BlackRock's headquarters (Credit: Shutterstock)

As of Wednesday, BlackRock is officially separating the active from the passive in the branding of its ETFs. 

All of its alpha-seeking active ETFs — ETFs that seek to maximize income, long-term capital appreciation or total return — will carry the BlackRock name and all passive ETFs will be known as iShares ETFs.

With that in mind, BlackRock has renamed three alpha-seeking iShares ETFs as BlackRock funds:

  • The iShares Short Maturity Bond ETF is now the BlackRock Short Maturity Bond ETF (NEAR);
  • The iShares Short Maturity Municipal Bond ETF has been renamed the BlackRock Short Maturity Municipal Bond ETF (MEAR); and
  • The iShares Ultra Short-Term Bond ETF is now the BlackRock Ultra Short-Term Bond ETF (ICSH).

BlackRock said in a press release that it’s making the changes “to help clients better navigate its product offerings and the breadth of its investment platform.”

The three actively managed ETFs are the BlackRock Future Innovators ETF (BFTR), BlackRock Future Health ETF (BMED) and BlackRock Future Tech ETF (BTEK); their respective expense ratios are 0.80%, 85% and 0.88%.

The news comes two months after the fund giant introduced three actively managed Megatrend ETFs with the BlackRock, not iShares, name.

(See: BlackRock Rolls Out More ETFs Without iShares Brand)

Armando Senra, head of iShares America, BlackRock, explained further: “With more than 900 ETPs globally, differentiating our alpha-seeking and index-based offerings with clearly delineated branding is an important step in delivering transparency to our clients. We are committed to launching new active strategies when we believe exposures will add value for clients and have clear alpha potential.”

BlackRock is wasting no time in that effort. On Monday, Dec.1, it filed registration notices  for two new alpha-seeking ETFs with the SEC: the BlackRock High Yield Muni Income Bond ETF and the BlackRock Muni Income Bond ETF.

A BlackRock spokeswoman would not comment about when the ETFs would launch.

When those two ETFs do come to market, they will join BlackRock’s current roster of seven  alpha-seeking actively managed ETFs, which have more than $9.8 billion in assets.

BlackRock’s new branding regime is not a total surprise. When the firm launched four new ETFs in early October, three actively managed funds carried the BlackRock name; the only passive fund was branded an iShares fund.

At the time Martin Small, head of BlackRock’s U.S. Wealth Advisory business said the firm’s passive funds would continue to carry the iShares name while alpha-seeking ETFs would be branded as BlackRock funds but the firm would not comment on the rebranding of existing funds. That has now been done.

As of Sept. 30, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager had $7.81 trillion in assets under management, including $2.32 trillion in iShares ETFs. 

See: BlackRock to Buy SMA, Index Shop for $1B and What BlackRock’s Latest Deal Means for Rivals, Advisors