Fidelity's Active ETF Plans Take Shape

May 29, 2013

The long wait is over—Fidelity's active ETF plans start heating up.

Fidelity has begun putting into registration its first ETFs in a decade—actively managed portfolios focused on corporate bonds and on mortgage-backed securities, beginning an exciting new phase for the company that became famous a generation ago with the Magellan Fund.

The Fidelity Mortgage Securities ETF will invest primarily in investment-grade mortgage-related securities and repurchase agreements on those securities, according to the filing submitted to regulators today. Derivatives might be part of the strategy. Fidelity didn’t disclose tickers and fees for the fund.

The company also put into registration the Fidelity Corporate Bond Exchange Traded Fund—the very strategy it said would be its first active ETF when it initially filed for permission to offer active ETFs late last year. The ETF will have similar overall interest-rate risk as the Barclays U.S. Credit Bond Index, the same index underlying the $1.37 billion iShares Credit Bond ETF (NYSEArca: CFT).

The mortgage-focused ETF is meanwhile expected to have a similar interest-rate risk profile to that of the Barclays U.S. MBS Index, the same index benchmarking the $6.7 billion iShares Barclays MBS Bond Fund (NYSEArca: MBB). MBB invests in mortgage-backed pass-through securities issued by federal agencies.

The ETF registration statements are the first for Fidelity since it launched the Fidelity Nasdaq Composite Tracking Stock (NasdaqGM: ONEQ) in September 2003. While the company has been slow to embrace the ETF revolution, it did begin signaling it was planning a much more ambitious jump into ETFs in December 2011, when it first requested broad permission to bring to market index ETFs.

A year later, the firm added an equally ambitious request seeking permission to offer active ETFs, with the two newly registered funds being the company's first that stem from that exemptive relief request.

Exemptive relief grants ETF firms exception to sections of the Investment Act of 1940 and is just the first step in the path to launching ETFs. It often takes at least six to 12 months from the date of the initial filing for a company’s first ETF to hit the market.

It won that permission to market active ETFs earlier this month.



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