ProShare Advisors is also responsible for the general management and administration of each Subsidiary, pursuant to separate investment advisory and management agreements. Under those advisory and management agreements, ProShare Advisors provides each Subsidiary with the same type of services under essentially the same terms (except at no cost to such Subsidiary) as are provided for its respective Parent Fund.
A number of companies that provide bitcoin-related services have been unable to find banks that are willing to provide them with bank accounts and banking services. Similarly, a number of such companies have had their existing bank accounts closed by their banks. Banks may refuse to provide bank accounts and other banking services to bitcoin-related companies or companies that accept bitcoin for a number of reasons, such as perceived compliance risks or costs. The difficulty that many businesses that provide bitcoin-related services have and may continue to have in finding banks willing to provide them with bank accounts and other banking services may be currently decreasing the usefulness of bitcoin as a payment system and harming public perception of bitcoin or could decrease its usefulness and harm its public perception in the future. Similarly, the usefulness of bitcoin as a payment system and the public perception of bitcoin could be damaged if banks were to close the accounts of many or of a few key businesses providing bitcoin-related services. This could decrease the price of bitcoin and have an adverse effect on the price of Bitcoin Instruments and therefore adversely affect an investment in the Funds.
For purchases and sales of derivatives (i.e., financial instruments whose value is derived from the value of an underlying asset, interest rate or index) the Advisor evaluates counterparties on the following factors: reputation and financial strength; execution prices; commission costs; ability to handle complex orders; ability to give prompt and full execution, including the ability to handle difficult trades; accuracy of reports and confirmations provided; reliability, type and quality of research provided; financing costs and other associated costs related to the transaction; and whether the total cost or proceeds in each transaction is the most favorable under the circumstances.
Over the past several years, a number of Bitcoin Exchanges have been closed due to fraud, failure, security breaches or governmental regulations. The nature of the assets held at Bitcoin Exchanges make them appealing targets for hackers and a number of Bitcoin Exchanges have been victims of cybercrimes. In many of these instances, the customers of such Bitcoin Exchanges were not compensated or made whole for the partial or complete losses of their account balances in such Bitcoin Exchanges. No Bitcoin Exchange is immune from these risks but the existence of these risks has created a higher barrier of entry for new Bitcoin Exchanges. The loss of confidence in new and smaller Bitcoin Exchanges and in the Bitcoin Exchange Market overall can slow down the mass adoption of bitcoin. Further, the failure of the Bitcoin Exchange Market or any other major component of the overall bitcoin ecosystem can have consequences for the Bitcoin Network, have an adverse effect on the price of bitcoin and could have a negative impact on the Bitcoin Instruments in which certain of the Funds invest.
• Compounding Risk — In the course of managing the Fund’s investments, ProShare Advisors will need to periodically adjust the Fund’s holdings in order to maintain investment exposure approximately equivalent to the Fund’s assets. This process entails obtaining additional inverse exposure as the Fund experiences gains, and reducing inverse exposure as the Fund experiences losses. The higher the volatility of the bitcoin futures contracts in which the Fund invests, the more such rebalancing can adversely affect the Fund’s performance.
The table below shows a performance example of a Short ProShares Fund that has an investment objective to correspond to the inverse (-1x) of the daily performance of an index. In the chart below, areas shaded lighter represent those scenarios where a Short ProShares Fund will return the same or outperform (i.e., return more than) the index performance; conversely, areas shaded darker represent those scenarios where a Short ProShares Fund will underperform (i.e., return less than) the index performance.
The rules regarding the extent to which such subpart F inclusions will be treated as “qualifying income” for purposes of the 90% gross income requirement described above are unclear and currently under consideration. In the absence of further guidance, each Parent Fund will seek to ensure that it satisfies the 90% gross income requirement, including but not limited to by ensuring that its Subsidiary timely distributes to it an amount equal to the Subsidiary’s subpart F income by the end of the Subsidiary’s taxable year. In order to make such distributions, the Subsidiary may be required to sell investments, including at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so. If a Parent Fund were to fail to qualify as a RIC accorded special tax treatment in any taxable year, it would be subject to tax on its taxable income at corporate rates, and all distributions from earnings and profits, including any distributions of net tax-exempt income and net long-term capital gains, would be taxable to shareholders as ordinary income. In addition, the Parent Fund could be required to pay substantial taxes, penalties and interest, and to make substantial distributions, in order to re-qualify for such special treatment.
The Fund generally does not expect to invest directly in futures contracts, option contracts and swap agreements (“Bitcoin Instruments”). The Fund expects to gain exposure to these investments by investing a portion of its assets in the ProShares Cayman Bitcoin/Blockchain Strategy Portfolio, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Fund organized under the laws of the Cayman Islands (the “Subsidiary”). The Subsidiary is advised by ProShare Advisors, the Fund’s investment advisor, and invests directly in Bitcoin Instruments. Unlike the Fund, the Subsidiary is not an investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”). The Fund’s investment in the Subsidiary is intended to provide the Fund with exposure to commodity markets related to bitcoin in accordance with applicable rules and regulations. The Fund will invest up to 25% of its total assets in the Subsidiary. Except as otherwise noted, references to the Fund’s investment strategies and risks include the investment strategies and risks of the Subsidiary.
Homero Josh Garza, who founded the cryptocurrency startups GAW Miners and ZenMiner in 2014, acknowledged in a plea agreement that the companies were part of a pyramid scheme, and pleaded guilty to wire fraud in 2015. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission separately brought a civil enforcement action against Garza, who was eventually ordered to pay a judgment of $9.1 million plus $700,000 in interest. The SEC's complaint stated that Garza, through his companies, had fraudulently sold "investment contracts representing shares in the profits they claimed would be generated" from mining.
Each Fund may enter into reverse repurchase agreements as part of its investment strategy, which may be viewed as a form of borrowing. Reverse repurchase agreements involve sales by a Fund of portfolio assets for cash concurrently with an agreement by the Fund to repurchase those same assets at a later date at a fixed price. Generally, the effect of such a transaction is that a Fund can recover all or most of the cash invested in the portfolio securities involved during the term of the reverse repurchase agreement, while a Fund will be able to keep the interest income associated with those portfolio securities. Such transactions are advantageous only if the interest cost to a Fund of the reverse repurchase transaction is less than the cost of obtaining the cash otherwise. Opportunities to achieve this advantage may not always be available, and a Fund intends to use the reverse repurchase technique only when it will be to the Fund’s advantage to do so. A Fund will segregate with its custodian bank cash or liquid instruments equal in value to the Fund’s obligations with respect to reverse repurchase agreements.
• Bitcoin is available for trading 24-hours a day globally and, as such, the price of bitcoin may change dramatically when the market for bitcoin futures contracts is closed or when Fund shares are not available for trading on the Exchange. The price of bitcoin may change dramatically at times when investors are unable to buy or sell Fund shares.
The Board has appointed a chief compliance officer (“CCO”) for the Trust (who is also the Chief Compliance Officer for the Advisor). The CCO reports directly to the Board and participates in the Board’s meetings. The Independent Trustees meet at least annually in executive session with the CCO, and the Funds’ CCO prepares and presents an annual written compliance report to the Board. The CCO also provides updates to the Board on the operation of the Trust’s compliance policies and procedures and on how these procedures are designed to mitigate risk. Finally, the CCO and/or other officers or employees of the Advisor report to the Board in the event that any material risk issues arise.
By now you may ask yourself, “If I think that the price of an asset is going to rise, why should I buy a call option and not the asset itself?” The answer is this: Options give you leverage. That means that with a limited amount of capital, you can profit much more by buying options than assets – but also lose much more. This is because a small difference in the price of the underlying asset immediately leads to a substantial change in the price of the derivative. For example, when pork belly prices rise from 1,000 USD to 1,100 USD (an increase of 10%), call options for 1,000 USD suddenly become much more valuable – their prices may rise from 10.5 USD to 105 USD. Thus, if you have invested all of your capital in pork bellies, you will win 10% – if you have invested in pork belly call options, you will pocket a 1,000% profit.