The Fund's principal investment objective is long-term capital appreciation through investment primarily in equity securities of Australian companies listed on the ASX. Its secondary objective is current income, which is expected to be derived primarily from dividends and interest on Australian corporate and governmental securities. There can be no assurance the Fund will achieve its investment objectives. The Fund's investment objectives and each of the percentage limitations on investments set forth below in "Investment Policies," unless otherwise indicated, are fundamental policies that may not be changed without the approval of a majority of the Fund's outstanding voting securities. Under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended ("1940 Act"), a majority of the Fund's outstanding voting securities means the lesser of (i) 67% or more of the shares represented at a meeting at which more than 50% of the outstanding shares are represented or (ii) more than 50% of the outstanding shares. In the event that the Fund issues preferred shares, changes in fundamental policies would also require approval by a majority of the outstanding preferred shares, voting as a separate class.
The Board of Directors has adopted a policy that, for as long as the name of the Fund remains Aberdeen Australia Equity Fund, Inc., the Fund will invest at least 80% of its net assets, plus the amount of any borrowings for investment purposes, in equity securities, consisting of common stock, preferred stock and convertible stock, of Australian companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange Limited. For these purposes, "Australian companies" means companies that are tied economically to Australia. The following criteria will be considered in determining if a company is "tied economically" to Australia: whether the company (i) is a constituent of the S&P ASX 200 Accumulation Index ("S&P/ASX 200"); (ii) has its headquarters located in Australia; (iii) pays dividends on its stock in Australian dollars; (iv) has its accounts audited by Australian auditors; (v) is subject to Australian taxes levied by the Australian Taxation Office; (vi) holds its annual general meeting in Australia; (vii) has common stock/ordinary shares and/or other principal class of securities registered with Australian regulatory authorities for sale in Australia; or (viii) is incorporated in Australia. This 80% investment policy is a non-fundamental policy of the Fund and may be changed by the Board of Directors upon 60 days' prior written notice to stockholders. However, it is a fundamental policy of the Fund to normally invest at least 65% of its total assets in equity securities, consisting of common stock, preferred stock and convertible preferred stock, listed on the ASX. The Fund's equity investments are generally limited to securities of companies that are listed on the ASX. These investments may include securities of New Zealand issuers that are listed on the ASX. However, up to 10% of the value of the Fund's total assets (at the time of purchase) may be invested in unlisted equity securities.
The Fund may also invest in debt securities, consisting of notes and debentures of Australian companies, bills and bonds of the Federal and State governments of Australia and U.S. Government securities. During periods when, in the Investment Manager's judgment, changes in the Australian market or other economic conditions warrant a defensive economic policy, the Fund may temporarily reduce its position in equity securities and increase its position in debt securities or in money market instruments having a maturity of not more than six months and consisting of Australian bank time deposits; bills and acceptances; Australian Federal Treasury bills; Australian corporate notes; and U.S. Treasury bills. The Fund may also invest in such money market instruments in order to meet dividend and expense obligations.
The Fund invests its assets in a broad spectrum of Australian and New Zealand industries, including metals and minerals, other natural resources, construction, electronics, food, appliances and household goods, transport, tourism, the media and financial institutions. In selecting industries and companies for equity investment, the Investment Manager may, among other factors, consider overall growth prospects, competitive positions in domestic and export markets, technology, research and development, productivity, labor costs, raw material costs and sources, profit margins, return on investment, capital resources, management and government regulation. The Fund's investments in Australian debt securities and Australian money market instruments are limited to obligations of Australian Federal and State governments, governmental agencies and authorities, listed corporate issuers and banks considered to be creditworthy by the Investment Manager.
In 1999, the Fund received a no-action assurance letter from the SEC staff to permit the Fund to concentrate its portfolio investments under certain circumstances. The Fund will not invest in a security if, after the investment, more than 25% of its total assets would be invested in any one industry or group of industries, provided that the Fund may invest between 25% and 35% of its total assets in the securities of any one industry group if, at the time of investment, that industry group represents 20% or more of the S&P/ASX 200. The no-action letter issued by the SEC staff referred to industry sectors of the Australian All Ordinaries Index, then the Fund's performance benchmark. The Fund's performance benchmark was subsequently changed to the S&P/ASX 200, as reported to stockholders in the Fund's semi-annual report for the period ended April 30, 2000. The S&P/ASX 200 comprises the top 200 companies listed on the ASX by market capitalization, and was introduced by the ASX in April 2000. The S&P/ASX 200 most closely represents the universe of stocks that are held by the Fund. Standard & Poor's subsequently discontinued the use of the ASX classification system for the S&P/ASX 200 and replaced such classification system with the Global Industry Classification Standard ("GICS"). The GICS classification tier of 23 Industry Groupings, which the Fund currently uses for its concentration policy, is the classification most comparable to the 24 ASX sectors formerly used by both the Australian All Ordinaries Index and the S&P/ASX 200.
The Fund does not trade in securities for short-term gain.
The Fund may seek to protect the value of certain of the common stocks in its portfolio against decline by purchasing put options on such stocks. The Fund may also purchase call options on common stock in anticipation of price increases. In addition, the Fund may seek to protect the value of such stocks by selling covered call options on common stock held in its portfolio. A call option is covered if the Fund owns the stock subject to the option or holds a call option on the same stock with an exercise price equal to or less than the exercise price of the call sold. All options purchased will be listed on the ASX.
In order to terminate its rights and obligations on options, the Fund may sell or buy an option in a closing transaction. If an option is not exercised or sold, it will become worthless at its expiration date. The aggregate premiums paid for all options held by the Fund will not exceed 10% of the value of its total assets at the time of the purchase and the Fund will not write any call options if as a result it then would have more than 50% of its total assets subject to purchase upon exercise of calls.
The Fund may enter into repurchase agreements with banks and broker-dealers when it deems it advisable. A repurchase agreement is a contract under which the Fund acquires a security for a relatively short period (usually no more than one week) subject to the obligations of the seller to repurchase and the Fund to resell such security at a fixed time and price (representing the Fund's cost plus interest). The Investment Manager will monitor the value of such securities daily to determine that the value equals or exceeds the repurchase price. Under the 1940 Act, repurchase agreements are considered to be loans made by the Fund which are collateralized by the securities subject to repurchase.
Loans of Portfolio Securities
The Fund's investment policies permit the Fund to enter into securities lending agreements. Under such agreements, the Fund may lend to borrowers (primarily banks and broker-dealers) portfolio securities with an aggregate market value of up to one-third of the Fund's total assets when it deems advisable. Any such loans must be secured by collateral (consisting of any combination of cash, U.S. government securities, irrevocable bank letters of credit or other high quality debt securities) in an amount at least equal, on a daily marked-to-market basis, to the current market value of the securities loaned. Cash collateral will be invested by the lending agent in short-term instruments, money market mutual funds or other collective investment funds, and income from these investments will be allocated among the Fund, the borrower and the lending agent. The Fund may terminate a loan after such notice period as is provided for the particular loan. The Fund will receive from the borrower amounts equivalent to any cash payments of interest, dividends and other distributions with respect to the loaned securities, although the tax treatment of such payments may differ from the treatment of distributions paid directly by the issuer to the Fund. The Fund also has the option to require non-cash distributions on the loaned securities to be credited to its account. The terms of the Fund's lending arrangement includes provisions to permit the Fund to vote the loaned securities.
The following restrictions are fundamental policies, which cannot be changed without the approval of the holders of a majority of the Fund's outstanding voting securities. In the event that the Fund issues preferred shares, changes in investment restrictions would also require approval by a majority of the outstanding preferred shares, voting as a separate class. If a percentage restriction on investment or use of assets set forth below is adhered to at the time a transaction is effected, later changes in a percentage resulting from changing values will not be considered a violation.
The Fund may not: