corporation.
Rodney D. Johnson   Rodney D. Johnson has served for over 20 years on the boards of registered investment companies, most recently as a member of the boards of the funds in the Equity-Liquidity Complex and its predecessor funds, including the legacy BlackRock funds. He has over 25 years of experience as a financial advisor covering a range of engagements, which has broadened his knowledge of and experience with the investment management business. Prior to founding Fairmount Capital Advisors, Inc., Mr. Johnson served as Chief Financial Officer of Temple University for four years. He served as Director of Finance and Managing Director, in addition to a variety of other roles, for the City of Philadelphia, and has extensive experience in municipal finance. Mr. Johnson was also a tenured associate professor of finance at Temple University and a research economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
Cynthia A. Montgomery   Cynthia A. Montgomery has served for over 20 years on the boards of registered investment companies, most recently as a member of the boards of the funds in the Equity-Liquidity Complex and its predecessor funds, including the legacy Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, L.P. (“MLIM”) funds. The Board benefits from Ms. Montgomery’s more than 20 years of academic experience as a professor at Harvard Business School where she taught courses on corporate strategy and corporate governance. Ms. Montgomery also has business management and corporate governance experience through her service on the corporate boards of a variety of public companies. She has also authored numerous articles and books on these topics.
Joseph P. Platt   Joseph P. Platt has served for over 15 years on the boards of registered investment companies, most recently as a member of the boards of the funds in the Equity-Liquidity Complex and its predecessor funds, including the legacy BlackRock funds. Mr. Platt currently serves as general partner at Thorn Partners, LP, a private investment company. Prior to his joining Thorn Partners, LP, he was an owner, director and executive vice president with Johnson and Higgins, an insurance broker and employee benefits consultant. He has over 25 years of experience in the areas of insurance, compensation and benefits. Mr. Platt also serves on the boards of public, private and non-profit companies.
Robert C. Robb, Jr.   Robert C. Robb, Jr. has served for over 15 years on the boards of registered investment companies, most recently as a member of the boards of the funds in the Equity-Liquidity Complex and its predecessor funds, including the legacy BlackRock funds. Mr. Robb has over 30 years of experience in management consulting and has worked with many companies and business associations located throughout the United States, including being a former director of PNC Bank Board and a former director of Brinks, Inc. Mr. Robb brings to the Board a wealth of practical business experience across a range of industries.
Mark Stalnecker   Mark Stalnecker has gained a wealth of experience in investing and asset management from his over 13 years of service as the Chief Investment Officer of the University of Delaware as well as from his various positions with First Union Corporation, including Senior Vice President and State Investment Director of First Investment Advisors. The Board benefits from his experience and perspective as the Chief Investment Officer of a university endowment and from the oversight experience he gained from service on various private and non-profit boards.
Kenneth L. Urish   Kenneth L. Urish has served for over 15 years on the boards of registered investment companies, most recently as a member of the boards of the funds in the Equity-Liquidity Complex and its predecessor funds, including the legacy BlackRock funds. He has over 30 years of experience in public accounting. Mr. Urish has served as a managing member of an accounting and consulting firm. Mr. Urish has been determined by the Audit Committee to be an audit committee financial expert, as such term is defined in the applicable Commission rules.

 

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Trustees

 

Experience, Qualifications and Skills

Claire A. Walton   Claire A. Walton has over 25 years of experience in investment management. She has served as the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Liberty Square Asset Management, LP from 1998 to 2015, an investment manager that specialized in long/short non-U.S. equity investments, and has been an owner and General Partner of Neon Liberty Capital Management, LLC since 2003, a firm focusing on long/short equities in global emerging and frontier markets. These positions have provided her with insight and perspective on the markets and the economy.
Frederick W. Winter   Frederick W. Winter has served for over 15 years on the boards of registered investment companies, most recently as a member of the boards of the funds in the Equity-Liquidity Complex and its predecessor funds, including the legacy BlackRock funds. The Board benefits from Mr. Winter’s years of academic experience, having served as a professor and dean emeritus of the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh since 2005, and dean thereof from 1997 to 2005. He is widely regarded as a specialist in marketing strategy, marketing management, business-to-business marketing and services marketing. He has also served as a consultant to more than 50 different firms.
Interested Trustees  
Robert Fairbairn   Robert Fairbairn has more than 20 years of experience with BlackRock, Inc. and over 28 years of experience in finance and asset management. In particular, Mr. Fairbairn’s positions as Senior Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc. with oversight over BlackRock’s Strategic Partner Program and Strategic Product Management Group, Member of BlackRock’s Global Executive and Global Operating Committees and Co-Chair of BlackRock’s Human Capital Committee provide the Board with a wealth of practical business knowledge and leadership. In addition, Mr. Fairbairn has global investment management and oversight experience through his former positions as Global Head of BlackRock’s Retail and iShares® businesses, Head of BlackRock’s Global Client Group and Chairman of BlackRock’s international businesses. Prior to joining BlackRock, Mr. Fairbairn was Senior Vice President and Head of the EMEA Pacific region at MLIM, a member of the MLIM Executive Committee, head of the EMEA Sales Division and Chief Operating Officer of the EMEA Pacific region.
John M. Perlowski   John M. Perlowski’s experience as Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc. since 2009, as the Head of BlackRock Global Accounting and Product Services since 2009, and as President and Chief Executive Officer of the BlackRock-advised Funds provides him with a strong understanding of the BlackRock-advised Funds, their operations, and the business and regulatory issues facing the BlackRock-advised Funds. Mr. Perlowski’s prior position as Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Global Product Group at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, and his former service as Treasurer and Senior Vice President of the Goldman Sachs Mutual Funds and as Director of the Goldman Sachs Offshore Funds provides the Board with the benefit of his experience with the management practices of other financial companies.

Biographical Information

Certain biographical and other information relating to the Trustees of the Trust is set forth below, including their address and year of birth, principal occupations for at least the last five years, length of time served, total number of registered investment companies and investment portfolios overseen in the BlackRock-advised Funds and any currently held public company and investment company directorships.

 

Name and

Year of Birth1,2

 

Position(s)

Held

(Length of

Service)3

 

Principal Occupation(s)

During Past Five Years

 

Number of

BlackRock-

Advised

Registered

Investment

Companies

(“RICs”)

Consisting of

Investment

Portfolios

(“Portfolios”)

Overseen

 

Public
Company
and Other
Investment
Company
Directorships
Held During
Past Five Years

Independent Trustees        

Rodney D. Johnson

1941

  Chair of the Board4 and Trustee
(Since 2009)
  President, Fairmount Capital Advisors, Inc. from 1987 to 2013; Member of the Archdiocesan Investment Committee of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 2004 to 2012; Director, The Committee of Seventy (civic) from 2006 to 2012; Director, Fox Chase Cancer Center from 2004 to 2011; Director, The Mainstay (non-profit) since 2016.   25 RICs consisting of 140 Portfolios   None

 

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Name and

Year of Birth1,2

 

Position(s)
Held
(Length of
Service)3

 

Principal Occupation(s)
During Past Five Years

 

Number of
BlackRock-
Advised
Registered
Investment
Companies
(“RICs”)
Consisting of
Investment
Portfolios
(“Portfolios”)
Overseen

 

Public
Company
and Other
Investment
Company
Directorships
Held During
Past Five Years

Mark Stalnecker

1951

 

Chair Elect of the Board

(Since 2018)4

and Trustee
(Since 2015)

  Chief Investment Officer, University of Delaware from 1999 to 2013; Trustee, Winterthur Museum and Country Estate from 2001 to 2015; Member of the Investment Committee, Delaware Public Employees’ Retirement System since 2002; Member of the Investment Committee, Christiana Care Health System from 2009 to 2017; Member of the Investment Committee, Delaware Community Foundation from 2013 to 2014; Director, SEI Private Trust Co. from 2001 to 2014.   25 RICs consisting of 140 Portfolios   None

Susan J. Carter

1956

 

Trustee

(Since 2016)

  Director, Pacific Pension Institute since 2014; Advisory Board Member, Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurship at Tuck School of Business since 1997; Senior Advisor, CCI (investment adviser) in 2015; Chief Executive Officer, CCI from 2013 to 2014; President & Chief Executive Officer, CCI from 1997 to 2013; Advisory Board Member, Girls Who Invest since 2015; Advisory Board Member, Bridges Fund Management since 2016; Trustee, Financial Accounting Foundation since 2017; Practitioner Advisory Board Member, PCRI since 2017.   25 RICs consisting of 140 Portfolios   None

Collette Chilton

1958

  Trustee
(Since 2015)
  Chief Investment Officer, Williams College since 2006; Chief Investment Officer, Lucent Asset Management Corporation from 1998 to 2006.   25 RICs consisting of 140 Portfolios   None

Neil A. Cotty

1954

  Trustee
(Since 2016)
  Bank of America Corporation from 1996 to 2015, serving in various senior finance leadership roles, including Chief Accounting Officer from 2009 to 2015, Chief Financial Officer of Global Banking, Markets and Wealth Management from 2008 to 2009, Chief Accounting Officer from 2004 to 2008, Chief Financial Officer of Consumer Bank from 2003 to 2004, Chief Financial Officer of Global Corporate Investment Bank from 1999 to 2002.   25 RICs consisting of 140 Portfolios   None

Cynthia A. Montgomery

1952

  Trustee
(Since 2009)
  Professor, Harvard Business School since 1989; Director, McLean Hospital from 2005 to 2012.   25 RICs consisting of 140 Portfolios   Newell Rubbermaid, Inc. (manufacturing)

Joseph P. Platt

1947

  Trustee
(Since 2009)
  General Partner, Thorn Partners, LP (private investments) since 1998; Director, WQED Multi-Media (public broadcasting not-for-profit) since 2001; Chair, Basic Health International (non-profit) since 2015.   25 RICs consisting of 140 Portfolios   Greenlight Capital Re, Ltd. (reinsurance company); Consol Energy Inc.

Robert C. Robb, Jr.

1945

  Trustee
(Since 2009)
  Partner, Lewis, Eckert, Robb and Company (management and financial consulting firm) since 1981 and Principal since 2010.   25 RICs consisting of 140 Portfolios   None

 

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Name and

Year of Birth1,2

 

Position(s)
Held
(Length of
Service)3

 

Principal Occupation(s)
During Past Five Years

 

Number of
BlackRock-
Advised
Registered
Investment
Companies
(“RICs”)
Consisting of
Investment
Portfolios
(“Portfolios”)
Overseen

 

Public
Company
and Other
Investment
Company
Directorships
Held During
Past Five Years

Kenneth L. Urish

1951

  Trustee
(Since 2009)
  Managing Partner, Urish Popeck & Co., LLC (certified public accountants and consultants) since 1976; Past-Chairman of the Professional Ethics Committee of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Committee Member thereof since 2007; Member of External Advisory Board, The Pennsylvania State University Accounting Department since founding in 2001; Principal, UP Strategic Wealth Investment Advisors, LLC since 2013; Trustee, The Holy Family Institute from 2001 to 2010; President and Trustee, Pittsburgh Catholic Publishing Associates from 2003 to 2008; Director, Inter-Tel from 2006 to 2007.   25 RICs consisting of 140 Portfolios   None

Claire A. Walton

1957

  Trustee
(Since 2016)
  Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Liberty Square Asset Management, LP from 1998 to 2015; General Partner of Neon Liberty Capital Management, LLC since 2003; Director, Boston Hedge Fund Group since 2009; Director, Woodstock Ski Runners since 2013; Director, Massachusetts Council on Economic Education from 2013 to 2015.   25 RICs consisting of 140 Portfolios   None

Frederick W. Winter

1945

  Trustee
(Since 2009)
  Director, Alkon Corporation since 1992; Dean Emeritus of the Joseph M. Katz School of Business, University of Pittsburgh, Dean and Professor from 1997 to 2005, Professor until 2013.   25 RICs consisting of 140 Portfolios   None
Interested Trustees5        

Robert Fairbairn

1965

  Trustee
(Since 2018)
  Senior Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc. since 2010; oversees BlackRock’s Strategic Partner Program and Strategic Product Management Group; Member of BlackRock’s Global Executive and Global Operating Committees; Co-Chair of BlackRock’s Human Capital Committee; Global Head of BlackRock’s Retail and iShares® businesses from 2012 to 2016; Head of BlackRock’s Global Client Group from 2009 to 2012; Chairman of BlackRock’s international businesses from 2007 to 2010.   125 RICs consisting of 309 Portfolios   None

John M. Perlowski

1964

  Trustee
(Since 2015) and
President and Chief Executive Officer
(Since 2010)
  Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc. since 2009; Head of BlackRock Global Accounting and Product Services since 2009; Advisory Director of Family Resource Network (charitable foundation) since 2009.   125 RICs consisting of 309 Portfolios   None

 

1    The address of each Trustee is c/o BlackRock, Inc., 55 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10055.
2    Independent Trustees serve until their resignation, retirement, removal or death, or until December 31 of the year in which they turn 75. The Board may determine to extend the terms of Independent Trustees on a case-by-case basis, as appropriate. The Board has approved extending the mandatory retirement age for Rodney D. Johnson until December 31, 2018
3    In connection with the acquisition of Barclays Global Investors by BlackRock, Inc. in December 2009, certain Independent Trustees were elected to the Board. As a result, although the chart shows certain Independent Trustees as joining the Board in 2009, those Independent Trustees first became members of the boards of other funds advised by BlackRock Advisors, LLC or its affiliates as follows: Rodney D. Johnson, 1995; Cynthia A. Montgomery, 1994; Joseph P. Platt, 1999; Robert C. Robb, Jr., 1999; Kenneth L. Urish, 1999; and Frederick W. Winter, 1999.
4    Mr. Stalnecker was approved as Chair Elect of the Board effective January 1, 2018. It is expected that, effective January 1, 2019, Mr. Stalnecker will assume the position of Chair of the Board and Mr. Johnson will retire as Chair of the Board.
5    Mr. Fairbairn and Mr. Perlowski are both “interested persons,” as defined in the Investment Company Act, of the Trust based on their positions with BlackRock, Inc. and its affiliates. Mr. Fairbairn and Mr. Perlowski are also board members of the BlackRock Equity-Bond Complex and the BlackRock Closed-End Complex.

 

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Certain biographical and other information relating to the officers of the Trust is set forth below, including their address and year of birth, principal occupations for at least the last five years and length of time served.

 

Name and

Year of Birth1,2

 

Position(s) Held
(Length of Service)

 

Principal Occupation(s)
During Past Five Years

Officers Who Are Not Trustees

Thomas Callahan

1968

  Vice President
(Since 2016)
  Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc. since 2013; Head of BlackRock’s Global Cash Management Business since 2016; Co-Head of the Global Cash Management Business from 2014 to 2016; Deputy Head of the Global Cash Management Business from 2013 to 2014; Member of the Cash Management Group Executive Committee since 2013; Chief Executive Officer of NYSE Liffe U.S. from 2008 to 2013.

Jennifer McGovern

1977

  Vice President
(Since 2014)
  Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc. since 2016; Director of BlackRock, Inc. from 2011 to 2015; Head of Product Structure and Oversight for BlackRock’s U.S. Wealth Advisory Group since 2013.

Neal J. Andrews

1966

  Chief Financial Officer
(Since 2009)
  Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc. since 2006.

Jay M. Fife

1970

  Treasurer
(Since 2009)
  Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc. since 2007.

Charles Park

1967

  Chief Compliance Officer
(Since 2014)
  Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Officer for the BlackRock-advised Funds in the Equity-Bond Complex, the Equity-Liquidity Complex and the Closed-End Complex from 2014 to 2015; Chief Compliance Officer of BlackRock Advisors, LLC and the BlackRock-advised Funds in the Equity-Bond Complex, the Equity-Liquidity Complex and the Closed-End Complex since 2014; Principal of and Chief Compliance Officer for iShares® Delaware Trust Sponsor LLC since 2012 and BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”) since 2006; Chief Compliance Officer for the BFA-advised iShares® exchange traded funds since 2006; Chief Compliance Officer for BlackRock Asset Management International Inc. since 2012.

John MacKessy

1972

 

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Officer

(Since 2018)

  Director of BlackRock, Inc. since 2017; Global Head of Anti-Money Laundering at BlackRock, Inc. since 2017; Director of AML Monitoring and Investigations Group of Citibank from 2015 to 2017; Global Anti-Money Laundering and Economic Sanctions Officer for MasterCard from 2011 to 2015.

Benjamin Archibald

1975

  Secretary
(Since 2012)
  Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc. since 2014; Director of BlackRock, Inc. from 2010 to 2013; Secretary of the iShares® exchange traded funds since 2015; Secretary of the BlackRock-advised mutual funds since 2012.

 

1    The address of each Officer is c/o BlackRock, Inc., 55 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10055.
2    Officers of the Trust serve at the pleasure of the Board.

Share Ownership

Information relating to each Trustee’s share ownership in the Fund and in all BlackRock-advised Funds that are overseen by the respective Trustee (“Supervised Funds”) as of December 31, 2017 is set forth in the chart below:

 

Trustees

    

Dollar Range

of Equity

Securities in the

Fund

    

Aggregate Dollar

Range of

Securities in the

Supervised Funds

Interested Trustees:          

Robert Fairbairn1

     None      Over $100,000

John M. Perlowski

     None      Over $100,000
Independent Trustees:          

Susan J. Carter

     None      Over $100,000

Collette Chilton

     None      Over $100,000

Neil A. Cotty

     None      Over $100,000

Rodney D. Johnson

     None      Over $100,000

Cynthia A. Montgomery

     None      Over $100,000

Joseph P. Platt

     None      Over $100,000

 

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Trustees

    

Dollar Range

of Equity

Securities in the

Fund

    

Aggregate Dollar

Range of

Securities in the

Supervised Funds

Robert C. Robb, Jr

     None      Over $100,000

Mark Stalnecker

     None      Over $100,000

Kenneth L. Urish

     None      Over $100,000

Claire A. Walton

     None      Over $100,000

Frederick W. Winter

     None      Over $100,000

 

1    Mr. Fairbairn was appointed to serve as a Trustee of the Trust effective February 22, 2018.

As of June 18, 2018, the Trustees and officers of the Trust as a group owned an aggregate of less than 1% of any class of the outstanding shares of the Fund. As of December 31, 2017, none of the Independent Trustees of the Trust or their immediate family members owned beneficially or of record any securities of the Fund’s investment adviser, principal underwriter, or any person directly or indirectly controlling, controlled by, or under common control with such entities.

Compensation of Trustees

Each Trustee who is an Independent Trustee is paid as compensation an annual retainer of $275,000 per year for his or her services as a board member of the BlackRock-advised Funds in the Equity-Liquidity Complex, including the Trust and MIP, and a $15,000 board meeting fee to be paid for each in-person board meeting attended (and may receive a $5,000 board meeting fee for telephonic attendance at board meetings), for up to five board meetings held in a calendar year (compensation for meetings in excess of this number to be determined on a case-by-case basis), together with out-of-pocket expenses in accordance with a board policy on travel and other business expenses relating to attendance at meetings. Each Independent Trustee receives $10,000 per year for each standing Committee on which he or she serves for up to two standing Committee assignments but is not paid this amount for serving on a Committee which he or she chairs. The Chair of the Boards of Trustees is paid an additional annual retainer of $120,000 and the Chair Elect of the Boards is paid an additional annual retainer of $30,000. The Chair of the Audit Committees is paid an additional annual retainer of $40,000 and the Chairs of the Compliance Committees, Governance Committees and Performance Oversight Committees are each paid an additional annual retainer of $30,000.

The following table sets forth the compensation MIP paid to the Trustees, on behalf of the Master Portfolio, for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017, and the aggregate compensation paid to them by all BlackRock-advised Funds for the calendar year ended December 31, 2017. The Trustees received no additional compensation from the Trust on behalf of the Fund.

 

Trustees

    

Compensation

from U.S. Total

Bond Index

Master

Portfolio

    

Estimated Annual

Benefits Upon

Retirement

    

Aggregate

Compensation from

U.S. Total Bond

Index Master

Portfolio and

Other BlackRock-

Advised Funds1

Independent Trustees:               

Susan J. Carter

     $6,767      None      $370,000

Collette Chilton3

     $7,161      None      $390,000

Neil A. Cotty

     $6,767      None      $370,000

Dr. Matina S. Horner2,3

     $394      None      $20,000

Rodney D. Johnson4

     $8,818      None      $470,000

Cynthia A. Montgomery3,5

     $7,366      None      $400,000

Joseph P. Platt6

     $6,829      None      $365,000

Robert C. Robb, Jr.3

     $7,161      None      $390,000

Mark Stalnecker7

     $6,972      None      $380,000

 

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Trustees

    

Compensation

from U.S. Total

Bond Index

Master

Portfolio

    

Estimated Annual

Benefits Upon

Retirement

    

Aggregate

Compensation from

U.S. Total Bond

Index Master

Portfolio and

Other BlackRock-

Advised Funds1

Kenneth L. Urish8

     $7,177      None      $390,000

Claire A. Walton

     $6,767      None      $370,000

Frederick W. Winter

     $6,767      None      $370,000
Interested Trustees:               

Robert Fairbairn9

     None      None      None

Barbara G. Novick10

     None      None      None

John M. Perlowski

     None      None      None

 

1    For the number of BlackRock-advised Funds from which each Trustee receives compensation, see the Biographical Information chart beginning on page I-14.
2    Dr. Horner retired as a Trustee of the Trust and MIP effective December 31, 2016. Dr. Horner also retired as a director or trustee of all other BlackRock-advised Funds effective December 31, 2016.
3    Dr. Horner, Mses. Chilton and Montgomery and Mr. Robb each received an additional special payment of $20,000 in April 2017 for additional services provided to the BlackRock-advised Funds in 2016.
4    Chair of the Board.
5    Chair of the Governance Committee.
6    Chair of the Compliance Committee.
7    Chair Elect of the Board and Chair of the Performance Oversight Committee.
8    Chair of the Audit Committee.
9    Mr. Fairbairn was appointed to serve as a Trustee of the Trust and MIP effective February 22, 2018.
10    Ms. Novick resigned as a Trustee of the Trust and MIP effective February 22, 2018. Ms. Novick also resigned as a director or trustee of all other BlackRock-advised Funds effective February 22, 2018.

 

IV.   Management, Advisory and Other Service Arrangements

Investment Adviser

BFA provides investment advisory services to the Master Portfolio pursuant to an investment advisory contract (the “Advisory Contract”) with MIP. Pursuant to the Advisory Contract, BFA furnishes to MIP’s Board of Trustees periodic reports on the investment strategy and performance of the Master Portfolio.

BFA is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc.

The Advisory Contract is subject to annual approval by (i) MIP’s Board of Trustees or (ii) vote of a majority (as defined in the Investment Company Act) of the outstanding voting interests of the Master Portfolio, provided that in either event the continuance also is approved by a majority of the Independent Trustees of MIP, by a vote cast in person at a meeting called for the purpose of voting on such approval. The Advisory Contract is terminable without penalty on 60 days’ written notice by either party. The Advisory Contract will terminate automatically, as to the Master Portfolio, in the event of its assignment (as defined in the Investment Company Act).

Effective as of April 30, 2015, BFA receives as compensation for its services to the Master Portfolio a management fee equal to 0.04% of the Master Portfolio’s average daily net assets. Prior to April 30, 2015, BFA received as compensation for its services to the Master Portfolio a management fee equal to 0.08% of the Master Portfolio’s average daily net assets.

BFA has contractually agreed to waive the management fee with respect to any portion of the Master Portfolio’s assets estimated to be attributable to investments in other equity and fixed-income mutual funds and exchange-traded funds managed by BFA or its affiliates that have a contractual management fee, through April 30, 2020. The contractual agreement may be terminated upon 90 days’ notice by a majority of the Independent Trustees or by a vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of the Master Portfolio.

 

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For the fiscal years shown below, the Master Portfolio in which the Fund invests paid the following management fees to BFA, net of waivers and/or offsetting credits:

 

       Fiscal Year Ended December 31,

Master Portfolio

     2017      2016    2015
U.S. Total Bond Index Master Portfolio      $1,075,190      $585,975    $475,760

The fees and expenses of the Independent Trustees of MIP, counsel to the Independent Trustees of MIP and the Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm that provides audit services in connection with the Master Portfolio (collectively referred to as the “MIP Independent Expenses”) are paid directly by the Master Portfolio. Each of BlackRock Advisors, LLC (“BAL”) and BFA, as applicable, has contractually undertaken to reimburse or provide an offsetting credit to the Master Portfolio for such MIP Independent Expenses through April 30, 2020. Such contractual arrangement may not be terminated prior to May 1, 2020 without the consent of the Boards of Trustees of the Trust and MIP.

For the fiscal years shown below, the Manager paid an offsetting credit in the amounts shown against management fees paid with respect to the Master Portfolio:

 

       Fiscal Year Ended December 31,

Master Portfolio

     2017      2016    2015
U.S. Total Bond Index Master Portfolio      $551,348      $302,585    $257,513

Administrator

The Trust has engaged BAL to provide certain administration services to the Fund. BAL and its affiliates provide the Fund with administration services, including provision of management reporting and treasury administration services, financial reporting, legal and tax services, and supervision of the Fund’s administrative operations, preparation of proxy statements and shareholder reports. BAL and its affiliates also furnish office space and certain facilities to conduct the Fund’s business and compensate the Trust’s Trustees, officers and employees who are affiliated with BAL. BAL is entitled to receive an annual administration fee for providing administrative services to the Fund as a percentage of average daily net assets attributable to the Investor P Shares of the Fund as follows:

 

Class

     Rate
Investor P      0.06%

BAL also may engage and supervise Shareholder Servicing Agents, as defined in “Shareholder Servicing Agents” below, on behalf of the Fund.

BAL has engaged State Street Bank and Trust Company (“State Street”) to provide certain sub-administrative services to the Fund. BAL, not the Fund, is responsible for providing compensation to State Street for such services.

BAL has also agreed to bear all costs of the Fund’s operations, other than brokerage expenses, management fees, distribution plan expenses, certain fees and expenses related to the Trust’s Independent Trustees and their counsel, auditing fees, litigation expenses, taxes or other extraordinary expenses.

For the fiscal years shown below, the Fund paid the following administration fees to BAL, net of waivers and/or offsetting credits:

 

       Fiscal Year Ended December 31,

Fund

     2017      2016    2015
iShares U.S. Aggregate Bond Index Fund      $171,246      $143,948    $52,803

 

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The fees and expenses of the Independent Trustees of the Trust, counsel to the Independent Trustees of the Trust and the Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm that provides audit services in connection with the Fund (collectively referred to as the “Independent Expenses”) are paid directly by the Fund. Each of BAL and BFA, as applicable, has contractually undertaken to reimburse or provide an offsetting credit to the Fund for such Independent Expenses through April 30, 2020. Such contractual arrangements may not be terminated prior to May 1, 2020 without the consent of the Boards of Trustees of the Trust and of MIP.

For the fiscal years shown below, BAL provided an offsetting credit, in the amounts shown, against administration fees paid with respect to the Fund:

 

       Fiscal Year Ended December 31,

Fund

     2017      2016    2015
iShares U.S. Aggregate Bond Index Fund      $11,036      $8,406    $19,442

Information Regarding the Portfolio Managers

James Mauro and Scott Radell are the portfolio managers and are jointly and primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Master Portfolio’s portfolio.

Other Funds and Accounts Managed

The following table sets forth information about the funds and accounts other than the Fund for which the portfolio managers are primarily responsible for the day-to-day portfolio management as of the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017.

 

     Number of Other Accounts Managed
and Assets by Account Type
   Number of Other Accounts and
Assets for Which Advisory Fee is
Performance-Based

Name of Portfolio Manager

   Other
Registered
Investment
Companies
   Other Pooled
Investment
Vehicles
   Other
Accounts
   Other
Registered
Investment
Companies
   Other Pooled
Investment
Vehicles
   Other
Accounts
James Mauro    86    0    0    0    0    0
   $266.1 Billion    $0    $0    $0    $0    $0
Scott Radell    96    6    8    0    0    0
   $271.6 Billion    $2.88 Billion    $4.10 Billion    $0    $0    $0

Portfolio Manager Compensation Overview

The discussion below describes the portfolio managers’ compensation as of December 31, 2017.

BlackRock’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.

Base Compensation. Generally, portfolio managers receive base compensation based on their position with the firm.

Discretionary Incentive Compensation

Discretionary incentive compensation is a function of several components: the performance of BlackRock, Inc., the performance of the portfolio manager’s group within BlackRock, the investment performance, including risk-adjusted returns, of the firm’s assets under management or supervision by that portfolio manager relative to predetermined benchmarks, and the individual’s performance and contribution to the overall performance of these portfolios and BlackRock. In most cases, these benchmarks are the same as the

 

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benchmark or benchmarks against which the performance of the Fund or other accounts managed by the portfolio managers are measured. Among other things, BlackRock’s Chief Investment Officers make a subjective determination with respect to each portfolio manager’s compensation based on the performance of the Fund and other accounts managed by each portfolio manager relative to the various benchmarks. Performance of fixed-income funds is measured on a pre-tax and/or after-tax basis over various time periods including 1-, 3- and 5- year periods, as applicable. With respect to these portfolio managers, such benchmarks for the Fund and other accounts are:

 

Portfolio Manager

  

Benchmark

James Mauro    A combination of market-based indices (e.g., Bloomberg Barclays MBS Index and the Treasury Inflation Protected Securities 0-5 Year Index)
Scott Radell    A combination of market-based indices (e.g., Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index and the Treasury Inflation Protected Securities 0-5 Year Index), certain customized indices and certain fund industry peer groups.

Distribution of Discretionary Incentive Compensation. Discretionary incentive compensation is distributed to portfolio managers in a combination of cash, deferred BlackRock, Inc. stock awards, and/or deferred cash awards that notionally track the return of certain BlackRock investment products.

Typically, the cash portion of the discretionary incentive compensation, when combined with base salary, represents more than 60% of total compensation for the portfolio managers.

Portfolio managers generally receive deferred BlackRock, Inc. stock awards as part of their discretionary incentive compensation. Paying a portion of discretionary incentive compensation in the form of deferred BlackRock, Inc. stock puts compensation earned by a portfolio manager for a given year “at risk” based on BlackRock’s ability to sustain and improve its performance over future periods. Deferred BlackRock, Inc. stock awards are generally granted in the form of BlackRock, Inc. restricted stock units that vest ratably over a number of years and, once vested, settle in BlackRock, Inc. common stock. 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 their interests with long-term shareholder interests and motivate performance. Such equity awards are generally granted in the form of BlackRock, Inc. restricted stock units that vest pursuant to the terms of the applicable plan and, once vested, settle in BlackRock, Inc. common stock. The portfolio managers of the Fund have deferred BlackRock, Inc. stock awards.

For some portfolio managers, discretionary incentive compensation is also distributed in the form of deferred cash awards that notionally track the returns of select BlackRock investment products they manage. Providing a portion of discretionary incentive compensation in deferred cash awards that notionally track the BlackRock investment products they manage provides direct alignment with investment product results. Deferred cash awards vest ratably over a number of years and, once vested, settle in the form of cash. Any portfolio manager who is either a managing director or director at BlackRock with compensation above a specified threshold is eligible to participate in the deferred compensation program.

Other Compensation Benefits. In addition to base salary and discretionary incentive compensation, portfolio managers may be eligible to receive or participate in one or more of the following:

Incentive Savings Plans — BlackRock, Inc. has created a variety of incentive savings plans in which BlackRock employees are eligible to participate, including a 401(k) plan, the BlackRock Retirement Savings Plan (RSP), and the BlackRock Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP). The employer contribution components of the RSP include a company match equal to 50% of the first 8% of eligible pay contributed to the plan capped at $5,000 per year, and a company retirement contribution equal to 3-5% of eligible compensation up to the Internal Revenue Service limit ($270,000 for 2017). The RSP offers a range of investment options, including registered investment companies and collective investment funds managed by the firm. BlackRock contributions follow the investment direction set by participants for their own contributions or, absent participant investment direction, are invested into a target date fund that corresponds

 

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to, or is closest to, the year in which the participant attains age 65. The ESPP allows for investment in BlackRock common stock at a 5% discount on the fair market value of the stock on the purchase date. Annual participation in the ESPP is limited to the purchase of 1,000 shares of common stock or a dollar value of $25,000 based on its fair market value on the purchase date. All of the eligible portfolio managers are eligible to participate in these plans.

Portfolio Manager Beneficial Holdings

As of December 31, 2017, the portfolio managers of the Master Portfolio beneficially owned shares of the Fund in the amounts reflected in the following table:

 

Portfolio Manager

  

Dollar Range

James Mauro    None
Scott Radell    100,001 - $500,000

Portfolio Manager Potential Material Conflicts of Interest

BlackRock has built a professional working environment, firm-wide compliance culture and compliance procedures and systems designed to protect against potential incentives that may favor one account over another. BlackRock has adopted policies and procedures that address the allocation of investment opportunities, execution of portfolio transactions, personal trading by employees and other potential conflicts of interest that are designed to ensure that all client accounts are treated equitably over time. Nevertheless, BlackRock furnishes investment management and advisory services to numerous clients in addition to the Fund, and BlackRock may, consistent with applicable law, make investment recommendations to other clients or accounts (including accounts which are hedge funds or have performance or higher fees paid to BlackRock, or in which portfolio managers have a personal interest in the receipt of such fees), which may be the same as or different from those made to the Fund. In addition, BlackRock, its affiliates and significant shareholders and any officer, director, shareholder or employee may or may not have an interest in the securities whose purchase and sale BlackRock recommends to the Fund. BlackRock, or any of its affiliates or significant shareholders, or any officer, director, shareholder, employee or any member of their families may take different actions than those recommended to the Fund by BlackRock with respect to the same securities. Moreover, BlackRock may refrain from rendering any advice or services concerning securities of companies of which any of BlackRock’s (or its affiliates’ or significant shareholders’) officers, directors or employees are directors or officers, or companies as to which BlackRock or any of its affiliates or significant shareholders or the officers, directors and employees of any of them has any substantial economic interest or possesses material non-public information. Certain portfolio managers also may manage accounts whose investment strategies may at times be opposed to the strategy utilized for the Fund. It should also be noted that Messrs. Mauro and Radell may be managing hedge fund and/or long only accounts, or may be part of a team managing hedge fund and/or long only accounts, subject to incentive fees. Messrs. Mauro and Radell may therefore be entitled to receive a portion of any incentive fees earned on such accounts.

As a fiduciary, BlackRock owes a duty of loyalty to its clients and must treat each client fairly. When BlackRock purchases or sells securities for more than one account, the trades must be allocated in a manner consistent with its fiduciary duties. BlackRock attempts to allocate investments in a fair and equitable manner among client accounts, with no account receiving preferential treatment. To this end, BlackRock has adopted policies that are intended to ensure reasonable efficiency in client transactions and provide BlackRock with sufficient flexibility to allocate investments in a manner that is consistent with the particular investment discipline and client base, as appropriate.

Shareholder Servicing Agents

The Board of Trustees has adopted a Shareholder Servicing Plan pursuant to which the Fund has entered into Shareholder Servicing Agreements with BAL and other entities, and BAL may also enter into Shareholder Servicing Agreements with such other entities (including BFA, BlackRock Investments, LLC (“BRIL”), The

 

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PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. and their affiliates) (collectively, “Shareholder Servicing Agents”) for the provision of certain services to Fund shareholders. The services provided by BAL or Shareholder Servicing Agents may include serving as an agent of the Fund for purposes of accepting orders for purchases and redemptions of Fund shares, providing administrative support and account service such as processing purchases and redemptions of shares on behalf of individual and omnibus Fund accounts, answering shareholder inquiries, keeping records, transmitting reports and communications from the Fund, and providing reports on the status of individual and omnibus accounts. Shareholder Servicing Agents may provide these services, in whole or in part, by operating electronic transaction systems or websites through which shareholders may obtain information or engage in purchase or redemption transactions of Fund shares. By operating these systems or providing other services described above, the Shareholder Servicing Agents make the Fund available to their clients.

A Shareholder Servicing Agent may make decisions about which investment options it will service and make available to its clients based on the payments the Shareholder Servicing Agent may be eligible to receive for its services. Therefore, payments to a Shareholder Servicing Agent may create potential conflicts of interest between the Shareholder Servicing Agent and its clients where the Shareholder Servicing Agent determines which investment options it will make available to those clients.

Pursuant to its Administration Agreement with the Trust, as described in the section entitled “Administrator,” BAL pays shareholder servicing fees to certain Shareholder Servicing Agents in amounts not exceeding maximum fee rates approved by the Trust’s Board of Trustees for those shareholder servicing, sub-administration, recordkeeping, sub-transfer agency and processing services that the Shareholder Servicing Agents perform for their clients that would otherwise be performed by BAL or the Fund’s other service providers. For providing some or all of these services, each Shareholder Servicing Agent is entitled to receive a monthly fee at the annual rate of up to 0.25% of the average daily net assets of the Fund represented by Investor P Shares owned during the period for which payment is being made by investors with whom the Shareholder Servicing Agent maintains a servicing relationship, or an amount that equals the maximum amount payable to the Shareholder Servicing Agent under applicable laws, regulations or rules, including the Conduct Rules of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc., whichever is less.

A Shareholder Servicing Agent also may impose certain conditions on its customers, subject to the terms of the Fund’s Prospectus and this SAI, that are in addition to or different from those imposed by the Trust, such as requiring a minimum initial investment or payment of a separate fee for additional services.

Accounting Services

State Street serves as the accounting services provider for the Master Portfolio. State Street maintains the books of account and other financial records (other than those maintained by the Master Portfolio’s custodian); records general ledger entries; calculates daily net income; reconciles activity to the trial balance; calculates and publishes daily net asset value; prepares account balances; and provides such other accounting services as may be required. In connection with its accounting services, State Street also provides certain administration services.

The table below shows the amounts paid by BFA, on behalf of the Master Portfolio, to State Street for accounting services for the periods shown below:

 

Fiscal Year Ended December 31,

     Amount Paid to
State Street
2017      $110,371
2016      $82,076
2015      $66,162

 

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Custodian

State Street, which has its principal offices at One Lincoln Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, is the custodian for the Fund and Master Portfolio. The custodian, among other responsibilities, maintains a custody account or accounts in the name of the Fund and the Master Portfolio, receives and delivers all assets for the Fund and the Master Portfolio upon purchase and upon sale or maturity, and collects and receives all income and other payments and distributions on account of the assets of the Fund and the Master Portfolio.

Transfer and Dividend Disbursing Agent

BNY Mellon Investment Servicing (US) Inc., which has its principal place of business at 301 Bellevue Parkway, Wilmington, Delaware 19809, serves as transfer agent and dividend disbursing agent for the Fund

Credit Agreement

MIP, on behalf of the Master Portfolio, along with certain other funds managed by the Manager and its affiliates (“Participating Funds”), is a party to a 364-day, $2.25 billion credit agreement with a group of lenders, which facility terminates on April 18, 2019, unless otherwise extended or renewed (the “Credit Agreement”). Excluding commitments designated for certain funds, other Participating Funds, including the Master Portfolio, can borrow up to an aggregate commitment amount of $1.75 billion at any time outstanding, subject to asset coverage and other limitations as specified in the Credit Agreement. The Master Portfolio may borrow under the Credit Agreement to meet shareholder redemptions and for other lawful purposes. The Master Portfolio may not borrow under the Credit Agreement for leverage. The Master Portfolio may borrow up to the maximum amount allowable under its current Prospectus and SAI, subject to various other legal, regulatory or contractual limits. Borrowing results in interest expense and other fees and expenses for the Master Portfolio which may impact the Master Portfolio’s net expenses. The costs of borrowing may reduce the Master Portfolio’s return. The Master Portfolio is charged its pro rata share of upfront fees and commitment fees on the aggregate commitment amount based on its net assets. If the Master Portfolio borrows pursuant to the Credit Agreement, the Master Portfolio is charged interest at a variable rate.

 

V.   Information on Sales Charges and Distribution Related Expenses

BlackRock Investments, LLC (“BRIL”) is the distributor for the Fund’s shares. BRIL is a registered broker-dealer located at 40 East 52nd Street, New York, New York 10022.

The Trust has entered into a distribution agreement with BRIL in connection with the continuous offering of shares of the Fund.

As of the date of this SAI, no sales charges have been paid with respect to the Investor P Shares, and the Fund has not made any payments to BRIL, with respect to the Investor P Shares, under the Fund’s 12b-1 plan.

 

VI.   Computation of Offering Price Per Share

The offering price for a share of the Fund is computed by dividing the value of the share class’ net assets by the number of shares of that class outstanding for the Fund. For more information on the purchasing and valuation of shares, please see “Purchase of Shares” and “Pricing of Shares” in Part II of this SAI.

 

VII.   Portfolio Transactions and Brokerage

See “Portfolio Transactions and Brokerage” in Part II of this SAI for more information.

The Master Portfolio paid no brokerage commissions during the past three fiscal years.

The value of the Master Portfolio’s aggregate holdings of the securities of its regular brokers or dealers (as defined in Rule 10b-1 under the Investment Company Act) or their parents as of December 31, 2017,

 

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if any portion of such holdings were purchased during the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017, are as follows:

 

U.S. Total Bond Index Master Portfolio

   Debt (D)/Equity (E)    Market Value
JP Morgan Securities Inc.    D    $36,734,829
Citigroup Global Markets, Inc.    D    $30,813,219
Bank of America Securities LLC    D    $27,557,509
Morgan Stanley    D    $26,503,347
Goldman Sachs & Co.    D    $23,635,193
Barclays Capital Inc.    D    $10,318,343
Credit Suisse    D    $7,505,063
Deutsche Bank AG    D    $2,718,854
BNP Paribas SA    D    $1,128,312

Securities Lending

The Master Portfolio conducts its securities lending pursuant to an exemptive order from the Commission permitting it to lend portfolio securities to borrowers affiliated with the Master Portfolio and to retain an affiliate of the Master Portfolio as lending agent. To the extent that the Master Portfolio engages in securities lending, BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (“BTC”), an affiliate of the Manager, acts as securities lending agent for the Master Portfolio, subject to the overall supervision of the Manager. BTC administers the lending program in accordance with guidelines approved by MIP’s Board.

The Master Portfolio retains a portion of securities lending income and remits a remaining portion to BTC as compensation for its services as securities lending agent. Securities lending income is 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. The Master Portfolio is responsible for fees in connection with the investment of cash collateral received for securities on loan in money market funds advised by the Manager or its affiliates, and such fees will not be subject to any waivers. However, BTC has agreed to reduce the amount of securities lending income it receives in order to effectively limit the collateral investment fees the Master Portfolio bears to an annual rate of 0.04% (the “collateral investment fees”). Such money market fund shares will not be subject to a sales load, distribution fee or service fee. If the money market fund’s weekly liquid assets fall below 30% of its total assets, the board of directors of the money market fund, including the majority of the non-interested directors of the money market fund, is permitted at any time, if it determines it to be in the best interests of the money market fund, to impose a liquidity fee of up to 2% on all redemptions or impose a redemption gate that temporarily suspends the right of redemption out of the money market fund. In addition, if the money market fund’s weekly liquid assets fall below 10% of its total assets at the end of any business day, the board of directors of the money market fund, including the majority of the non-interested directors of the money market fund, will impose a liquidity fee in the default amount of 1% on all redemptions, generally effective as of the next business day, unless the board of directors of the money market fund, including the majority of the non-interested directors of the money market fund, determines that a higher (not to exceed 2%) or lower fee level or not imposing a liquidity fee is in the best interests of the money market fund. The shares of the money market fund purchased by the Master Portfolio would be subject to any such liquidity fee or redemption gate imposed.

Pursuant to the current securities lending agreement: (i) the Master Portfolio retains 80% of securities lending income (which excludes collateral investment fees); and (ii) this amount can never be less than 70% of the sum of securities lending income plus collateral investment fees.

Under the securities lending program, the Master Portfolio is categorized into a specific asset class. The determination of the Master Portfolio’s asset class category (fixed-income, domestic equity, international equity or fund of funds), each of which may be subject to a different fee arrangement, is based on a methodology agreed to between MIP and BTC.

 

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In addition, commencing the business day following the date that the aggregate securities lending income earned across certain funds in the Equity-Liquidity Complex in a calendar year exceeds a specified threshold, the Master Portfolio, pursuant to the current securities lending agreement, will receive for the remainder of that calendar year securities lending income as follows: (i) 85% of securities lending income; and (ii) this amount can never be less than 70% of the sum of securities lending income plus collateral investment fees.

Prior to January 1, 2018, the Master Portfolio had a different securities lending arrangement.

The services provided to the Master Portfolio by BTC, in the most recent fiscal year ended December 31, 2017, primarily included the following:

 

(1) selecting borrowers from an approved list of borrowers and executing a securities lending agreement as agent on behalf of the Master Portfolio with each such borrower;

 

(2) negotiating the terms of securities loans, including the amount of fees;

 

(3) directing the delivery of loaned securities;

 

(4) monitoring the daily value of the loaned securities and directing the payment of additional collateral or the return of excess collateral, as necessary;

 

(5) investing cash collateral received in connection with any loaned securities;

 

(6) monitoring distributions on loaned securities (for example, interest and dividend activity);

 

(7) in the event of default by a borrower with respect to any securities loan, using the collateral or the proceeds of the liquidation of collateral to purchase replacement securities of the same issue, type, class and series as that of the loaned securities; and

 

(8) terminating securities loans and arranging for the return of loaned securities to the Master Portfolio at loan termination.

The following table shows the dollar amounts of income and fees/compensation related to the securities lending activities of the Master Portfolio during its most recent fiscal year ended December 31, 2017.

 

       U.S. Total Bond
Index Master
Portfolio
   

Gross income from securities lending activities

 

     $2,153

 

Fees and/or compensation for securities lending activities and related services     

Securities lending income paid to BTC for services as securities lending agent

     $426

Cash collateral management expenses not included in securities lending income paid to BTC

     $24

Administrative fees not included in securities lending income paid to BTC

     $0

Indemnification fees not included in securities lending income paid to BTC

     $0

Rebates (paid to borrowers)

     $0

Other fees not included in securities lending income paid to BTC

     $0

 

Aggregate fees/compensation for securities lending activities      $450

 

Net income from securities lending activities      $1,703

 

 

VIII.   Additional Information

Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, with offices at Two Commerce Square, 2001 Market Street, Suite 1800, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103, serves as the Fund’s independent registered public accounting firm.

 

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Principal Shareholders

To the knowledge of the Trust, the following entities owned of record or beneficially 5% or more of a class of the Fund’s currently outstanding shares as of June 22, 2018:

 

Name

 

Address

 

Percentage

 

Class

WTRISC Co IRA Omnibus Acct   777 North Capitol Street, NE, Washington DC 20002   18.31%   Investor A
Reliance Trust Company   Po Box 28004,
Atlanta GA 30358
  11.24%   Investor A
LPL Financial   4707 Executive Dr,
San Diego CA 92121-3091
  24.67%   Investor A
National Financial Services LLC   499 Washington Blvd Fl 5, Jersey City NJ 07310-2010   6.08%   Investor A
Wells Fargo Bank NA   8515 E Orchard Rd 2T2, Greenwood Village CO 80111   16.01%   Institutional
Pims/Prudential Retirement   3280 Virginia Beach Blvd, Virginia Beach VA 23452-5724   6.24%   Institutional
Great-West Trust Company LLC TTEE F   8525 E Orchard Rd, Greenwood Village CO 80111   6.56%   Institutional
Reliance Trust Company   Po Box 28004,
Atlanta GA 30358
  20.02%   Institutional
Pershing LLC   1 Pershing Plaza,
Jersey City NJ 07399-0001
  10.36%   Institutional
National Financial Services LLC   499 Washington Blvd Fl 5, Jersey City NJ 07310-2010   6.79%   Institutional
John Hancock Trust Company LLC   690 Canton Street, Suite 100, Westwood MA 02090   7.01%   Institutional
Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner   4800 E Deerlake Dr 3rd Flr, Jacksonville FL 32246-6484   13.09%   Class K
Goldman Sachs & Co   295 Chipeta Way, Salt Lake City UT 84108-1287   11.00%   Class K
National Financial Services LLC   499 Washington Blvd Fl 5, Jersey City NJ 07310-2010   20.75%   Class K
Charles Schwab & Co Inc Special   101 Montgomery St,
San Francisco CA 94104-4122
  24.01%   Class K

Capital Stock

As of the date of this SAI, the beneficial interests in the Trust are divided into transferable shares of 27 separate and distinct series authorized and established by the Board of Trustees. The number of shares of each series, and classes thereof, is unlimited and each share has no par value. The Board of Trustees may, in the future, authorize the issuance of other series representing shares of additional investment portfolios or funds. Except to the extent the Investment Company Act expressly grants to shareholders the power to vote on such termination(s), the Trust, or any series (or class) thereof, may be terminated at any time by the Trustees with written notice to the shareholders.

Although the Trust is not required to hold regular annual shareholder meetings, occasional annual or special meetings may be required for purposes such as electing and removing Trustees, approving advisory contracts, and changing the Fund’s fundamental investment policies.

 

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History of the Trust

BlackRock Funds III (the “Trust”) was organized on December 4, 2001 as a statutory trust under the laws of the State of Delaware under the name Barclays Global Investors Funds. The Trust was originally organized as a Maryland corporation named Barclays Global Investors Funds, Inc. (the “Maryland corporation”). On August 21, 2001, the Board of Directors of the Maryland corporation approved a proposal to redomicile the Maryland corporation in Delaware as a Delaware statutory trust (the “Redomiciling”). Shareholders of the Maryland corporation approved the Redomiciling on November 16, 2001. The Trust was established with multiple series corresponding to, and having identical designations as, the series of the Maryland corporation. The Redomiciling was effected on January 11, 2002, at which time the Trust assumed the operations of the Maryland corporation and adopted the Maryland corporation’s registration statement. Shortly thereafter, the Maryland corporation was dissolved. On December 1, 2009, the Trust was renamed BlackRock Funds III.

 

IX.   Financial Statements

The audited financial statements and notes thereto in the Fund’s Annual Report to Shareholders for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017 (the “2017 Annual Report”) are incorporated in this SAI by reference. No other parts of the 2017 Annual Report are incorporated by reference herein. The financial statements included in the 2017 Annual Report have been audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. The report of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP is incorporated herein by reference. Such financial statements have been incorporated herein in reliance upon such report given upon PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP authority as experts in accounting and auditing. Additional copies of the 2017 Annual Report may be obtained at no charge by telephoning the Distributor at the telephone number appearing on the front page of this SAI.

 

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PART II

Throughout this Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”), each BlackRock-advised fund may be referred to as a “Fund” or collectively with others as the “Funds.” Certain Funds may also be referred to as “Municipal Funds” if they invest certain of their assets in municipal investments described below.

Each Fund is organized either as a Maryland corporation, a Massachusetts business trust or a Delaware statutory trust. In each jurisdiction, nomenclature varies. For ease and clarity of presentation, shares of common stock and shares of beneficial interest are referred to herein as “shares” or “Common Stock,” holders of shares of Common Stock are referred to as “shareholders,” the trustees or directors of each Fund are referred to as “Directors,” BlackRock Advisors, LLC, BlackRock Fund Advisors or their respective affiliates is the investment adviser or manager of each Fund and is referred to herein as the “Manager” or “BlackRock,” and the investment advisory agreement or management agreement applicable to each Fund is referred to as the “Management Agreement.” Each Fund’s Articles of Incorporation or Declaration of Trust, together with all amendments thereto, is referred to as its “charter.” The Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended, is referred to herein as the “Investment Company Act.” The Securities Act of 1933, as amended, is referred to herein as the “Securities Act.” The Securities and Exchange Commission is referred to herein as the “Commission” or the “SEC.”

Certain Funds are “feeder” funds (each, a “Feeder Fund”) that invest all or a portion of their assets in a corresponding “master” portfolio (each, a “Master Portfolio”) of a master limited liability company (each, a “Master LLC”), a mutual fund that has the same objective and strategies as the Feeder Fund. All investments are generally made at the level of the Master Portfolio. This structure is sometimes called a “master/feeder” structure. A Feeder Fund’s investment results will correspond directly to the investment results of the underlying Master Portfolio in which it invests. For simplicity, this SAI uses the term “Fund” to include both a Feeder Fund and its Master Portfolio.

In addition to containing information about the Funds, Part II of this SAI contains general information about all funds in the BlackRock-advised fund complex. Certain information contained herein may not be relevant to a particular Fund.

INVESTMENT RISKS AND CONSIDERATIONS

Set forth below are descriptions of some of the types of investments and investment strategies that one or more of the Funds may use, and the risks and considerations associated with those investments and investment strategies. Please see each Fund’s Prospectus and the “Investment Objectives and Policies” section of Part I of this SAI for further information on each Fund’s investment policies and risks. Information contained in this section about the risks and considerations associated with a Fund’s investments and/or investment strategies applies only to those Funds specifically identified in Part I of this SAI as making each type of investment or using each investment strategy (each, a “Covered Fund”). Information that does not apply to a Covered Fund does not form a part of that Covered Fund’s Statement of Additional Information and should not be relied on by investors in that Covered Fund. Only information that is clearly identified as applicable to a Covered Fund is considered to form a part of that Covered Fund’s Statement of Additional Information.

144A Securities. A Fund may purchase securities that can be offered and sold only to “qualified institutional buyers” under Rule 144A under the Securities Act. The Directors have determined to treat as liquid Rule 144A securities that are either freely tradable in their primary markets offshore or have been determined to be liquid in accordance with the policies and procedures adopted by the Fund’s Directors. The Directors have adopted guidelines and delegated to the Manager the daily function of determining and monitoring liquidity of 144A securities. The Directors, however, will retain sufficient oversight and will ultimately be responsible for the determinations. Since it is not possible to predict with assurance exactly how the market for securities sold and offered under Rule 144A will continue to develop, the Directors will carefully monitor a Fund’s investments in these securities. This investment practice could have the effect of increasing the level of illiquidity in a Fund to the extent that qualified institutional buyers become for a time uninterested in purchasing these securities.

Asset-Backed Securities. Asset-backed securities are securities backed by home equity loans, installment sale contracts, credit card receivables or other assets. Asset-backed securities are “pass-through” securities, meaning that principal and interest payments — net of expenses — made by the borrower on the underlying assets (such as credit card receivables) are passed through to a Fund. The value of asset-backed securities, like that of traditional fixed-income securities, typically increases when interest rates fall and decreases when interest rates rise. However, asset-backed securities differ from traditional fixed-income securities because of their potential for prepayment. The price paid by a Fund for its asset-backed securities, the yield the Fund expects to receive from such

 

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securities and the average life of the securities are based on a number of factors, including the anticipated rate of prepayment of the underlying assets. In a period of declining interest rates, borrowers may prepay the underlying assets more quickly than anticipated, thereby reducing the yield to maturity and the average life of the asset-backed securities. Moreover, when a Fund reinvests the proceeds of a prepayment in these circumstances, it will likely receive a rate of interest that is lower than the rate on the security that was prepaid. To the extent that a Fund purchases asset-backed securities at a premium, prepayments may result in a loss to the extent of the premium paid. If a Fund buys such securities at a discount, both scheduled payments and unscheduled prepayments will increase current and total returns and unscheduled prepayments will also accelerate the recognition of income which, when distributed to shareholders, will be taxable as ordinary income. In a period of rising interest rates, prepayments of the underlying assets may occur at a slower than expected rate, creating maturity extension risk. This particular risk may effectively change a security that was considered short- or intermediate-term at the time of purchase into a longer term security. Since the value of longer-term securities generally fluctuates more widely in response to changes in interest rates than does the value of shorter-term securities, maturity extension risk could increase the volatility of the Fund. When interest rates decline, the value of an asset-backed security with prepayment features may not increase as much as that of other fixed-income securities, and, as noted above, changes in market rates of interest may accelerate or retard prepayments and thus affect maturities.

Asset-Based Securities. Certain Funds may invest in debt, preferred or convertible securities, the principal amount, redemption terms or conversion terms of which are related to the market price of some natural resource asset such as gold bullion. These securities are referred to as “asset-based securities.” A Fund will purchase only asset-based securities that are rated, or are issued by issuers that have outstanding debt obligations rated, investment grade (for example, AAA, AA, A or BBB by S&P Global Ratings (“S&P”) or Fitch Ratings (“Fitch”), or Baa by Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. (“Moody’s”) or commercial paper rated A-1 by S&P or Prime-1 by Moody’s) or by issuers that the Manager has determined to be of similar creditworthiness. Obligations ranked in the fourth highest rating category, while considered “investment grade,” may have certain speculative characteristics and may be more likely to be downgraded than securities rated in the three highest rating categories. If an asset-based security is backed by a bank letter of credit or other similar facility, the Manager may take such backing into account in determining the creditworthiness of the issuer. While the market prices for an asset-based security and the related natural resource asset generally are expected to move in the same direction, there may not be perfect correlation in the two price movements. Asset-based securities may not be secured by a security interest in or claim on the underlying natural resource asset. The asset-based securities in which a Fund may invest may bear interest or pay preferred dividends at below market (or even relatively nominal) rates. Certain asset-based securities may be payable at maturity in cash at the stated principal amount or, at the option of the holder, directly in a stated amount of the asset to which it is related. In such instance, because no Fund presently intends to invest directly in natural resource assets, a Fund would sell the asset-based security in the secondary market, to the extent one exists, prior to maturity if the value of the stated amount of the asset exceeds the stated principal amount and thereby realize the appreciation in the underlying asset.

Precious Metal-Related Securities. A Fund may invest in the securities of companies that explore for, extract, process or deal in precious metals (e.g., gold, silver and platinum), and in asset-based securities indexed to the value of such metals. Such securities may be purchased when they are believed to be attractively priced in relation to the value of a company’s precious metal-related assets or when the values of precious metals are expected to benefit from inflationary pressure or other economic, political or financial uncertainty or instability. Based on historical experience, during periods of economic or financial instability the securities of companies involved in precious metals may be subject to extreme price fluctuations, reflecting the high volatility of precious metal prices during such periods. In addition, the instability of precious metal prices may result in volatile earnings of precious metal-related companies, which may, in turn, adversely affect the financial condition of such companies. The major producers of gold include the Republic of South Africa, Russia, Canada, the United States, Brazil and Australia. Sales of gold by Russia are largely unpredictable and often relate to political and economic considerations rather than to market forces. Economic, financial, social and political factors within South Africa may significantly affect South African gold production.

Bank Loans. Certain Funds may invest in bank loans. Bank loans are generally non-investment grade floating rate instruments. Usually, they are freely callable at the issuer’s option. Certain Funds may invest in fixed and floating rate loans (“Loans”) arranged through private negotiations between a corporate borrower or a foreign sovereign entity and one or more financial institutions (“Lenders”). A Fund may invest in such Loans in the form of participations in Loans (“Participations”) and assignments of all or a portion of Loans from third parties (“Assignments”). A Fund considers these investments to be investments in debt securities for purposes of its investment policies. Participations typically will result in the Fund having a contractual relationship only with the Lender, not with the borrower. The Fund will have the right to receive payments of principal, interest and any fees to which it is entitled only from the Lender selling the Participation and only upon receipt by the Lender of the payments from the borrower. In

 

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connection with purchasing Participations, the Fund generally will have no right to enforce compliance by the borrower with the terms of the loan agreement relating to the Loans, nor any rights of set-off against the borrower, and the Fund may not benefit directly from any collateral supporting the Loan in which it has purchased the Participation. As a result, the Fund will assume the credit risk of both the borrower and the Lender that is selling the Participation. In the event of the insolvency of the Lender selling the Participation, the Fund may be treated as a general creditor of the Lender and may not benefit from any set-off between the Lender and the borrower. The Fund will acquire Participations only if the Lender interpositioned between the Fund and the borrower is determined by the Fund’s manager to be creditworthy. When the Fund purchases Assignments from Lenders, the Fund will acquire direct rights against the borrower on the Loan, and will not have exposure to a counterparty’s credit risk. The Funds may enter into Participations and Assignments on a forward commitment or “when issued” basis, whereby a Fund would agree to purchase a Participation or Assignment at set terms in the future. For more information on forward commitments and when issued securities, see “When Issued Securities, Delayed Delivery Securities and Forward Commitments” below.

A Fund may have difficulty disposing of Assignments and Participations. In certain cases, the market for such instruments is not highly liquid, and therefore the Fund anticipates that in such cases such instruments could be sold only to a limited number of institutional investors. The lack of a highly liquid secondary market may have an adverse impact on the value of such instruments and on the Fund’s ability to dispose of particular Assignments or Participations in response to a specific economic event, such as deterioration in the creditworthiness of the borrower. Assignments and Participations will not be considered illiquid so long as it is determined by the Funds’ manager that an adequate trading market exists for these securities. To the extent that liquid Assignments and Participations that a Fund holds become illiquid, due to the lack of sufficient buyers or market or other conditions, the percentage of the Fund’s assets invested in illiquid assets would increase.

Leading financial institutions often act as agent for a broader group of lenders, generally referred to as a syndicate. The syndicate’s agent arranges the loans, holds collateral and accepts payments of principal and interest. If the agent develops financial problems, a Fund may not recover its investment or recovery may be delayed.

The Loans in which the Fund may invest are subject to the risk of loss of principal and income. Although borrowers frequently provide collateral to secure repayment of these obligations they do not always do so. If they do provide collateral, the value of the collateral may not completely cover the borrower’s obligations at the time of a default. If a borrower files for protection from its creditors under the U.S. bankruptcy laws, these laws may limit a Fund’s rights to its collateral. In addition, the value of collateral may erode during a bankruptcy case. In the event of a bankruptcy, the holder of a Loan may not recover its principal, may experience a long delay in recovering its investment and may not receive interest during the delay.

In certain circumstances, Loans may not be deemed to be securities under certain federal securities laws. Therefore, in the event of fraud or misrepresentation by a borrower or an arranger, Lenders and purchasers of interests in Loans, such as the Fund, may not have the protection of the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws as would otherwise be available for bonds or stocks. Instead, in such cases, parties generally would rely on the contractual provisions in the Loan agreement itself and common-law fraud protections under applicable state law.

Borrowing and Leverage. Each Fund may borrow as a temporary measure for extraordinary or emergency purposes, including to meet redemptions or to settle securities transactions. Certain Funds will not purchase securities at any time when borrowings exceed 5% of their total assets, except (a) to honor prior commitments or (b) to exercise subscription rights when outstanding borrowings have been obtained exclusively for settlements of other securities transactions.

Certain Funds may also borrow in order to make investments, to the extent disclosed in such Fund’s Prospectus. The purchase of securities while borrowings are outstanding will have the effect of leveraging the Fund. Such leveraging increases the Fund’s exposure to capital risk, and borrowed funds are subject to interest costs that will reduce net income. The use of leverage by a Fund creates an opportunity for greater total return, but, at the same time, creates special risks. For example, leveraging may exaggerate changes in the net asset value of Fund shares and in the yield on the Fund’s portfolio. Although the principal of such borrowings will be fixed, the Fund’s assets may change in value during the time the borrowings are outstanding. Borrowings will create interest expenses for the Fund that can exceed the income from the assets purchased with the borrowings. To the extent the income or capital appreciation derived from securities purchased with borrowed funds exceeds the interest the Fund will have to pay on the borrowings, the Fund’s return will be greater than if leverage had not been used. Conversely, if the income or capital appreciation from the securities purchased with such borrowed funds is not sufficient to cover the cost of borrowing, the return to the Fund will be less than if leverage had not been used and, therefore, the amount available for distribution to shareholders as

 

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dividends will be reduced. In the latter case, the Manager in its best judgment nevertheless may determine to maintain the Fund’s leveraged position if it expects that the benefits to the Fund’s shareholders of maintaining the leveraged position will outweigh the current reduced return.

Certain types of borrowings by a Fund may result in the 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 the Manager from managing a Fund’s portfolio in accordance with the 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 the Fund to dispose of portfolio investments at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so.

Each Fund may at times borrow from affiliates of the Manager, provided that the terms of such borrowings are no less favorable than those available from comparable sources of funds in the marketplace.

To the extent permitted by a Fund’s investment policies and restrictions and subject to the conditions of an exemptive order issued by the SEC, as described below under “Investment Risks and Considerations — Interfund Lending Program,” such Fund may borrow for temporary purposes through the Interfund Lending Program (as defined below).

Cash Flows; Expenses. The ability of each Fund to satisfy its investment objective depends to some extent on the Manager’s ability to manage cash flow (primarily from purchases and redemptions and distributions from the Fund’s investments). The Manager will make investment changes to a Fund’s portfolio to accommodate cash flow while continuing to seek to replicate the total return of the Fund’s target index. Investors should also be aware that the investment performance of each index is a hypothetical number which does not take into account brokerage commissions and other transaction costs, custody and other costs of investing, and any incremental operating costs (e.g., transfer agency and accounting costs) that will be borne by the Funds. Finally, since each Fund seeks to replicate the total return of its target index, the Manager generally will not attempt to judge the merits of any particular security as an investment.

Cash Management. Generally, the Manager will employ futures and options on futures to provide liquidity necessary to meet anticipated redemptions or for day-to-day operating purposes. However, if considered appropriate in the opinion of the Manager, a portion of a Fund’s assets may be invested in certain types of instruments with remaining maturities of 397 days or less for liquidity purposes. Such instruments would consist of: (i) obligations of the U.S. Government, its agencies, instrumentalities, authorities or political subdivisions (“U.S. Government Securities”); (ii) other fixed-income securities rated Aa or higher by Moody’s or AA or higher by S&P or, if unrated, of comparable quality in the opinion of the Manager; (iii) commercial paper; (iv) bank obligations, including negotiable certificates of deposit, time deposits and bankers’ acceptances; and (v) repurchase agreements. At the time the Fund invests in commercial paper, bank obligations or repurchase agreements, the issuer or the issuer’s parent must have outstanding debt rated Aa or higher by Moody’s or AA or higher by S&P or outstanding commercial paper, bank obligations or other short-term obligations rated Prime-1 by Moody’s or A-1 by S&P; or, if no such ratings are available, the instrument must be of comparable quality in the opinion of the Manager.

Collateralized Debt Obligations. Certain Funds may invest in collateralized debt obligations (“CDOs”), which include collateralized bond obligations (“CBOs”), collateralized loan obligations (“CLOs”) and other similarly structured securities. CDOs are types of asset-backed securities. A CBO is ordinarily issued by a trust or other special purpose entity (“SPE”) and is typically backed by a diversified pool of fixed-income securities (which may include high risk, below investment grade securities) held by such issuer. A CLO is ordinarily issued by a trust or other SPE and is typically collateralized by a pool of loans, which may include, among others, domestic and non-U.S. senior secured loans, senior unsecured loans, and subordinate corporate loans, including loans that may be rated below investment grade or equivalent unrated loans, held by such issuer. Investments in a CLO organized outside of the United States may not be deemed to be foreign securities if the CLO is collateralized by a pool of loans, a substantial portion of which are U.S. loans. Although certain CDOs may benefit from credit enhancement in the form of a senior-subordinate structure, over-collateralization or bond insurance, such enhancement may not always be present, and may fail to protect a Fund against the risk of loss on default of the collateral. Certain CDO issuers may use derivatives contracts to create “synthetic” exposure to assets rather than holding such assets directly, which entails the risks of derivative instruments described elsewhere in this SAI. CDOs may charge management fees and administrative expenses, which are in addition to those of a Fund.

For both CBOs and CLOs, the cash flows from the SPE are split into two or more portions, called tranches, varying in risk and yield. The riskiest portion is the “equity” tranche, which bears the first loss from defaults from the bonds or loans in the SPE and serves to protect the other, more senior tranches from default (though such protection is not complete). Since it is partially protected from defaults, a senior tranche from a CBO or CLO typically has higher ratings and lower yields than its underlying

 

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securities, and may be rated investment grade. Despite the protection from the equity tranche, CBO or CLO tranches can experience substantial losses due to actual defaults, downgrades of the underlying collateral by rating agencies, forced liquidation of the collateral pool due to a failure of coverage tests, increased sensitivity to defaults due to collateral default and disappearance of protecting tranches, market anticipation of defaults as well as investor aversion to CBO or CLO securities as a class. Interest on certain tranches of a CDO may be paid in kind or deferred and capitalized (paid in the form of obligations of the same type rather than cash), which involves continued exposure to default risk with respect to such payments.

The risks of an investment in a CDO depend largely on the type of the collateral securities and the class of the CDO in which a Fund invests. Normally, CBOs, CLOs and other CDOs are privately offered and sold, and thus are not registered under the securities laws. As a result, investments in CDOs may be characterized by a Fund as illiquid securities. However, an active dealer market may exist for CDOs, allowing a CDO to qualify for Rule 144A transactions. In addition to the normal risks associated with fixed-income securities and asset-backed securities generally discussed elsewhere in this SAI, CDOs carry additional risks including, but not limited to: (i) the possibility that distributions from collateral securities will not be adequate to make interest or other payments; (ii) the risk that the collateral may default or decline in value or be downgraded, if rated by a nationally recognized statistical rating organization (“NRSRO”); (iii) a Fund may invest in tranches of CDOs that are subordinate to other tranches; (iv) the structure and complexity of the transaction and the legal documents could lead to disputes among investors regarding the characterization of proceeds; (v) the investment return achieved by the Fund could be significantly different than those predicted by financial models; (vi) the lack of a readily available secondary market for CDOs; (vii) risk of forced “fire sale” liquidation due to technical defaults such as coverage test failures; and (viii) the CDO’s manager may perform poorly.

Commercial Paper. Certain Funds may purchase commercial paper. Commercial paper purchasable by each Fund includes “Section 4(2) paper,” a term that includes debt obligations issued in reliance on the “private placement” exemption from registration afforded by Section 4(a)(2) of the Securities Act. Section 4(2) paper is restricted as to disposition under the Federal securities laws, and is frequently sold (and resold) to institutional investors such as the Fund through or with the assistance of investment dealers who make a market in the Section 4(2) paper, thereby providing liquidity. Certain transactions in Section 4(2) paper may qualify for the registration exemption provided in Rule 144A under the Securities Act.

Commodity-Linked Derivative Instruments and Hybrid Instruments. Certain Funds seek to gain exposure to the commodities markets primarily through investments in hybrid instruments. Hybrid instruments are either equity or debt derivative securities with one or more commodity-dependent components that have payment features similar to a commodity futures contract, a commodity option contract, or a combination of both. Therefore, these instruments are “commodity-linked.” They are considered “hybrid” instruments because they have both commodity-like and security-like characteristics. Hybrid instruments are derivative instruments because at least part of their value is derived from the value of an underlying commodity, futures contract, index or other readily measurable economic variable.

The prices of commodity-linked derivative instruments may move in different directions than investments in traditional equity and debt securities when the value of those traditional securities is declining due to adverse economic conditions. As an example, during periods of rising inflation, debt securities have historically tended to decline in value due to the general increase in prevailing interest rates. Conversely, during those same periods of rising inflation, the prices of certain commodities, such as oil and metals, have historically tended to increase. Of course, there cannot be any guarantee that these investments will perform in that manner in the future, and at certain times the price movements of commodity-linked instruments have been parallel to those of debt and equity securities. Commodities have historically tended to increase and decrease in value during different parts of the business cycle than financial assets. Nevertheless, at various times, commodities prices may move in tandem with the prices of financial assets and thus may not provide overall portfolio diversification benefits. Under favorable economic conditions, the Fund’s investments may be expected to under-perform an investment in traditional securities. Over the long term, the returns on the Fund’s investments are expected to exhibit low or negative correlation with stocks and bonds.

Qualifying Hybrid Instruments. Certain Funds may invest in hybrid instruments that qualify for exclusion from regulation under the Commodity Exchange Act and the regulations adopted thereunder. A hybrid instrument that qualifies for this exclusion from regulation must be “predominantly a security.” A hybrid instrument is considered to be predominantly a security if (a) the issuer of the hybrid instrument receives payment in full of the purchase price of the hybrid instrument, substantially contemporaneously with delivery of the hybrid instrument; (b) the purchaser or holder of the hybrid instrument is not required to make any payment to the issuer in addition to the purchase price paid under subparagraph (a), whether as margin, settlement payment, or otherwise, during the life of the hybrid instrument or at maturity; (c) the issuer of the hybrid instrument is not subject by the terms of the instrument to mark-to-market margining requirements; and (d) the hybrid instrument is not marketed as a contract of sale of a

 

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commodity for future delivery (or option on such a contract) subject to applicable provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act. Hybrid instruments may be principal protected, partially protected, or offer no principal protection. A principal protected hybrid instrument means that the issuer will pay, at a minimum, the par value of the note at maturity. Therefore, if the commodity value to which the hybrid instrument is linked declines over the life of the note, the Fund will receive at maturity the face or stated value of the note. With a principal protected hybrid instrument, the Fund will receive at maturity the greater of the par value of the note or the increase in its value based on the underlying commodity or index. This protection is, in effect, an option whose value is subject to the volatility and price level of the underlying commodity. The Manager’s decision whether to use principal protection depends in part on the cost of the protection. In addition, the protection feature depends upon the ability of the issuer to meet its obligation to buy back the security, and, therefore, depends on the creditworthiness of the issuer. With full principal protection, the Fund will receive at maturity of the hybrid instrument either the stated par value of the hybrid instrument, or potentially, an amount greater than the stated par value if the underlying commodity, index, futures contract or economic variable to which the hybrid instrument is linked has increased in value. Partially protected hybrid instruments may suffer some loss of principal if the underlying commodity, index, futures contract or economic variable to which the hybrid instrument is linked declines in value during the term of the hybrid instrument. However, partially protected hybrid instruments have a specified limit as to the amount of principal that they may lose.

Hybrid Instruments Without Principal Protection. Certain Funds may invest in hybrid instruments that offer no principal protection. At maturity, there is a risk that the underlying commodity price, futures contract, index or other economic variable may have declined sufficiently in value such that some or all of the face value of the hybrid instrument might not be returned. The Manager, at its discretion, may invest in a partially protected principal structured note or a note without principal protection. In deciding to purchase a note without principal protection, the Manager may consider, among other things, the expected performance of the underlying commodity futures contract, index or other economic variable over the term of the note, the cost of the note, and any other economic factors that the Manager believes are relevant.

Limitations on Leverage. Some of the hybrid instruments in which a Fund may invest may involve leverage. To avoid being subject to undue leverage risk, a Fund will seek to limit the amount of economic leverage it has under any one hybrid instrument that it buys and the leverage of the Fund’s overall portfolio. A Fund will not invest in a hybrid instrument if, at the time of purchase: (i) that instrument’s “leverage ratio” exceeds 300% of the price increase in the underlying commodity, futures contract, index or other economic variable or (ii) the Fund’s “portfolio leverage ratio” exceeds 150%, measured at the time of purchase. “Leverage ratio” is the expected increase in the value of a hybrid instrument, assuming a one percent price increase in the underlying commodity, futures contract, index or other economic factor. In other words, for a hybrid instrument with a leverage factor of 150%, a 1% gain in the underlying economic variable would be expected to result in a 1.5% gain in value for the hybrid instrument. Conversely, a hybrid instrument with a leverage factor of 150% would suffer a 1.5% loss if the underlying economic variable lost 1% of its value. “Portfolio leverage ratio” is defined as the average (mean) leverage ratio of all instruments in a Fund’s portfolio, weighted by the market values of such instruments or, in the case of futures contracts, their notional values. To the extent that the policy on a Fund’s use of leverage stated above conflicts with the Investment Company Act or the rules and regulations thereunder, the Fund will comply with the applicable provisions of the Investment Company Act. A Fund may at times or from time to time decide not to use leverage in its investments or use less leverage than may otherwise be allowable.

Counterparty Risk. A significant risk of hybrid instruments is counterparty risk. Unlike exchange-traded futures and options, which are standard contracts, hybrid instruments are customized securities, tailor-made by a specific issuer. With a listed futures or options contract, an investor’s counterparty is the exchange clearinghouse. Exchange clearinghouses are capitalized by the exchange members and typically have high investment grade ratings (e.g., ratings of AAA or AA by S&P). Therefore, the risk is small that an exchange clearinghouse might be unable to meet its obligations at maturity. However, with a hybrid instrument, a Fund will take on the counterparty credit risk of the issuer. That is, at maturity of the hybrid instrument, there is a risk that the issuer may be unable to perform its obligations under the structured note.

Convertible Securities. A convertible security is a bond, debenture, note, preferred stock or other security that may be converted into or exchanged for a prescribed amount of common stock or other equity security of the same or a different issuer within a particular period of time at a specified price or formula. A convertible security entitles the holder to receive interest paid or accrued on debt or the dividend paid on preferred stock until the convertible security matures or is redeemed, converted or exchanged. Before conversion, convertible securities have characteristics similar to nonconvertible income securities in that they ordinarily provide a stable stream of income with generally higher yields than those of common stocks of the same or similar issuers, but lower yields than comparable nonconvertible securities. The value of a convertible security is influenced by changes in

 

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interest rates, with investment value declining as interest rates increase and increasing as interest rates decline. The credit standing of the issuer and other factors also may have an effect on the convertible security’s investment value. Convertible securities rank senior to common stock in a corporation’s capital structure but are usually subordinated to comparable nonconvertible securities. Convertible securities may be subject to redemption at the option of the issuer at a price established in the convertible security’s governing instrument.

The characteristics of convertible securities make them potentially attractive investments for an investment company seeking a high total return from capital appreciation and investment income. These characteristics include the potential for capital appreciation as the value of the underlying common stock increases, the relatively high yield received from dividend or interest payments as compared to common stock dividends and decreased risks of decline in value relative to the underlying common stock due to their fixed-income nature. As a result of the conversion feature, however, the interest rate or dividend preference on a convertible security is generally less than would be the case if the securities were issued in nonconvertible form.

In analyzing convertible securities, the Manager will consider both the yield on the convertible security relative to its credit quality and the potential capital appreciation that is offered by the underlying common stock, among other things.

Convertible securities are issued and traded in a number of securities markets. Even in cases where a substantial portion of the convertible securities held by a Fund are denominated in U.S. dollars, the underlying equity securities may be quoted in the currency of the country where the issuer is domiciled. As a result, fluctuations in the exchange rate between the currency in which the debt security is denominated and the currency in which the share price is quoted will affect the value of the convertible security. With respect to convertible securities denominated in a currency different from that of the underlying equity securities, the conversion price may be based on a fixed exchange rate established at the time the security is issued, which may increase the effects of currency risk. As described below, a Fund is authorized to enter into foreign currency hedging transactions in which it may seek to reduce the effect of exchange rate fluctuations.

Apart from currency considerations, the value of convertible securities is influenced by both the yield on nonconvertible securities of comparable issuers and by the value of the underlying common stock. The value of a convertible security viewed without regard to its conversion feature (i.e., strictly on the basis of its yield) is sometimes referred to as its “investment value.” To the extent interest rates change, the investment value of the convertible security typically will fluctuate. At the same time, however, the value of the convertible security will be influenced by its “conversion value,” which is the market value of the underlying common stock that would be obtained if the convertible security were converted. Conversion value fluctuates directly with the price of the underlying common stock. If the conversion value of a convertible security is substantially below its investment value, the price of the convertible security is governed principally by its investment value. To the extent the conversion value of a convertible security increases to a point that approximates or exceeds its investment value, the price of the convertible security will be influenced principally by its conversion value. A convertible security will sell at a premium over the conversion value to the extent investors place value on the right to acquire the underlying common stock while holding a fixed-income security. The yield and conversion premium of convertible securities issued in Japan and the Euromarket are frequently determined at levels that cause the conversion value to affect their market value more than the securities’ investment value.

Holders of convertible securities generally have a claim on the assets of the issuer prior to the common stockholders but may be subordinated to other debt securities of the same issuer. A convertible security may be subject to redemption at the option of the issuer at a price established in a charter provision, indenture or other governing instrument pursuant to which the convertible security was issued. If a convertible security held by a Fund is called for redemption, the Fund will be required to redeem the security, convert it into the underlying common stock or sell it to a third party. Certain convertible debt securities may provide a put option to the holder, which entitles the holder to cause the security to be redeemed by the issuer at a premium over the stated principal amount of the debt security under certain circumstances.

A Fund may also invest in synthetic convertible securities. Synthetic convertible securities may include either Cash-Settled Convertibles or Manufactured Convertibles. Cash-Settled Convertibles are instruments that are created by the issuer and have the economic characteristics of traditional convertible securities but may not actually permit conversion into the underlying equity securities in all circumstances. As an example, a private company may issue a Cash-Settled Convertible that is convertible into common stock only if the company successfully completes a public offering of its common stock prior to maturity and otherwise pays a cash amount to reflect any equity appreciation. Manufactured Convertibles are created by the Manager or another party by combining separate securities that possess one of the two principal characteristics of a convertible security, i.e., fixed-income (“fixed-income component”) or a right to acquire equity securities (“convertibility component”). The fixed-income component is achieved by investing in nonconvertible fixed-income securities, such as nonconvertible bonds, preferred stocks and money market

 

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instruments. The convertibility component is achieved by investing in call options, warrants, or other securities with equity conversion features (“equity features”) granting the holder the right to purchase a specified quantity of the underlying stocks within a specified period of time at a specified price or, in the case of a stock index option, the right to receive a cash payment based on the value of the underlying stock index.

A Manufactured Convertible differs from traditional convertible securities in several respects. Unlike a traditional convertible security, which is a single security that has a unitary market value, a Manufactured Convertible is comprised of two or more separate securities, each with its own market value. Therefore, the total “market value” of such a Manufactured Convertible is the sum of the values of its fixed-income component and its convertibility component.

More flexibility is possible in the creation of a Manufactured Convertible than in the purchase of a traditional convertible security. Because many corporations have not issued convertible securities, the Manager may combine a fixed-income instrument and an equity feature with respect to the stock of the issuer of the fixed-income instrument to create a synthetic convertible security otherwise unavailable in the market. The Manager may also combine a fixed-income instrument of an issuer with an equity feature with respect to the stock of a different issuer when the Manager believes such a Manufactured Convertible would better promote a Fund’s objective than alternative investments. For example, the Manager may combine an equity feature with respect to an issuer’s stock with a fixed-income security of a different issuer in the same industry to diversify the Fund’s credit exposure, or with a U.S. Treasury instrument to create a Manufactured Convertible with a higher credit profile than a traditional convertible security issued by that issuer. A Manufactured Convertible also is a more flexible investment in that its two components may be purchased separately and, upon purchasing the separate securities, “combined” to create a Manufactured Convertible. For example, the Fund may purchase a warrant for eventual inclusion in a Manufactured Convertible while postponing the purchase of a suitable bond to pair with the warrant pending development of more favorable market conditions.

The value of a Manufactured Convertible may respond to certain market fluctuations differently from a traditional convertible security with similar characteristics. For example, in the event a Fund created a Manufactured Convertible by combining a short-term U.S. Treasury instrument and a call option on a stock, the Manufactured Convertible would be expected to outperform a traditional convertible of similar maturity that is convertible into that stock during periods when Treasury instruments outperform corporate fixed-income securities and underperform during periods when corporate fixed-income securities outperform Treasury instruments.

Cyber Security Issues. With the increased use of technologies such as the Internet to conduct business, each Fund is susceptible to operational, information security and related risks. In general, cyber incidents can result from deliberate attacks or unintentional events. Cyber attacks include, but are not limited to, gaining unauthorized access to digital systems (e.g., through “hacking” or malicious software coding) for purposes of misappropriating assets or sensitive information, corrupting data, or causing operational disruption. Cyber attacks may also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as causing denial-of-service attacks on websites (i.e., efforts to make network services unavailable to intended users). Cyber security failures or breaches by a Fund’s adviser, sub-adviser(s) and other service providers (including, but not limited to, Fund accountants, custodians, transfer agents and administrators), and the issuers of securities in which the Funds invest, have the ability to cause disruptions and impact business operations, potentially resulting in financial losses, interference with a Fund’s ability to calculate its net asset value (“NAV”), impediments to trading, the inability of Fund shareholders to transact business, violations of applicable privacy and other laws, regulatory fines, penalties, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensation costs, or additional compliance costs. In addition, substantial costs may be incurred in order to prevent any cyber incidents in the future. While the Funds have established business continuity plans in the event of, and risk management systems to prevent, such cyber attacks, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified. Furthermore, the Funds cannot control the cyber security plans and systems put in place by service providers to the Funds and issuers in which the Funds invest. The Funds and their shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result.

Debt Securities. Debt securities, such as bonds, involve credit risk. This is the risk that the issuer will not make timely payments of principal and interest. The degree of credit risk depends on the issuer’s financial condition and on the terms of the debt securities. Changes in an issuer’s credit rating or the market’s perception of an issuer’s creditworthiness may also affect the value of a Fund’s investment in that issuer. Credit risk is reduced to the extent a Fund limits its debt investments to U.S. Government securities.

All debt securities, however, are subject to interest rate risk. This is the risk that the value of the security may fall when interest rates rise. If interest rates move sharply in a manner not anticipated by Fund management, a Fund’s investments in debt securities could be adversely affected and the Fund could lose money. In general, the market price of debt securities with longer maturities will go up or down more in response to changes in interest rates than will the market price of shorter-term debt securities.

 

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During periods of rising interest rates, the average life of certain fixed-income securities is extended because of slower than expected principal payments. This may lock in a below-market interest rate and extend the duration of these fixed-income securities, especially mortgage-related securities, making them more sensitive to changes in interest rates. As a result, in a period of rising interest rates, these securities may exhibit additional volatility and lose value. This is known as extension risk.

The value of fixed-income securities in the Funds can be expected to vary inversely with changes in prevailing interest rates. Fixed-income securities with longer maturities, which tend to produce higher yields, are subject to potentially greater capital appreciation and depreciation than securities with shorter maturities. The Funds are not restricted to any maximum or minimum time to maturity in purchasing individual portfolio securities, and the average maturity of a Fund’s assets will vary.

Depositary Receipts (ADRs, EDRs and GDRs). Certain Funds may invest in the securities of foreign issuers in the form of Depositary Receipts or other securities convertible into securities of foreign issuers. Depositary Receipts may not necessarily be denominated in the same currency as the underlying securities into which they may be converted. The Fund may invest in both sponsored and unsponsored American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”), European Depositary Receipts (“EDRs”), Global Depositary Receipts (“GDRs”) and other similar global instruments. ADRs typically are issued by an American bank or trust company and evidence ownership of underlying securities issued by a foreign corporation. EDRs, which are sometimes referred to as Continental Depositary Receipts, are receipts issued in Europe, typically by foreign banks 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. 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 ADR, EDR and GDR programs are organized independently and without the cooperation of the issuer of the underlying securities. Unsponsored programs 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 Receipt. Available information concerning the issuer may not be as current as for sponsored ADRs, EDRs and GDRs, and the prices of unsponsored ADRs, EDRs and GDRs may be more volatile than if such instruments were sponsored by the issuer. Depositary Receipts are generally subject to the same risks as the foreign securities that they evidence or into which they may be converted. Investments in ADRs, EDRs and GDRs present additional investment considerations as described under “Foreign Investment Risks.”

Derivatives

Each Fund may use instruments referred to as derivative securities. 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 the Fund is exposed more quickly and efficiently than transactions in other types of instruments. Each Fund may use derivatives for hedging purposes. Certain Funds may also use derivatives for speculative purposes to seek to enhance returns. The use of a derivative is speculative if the Fund is primarily seeking to achieve gains, rather than offset the risk of other positions. When a Fund invests in a derivative for speculative purposes, the 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, no Fund may use any derivative to gain exposure to an asset or class of assets that it would be prohibited by its investment restrictions from purchasing directly.

Hedging. Hedging is a strategy in which a derivative is used to offset the 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 the Fund or if the cost of the derivative outweighs the benefit of the hedge. 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, in which case any losses on the holdings being hedged may not be reduced or may be increased. The inability to close options and futures positions also could have an adverse impact on a Fund’s ability to hedge effectively its portfolio. There is also a risk of loss by the Fund of margin deposits or collateral in the event of bankruptcy of a broker with whom the Fund has an open position in an option, a futures contract or a related option. There can be no assurance that a Fund’s hedging strategies will be effective. No Fund is required to engage in hedging transactions and each Fund may choose not to do so.

 

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A Fund may use derivative instruments and trading strategies, including the following:

Indexed and Inverse Securities. A Fund may invest in securities that provide a potential return based on a particular index of value or interest rates. For example, a Fund may invest in securities that pay interest based on an index of interest rates. The principal amount payable upon maturity of certain securities also may be based on the value of the index. To the extent a Fund invests in these types of securities, the Fund’s return on such securities will be subject to risk with respect to the value of the particular index: that is, if the value of the index falls, the value of the indexed securities owned by the Fund will fall. Interest and principal payable on certain securities may also be based on relative changes among particular indices. A Fund may also invest in so-called “inverse floating obligations” or “residual interest bonds” on which the interest rates vary inversely with a floating rate (which may be reset periodically by a dutch auction, a remarketing agent, or by reference to a short-term tax-exempt interest rate index). A Fund may purchase synthetically-created inverse floating rate bonds evidenced by custodial or trust receipts. Generally, income on inverse floating rate bonds will decrease when interest rates increase, and will increase when interest rates decrease. Such securities have the effect of providing a degree of investment leverage, since they may increase or decrease in value in response to changes, as an illustration, in market interest rates at a rate that is a multiple of the rate at which fixed-rate securities increase or decrease in response to such changes. As a result, the market values of such securities will generally be more volatile than the market values of fixed-rate securities. To seek to limit the volatility of these securities, a Fund may purchase inverse floating obligations that have shorter-term maturities or that contain limitations on the extent to which the interest rate may vary. Certain investments in such obligations may be illiquid. The Manager believes that indexed and inverse floating obligations represent flexible portfolio management instruments for a Fund that allow the Fund to seek potential investment rewards, hedge other portfolio positions or vary the degree of investment leverage relatively efficiently under different market conditions. A Fund may invest in indexed and inverse securities for hedging purposes or to seek to increase returns. When used for hedging purposes, indexed and inverse securities involve correlation risk. Furthermore, where such a security includes a contingent liability, in the event of an adverse movement in the underlying index or interest rate, a Fund may be required to pay substantial additional margin to maintain the position.

The Funds may invest up to 10% of their total assets in leveraged inverse floating rate debt instruments (“inverse floaters”). Inverse floaters are securities the potential of which is inversely related to changes in interest rates. In general, the return on inverse floaters will decrease when short-term interest rates increase and increase when short-term rates decrease. Municipal tender option bonds, both taxable and tax-exempt, which may include inverse floating rate debt instruments, (including residual interests thereon) are excluded from this 10% limitation.

Swap Agreements. A Fund may enter into swap agreements, including interest rate and index swap agreements, for hedging purposes or to seek to obtain a particular desired return at a lower cost to the Fund than if the Fund had invested directly in an instrument that yielded the desired return. Swap agreements are two party contracts entered into primarily by institutional investors for periods ranging from a few weeks to more than one year. In a standard “swap” transaction, two parties agree to exchange the returns (or differentials in rates of return) earned or realized on particular predetermined investments or instruments. The gross returns to be exchanged or “swapped” between the parties are calculated with respect to a “notional amount,” i.e., the dollar amount invested at a particular interest rate, in a particular foreign currency, or in a “basket” of securities representing a particular index. The “notional amount” of the swap agreement is only a fictive basis on which to calculate the obligations that the parties to a swap agreement have agreed to exchange. A Fund’s obligations (or rights) under a swap agreement will generally be equal only to the net amount to be paid or received under the agreement based on the relative values of the positions held by each party to the agreement (the “net amount”). A Fund’s obligations under a swap agreement will be accrued daily (offset against any amounts owing to the Fund) and any accrued but unpaid net amounts owed to a swap counterparty will be covered by marking as segregated liquid, unencumbered assets, marked-to-market daily, to avoid any potential leveraging of the Fund’s portfolio.

Whether a Fund’s use of swap agreements will be successful in furthering its investment objective will depend on the Manager’s ability to correctly predict whether certain types of investments are likely to produce greater returns than other investments. Because they are two party contracts and because they may have terms of greater than seven days, some swap agreements may be considered to be illiquid. Moreover, a Fund bears the risk of loss of the amount expected to be received under a swap agreement in the event of the default or bankruptcy of a swap agreement counterparty. A Fund will seek to lessen this risk to some extent by entering into a transaction only if the counterparty meets the current credit requirement for over-the-counter (“OTC”) option counterparties. Swap agreements also bear the risk that a Fund will not be able to meet its payment obligations to the counterparty. As noted, however, a Fund will segregate liquid assets permitted to be so segregated by the Commission in an amount equal to or greater than the market value of the Fund’s liabilities under the swap agreement or the amount it would cost

 

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the Fund initially to make an equivalent direct investment plus or minus any amount the Fund is obligated to pay or is to receive under the swap agreement. Restrictions imposed by the tax rules applicable to regulated investment companies, may limit the Fund’s ability to use swap agreements.

See “Credit Default Swap Agreements,” “Interest Rate Swaps, Caps and Floors” and “Municipal Interest Rate Swap Agreements” below for further information on particular types of swap agreements that may be used by certain Funds.

Interest Rate Swaps, Caps and Floors. In order to hedge the value of a Fund’s portfolio against interest rate fluctuations or to enhance a Fund’s income, a Fund may enter into various transactions, such as interest rate swaps and the purchase or sale of interest rate caps and floors. Interest rate swaps are OTC contracts in which each party agrees to make a periodic interest payment based on an index or the value of an asset in return for a periodic payment from the other party based on a different index or asset. The purchase of an interest rate floor entitles the purchaser, to the extent that a specified index falls below a predetermined interest rate, to receive payments of interest on a notional principal amount from the party selling such interest rate floor. The purchase of an interest rate cap entitles the purchaser, to the extent that a specified index rises above a predetermined interest rate, to receive payments of interest on a notional principal amount from the party selling such interest rate cap.

A Fund expects to enter into these transactions primarily to preserve a return or spread on a particular investment or portion of its portfolio or to protect against any increase in the price of securities the Fund anticipates purchasing at a later date. A Fund generally will use these transactions primarily as a hedge and not as a speculative investment. However, a Fund may also invest in interest rate swaps to enhance income or to increase the Fund’s yield during periods of steep interest rate yield curves (i.e., wide differences between short term and long term interest rates). In an interest rate swap, a Fund may exchange with another party their respective commitments to pay or receive interest, e.g., an exchange of fixed rate payments for floating rate payments. For example, if a Fund holds a mortgage-backed security with an interest rate that is reset only once each year, it may swap the right to receive interest at this fixed rate for the right to receive interest at a rate that is reset every week. This would enable a Fund to offset a decline in the value of the mortgage backed security due to rising interest rates but would also limit its ability to benefit from falling interest rates. Conversely, if a Fund holds a mortgage-backed security with an interest rate that is reset every week and it would like to lock in what it believes to be a high interest rate for one year, it may swap the right to receive interest at this variable weekly rate for the right to receive interest at a rate that is fixed for one year. Such a swap would protect the Fund from a reduction in yield due to falling interest rates and may permit the Fund to enhance its income through the positive differential between one week and one year interest rates, but would preclude it from taking full advantage of rising interest rates.

A Fund usually will enter into interest rate swap transactions on a net basis (i.e., the two payment streams are netted against one another with the Fund receiving or paying, as the case may be, only the net amount of the two payment streams). Inasmuch as these transactions are entered into for good faith hedging purposes, the Manager believes that such obligations do not constitute senior securities and, accordingly, will not treat them as being subject to its borrowing restrictions. The net amount of the excess, if any, of a Fund’s obligations over its entitlements with respect to each interest rate swap will be accrued on a daily basis, and an amount of liquid assets that have an aggregate net asset value at least equal to the accrued excess will be maintained in a segregated account by the Fund.

If the interest rate swap transaction is entered into on other than a net basis, the full amount of a Fund’s obligations will be accrued on a daily basis, and the full amount of the Fund’s obligations will be maintained in a segregated account.

Typically the parties with which a Fund will enter into interest rate transactions will be broker-dealers and other financial institutions. A Fund will enter into interest rate swap, cap or floor transactions only with counterparties that are rated investment grade quality by at least one nationally recognized statistical rating organization at the time of entering into such transaction or whose creditworthiness is believed by the Manager to be equivalent to such rating. If there is a default by the counterparty to such a transaction, a Fund will have contractual remedies pursuant to the agreements related to the transaction. The swap market has grown substantially in recent years with a large number of banks and investment banking firms acting both as principals and as agents using standardized swap documentation. As a result, the swap market has become relatively liquid in comparison with other similar instruments traded in the interbank market. Caps and floors, however, are less liquid than swaps. Certain U.S. federal income tax requirements may limit a Fund’s ability to engage in certain interest rate transactions. Gains from transactions in interest rate swaps distributed to shareholders will be taxable as ordinary income or, in certain circumstances, as long term capital gains to shareholders.

Credit Default Swap Agreements and Similar Instruments. Certain Funds may enter into credit default swap agreements and similar agreements, and may also buy credit-linked securities. The credit default swap agreement or similar instrument may have

 

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as reference obligations one or more securities that are not currently held by a Fund. The protection “buyer” in a credit default contract may be obligated to pay the protection “seller” an up-front payment or a periodic stream of payments over the term of the contract, provided generally that no credit event on a reference obligation has occurred. If a credit event occurs, the seller generally must pay the buyer the “par value” (full notional value) of the swap in exchange for an equal face amount of deliverable obligations of the reference entity described in the swap, or the seller may be required to deliver the related net cash amount, if the swap is cash settled. A Fund may be either the buyer or seller in the transaction. If a Fund is a buyer and no credit event occurs, the Fund recovers nothing if the swap is held through its termination date. However, if a credit event occurs, the Fund may elect to receive the full notional value of the swap in exchange for an equal face amount of deliverable obligations of the reference entity that may have little or no value. As a seller, a Fund generally receives an up-front payment or a fixed rate of income throughout the term of the swap, which typically is between six months and three years, provided that there is no credit event. If a credit event occurs, generally the seller must pay the buyer the full notional value of the swap in exchange for an equal face amount of deliverable obligations of the reference entity that may have little or no value.

Credit default swaps and similar instruments involve greater risks than if a Fund had invested in the reference obligation directly, since, in addition to general market risks, they are subject to illiquidity risk, counterparty risk and credit risk. A Fund will enter into credit default swap agreements and similar instruments only with counterparties who are rated investment grade quality by at least one nationally recognized statistical rating organization at the time of entering into such transaction or whose creditworthiness is believed by the Manager to be equivalent to such rating. A buyer also will lose its investment and recover nothing should no credit event occur and the swap is held to its termination date. If a credit event were to occur, the value of any deliverable obligation received by the seller, coupled with the up-front or periodic payments previously received, may be less than the full notional value it pays to the buyer, resulting in a loss of value to the Fund. When a Fund acts as a seller of a credit default swap or a similar instrument, it is exposed to many of the same risks of leverage since, if a credit event occurs, the seller may be required to pay the buyer the full notional value of the contract net of any amounts owed by the buyer related to its delivery of deliverable obligations.

Contracts for Difference. Certain Funds may enter into contracts for difference. Contracts for difference are subject to liquidity risk because the liquidity of contracts for difference is based on the liquidity of the underlying instrument, and are subject to counterparty risk, i.e., the risk that the counterparty to the contracts for difference transaction may be unable or unwilling to make payments or to otherwise honor its financial obligations under the terms of the contract. To the extent that there is an imperfect correlation between the return on a Fund’s obligation to its counterparty under the contract for difference and the return on related assets in its portfolio, the contracts for difference transaction may increase the Fund’s financial risk. Contracts for difference, like many other derivative instruments, involve the risk that, if the derivative security declines in value, additional margin would be required to maintain the margin level. The seller may require a Fund to deposit additional sums to cover this, and this may be at short notice. If additional margin is not provided in time, the seller may liquidate the positions at a loss for which the Fund is liable. Contracts for difference are not registered with the SEC or any U.S. regulator, and are not subject to U.S. regulation.

Credit Linked Securities. Among the income producing securities in which a Fund may invest are credit linked securities, which are issued by a limited purpose trust or other vehicle that, in turn, invests in a derivative instrument or basket of derivative instruments, such as credit default swaps, interest rate swaps and other securities, in order to provide exposure to certain fixed-income markets. For instance, a Fund may invest in credit linked securities as a cash management tool in order to gain exposure to a certain market and/or to remain fully invested when more traditional income producing securities are not available.

Like an investment in a bond, investments in these credit linked securities represent the right to receive periodic income payments (in the form of distributions) and payment of principal at the end of the term of the security. However, these payments are conditioned on the issuer’s receipt of payments from, and the issuer’s potential obligations to, the counterparties to the derivative instruments and other securities in which the issuer invests. For instance, the issuer may sell one or more credit default swaps, under which the issuer would receive a stream of payments over the term of the swap agreements provided that no event of default has occurred with respect to the referenced debt obligation upon which the swap is based. If a default occurs, the stream of payments may stop and the issuer would be obligated to pay the counterparty the par (or other agreed upon value) of the referenced debt obligation. This, in turn, would reduce the amount of income and principal that a Fund would receive. A Fund’s investments in these instruments are indirectly subject to the risks associated with derivative instruments, including, among others, credit risk, default or similar event risk, counterparty risk, interest rate risk, leverage risk and management risk. It is also expected that the securities will be exempt from registration under the Securities Act. Accordingly, there may be no established trading market for the securities and they may constitute illiquid investments.

 

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Interest Rate Transactions and Swaptions. A Fund, to the extent permitted under applicable law, may enter into interest rate swaps, may purchase or sell interest rate caps and floors and may enter into options on swap agreements (“swaptions”) on either an asset-based or liability-based basis, depending on whether a Fund is hedging its assets or its liabilities. A Fund may enter into these transactions primarily to preserve a return or spread on a particular investment or portion of their holdings, as a duration management technique or to protect against an increase in the price of securities a Fund anticipates purchasing at a later date. They may also be used for speculation to increase returns.

Swap agreements are two-party contracts entered into primarily by institutional investors for periods ranging from a few weeks to more than one year. In a standard “swap” transaction, two parties agree to exchange the returns (or differentials in rates of return) earned or realized on particular predetermined investments or instruments, which may be adjusted for an interest factor. The gross returns to be exchanged or “swapped” between the parties are generally calculated with respect to a “notional amount,” i.e., the return on or increase in value of a particular dollar amount invested at a particular interest rate or in a “basket” of securities representing a particular index. Forms of swap agreements include interest rate caps, under which, in return for a premium, one party agrees to make payments to the other to the extent that interest rates exceed a specified rate, or “cap”; and interest rate floors, under which, in return for a premium, one party agrees to make payments to the other to the extent that interest rates fall below a specified rate, or “floor”. Caps and floors are less liquid than swaps.

A Fund will usually enter into interest rate swaps on a net basis, i.e., the two payment streams are netted out, with the Fund receiving or paying, as the case may be, only the net amount of the two payments.

A swaption is a contract that gives a counterparty the right (but not the obligation) to enter into a new swap agreement or to shorten, extend, cancel or otherwise modify an existing swap agreement, at some designated future time on specified terms. A Fund may write (sell) and purchase put and call swaptions.

Depending on the terms of the particular option agreement, a Fund will generally incur a greater degree of risk when it writes a swaption than it will incur when it purchases a swaption. When a Fund purchases a swaption, it risks losing only the amount of the premium it has paid should it decide to let the option expire unexercised. However, when a Fund writes a swaption, upon exercise of the option the Fund will become obligated according to the terms of the underlying agreement.

A Fund will accrue the net amount of the excess, if any, of its obligations over its entitlements with respect to each interest rate or currency swap or swaption on a daily basis and its Manager or sub-adviser will designate liquid assets on its books and records in an amount having an aggregate net asset value at least equal to the accrued excess to the extent required by Commission guidelines. If the other party to an interest rate swap defaults, a Fund’s risk of loss consists of the net amount of interest payments that the Fund is contractually entitled to receive.

Total Return Swap Agreements. Total return swap agreements are contracts in which one party agrees to make periodic payments to another party based on the change in market value of the assets underlying the contract, which may include a specified security, basket of securities or securities indices during the specified period, in return for periodic payments based on a fixed or variable interest rate or the total return from other underlying assets. Total return swap agreements may be used to obtain exposure to a security or market without owning or taking physical custody of such security or investing directly in such market. Total return swap agreements may effectively add leverage to the Fund’s portfolio because, in addition to its total net assets, the Fund would be subject to investment exposure on the notional amount of the swap.

Total return swap agreements are subject to the risk that a counterparty will default on its payment obligations to the Fund thereunder. Swap agreements also bear the risk that the Fund will not be able to meet its obligation to the counterparty. Generally, the Fund will enter into total return swaps on a net basis (i.e., the two payment streams are netted against one another with the Fund receiving or paying, as the case may be, only the net amount of the two payments). The net amount of the excess, if any, of the Fund’s obligations over its entitlements with respect to each total return swap will be accrued on a daily basis, and an amount of liquid assets having an aggregate net asset value at least equal to the accrued excess will be segregated by the Fund. If the total return swap transaction is entered into on other than a net basis, the full amount of the Fund’s obligations will be accrued on a daily basis, and the full amount of the Fund’s obligations will be segregated by the Fund in an amount equal to or greater than the market value of the liabilities under the total return swap agreement or the amount it would have cost the Fund initially to make an equivalent direct investment, plus or minus any amount the Fund is obligated to pay or is to receive under the total return swap agreement.

 

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Types of Options

Options on Securities and Securities Indices. A Fund may engage in transactions in options on individual securities, baskets of securities or securities indices, or particular measurements of value or rates (an “index”), such as an index of the price of treasury securities or an index representative of short-term interest rates. Such investments may be made on exchanges and in the OTC markets. In general, exchange-traded options have standardized exercise prices and expiration dates and require the parties to post margin against their obligations, and the performance of the parties’ obligations in connection with such options is guaranteed by the exchange or a related clearing corporation. OTC options have more flexible terms negotiated between the buyer and the seller, but generally do not require the parties to post margin and are subject to greater credit risk. OTC options also involve greater liquidity risk. See “Additional Risk Factors of OTC Transactions; Limitations on the Use of OTC Derivatives” below.

Call Options. A Fund may purchase call options on any of the types of securities or instruments in which it may invest. A purchased call option gives a Fund the right to buy, and obligates the seller to sell, the underlying security at the exercise price at any time during the option period. A Fund also may purchase and sell call options on indices. Index options are similar to options on securities except that, rather than taking or making delivery of securities underlying the option at a specified price upon exercise, an index option gives the holder the right to receive cash upon exercise of the option if the level of the index upon which the option is based is greater than the exercise price of the option.

A call option is also covered if a Fund holds a call on the same security or index as the call written where the exercise price of the call held is (i) equal to or less than the exercise price of the call written, or (ii) greater than the exercise price of the call written provided the difference is maintained by the Fund in liquid assets designated on the adviser’s or sub-adviser’s books and records to the extent required by Commission guidelines.

A Fund also is authorized to write (i.e., sell) covered call options on the securities or instruments in which it may invest and to enter into closing purchase transactions with respect to certain of such options. A covered call option is an option in which a Fund, in return for a premium, gives another party a right to buy specified securities owned by the Fund at a specified future date and price set at the time of the contract. The principal reason for writing call options is the attempt to realize, through the receipt of premiums, a greater return than would be realized on the securities alone. By writing covered call options, a Fund gives up the opportunity, while the option is in effect, to profit from any price increase in the underlying security above the option exercise price. In addition, a Fund’s ability to sell the underlying security will be limited while the option is in effect unless the Fund enters into a closing purchase transaction. A closing purchase transaction cancels out a Fund’s position as the writer of an option by means of an offsetting purchase of an identical option prior to the expiration of the option it has written. Covered call options also serve as a partial hedge to the extent of the premium received against the price of the underlying security declining.

A Fund also is authorized to write (i.e., sell) uncovered call options on securities or instruments in which it may invest but that are not currently held by the Fund. The principal reason for writing uncovered call options is to realize income without committing capital to the ownership of the underlying securities or instruments. When writing uncovered call options, a Fund must deposit and maintain sufficient margin with the broker-dealer through which it made the uncovered call option as collateral to ensure that the securities can be purchased for delivery if and when the option is exercised. In addition, in connection with each such transaction a Fund will segregate unencumbered liquid securities or cash with a value at least equal to the Fund’s exposure (the difference between the unpaid amounts owed by the Fund on such transaction minus any collateral deposited with the broker-dealer), on a marked-to-market basis (as calculated pursuant to requirements of the Commission). Such segregation will ensure that the Fund has assets available to satisfy its obligations with respect to the transaction and will avoid any potential leveraging of the Fund’s portfolio. Such segregation will not limit the Fund’s exposure to loss. During periods of declining securities prices or when prices are stable, writing uncovered calls can be a profitable strategy to increase a Fund’s income with minimal capital risk. Uncovered calls are riskier than covered calls because there is no underlying security held by a Fund that can act as a partial hedge. Uncovered calls have speculative characteristics and the potential for loss is unlimited. When an uncovered call is exercised, a Fund must purchase the underlying security to meet its call obligation. There is also a risk, especially with less liquid preferred and debt securities, that the securities may not be available for purchase. If the purchase price exceeds the exercise price, a Fund will lose the difference.

Put Options. A Fund is authorized to purchase put options to seek to hedge against a decline in the value of its securities or to enhance its return. By buying a put option, a Fund acquires a right to sell the underlying securities or instruments at the exercise price, thus limiting the Fund’s risk of loss through a decline in the market value of the securities or instruments until the put option expires. The amount of any appreciation in the value of the underlying securities or instruments will be partially offset by the amount of the premium paid for the put option and any related transaction costs. Prior to its expiration, a put option may be sold

 

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in a closing sale transaction and profit or loss from the sale will depend on whether the amount received is more or less than the premium paid for the put option plus the related transaction costs. A closing sale transaction cancels out a Fund’s position as the purchaser of an option by means of an offsetting sale of an identical option prior to the expiration of the option it has purchased. A Fund also may purchase uncovered put options.

Each Fund also has authority to write (i.e., sell) put options on the types of securities or instruments that may be held by the Fund, provided that such put options are covered, meaning that such options are secured by segregated, liquid assets. A Fund will receive a premium for writing a put option, which increases the Fund’s return.

Each Fund is also authorized to write (i.e., sell) uncovered put options on securities or instruments in which it may invest but with respect to which the Fund does not currently have a corresponding short position or has not deposited as collateral cash equal to the exercise value of the put option with the broker dealer through which it made the uncovered put option. The principal reason for writing uncovered put options is to receive premium income and to acquire such securities or instruments at a net cost below the current market value. A Fund has the obligation to buy the securities or instruments at an agreed upon price if the price of the securities or instruments decreases below the exercise price. If the price of the securities or instruments increases during the option period, the option will expire worthless and a Fund will retain the premium and will not have to purchase the securities or instruments at the exercise price. In connection with such a transaction, a Fund will segregate unencumbered liquid assets with a value at least equal to the Fund’s exposure, on a marked-to-market basis (as calculated pursuant to requirements of the Commission). Such segregation will ensure that a Fund has assets available to satisfy its obligations with respect to the transaction and will avoid any potential leveraging of the Fund’s portfolio. Such segregation will not limit the Fund’s exposure to loss.

Options on Government National Mortgage Association (“GNMA”) Certificates. The following information relates to the unique characteristics of options on GNMA Certificates. Since the remaining principal balance of GNMA Certificates declines each month as a result of mortgage payments, a Fund, as a writer of a GNMA call holding GNMA Certificates as “cover” to satisfy its delivery obligation in the event of exercise, may find that the GNMA Certificates it holds no longer have a sufficient remaining principal balance for this purpose. Should this occur, a Fund will purchase additional GNMA Certificates from the same pool (if obtainable) or other GNMA Certificates in the cash market in order to maintain its “cover.”

A GNMA Certificate held by a Fund to cover an option position in any but the nearest expiration month may cease to represent cover for the option in the event of a decline in the GNMA coupon rate at which new pools are originated under the FHA/VA loan ceiling in effect at any given time. If this should occur, a Fund will no longer be covered, and the Fund will either enter into a closing purchase transaction or replace such Certificate with a certificate that represents cover. When a Fund closes its position or replaces such Certificate, it may realize an unanticipated loss and incur transaction costs.

Risks Associated with Options. There are several risks associated with transactions in options on securities and indexes. For example, there are significant differences between the securities and options markets that could result in an imperfect correlation between these markets, causing a given transaction not to achieve its objectives. In addition, a liquid secondary market for particular options, whether traded over-the-counter or on a national securities exchange (“Exchange”) may be absent for reasons which include the following: there may be insufficient trading interest in certain options; restrictions may be imposed by an Exchange on opening transactions or closing transactions or both; trading halts, suspensions or other restrictions may be imposed with respect to particular classes or series of options or underlying securities; unusual or unforeseen circumstances may interrupt normal operations on an Exchange; the facilities of an Exchange or the Options Clearing Corporation may not at all times be adequate to handle current trading volume; or one or more Exchanges could, for economic or other reasons, decide or be compelled at some future date to discontinue the trading of options (or a particular class or series of options), in which event the secondary market on that Exchange (or in that class or series of options) would cease to exist, although outstanding options that had been issued by the Options Clearing Corporation as a result of trades on that Exchange would continue to be exercisable in accordance with their terms.

Futures

A Fund may engage in transactions in futures and options on futures. Futures are standardized, exchange-traded contracts that obligate a purchaser to take delivery, and a seller to make delivery, of a specific amount of an asset at a specified future date at a specified price. No price is paid upon entering into a futures contract. Rather, upon purchasing or selling a futures contract a Fund is required to deposit collateral (“margin”) equal to a percentage (generally less than 10%) of the contract value. Each day

 

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thereafter until the futures position is closed, the Fund will pay additional margin representing any loss experienced as a result of the futures position the prior day or be entitled to a payment representing any profit experienced as a result of the futures position the prior day. Futures involve substantial leverage risk.

The sale of a futures contract limits a Fund’s risk of loss from a decline in the market value of portfolio holdings correlated with the futures contract prior to the futures contract’s expiration date. In the event the market value of the portfolio holdings correlated with the futures contract increases rather than decreases, however, a Fund will realize a loss on the futures position and a lower return on the portfolio holdings than would have been realized without the purchase of the futures contract.

The purchase of a futures contract may protect a Fund from having to pay more for securities as a consequence of increases in the market value for such securities during a period when the Fund was attempting to identify specific securities in which to invest in a market the Fund believes to be attractive. In the event that such securities decline in value or a Fund determines not to complete an anticipatory hedge transaction relating to a futures contract, however, the Fund may realize a loss relating to the futures position.

A Fund is also authorized to purchase or sell call and put options on futures contracts including financial futures and stock indices. Generally, these strategies would be used under the same market and market sector conditions (i.e., conditions relating to specific types of investments) in which the Fund entered into futures transactions. A Fund may purchase put options or write call options on futures contracts and stock indices in lieu of selling the underlying futures contract in anticipation of a decrease in the market value of its securities. Similarly, a Fund can purchase call options, or write put options on futures contracts and stock indices, as a substitute for the purchase of such futures to hedge against the increased cost resulting from an increase in the market value of securities which the Fund intends to purchase.

To maintain greater flexibility, a Fund may invest in instruments which have characteristics similar to futures contracts. These instruments may take a variety of forms, such as debt securities with interest or principal payments determined by reference to the value of a security, an index of securities or a commodity at a future point in time. The risks of such investments could reflect the risks of investing in futures and securities, including volatility and illiquidity.

When a Fund engages in transactions in futures and options on futures, the Fund will segregate liquid assets with a value at least equal to the Fund’s exposure, on a mark-to-market basis, to the transactions (as calculated pursuant to requirements of the Commission).

Risks Associated with Futures. The primary risks associated with the use of futures contracts and options are (a) the imperfect correlation between the change in market value of the instruments held by a Fund and the price of the futures contract or option; (b) possible lack of a liquid secondary market for a futures contract and the resulting inability to close a futures contract when desired; (c) losses caused by unanticipated market movements, which are potentially unlimited; (d) the Manager’s or sub-adviser’s inability to predict correctly the direction of securities prices, interest rates, currency exchange rates and other economic factors; and (e) the possibility that the counterparty will default in the performance of its obligations.

Foreign Exchange Transactions. A Fund may engage in spot and forward foreign exchange transactions and currency swaps, purchase and sell options on currencies and purchase and sell currency futures and related options thereon (collectively, “Currency Instruments”) for purposes of hedging against the decline in the value of currencies in which its portfolio holdings are denominated against the U.S. dollar or, with respect to certain Funds, to seek to enhance returns. Such transactions could be effected with respect to hedges on foreign dollar denominated securities owned by a Fund, sold by a Fund but not yet delivered, or committed or anticipated to be purchased by a Fund. As an illustration, a Fund may use such techniques to hedge the stated value in U.S. dollars of an investment in a yen-denominated security. In such circumstances, for example, the Fund may purchase a foreign currency put option enabling it to sell a specified amount of yen for dollars at a specified price by a future date. To the extent the hedge is successful, a loss in the value of the yen relative to the dollar will tend to be offset by an increase in the value of the put option. To offset, in whole or in part, the cost of acquiring such a put option, the Fund may also sell a call option which, if exercised, requires it to sell a specified amount of yen for dollars at a specified price by a future date (a technique called a “straddle”). By selling such a call option in this illustration, the Fund gives up the opportunity to profit without limit from increases in the relative value of the yen to the dollar. “Straddles” of the type that may be used by a Fund are considered to constitute hedging transactions. Certain Funds have a fundamental investment restriction that restricts currency option straddles. No Fund will attempt to hedge all of its foreign portfolio positions.

Forward Foreign Exchange Transactions. Forward foreign exchange transactions are OTC contracts to purchase or sell a specified amount of a specified currency or multinational currency unit at a price and future date set at the time of the contract. Spot foreign exchange transactions are similar but require current, rather than future, settlement.

 

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A Fund will enter into foreign exchange transactions for purposes of hedging either a specific transaction or a portfolio position, or, with respect to certain Funds, to seek to enhance returns. A Fund may enter into a foreign exchange transaction for purposes of hedging a specific transaction by, for example, purchasing a currency needed to settle a security transaction or selling a currency in which the Fund has received or anticipates receiving a dividend or distribution. A Fund may enter into a foreign exchange transaction for purposes of hedging a portfolio position by selling forward a currency in which a portfolio position of the Fund is denominated or by purchasing a currency in which the Fund anticipates acquiring a portfolio position in the near future. Forward foreign exchange transactions involve substantial currency risk, and also involve credit and liquidity risk. A Fund may also hedge a currency by entering into a transaction in a Currency Instrument denominated in a currency other than the currency being hedged (a “cross-hedge”). A Fund will only enter into a cross-hedge if the Manager believes that (i) there is a demonstrably high correlation between the currency in which the cross-hedge is denominated and the currency being hedged, and (ii) executing a cross-hedge through the currency in which the cross-hedge is denominated will be significantly more cost-effective or provide substantially greater liquidity than executing a similar hedging transaction by means of the currency being hedged.

A Fund may also engage in proxy hedging transactions to reduce the effect of currency fluctuations on the value of existing or anticipated holdings of portfolio securities. Proxy hedging is often used when the currency to which the Fund is exposed is difficult to hedge or to hedge against the dollar. Proxy hedging entails entering into a forward contract to sell a currency whose changes in value are generally considered to be linked to a currency or currencies in which some or all of the Fund’s securities are, or are expected to be, denominated, and to buy U.S. dollars. Proxy hedging involves some of the same risks and considerations as other transactions with similar instruments. Currency transactions can result in losses to the Fund if the currency being hedged fluctuates in value to a degree or in a direction that is not anticipated. In addition, there is the risk that the perceived linkage between various currencies may not be present or may not be present during the particular time that a Fund is engaging in proxy hedging. A Fund may also cross-hedge currencies by entering into forward contracts to sell one or more currencies that are expected to decline in value relative to other currencies to which the Fund has or in which the Fund expects to have portfolio exposure. For example, a Fund may hold both Canadian government bonds and Japanese government bonds, and the adviser or sub-adviser may believe that Canadian dollars will deteriorate against Japanese yen. The Fund would sell Canadian dollars to reduce its exposure to that currency and buy Japanese yen. This strategy would be a hedge against a decline in the value of Canadian dollars, although it would expose the Fund to declines in the value of the Japanese yen relative to the U.S. dollar.

Some of the forward non-U.S. currency contracts entered into by the Funds are classified as non-deliverable forwards (NDF). NDFs are cash-settled, short-term forward contracts that may be thinly traded or are denominated in non-convertible foreign currency, where the profit or loss at the time at the 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. All NDFs have a fixing date and a settlement date. The fixing date is the 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 of one month 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.

Currency Futures. A Fund may also seek to enhance returns or hedge against the decline in the value of a currency through use of currency futures or options thereon. Currency futures are similar to forward foreign exchange transactions except that futures are standardized, exchange-traded contracts while forward foreign exchange transactions are traded in the OTC market. Currency futures involve substantial currency risk, and also involve leverage risk.

Currency Options. A Fund may also seek to enhance returns or hedge against the decline in the value of a currency through the use of currency options. Certain Funds have fundamental restrictions that permit the purchase of currency options, but prohibit the writing of currency options. Currency options are similar to options on securities. For example, in consideration for an option premium the writer of a currency option is obligated to sell (in the case of a call option) or purchase (in the case of a put option) a specified amount of a specified currency on or before the expiration date for a specified amount of another currency. A Fund may engage in transactions in options on currencies either on exchanges or OTC markets. See “Types of Options” above and “Additional Risk Factors of OTC Transactions; Limitations on the Use of OTC Derivatives” below. Currency options involve substantial currency risk, and may also involve credit, leverage or liquidity risk.

Currency Swaps. In order to protect against currency fluctuations, a Fund may enter into currency swaps. A Fund may also hedge portfolio positions through currency swaps, which are transactions in which one currency is simultaneously bought for a second currency on a spot basis and sold for the second currency on a forward basis. Currency swaps involve the exchange of the rights of

 

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a Fund and another party to make or receive payments in specified currencies. Currency swaps usually involve the delivery of the entire principal value of one designated currency in exchange for the other designated currency. Because currency swaps usually involve the delivery of the entire principal value of one designated currency in exchange for the other designated currency, the entire principal value of a currency swap is subject to the risk that the other party to the swap will default on its contractual delivery obligations.

Limitations on Currency Transactions. A Fund will not hedge a currency in excess of the aggregate market value of the securities that it owns (including receivables for unsettled securities sales), or has committed to purchase or anticipates purchasing, which are denominated in such currency. Open positions in forward foreign exchange transactions used for non-hedging purposes will be covered by the segregation of liquid assets and are marked to market daily. A Fund’s exposure to futures or options on currencies will be covered as described below under “Risk Factors in Derivatives.”

Risk Factors in Hedging Foreign Currency. Hedging transactions involving Currency Instruments involve substantial risks, including correlation risk. While a Fund’s use of Currency Instruments to effect hedging strategies is intended to reduce the volatility of the net asset value of the Fund’s shares, the net asset value of the Fund’s shares will fluctuate. Moreover, although Currency Instruments will be used with the intention of hedging against adverse currency movements, transactions in Currency Instruments involve the risk that anticipated currency movements will not be accurately predicted and that the Fund’s hedging strategies will be ineffective. To the extent that a Fund hedges against anticipated currency movements that do not occur, the Fund may realize losses and decrease its total return as the result of its hedging transactions. Furthermore, a Fund will only engage in hedging activities from time to time and may not be engaging in hedging activities when movements in currency exchange rates occur.

In connection with its trading in forward foreign currency contracts, a Fund will contract with a foreign or domestic bank, or foreign or domestic securities dealer, to make or take future delivery of a specified amount of a particular currency. There are no limitations on daily price moves in such 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 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 forward contract trading. With respect to its trading of 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. Any such default would deprive the Fund of any profit potential or force the Fund to cover its commitments for resale, if any, at the then market price and could result in a loss to the Fund.

It may not be possible for a Fund to hedge against currency exchange rate movements, even if correctly anticipated, in the event that (i) the currency exchange rate movement is so generally anticipated that the Fund is not able to enter into a hedging transaction at an effective price, or (ii) the currency exchange rate movement relates to a market with respect to which Currency Instruments are not available and it is not possible to engage in effective foreign currency hedging. The cost to a Fund of engaging in foreign currency transactions varies with such factors as the currencies involved, the length of the contract period and the market conditions then prevailing. Since transactions in foreign currency exchange usually are conducted on a principal basis, no fees or commissions are involved.

Risk Factors in Derivatives

Derivatives are volatile and involve significant risks, including:

Credit Risk — the risk that the counterparty in a derivative transaction will be unable to honor its financial obligation to a Fund, or the risk that the reference entity in a credit default swap or similar derivative will not be able to honor its financial obligations.

Currency Risk — the risk that changes in the exchange rate between two currencies will adversely affect the value (in U.S. dollar terms) of an investment.

Leverage Risk — the risk associated with certain types of investments or trading strategies (such as, for example, borrowing money to increase the amount of investments) that relatively small market movements may result in large changes in the value of an investment. Certain investments or trading strategies that involve leverage can result in losses that greatly exceed the amount originally invested.

Liquidity Risk — the risk that certain securities may be difficult or impossible to sell at the time that the seller would like or at the price that the seller believes the security is currently worth.

 

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Correlation Risk — the risk that changes in the value of a derivative will not match the changes in the value of the portfolio holdings that are being hedged or of the particular market or security to which the Fund seeks exposure.

Index Risk — If the derivative is linked to the performance of an index, it will be subject to the risks associated with changes in that index. If the index changes, a Fund could receive lower interest payments or experience a reduction in the value of the derivative to below what that Fund paid. Certain indexed securities, including inverse securities (which move in an opposite direction to the index), may create leverage, to the extent that they increase or decrease in value at a rate that is a multiple of the changes in the applicable index.

A Fund intends to enter into transactions involving derivatives only if there appears to be a liquid secondary market for such instruments or, in the case of illiquid instruments traded in OTC transactions, such instruments satisfy the criteria set forth below under “Additional Risk Factors of OTC Transactions; Limitations on the Use of OTC Derivatives.” However, there can be no assurance that, at any specific time, either a liquid secondary market will exist for a derivative or the Fund will otherwise be able to sell such instrument at an acceptable price. It may, therefore, not be possible to close a position in a derivative without incurring substantial losses, if at all.

Certain transactions in derivatives (such as futures transactions or sales of put options) involve substantial leverage risk and may expose a Fund to potential losses that exceed the amount originally invested by the Fund. When a Fund engages in such a transaction, the Fund will segregate liquid assets with a value at least equal to the Fund’s exposure, on a mark-to-market basis, to the transaction (as calculated pursuant to requirements of the Commission).

Additional Risk Factors of OTC Transactions; Limitations on the Use of OTC Derivatives

Certain derivatives traded in OTC markets, including indexed securities, swaps and OTC options, involve substantial liquidity risk. The absence of liquidity may make it difficult or impossible for a Fund to sell such instruments promptly at an acceptable price. The absence of liquidity may also make it more difficult for a Fund to ascertain a market value for such instruments. A Fund will, therefore, acquire illiquid OTC instruments (i) if the agreement pursuant to which the instrument is purchased contains a formula price at which the instrument may be terminated or sold, or (ii) for which the Manager anticipates the Fund can receive on each business day at least two independent bids or offers, unless a quotation from only one dealer is available, in which case that dealer’s quotation may be used.

Because derivatives traded in OTC markets are not guaranteed by an exchange or clearing corporation and may not require payment of margin, to the extent that a Fund has unrealized gains in such instruments or has deposited collateral with its counterparty the Fund is at risk that its counterparty will become bankrupt or otherwise fail to honor its obligations. A Fund will attempt to minimize these risks by engaging in transactions in derivatives traded in OTC markets only with financial institutions that have substantial capital or that have provided the Fund with a third-party guaranty or other credit enhancement.

Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, regulations are now in effect that require swap dealers to post and collect variation margin (comprised of specified liquid instruments and subject to a required haircut) in connection with trading of OTC swaps with a Fund. Shares of investment companies (other than certain money market funds) may not be posted as collateral under these regulations. Requirements for posting of initial margin in connection with OTC swaps will be phased-in through 2020. In addition, regulations adopted by prudential regulators that will begin to take effect in 2019 will require certain bank-regulated counterparties and certain of their affiliates to include in certain financial contracts, including many derivatives contracts, terms that delay or restrict the rights of counterparties, such as a Fund, to terminate such contracts, 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 new requirements, as well as potential additional government regulation and other developments in the market, could adversely affect a Fund’s ability to terminate existing derivatives agreements or to realize amounts to be received under such agreements.

Distressed Securities. A Fund may invest in securities, including loans purchased in the secondary market, that are the subject of bankruptcy proceedings or otherwise in default or in risk of being in default as to the repayment of principal and/or interest at the time of acquisition by the Fund or that are rated in the lower rating categories by one or more nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (for example, Ca or lower by Moody’s and CC or lower by S&P or Fitch) or, if unrated, are in the judgment of the Manager of equivalent quality (“Distressed Securities”). Investment in Distressed Securities is speculative and involves significant risks.

 

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A Fund will generally make such investments only when the Manager believes it is reasonably likely that the issuer of the Distressed Securities will make an exchange offer or will be the subject of a plan of reorganization pursuant to which the Fund will receive new securities in return for the Distressed Securities. However, there can be no assurance that such an exchange offer will be made or that such a plan of reorganization will be adopted. In addition, a significant period of time may pass between the time at which a Fund makes its investment in Distressed Securities and the time that any such exchange offer or plan of reorganization is completed. During this period, it is unlikely that a Fund will receive any interest payments on the Distressed Securities, the Fund will be subject to significant uncertainty as to whether or not the exchange offer or plan of reorganization will be completed and the Fund may be required to bear certain extraordinary expenses to protect and recover its investment. Therefore, to the extent the Fund seeks capital appreciation through investment in distressed securities, the Fund’s ability to achieve current income for its shareholders may be diminished. The Fund also will be subject to significant uncertainty as to when and in what manner and for what value the obligations evidenced by the distressed securities will eventually be satisfied (e.g., through a liquidation of the obligor’s assets, an exchange offer or plan of reorganization involving the distressed securities or a payment of some amount in satisfaction of the obligation). Even if an exchange offer is made or plan of reorganization is adopted with respect to Distressed Securities held by a Fund, there can be no assurance that the securities or other assets received by a Fund in connection with such exchange offer or plan of reorganization will not have a lower value or income potential than may have been anticipated when the investment was made or no value. Moreover, any securities received by a Fund upon completion of an exchange offer or plan of reorganization may be restricted as to resale. Similarly, if a Fund participates in negotiations with respect to any exchange offer or plan of reorganization with respect to an issuer of Distressed Securities, the Fund may be restricted from disposing of such securities. To the extent that a Fund becomes involved in such proceedings, the Fund may have a more active participation in the affairs of the issuer than that assumed generally by an investor. The Fund, however, will not make investments for the purpose of exercising day-to-day management of any issuer’s affairs.

Dollar Rolls. A dollar roll transaction involves a sale by the Fund of a mortgage-backed or other security concurrently with an agreement by the Fund to repurchase a similar security at a later date at an agreed-upon price. The securities that are repurchased will bear the same interest rate and a similar maturity as those sold, but pools of mortgages collateralizing those securities may have different prepayment histories than those sold. During the period between the sale and repurchase, a Fund will not be entitled to receive interest and principal payments on the securities sold. Proceeds of the sale will be invested in additional instruments for the Fund, and the income from these investments will generate income for the Fund. If such income does not exceed the income, capital appreciation and gain or loss that would have been realized on the securities sold as part of the dollar roll, the use of this technique will diminish the investment performance of a Fund compared with what the performance would have been without the use of dollar rolls. At the time a Fund enters into a dollar roll transaction, the Manager or sub-adviser will designate assets on its books and records in an amount equal to the amount of the Fund’s commitments and will subsequently monitor the account to ensure that its value is maintained.

Dollar rolls involve the risk that the market value of the securities subject to a Fund’s forward purchase commitment may decline below, or the market value of the securities subject to a Fund’s forward sale commitment may increase above, the exercise price of the forward commitment. In the event the buyer of the securities files for bankruptcy or becomes insolvent, a Fund’s use of the proceeds of the current sale portion of the transaction may be restricted pending a determination by the other party, or its trustee or receiver, whether to enforce the Fund’s obligation to purchase the similar securities in the forward transaction. Dollar rolls are speculative techniques that can be deemed to involve leverage. At the time a Fund sells securities and agrees to repurchase securities at a future date, the Fund will segregate liquid assets with a value equal to the repurchase price. A Fund may engage in dollar roll transactions to enhance return. Each dollar roll transaction is accounted for as a sale or purchase of a portfolio security and a subsequent purchase or sale of a substantially similar security in the forward market. Successful use of mortgage dollar rolls may depend upon the Manager’s ability to correctly predict interest rates and prepayments. There is no assurance that dollar rolls can be successfully employed.

Equity Securities. Equity securities include common stock and, for certain Funds, preferred stock (including convertible preferred stock); bonds, notes and debentures convertible into common or preferred stock; stock purchase warrants and rights; equity interests in trusts; general and limited partnerships and limited liability companies; and depositary receipts. Stock markets are volatile. The price of equity securities will fluctuate and can decline and reduce the value of a portfolio investing in equities. The price of equity securities fluctuates based on changes in a company’s financial condition and overall market and economic conditions. The value of equity securities purchased by the Fund could decline if the financial condition of the companies the Fund invests in decline or if overall market and economic conditions deteriorate. They may also decline due to factors that affect a particular industry or industries, such as labor shortages or increase in production costs and competitive conditions within an

 

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industry. In addition, they may decline due to general market conditions that are not specifically related to a company or industry, such as real or perceived adverse economic conditions, changes in the general outlook for corporate earnings, changes in interest or currency rates or generally adverse investor sentiment.

From time to time certain of the Funds may invest in shares of companies through initial public offerings (“IPOs”). IPOs have the potential to produce, and have in fact produced, substantial gains for certain Funds. There is no assurance that any Fund will have continued access to profitable IPOs and therefore investors should not rely on these past gains as an indication of future performance. The investment performance of a Fund during periods when it is unable to invest significantly or at all in IPOs may be lower than during periods when it is able to do so. In addition, as a Fund increases in size, the impact of IPOs on its performance will generally decrease. Securities issued in IPOs are subject to many of the same risks as investing in companies with smaller market capitalizations. Securities issued in IPOs have no trading history, and information about the companies may be available for very limited periods. In addition, the prices of securities sold in IPOs may be highly volatile or may decline shortly after the initial public offering.

The Funds may invest in companies that have relatively small market capitalizations. These organizations will normally have more limited product lines, markets and financial resources and will be dependent upon a more limited management group than larger capitalized companies. In addition, it is more difficult to get information on smaller companies, which tend to be less well known, have shorter operating histories, do not have significant ownership by large investors and are followed by relatively few securities analysts. The securities of smaller capitalized companies are often traded in the OTC markets and may have fewer market makers and wider price spreads. This may result in greater price movements and less ability to sell a Fund’s investment than if the Fund held the securities of larger, more established companies.

Exchange Traded Notes (“ETNs”). Certain Funds may invest in ETNs. ETNs are generally notes representing debt of the issuer, usually a financial institution. ETNs combine both aspects of bonds and ETFs. An ETN’s returns are based on the performance of one or more underlying assets, reference rates or indexes, minus fees and expenses. Similar to ETFs, ETNs are listed on an exchange and traded in the secondary market. However, unlike an ETF, an ETN can be held until the ETN’s maturity, at which time the issuer will pay a return linked to the performance of the specific asset, index or rate (“reference instrument”) to which the ETN is linked minus certain fees. Unlike regular bonds, ETNs do not make periodic interest payments, and principal is not protected.

The value of an ETN may be influenced by, among other things, time to maturity, level of supply and demand for the ETN, volatility and lack of liquidity in underlying markets, changes in the applicable interest rates, the performance of the reference instrument, changes in the issuer’s credit rating and economic, legal, political or geographic events that affect the reference instrument. An ETN that is tied to a reference instrument may not replicate the performance of the reference instrument. ETNs also incur certain expenses not incurred by their applicable reference instrument. Some ETNs that use leverage can, at times, be relatively illiquid and, thus, they may be difficult to purchase or sell at a fair price. Levered ETNs are subject to the same risk as other instruments that use leverage in any form. While leverage allows for greater potential return, the potential for loss is also greater. Finally, additional losses may be incurred if the investment loses value because, in addition to the money lost on the investment, the loan still needs to be repaid.

Because the return on the ETN is dependent on the issuer’s ability or willingness to meet its obligations, the value of the ETN may change due to a change in the issuer’s credit rating, despite no change in the underlying reference instrument. The market value of ETN shares may differ from the value of the reference instrument. This difference in price may be due to the fact that the supply and demand in the market for ETN shares at any point in time is not always identical to the supply and demand in the market for the assets underlying the reference instrument that the ETN seeks to track.

There may be restrictions on the Fund’s right to redeem its investment in an ETN, which are generally meant to be held until maturity. The Fund’s decision to sell its ETN holdings may be limited by the availability of a secondary market. An investor in an ETN could lose some or all of the amount invested.

Foreign Investment Risks. Certain Funds may invest in foreign securities, including securities from issuers located in emerging market countries. These securities may be denominated in U.S. dollars or in a foreign currency. Investing in foreign securities involves risks not typically associated with investing in securities of companies organized and operated in the United States that can increase the chances that a Fund will lose money.

Securities issued by certain companies organized outside the United States may not be deemed to be foreign securities (but rather deemed to be U.S. securities) if (i) the company’s principal operations are conducted from the U.S., (ii) the company’s equity

 

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securities trade principally on a U.S. stock exchange, (iii) the company does a substantial amount of business in the U.S. or (iv) the issuer of securities is included in the Fund’s primary U.S. benchmark index.

In addition to equity securities, foreign investments of the Funds may include: (a) debt obligations issued or guaranteed by foreign sovereign governments or their agencies, authorities, instrumentalities or political subdivisions, including a foreign state, province or municipality; (b) debt obligations of supranational organizations; (c) debt obligations of foreign banks and bank holding companies; (d) debt obligations of domestic banks and corporations issued in foreign currencies; (e) debt obligations denominated in the Euro; and (f) foreign corporate debt securities and commercial paper. Such securities may include loan participations and assignments, convertible securities and zero-coupon securities.

Dividends or interest on, or proceeds from the sale of, foreign securities may be subject to foreign withholding taxes.

Foreign Market Risk. Funds that may invest in foreign securities offer the potential for more diversification than a Fund that invests only in the United States because securities traded on foreign markets have often (though not always) performed differently from securities traded in the United States. However, such investments often involve risks not present in U.S. investments that can increase the chances that a Fund will lose money. In particular, a Fund is subject to the risk that, because there are generally fewer investors on foreign exchanges and a smaller number of shares traded each day, it may be difficult for the Fund to buy and sell securities on those exchanges. In addition, prices of foreign securities may fluctuate more than prices of securities traded in the United States. Investments in foreign markets may also be adversely affected by governmental actions such as the imposition of punitive taxes. In addition, the governments of certain countries may prohibit or impose substantial restrictions on foreign investing in their capital markets or in certain industries. Any of these actions could severely affect security prices, impair a Fund’s ability to purchase or sell foreign securities or transfer the Fund’s assets or income back into the United States, or otherwise adversely affect a Fund’s operations. Other potential foreign market risks include exchange controls, difficulties in pricing securities, defaults on foreign government securities, difficulties in enforcing favorable legal judgments in foreign courts, and political and social conditions, such as diplomatic relations, confiscatory taxation, expropriation, limitation on the removal of funds or assets, or imposition of (or change in) exchange control regulations. Legal remedies available to investors in certain foreign countries may be less extensive than those available to investors in the United States or other foreign countries. In addition, changes in government administrations or economic or monetary policies in the U.S. or abroad could result in appreciation or depreciation of portfolio securities and could favorably or adversely affect a Fund’s operations.

Foreign Economy Risk. The economies of certain foreign markets often do not compare favorably with that of the United States with respect to such issues as growth of gross national product, reinvestment of capital, resources, and balance of payments position. Certain such economies may rely heavily on particular industries or foreign capital and are more vulnerable to diplomatic developments, the imposition of economic sanctions against a particular country or countries, changes in international trading patterns, trade barriers, and other protectionist or retaliatory measures.

Currency Risk and Exchange Risk. Because foreign securities generally are denominated and pay dividends or interest in foreign currencies, the value of a Fund that invests in foreign securities as measured in U.S. dollars will be affected favorably or unfavorably by changes in exchange rates. Generally, when the U.S. dollar rises in value against a foreign currency, a security denominated in that currency loses value because the currency is worth fewer U.S. dollars. Conversely, when the U.S. dollar decreases in value against a foreign currency, a security denominated in that currency gains value because the currency is worth more U.S. dollars. This risk, generally known as “currency risk,” means that a stronger U.S. dollar will reduce returns for U.S. investors while a weak U.S. dollar will increase those returns.

Governmental Supervision and Regulation/Accounting Standards. Many foreign governments supervise and regulate stock exchanges, brokers and the sale of securities less than does the United States. Some countries may not have laws to protect investors comparable to the U.S. securities laws. For example, some foreign countries may have no laws or rules against insider trading. Insider trading occurs when a person buys or sells a company’s securities based on nonpublic information about that company. Accounting standards in other countries are not necessarily the same as in the United States. If the accounting standards in another country do not require as much detail as U.S. accounting standards, it may be harder for Fund management to completely and accurately determine a company’s financial condition. In addition, the U.S. Government has from time to time in the past imposed restrictions, through penalties and otherwise, on foreign investments by U.S. investors such as the Fund. If such restrictions should be reinstituted, it might become necessary for the Fund to invest all or substantially all of its assets in U.S. securities. Also, brokerage commissions and other costs of buying or selling securities often are higher in foreign countries than they are in the United States. This reduces the amount the Fund can earn on its investments.

 

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Certain Risks of Holding Fund Assets Outside the United States. A Fund generally holds its foreign securities and cash in foreign banks and securities depositories. Some foreign banks and securities depositories may be recently organized or new to the foreign custody business. In addition, there may be limited or no regulatory oversight over their operations. Also, the laws of certain countries may put limits on a Fund’s ability to recover its assets if a foreign bank or depository or issuer of a security or any of their agents goes bankrupt. In addition, it is often more expensive for a Fund to buy, sell and hold securities in certain foreign markets than in the United States. The increased expense of investing in foreign markets reduces the amount a Fund can earn on its investments and typically results in a higher operating expense ratio for the Fund as compared to investment companies that invest only in the United States.

Publicly Available Information. In general, less information is publicly available with respect to foreign issuers than is available with respect to U.S. companies. Most foreign companies are also not subject to the uniform accounting and financial reporting requirements applicable to issuers in the United States. While the volume of transactions effected on foreign stock exchanges has increased in recent years, it remains appreciably below that of the New York Stock Exchange. Accordingly, a Fund’s foreign investments may be less liquid and their prices may be more volatile than comparable investments in securities in U.S. companies. In addition, there is generally less government supervision and regulation of securities exchanges, brokers and issuers in foreign countries than in the United States.

Settlement Risk. Settlement and clearance procedures in certain foreign markets differ significantly from those in the United States. Foreign settlement procedures and trade regulations also may involve certain risks (such as delays in payment for or delivery of securities) not typically generated by the settlement of U.S. investments. Communications between the United States and emerging market countries may be unreliable, increasing the risk of delayed settlements or losses of security certificates in markets that still rely on physical settlement. Settlements in certain foreign countries at times have not kept pace with the number of securities transactions; these problems may make it difficult for a Fund to carry out transactions. If a Fund cannot settle or is delayed in settling a purchase of securities, it may miss attractive investment opportunities and certain of its assets may be uninvested with no return earned thereon for some period. If a Fund cannot settle or is delayed in settling a sale of securities, it may lose money if the value of the security then declines or, if it has contracted to sell the security to another party, the Fund could be liable to that party for any losses incurred.

Funding Agreements. Certain Funds may invest in Guaranteed Investment Contracts and similar funding agreements. In connection with these investments, a Fund makes cash contributions to a deposit fund of an insurance company’s general account. The insurance company then credits to the Fund on a monthly basis guaranteed interest, which is based on an index (such as LIBOR). The funding agreements provide that this guaranteed interest will not be less than a certain minimum rate. The purchase price paid for a funding agreement becomes part of the general assets of the insurance company, and the contract is paid from the general assets of the insurance company. Generally, funding agreements are not assignable or transferable without the permission of the issuing insurance companies, and an active secondary market in some funding agreements does not currently exist.

Guarantees. A Fund may purchase securities which contain guarantees issued by an entity separate from the issuer of the security. Generally, the guarantor of a security (often an affiliate of the issuer) will fulfill an issuer’s payment obligations under a security if the issuer is unable to do so.

Illiquid or Restricted Securities. Each Fund may invest up to 15% of its net assets in securities that lack an established secondary trading market or otherwise are considered illiquid. Liquidity of a security relates to the ability to dispose easily of the security and the price to be obtained upon disposition of the security, which may be less than would be obtained for a comparable more liquid security. Illiquid securities may trade at a discount from comparable, more liquid investments. Investment of a Fund’s assets in illiquid securities may restrict the ability of the Fund to dispose of its investments in a timely fashion and for a fair price as well as its ability to take advantage of market opportunities. The risks associated with illiquidity will be particularly acute where a Fund’s operations require cash, such as when the Fund redeems shares or pays dividends, and could result in the Fund borrowing to meet short term cash requirements or incurring capital losses on the sale of illiquid investments.

A Fund may invest in securities that are not registered under the Securities Act (“restricted securities”). Restricted securities may be sold in private placement transactions between issuers and their purchasers and may be neither listed on an exchange nor traded in other established markets. In many cases, privately placed securities may not be freely transferable under the laws of the applicable jurisdiction or due to contractual restrictions on resale. As a result of the absence of a public trading market, privately placed securities may be less liquid and more difficult to value than publicly traded securities. To the extent that privately placed securities may be resold in privately negotiated transactions, the prices realized from the sales, due to illiquidity, could be less than those

 

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originally paid by the Fund or less than their fair market value. In addition, issuers whose securities are not publicly traded may not be subject to the disclosure and other investor protection requirements that may be applicable if their securities were publicly traded. If any privately placed securities held by a Fund are required to be registered under the securities laws of one or more jurisdictions before being resold, the Fund may be required to bear the expenses of registration. Certain of the Fund’s investments in private placements may consist of direct investments and may include investments in smaller, less seasoned issuers, which may involve greater risks. These issuers may have limited product lines, markets or financial resources, or they may be dependent on a limited management group. In making investments in such securities, a Fund may obtain access to material nonpublic information, which may restrict the Fund’s ability to conduct portfolio transactions in such securities.

Some of these securities are new and complex, and trade only among institutions; the markets for these securities are still developing, and may not function as efficiently as established markets. Owning a large percentage of restricted or illiquid securities could hamper the Fund’s ability to raise cash to meet redemptions. Also, because there may not be an established market price for these securities, the Fund may have to estimate their value, which means that their valuation (and, to a much smaller extent, the valuation of the Fund) may have a subjective element. Transactions in restricted or illiquid securities may entail registration expense and other transaction costs that are higher than those for transactions in unrestricted or liquid securities. Where registration is required for restricted or illiquid securities a considerable time period may elapse between the time the Fund decides to sell the security and the time it is actually permitted to sell the security under an effective registration statement. If during such period, adverse market conditions were to develop, the Fund might obtain less favorable pricing terms that when it decided to sell the security.

Inflation-Indexed Bonds. Certain Funds may invest in inflation-indexed bonds, which are fixed-income securities or other instruments whose principal value is periodically adjusted according to the rate of inflation. Two structures are common. The U.S. Treasury and some other issuers use a structure that accrues inflation into the principal value of the bond. Most other issuers pay out the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”) accruals as part of a semi-annual coupon.

Inflation-indexed securities issued by the U.S. Treasury have maturities of five, ten or thirty years, although it is possible that securities with other maturities will be issued in the future. The U.S. Treasury securities pay interest on a semi-annual basis, equal to a fixed percentage of the inflation-adjusted principal amount. For example, if a Fund purchased an inflation-indexed bond with a par value of $1,000 and a 3% real rate of return coupon (payable 1.5% semi-annually), and inflation over the first six months was 1%, the mid-year par value of the bond would be $1,010 and the first semi-annual interest payment would be $15.15 ($1,010 times 1.5%). If inflation during the second half of the year resulted in the whole year’s inflation equaling 3%, the end-of-year par value of the bond would be $1,030 and the second semi-annual interest payment would be $15.45 ($1,030 times 1.5%).

If the periodic adjustment rate measuring inflation falls, the principal value of inflation-indexed bonds will be adjusted downward, and, consequently, the interest payable on these securities (calculated with respect to a smaller principal amount) will be reduced. Repayment of the original bond principal upon maturity (as adjusted for inflation) is guaranteed in the case of U.S. Treasury inflation-indexed bonds, even during a period of deflation. However, the current market value of the bonds is not guaranteed, and will fluctuate. Certain Funds may also invest in other inflation related bonds which may or may not provide a similar guarantee. If a guarantee of principal is not provided, the adjusted principal value of the bond repaid at maturity may be less than the original principal. In addition, if the Fund purchases inflation-indexed bonds offered by foreign issuers, the rate of inflation measured by the foreign inflation index may not be correlated to the rate of inflation in the United States.

The value of inflation-indexed bonds is expected to change in response to changes in real interest rates. Real interest rates, in turn, are tied to the relationship between nominal interest rates and the rate of inflation. Therefore, if inflation were to rise at a faster rate than nominal interest rates, real interest rates might decline, leading to an increase in value of inflation-indexed bonds. In contrast, if nominal interest rates increased at a faster rate than inflation, real interest rates might rise, leading to a decrease in value of inflation-indexed bonds. There can be no assurance, however, that the value of inflation-indexed bonds will be directly correlated to changes in interest rates.

While these securities are expected to be protected from long-term inflationary trends, short-term increases in inflation may lead to a decline in value. If interest rates rise due to reasons other than inflation (for example, due to changes in currency exchange rates), investors in these securities may not be protected to the extent that the increase is not reflected in the bond’s inflation measure.

In general, the measure used to determine the periodic adjustment of U.S. inflation-indexed bonds is the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (“CPI-U”), which is calculated monthly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The CPI-U is a measurement of changes in the cost of living, made up of components such as housing, food, transportation and energy. Inflation-indexed bonds

 

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issued by a foreign government are generally adjusted to reflect a comparable inflation index, calculated by that government. There can be no assurance that the CPI-U or any foreign inflation index will accurately measure the real rate of inflation in the prices of goods and services. Moreover, there can be no assurance that the rate of inflation in a foreign country will be correlated to the rate of inflation in the United States.

Any increase in the principal amount of an inflation-indexed bond will be considered taxable ordinary income, even though investors do not receive their principal until maturity.

Inflation Risk. Like all mutual funds, the Funds are subject to inflation risk. Inflation risk is the risk that the present value of assets or income from investments will be less in the future as inflation decreases the value of money. As inflation increases, the present value of a Fund’s assets can decline as can the value of a Fund’s distributions.

Information Concerning the Indexes.

Bloomberg Barclays Indices. No Fund is promoted, sponsored or endorsed by, nor in any way affiliated with Bloomberg Finance L.P. and its affiliates (collectively, “Bloomberg”) or Barclays Bank PLC or Barclays Capital Inc. or their affiliates (collectively, “Barclays”). Barclays is not the issuer or producer of the Bloomberg Barclays Indices, and its name is a trademark and service mark of Barclays Bank PLC used under license. Neither Bloomberg nor Barclays is responsible for or has reviewed any Fund nor any associated literature or publications, and Bloomberg and Barclays make no representation or warranty, express or implied, as to their accuracy, or completeness, or otherwise.

Bloomberg reserves the right, at any time and without notice, to alter, amend, terminate or in any way change a Bloomberg Barclays Index. Bloomberg has no obligation to take the needs of any particular Fund or its participants or any other product or person into consideration in determining, composing or calculating a Bloomberg Barclays Index.

ICE BofAML Indices. No Fund is promoted, sponsored or endorsed by, nor in any way affiliated with Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. and its affiliates (collectively, “ICE”) or Bank of America Merrill Lynch or its affiliates (collectively, “BofAML”). BofAML is not the issuer or producer of the ICE BofAML Indices, and its name is a trademark and service mark of its owner used under license. Neither ICE nor BofAML is responsible for or has reviewed any Fund nor any associated literature or publications and ICE and BofAML make no representation or warranty, express or implied, as to their accuracy, or completeness, or otherwise.

ICE reserves the right, at any time and without notice, to alter, amend, terminate or in any way change an ICE BofAML Index. ICE has no obligation to take the needs of any particular Fund or its participants or any other product or person into consideration in determining, composing or calculating an ICE BofAML Index.

Interfund Lending Program. Pursuant to an exemptive order granted by the SEC (the “IFL Order”), a Fund, to the extent permitted by its investment policies and restrictions and subject to meeting the conditions of the IFL Order, has the ability to lend money to, and borrow money from, another Fund pursuant to a master interfund lending agreement (the “Interfund Lending Program”). Under the Interfund Lending Program, the Funds may lend or borrow money for temporary purposes directly to or from other Funds (an “Interfund Loan”). All Interfund Loans would consist only of uninvested cash reserves that the lending Fund otherwise would invest in short-term repurchase agreements or other short-term instruments. Although Funds that are money market funds may, to the extent permitted by their investment policies, participate in the Interfund Lending Program as borrowers or lenders, they typically will not need to participate as borrowers because they are required to comply with the liquidity provisions of Rule 2a-7 under the Investment Company Act.

If a Fund has outstanding bank borrowings, any Interfund Loans to the Fund would: (a) be at an interest rate equal to or lower than that of any outstanding bank loan, (b) be secured at least on an equal priority basis with at least an equivalent percentage of collateral to loan value as any outstanding bank loan that requires collateral, (c) have a maturity no longer than any outstanding bank loan (and in any event not over seven days), and (d) provide that, if an event of default occurs under any agreement evidencing an outstanding bank loan to the Fund, that event of default will automatically (without need for action or notice by the lending Fund) constitute an immediate event of default under the interfund lending agreement, entitling the lending Fund to call the Interfund Loan immediately (and exercise all rights with respect to any collateral), and cause such call to be made if the lending bank exercises its right to call its loan under its agreement with the borrowing Fund.

A Fund may borrow on an unsecured basis through the Interfund Lending Program only if its outstanding borrowings from all sources immediately after the borrowing total 10% or less of its total assets, provided that if the Fund has a secured loan outstanding from any other lender, including but not limited to another Fund, the Fund’s borrowing will be secured on at least an

 

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equal priority basis with at least an equivalent percentage of collateral to loan value as any outstanding loan that requires collateral. If a borrowing Fund’s total outstanding borrowings immediately after an Interfund Loan under the Interfund Lending Program exceed 10% of its total assets, the Fund may borrow through the Interfund Lending Program on a secured basis only. A Fund may not borrow under the Interfund Lending Program or from any other source if its total outstanding borrowings immediately after the borrowing would be more than 33 1/3% of its total assets or any lower threshold provided for by the Fund’s investment restrictions.

No Fund may lend to another Fund through the Interfund Lending Program if the loan would cause the lending Fund’s aggregate outstanding loans through the Interfund Lending Program to exceed 15% of its current net assets at the time of the loan. A Fund’s Interfund Loans to any one Fund shall not exceed 5% of the lending Fund’s net assets. The duration of Interfund Loans will be limited to the time required to receive payment for securities sold, but in no event more than seven days, and for purposes of this condition, loans effected within seven days of each other will be treated as separate loan transactions. Each Interfund Loan may be called on one business day’s notice by a lending Fund and may be repaid on any day by a borrowing Fund.

The limitations described above and the other conditions of the IFL Order permitting interfund lending are designed to minimize the risks associated with interfund lending for both the lending Fund and the borrowing Fund. However, no borrowing or lending activity is without risk. When a Fund borrows money from another Fund under the Interfund Lending Program, there is a risk that the Interfund Loan could be called on one day’s notice, in which case the borrowing Fund may have to seek to borrow from a bank, which would likely involve higher rates, seek an Interfund Loan from another Fund, or liquidate portfolio securities if no lending sources are available to meet its liquidity needs. Interfund Loans are subject to the risk that the borrowing Fund could be unable to repay the loan when due, and a delay in repayment could result in a lost opportunity by the lending Fund or force the lending Fund to borrow or liquidate securities to meet its liquidity needs. No Fund may borrow more than the amount permitted by its investment restrictions.

Investment Grade Debt Obligations. Certain Funds may invest in “investment grade securities,” which are securities rated in the four highest rating categories of an NRSRO or deemed to be of equivalent quality by a Fund’s Manager. Certain Funds may invest in debt securities rated Aaa by Moody’s or AAA by S&P. It should be noted that debt obligations rated in the lowest of the top four ratings (i.e., “Baa” by Moody’s or “BBB” by S&P) are considered to have some speculative characteristics and are more sensitive to economic change than higher rated securities. If an investment grade security of a Fund is subsequently downgraded below investment grade, the Fund’s Manager will consider such an event in determining whether the Fund should continue to hold the security. Subject to its investment strategies, there is no limit on the amount of such downgraded securities a Fund may hold, although under normal market conditions the Manager does not expect to hold these securities to a material extent.

See Appendix A to this SAI for a description of applicable securities ratings.

Investment in Emerging Markets. Certain Funds may invest in the securities of issuers domiciled in various countries with emerging capital markets. Unless otherwise provided in a Fund’s prospectus, a country with an emerging capital market is any country that is (i) generally recognized to be an emerging market country by the international financial community, such as the International Finance Corporation, or determined by the World Bank to have a low, middle or middle upper income economy; (ii) classified by the United Nations or its authorities to be developing; and/or (iii) included in a broad-based index that is generally representative of emerging markets. Countries with emerging markets can be found in regions such as Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa.

Investments in the securities of issuers domiciled in countries with emerging capital markets involve certain additional risks that do not generally apply to investments in securities of issuers in more developed capital markets, such as (i) low or non-existent trading volume, resulting in a lack of liquidity and increased volatility in prices for such securities, as compared to securities of comparable issuers in more developed capital markets; (ii) uncertain national policies and social, political and economic instability, increasing the potential for expropriation of assets, confiscatory taxation, high rates of inflation or unfavorable diplomatic developments; (iii) possible fluctuations in exchange rates, differing legal systems and the existence or possible imposition of exchange controls, custodial restrictions or other foreign or U.S. governmental laws or restrictions applicable to such investments; (iv) national policies that may limit a Fund’s investment opportunities such as restrictions on investment in issuers or industries deemed sensitive to national interests; and (v) the lack or relatively early development of legal structures governing private and foreign investments and private property. In addition to withholding taxes on investment income, some countries with emerging markets may impose differential capital gains taxes on foreign investors.

 

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Political and economic structures in emerging market countries may be undergoing significant evolution and rapid development, and these countries may lack the social, political and economic stability characteristic of more developed countries. In such a dynamic environment, there can be no assurance that any or all of these capital markets will continue to present viable investment opportunities for a Fund. In the past, governments of such nations have expropriated substantial amounts of private property, and most claims of the property owners have never been fully settled. There is no assurance that such expropriations will not reoccur. In such an event, it is possible that a Fund could lose the entire value of its investments in the affected market. As a result the risks described above, including the risks of nationalization or expropriation of assets, may be heightened. In addition, unanticipated political or social developments may affect the value of investments in these countries and the availability to a Fund of additional investments. The small size and inexperience of the securities markets in certain of these countries and the limited volume of trading in securities in these countries may make investments in the countries illiquid and more volatile than investments in Japan or most Western European countries.

Also, there may be less publicly available information about issuers in emerging markets than would be available about issuers in more developed capital markets, and such issuers may not be subject to accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards and requirements comparable to those to which U.S. companies are subject. In certain countries with emerging capital markets, reporting standards vary widely. As a result, traditional investment measurements used in the United States, such as price/earnings ratios, may not be applicable. Emerging market securities may be substantially less liquid and more volatile than those of mature markets, and company shares may be held by a limited number of persons. This may adversely affect the timing and pricing of the Fund’s acquisition or disposal of securities.

Practices in relation to settlement of securities transactions in emerging markets involve higher risks than those in developed markets, in part because a Fund will need to use brokers and counterparties that are less well capitalized, and custody and registration of assets in some countries may be unreliable. The possibility of fraud, negligence, 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 completely lost. A Fund would absorb any loss resulting from such registration problems and may have no successful claim for compensation.

Investment in non-dollar denominated securities including securities from issuers located in emerging market countries may be on either a currency hedged or unhedged basis, and the Funds may hold from time to time various foreign currencies pending investment or conversion into U.S. dollars. Some of these instruments may have the characteristics of futures contracts. In addition, certain Funds may engage in foreign currency exchange transactions to seek to protect against changes in the level of future exchange rates which would adversely affect the Fund’s performance. These investments and transactions involving foreign securities, currencies, options (including options that relate to foreign currencies), futures, hedging and cross-hedging are described below and under “Interest Rate Transactions and Currency Swaps,” Foreign Currency Transactions” and “Options and Futures Contracts.”

Risks of Investing in Asia-Pacific Countries. In addition to the risks of foreign investing and the risks of investing in developing markets, the developing market Asia-Pacific countries in which a Fund may invest are subject to certain additional or specific risks. Certain Funds may make substantial investments in Asia-Pacific countries. In many of these markets, there is 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. Many of these markets also may be affected by developments with respect to more established markets in the region such as in Japan and Hong Kong. Brokers in developing market Asia-Pacific countries typically are fewer in number and less well capitalized than brokers in the United States. These factors, combined with the U.S. regulatory requirements for open-end investment companies and the restrictions on foreign investment discussed below, result in potentially fewer investment opportunities for a Fund and may have an adverse impact on the investment performance of the Fund.

Many of the developing market Asia-Pacific countries may be subject to a greater degree of economic, political and social instability than is the case in the United States and Western European countries. Such instability may result from, among other things: (i) authoritarian governments 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 with neighboring countries; and (v) ethnic, religious and racial disaffection. In addition, the governments of many of such countries, such as Indonesia, have a substantial role in regulating and supervising the economy. Another risk common to most such countries is that the economy is heavily export oriented and, accordingly, is dependent upon international trade. The existence of overburdened infrastructure and obsolete financial systems

 

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also presents risks in certain countries, as do environmental problems. Certain economies also depend to a significant degree upon exports of primary commodities and, therefore, are vulnerable to changes in commodity prices that, in turn, may be affected by a variety of factors.

The legal systems in certain developing market Asia-Pacific countries also may have an adverse impact on the Fund. For example, while the potential liability of a shareholder in a U.S. corporation with respect to acts of the corporation is generally limited to the amount of the shareholder’s investment, the notion of limited liability is less clear in certain emerging market Asia-Pacific countries. Similarly, the rights of investors in developing market Asia-Pacific companies may be more limited than those of shareholders of U.S. corporations. It may be difficult or impossible to obtain and/or enforce a judgment in a developing market Asia-Pacific country.

Governments of many developing market Asia-Pacific countries have exercised and continue to exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector. In certain cases, the government owns or controls many companies, including the largest in the country. Accordingly, government actions in the future could have a significant effect on economic conditions in developing market Asia-Pacific countries, which could affect private sector companies and a Fund itself, as well as the value of securities in the Fund’s portfolio. In addition, economic statistics of developing market Asia-Pacific countries may be less reliable than economic statistics of more developed nations.

In addition to the relative lack of publicly available information about developing market Asia-Pacific issuers and the possibility that such issuers may not be subject to the same accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards as U.S. companies, inflation accounting rules in some developing market Asia-Pacific countries require companies that keep accounting records in the local currency, for both tax and accounting purposes, to restate certain assets and liabilities on the company’s balance sheet in order to express items in terms of currency of constant purchasing power. Inflation accounting may indirectly generate losses or profits for certain developing market Asia-Pacific companies.

Satisfactory custodial services for investment securities may not be available in some developing Asia-Pacific countries, which may result in the Fund incurring additional costs and delays in providing transportation and custody services for such securities outside such countries.

Certain developing Asia-Pacific countries, such as the Philippines, India and Turkey, are especially large debtors to commercial banks and foreign governments.

On March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake and resulting tsunami struck northeastern Japan causing major damage along the coast, including damage to nuclear power plants in the region. This disaster, and the resulting damage, could have a severe and negative impact on a Fund’s investment portfolio and, in the longer term, could impair the ability of issuers in which the Fund invests to conduct their businesses in the manner normally conducted.

Fund management may determine that, notwithstanding otherwise favorable investment criteria, it may not be practicable or appropriate to invest in a particular developing Asia-Pacific country. A Fund may invest in countries in which foreign investors, including management of the Fund, have had no or limited prior experience.

Restrictions on Foreign Investments in Asia-Pacific Countries. Some developing Asia-Pacific countries prohibit or impose substantial restrictions on investments in their capital markets, particularly their equity markets, by foreign entities such as a Fund. As illustrations, certain countries may require governmental approval prior to investments by foreign persons or limit the amount of investment by foreign persons in a particular company or limit the investment by foreign persons to only a specific class of securities of a company which may have less advantageous terms (including price and shareholder rights) than securities of the company available for purchase by nationals. There can be no assurance that a Fund will be able to obtain required governmental approvals in a timely manner. In addition, changes to restrictions on foreign ownership of securities subsequent to a Fund’s purchase of such securities may have an adverse effect on the value of such shares. Certain countries may restrict investment opportunities in issuers or industries deemed important to national interests.

The manner in which foreign investors may invest in companies in certain developing Asia-Pacific countries, as well as limitations on such investments, also may have an adverse impact on the operations of a Fund. For example, a Fund may be required in certain of such countries to invest initially through a local broker or other entity and then have the shares purchased re-registered in the name of the Fund. Re-registration may in some instances not be able to occur on a timely basis, resulting in a delay during which a Fund may be denied certain of its rights as an investor, including rights as to dividends or to be made aware of certain

 

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corporate actions. There also may be instances where a Fund 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 been filled, depriving the Fund of the ability to make its desired investment at that time.

Substantial limitations may exist in certain countries with respect to a Fund’s ability to repatriate investment income, capital or the proceeds of sales of securities by foreign investors. A 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 the Fund of any restrictions on investments. It is possible that certain countries may impose currency controls or other restrictions relating to their currencies or to securities of issuers in those countries. To the extent that such restrictions have the effect of making certain investments illiquid, securities may not be available for sale to meet redemptions. Depending on a variety of financial factors, the percentage of a Fund’s portfolio subject to currency controls may increase. In the event other countries impose similar controls, the portion of the Fund’s assets that may be used to meet redemptions may be further decreased. Even where there is no outright restriction on repatriation of capital, the mechanics of repatriation may affect certain aspects of the operations of a Fund (for example, if funds may be withdrawn only in certain currencies and/or only at an exchange rate established by the government).

In certain countries, banks or other financial institutions may be among the leading companies or have actively traded securities available for investment. The Investment Company Act restricts a Fund’s investments in any equity securities of an issuer that, in its most recent fiscal year, derived more than 15% of its revenues from “securities related activities,” as defined by the rules thereunder. These provisions may restrict a Fund’s investments in certain foreign banks and other financial institutions.

Political and economic structures in emerging market countries may be undergoing significant evolution and rapid development, and these countries may lack the social, political and economic stability characteristic of more developed countries. Some of these countries may have in the past failed to recognize private property rights and have at times nationalized or expropriated the assets of private companies. As a result the risks described above, including the risks of nationalization or expropriation of assets, may be heightened. In addition, unanticipated political or social developments may affect the value of investments in these countries and the availability to a Fund of additional investments in emerging market countries. The small size and inexperience of the securities markets in certain of these countries and the limited volume of trading in securities in these countries may make investments in the countries illiquid and more volatile than investments in Japan or most Western European countries. There may be little financial or accounting information available with respect to issuers located in certain emerging market countries, and it may be difficult to assess the value or prospects of an investment in such issuers.

The expense ratios of the Funds investing significantly in foreign securities can be expected to be higher than those of Funds investing primarily in domestic securities. The costs attributable to investing abroad are usually higher for several reasons, such as the higher cost of custody of foreign securities, higher commissions paid on comparable transactions on foreign markets and additional costs arising from delays in settlements of transactions involving foreign securities.

Risks of Investments in Russia. A Fund may invest a portion of its assets in securities issued by companies located in Russia. The Russian securities market suffers from a variety of problems described above in “Investment in Emerging Markets” not encountered in more developed markets. The Russian securities market is relatively new, and a substantial portion of securities transactions are privately negotiated outside of stock exchanges. The inexperience of the Russian securities market and the limited volume of trading in securities in the market may make obtaining accurate prices on portfolio securities from independent sources more difficult than in more developed markets.

Because of the recent formation of the Russian securities markets, the underdeveloped state of Russia’s banking and telecommunication system and the legal and regulatory framework in Russia, settlement, clearing and registration of securities transactions are subject to additional risks. Prior to 2013, there was no central registration system for equity share registration in Russia and registration was carried out either by the issuers themselves or by registrars located throughout Russia. These registrars may not have been subject to effective state supervision or licensed with any governmental entity. In 2013, Russia established the National Settlement Depository (“NSD”) as a recognized central securities depository, and title to Russian equities is now based on the records of the NSD and not on the records of the local registrars. The implementation of the NSD is generally expected to decrease the risk of loss in connection with recording and transferring title to securities; however, loss may still occur. Additionally, issuers and registrars remain prominent in the validation and approval of documentation requirements for corporate action processing in Russia, and there remain inconsistent market standards in the Russian market with respect to the completion and submission of corporate action elections. To the extent that a Fund suffers a loss relating to title or corporate actions relating to its portfolio securities, it may be difficult for the Fund to enforce its rights or otherwise remedy the loss. In addition, Russia also

 

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may attempt to assert its influence in the region through economic or even military measures, as it did with Georgia in the summer of 2008 and the Ukraine in 2014. Such measures may have an adverse effect on the Russian economy, which may, in turn, negatively impact the Fund.

The United States and the European Union have imposed economic sanctions on certain Russian individuals and a financial institution. The United States or the European Union 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, impairing the ability of a Fund to buy, sell, receive or deliver those securities. Sanctions could also result in Russia taking counter measures or retaliatory actions which may further impair the value and liquidity of Russian securities.

Brady Bonds. A Fund’s emerging market debt securities may include emerging market governmental debt obligations commonly referred to as Brady Bonds. Brady Bonds are securities created through the exchange of existing commercial bank loans to sovereign entities for new obligations in connection with debt restructurings under a debt restructuring plan introduced by former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Nicholas F. Brady (the “Brady Plan”). Brady Plan debt restructurings have been implemented in a number of countries, including: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Jordan, Mexico, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Brady Bonds may be collateralized or uncollateralized, are issued in various currencies (primarily the U.S. dollar) and are actively traded in the OTC secondary market. Brady Bonds are not considered to be U.S. Government securities. U.S. dollar-denominated, collateralized Brady Bonds, which may be fixed rate par bonds or floating rate discount bonds, are generally collateralized in full as to principal by U.S. Treasury zero-coupon bonds having the same maturity as the Brady Bonds. Interest payments on these Brady Bonds generally are collateralized on a one-year or longer rolling-forward basis by cash or securities in an amount that, in the case of fixed rate bonds, is equal to at least one year of interest payments or, in the case of floating rate bonds, initially is equal to at least one year’s interest payments based on the applicable interest rate at that time and is adjusted at regular intervals thereafter. Certain Brady Bonds are entitled to “value recovery payments” in certain circumstances, which in effect constitute supplemental interest payments but generally are not collateralized. For example, some Mexican and Venezuelan Brady Bonds include attached value recovery options, which increase interest payments if oil revenues rise. Brady Bonds are often viewed as having three or four valuation components: (i) the collateralized repayment of principal at final maturity; (ii) the collateralized interest payments; (iii) the uncollateralized interest payments; and (iv) any uncollateralized repayment of principal at maturity (the uncollateralized amounts constitute the “residual risk”).

Brady Bonds involve various risk factors described above associated with investing in foreign securities, including the history of defaults with respect to commercial bank loans by public and private entities of countries issuing Brady Bonds. In light of the residual risk of Brady Bonds and, among other factors, the history of defaults, investments in Brady Bonds are considered speculative. There can be no assurance that Brady Bonds in which the Funds may invest will not be subject to restructuring arrangements or to requests for new credit, which may cause the Funds to suffer a loss of interest or principal on any of its holdings.

Investment in Other Investment Companies. Each Fund may, subject to applicable law, invest in other investment companies (including investment companies managed by BlackRock and its affiliates), including money market funds and exchange traded funds (“ETFs”), which are typically open-end funds or unit investment trusts listed on a stock exchange. Under the Investment Company Act, however, a Fund may invest up to 10% of its total assets in securities of other investment companies (measured at the time of such investment). In addition, under the Investment Company Act a Fund may not acquire securities of an investment company if such acquisition would cause the Fund to own more than 3% of the total outstanding voting stock of such investment company and a Fund may not invest in another investment company if such investment would cause more than 5% of the value of the Fund’s total assets to be invested in securities of such investment company. (These limits do not restrict a Feeder Fund from investing all of its assets in shares of its Master Portfolio.) In addition to the restrictions on investing in other investment companies discussed above, a Fund may not invest in a registered closed-end investment company if such investment would cause the Fund and other BlackRock-advised investment companies to own more than 10% of the total outstanding voting stock of such closed-end investment company. Pursuant to the Investment Company Act (or alternatively, pursuant to exemptive orders received from the Commission) these percentage limitations do not apply to investments in affiliated money market funds, and under certain circumstances, do not apply to investments in affiliated investment companies, including ETFs. In addition, many third-party ETFs have obtained exemptive relief from the Commission to permit unaffiliated funds (such as the Funds) to invest in their shares beyond the statutory limits, subject to certain conditions and pursuant to contractual arrangements between the ETFs and the investing funds. A Fund may rely on these exemptive orders in investing in ETFs. Further, under certain circumstances a Fund

 

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may be able to rely on certain provisions of the Investment Company Act to invest in shares of unaffiliated investment companies beyond the statutory limits noted above, but subject to certain other statutory restrictions.

As with other investments, investments in other investment companies are subject to market and selection risk.

Shares of investment companies, such as closed-end fund investment companies, that trade on an exchange may at times be acquired at market prices representing premiums to their net asset values. In addition, investment companies held by a Fund that trade on an exchange could trade at a discount from net asset value, and such discount could increase while the Fund holds the shares. If the market price of shares of an exchange-traded investment company decreases below the price that the Fund paid for the shares and the Fund were to sell its shares of such investment company at a time when the market price is lower than the price at which it purchased the shares, the Fund would experience a loss.

In addition, if a Fund acquires shares in investment companies, including affiliated investment companies, shareholders would bear both their proportionate share of expenses in the Fund and, indirectly, the expenses of such investment companies. Such expenses, both at the Fund level and acquired investment company level, would include management and advisory fees, unless such fees have been waived by BlackRock. Please see the relevant Fund’s prospectus to determine whether any such management and advisory fees have been waived by BlackRock. Investments by a Fund in wholly owned investment entities created under the laws of certain countries will not be deemed an investment in other investment companies. Pursuant to guidance issued by the staff of the Commission, fees and expenses of money market funds used for the investment of cash collateral received in connection with loans of Fund securities are not treated as “acquired fund fees and expenses,” which are fees and expenses charged by other investment companies and pooled investment vehicles in which a Fund invests a portion of its assets.

To the extent shares of a Fund are held by an affiliated fund, the ability of the Fund itself to purchase other affiliated investment companies may be limited. In addition, a fund-of-funds (e.g., an investment company that seeks to meet its investment objective by investing significantly in other investment companies) may be limited in its ability to purchase affiliated underlying funds if such affiliated underlying funds themselves own shares of affiliated funds.

A number of publicly traded closed-end investment companies have been organized to facilitate indirect foreign investment in developing countries, and certain of such countries, such as Thailand, South Korea, Chile and Brazil, have specifically authorized such funds. There also are investment opportunities in certain of such countries in pooled vehicles that resemble open-end investment companies. The restrictions on investments in securities of investment companies set forth above may limit opportunities for a Fund to invest indirectly in certain developing countries.

Junk Bonds. Non-investment grade or “high yield” fixed-income or convertible securities commonly known to investors as “junk bonds” are debt securities that are rated below investment grade by the major rating agencies or are securities that Fund management believes are of comparable quality. While generally providing greater income and opportunity for gain, non-investment grade debt securities may be subject to greater risks than securities which have higher credit ratings, including a high risk of default, and their yields will fluctuate over time. High yield securities will generally be in the lower rating categories of recognized rating agencies (rated “Ba” or lower by Moody’s or “BB” or lower by S&P) or will be non-rated. The credit rating of a high yield security does not necessarily address its market value risk, and ratings may from time to time change, positively or negatively, to reflect developments regarding the issuer’s financial condition. High yield securities are considered to be speculative with respect to the capacity of the issuer to timely repay principal and pay interest or dividends in accordance with the terms of the obligation and may have more credit risk than higher rated securities.

The major risks in junk bond investments include the following:

 

    Junk bonds may be issued by less creditworthy companies. These securities are vulnerable to adverse changes in the issuer’s industry and to general economic conditions. Issuers of junk bonds may be unable to meet their interest or principal payment obligations because of an economic downturn, specific issuer developments or the unavailability of additional financing.

 

    The issuers of junk bonds may have a larger amount of outstanding debt relative to their assets than issuers of investment grade bonds. If the issuer experiences financial stress, it may be unable to meet its debt obligations. The issuer’s ability to pay its debt obligations also may be lessened by specific issuer developments, or the unavailability of additional financing. Issuers of high yield securities are often in the growth stage of their development and/or involved in a reorganization or takeover.

 

   

Junk bonds are frequently ranked junior to claims by other creditors. If the issuer cannot meet its obligations, the senior obligations are generally paid off before the junior obligations, which will potentially limit a Fund’s ability to

 

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fully recover principal or to receive interest payments when senior securities are in default. Thus, investors in high yield securities have a lower degree of protection with respect to principal and interest payments then do investors in higher rated securities.

 

    Junk bonds frequently have redemption features that permit an issuer to repurchase the security from a Fund before it matures. If an issuer redeems the junk bonds, a Fund may have to invest the proceeds in bonds with lower yields and may lose income.

 

    Prices of junk bonds are subject to extreme price fluctuations. Negative economic developments may have a greater impact on the prices of junk bonds than on those of other higher rated fixed-income securities.

 

    The secondary markets for high yield securities are not as liquid as the secondary markets for higher rated securities. The secondary markets for high yield securities are concentrated in relatively few market makers and participants in the markets are mostly institutional investors, including insurance companies, banks, other financial institutions and mutual funds. In addition, the trading volume for high yield securities is generally lower than that for higher rated securities and the secondary markets could contract under adverse market or economic conditions independent of any specific adverse changes in the condition of a particular issuer. Under certain economic and/or market conditions, a Fund may have difficulty disposing of certain high yield securities due to the limited number of investors in that sector of the market. An illiquid secondary market may adversely affect the market price of the high yield security, which may result in increased difficulty selling the particular issue and obtaining accurate market quotations on the issue when valuing a Fund’s assets. Market quotations on high yield securities are available only from a limited number of dealers, and such quotations may not be the actual prices available for a purchase or sale. When the secondary market for high yield securities becomes more illiquid, or in the absence of readily available market quotations for such securities, the relative lack of reliable objective data makes it more difficult to value a Fund’s securities, and judgment plays a more important role in determining such valuations.

 

    A Fund may incur expenses to the extent necessary to seek recovery upon default or to negotiate new terms with a defaulting issuer.

 

    The junk bond markets may react strongly to adverse news about an issuer or the economy, or to the perception or expectation of adverse news, whether or not it is based on fundamental analysis. Additionally, prices for high yield securities may be affected by legislative and regulatory developments. These developments could adversely affect a Fund’s net asset value and investment practices, the secondary market for high yield securities, the financial condition of issuers of these securities and the value and liquidity of outstanding high yield securities, especially in a thinly traded market. For example, federal legislation requiring the divestiture by federally insured savings and loan associations of their investments in high yield bonds and limiting the deductibility of interest by certain corporate issuers of high yield bonds adversely affected the market in the past.

 

    The rating assigned by a rating agency evaluates the issuing agency’s assessment of the safety of a non-investment grade security’s principal and interest payments, but does not address market value risk. Because such ratings of the ratings agencies may not always reflect current conditions and events, in addition to using recognized rating agencies and other sources, the sub-adviser performs its own analysis of the issuers whose non-investment grade securities a Fund holds. Because of this, the Fund’s performance may depend more on the sub-adviser’s own credit analysis than in the case of mutual funds investing in higher-rated securities.

In selecting non-investment grade securities, the adviser or sub-adviser considers factors such as those relating to the creditworthiness of issuers, the ratings and performance of the securities, the protections afforded the securities and the diversity of the Fund. The sub-adviser continuously monitors the issuers of non-investment grade securities held by the Fund for their ability to make required principal and interest payments, as well as in an effort to control the liquidity of the Fund so that it can meet redemption requests. If a security’s rating is reduced below the minimum credit rating that is permitted for a Fund, the Fund’s sub-adviser will consider whether the Fund should continue to hold the security.

In the event that a Fund investing in high yield securities experiences an unexpected level of net redemptions, the Fund could be forced to sell its holdings without regard to the investment merits, thereby decreasing the assets upon which the Fund’s rate of return is based.

The costs attributable to investing in the junk bond markets are usually higher for several reasons, such as higher investment research costs and higher commission costs.

 

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Lease Obligations. A Fund may hold participation certificates in a lease, an installment purchase contract, or a conditional sales contract (“lease obligations”).

The Manager will monitor the credit standing of each borrower and each entity providing credit support and/or a put option relating to lease obligations. In determining whether a lease obligation is liquid, the Manager will consider, among other factors, the following: (i) whether the lease can be cancelled; (ii) the degree of assurance that assets represented by the lease could be sold; (iii) the strength of the lessee’s general credit (e.g., its debt, administrative, economic and financial characteristics); (iv) in the case of a municipal lease, the likelihood that the municipality would discontinue appropriating funding for the leased property because the property is no longer deemed essential to the operations of the municipality (e.g., the potential for an “event of nonappropriation”); (v) legal recourse in the event of failure to appropriate; (vi) whether the security is backed by a credit enhancement such as insurance; and (vii) any limitations which are imposed on the lease obligor’s ability to utilize substitute property or services other than those covered by the lease obligation.

Liquidity Management. As a temporary defensive measure, if its Manager determines that market conditions warrant, certain Funds may invest without limitation in high quality money market instruments. Certain Funds may also invest in high quality money market instruments pending investment or to meet anticipated redemption requests. High quality money market instruments include U.S. government obligations, U.S. government agency obligations, dollar denominated obligations of foreign issuers, bank obligations, including U.S. subsidiaries and branches of foreign banks, corporate obligations, commercial paper, repurchase agreements and obligations of supranational organizations. Generally, such obligations will mature within one year from the date of settlement, but may mature within two years from the date of settlement.

Liquidity Risk Management Rule. In October 2016, the SEC adopted a new liquidity risk management rule requiring open-end funds, such as the Funds, to establish a liquidity risk management program and enhance disclosures regarding fund liquidity. The Funds will be required to comply with the classification and classification-related elements of the rule by June 1, 2019 and the other requirements of the rule by December 1, 2018. The effect the new rule will have on the Funds is not yet known, but the rule may impact a Fund’s performance and ability to achieve its investment objective.

Master Limited Partnerships. Certain Funds may invest in publicly traded master limited partnerships (“MLPs”) which are limited partnerships or limited liability companies taxable as partnerships. MLPs may derive income and gains from the exploration, development, mining or production, processing, refining, transportation (including pipelines transporting gas, oil, or products thereof), or the marketing of any mineral or natural resources. MLPs generally have two classes of owners, the general partner and limited partners. When investing in an MLP, a Fund intends to purchase publicly traded common units issued to limited partners of the MLP. The general partner is typically owned by a major energy company, an investment fund, the direct management of the MLP or is an entity owned by one or more of such parties. The general partner may be structured as a private or publicly traded corporation or other entity. The general partner typically controls the operations and management of the MLP through an up to 2% equity interest in the MLP plus, in many cases, ownership of common units and subordinated units. Limited partners own the remainder of the partnership, through ownership of common units, and have a limited role in the partnership’s operations and management.

MLPs are typically structured such that common units and general partner interests have first priority to receive quarterly cash distributions up to an established minimum amount (“minimum quarterly distributions” or “MQD”). Common and general partner interests also accrue arrearages in distributions to the extent the MQD is not paid. Once common and general partner interests have been paid, subordinated units receive distributions of up to the MQD; however, subordinated units do not accrue arrearages. Distributable cash in excess of the MQD paid to both common and subordinated units is distributed to both common and subordinated units generally on a pro rata basis. The general partner is also eligible to receive incentive distributions if the general partner operates the business in a manner which results in distributions paid per common unit surpassing specified target levels. As the general partner increases cash distributions to the limited partners, the general partner receives an increasingly higher percentage of the incremental cash distributions. A common arrangement provides that the general partner can reach a tier where it receives 50% of every incremental dollar paid to common and subordinated unit holders. These incentive distributions encourage the general partner to streamline costs, increase capital expenditures and acquire assets in order to increase the partnership’s cash flow and raise the quarterly cash distribution in order to reach higher tiers. Such results benefit all security holders of the MLP.

MLP common units represent a limited partnership interest in the MLP. Common units are listed and traded on U.S. securities exchanges, with their value fluctuating predominantly based on prevailing market conditions and the success of the MLP. Certain

 

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Funds intend to purchase common units in market transactions. Unlike owners of common stock of a corporation, owners of common units have limited voting rights and have no ability to annually elect directors. In the event of liquidation, common units have preference over subordinated units, but not over debt or preferred units, to the remaining assets of the MLP.

Mezzanine Investments. Certain Funds, consistent with their restrictions on investing in securities of a specific credit quality, may invest in certain high yield securities known as mezzanine investments, which are subordinated debt securities which are generally issued in private placements in connection with an equity security (e.g., with attached warrants). Such mezzanine investments may be issued with or without registration rights. Similar to other high yield securities, maturities of mezzanine investments are typically seven to ten years, but the expected average life is significantly shorter at three to five years. Mezzanine investments are usually unsecured and subordinate to other obligations of the issuer.

Money Market Obligations of Domestic Banks, Foreign Banks and Foreign Branches of U.S. Banks. Certain Funds may purchase bank obligations, such as certificates of deposit, notes, bankers’ acceptances and time deposits, including instruments issued or supported by the credit of U.S. or foreign banks or savings institutions having total assets at the time of purchase in excess of $1 billion. These obligations may be general obligations of the parent bank or may be limited to the issuing branch or subsidiary by the terms of a specific obligation or by government regulation. The assets of a bank or savings institution will be deemed to include the assets of its domestic and foreign branches for purposes of a Fund’s investment policies. Investments in short-term bank obligations may include obligations of foreign banks and domestic branches of foreign banks, and also foreign branches of domestic banks.

To the extent consistent with their investment objectives, a Fund may invest in debt obligations of domestic or foreign corporations and banks, and may acquire commercial obligations issued by Canadian corporations and Canadian counterparts of U.S. corporations, as well as Europaper, which is U.S. dollar-denominated commercial paper of a foreign issuer.

Money Market Securities. Certain Funds may invest in a broad range of short-term, high quality, U.S. dollar-denominated instruments, such as government, bank, commercial and other obligations that are available in the money markets. In particular, the Funds may invest in:

 

  (a) U.S. dollar-denominated obligations issued or supported by the credit of U.S. or foreign banks or savings institutions with total assets in excess of $1 billion (including obligations of foreign branches of such banks);

 

  (b) high quality commercial paper and other obligations issued or guaranteed by U.S. and foreign corporations and other issuers rated (at the time of purchase) A-2 or higher by S&P, Prime-2 or higher by Moody’s or F-2 or higher by Fitch, as well as high quality corporate bonds rated (at the time of purchase) A or higher by those rating agencies;

 

  (c) unrated notes, paper and other instruments that are of comparable quality to the instruments described in (b) above as determined by the Fund’s Manager;

 

  (d) asset-backed securities (including interests in pools of assets such as mortgages, installment purchase obligations and credit card receivables);

 

  (e) securities issued or guaranteed as to principal and interest by the U.S. Government or by its agencies or authorities and related custodial receipts;

 

  (f) dollar-denominated securities issued or guaranteed by foreign governments or their political subdivisions, agencies or authorities;

 

  (g) funding agreements issued by highly-rated U.S. insurance companies;

 

  (h) securities issued or guaranteed by state or local governmental bodies;

 

  (i) repurchase agreements relating to the above instruments;

 

  (j) municipal bonds and notes whose principal and interest payments are guaranteed by the U.S. Government or one of its agencies or authorities or which otherwise depend on the credit of the United States;

 

  (k) fixed and variable rate notes and similar debt instruments rated MIG-2, VMIG-2 or Prime-2 or higher by Moody’s, SP-2 or A-2 or higher by S&P, or F-2 or higher by Fitch;

 

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  (l) tax-exempt commercial paper and similar debt instruments rated Prime-2 or higher by Moody’s, A-2 or higher by S&P, or F-2 or higher by Fitch;

 

  (m) municipal bonds rated A or higher by Moody’s, S&P or Fitch;

 

  (n) unrated notes, paper or other instruments that are of comparable quality to the instruments described above, as determined by the Fund’s Manager under guidelines established by the Board; and

 

  (o) municipal bonds and notes which are guaranteed as to principal and interest by the U.S. Government or an agency or instrumentality thereof or which otherwise depend directly or indirectly on the credit of the United States.

Mortgage-Related Securities

Mortgage-Backed Securities. Mortgage-backed securities represent interests in pools of mortgages in which payments of both principal and interest on the securities are generally made monthly, in effect “passing through” monthly payments made by borrowers on the residential or commercial mortgage loans that underlie the securities (net of any fees paid to the issuer or guarantor of the securities). Mortgage-backed securities differ from other forms of debt securities, which normally provide for periodic payment of interest in fixed amounts with principal payments at maturity or specified call dates.

Mortgage-backed securities are subject to the general risks associated with investing in real estate securities; that is, they may lose value if the value of the underlying real estate to which a pool of mortgages relates declines. In addition, investments in mortgage-backed securities involve certain specific risks. These risks include the failure of a party to meet its commitments under the related operative documents, adverse interest rate changes and the effects of prepayments on mortgage cash flows. Mortgage-backed securities are “pass-through” securities, meaning that principal and interest payments made by the borrower on the underlying mortgages are passed through to a Fund. The value of mortgage-backed securities, like that of traditional fixed-income securities, typically increases when interest rates fall and decreases when interest rates rise. However, mortgage-backed securities differ from traditional fixed-income securities because of their potential for prepayment without penalty. The price paid by a Fund for its mortgage-backed securities, the yield the Fund expects to receive from such securities and the weighted average life of the securities are based on a number of factors, including the anticipated rate of prepayment of the underlying mortgages. In a period of declining interest rates, borrowers may prepay the underlying mortgages more quickly than anticipated, thereby reducing the yield to maturity and the average life of the mortgage-backed securities. Moreover, when a Fund reinvests the proceeds of a prepayment in these circumstances, it will likely receive a rate of interest that is lower than the rate on the security that was prepaid.

To the extent that a Fund purchases mortgage-backed securities at a premium, mortgage foreclosures and principal prepayments may result in a loss to the extent of the premium paid. If a Fund buys such securities at a discount, both scheduled payments of principal and unscheduled prepayments will increase current and total returns and will accelerate the recognition of income, which, when distributed to shareholders, will be taxable as ordinary income. In a period of rising interest rates, prepayments of the underlying mortgages may occur at a slower than expected rate, creating maturity extension risk. This particular risk may effectively change a security that was considered short- or intermediate-term at the time of purchase into a long-term security. Since the value of long-term securities generally fluctuates more widely in response to changes in interest rates than that of shorter-term securities, maturity extension risk could increase the inherent volatility of the Fund. Under certain interest rate and prepayment scenarios, a Fund may fail to recoup fully its investment in mortgage-backed securities notwithstanding any direct or indirect governmental or agency guarantee.

There are currently three types of mortgage pass-through securities: (1) those issued by the U.S. government or one of its agencies or instrumentalities, such as the Government National Mortgage Association (“Ginnie Mae”), the Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”); (2) those issued by private issuers that represent an interest in or are collateralized by pass-through securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government or one of its agencies or instrumentalities; and (3) those issued by private issuers that represent an interest in or are collateralized by whole mortgage loans or pass-through securities without a government guarantee but that usually have some form of private credit enhancement.

Ginnie Mae is a wholly owned U.S. government corporation within the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Ginnie Mae is authorized to guarantee, with the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, the timely payment of principal and interest on securities issued by the institutions approved by Ginnie Mae (such as savings and loan institutions, commercial banks and mortgage banks), and backed by pools of Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”)-insured or Veterans’ Administration (“VA”)-guaranteed

 

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mortgages. Pass-through certificates guaranteed by Ginnie Mae (such certificates are also known as “Ginnie Maes”) are guaranteed as to the timely payment of principal and interest by Ginnie Mae, whose guarantee is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. Ginnie Mae certificates also are supported by the authority of Ginnie Mae to borrow funds from the U.S. Treasury Department to make payments under its guarantee. Mortgage-related securities issued by Fannie Mae include Fannie Mae guaranteed Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates (also known as “Fannie Maes”), which are guaranteed as to timely payment of principal and interest by Fannie Mae. They are not backed by or entitled to the full faith and credit of the United States, but are supported by the right of Fannie Mae to borrow from the U.S. Treasury Department. Fannie Mae was established as a federal agency in 1938 and in 1968 was chartered by Congress as a private shareholder-owned company. Mortgage-related securities issued by Freddie Mac include Freddie Mac Mortgage Participation Certificates (also known as “Freddie Macs” or “PCs”). Freddie Mac is a stockholder-owned corporation chartered by Congress in 1970. Freddie Macs are not guaranteed by the United States or by any Federal Home Loan Banks and do not constitute a debt or obligation of the United States or of any Federal Home Loan Bank. Freddie Macs entitle the holder to timely payment of interest, which is guaranteed by Freddie Mac. Freddie Mac guarantees either ultimate collection or timely payment of all principal payments on the underlying mortgage loans. While Freddie Mac generally does not guarantee timely payment of principal, Freddie Mac may remit the amount due on account of its guarantee of ultimate payment of principal at any time after default on an underlying mortgage, but in no event later than one year after it becomes payable. On September 6, 2008, Director James Lockhart of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA”) appointed FHFA as conservator of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In addition the U.S. Treasury Department agreed to provide Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac up to $100 billion of capital each on an as needed basis to insure that they continue to provide liquidity to the housing and mortgage markets.

Private mortgage pass-through securities are structured similarly to Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac mortgage pass-through securities and are issued by originators of and investors in mortgage loans, including depository institutions, mortgage banks, investment banks and special purpose subsidiaries of the foregoing.

Pools created by private mortgage pass-through issuers generally offer a higher rate of interest than government and government-related pools because there are no direct or indirect government or agency guarantees of payments in the private pools. However, timely payment of interest and principal of these pools may be supported by various forms of insurance or guarantees, including individual loan, title, pool and hazard insurance and letters of credit. The insurance and guarantees are issued by governmental entities, private insurers and the mortgage poolers. The insurance and guarantees and the creditworthiness of the issuers thereof will be considered in determining whether a mortgage-related security meets a Fund’s investment quality standards. There can be no assurance that the private insurers or guarantors can meet their obligations under the insurance policies or guarantee arrangements. Private mortgage pass-through securities may be bought without insurance or guarantees if, through an examination of the loan experience and practices of the originator/servicers and poolers, the Manager determines that the securities meet a Fund’s quality standards. Any mortgage-related securities that are issued by private issuers have some exposure to subprime loans as well as to the mortgage and credit markets generally.

In addition, mortgage-related securities that are issued by private issuers are not subject to the underwriting requirements for the underlying mortgages that are applicable to those mortgage-related securities that have a government or government-sponsored entity guarantee. As a result, the mortgage loans underlying private mortgage-related securities may, and frequently do, have less favorable collateral, credit risk or other underwriting characteristics than government or government-sponsored mortgage-related securities and have wider variances in a number of terms including interest rate, term, size, purpose and borrower characteristics. Privately issued pools more frequently include second mortgages, high loan-to-value mortgages and manufactured housing loans. The coupon rates and maturities of the underlying mortgage loans in a private-label mortgage-related securities pool may vary to a greater extent than those included in a government guaranteed pool, and the pool may include subprime mortgage loans. Subprime loans refer to loans made to borrowers with weakened credit histories or with a lower capacity to make timely payments on their loans. For these reasons, the loans underlying these securities have had in many cases higher default rates than those loans that meet government underwriting requirements.

The risk of non-payment is greater for mortgage-related securities that are backed by mortgage pools that contain subprime loans, but a level of risk exists for all loans. Market factors adversely affecting mortgage loan repayments may include a general economic turndown, high unemployment, a general slowdown in the real estate market, a drop in the market prices of real estate, or an increase in interest rates resulting in higher mortgage payments by holders of adjustable rate mortgages.

 

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Privately issued mortgage-related securities are not traded on an exchange and there may be a limited market for the securities, especially when there is a perceived weakness in the mortgage and real estate market sectors. Without an active trading market, mortgage-related securities held in a fund’s portfolio may be particularly difficult to value because of the complexities involved in assessing the value of the underlying mortgage loans.

A Fund from time to time may purchase in the secondary market (i) certain mortgage pass-through securities packaged and master serviced by PNC Mortgage Securities Corp. (“PNC Mortgage”) or Midland Loan Services, Inc. (“Midland”), or (ii) mortgage-related securities containing loans or mortgages originated by PNC Bank, National Association (“PNC Bank”) or its affiliates. It is possible that under some circumstances, PNC Mortgage, Midland or other affiliates could have interests that are in conflict with the holders of these mortgage-backed securities, and such holders could have rights against PNC Mortgage, Midland or their affiliates. For example, if PNC Mortgage, Midland or their affiliates engaged in negligence or willful misconduct in carrying out its duties as a master servicer, then any holder of the mortgage-backed security could seek recourse against PNC Mortgage, Midland or their affiliates, as applicable. Also, as a master servicer, PNC Mortgage, Midland or their affiliates may make certain representations and warranties regarding the quality of the mortgages and properties underlying a mortgage-backed security. If one or more of those representations or warranties is false, then the holders of the mortgage-backed securities could trigger an obligation of PNC Mortgage, Midland or their affiliates, as applicable, to repurchase the mortgages from the issuing trust. Finally, PNC Mortgage, Midland or their affiliates may own securities that are subordinate to the senior mortgage-backed securities owned by a Fund.

Collateralized Mortgage Obligations (“CMOs”). CMOs are debt obligations collateralized by residential or commercial mortgage loans or residential or commercial mortgage pass-through securities. Interest and prepaid principal are generally paid monthly. CMOs may be collateralized by whole mortgage loans or private mortgage pass-through securities but are more typically collateralized by portfolios of mortgage pass-through securities guaranteed by Ginnie Mae, Freddie Mac, or Fannie Mae. The issuer of a series of CMOs may elect to be treated as a Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit (“REMIC”). All future references to CMOs also include REMICs.

CMOs are structured into multiple classes, often referred to as a “tranche,” each issued at a specific adjustable or fixed interest rate, and bearing a different stated maturity date and each must be fully retired no later than its final distribution date. Actual maturity and average life will depend upon the prepayment experience of the collateral, which is ordinarily unrelated to the stated maturity date. CMOs often provide for a modified form of call protection through a de facto breakdown of the underlying pool of mortgages according to how quickly the loans are repaid. Monthly payment of principal received from the pool of underlying mortgages, including prepayments, is first returned to investors holding the shortest maturity class. Investors holding the longer maturity classes usually receive principal only after the first class has been retired. An investor may be partially protected against a sooner than desired return of principal because of the sequential payments.

Certain issuers of CMOs are not considered investment companies pursuant to a rule adopted by the Commission, and a Fund may invest in the securities of such issuers without the limitations imposed by the Investment Company Act on investments by a Fund in other investment companies. In addition, in reliance on an earlier Commission interpretation, a Fund’s investments in certain other qualifying CMOs, which cannot or do not rely on the rule, are also not subject to the limitation of the Investment Company Act on acquiring interests in other investment companies. In order to be able to rely on the Commission’s interpretation, these CMOs must be unmanaged, fixed asset issuers, that: (1) invest primarily in mortgage-backed securities; (2) do not issue redeemable securities; (3) operate under general exemptive orders exempting them from all provisions of the Investment Company Act; and (4) are not registered or regulated under the Investment Company Act as investment companies. To the extent that a Fund selects CMOs that cannot rely on the rule or do not meet the above requirements, the Fund may not invest more than 10% of its assets in all such entities and may not acquire more than 3% of the voting securities of any single such entity.

A Fund may also invest in, among other things, parallel pay CMOs, sequential pay CMOs, and floating rate CMOs. Parallel pay CMOs are structured to provide payments of principal on each payment date to more than one class, concurrently on a proportionate or disproportionate basis. These simultaneous payments are taken into account in calculating the final distribution date of each class. Sequential pay CMOs generally pay principal to only one class at a time while paying interest to several classes. A wide variety of REMIC Certificates may be issued in the parallel pay or sequential pay structures. These securities include accrual certificates (also known as “Z-Bonds”), which only accrue interest at a specified rate until all other certificates having an earlier final distribution date have been retired and are converted thereafter to an interest-paying security. Floating rate CMOs are securities whose coupon rate fluctuates according to some formula related to an existing market index or rate. Typical indices would include the eleventh district cost-of-funds index (“COFI”), LIBOR, one-year Treasury yields, and ten-year Treasury yields.

 

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Classes of CMOs also include planned amortization classes (“PACs”) and targeted amortization classes (“TACs”). PAC bonds generally require payments of a specified amount of principal on each payment date. The scheduled principal payments for PAC Certificates generally have the highest priority on each payment date after interest due has been paid to all classes entitled to receive interest currently. Shortfalls, if any, are added to the amount payable on the next payment date. The PAC Certificate payment schedule is taken into account in calculating the final distribution date of each class of PAC. In order to create PAC tranches, one or more tranches generally must be created that absorb most of the volatility in the underlying mortgage assets. These tranches (often called “supports” or “companion” tranches) tend to have market prices and yields that are more volatile than the PAC classes.

TACs are similar to PACs in that they require that specified amounts of principal be applied on each payment date to one or more classes of REMIC Certificates. A PAC’s payment schedule, however, remains in effect as long as prepayment rates on the underlying mortgages do not exceed certain ranges. In contrast, a TAC provides investors with protection, to a certain level, against either faster than expected or slower than expected prepayment rates, but not both. TACs thus provide more cash flow stability than a regular sequential paying class, but less than a PAC. TACs also tend to have market prices and yields that are more volatile than PACs.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage Securities. Adjustable rate mortgage securities (“ARMs”) are pass-through securities collateralized by mortgages with adjustable rather than fixed rates. ARMs eligible for inclusion in a mortgage pool generally provide for a fixed initial mortgage interest rate for a set number of scheduled monthly payments. After that schedule of payments has been completed, the interest rates are subject to periodic adjustment based on changes to a designated benchmark index.

ARMs contain maximum and minimum rates beyond which the mortgage interest rate may not vary over the lifetime of the security. In addition, certain ARMs provide for additional limitations on the maximum amount by which the mortgage interest rate may adjust for any single adjustment period. In the event that market rates of interest rise more rapidly to levels above that of the ARM’s maximum rate, the ARM’s coupon may represent a below market rate of interest. In these circumstances, the market value of the ARM security will likely have fallen.

Certain ARMs contain limitations on changes in the required monthly payment. In the event that a monthly payment is not sufficient to pay the interest accruing on an ARM, any such excess interest is added to the principal balance of the mortgage loan, which is repaid through future monthly payments. If the monthly payment for such an instrument exceeds the sum of the interest accrued at the applicable mortgage interest rate and the principal payment required at such point to amortize the outstanding principal balance over the remaining term of the loan, the excess is then used to reduce the outstanding principal balance of the ARM.

CMO Residuals. CMO residuals are derivative mortgage securities issued by agencies or instrumentalities of the U.S. government or by private originators of, or investors in, mortgage loans, including savings and loan associations, homebuilders, mortgage banks, commercial banks, investment banks, and special purpose entities of the foregoing. The cash flow generated by the mortgage assets underlying a series of CMOs is applied first to make required payments of principal and interest on the CMOs and second to pay the related administrative expenses of the issuer. The residual in a CMO structure generally represents the interest in any excess cash flow remaining after making the foregoing payments. Each payment of such excess cash flow to a holder of the related CMO residual represents income and/or a return of capital. The amount of residual cash flow resulting from a CMO will depend on, among other things, the characteristics of the mortgage assets, the coupon rate of each class of CMO, prevailing interest rates, the amount of administrative expenses and the prepayment experience on the mortgage assets. In part, the yield to maturity on the CMO residuals is extremely sensitive to prepayments on the related underlying mortgage assets, in the same manner as an interest-only (“IO”) class of stripped mortgage-related securities. In addition, if a series of a CMO includes a class that bears interest at an adjustable rate, the yield to maturity on the related CMO residual will also be extremely sensitive to changes in the level of the index upon which interest rate adjustments are based. In certain circumstances, a Fund may fail to recoup fully its initial investment in a CMO residual.

CMO residuals are generally purchased and sold by institutional investors through one or more investment banking firms acting as brokers or dealers. CMO residuals may not have the liquidity of other more established securities trading in other markets. Transactions in CMO residuals are generally completed only after careful review of the characteristics of the securities in question. In addition, CMO residuals may or, pursuant to an exemption therefrom, may not have been registered under the Securities Act. Residual interests generally are junior to, and may be significantly more volatile than, “regular” CMO and REMIC interests.

Stripped Mortgage-Backed Securities. A Fund may invest in stripped mortgage-backed securities (“SMBSs”) issued by agencies or instrumentalities of the United States. SMBSs are derivative multi-class mortgage-backed securities. SMBS arrangements commonly involve two classes of securities that receive different proportions of the interest and principal distributions on a pool of

 

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mortgage assets. A common variety of SMBS is where one class (the principal only or PO class) receives some of the interest and most of the principal from the underlying assets, while the other class (the interest only or IO class) receives most of the interest and the remainder of the principal. In the most extreme case, the IO class receives all of the interest, while the PO class receives all of the principal. While a Fund may purchase securities of a PO class, a Fund is more likely to purchase the securities of an IO class. The yield to maturity of an IO class is extremely sensitive to the rate of principal payments (including prepayments) on the related underlying assets, and a rapid rate of principal payments in excess of that considered in pricing the securities will have a material adverse effect on an IO security’s yield to maturity. If the underlying mortgage assets experience greater than anticipated payments of principal, a Fund may fail to recoup fully its initial investment in IOs. In addition, there are certain types of IOs that represent the interest portion of a particular class as opposed to the interest portion of the entire pool. The sensitivity of this type of IO to interest rate fluctuations may be increased because of the characteristics of the principal portion to which they relate. As a result of the above factors, a Fund generally will purchase IOs only as a component of so called “synthetic” securities. This means that purchases of IOs will be matched with certain purchases of other securities, such as POs, inverse floating rate CMOs or fixed rate securities; as interest rates fall, presenting a greater risk of unanticipated prepayments of principal, the negative effect on a Fund because of its holdings of IOs should be diminished somewhat because of the increased yield on the inverse floating rate CMOs or the increased appreciation on the POs or fixed rate securities.

Tiered Index Bonds. Tiered index bonds are relatively new forms of mortgage-related securities. The interest rate on a tiered index bond is tied to a specified index or market rate. So long as this index or market rate is below a predetermined “strike” rate, the interest rate on the tiered index bond remains fixed. If, however, the specified index or market rate rises above the “strike” rate, the interest rate of the tiered index bond will decrease. Thus, under these circumstances, the interest rate on a tiered index bond, like an inverse floater, will move in the opposite direction of prevailing interest rates, with the result that the price of the tiered index bond may be considerably more volatile than that of a fixed-rate bond.

TBA Commitments. Certain Funds may enter into “to be announced” or “TBA” commitments. TBA commitments are forward agreements for the purchase or sale of securities, including mortgage-backed securities for a fixed price, with payment and delivery on an agreed upon future settlement date. The specific securities to be delivered are not identified at the trade date. However, delivered securities must meet specified terms, including issuer, rate and mortgage terms. See “When Issued Securities, Delayed Delivery Securities and Forward Commitments” below.

Municipal Investments

The Municipal Funds may invest in obligations issued by or on behalf of states, territories and possessions of the United States and the District of Columbia and their political subdivisions, agencies and instrumentalities, the payments from which, in the opinion of bond counsel to the issuer, are excludable from gross income for U.S. federal income tax purposes (“Municipal Bonds”). Certain of the Municipal Funds may also invest in Municipal Bonds that pay interest excludable from gross income for purposes of state and local income taxes of the designated state and/or allow the value of a Fund’s shares to be exempt from state and local taxes of the designated state (“State Municipal Bonds”). The Municipal Funds may also invest in securities not issued by or on behalf of a state or territory or by an agency or instrumentality thereof, if the Manager believes such securities to pay interest excludable from gross income for purposes of U.S. federal income tax and state and local income taxes of the designated state and/or state and local personal property taxes of the designated state (“Non-Municipal Tax-Exempt Securities”). Non-Municipal Tax-Exempt Securities could include trust certificates or other instruments evidencing interest in one or more long term municipal securities. Non-Municipal Tax-Exempt Securities also may include securities issued by other investment companies that invest in municipal bonds, to the extent such investments are permitted by applicable law. Non-Municipal Tax-Exempt Securities that pay interest excludable from gross income for U.S. federal income tax purposes will be considered “Municipal Bonds” for purposes of a Municipal Fund’s investment objective and policies. Non-Municipal Tax-Exempt Securities that pay interest excludable from gross income for purposes of U.S. federal income tax and state and local income taxes of a designated state and/or allow the value of a Fund’s shares to be exempt from state and local personal property taxes of that state will be considered “State Municipal Bonds” for purposes of the investment objective and policies of each of California Municipal Opportunities Fund, New Jersey Municipal Bond Fund, New York Municipal Opportunities Fund and Pennsylvania Municipal Bond Fund.

Risk Factors and Special Considerations Relating to Municipal Bonds. The risks and special considerations involved in investment in Municipal Bonds vary with the types of instruments being acquired. Investments in Non-Municipal Tax-Exempt Securities may present similar risks, depending on the particular product. Certain instruments in which a Fund may invest may be characterized as derivatives.

 

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The value of Municipal Bonds generally may be affected by uncertainties in the municipal markets as a result of legislation or litigation, including legislation or litigation that changes the taxation of Municipal Bonds or the rights of Municipal Bond holders in the event of a bankruptcy. Municipal bankruptcies are rare and certain provisions of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code governing such bankruptcies are unclear. Further, the application of state law to Municipal Bond issuers could produce varying results among the states or among Municipal Bond issuers within a state. These uncertainties could have a significant impact on the prices of the Municipal Bonds in which a Fund invests.

Description of Municipal Bonds

Municipal Bonds include debt obligations issued to obtain funds for various public purposes, including the construction of a wide range of public facilities, refunding of outstanding obligations and obtaining funds for general operating expenses and loans to other public institutions and facilities. In addition, certain types of bonds are issued by or on behalf of public authorities to finance various privately owned or operated facilities, including certain facilities for the local furnishing of electric energy or gas, sewage facilities, solid waste disposal facilities and other specialized facilities. Such obligations are included within the term Municipal Bonds if the interest paid thereon is excluded from gross income for U.S. federal income tax purposes and any applicable state and local taxes. Other types of private activity bonds, the proceeds of which are used for the construction, equipment or improvement of privately operated industrial or commercial facilities, may constitute Municipal Bonds, although the current U.S. federal tax laws place substantial limitations on the size of such issues. The interest on Municipal Bonds may bear a fixed rate or be payable at a variable or floating rate. The two principal classifications of Municipal Bonds are “general obligation” and “revenue” or “special obligation” bonds, which latter category includes private activity bonds (“PABs”) (or “industrial development bonds” under pre-1986 law).

General Obligation Bonds. General obligation bonds are secured by the issuer’s pledge of its full faith, credit and taxing power for the payment of principal and interest. The taxing power of any governmental entity may be limited, however, by provisions of its state constitution or laws, and an entity’s creditworthiness will depend on many factors, including potential erosion of its tax base due to population declines, natural disasters, declines in the state’s industrial base or inability to attract new industries, economic limits on the ability to tax without eroding the tax base, state legislative proposals or voter initiatives to limit ad valorem real property taxes and the extent to which the entity relies on federal or state aid, access to capital markets or other factors beyond the state’s or entity’s control. Accordingly, the capacity of the issuer of a general obligation bond as to the timely payment of interest and the repayment of principal when due is affected by the issuer’s maintenance of its tax base.

Revenue Bonds. Revenue bonds are payable only from the revenues derived from a particular facility or class of facilities or, in some cases, from the proceeds of a special excise tax or other specific revenue source such as payments from the user of the facility being financed; accordingly, the timely payment of interest and the repayment of principal in accordance with the terms of the revenue or special obligation bond is a function of the economic viability of such facility or such revenue source.

Revenue bonds issued by state or local agencies to finance the development of low-income, multi-family housing involve special risks in addition to those associated with municipal bonds generally, including that the underlying properties may not generate sufficient income to pay expenses and interest costs. Such bonds are generally non-recourse against the property owner, may be junior to the rights of others with an interest in the properties, may pay interest that changes based in part on the financial performance of the property, may be prepayable without penalty and may be used to finance the construction of housing developments which, until completed and rented, do not generate income to pay interest. Increases in interest rates payable on senior obligations may make it more difficult for issuers to meet payment obligations on subordinated bonds.

PABs. PABs are, in most cases, tax-exempt securities issued by states, municipalities or public authorities to provide funds, usually through a loan or lease arrangement, to a private entity for the purpose of financing construction or improvement of a facility to be used by the entity. Such bonds are secured primarily by revenues derived from loan repayments or lease payments due from the entity, which may or may not be guaranteed by a parent company or otherwise secured. PABs generally are not secured by a pledge of the taxing power of the issuer of such bonds. Therefore, an investor should understand that repayment of such bonds generally depends on the revenues of a private entity and be aware of the risks that such an investment may entail. The continued ability of an entity to generate sufficient revenues for the payment of principal and interest on such bonds will be affected by many factors including the size of the entity, its capital structure, demand for its products or services, competition, general economic conditions, government regulation and the entity’s dependence on revenues for the operation of the particular facility being financed.

 

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Moral Obligation Bonds. “Moral obligation” bonds are normally issued by special purpose public authorities. If an issuer of moral obligation bonds is unable to meet its obligations, the repayment of such bonds becomes a moral commitment but not a legal obligation of the state or municipality that created the special purpose public authority that issued the bonds.

Municipal Notes. Municipal notes are shorter term municipal debt obligations. They may provide interim financing in anticipation of tax collection, bond sales or revenue receipts. If there is a shortfall in the anticipated proceeds, repayment on the note may be delayed or the note may not be fully repaid, and a Fund may lose money.

Municipal Commercial Paper. Municipal commercial paper is generally unsecured and issued to meet short-term financing needs. The lack of security presents some risk of loss to a Fund since, in the event of an issuer’s bankruptcy, unsecured creditors are repaid only after the secured creditors out of the assets, if any, that remain.

Municipal Lease Obligations. Also included within the general category of Municipal Bonds are certificates of participation (“COPs”) issued by government authorities or entities to finance the acquisition or construction of equipment, land and/or facilities. The COPs represent participations in a lease, an installment purchase contract or a conditional sales contract (hereinafter collectively called “lease obligations”) relating to such equipment, land or facilities. Municipal leases, like other municipal debt obligations, are subject to the risk of non-payment. Although lease obligations do not constitute general obligations of the issuer for which the issuer’s unlimited taxing power is pledged, a lease obligation is frequently backed by the issuer’s covenant to budget for, appropriate and make the payments due under the lease obligation. However, certain lease obligations contain “non-appropriation” clauses, which provide that the issuer has no obligation to make lease or installment purchase payments in future years unless money is appropriated for such purpose on a yearly basis. Although “non-appropriation” lease obligations are secured by the leased property, disposition of the property in the event of foreclosure might prove difficult. These securities represent a type of financing that has not yet developed the depth of marketability associated with more conventional securities. Certain investments in lease obligations may be illiquid. A Fund may not invest in illiquid lease obligations if such investments, together with all other illiquid investments, would exceed 15% of the Fund’s net assets. A Fund may, however, invest without regard to such limitation in lease obligations that the Manager, pursuant to guidelines that have been adopted by the Directors and subject to the supervision of the Directors, determines to be liquid. The Manager will deem lease obligations to be liquid if they are publicly offered and have received an investment grade rating of Baa or better by Moody’s, or BBB or better by S&P or Fitch Ratings (“Fitch”). Unrated lease obligations, or those rated below investment grade, will be considered liquid if the obligations come to the market through an underwritten public offering and at least two dealers are willing to give competitive bids. In reference to the latter, the Manager must, among other things, also review the creditworthiness of the entity obligated to make payment under the lease obligation and make certain specified determinations based on such factors as the existence of a rating or credit enhancement — such as insurance — the frequency of trades or quotes for the obligation and the willingness of dealers to make a market in the obligation.

The ability of issuers of municipal leases to make timely lease payments may be adversely impacted in general economic downturns and as relative governmental cost burdens are allocated and reallocated among federal, state and local governmental units. Such non-payment would result in a reduction of income to a Fund, and could result in a reduction in the value of the municipal lease experiencing non-payment and a potential decrease in the net asset value of a Fund. Issuers of municipal securities might seek protection under the bankruptcy laws. In the event of bankruptcy of such an issuer, a Fund could experience delays and limitations with respect to the collection of principal and interest on such municipal leases and a Fund may not, in all circumstances, be able to collect all principal and interest to which it is entitled. To enforce its rights in the event of a default in lease payments, the Fund might take possession of and manage the assets securing the issuer’s obligations on such securities, which may increase a Fund’s operating expenses and adversely affect the net asset value of a Fund. When the lease contains a non-appropriation clause, however, the failure to pay would not be a default and a Fund would not have the right to take possession of the assets. Any income derived from a Fund’s ownership or operation of such assets may not be tax-exempt. In addition, a Fund’s intention to qualify as a “regulated investment company” under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), may limit the extent to which a Fund may exercise its rights by taking possession of such assets, because as a regulated investment company a Fund is subject to certain limitations on its investments and on the nature of its income.

Tender Option Bonds. Certain Funds may invest in residual inverse floating rate interest tender option bonds (“TOB Residuals”), which are derivative interests in Municipal Bonds. The TOB Residuals in which the Funds will invest pay interest or income that, in the opinion of counsel to the issuer, is exempt from regular U.S. federal income tax. BlackRock will not conduct its own analysis of the tax status of the interest or income paid by TOB Residuals held by the Funds, but will rely on the opinion of

 

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counsel to the issuer. Although volatile, TOB Residuals typically offer the potential for yields exceeding the yields available on fixed rate Municipal Bonds with comparable credit quality. The Funds may invest in TOB Residuals for the purpose of using economic leverage.

TOB Residuals represent beneficial interests in a special purpose trust formed for the purpose of holding Municipal Bonds contributed by one or more funds (a “TOB Trust”). A TOB Trust typically issues two classes of beneficial interests: short-term floating rate interests (“TOB Floaters”), which are sold to third party investors, and TOB Residuals, which are generally issued to the fund(s) that transferred Municipal Bonds to the TOB Trust. The Funds may invest in both TOB Floaters and TOB Residuals. TOB Floaters may have first priority on the cash flow from the Municipal Bonds held by the TOB Trust and are enhanced with a liquidity support arrangement from a third party Liquidity Provider (defined below) which allows holders to tender their position at par (plus accrued interest). A Fund, as a holder of TOB Residuals, is paid the residual cash flow from the TOB Trust. A Fund that contributes the Municipal Bonds to the TOB Trust is paid the cash received by the TOB Trust from the sale of the TOB Floaters, less certain transaction costs, and typically will invest the cash to purchase additional Municipal Bonds or other investments permitted by its investment policies. If a Fund ever purchases all or a portion of the TOB Floaters sold by the TOB Trust, it may surrender those TOB Floaters together with a proportionate amount of TOB Residuals to the TOB Trust in exchange for a proportionate amount of the Municipal Bonds owned by the TOB Trust.

Other BlackRock-advised funds may contribute Municipal Bonds to a TOB Trust into which a Fund has contributed Municipal Bonds. If multiple BlackRock-advised funds participate in the same TOB Trust, the economic rights and obligations under the TOB Residual will generally be shared among the funds ratably in proportion to their participation in the TOB Trust.

The Municipal Bonds transferred to a TOB Trust typically are high grade Municipal Bonds. In certain cases, when Municipal Bonds transferred are lower grade Municipal Bonds, the TOB Trust transaction includes a credit enhancement feature that provides for the timely payment of principal and interest on the bonds to the TOB Trust by a credit enhancement provider. The TOB Trust would be responsible for the payment of the credit enhancement fee and a Fund, as a TOB Residual holder, would be responsible for reimbursement of any payments of principal and interest made by the credit enhancement provider.

The TOB Residuals held by a Fund generally provide the Fund with the right to cause the holders of a proportional share of the TOB Floaters to tender their notes to the TOB Trust at par plus accrued interest. Thereafter, the Fund may withdraw a corresponding share of the Municipal Bonds from the TOB Trust. This transaction, in effect, creates exposure for the Fund to the entire return of the Municipal Bonds in the TOB Trust, with a net cash investment by the Fund that is less than the value of the Municipal Bonds in the TOB Trust. This multiplies the positive or negative impact of the Municipal Bonds’ return within the Fund (thereby creating leverage). The leverage within a TOB Trust depends on the value of the Municipal Bonds deposited in the TOB Trust relative to the value of the TOB Floaters it issues.

A Fund may invest in highly leveraged TOB Residuals. A TOB Residual generally is considered highly leveraged if the principal amount of the TOB Floaters issued by the related TOB Trust exceeds 75% of the principal amount of the Municipal Bonds owned by the TOB Trust.

The TOB Trust may be collapsed without the consent of a Fund upon the occurrence of tender option termination events (“TOTEs”) and mandatory termination events (“MTEs”), as defined in the TOB Trust agreements. TOTEs include the bankruptcy or default of the issuer of the Municipal Bonds held in the TOB Trust, a substantial downgrade in the credit quality of the issuer of the Municipal Bonds held in the TOB Trust, failure of any scheduled payment of principal or interest on the Municipal Bonds, and a judgment or ruling that interest on the Municipal Bonds is subject to U.S. federal income taxation. MTEs may include, among other things, a failed remarketing of the TOB Floaters, the inability of the TOB Trust to obtain renewal of the liquidity support agreement, and a substantial decline in the market value of the Municipal Bonds held in the TOB Trust. Upon the occurrence of a TOTE or an MTE, a TOB Trust would be liquidated with the proceeds applied first to any accrued fees owed to the trustee of the TOB Trust, the remarketing agent of the TOB Floaters and the Liquidity Provider (defined below). In the case of an MTE, after the payment of fees, the holders of the TOB Floaters would be paid senior to the TOB Residual holders (i.e., the Fund). In contrast, in the case of a TOTE, after payment of fees, the holders of TOB Floaters and the TOB Residual holders would be paid pro rata in proportion to the respective face values of their certificates.

A Fund may invest in a TOB Trust on either a non-recourse and recourse basis. TOB Trusts are typically supported by a liquidity facility provided by a third-party bank or other financial institution (the “Liquidity Provider”) that allows the holders of the TOB Floaters to tender their TOB Floaters in exchange for payment of par plus accrued interest on any business day (subject to the

 

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non-occurrence of a TOTE described above). Depending on the structure of the TOB Trust, the Liquidity Provider may purchase the tendered TOB Floaters, or the TOB Trust may draw upon a loan from the Liquidity Provider to purchase the tendered TOB Floaters.

When a Fund invests in TOB Trusts on a non-recourse basis, and the Liquidity Provider is required to make a payment under the liquidity facility, the Liquidity Provider will typically liquidate all or a portion of the Municipal Bonds held in the TOB Trust and then fund the balance, if any, of the amount owed under the liquidity facility over the liquidation proceeds (the “Liquidation Shortfall”). If a Fund invests in a TOB Trust on a recourse basis, it will typically enter into a reimbursement agreement with the Liquidity Provider pursuant to which the Fund is required to reimburse the Liquidity Provider the amount of any Liquidation Shortfall. As a result, if the Fund invests in a recourse TOB Trust, the Fund will bear the risk of loss with respect to any Liquidation Shortfall. If multiple BlackRock-advised funds participate in any such TOB Trust, these losses will be shared ratably, in proportion to their participation in the TOB Trust.

Under accounting rules, Municipal Bonds of a Fund that are deposited into a TOB Trust are investments of the Fund and are presented on the Fund’s Schedule of Investments and outstanding TOB Floaters issued by a TOB Trust are presented as liabilities in the Fund’s Statement of Assets and Liabilities. Interest income from the underlying Municipal Bonds is recorded by a Fund on an accrual basis. Interest expense incurred on the TOB Floaters and other expenses related to remarketing, administration, trustee and other services to a TOB Trust are reported as expenses of a Fund. In addition, under accounting rules, loans made to a TOB Trust sponsored by a Fund may be presented as loans of the Fund in the Fund’s financial statements even if there is no recourse to the Fund’s assets.

For TOB Floaters, generally, the interest rate earned will be based upon the market rates for Municipal Bonds with maturities or remarketing provisions that are comparable in duration to the periodic interval of the tender option. Since the tender option feature has a shorter term than the final maturity or first call date of the underlying Municipal Bonds deposited in the TOB Trust, the holder of the TOB Floaters relies upon the terms of the agreement with the financial institution furnishing the liquidity facility as well as the credit strength of that institution. The risk associated with TOB Floaters, however, may be increased in the current market environment as a result of recent downgrades to the credit ratings, and thus the perceived reliability and creditworthiness, of many major financial institutions, some of which sponsor and/or provide liquidity support to TOB Trusts. This in turn may reduce the desirability of TOB Floaters as investments, which could impair the viability or availability of TOB Trusts.

The use of TOB Residuals will require the Fund to earmark or segregate liquid assets in an amount equal to any TOB Floaters, plus any accrued but unpaid interest due on the TOB Floaters, issued by TOB Trusts sponsored by, or on behalf of, the Fund that are not owned by the Fund. The use of TOB Residuals may also require the Fund to earmark or segregate liquid assets in an amount equal to loans provided by the Liquidity Provider to the TOB Trust to purchase tendered TOB Floaters. The Fund reserves the right to modify its asset segregation policies in the future to the extent that such changes are in accordance with applicable regulations or interpretations. Future regulatory requirements or SEC guidance may necessitate more onerous contractual or regulatory requirements, which may increase the costs or reduce the degree of potential economic benefits of TOB Trust transactions or limit the Fund’s ability to enter into or manage TOB Trust transactions.

Recent Developments in the TOB Trust Market. On December 10, 2013, regulators published final rules implementing section 619 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Volcker Rule”), which prohibit banking entities from engaging in proprietary trading of certain instruments and limit such entities’ investments in, and relationships with, “covered funds”, as defined in the Volcker Rule. The Volcker Rule precludes banking entities and their affiliates from sponsoring TOB Trusts as such Trusts have been structured prior to the effective date of the Volcker Rule. Banking entities subject to the Volcker Rule are required to fully comply by July 21, 2015, with respect to investments in and relationships with TOB Trusts that were not in place prior to December 31, 2013, and by July 21, 2017, with respect to investments in and relationships with TOB Trusts that were in place prior to December 31, 2013. As a result, TOB Trusts may need to be restructured or unwound.

In response to the restrictions imposed by the Volcker Rule, market participants have developed a new structure for TOB Trusts designed to ensure that no banking entity is sponsoring the TOB Trust for purposes of the Volcker Rule. Specifically, a Fund will establish, structure and “sponsor” the TOB Trusts in which it holds TOB Residuals. In such a structure, certain responsibilities that previously belonged to the sponsor bank will be performed by, or on behalf of, a Fund. A Fund may utilize service providers in meeting these responsibilities. This structure remains untested. It is possible that regulators could take positions that could limit the market for such newly structured TOB Trust transactions or a Fund’s ability to hold TOB Residuals. Under the new TOB Trust structure, a Fund will have certain additional duties and responsibilities, which may give rise to certain additional risks including, but not limited to, compliance, securities law and operational risks.

 

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Service providers to a TOB Trust, such as administrators, liquidity providers, trustees, and remarketing agents, would be acting at the direction of, and as agent of, the Fund as the TOB Residual holder. Similar to the current tender option bond structure, a Fund would deposit Municipal Bonds into the TOB Trust in exchange for TOB Residuals, the TOB Trust would then issue and sell TOB Floaters to third party investors, and the proceeds of the sale of the TOB Floaters would be distributed to such TOB Residual holders (i.e., the Fund). Tendered TOB Floaters would continue to be supported by a remarketing agent and a liquidity facility. However, the remarketing agent is not anticipated to purchase tendered TOB Floaters for its own account in the event of a failed remarketing, which may increase the likelihood that a TOB Trust will need to be collapsed and liquidated in order to purchase the tendered TOB Floaters. In the event of a failed remarketing of TOB Floaters, the Liquidity Provider, at its option, may advance a loan to the TOB Trust the proceeds of which would be used by the TOB Trust to purchase the tendered TOB Floaters. The Liquidity Provider is not obligated to advance such a loan. The TOB Trust would be the borrower with respect to any such loan. Any loans made by a Liquidity Provider will be secured by the purchased TOB Floaters held by the TOB Trust.

Similar to the current structure for TOB Trusts, a Fund may hold either non-recourse TOB Residuals or recourse TOB Residuals under the new structure. In the event of a Liquidation Shortfall, there would generally be no contractual recourse to the Fund’s assets if the Fund holds a non-recourse TOB Residual. However, as described above, a Fund would bear the risk of loss with respect to any Liquidation Shortfall if it holds a recourse TOB Residual.

The SEC and various federal banking and housing agencies recently adopted credit risk retention rules for securitizations (the “Risk Retention Rules”), which take effect in December 2016. The Risk Retention Rules would require the sponsor of a TOB Trust to retain at least 5% of the credit risk of the underlying assets supporting the TOB Trust’s Municipal Bonds. The Risk Retention Rules may adversely affect the Fund’s ability to engage in TOB Trust transactions or increase the costs of such transactions in certain circumstances.

There can be no assurance that a Fund can successfully enter into restructured TOB Trust transactions in order to refinance its existing TOB Residual holdings prior to the compliance date for the Volcker Rule, which may require that the Fund unwinds existing TOB Trusts.

TOB Trust transactions constitute an important component of the municipal bond market. Accordingly, implementation of the Volcker Rule may adversely impact the municipal market, including through reduced demand for and liquidity of municipal bonds and increased financing costs for municipal issuers. Any such developments could adversely affect the Funds. The ultimate impact of these rules on the TOB market and the overall municipal market is not yet certain.

Yields. Yields on Municipal Bonds are dependent on a variety of factors, including the general condition of the money market and of the municipal bond market, the size of a particular offering, the financial condition of the issuer, the maturity of the obligation and the rating of the issue. The ability of a Fund to achieve its investment objective is also dependent on the continuing ability of the issuers of the securities in which the Fund invests to meet their obligations for the payment of interest and principal when due. There are variations in the risks involved in holding Municipal Bonds, both within a particular classification and between classifications, depending on numerous factors. Furthermore, the rights of owners of Municipal Bonds and the obligations of the issuer of such Municipal Bonds may be subject to applicable bankruptcy, insolvency and similar laws and court decisions affecting the rights of creditors generally and to general equitable principles, which may limit th