• Non-Diversification Risk — The Fund is classified as “non-diversified” under the 1940 Act, and has the ability to invest a relatively high percentage of its assets in the securities of a small number of issuers susceptible to a single economic, political or regulatory event, or in financial instruments with a single counterparty or a few counterparties. This may increase the Fund’s volatility and cause performance of a relatively smaller number of issuers or the credit of one or a relatively smaller number of counterparties to have a greater impact on the Fund’s performance. This risk may be particularly acute if the Fund is comprised of a small number of securities. Notwithstanding the Fund’s status as a “non-diversified” investment company under the 1940 Act, the Fund intends to qualify as a “regulated investment company” accorded special tax treatment under the Internal Revenue Code, which imposes its own diversification requirements that are less restrictive than the requirements applicable to “diversified” investment companies under the 1940 Act.
• Lack of liquid markets, and possible manipulation of blockchain-based assets. Digital assets that are represented and trade on a blockchain may not necessarily benefit from viable trading markets. Stock exchanges have listing requirements and vet issuers, and perhaps users. These conditions may not necessarily be replicated on a blockchain, depending on the platform’s controls and other policies. The more lenient a blockchain is about vetting issuers of digital assets or users that transact on the platform, the higher the potential risk for fraud or the manipulation of digital assets. These factors may decrease liquidity or volume, or increase volatility of digital securities or other assets trading on a blockchain.
Cboe Futures Exchange, LLC (CFE) launched trading in Cboe bitcoin futures at 5:00 p.m. Central Time on December 10 under the ticker symbol “XBT”. XBT℠ futures are cash-settled contracts based on the Gemini’s auction price for bitcoin, denominated in U.S. dollars. Gemini Trust Company, LLC (Gemini) is a digital asset exchange and custodian founded in 2014 that allows customers to buy, sell, and store digital assets such as bitcoin, and is subject to fiduciary obligations, capital reserve requirements, and banking compliance standards of the New York State Department of Financial Services.3
The Board was formed in 2002, prior to the inception of the Trust’s operations. Messrs. Reynolds, Wachs and Sapir were appointed to serve as the Board’s initial trustees prior to the Trust’s operations. Mr. Fertig was added in June 2011. Each Trustee was and is currently believed to possess the specific experience, qualifications, attributes and skills necessary to serve as a Trustee of the Trust. In addition to their years of service as Trustees to ProFunds and Access One Trust, and gathering experience with funds with investment objectives and principal investment strategies similar to the Trust’s Funds, each individual brings experience and qualifications from other areas. In particular, Mr. Reynolds has significant senior executive experience in the areas of human resources, recruitment and executive organization; Mr. Wachs has significant experience in the areas of investment and real estate development; Mr. Sapir has significant experience in the field of investment management, both as an executive and as an attorney; and Mr. Fertig has significant experience in the areas of investment and asset management.
Upon entering into a futures contract, each Fund will be required to deposit with the broker an amount of cash or cash equivalents in the range of approximately 5% to 10% of the contract amount for equity index futures and in the range of approximately 1% to 3% of the contract amount for treasury futures (these amounts are subject to change by the exchange on which the contract is traded). This amount, known as “initial margin,” is in the nature of a performance bond or good faith deposit on the contract and is returned to the Fund upon termination of the futures contract, assuming all contractual obligations have been satisfied. Subsequent payments, known as “variation margin,” to and from the broker will be made daily as the price of the index underlying the futures contract fluctuates, making the long and short positions in the futures contract more or less valuable, a process known as “marking-to-market.” At any time prior to expiration of a futures contract, a Fund may elect to close its position by taking an opposite position, which will operate to terminate the Fund’s existing position in the contract.
• Any distributions from income or short-term capital gains that you receive generally are taxable to you as ordinary dividends for federal income tax purposes. Ordinary dividends you receive that a Fund reports as “qualified dividend income” may be taxed at the same rates as long-term capital gains, but will not be considered long-term capital gains for other federal income tax purposes, including the calculation of net capital losses.
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 Futures 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 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.
The Funds may be eligible to elect alternative tax treatment with respect to PFIC shares. Under an election that currently is available in some circumstances, a Fund generally would be required to include in its gross income its share of the earnings of a PFIC on a current basis, regardless of whether distributions were received from the PFIC in a given year. If this election were made, the special rules, discussed above, relating to the taxation of excess distributions, would not apply. Another election would involve marking to market a Fund’s PFIC shares at the end of each taxable year, with the result that unrealized gains would be treated and reported as though they were realized as ordinary income on the last day of the taxable year. Any mark-to-market losses and any loss from an actual disposition of PFIC shares would be deductible by the Fund as ordinary losses to the extent of any net mark-to-market gains included in income in prior years. Making either of these two elections may require a Fund to liquidate other investments (including when it is not advantageous to do so) to meet its distribution requirements, which also may accelerate the recognition of gain and affect the Fund’s total return. Dividends paid by PFICs will not be eligible to be treated as “qualified dividend income.” Because it is not always possible to identify a foreign corporation as a PFIC, the Fund may incur the tax and interest charges described above in some instances.
As a general matter, the Short ProShares Funds, the CDS Short North American HY Credit ETF and the Short Bitcoin Futures Strategy ETF respond differently in response to market conditions than the Matching ProShares Funds, the Ultra ProShares Funds, the Managed Futures Strategy ETF or the Crude Oil Strategy ETF. The terms “favorable market conditions” and “adverse market conditions,” as used in this SAI, are Fund-specific.
• New Fund Risk — The Fund recently commenced operations, has a limited operating history, and started operations with a small asset base. There can be no assurance that the Fund will be successful or grow to or maintain a viable size, that an active trading market for the Fund’s shares will develop or be maintained, or that the Fund’s shares’ listing will continue unchanged.
The first decentralized cryptocurrency, bitcoin, was created in 2009 by pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto. It used SHA-256, a cryptographic hash function, as its proof-of-work scheme. In April 2011, Namecoin was created as an attempt at forming a decentralized DNS, which would make internet censorship very difficult. Soon after, in October 2011, Litecoin was released. It was the first successful cryptocurrency to use scrypt as its hash function instead of SHA-256. Another notable cryptocurrency, Peercoin was the first to use a proof-of-work/proof-of-stake hybrid. IOTA was the first cryptocurrency not based on a blockchain, and instead uses the Tangle. Many other cryptocurrencies have been created though few have been successful, as they have brought little in the way of technical innovation. On 6 August 2014, the UK announced its Treasury had been commissioned to do a study of cryptocurrencies, and what role, if any, they can play in the UK economy. The study was also to report on whether regulation should be considered.
The block time is the average time it takes for the network to generate one extra block in the blockchain. Some blockchains create a new block as frequently as every five seconds. By the time of block completion, the included data becomes verifiable. This is practically when the money transaction takes place, so a shorter block time means faster transactions.
• Changes in the Bitcoin Network could have an adverse effect on the operation and value of bitcoin, which could have an adverse effect on the value of Bitcoin Futures Contracts and the value of Fund Shares. The open source nature of the Bitcoin protocol permits any developer to review the underlying code and suggest changes to it via “Bitcoin Improvement Proposals”, or “BIPs.” If accepted by a sufficient number of miners, BIPs may result in substantial changes to the Bitcoin Network, including changes that result in “forks.” Such changes may influence the price of Bitcoin and Bitcoin Futures Contracts. In particular, it is possible that the price of the Bitcoin Futures Contracts subsequent to a “fork” may be linked to the price of bitcoin on only one of the resulting Bitcoin Networks, rather than the aggregate price of bitcoin on all resulting Bitcoin Networks. The CBOE Futures Exchange (“CFE”) and Chicago Mercantile Exchange (“CME”) have announced different protocols for addressing forks.
Individual shares of the Fund will be listed for trading on [the Exchange] and can be bought and sold in the secondary market at market prices. The market price of shares will fluctuate in response to changes in the value of the Fund’s holdings, supply and demand for shares, and other market factors. ProShare Advisors cannot predict whether the Fund’s shares will trade above, below or at a price equal to the value of the Fund’s holdings. Differences between secondary market prices and NAV, the value of the Fund’s holdings, may be due largely to supply and demand forces in the secondary market, which may not be the same forces as those influencing prices for securities or financial instruments held by the Fund at a particular time. Given the fact that the Fund’s shares can be created and redeemed in Creation Units, ProShare Advisors believes that large discounts or premiums to the value of the Fund’s holdings should not be sustained.
Each Fund bears all expenses of its operations other than those assumed by ProShare Advisors or the Administrator. Fund expenses include but are not limited to: the investment advisory fee; management services fee; administrative fees, index receipt agent fees, principal financial officer/treasurer services fees; compliance service fees, anti-money laundering administration fees; custodian and accounting fees and expenses, legal and auditing fees; securities valuation expenses; fidelity bonds and other insurance premiums; expenses of preparing and printing prospectuses, proxy statements, and shareholder reports and notices; registration fees and expenses; proxy and annual meeting expenses, if any; licensing fees; listing fees; all federal, state, and local taxes (including, without limitation, stamp, excise, income, and franchise taxes); organizational costs; and Independent Trustees’ fees and expenses.
In traditional financial markets, derivatives are used as speculation objects as well as insurance against losses. The latter is known as hedging. One popular variety of derivatives used for hedging are called futures. A future is a contract between two parties in which one party agrees to pay the other a predetermined amount of money for an underlying asset at a specific point in time.