NEW YORK (HedgeWorld.com)–Fresco Index Shares Funds, a unit of UBS Global Asset Management, Inc., announced that it has received approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission to distribute its new exchange traded funds in the United States.
Fresco has planned a celebration, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to mark the launch of these shares on the Big Board, Monday, Oct. 21.
“We believe in the passive index concept,” said Kevin E. Pilarski, the director of global derivatives for Dow Jones Indexes and STOXX Ltd., Friday. Mr. Pilarski coordinates the licensing strategy and provides support to exchanges that trade products link to these indexes.
“Is now a good time to launch an equity product? Certainly not when markets are as volatile as they are. But that’s the good thing about ETFs. There’s never a good or bad time. Now is as good as any.” The products will prove valuable for hedging, for directional plays or for arbitrage, he said.
The new funds are the Fresco Dow Jones EURO STOXX 50 Fund (FEZ) and the Fresco Dow Jones STOXX 50 Fund (FEU). They are based, as the names imply, upon the Dow Jones EURO STOXX 50 and the Dow Jones STOXX 50 indexes, which are the most widely recognized proxies for the Euro zone and European markets, respectively.
UBS Global launched a series of Fresco-branded ETFs in Europe beginning in November 2001. Based on the experience there, Mr. Pilarski said that he, Dow Jones, STOXX and UBS are hopeful that the products will be successful in the United States, although he declined to estimate the likely volume.
When Mr. Pilarski was appointed to this post in March, Michael A. Petronella, the managing director of the Dow Jones Indexes, said that his new role proves that Dow Jones is “committed to supporting our licensees as they build volume, liquidity and user participation in” such products.
ETFs as a market are controversial in some quarters. Critics say that they encourage churning and a short-term point of view. John Bogle, among others, has long contended that most investors, especially individual investors, would be better off in a more traditional passive index fund.
“Mr. Bogle is right for the average investors,” Mr. Pilarski said, but not for the sophisticated individual or institutional investor. “If you look at the long-only passive index funds right now, you’ll see that most of the people who’ve invested that way have had negative returns for the last year, or two or three.”
STOXX Ltd. is a joint venture of Deutsche Boerse AG, Dow Jones & Company, Euronext Paris SA, and SWX Swiss Exchange.