Tag Archives: iShares

Claymore Cashes Out

It looks like the rumors were true.

For about year, rumors swirled around that ETF firm Claymore Securities had put itself up for sale. Well, it finally found a buyer. Guggenheim Partner, a privately held institutional money manager, on Friday agreed to acquire the entire Claymore Group. The Lisle, Ill., company includes the ETF firm Claymore Securities, as well as Claymore Advisors and Claymore Investments in Canada. All will become wholly owned subsidiaries of Guggenheim Partners. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close at the end of the third quarter.

The deal gives Guggenheim, an institutional financial services firm with more than $100 billion in assets, its first retail operation. According to the National Stock Exchange, as of June 30, Claymore was the 13th-largest U.S. ETF provider, with 35 ETFs and more than $1.6 billion in assets under management. With more than $740 million in assets, its largest fund is the Claymore/BNY BRIC ETF (EEB)

In 2001 Claymore began as a creator of unit investment trusts (UITs) and closed-end funds. It began selling ETFs in 2006. At the end of the second quarter, all the Claymore entities combined managed $12.9 billion in assets, with more than $2 billion in Canada.

For more than a year, rumors have abounded that Dave Hooten, the Claymore Group chairman and chief executive, was looking to cash out of the firm he created, in a fashion similar to his old friend and ETF rival, Bruce Bond, the founder of PowerShares. In 2006, mutual fund giant Invesco bought PowerShares for $100 million and the possibility of contingency payments.

Claymore created some of the most original ETFs in the industry, such as the Claymore/KLD Sudan Free Large-Cap Core, the Claymore/Clear Global Vaccine Index and the Claymore/NYSE Arca Airline ETF (FAA). But many funds had a hard time acquiring assets because of their niche appeal. Claymore became the first ETF firm to close funds when it shut the Sudan and Vaccine funds along with nine others in February 2008.

Most ETFs are index funds. And Claymore has struggled because of the indexes its funds track. Unable to link up with a major index provider and working in an industry that makes it difficult for two funds to track the same index, Claymore’s basic large-cap, small-cap, value and growth funds failed to attract a huge audience. Claymore’s biggest index providers are Zacks and BNY/Mellon Bank.

While the Claymore deal comes on the heels of Blackrock’s purchase of iShares, Barclays ETF company, the trend isn’t obvious. Barclays, a giant British bank, was forced to sell its market-leading ETF firm, a huge moneymaker, in order to avoid a British government takeover due to depleted cash reserves from the financial crisis. While Claymore didn’t give a reason, a few come to mind.

1) The current market environment has hurt all fund companies. Over the past year, many investors pulled out cash and remain fearful of putting money back in the market.

2) The ETF business has been a struggle for all small independent firms. Unable to latch onto a major index provider, all the independent firms, like Claymore, have needed to create niche products. And while some have been great ideas, they nonetheless have had to work harder to attract attention to these less than obvious portfolio ideas. In a market full of fear, investors don’t want to invest in offbeat ideas. They tend to gravitate to conservative and well-known indexes. Many small ETF firms have gone out of business over the past two years.

3) In light of the combination of the above reasons, I think the upper management of Claymore wanted to cash out while their firm still had a good reputation and a sizeable amount of assets.

What this all means for investors remains unclear.

Six New Funds Track Emerging Markets

Updated 10 p.m.

In light of the huge inflows moving into emerging markets over the past two months, this past week saw the launch a total of six new ETFs to capture the trend. Typically, it takes three to six months for the Securities and Exchange Commission to approve a new ETF from a current ETF provider. So, these funds are a mixture of good foresight and the luck of good timing.

Two weeks ago, this blog reported that large-cap U.S. equity ETFs experienced heavy outflows last month, while emerging market ETF saw huge cash inflows.

Emerging markets go one step beyond with the first U.S. ETF to track the Peruvian markets. The iShares MSCI All Peru Capped Index Fund (EPU) began trading today on NYSE Arca. The fund tracks the index of the same name, which holds the top 25 Peruvian equity securities by free-float adjusted market cap. The index components are either in Peru, headquartered in Peru or have the majority of their operations based in Peru. Thirteen constituents are materials producers, providing significant exposure to commodities. Top three index constituent names as of March 31 are Buenaventura Minas, Southern Copper, and Credicorp. The expense ratio is 0.63%.

iShares quotes the IMF World Economic Outlook Database which this month said Peru has the fastest growing economy in Latin America and one of the lowest inflation rates in the region. The IMF also said Peru has the third lowest Emerging Market Bond Index spread in Latin America and an estimated economic growth rate of 3.5% in 2009. Peru’s Minister of Finance this month said Peruvian capital markets posted the best performance globally year to date in 2009. Can anyone verify this?

Friday saw the launch of the iShares S&P Emerging Markets Infrastructure Index Fund (EMIF) on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The eponymous index holds 30 of the largest publicly-listed companies in the infrastructure industries — energy, transportation and utilities — with the majority of their revenues derived from emerging market operations. Each constituents had a minimum market capitalization of $250 million. As of May 29, the index was comprised of companies from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Malaysia, Mexico, South Korea and the United Arab Emigrates. The annual expense ratio of 0.75%.

Meanwhile, if you think emerging market are due for a tumble, ProShares gave international investors a chance to short these markets with leveraged short ETFs that offer -200% returns. Thursday’s launches on the NYSE Arca doubled ProShares ultrashort international ETFs to eight:

  • ProShares UltraShort MSCI Europe (EPV)
  • ProShares UltraShort MSCI Pacific ex-Japan (JPX)
  • ProShares UltraShort MSCI Brazil (BZQ)
  • ProShares UltraShort MSCI Mexico Investable Market (SMK)

Earlier this month, ProShares launched the first of its 200% leveraged international ETF series with four similar funds. The new ETFs charge a managament fee of 0.95%.

For the four months ended April 30, iShares received 65% of all ETF and mutual fund emerging markets flows year-to-date, according to Strategic Insight. That shouldn’t have been difficult considering more than 70 of the more than 180 U.S. listed iShares ETFs have an international bent. This gives iShares the largest continent of international ETFs in the industry. Trading volumes in iShares emerging markets funds surged 119% for the five months ended May 30, compared with the same period last year to 16 billion shares.

According to iShares and Bloomberg, the ETFs with the hightest net inflows in May were

  • iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund (EWZ) with $1.5 billion in net new assets under management.
  • iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (EEM) with $1.08 billion new AUM.
  • iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index Fund (FXI) with $1.02 billion new AUM.

Here’s an interesting tidbit about the lack of info coming from ProShares. IndexUniverse reportes that “ProShares’ Web site only provides data of the underlying indexes. Besides the prospectus for each, that’s the most recent detailed information available. And the benchmark data is only through March 31. Daily holdings are listed in totals of swaps held in the underlying index and cash.”

IndexUniverse does a nice break down of the ProShares international shorts.

BGi’s Diamond Scores $36.5 Million; Vanguard Investors Pissed Off

Here’s a round-up of second day stories about the Blackrock purchase of BGI.

The Wall Street Journal says more than 400 top executives at Barclays will walk away from the deal pocketing a total of $630.3 million. It seems there was some sort of unusual management incentive plan in place at BGI that would have started to expire in 2010. They needed to do something quick to cash out. Barclays President Robert Diamond alone will walk away with $36.5 million.

WSJ’s Jason Zweig reports that Vanguard’s investors are furious with the mutual fund/ETF company for even making a bid on iShares. Zweig says this could have been a good move for Vanguard and I agree. Already the No. 3 ETF provider, Vanguard could have become the market leader. More important, Vanguard would have probably cut the expense ratios on the ETFs, which could have brought in even more investors. Few people realize that Vanguard doesn’t have an ETF to partner with its S&P 500 fund. Vanguard came to ETFs late in the game and wanted to make an ETF for its flagship index fund. However, S&P had already given an exclusive license to BGI for the iShares S&P 500 Index (IVV).This would have given Vanguard the S&P 500 ETF they’ve always wanted. Also, S&P sued Vanguard over basing the ETF on the index without giving S&P any additional licensing money That full story is in ETFs for the Long Run.

The Financial Times says Larry Fink, Blackrock’s CEO, has been trying to buy BGI for eight years, and capitalized on the financial crisis to make his dream come true.

Reuters’ Svea Herbst-Bayliss suggests the BGI deal will spark a buying spree as envious rivals figure out how to compete. Bank of New York Mellon (does that taste as good as a honeydew melon?) is expected to be the next buyer. BNY already plays a big part in the ETF industry as a trustee and custodian of many funds. BNY is the trustee and administrator of the second ETF, the MidCap SPDR (MDY).

DealJournal’s Michael Corkery says besides CVC, the big loser is Goldman Sachs, which advised CVC.

Jim Wiandt of IndexUniverse.com says by using an ETF company to create the largest asset manager in the world is a huge boost for the ETF industry and proves how big basis-point-linked passive assets have gotten. He asks a lot of questions, but doesn’t give any anawers. Questions like will Blackrock keep the ETF expense ratios low and what does this mean for the active ETFs?

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear them.

Blackrock Buys BGI for $13.5 Billion

In a deal sure to create major changes in the ETF industry, asset-management giant Blackrock agreed to buy Barclays Global Investors (BGI) from Barclays PLC for $13.5 billion late Thursday.

BGI, which coined the term exchange-traded fund, has been the industry’s market leader since the emergence of its iShares family of ETFs in 2000. It remains the industry leader with more funds than any other ETF sponsor and a little less than 50% market share.

With more than $2.7 trillion in assets under management, The Wall Street Journal says this creates a “money-management titan twice the size of its closest competitor,” such as State Street, another ETF provider, and mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments.

The most interesting tidbit comes out of The New York Times. The Times reports Barclays’ president Robert Diamond had first discussed a potential deal with BlackRock approximately seven years ago, but decided the timing was not right.

My favorite nugget, the boys at BGI won’t have to change the initials on their luggage. The firm will continue to be called BGI as the new company takes the name BlackRock Global Investors.

BlackRock Rumored to Buy BGI; BNY Could Enter the Fray

Kudos to Douglas Appell and Pension & Investments for breaking what may be the biggest scoop of the ETF industry this year.

Pension & Investments reported just before the market closed Friday that giant money manager BlackRock made a late day play for Barclays Global Investors. Unnamed sources say, “BlackRock is likely to announce an agreement to buy BGI, creating the world’s biggest institutional money manager.” The source expects the announcement within days. BGI owns the iShares exchange traded fund business.

Big British bank Barclays put the unit up for sale earlier this year in an effort to raise capital and stave off the British government either investing in or nationalizing the bank. CVC, a British private equity firm, offered in April to buy iShares for $4.2 billion. BlackRock is expected to trump that with a $10 billion offer. CVC holds the option to make a counter bid. But a source not directly involved in the deal said CVC wouldn’t be able to top the BlackRock offer.

I love how every story crediting Appell calls him a veteran journalist. What makes one a veteran journalist vs. a regular journalist? I’ve heard of rookie journalists. But after the first year, aren’t all journalists “veteran journalists”?

This morning, the New York Times confirmed the story. Negotiations appear stuck on the issue of price. Barclays wants “more than $12 billion.” Vanguard Group, the providers of a large family of ETFs and mutual funds, had previously been mentioned as a buyer.

This story cleared up one question in many people’s minds: Is this for iShares alone or all of BGI. The Time says all of BGI, which operates in 15 countries with more than $1 trillion in assets under management. If the deal goes through, Barclays could end up with a seat on BlackRock’s board.

The Financial Times confirms the story and raises the ante. FT.com reports Bank of New York Mellon is about to stage an 11th -hour challenge for BGI. FT predicts the deal could come in around $13 billion, with Barclays taking a 20% stake in Blackrock.

I want to know where is Fidelity, the mutual fund giant? Fidelity missed the boat the first time and here’s its chance to be one of the largest in the mutual fund and ETF businesses in one fell swoop.

iShares Might Really be Sold

It looks like iShares might really be sold.

“Barclays has started exclusive negotiations with CVC Capital Partners, the private equity group, to sell the exchange traded funds business of its iShares subsidiary in a deal expected to be worth about £3bn,” reported the Financial Times.

This comes on the heels of the FT’s report that Barclay’s was in talks with three suitors.

I’m still digesting this. More to come.

Study: Self-Directed Investors Use ETFs 20% More than Advised Investors

Cogent Research, a research firm I’ve never heard of, agrees with the assessment Bruce Bond, the CEO of PowerShares, made on this blog last week.

“We think that what is happening in the broader market has truncated the adoption of the ETF among the investment professional community,” said Bond.

Cogent says self-directed investors are playing an increasingly significant role in defining the ETF product landscape. In ETF Investor Brandscape, a recently published national study of 4,000 affluent Americans, the firm says “interest, usage and commitment to ETFs is significantly higher among self-directed investors who manage their own portfolios.”

According to Cogent, these are the study’s major findings:

* Self-directed investors’ awareness of several top ETF providers is almost twice that of advised investors.

* Equal proportions of self-directed and advised investors use ETFs, however, self-directed investors allocate 20% more of their portfolio to ETFs (The actual numbers were 17% average allocation to ETFs among self-directed vs. 14.1% average allocation to ETFs among advised).

* Among current ETF owners, self-directed investors are far more loyal to their primary ETF provider than are investors who purchase and own their investments through an advisor.

* Usage of ETFs is expected to increase significantly in 2009 among current owners and non-owners alike. On average, one out of every four (25%) current ETF owners plans to increase their ETF holdings. Among self-directed investors, the proportion of likely increased use rises to 35%, representing a 40% higher increased adoption rate.

* iShares and Vanguard are fighting for the number one spot in overall customer experience, which will payoff in loyalty and increased investments. Meanwhile, PowerShares, State Street Global Advisors, and ProShares must work harder to inspire existing clients to increase investments. Furthermore, challenger brands like WisdomTree and Rydex need to focus on the basics–increasing investor awareness of their offerings.

“Everything we see in the data suggests that there is real ‘home-grown’ passion among investors–both advised and self-directed–for ETFs,” says Christy White, founder and principal of Cogent Research in a written statement. “Providers that are committed to promoting and supporting a dual distribution strategy will prevail in this growing marketplace.”