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Monday, July 19, 2010

Firsthand Funds Fades Away

Reported by Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

Is Firsthand Funds going away? Will there be no more jalapeņo on your pizza? That is a possibility with the filing today by the Santa Clara, California-based firm to convert its largest fund -- Firsthand Technology Value Fund (TVFQX) -- into a business development company [SEC filing].

The conversion to a business development company means that the $179 million fund would cease to be an open-end fund and function in a manner like that of a closed-end fund. It would also no longer fall under the Investment Company Act of 1940.

A representative for Firsthand said the firm is not commenting beyond the filing.

The fund will close to new investors as of tomorrow morning. Existing shareholders will be able to cash out of the fund until the conversion is made. The conversion is expected to happen at the end of the year. The conversion must be approved by shareholders and a meeting is scheduled for September.

Firsthand sponsors three funds in addition to the Technology Value Fund (they are Alternative Energy, Technology Leaders and Technology Opportunities). However, Technology Value was the first fund it launched in 1994 and holds the bulk of the remaining mutual fund assets at the faded family. The remaining three funds held just under $85 million in AUM at the end of March.

The decision to convert the fund flagship fund follows the July 1 resignation of Kevin Tanner from the funds' board of trustees. Rodney Yee, a former chief financial officer of Matthews International Capital Management and treasurer of Matthews Asian Funds, took Tanner's seat on the board. 

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