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The Central Bank of Ireland recently approved what is believed to be one of the first regulated exchange-traded funds in Europe. Exchange-traded funds have become an extremely popular investment vehicle in the US and it is anticipated that European investors will also be attracted to the product's benefits. An exchange-traded fund permits investors to effectively purchase a correctly weighted basket of stocks to accurately track an index. It is structured to reduce costs at the fund level by providing that subscriptions and redemptions for shares in the fund take place by way of an in specie transfer of large blocks of securities of the type in which the fund is established to invest. This transfer obviates the need for the fund to purchase the securities directly in the market and thereby reduces transaction costs at the fund level. Generally, exchange-traded funds make use of equity derivatives to ensure compliance with concentration restrictions. Facilities are also generally provided for smaller investors to purchase shares on the secondary market through an accepted clearing system.

Dermot Powell

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