Cboe seeks SEC approval for ETF share class of mutual funds

By Suzanne McGee

(Reuters) -Cboe Global Markets asked the SEC to approve a rule change that would allow issuers to add an exchange-traded fund share class to existing mutual funds, the exchange said on Thursday.

If approved, asset managers could offer exposure to existing mutual fund portfolios through an ETF, similar to the way they make mutual fund share classes with different fees and other features available now.

“Adding an exchange-traded share class gives investors more options,” said Rob Marrocco, global head of ETP listings at Cboe.

SEC approval would allow issuers to more easily add ETF products that share the record of an existing mutual fund rather than launching new funds, analysts said.

“Both the number of ETFs and ETF assets could soar” if the SEC approves Cboe’s request, said Todd Sohn, ETF analyst at Strategas LLC.

Vanguard Group’s patent on the share class concept expired in May 2023. Since then, eight other asset managers have sought SEC approval to replicate the model, including Dimensional Fund Advisors, Morgan Stanley and Fidelity.

Others, including T. Rowe Price and JP Morgan, have expressed interest in this approach.

The Cboe filing “gives issuers an avenue to force the SEC to respond to and engage with” their applications, said Bryan Armour, ETF strategist at Morningstar. The SEC must approve or reject Cboe’s application within 240 days.

There’s no guarantee the SEC will approve the application. Morningstar’s Armour noted the SEC already made one high-profile decision by approving spot bitcoin ETFs and put the odds of the Cboe winning approval this year at “a bit less than 50%.”

But the exchange’s willingness to join the battle alongside asset managers may boost longer-term odds of winning the SEC’s blessing, Armour added.

“Ultimately, this is the direction in which things are heading, and clearly Cboe is pushing to be in the lead,” he said.

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