(Dow Jones) The parade of mutual fund companies jumping into the ETF business continues. The latest entrant: Eaton Vance Corp.
The Boston money manager, known in part as one of the largest players in the closed-end fund business, asked the Securities and Exchange Commission for legal exemptions to allow it to offer five actively managed fixed-income exchange-traded funds in a filing dated Friday.
Both ETFs and closed-end funds trade on exchanges like a stock. But ETFs have a mechanism designed to ensure trading prices closely resemble the value of the funds' underlying securities. By contrast, closed-end funds often trade at steep premiums or discounts to those values.
While ETF regulatory filings are often vague, the descriptions of the proposed funds, with names like Eaton Vance Enhanced Short Maturity ETF and Eaton Vance Prime Limited Maturity ETF, suggest they may be designed to appeal to typical closed-end fund investors, especially considering these investors' focus on finding attractive yields.
"An actively managed ETF in the fixed-income area could provide investors with access to our investment expertise through another type of investment vehicle," said an Eaton Vance spokeswoman in an email. "We are always looking for investment opportunities that complement our existing lineup of investment offerings."
The step by Eaton Vance, which oversees about $160 billion, follows a string of similar moves by other large conventional fund companies. Traditionally, exchange-traded funds were a small niche of the fund business. But the recent invention of actively managed ETFs coupled with ETFs' success with investors during the credit crisis, when conventional funds lost billions to redemptions, have won the funds some latter-day converts.
Among other firms that have recently filed to begin offering ETFs are Legg Mason Inc., T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The approval process, which is typically longer for a company's first ETF, can take a number of months.
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