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Bitcoin ETF application withdrawn amid government shutdown: News Scan

Our monthly roundup of industry highlights

Bitcoin ETF application withdrawn due to government shutdown
CBOE Global Markets revoked its application with the SEC for what would have been the industry's first bitcoin ETF as a result of the 35-day government shutdown, Bloomberg News reports. Most SEC employees were furloughed because of the federal government's partial closure, which has since been temporarily reopened.

"CBOE's decision to withdraw its filing with the SEC to list and trade shares of the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust is a function of timing related to the U.S. government shutdown as the end of the review period approaches," CBOE said. "We plan to resubmit a filing at a later date and look forward to continued discussions with the SEC."

The new fund from CBOE Vest has an expense ratio of 0.75%.
Signage is displayed outside the Cboe Global Markets Inc. building in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. U.S. stocks slipped in thin trading on the final market day of 2017, while the dollars slump continued as the euro headed for its best annual performance in 14 years. The S&P 500 Index turned lower in trading 45 percent below the 30-day average, leaving its gain this year just under 20 percent, the most since 2013. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

If permitted, CBOE's application would have passed a fund from VanEck and Solid X to list on the CBOE BZX Exchange, according to Bloomberg News.

BlackRock appoints iShares' Wiedman to newly created global position
BlackRock appointed Mark Wiedman, head of the firm's $1.8 trillion iShares unit, to lead its newly created international and corporate strategy position, according to Bloomberg News.

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Wiedman joined BlackRock 15 years ago with a group advising financial firms and central banks on capital markets, Bloomberg News reports. He was appointed to iShares in 2011 when its former leader, Mike Latham, stepped back from day-to-day management of the division. Since then, the group has more than doubled in size. In 2016, Wiedman took over all index investing and ETFs for the firm, a space that accounts for nearly 70% of the firm's managed assets.

"It certainly moves him up the list as a possible successor to [BlackRock CEO Larry] Fink," said Kyle Sanders, an analyst at Edward Jones.

PRODUCTS
Bitwise attempts to pass bitcoin ETF
Bitwise Asset Management is taking a new approach to launching the industry's first bitcoin ETF.

The tactic, currently filed as an initial registration statement on Form S-1 with the SEC, is built to track the firm's Bitwise Bitcoin Total Return Index - produced by the its Bitwise Index Services - and will rely on regulated third-party custodians to hold its physical bitcoin, according to the firm.

Bitwise is also hopeful that the NYSE will file a so-called Rule 19b-4 request with the SEC to allow its approval.

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"While there can be no assurance that the 19b-4 application will be granted or the SEC will review and ultimately accelerate the registration statement, we are optimistic that 2019 should be the year that a bitcoin ETF launches," said John Hyland, global head of ETFs for Bitwise.

ProShares launches suite of communication sector ETFs
ProShares has launched a suite of ETFs benchmarked to the S&P Communication Services Select Sector Index, according to the firm.

The funds; XCOM, UCOM, YCOM and SCOM, which all have expense ratios of 0.95%, seek daily investment results that correspond to +/- 2x and +/- 3x the daily performance of the index, prior to fees and expenses, according to the firm. The funds are listed on NYSE Arca.

Direxion expands ETF lineup
Direxion is expanding its relative weight suite with 10 new ETFs, including its first value strategy in an index-based fund, according to the firm. The new funds will track Russell and MSCI indexes that capture common macro thematic views, Direxion said.

"You can overweight growth if you believe it's going to outperform the market. But, for some investors, that only captures half of their view," said Dave Mazza, managing director and head of product at Direxion. "If growth beats the market, then it obviously beats value by even more."

Artivest adds to suite of services
Artivest announced efforts to expand its alternative investment platform to include product structuring and fund distribution services.

The firm's addition of investment research and product structuring capabilities will be led by Artivest Chief Investment Officer Matt Osborne, the former chief investment officer of Altegris, according to the firm. In addition, Artivest says it will add fund distribution capabilities across all major domestic channels in an effort to better deliver alternative investment solutions.

First Trust launches long duration opportunities ETF
First Trust announced the launch of the First Trust Long Duration Opportunities ETF (LGOV). The fund, which has an expense ratio of 0.65%, is actively managed and seeks to generate capital preservation by investing at least 80% of net assets in investment grade fixed-income stocks either issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, according to the firm.

Managers of the fund expect that, with the increase of both interest rate and equity market volatility, "mortgage-backed securities are an important piece of a diversified portfolio due to their low correlation to other core asset classes and positive credit quality trends."

ARRIVALS
Voya adds to distribution team
Voya Investment Management announced that it has expanded its distribution team with the addition of Rob Covino, a former client advisor at UBS Asset Management; Lindsay Rouff, a former director at Credit Suisse's institutional asset management distribution team; and Ellen Bermel, the former RFP manager and head of Dreyfus client reporting for BNY Mellon Asset Management.

The top 20 are now home to nearly $1.2 trillion in combined assets.
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In their new roles, Covino will lead the firm's institutional team as a client advisor in the central region; Rouff will focus on public corporate and endowment sectors as a client advisor on the firm's East Coast team; and Bermel will head the firm's RFP team for both intuitional and intermediary divisions, according to the firm.

BMO names institutional sales head
BMO Global Asset Management appointed Lee Wanie, former managing director of BlackRock's institutional business group, to managing director, head of institutional sales in the U.S., the firm said.

Wanie, based in Chicago, is responsible for building institutional relationships and leading the firm's U.S. team, BMO said. Wanie will report to Phil Enochs, BMO's head of U.S. distribution.

Global X makes executive promotions
Global X Management has promoted research analyst Alex Ashby to SVP, head of product development, and former VP of marketing analytics, Steve Munroe, to SVP, head of marketing, according to the firm.

Ashby, who joined the firm in 2010, will continue to focus on global investment solutions, Global X says. Munroe, who joined from Liberty Mutual Insurance in 2015, will help expand the firm's data analytics unit. The two will report to Global X CEO Luis Berruga.

"Our ability to rigorously develop new products and efficiently reach investors with our message have been critical components of Global X's success," Berruga said.

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Cornerstone expands board of directors
Cornerstone Capital Group named Kristin Frank, the president and board director at software marketing company AdPredictive, to its board of directors, the firm said.

Frank previously served as chief operating officer at MTV, EVP at Viacom's music and entertainment connected content division and chief operating officer at LOGO TV, according to Cornerstone. She is also on the board of directors for Brightcove and yoga streaming service, Gaia.

"Kristin's exceptional leadership in the media industry, her deep expertise in digital media, and her innovative excellence in technology and distribution will add tremendous value to our organization," said Cornerstone CEO Erika Karp.

Russell appoints interim CIO
Russell Investments is tapping Peter Gunning, most recently the firm's CEO for Asia-Pacific, back to his former position of global chief investment officer on an interim basis following the departure of Jeff Hussey in October, according to the firm.

Gunning, who joined Russell in 1996 at the firm's Sydney office, previously served as the firm's global chief investment officer from 2008 to 2013, before Hussey took over, Russell said. Based in Seattle, Gunning will continue to oversee the firm's Asia-Pacific business and report directly to Russell CEO Michelle Seitz.

"With his deep experience in both investment management and client-facing roles, Pete is the perfect person to lead our investment division during this period of industry evolution and change," Setiz said.

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