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Undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS): applicable rules

The recast of the Directive on undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS) aims at improving the effectiveness of the investment fund market. It establishes a legal framework for mergers, master-feeder structures and the sale of units of a UCITS in another Member State (management company passport). Furthermore, this recast introduces the concept of key investor information and simplifies the notification procedure for UCITS which market their units in another Member State.

ACT

Directive 2009/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 on the coordination of laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS) (Text with EEA relevance) [See amending acts].

SUMMARY

This Directive lays down rules applying to undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS).

What sort of undertaking does the Directive apply to?

UCITS include undertakings:

  • with the sole object of collective investment in transferable securities or in other liquid financial assets, capital raised from the public and which operate on the principle of risk-spreading;
  • the units of which are repurchased or redeemed out of these undertakings’ assets.

These undertakings may be constituted under the following laws:

  • contractual law (as common funds managed by management companies *);
  • trust law (as unit trusts);
  • statute (as investment companies).

However, this Directive does not apply to:

  • collective investment undertakings of the closed-ended type;
  • collective investment undertakings which raise capital without promoting the sale of their units to the public in the European Union;
  • collective investment undertakings the units of which may be sold only to the public in third countries;
  • categories of collective investment undertakings prescribed by regulations.

What are the conditions for the authorisation of a UCITS?

A UCITS must be authorised by the competent authorities of its home Member State in order to be able to pursue activities. The competent authorities may not authorise a UCITS under the following circumstances:

  • if the investment company does not comply with the preconditions;
  • if the management company is not authorised for the management of UCITS in its home Member State.

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) can elaborate technical regulatory standards in order to specify the information to be provided to the competent authorities as part of a request for approval. ESMA publishes the list of approved management companies on its website.

The Commission has a delegation of power concerning the elaboration of draft technical standards.

Obligations regarding management companies

The activity of management of UCITS comprises portfolio management, marketing and administration including inter alia legal and fund management accounting services, valuation and pricing or issues and redemptions.

The competent authorities are to grant the authorisation of a management company under the following conditions:

  • it has a capital of EUR 125 000;
  • it complies with the organisational requirements laid down by this Directive;
  • the organisational structure of the management company is set out.

Relations with third countries are covered by the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID). If difficulties are encountered in the marketing of units in a third country, Member States inform ESMA and the Commission.

Management companies may delegate to third parties one or more of their own functions.

Management company passport

A management company established in a Member State is authorised to pursue its activities in another Member State by establishing a branch or under the freedom to provide services.

In cases where a management company established in a third country refuses to provide information or infringes the provisions of the host Member State, the competent authorities of the host Member State have the option of taking certain measures, such as preventing the management company from carrying out any new operations on the territory.

Obligations regarding investment companies

Investment companies are undertakings:

  • with the sole object of collective investment in transferable securities or in other liquid financial assets, capital raised from the public and which operate on the principle of risk-spreading;
  • the units of which are repurchased or redeemed out of these undertakings’ assets.

Member States shall grant authorisation to establish an investment company that has not designated a management company if the investment company has an initial capital of at least EUR 300 000.

Investment firms which have not designated a management company must, however, enclose a programme of operations with the application for authorisation.

Investment companies shall manage only assets of their own portfolio and shall not manage assets on behalf of a third party.

Each investment company’s home Member State shall draw up prudential rules for investment companies that have not designated a management company.

Obligations regarding depositaries

The assets of a UCITS shall be entrusted to a depositary for safe-keeping. They must:

  • ensure that the sale, issue, repurchase, redemption and cancellation of units effected on behalf of a common fund or by a management company are carried out in accordance with the applicable national law and the fund rules;
  • ensure that the value of units is calculated in accordance with the applicable national law and the fund rules (common funds);
  • carry out the instructions of the management company, unless they conflict with the applicable national law or the fund rules (common funds);
  • ensure that in transactions involving a common fund’s assets any consideration is remitted to it within the usual time limits;
  • ensure that a common fund’s income is applied in accordance with the applicable national law and the fund rules.

The depositary must be established in the same Member State as the UCITS.

However, certain investment firms may decide not to have a depositary. In this case, the Member States shall inform ESMA and the Commission of the identity of those companies which benefit from this derogation.

Mergers of UCITS

Member States may allow UCITS to perform cross-border * and domestic * mergers. The techniques used must be provided for under the laws of the Member State.

When a merger takes place, the merging UCITS must communicate information concerning the proposed merger, the common draft terms of merger, and a statement by each of the depositaries of the UCITS concerned.

Member States shall require that the common draft terms of merger include the following particulars:

  • the background to and the rationale for the proposed merger;
  • the expected impact of the proposed merger;
  • the calculation method of the exchange ratio;
  • the planned date.

Obligations concerning the investment policies of UCITS

The investments of a UCITS shall mainly comprise:

  • transferable securities and money market instruments admitted to or dealt on a regulated market;
  • transferable securities and money market instruments admitted to or dealt on another market in a Member State;
  • recently issued transferable securities;
  • units of authorised UCITS or other collective investment undertakings;
  • deposits with credit institutions;
  • financial derivative instruments.

UCITS may not acquire precious metals.

The Directive also establishes requirements to be met by the initiator in order for a UCITS to be permitted to invest in securities and other financial instruments of this type, as well as the qualitative requirements to be met by the UCITS that invest in these securities or other financial instruments.

The UCITS Directive gives investment limits for each category of asset. ESMA can elaborate technical regulatory standards which aim, in particular, at clarifying the provisions relating to the categories of assets.

ESMA must have access to all the information in a consolidated format in order to ensure the surveillance of systematic risks at EU level.

Master-feeder structures

A feeder UCITS is a UCITS which is authorised to invest at least 85 % of its assets in units of another UCITS or an investment compartment thereof.

A feeder UCITS may hold up to 15 % of its assets in the following:

  • ancillary liquid assets;
  • financial derivative instruments;
  • movable or immovable property.

The competent authorities of the home Member State of a feeder UCITS must give their approval if it invests in a master UCITS.

Obligations concerning information to be provided to investors

Investment firms and management companies must publish a prospectus, a half-yearly report and an annual report for each of the common funds which they manage. Furthermore, Member States shall require that an investment company and, for each of the common funds it manages, a management company, draw up a short document containing key information for investors (“key investor information”).

UCITS which market their units in Member States other than those in which they are established

UCITS may market their units in another Member State subject to a notification procedure.

Member States shall appoint the competent authorities in order to carry out the functions provided for by this Directive. The competent authorities are required to cooperate with ESMA.

Key terms of the Act

  • Management company: a company, the regular business of which is the management of UCITS in the form of common funds or of investment companies (collective portfolio management of UCITS);
  • Cross-border merger: the merger of UCITS at least two of which are established in different Member States, or established in the same Member State into a newly constituted UCITS established in another Member State;
  • Domestic merger: a merger between UCITS established in the same Member State where at least one of the involved UCITS has been notified.

REFERENCE

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2009/65/EC

7.12.2009

30.6.2011

OJ L 302 of 17.11.2009

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2010/78/EU

4.1.2011

31.12.2011

OJ L 331 of 15.12.2010

Directive 2011/61/EU

21.7.2011

22.7.2013

OJ L 174 of 1.7.2011

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2009/65/EC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purpose only.

RELATED ACTS

Regulations

Commission Regulation (EU) No 583/2010 of 1 July 2010 implementing Directive 2009/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards key investor information and conditions to be met when providing key investor information or the prospectus in a durable medium other than paper or by means of a website [Official Journal L 176 of 10.7.2010].
This Regulation is aimed at harmonising key investor information.
It specifies the information to be provided concerning the investment policy objectives of UCITS and lays down detailed rules on the presentation of the risk and reward profile of the investment by requiring use of a synthetic indicator.
It also specifies the format for the presentation and explanation of charges incurred by investors.
It also applies to particular UCITS structures consisting of two or more investment compartments.

Commission Regulation (EU) No 584/2010 of 1 July 2010 implementing Directive 2009/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the form and content of the standard notification letter and UCITS attestation, the use of electronic communication between competent authorities for the purpose of notification, and procedures for on-the-spot verifications and investigations and the exchange of information between competent authorities [Official Journal L 176 of 10.7.2010].
This Regulation aims at harmonising the procedure for notification of marketing of units of UCITS in another Member State.
It specifies on the one hand the form and content of the standard notification letter to be used by UCITS. It defines on the other hand the form and content of the attestation to be used by the competent authorities of Member States to confirm that the UCITS fulfils the conditions laid down by Directive 2009/65/EC. The Regulation also sets out a detailed procedure for the electronic transmission of the notification file between competent authorities.
It also lays down procedures for the supervision of fund managers’ frontier activities.

Directives

Commission Directive 2010/43/EU of 1 July 2010 implementing Directive 2009/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards organisational requirements, conflicts of interest, conduct of business, risk management and content of the agreement between a depositary and a management company [Official Journal L 176 of 10.7.2010].

Commission Directive 2010/44/EU of 1 July 2010 implementing Directive 2009/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards certain provisions concerning fund mergers, master-feeder structures and notification procedure [Official Journal L 176 of 10.7.2010].

Last updated: 31.08.2011
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