Alert August 24, 2010

SEC Staff Temporarily Suspends Requirement that Money Market Fund Boards Must Designate NRSROs

The Staff (the “Staff”) of the SEC’s Division of Investment Management recently wrote to the Investment Company Institute (the “ICI”) announcing that it would not recommend enforcement action if a money market fund board did not designate at least four nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (“NRSROs”) whose ratings would be used by the fund to determine the eligibility of portfolio securities for the purposes of Rule 2a-7 under the Investment Company Act of 1940.  The Staff also provided relief from related disclosure requirements for the designated NRSROs.  The compliance timeline for the February 2010 amendments to Rule 2a‑7 and other rules affecting money market funds would have required a money market fund to comply with both provisions by December 31, 2010.

In its letter to the ICI, the Staff said that its no-action relief would remain in effect until the SEC determines whether to modify Rule 2a‑7 and remove all references in the rule to NRSROs, as required by Section 939A of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (discussed in the July 28, 2010 Alert).  Until such modifications to Rule 2a‑7, the Staff said that a money market fund must continue to comply with its obligations for determining and monitoring whether its securities, other than unrated asset‑backed securities, are or continue to be eligible securities for purposes of Rule 2a-7 as in effect before the February 2010 amendments to Rule 2a‑7 took effect on May 5, 2010.  The Staff said that a money market fund may continue to acquire unrated asset-backed securities as permitted by the February 2010 amendments.  (Prior to the February 2010 amendments, a money market fund could acquire an asset-backed security only if the security was a rated security for purposes of Rule 2a-7.)