What is the 3(c)(7) Exemption?

An In-Depth Overview
The 3(c)(7) Exemption

The 3(c)(7) Exemption

An In-Depth Overview

The world of investment can be complex, with various regulations and exemptions governing different types of funds. One such exemption is the 3(c)(7) exemption, a provision under the Investment Company Act of 1940.

In this article, we will delve into what the 3(c)(7) exemption entails, its history, how it works, and its significance in the realm of private investment.

What Is the 3(c)(7) Exemption?

The 3(c)(7) exemption, abbreviated as 3C7, is a provision within the Investment Company Act of 1940 that offers private investment companies an exemption from certain Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations, provided they meet specific criteria.

Essentially, it allows these private funds to operate outside the stringent regulatory framework applicable to publicly traded funds.

History of the 3(c)(7) Exemption

Enacted as part of the Investment Company Act of 1940, the 3(c)(7) exemption was crafted to define and regulate investment companies. However, hedge funds, venture capital funds, and other private equity funds sought exemptions like 3C7 to bypass SEC restrictions.

This exemption liberated such funds to utilise financial instruments like leverage and derivatives, which are typically restricted for publicly traded funds.

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Claiming 3C7 Exemption

To qualify for the 3C7 exemption, private investment companies must demonstrate that they have no intention of issuing an initial public offering (IPO), and their investors must be qualified purchasers.

These purchasers are individuals, family-owned businesses, trusts, or entities meeting specific wealth criteria, ensuring a higher standard of investment.

Qualified purchasers include individuals or family-owned businesses with at least $5 million in investments, trusts managed by qualified purchasers, individuals or entities with at least $25,000,000 in investments, and entities solely owned by qualified purchasers.

3C7 Funds vs. 3C1 Funds

While both 3C7 and 3C1 funds enjoy exemptions from the Investment Company Act of 1940, they differ in their investor criteria. 3C7 funds require qualified purchasers, whereas 3C1 funds work with accredited investors.

The former has no limit on the number of investors but mandates a higher wealth threshold, while the latter is capped at 100 investors but with less stringent wealth requirements.

Compliance and Consequences

Maintaining compliance with 3C7 rules is paramount for funds availing of this exemption. Any deviation, such as accepting investments from non-qualified purchasers, can expose the fund to SEC enforcement actions, litigation, and breach of contracts with investors.

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Types of Investments Not Defined as Investment Companies

Certain investment pools, such as charitable organisations, pension plans, and church plans, do not fall under the definition of an "investment company" as per the Investment Company Act, thus exempting them from its regulations.

Difference Between Accredited Investors and Qualified Purchasers

Accredited investors usually need to satisfy specific income and net worth criteria to invest in financial instruments like securities or real estate. Financial institutions screen potential investors to ascertain their accreditation status.

On the other hand, a qualified purchaser is determined not by income or net worth but by their investment portfolio. Qualified purchasers must adhere to stricter standards, ensuring that funds with a limited number of private equity investors can engage in the buying and selling of public assets.


In conclusion, the 3(c)(7) exemption serves as a vital tool for private investment companies to navigate regulatory requirements and access a pool of qualified purchasers.

Understanding its history, criteria, and implications is crucial for both investors and fund managers operating in the private investment landscape.

By complying with the stipulated rules and maintaining transparency, these funds can continue to leverage the benefits of the 3C7 exemption while safeguarding against regulatory risks.

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