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Monday, May 19, 2003

SEC Thinking on Hedge Funds Evolves

by: Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

The SEC is reportedly mulling over ways to let mutual funds act more like hedge funds. The shift in thought comes in the wake of the SEC's look into whether the hedge fund industry needs more oversight. Ironically, the investigation showed regulators that few retail investors currently use hedge funds and that restrictions on the fund industry could be eased to enable the growth of hedge-fund like vehicles.

William Donaldson, chairman of the SEC, held a two-day roundtable discussion with the hedge fund industry in Washington last Wednesday and Thursday. It was at that meeting that hedge fund executives first learned of the SEC's thinking.

The intent would be let the registered fund industry create products mimicking hedge funds performance. Meanwhile, the SEC may require hedge fund operators to register as investment advisors but it is backing away from requiring them to register their products under the 1940 Investment Company Act.

Some changes, reports Reuters, may be changing regulations to allow funds to levy inventive fees modeled on those in the hedge fund industry. The regulators may also look at ways to ease restrictions that inhibit registered funds from shorting stocks.

More ideas on the topic may come to the fore when the House Financial Services Capital Markets Subcommittee holds a hearing on the role hedge funds play in financial markets this Thursday under Rep. Richard Baker (R, Louisiana). Donaldson is among the scheduled to testify at the hearing. He is expected to report on last week's meeting between the SEC and the hedge fund executives. 

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