BlackRock surprised almost everyone in January by announcing that it would be buying Claymore Investments, the second-largest ETF provider in Canada. The move takes another step forward today when the former Claymore ETFs start trading with new names. With a couple of exceptions, all of the Claymore exchange-traded products have been rebranded with the iShares name. The Claymore website has been taken down and all links now take you right to the iShares site.
If you’re an investor who owns any of these ETFs, you should notice the name change when you log in to your brokerage account, but the ticker symbols will remain the same. iShares has also pledged to honour any existing preauthorized cash contributions (PACCs) and distribution reinvestment plans (DRIPs). Claymore pioneered the PACC plans several years ago in an effort to eliminate one advantage that mutual funds still have over ETFs, and both Horizons and XTF Capital have since followed suit.
Whether iShares plans to eventually extend the PACC program to all of its ETFs is one of several unanswered questions. Another surrounds Claymore’s “Advisor Class” ETFs, which charge an additional trailer fee. iShares has never offered such versions of their own ETFs, but they will retain the Advisor Class versions of the former Claymore funds.
The big questions, of course, are whether there will be fee changes or fund closures. The answer to both questions is no, at least in the short term. When I first wrote about the acquisition in January, many readers expressed concern that eliminating a competitor would open the door for BlackRock to hike its fees, but I would be shocked if this happened. With Vanguard now on the scene, any ETF provider that starts raising fees is going to see a flood of redemptions. It makes no sense as a corporate strategy, and BlackRock knows that.
BlackRock has also said that it has no immediate plans to close or merge any ETFs. It’s actually quite remarkable how little overlap there is among the 83 funds now in the iShares lineup. The axe may fall on a few of them eventually, but there really are no obvious candidates.