U.S. Markets close in 10 mins

Firm Nixes Plan to Convert Mutual Fund to Active ETF

tlydon@globaltrend.com (Tom Lydon)

An asset manager that has been trying to get permission from regulators to convert an existing mutual fund into an active ETF has reportedly thrown in the towel on the plan.

In June 2010, Huntington Asset Advisors filed to launch an actively managed ETF that would be a clone of the $41 million Huntington Rotating Strategy Fund, Reuters reports. Huntington planned to close the mutual fund and allow its investors to move the money, tax-free, to the new ETF.

After telling Reuters on Wednesday that the SEC would not allow it to convert the mutual fund to an active ETF, Randy Bateman, president and chief investment officer of Huntington Advisors, said on Thursday that the agency did not issue an outright denial, according to a separate report.

“Rather, after two years of the SEC repeatedly asking new questions about its request, Bateman said the company believed it was never going to get approval for its application and decided to cut its losses and instead launch an ETF clone alongside its mutual fund,” according to the article.

“We did not want to hold up our entire entry into the ETF business, not to mention the further bleed of attorney fees,” Bateman told Reuters.

The development is seen as a setback for fund companies considering folding their mutual funds into active ETFs.

Huntington, a unit of Huntington Bancshares (HBAN - News), earlier this week launched its first ETF, Huntington EcoLogical Strategy ETF (HECO - News). [Huntington Lists First ETF]

The firm plans to launch the Sector Rotations ETF next month and Bateman said Huntington will ensure the new ETF is not exactly like the mutual fund so that it does not “cannibalize” assets, Reuters reported.

“We had wanted to be able to promote the track record of the fund with the new ETF and allow investors to do a tax-free exchange, but sometimes you have to just capitulate and move forward,” he said in the story.