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IShares Silver Trust 10-K 2017
slv20161231_10k.htm Table of Contents

 



UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 


FORM 10-K


 

Annual report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2016

     

 

Transition report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934

 

For the transition period from __________ to __________

    

Commission file number: 001-32863

 


iShares® Silver Trust

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)


 

New York

13-7474456

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

 

c/o iShares Delaware Trust Sponsor LLC

400 Howard Street

San Francisco, California 94105

Attn: Product Management Team

iShares Product Research & Development

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(415) 670-2000

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

 


Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Shares

NYSE Arca, Inc.

(Title of class)

(Name of exchange on which registered)

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None 


 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☒ No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐ No ☒

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes ☒ No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. ☒

 

 

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer  ☒

Accelerated filer  ☐

 

 

Non-accelerated filer  ☐

Smaller reporting company  ☐

(Do not check if a smaller reporting company)

 

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes ☐ No ☒

 

As of June 30, 2016, the aggregate market value of the shares held by non-affiliates was approximately $6,266,543,740. The calculation of the number of shares held by non-affiliates assumes that all shares held by funds or accounts for which BlackRock or its affiliates provides management or advisory services (whether discretionary or non-discretionary) are shares held by affiliates.

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE:

None



  

 

Table of Contents

 

   

Page

PART I

   
     

Item 1.

Business

1

     

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

8

     

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

11

     

Item 2.

Properties

11

     

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

11

     

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

11

     

PART II

   
     

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

12

     

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

12

     

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

13

     

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

15

     

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

16

     

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

16

     

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

16

     

Item 9B.

Other Information

17

     

PART III

   
     

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

18

     

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

18

     

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

18

     

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

19

     

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

19

     

PART IV

   
     

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

20

     
Item 16. Form 10-K Summary 20

 

 

  

PART I

 

Item 1. Business.

 

The purpose of the iShares Silver Trust (the “Trust”) is to own silver transferred to the Trust in exchange for shares issued by the Trust (“Shares”). Each Share represents a fractional undivided beneficial interest in the net assets of the Trust. The assets of the Trust consist primarily of silver held by the Trust’s custodian on behalf of the Trust. However, there may be situations where the Trust will unexpectedly hold cash. For example, a claim may arise against a third party, which is settled in cash. In situations where the Trust unexpectedly receives cash or other assets, no new Shares will be issued until after the record date for the distribution of such cash or other property has passed.

 

The Trust was formed on April 21, 2006 when an initial deposit of silver was made in exchange for the issuance of three Baskets (a “Basket” consists of 50,000 Shares). The Trust is a grantor trust formed under the laws of the State of New York.

 

The sponsor of the Trust is iShares Delaware Trust Sponsor LLC (the “Sponsor”), a Delaware limited liability company and an indirect subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc. (“BlackRock”) The trustee of the Trust is The Bank of New York Mellon (the “Trustee”) and the custodian of the Trust is JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A., London branch (the “Custodian”). The agreement between the Trust and the Custodian is governed by English law. The Trust does not have any officers, directors or employees.

 

The Trust’s net asset value grew from $4,391,943,604 at December 31, 2015 to $5,541,130,643 at December 31, 2016, the Trust’s fiscal year end. Outstanding Shares of the Trust grew from 333,550,000 Shares outstanding at December 31, 2015 to 359,900,000 Shares outstanding at December 31, 2016.

 

The activities of the Trust are limited to (1) issuing Baskets in exchange for the silver deposited with the Custodian as consideration, (2) selling silver as necessary to cover the Sponsor’s fee, Trust expenses not assumed by the Sponsor and other liabilities, and (3) delivering silver in exchange for Baskets surrendered for redemption. The Trust is not actively managed. It does not engage in any activities designed to obtain a profit from, or to ameliorate losses caused by, changes in the price of silver.

 

The Sponsor of the Trust maintains a website at www.ishares.com, through which the Trust’s annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”), are made available free of charge after they have been filed or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). Additional information regarding the Trust may also be found on the SEC’s EDGAR database at www.sec.gov.

 

Trust Objective

 

The Trust seeks to reflect generally the performance of the price of silver. The Trust seeks to reflect such performance before payment of the Trust’s expenses and liabilities. The Shares are intended to constitute a simple and cost-effective means of making an investment similar to an investment in silver. An investment in physical silver requires expensive and sometimes complicated arrangements in connection with the assay, transportation, warehousing and insurance of the metal. Traditionally, such expense and complications have resulted in investments in physical silver being efficient only in amounts beyond the reach of many investors. The Shares have been designed to remove the obstacles represented by the expense and complications involved in an investment in physical silver, while at the same time having an intrinsic value that reflects, at any given time, the price of the silver owned by the Trust at such time, less the Trust’s expenses and liabilities. Although the Shares are not the exact equivalent of an investment in silver, they provide investors with an alternative that allow a level of participation in the silver market through the securities market.

 

An investment in Shares is:

 

Backed by silver held by the Custodian on behalf of the Trust.

 

The Shares are backed by the assets of the Trust. The Trustee’s arrangements with the Custodian contemplate that at the end of each business day there can be in the Trust account maintained by the Custodian no more than 1,100 ounces of silver in an unallocated form. The bulk of the Trust’s silver holdings is represented by physical silver, identified on the Custodian’s books in allocated and unallocated accounts on behalf of the Trust and held by the Custodian in England, New York and other locations that may be authorized in the future.

 

As accessible and easy to handle as any other investment in shares.

 

Retail investors may purchase and sell Shares through traditional brokerage accounts. Because the intrinsic value of each Share is a function of the price of only a fraction of an ounce of silver held by the Trust, the cash outlay necessary for an investment in Shares should be less than the amount required for currently existing means of investing in physical silver. Shares are eligible for margin accounts.

 

Listed.

 

The Shares are listed and trade on NYSE Arca, Inc. (“NYSE Arca”) under the symbol “SLV.”

 

Relatively cost efficient.

 

Because the expenses involved in an investment in physical silver are dispersed among all holders of Shares, an investment in Shares may represent a cost‑efficient alternative to investments in silver for investors not otherwise in a position to participate directly in the market for physical silver.

 

 

  

Secondary Market Trading

 

While the Trust seeks to reflect generally the performance of the price of silver less the Trust’s expenses and liabilities, Shares may trade at, above or below their net asset value per Share (the “NAV”). The NAV of the Shares will fluctuate with changes in the market value of the Trust’s assets. The trading prices of Shares will fluctuate in accordance with changes in their NAV, as well as market supply and demand. The amount of the discount or premium in the trading price relative to the NAV may be influenced by non-concurrent trading hours between the major silver markets and NYSE Arca. While the Shares trade on NYSE Arca until 4:00 p.m. (New York time), liquidity in the market for silver may be reduced after the close of the major world silver markets, including London, Zurich and the Commodity Exchange, Inc. (“COMEX”) in Chicago. As a result, during this time, trading spreads, and the resulting premium or discount, on Shares may widen. However, given that Baskets of Shares can be created and redeemed in exchange for the underlying amount of silver, the Sponsor believes that the arbitrage opportunities may provide a mechanism to mitigate the effect of such premium or discount.

 

Custody of the Trust’s Silver

 

The Custodian is responsible for safekeeping the Trust’s silver. The Custodian may keep the Trust’s silver at its vault premises in England or New York, or at the vaults of any sub‑custodian in England or New York, unless otherwise agreed between the Custodian and the Trustee (with the Sponsor’s approval). The Custodian may use sub-custodians to discharge its obligations to the Trust. The Custodian is required to use reasonable care in the appointment of any sub‑custodian. Any sub-custodian must be a member of the London Bullion Market Association (“LBMA”). The use of sub-custodians does not affect the Custodian’s liability to the Trustee under the custodian agreement.

 

The Custodian has agreed to use reasonable care in the performance of its duties under the custodian agreement and will only be responsible for any loss or damage suffered by the Trust as a direct result of any negligence, fraud or willful default on the part of the Custodian. The Custodian’s liability is limited to the market value of any silver lost and the amount of any balance held on unallocated basis at the time of the Custodian’s negligence, fraud or willful default.

 

None of the Custodian, its directors, employees, agents or affiliates will incur any liability to the Trust if, by reason of any provision of any present or future law or regulation of the United Kingdom or any other country, or of any governmental or regulatory authority or stock exchange, or by reason of any act of God or war, terrorism or other circumstance beyond the Custodian’s control, the Custodian is prevented or forbidden from, or would be subject to any civil or criminal penalty on account of, or is delayed in, performing its obligations to the Trust. The Custodian has agreed to indemnify the Trustee for any loss or liability directly resulting from a breach of the Custodian’s representations and warranties in the custodian agreement, a failure of the Custodian to act or refrain from acting in accordance with the Trustee’s instructions or any physical loss, destruction or damage to the silver held for the Trust’s account, except for losses due to nuclear fission or fusion, radioactivity, war, terrorist event, invasion, insurrection, civil commotion, riot, strike, act of government or public authority, act of God or a similar cause that is beyond the control of the Custodian.

 

The Custodian has agreed to maintain insurance in support of its custodial obligations under the custodian agreement, including covering any loss of silver. The Custodian has the right to reduce, cancel or allow to expire without replacement such insurance coverage, provided that it gives prior written notice to the Trustee. In the case of a cancellation or expiration without replacement, the required notice must be at least 30 days prior to the last day of coverage. The Trustee has not received from the Custodian any notice of reduction, cancellation or expiration of its insurance coverage. The insurance is held for the benefit of the Custodian, not for the benefit of the Trust or the Trustee, and the Trustee may not submit a claim under the insurance maintained by the Custodian.

 

The Custodian has agreed to grant to the officers and properly designated representatives of the Trustee and to the independent public accountants for the Trust access to the Custodian’s records for the purpose of confirming the content of those records. Upon at least ten days’ prior notice, any such officer or properly designated representative, the independent public accountants for the Trust and any person designated by any regulatory authority having jurisdiction over the Trustee or the Trust is entitled to examine on the Custodian’s premises the silver held by the Custodian and the records regarding the silver held for the account of the Custodian at a sub-custodian. The Custodian has agreed that it will only retain sub-custodians if they agree to grant to the Trustee and the independent registered public accounting firm of the Trust access to records and inspection rights similar to those set forth above. During the period covered by this report, Inspectorate International Ltd. and Inspectorate America Corporation, acting as authorized representatives of the Trustee pursuant to the foregoing provisions, inspected the premises where the Trust’s silver is warehoused and on March 10, 2016 issued their report summarizing their findings. Such report was posted by the Sponsor on the Trust’s website. During the period covered by this report, the Sponsor visited the premises where the Trust’s silver is warehoused once (in the quarter ended March 31, 2016).

 

Valuation of Silver; Computation of Net Asset Value

 

On each business day, as soon as practicable after 4:00 p.m. (New York time), the Trustee evaluates the silver held by the Trust and determines the net asset value of the Trust and the NAV. For purposes of making these calculations, a business day means any day other than a day when NYSE Arca is closed for regular trading.

 

The Trustee values the silver held by the Trust using the price per ounce of silver determined by the CME Group at approximately 12:00 p.m. (London time) and announced by Thomson Reuters shortly thereafter on each day that the London silver market is open for business (“LBMA Silver Price”). If there is no announced LBMA Silver Price on a business day, the Trustee is authorized to use the most recently announced LBMA Silver Price unless the Trustee, in consultation with the Sponsor, determines that such price is inappropriate as a basis for evaluation.

 

 

 

The LBMA Silver Price is the spot price per ounce, in U.S. dollars, of a London Good Delivery Bar determined by the CME Group following one or more thirty‑second electronic auctions conducted starting at 12:00 p.m. (London time) on each day that the London silver market is open for business, and announced by Thomson Reuters shortly thereafter, all under the auspices of the LBMA. Twenty seconds before noon (London time) on each day that the LBMA Silver Price is to be determined, a seed price for the first auction is determined by the CME Group taking into account relevant pricing information available at the time, and announced to eligible auction participants previously qualified on the basis of criteria set by the LBMA. Beginning at 12:00 p.m. (London time) such participants are allowed, but not required, to electronically submit during a thirty-second period buy and/or sell orders for spot transactions at the seed price. If at the conclusion of the thirty-second auction the market is determined by the CME Group to be balanced, the seed price is the LBMA Silver Price for that date and announced as such by Thomson Reuters. If the market is not balanced at the end of the first auction, a new seed price is automatically calculated and announced, and an additional thirty-second auction is held at the new price. If necessary, the process is repeated until the market is determined to be balanced and the price at which that determination occurs is the LBMA Silver Price for that date. For these purposes, the market is considered to be balanced when, at the end of an auction, the total number of ounces of silver for which buy orders were submitted in that auction falls within a certain pre-determined margin of tolerance from the total number of ounces of silver for which sell orders were submitted in the auction. Once the LBMA Silver Price has been determined for a given day, the buy and sell orders entered by the auction participants during the last auction will be executed at that day’s LBMA Silver Price. Any market imbalance remaining after the last auction (which must be within the margin of tolerance) is allocated equally among all participants in all auctions conducted on that day (and not only those participating in the last auction). As of the date of this report, information publicly available on LBMA’s website indicates that the entities currently qualified to submit orders during the electronic auctions used for the daily determination of the LBMA Silver Price are China Construction Bank, HSBC Bank USA NA, JP Morgan Chase Bank, Morgan Stanley, The Bank of Nova Scotia - ScotiaMocatta, The Toronto Dominion Bank and UBS AG.

 

Once the value of the silver has been determined, the Trustee subtracts all accrued fees, expenses and other liabilities of the Trust from the total value of the silver and all other assets of the Trust. The resulting figure is the net asset value of the Trust. The Trustee determines the NAV by dividing the net asset value of the Trust by the number of Shares outstanding at the time the computation is made.

 

Trust Expenses

 

The Trust’s only ordinary recurring expense is expected to be the Sponsor’s fee. In exchange for the Sponsor’s fee, the Sponsor has agreed to assume the following administrative and marketing expenses incurred by the Trust: the Trustee’s fee, the Custodian’s fee, NYSE Arca listing fees, SEC registration fees, printing and mailing costs, audit fees and expenses, and up to $100,000 per annum in legal fees and expenses.

 

The Sponsor’s fee is accrued daily at an annualized rate equal to 0.50% of the net asset value of the Trust and is payable monthly in arrears. The Trustee will, when directed by the Sponsor, and, in the absence of such direction, may, in its discretion, sell silver in such quantity and at such times as may be necessary to permit payment of the Sponsor’s fee and of Trust expenses or liabilities not assumed by the Sponsor. The Trustee is authorized to sell silver at such times and in the smallest amounts required to permit such payments as they become due, it being the intention to avoid or minimize the Trust’s holdings of assets other than silver. Accordingly, the amount of silver to be sold will vary from time to time depending on the level of the Trust’s expenses and the market price of silver. The Custodian has agreed to purchase from the Trust, at the request of the Trustee, silver needed to cover Trust expenses at a price equal to the price used by the Trustee to determine the value of the silver held by the Trust on the date of the sale. Cash held by the Trustee pending payment of the Trust’s expenses will not bear any interest.

 

The Sponsor earned $29,148,568 for the year ended December 31, 2016.

 

Deposit of Silver; Issuance of Baskets

 

The Trust creates and redeems Shares on a continuous basis, but only in Baskets of 50,000 Shares. Only registered broker-dealers who have entered into written agreements with the Sponsor and the Trustee (each, an “Authorized Participant”) can deposit silver and receive Baskets of Shares in exchange. Upon the deposit of the corresponding amount of silver with the Custodian and the payment of the Trustee’s applicable fee and of any expenses, taxes or charges (such as stamp taxes or stock transfer taxes or fees), the Trustee will deliver the appropriate number of Baskets to the Depository Trust Company account of the depositing Authorized Participant. As of the date of this report, Barclays Capital Inc., Citigroup Global Markets, Inc., Credit Suisse Securities (USA), LLC, Goldman Sachs & Co., Goldman Sachs Execution & Clearing L.P., J.P. Morgan Securities LLC., KCG Americas LLC, Merrill Lynch Professional Clearing Corp., Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC., RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Scotia Capital (USA) Inc., UBS Securities LLC and Virtu Financial BD LLC are the only Authorized Participants. The Sponsor and the Trustee maintain a current list of Authorized Participants. Silver deposited with the Custodian must meet the specifications for weight, dimensions, fineness (or purity), identifying marks and appearance of silver bars as set forth in “The Good Delivery Rules for Gold and Silver Bars” published by the LMBA.

 

Before making a deposit, the Authorized Participant must deliver to the Trustee a written purchase order or submit a purchase order through the Trustee’s electronic order entry system indicating the number of Baskets it intends to acquire and the location or locations where it expects to make the corresponding deposit of silver with the Custodian. The date the Trustee receives that order determines the amount of silver the Authorized Participant needs to deposit (such amount, the “Basket Silver Amount”). However, orders received by the Trustee after 3:59 p.m. (New York time) on a business day will not be accepted and should be resubmitted on the next following business day. The Trustee has entered into an agreement with the Custodian which contains arrangements so that silver can be delivered to the Custodian in England, New York or at other locations that may be authorized in the future.

 

If the Trustee accepts the purchase order, it transmits to the Authorized Participant, via facsimile or electronic mail message, no later than 5:00 p.m. (New York time) on the date such purchase order is received, or deemed received, a copy of the purchase order endorsed “Accepted” by the Trustee and indicating the Basket Silver Amount that the Authorized Participant must deliver to the Custodian in exchange for each Basket. In the case of purchase orders submitted via the Trustee’s electronic order system, the Authorized Participant will receive an automated email indicating the acceptance of the purchase order and the purchase order will be marked “Accepted” in the Trustee’s electronic order system. Prior to the Trustee’s acceptance as specified above, a purchase order only represents the Authorized Participant’s unilateral offer to deposit silver in exchange for Baskets of Shares and has no binding effect upon the Trust, the Trustee, the Custodian or any other party.

 

 

 

The Basket Silver Amount necessary for the creation of a Basket changes from day to day. At the time of creation of the Trust, the initial Basket Silver Amount was 500,000 ounces of silver. On each day that NYSE Arca is open for regular trading, the Trustee adjusts the quantity of silver constituting the Basket Silver Amount as appropriate to reflect sales of silver, any loss of silver that may occur, and accrued expenses. The computation is made by the Trustee as promptly as practicable after 4:00 p.m. (New York time). The Basket Silver Amount so determined is communicated via facsimile or electronic mail message to all Authorized Participants, and made available on the Sponsor’s website for the Shares. NYSE Arca also publishes the Basket Silver Amount determined by the Trustee as indicated above.

  

Because the Sponsor has assumed what are expected to be most of the Trust’s expenses and the Sponsor’s fee accrues daily at the same rate, in the absence of any extraordinary expenses or liabilities, the amount of silver by which the Basket Silver Amount decreases each day is predictable. The Trustee intends to make available on each business day, through the same channels used to disseminate the actual Basket Silver Amount determined by the Trustee as indicated above, an indicative Basket Silver Amount for the next business day. Authorized Participants may use that indicative Basket Silver Amount as guidance regarding the amount of silver that they may expect to have to deposit with the Custodian in respect of purchase orders placed by them on such next business day and accepted by the Trustee. The agreement entered into with each Authorized Participant provides, however, that once a purchase order has been accepted by the Trustee, the Authorized Participant will be required to deposit with the Custodian the Basket Silver Amount determined by the Trustee on the effective date of the purchase order.

 

No Shares are issued unless and until the Custodian has informed the Trustee that it has allocated to the Trust’s account (except that any amounts of less than 1,100 ounces may be held in the Trust account on an unallocated basis) the corresponding amount of silver. In accordance with the procedures that the Custodian has agreed to follow in connection with the creation of Shares, silver received by the Custodian no later than 11:30 a.m. (London time) is required to be allocated to the Trust’s account no later than 9:00 a.m. (New York time) on the next day that the Custodian is open for business at the place of delivery. All taxes incurred in connection with the delivery of silver to the Custodian in exchange for Baskets of Shares (including any applicable value added tax) will be the sole responsibility of the Authorized Participant making such delivery.

 

Redemption of Baskets; Withdrawal of Silver

 

Authorized Participants, acting on authority of the registered holder of Shares, may surrender Baskets of Shares in exchange for the corresponding Basket Silver Amount announced by the Trustee. Upon the surrender of such Shares and the payment of the Trustee’s applicable fee and of any expenses, taxes or charges (such as stamp taxes or stock transfer taxes or fees), the Trustee will deliver to the order of the redeeming Authorized Participant the amount of silver corresponding to the redeemed Baskets. Shares can only be surrendered for redemption in Baskets of 50,000 Shares each.

 

Before surrendering Baskets of Shares for redemption, an Authorized Participant must deliver to the Trustee a written request indicating the number of Baskets it intends to redeem and the location where it would like to take delivery of the silver represented by such Baskets or submit a redemption order through the Trustee’s electronic order entry system. The date the Trustee receives that order determines the Basket Silver Amount to be received in exchange. However, orders received by the Trustee after 3:59 p.m. (New York time) on a business day will not be accepted and should be resubmitted on the next following business day.

 

The Custodian may make the silver available for collection at its office or at the office of a sub-custodian if the silver is being held by a sub-custodian. Silver is delivered at the locations designated by the Trustee, in consultation with the Custodian. All taxes incurred in connection with the delivery of silver to an Authorized Participant in exchange for Baskets of Shares (including any applicable value added tax) will be the sole responsibility of the Authorized Participant taking such delivery.

 

Unless otherwise agreed to by the Custodian, silver is delivered to the redeeming Authorized Participants in the form of physical bars only (except that any amount of less than 1,100 ounces may be transferred to an unallocated account of or as ordered by, the redeeming Authorized Participant).

 

Redemptions may be suspended only (1) during any period in which regular trading on NYSE Arca is suspended or restricted or the exchange is closed (other than scheduled holiday or weekend closings), or (2) during an emergency as a result of which delivery, disposal or evaluation of silver is not reasonably practicable.

 

Fees and Expenses of the Trustee

 

Each deposit of silver for the creation of Baskets of Shares and each surrender of Baskets of Shares for the purpose of withdrawing Trust property (including if the trust agreement terminates) must be accompanied by a payment to the Trustee of a fee of $500 (or such other fee as the Trustee, with the prior written consent of the Sponsor, may from time to time announce).

 

The Trustee is entitled to reimburse itself from the assets of the Trust for all expenses and disbursements incurred by it for extraordinary services it may provide to the Trust or in connection with any discretionary action the Trustee may take to protect the Trust or the interests of the holders.

 

Trust Expenses and Silver Sales

 

In addition to the fee payable to the Sponsor, the following expenses are paid out of the assets of the Trust:

 

 

any expenses or liabilities of the Trust that are not assumed by the Sponsor;

 

 

any taxes and other governmental charges that may fall on the Trust or its property;

 

 

expenses and costs of any action taken by the Trustee or the Sponsor to protect the Trust and the rights and interests of holders of Shares; and

 

 

any indemnification of the Sponsor as described below.

 

 

 

The Trustee sells the Trust’s silver from time to time as necessary to permit payment of the fees and expenses that the Trust is required to pay. See “Trust Expenses.”

 

The Trustee is not responsible for any depreciation or loss incurred by reason of sales of silver made in compliance with the trust agreement.

 

Payment of Taxes

 

The Trustee may deduct the amount of any taxes owed from any distributions it makes. It may also sell Trust assets, by public or private sale, to pay any taxes owed. Registered holders of Shares will remain liable if the proceeds of the sale are not enough to pay the taxes.

 

UNITED STATES FEDERAL INCOME TAX CONSEQUENCES

 

The following discussion of the material United States federal income tax consequences that generally will apply to the purchase, ownership and disposition of Shares by a U.S. Shareholder (as defined below), and certain United States federal income consequences that may apply to an investment in Shares by a Non-U.S. Shareholder (as defined below), is based on the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), Treasury Regulations promulgated thereunder and judicial and administrative interpretations of the Code, all as in effect on the date of this report and all of which are subject to change either prospectively or retroactively. The tax treatment of owners of beneficial interests in the Shares (“Shareholders”) may vary depending upon their own particular circumstances. Certain Shareholders (including banks, financial institutions, insurance companies, tax-exempt organizations, broker-dealers, traders, Shareholders that are partnerships for United States federal income tax purposes, persons holding Shares as a position in a “hedging,” “straddle,” “conversion,” or “constructive sale” transaction for United States federal income tax purposes, persons whose “functional currency” is not the U.S. dollar, or other investors with special circumstances) may be subject to special rules not discussed below. In addition, the following discussion applies only to investors who will hold Shares as “capital assets” within the meaning of Section 1221 of the Code. Moreover, the discussion below does not address the effect of any state, local or foreign tax law on an owner of Shares. Purchasers of Shares are urged to consult their own tax advisers with respect to all federal, state, local and foreign tax law considerations potentially applicable to their investment in Shares.

 

For purposes of this discussion, a “U.S. Shareholder” is a Shareholder that is:

 

 

an individual who is treated as a citizen or resident of the United States for United States federal income tax purposes;

 

 

a corporation (or entity treated as a corporation for United States federal income tax purposes) created or organized in or under the laws of the United States, any state thereof or the District of Columbia;

 

 

an estate, the income of which is includible in gross income for United States federal income tax purposes regardless of its source; or

 

 

a trust, if a court within the United States is able to exercise primary supervision over the administration of the trust and one or more United States persons have the authority to control all substantial decisions of the trust, or a trust that has made a valid election under applicable Treasury Regulations to be treated as a domestic trust.

 

A Shareholder that is not (1) a U.S. Shareholder as defined above or (2) a partnership for United States federal income tax purposes, is considered a “Non-U.S. Shareholder” for purposes of this discussion.

 

Taxation of the Trust

 

The Sponsor and the Trustee will treat the Trust as a grantor trust for United States federal income tax purposes. In the opinion of Clifford Chance US LLP, special United States federal income tax counsel to the Sponsor, the Trust will be classified as a grantor trust for United States federal income tax purposes. As a result, the Trust itself will not be subject to United States federal income tax. Instead, the Trust’s income and expenses will flow through to the Shareholders, and the Trustee will report the Trust’s income, gains, losses and deductions to the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) on that basis. The opinion of Clifford Chance US LLP represents only its best legal judgment and is not binding on the IRS or any court. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that the IRS will agree with the conclusions of counsel’s opinion and it is possible that the IRS or another tax authority could assert a position contrary to one or all of those conclusions and that a court could sustain that contrary position. Neither the Sponsor nor the Trustee will request a ruling from the IRS with respect to the classification of the Trust for United States federal income tax purposes. If the IRS were to assert successfully that the Trust is not classified as a grantor trust, the Trust would be classified as a partnership for United States federal income tax purposes, which may affect timing and other tax consequences to the Shareholders.

 

The following discussion assumes that the Trust will be classified as a grantor trust for United States federal income tax purposes.

 

Taxation of U.S. Shareholders

 

Shareholders will be treated, for United States federal income tax purposes, as if they directly owned a pro rata share of the underlying assets held in the Trust. Shareholders also will be treated as if they directly received their respective pro rata shares of the Trust’s income, if any, and as if they directly incurred their respective pro rata shares of the Trust’s expenses. In the case of a Shareholder that purchases Shares for cash, its initial tax basis in its pro rata share of the assets held in the Trust at the time it acquires its Shares will be equal to its cost of acquiring the Shares. In the case of a Shareholder that acquires its Shares as part of a creation of a Basket, the delivery of silver to the Trust in exchange for the underlying silver represented by the Shares will not be a taxable event to the Shareholder, and the Shareholder’s tax basis and holding period for the Shareholder’s pro rata share of the silver held in the Trust will be the same as its tax basis and holding period for the silver delivered in exchange therefor. For purposes of this discussion, and unless stated otherwise, it is assumed that all of a Shareholder’s Shares are acquired on the same date and at the same price per Share. Shareholders that hold multiple lots of Shares, or that are contemplating acquiring multiple lots of Shares, should consult their own tax advisers as to the determination of the tax basis and holding period for the underlying silver related to such Shares.

 

 

 

When the Trust sells silver, for example to pay expenses, a Shareholder will recognize gain or loss in an amount equal to the difference between (1) the Shareholder’s pro rata share of the amount realized by the Trust upon the sale and (2) the Shareholder’s tax basis for its pro rata share of the silver that was sold. A Shareholder’s tax basis for its share of any silver sold by the Trust generally will be determined by multiplying the Shareholder’s total basis for its share of all of the silver held in the Trust immediately prior to the sale, by a fraction the numerator of which is the amount of silver sold, and the denominator of which is the total amount of the silver held in the Trust immediately prior to the sale. After any such sale, a Shareholder’s tax basis for its pro rata share of the silver remaining in the Trust will be equal to its tax basis for its share of the total amount of the silver held in the Trust immediately prior to the sale, less the portion of such basis allocable to its share of the silver that was sold.

 

Upon a Shareholder’s sale of some or all of its Shares, the Shareholder will be treated as having sold the portion of its pro rata share of the silver held in the Trust at the time of the sale that is attributable to the Shares sold. Accordingly, the Shareholder generally will recognize gain or loss on the sale in an amount equal to the difference between (1) the amount realized pursuant to the sale of the Shares and (2) the Shareholder’s tax basis for the portion of its pro rata share of the silver held in the Trust at the time of sale that is attributable to the Shares sold, as determined in the manner described in the preceding paragraph.

 

A redemption of some or all of a Shareholder’s Shares in exchange for the underlying silver represented by the Shares redeemed generally will not be a taxable event to the Shareholder. The Shareholder’s tax basis for the silver received in the redemption generally will be the same as the Shareholder’s tax basis for the portion of its pro rata share of the silver held in the Trust immediately prior to the redemption that is attributable to the Shares redeemed. The Shareholder’s holding period with respect to the silver received should include the period during which the Shareholder held the Shares redeemed. A subsequent sale of the silver received by the Shareholder will be a taxable event.

 

After any sale or redemption of less than all of a Shareholder’s Shares, the Shareholder’s tax basis for its pro rata share of the silver held in the Trust immediately after such sale or redemption generally will be equal to its tax basis for its share of the total amount of the silver held in the Trust immediately prior to the sale or redemption, less the portion of such basis which is taken into account in determining the amount of gain or loss recognized by the Shareholder upon such sale or, in the case of a redemption, is treated as the basis of the silver received by the Shareholder in the redemption.

 

Maximum 28% Long-Term Capital Gains Tax Rate for U.S. Shareholders Who Are Individuals

 

Under current law, gains recognized by individuals from the sale of collectibles, including silver, held for more than one year are taxed at a maximum rate of 28%, rather than the current maximum 20% rate applicable to most other long-term capital gains. For these purposes, gain recognized by an individual upon the sale of an interest in a trust that holds collectibles is treated as gain recognized on the sale of collectibles, to the extent that the gain is attributable to unrealized appreciation in value of the collectibles held by the Trust. Therefore, any gain recognized by an individual U.S. Shareholder attributable to a sale of Shares held for more than one year, or attributable to the Trust’s sale of any silver which the Shareholder is treated (through its ownership of Shares) as having held for more than one year, generally will be taxed at a maximum rate of 28%. The tax rates for capital gains recognized upon the sale of assets held by an individual U.S. Shareholder for one year or less or by a taxpayer other than an individual United States taxpayer are generally the same as those at which ordinary income is taxed.

 

3.8% Tax on Net Investment Income

 

Certain U.S. Shareholders who are individuals are required to pay a 3.8% tax on the lesser of the excess of their modified adjusted gross income over a threshold amount ($250,000 for married persons filing jointly and $200,000 for single taxpayers) or their net investment income, which generally includes capital gains from the disposition of property. This tax is in addition to any capital gains taxes due on such investment income. A similar tax will apply to estates and trusts. U.S. Shareholders should consult their own tax advisers regarding the effect, if any, this law may have on their investment in the Shares.

 

Brokerage Fees and Trust Expenses

 

Any brokerage or other transaction fee incurred by a Shareholder in purchasing Shares will be treated as part of the Shareholder’s tax basis in the underlying assets of the Trust. Similarly, any brokerage fee incurred by a Shareholder in selling Shares will reduce the amount realized by the Shareholder with respect to the sale.

 

Shareholders will be required to recognize the full amount of gain or loss upon a sale of silver by the Trust (as discussed above), even though some or all of the proceeds of such sale are used by the Trustee to pay Trust expenses. Shareholders may deduct their respective pro rata shares of each expense incurred by the Trust to the same extent as if they directly incurred the expense. Shareholders who are individuals, estates or trusts, however, may be required to treat some or all of the expenses of the Trust as miscellaneous itemized deductions. Individuals may deduct certain miscellaneous itemized deductions only to the extent they exceed 2% of adjusted gross income. In addition, such deductions may be subject to phase outs and other limitations under applicable provisions of the Code.

 

Investment by U.S. Tax-Exempt Shareholders

 

Certain U.S. Shareholders (“U.S. Tax-Exempt Shareholders”) are subject to United States federal income tax only on their unrelated business taxable income (“UBTI”). Unless they incur debt in order to purchase Shares, it is expected that U.S. Tax-Exempt Shareholders should not realize UBTI in respect of income or gains from the Shares. U.S. Tax-Exempt Shareholders should consult their own independent tax advisers regarding the United States federal income tax consequences of holding Shares in light of their particular circumstances.

 

 

 

Investment by Regulated Investment Companies

 

Mutual funds and other investment vehicles which are regulated investment companies within the meaning of Code Section 851 should consult with their tax advisers concerning (1) the likelihood that an investment in Shares, although they are a “security” within the meaning of the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “Investment Company Act”), may be considered an investment in the underlying silver for purposes of Code Section 851(b) and (2) the extent to which an investment in Shares might nevertheless be consistent with preservation of their qualification under Code Section 851.

 

Investment by Certain Retirement Plans

 

Section 408(m) of the Code provides that the purchase of a “collectible” as an investment for an individual retirement account (“IRA”), or for a participant-directed account maintained under any plan that is tax-qualified under Section 401(a) of the Code, is treated as a taxable distribution from the account to the owner of the IRA, or to the participant for whom the plan account is maintained, of an amount equal to the cost to the account of acquiring the collectible. The Trust has received a private letter ruling from the IRS which provides that the purchase of Shares by an IRA or a participant-directed account maintained under a plan that is tax-qualified under Section 401(a) of the Code, will not constitute the acquisition of a collectible or be treated as resulting in a taxable distribution to the IRA owner or plan participant under Code Section 408(m). However, in the event any redemption of Shares results in the distribution of silver bullion to an IRA or a participant-directed account maintained under a plan that is tax-qualified under Section 401(a) of the Code, such distribution would constitute the acquisition of a collectible to the extent provided under Section 408(m) of the Code.

 

Taxation of Non-U.S. Shareholders

 

A Non-U.S. Shareholder generally will not be subject to United States federal income tax with respect to gain recognized upon the sale or other disposition of Shares, or upon the sale of silver by the Trust, unless (1) the Non-U.S. Shareholder is an individual and is present in the United States for 183 days or more during the taxable year of the sale or other disposition, and the gain is treated as being from United States sources or (2) the gain is effectively connected with the conduct by the Non-U.S. Shareholder of a trade or business in the United States and certain other conditions are met.

 

United States Information Reporting and Backup Withholding

 

The Trustee will file certain information returns with the IRS, and provide certain tax-related information to Shareholders, in connection with the Trust. Each Shareholder will be provided with information regarding its allocable portion of the Trust’s annual income (if any) and expenses. A U.S. Shareholder may be subject to United States backup withholding tax in certain circumstances unless it provides its taxpayer identification number and complies with certain certification procedures. Non-U.S. Shareholders may have to comply with certification procedures to establish that they are not a United States person in order to avoid the information reporting and backup withholding tax requirements.

 

The amount of any backup withholding will be allowed as a credit against a Shareholder’s United States federal income tax liability and may entitle such a Shareholder to a refund, provided that the required information is furnished to the IRS in a timely manner.

 

Taxation in Jurisdictions Other Than the United States

 

Prospective purchasers of Shares that are based in or acting out of a jurisdiction other than the United States are advised to consult their own tax advisers as to the tax consequences, under the laws of such jurisdiction (or any other jurisdiction other than the United States to which they are subject), of their purchase, holding, sale and redemption of or any other dealing in Shares and, in particular, as to whether any value added tax, other consumption tax or transfer tax is payable in relation to such purchase, holding, sale, redemption or other dealing.

 

ERISA AND RELATED CONSIDERATIONS

 

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) and/or Section 4975 of the Code impose certain requirements on employee benefit plans and certain other plans and arrangements, including individual retirement accounts and annuities, Keogh plans, and certain collective investment funds or insurance company general or separate accounts in which such plans or arrangements are invested, that are subject to ERISA and/or the Code (collectively, “Plans”), and on persons who are fiduciaries with respect to the investment of assets treated as plan assets of a Plan. Investments by Plans are subject to the fiduciary requirements and the applicability of prohibited transaction restrictions under ERISA.

 

Government plans and some church plans are not subject to the fiduciary responsibility provisions of ERISA or the provisions of Section 4975 of the Code, but may be subject to substantially similar rules under state or other federal law. Fiduciaries of any such plans are advised to consult with their counsel prior to an investment in Shares.

 

In contemplating an investment of a portion of Plan assets in Shares, the Plan fiduciary responsible for making such investment should carefully consider, taking into account the facts and circumstances of the Plan, the “Risk Factors” discussed below and whether such investment is consistent with its fiduciary responsibilities, including, but not limited to: (1) whether the fiduciary has the authority to make the investment under the appropriate governing plan instrument; (2) whether the investment would constitute a direct or indirect non-exempt prohibited transaction with a party in interest; (3) the Plan’s funding objectives and (4) whether under the general fiduciary standards of investment prudence and diversification such investment is appropriate for the Plan, taking into account the overall investment policy of the Plan, the composition of the Plan’s investment portfolio and the Plan’s need for sufficient liquidity to pay benefits when due.

 

 

 

Item 1A. Risk Factors.

 

Actual or perceived disruptions in the processes used to determine the LBMA Silver Price, or lack of confidence in that benchmark, may adversely affect the return on your investment in the Shares (if any).

 

Because the objective of the Trust is to reflect the performance of the price of silver, any disruptions affecting the processes related to how the market determines the price of silver will have an effect on the value of the Shares. From its inception until August 14, 2014, the Trust used for the daily valuation of its silver and the computation of the NAV the price of silver set by three market-making members of the LBMA at approximately 12:00 p.m. (London time) (the “London Fix”). On August 15, 2014, the London Fix was discontinued, and the LBMA Silver Price became the new daily price of silver determined and disseminated under the auspices of the LBMA shortly after 12:00 p.m. (London time), on each day that the London silver market is open for business.

 

The LBMA Silver Price is determined through an electronic, auction-based mechanism administered by the CME Group and published by Thomson Reuters. While these features may be improvements over the discontinued London Fix, investors should keep in mind that electronic markets are not exempt from failures, as shown by the experiences of the initial public offerings of Facebook and BATS Global Markets. In addition, electronic trading platforms may be subject to influence by high-frequency traders with results that are highly contested by the industry, regulators and market observers.

 

As of the date of this filing, the LBMA Silver Price has been subject to the test of actual trading markets for over two years. As with any innovation, it is possible that electronic failures or other unanticipated events may occur that could result in delays in the announcement of, or the inability of the system to produce, an LBMA Silver Price on any given date. Furthermore, if a perception were to develop that the LBMA Silver Price is vulnerable to manipulation attempts, or if the proceedings surrounding the determination and publication of the LBMA Silver Price were seen as unfair, biased or otherwise compromised by the markets, the behavior of investors and traders in silver may change, and those changes may have an effect on the price of silver (and, consequently, the value of the Shares). In any of these circumstances, the intervention of extraneous events disruptive of the normal interaction of supply and demand of silver at any given time, may result in distorted prices and losses on an investment in the Shares that, but for such extraneous events, might not have occurred.

 

Other effects of disruptions in the determination of the LBMA Silver Price on the operations of the Trust include the potential for an incorrect valuation of the Trust’s silver, an inaccurate computation of the Sponsor’s fee, and the sales of silver to cover Trust expenses at prices that do not accurately reflect the fundamentals of the silver market. Each of these events could have an adverse effect on the value of the Shares.

 

As of the date of this filing, the Sponsor has no reason to believe that the LBMA Silver Price (used by the Trust since August 15, 2014 for the daily valuation of its silver and the determination of the Sponsor’s fee and the price of silver sold to cover Trust expenses) will not fairly represent the price of the silver held by the Trust. Should this situation change, the Sponsor expects to use the powers granted by the Trust’s governing documents to seek to replace the LBMA Silver Price with a more reliable indicator of the value of the Trust’s silver. There is no assurance that such alternative value indicator will be identified, or that the process of changing from the LBMA Silver Price to a new benchmark price will not adversely affect the price of the Shares.

 

Because the Shares are created to reflect the price of the silver held by the Trust, the market price of the Shares will be as unpredictable as the price of silver has historically been. This creates the potential for losses, regardless of whether you hold Shares for a short-, mid- or long-term.

 

Shares are created to reflect, at any given time, the market price of silver owned by the Trust at that time less the Trust’s expenses and liabilities. Because the value of Shares depends on the price of silver, it is subject to fluctuations similar to those affecting silver prices. The price of silver has fluctuated widely over the past several years. If silver markets continue to be characterized by the wide fluctuations that they have shown in the past several years, the price of the Shares will change widely and in an unpredictable manner. This exposes your investment in Shares to potential losses if you need to sell your Shares at a time when the price of silver is lower than it was when you made your investment in Shares. Even if you are able to hold Shares for the mid- or long-term, you may never realize a profit, because silver markets have historically experienced extended periods of flat or declining prices.

 

Following an investment in Shares, several factors may have the effect of causing a decline in the prices of silver and a corresponding decline in the price of Shares. Among them:

 

 

A change in economic conditions, such as a recession, can adversely affect the price of silver. Silver is used in a wide range of industrial applications, and an economic downturn could have a negative impact on its demand and, consequently, its price and the price of the Shares.

 

 

A significant increase in silver price hedging activity by silver producers. Traditionally, silver producers have not hedged to the same extent that other producers of precious metals (gold, for example) have. Should there be an increase in the level of hedge activity of silver producing companies, it could cause a decline in world silver prices, adversely affecting the price of the Shares.

 

 

A significant change in the attitude of speculators and investors towards silver. Should the speculative community take a negative view towards silver, a decline in world silver prices could occur, negatively impacting the price of the Shares.

 

Conversely, several factors may trigger a temporary increase in the price of silver prior to your investment in the Shares. If that is the case, you will be buying Shares at prices affected by the temporarily high prices of silver, and you may incur losses when the causes for the temporary increase disappear.

 

 

 

The amount of silver represented by each Share will decrease over the life of the Trust due to the sales of silver necessary to pay the Sponsor’s fee and Trust expenses. Without increases in the price of silver sufficient to compensate for that decrease, the price of the Shares will also decline and you will lose money on your investment in Shares.

 

Although the Sponsor has agreed to assume all organizational and certain ordinary administrative and marketing expenses incurred by the Trust, not all Trust expenses have been assumed by the Sponsor. For example, any taxes and other governmental charges that may be imposed on the Trust’s property will not be paid by the Sponsor. As part of its agreement to assume some of the Trust’s ordinary administrative expenses, the Sponsor has agreed to pay legal fees and expenses of the Trust not in excess of $100,000 per annum. Any legal fees and expenses in excess of that amount will be the responsibility of the Trust.

 

Because the Trust does not have any income, it needs to sell silver to cover the Sponsor’s fee and expenses not assumed by the Sponsor. The Trust may also be subject to other liabilities (for example, as a result of litigation) which have also not been assumed by the Sponsor. The only source of funds to cover those liabilities will be sales of silver held by the Trust. Even if there are no expenses other than those assumed by the Sponsor, and there are no other liabilities of the Trust, the Trustee will still need to sell silver to pay the Sponsor’s fee. The result of these sales is a decrease in the amount of silver represented by each Share. New deposits of silver, received in exchange for new Shares issued by the Trust, do not reverse this trend.

 

A decrease in the amount of silver represented by each Share results in a decrease in its price even if the price of silver has not changed. To retain the Share’s original price, the price of silver has to increase. Without that increase, the lesser amount of silver represented by the Share will have a correspondingly lower price. If these increases do not occur, or are not sufficient to counter the lesser amount of silver represented by each Share, you will sustain losses on your investment in Shares.

 

An increase in the Trust expenses not assumed by the Sponsor, or the existence of unexpected liabilities affecting the Trust, will force the Trustee to sell larger amounts of silver, and will result in a more rapid decrease of the amount of silver represented by each Share and a corresponding decrease in its value.

 

The Trust is a passive investment vehicle. This means that the value of your Shares may be adversely affected by Trust losses that, if the Trust had been actively managed, it might have been possible to avoid.

 

The Trustee does not actively manage the silver held by the Trust. This means that the Trustee does not sell silver at times when its price is high, or acquire silver at low prices in the expectation of future price increases. It also means that the Trustee does not make use of any of the hedging techniques available to professional silver investors to attempt to reduce the risks of losses resulting from price decreases. Any losses sustained by the Trust will adversely affect the value of your Shares.

 

The price received upon the sale of Shares may be less than the value of the silver represented by them.

 

The result obtained by subtracting the Trust’s expenses and liabilities on any day from the price of the silver owned by the Trust on that day is the net asset value of the Trust which, when divided by the number of Shares outstanding on that day, results in the NAV.

 

Shares may trade at, above or below their NAV. The NAV will fluctuate with changes in the market value of the Trust’s assets. The trading prices of Shares will fluctuate in accordance with changes in their NAVs as well as market supply and demand. The amount of the discount or premium in the trading price relative to the NAV may be influenced by non-concurrent trading hours between the major silver markets and NYSE Arca. While the Shares will trade on NYSE Arca until 4:00 p.m. (New York time), liquidity in the market for silver will be reduced after the close of the major world silver markets, including London, Zurich and the COMEX in Chicago. As a result, during this time, trading spreads, and the resulting premium or discount on Shares, may widen.

 

The liquidation of the Trust may occur at a time when the disposition of the Trust’s silver will result in losses to investors in Shares.

 

The Trust will have a limited duration. If certain events occur, at any time, the Trustee will have to terminate the Trust. Otherwise, the Trust will terminate automatically on April 21, 2046.

 

Upon termination of the Trust, the Trustee will sell silver in the amount necessary to cover all expenses of liquidation, and to pay any outstanding liabilities of the Trust. The remaining silver will be distributed among investors surrendering Shares. Any silver remaining in the possession of the Trustee after 90 days may be sold by the Trustee and the proceeds of the sale will be held by the Trustee until claimed by any remaining holders of Shares. Sales of silver in connection with the liquidation of the Trust at a time of low prices will likely result in losses, or adversely affect your gains, on your investment in Shares.

 

There may be situations where an Authorized Participant is unable to redeem a Basket of Shares. To the extent the value of silver decreases, these delays may result in a decrease in the value of the silver the Authorized Participant will receive when the redemption occurs, as well as a reduction in liquidity for all Shareholders in the secondary market.

 

Although Shares surrendered by Authorized Participants in Basket-size aggregations are redeemable in exchange for the underlying amount of silver, redemptions may be suspended during any period while regular trading on NYSE Arca is suspended or restricted, or in which an emergency exists that makes it reasonably impracticable to deliver, dispose of, or evaluate silver. If any of these events occurs at a time when an Authorized Participant intends to redeem Shares, and the price of silver decreases before such Authorized Participant is able again to surrender for redemption of any Baskets, such Authorized Participant will sustain a loss with respect to the amount that it would have been able to obtain in exchange for the silver received from the Trust upon the redemption of its Shares, had the redemption taken place when such Authorized Participant originally intended it to occur. As a consequence, Authorized Participants may reduce their trading in Shares during periods of suspension, decreasing the number of potential buyers of Shares in the secondary market and, therefore, decreasing the price a Shareholder may receive upon sale.

 

 

 

The liquidity of the Shares may also be affected by the withdrawal from participation of Authorized Participants.

 

In the event that one or more Authorized Participants that have substantial interests in Shares withdraw from participation, the liquidity of the Shares will likely decrease, which could adversely affect the market price of the Shares and result in your incurring a loss on your investment.

  

Authorized Participants with large holdings may choose to terminate the Trust.

 

Holders of 75% of the Shares have the power to terminate the Trust. This power may be exercised by a relatively small number of holders. If it is so exercised, investors who wished to continue to invest in silver through the vehicle of the Trust will have to find another vehicle, and may not be able to find another vehicle that offers the same features as the Trust.

 

The lack of an active trading market for the Shares may result in losses on your investment at the time of disposition of your Shares.

 

Although Shares are listed for trading on NYSE Arca, you should not assume that an active trading market for the Shares will develop or be maintained. If you need to sell your Shares at a time when no active market for them exists, such lack of an active market will most likely adversely affect the price you receive for your Shares (assuming you are able to sell them).

 

If the process of creation and redemption of Baskets encounters any unanticipated difficulties or is materially restricted due to any illiquidity in the market for physical silver, the possibility for arbitrage transactions by Authorized Participants, intended to keep the price of the Shares closely linked to the price of silver may not exist and, as a result, the price of the Shares may fall or otherwise diverge from NAV.

 

If the processes of creation and redemption of Shares (which depend on timely transfers of silver to and by the Custodian) encounter any unanticipated difficulties, potential market participants, such as the Authorized Participants and their customers, who would otherwise be willing to purchase or redeem Baskets to take advantage of any arbitrage opportunity arising from discrepancies between the price of the Shares and the price of the underlying silver may not take the risk that, as a result of those difficulties, they may not be able to realize the profit they expect. If this is the case, the liquidity of the Shares may decline and the price of the Shares may fluctuate independently of the price of silver and may fall or otherwise diverge from NAV. Furthermore, in the event that the London market for physical silver should become relatively illiquid and thereby materially restrict opportunities for arbitraging by delivering silver in return for Baskets, the price of Shares may diverge from the value of physical silver and may fall.

 

As an owner of Shares, you will not have the rights normally associated with ownership of other types of shares.

 

Shares are not entitled to the same rights as shares issued by a corporation. By acquiring Shares, you are not acquiring the right to elect directors, to receive dividends, to vote on certain matters regarding the issuer of your Shares or to take other actions normally associated with the ownership of shares.

 

As an owner of Shares, you will not have the protections normally associated with ownership of shares in an investment company registered under the Investment Company Act, or the protections afforded by the Commodity Exchange Act of 1936.

 

The Trust is not registered as an investment company for purposes of United States federal securities laws, and is not subject to regulation by the SEC as an investment company. Consequently, the owners of Shares do not have the regulatory protections provided to investors in registered investment companies. For example, the provisions of the Investment Company Act that limit transactions with affiliates, prohibit the suspension of redemptions (except under certain limited circumstances) or limit sales loads, among others, do not apply to the Trust.

 

The Trust does not hold or trade in commodity futures contracts or any other instruments regulated by the U.S. Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”), as administered by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”). Furthermore, the Trust is not a commodity pool for purposes of the CEA. Consequently, the Trustee and Sponsor are not subject to registration as commodity pool operators with respect to the Trust. The owners of Shares do not receive the CEA disclosure document and certified annual report required to be delivered by a registered commodity pool operator with respect to the Trust, and the owners of Shares do not have the regulatory protections provided to investors in commodity pools operated by registered commodity pool operators.

 

The value of the Shares will be adversely affected if silver owned by the Trust is lost or damaged in circumstances in which the Trust is not in a position to recover the corresponding loss.

 

The Custodian is responsible to the Trust for loss or damage to the Trust’s silver only under limited circumstances. The agreement with the Custodian contemplates that the Custodian will be responsible to the Trust only if it acts with negligence, fraud or in willful default of its obligations under the custodian agreement. In addition, the Custodian has agreed to indemnify the Trust for any loss or liability directly resulting from a breach of the Custodian’s representations and warranties in the custodian agreement, a failure of the Custodian to act in accordance with the Trustee’s instructions or any physical loss, destruction or damage to the silver held for the Trust’s account, except for losses due to nuclear accidents, terrorism, riots, acts of God, insurrections, strikes and similar causes beyond the control of the Custodian for which the Custodian will not be responsible to the Trust.

 

The Custodian has no obligation to replace any silver lost under circumstances for which the Custodian is liable to the Trust. The Custodian’s liability to the Trust, if any, will be limited to the value of any silver lost, or the amount of any balance held on an unallocated basis, at the time of the Custodian’s negligence, fraud, or willful default, or at the time of the act or omission giving rise to the claim for indemnification.

 

In addition, because the custodian agreement is governed by English law, any rights which the holders of the Shares may have against the Custodian will be different from, and may be more limited than, those that could have been available to them under the laws of a different jurisdiction. The choice of English law to govern the custodian agreement, however, is not expected to affect any rights that the holders of the Shares may have against the Trust or the Trustee.

 

 

 

Any loss of silver owned by the Trust will result in a corresponding loss in the NAV and it is reasonable to expect that such loss will also result in a decrease in the value at which the Shares are traded on NYSE Arca.

 

Silver transferred to the Trust in connection with the creation of Baskets may not be of the quality required under the trust agreement. The Trust will sustain a loss if the Trustee issues Shares in exchange for silver of inferior quality and that loss will adversely affect the value of all existing Shares.

 

The procedures agreed to with the Custodian contemplate that the Custodian must undertake certain tasks in connection with the inspection of silver delivered by Authorized Participants in exchange for Baskets. The Custodian’s inspection includes review of the corresponding bar list to ensure that it accurately describes the weight, fineness, refiner marks and bar numbers appearing on the silver bars, but does not include any chemical or other tests designed to verify that the silver received does, in fact, meet the purity requirements referred to in the trust agreement. Accordingly, such inspection procedures may not prevent the deposit of silver that fails to meet these purity standards. Each Authorized Participant that deposits silver in the Trust is liable to the Trust if that silver does not meet the requirements of the trust agreement. The Custodian will not be responsible or liable to the Trust or to any investor in the event any silver otherwise properly inspected by it does not meet the purity requirements contained in the trust agreement. To the extent that Baskets are issued in exchange for silver of inferior quality and the Trust is not able to recover damages from the Authorized Participant that deposited that silver, the total value of the assets of the Trust will be adversely affected and, with it, the NAV. In these circumstances, it is reasonable to expect that the value at which the Shares trade on NYSE Arca will also be adversely affected.

 

The value of the Shares will be adversely affected if the Trust is required to indemnify the Sponsor or the Custodian as contemplated in the trust agreement and the custodian agreement.

 

Under the trust agreement, the Sponsor has a right to be indemnified from the Trust for any liability or expense it incurs without negligence, bad faith or willful misconduct on its part. Similarly, the custodian agreement provides for indemnification of the Custodian by the Trust under certain circumstances. This means that it may be necessary to sell assets of the Trust in order to cover losses or liability suffered by the Sponsor or the Custodian. Any sale of that kind would reduce the net asset value of the Trust and the value of the Shares.

 

 

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.

 

None.

 

 

Item 2. Properties.

 

Not applicable.

 

 

Item 3. Legal Proceedings.

 

None.

 

 

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.

 

Not applicable.

 

 

  

PART II

 

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.

 

Market Information

 

On December 4, 2008, the Shares commenced trading on NYSE Arca under the symbol SLV. Prior to that, the Shares were traded on the American Stock Exchange, also under the symbol SLV, since their initial public offering on April 21, 2006.

 

For each of the quarters during the fiscal years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015, the high and low sale prices of the Shares as reported for NYSE Arca transactions were as follows:

 

   

Years Ended December 31,

 
   

2016

   

2015

 
   

High

   

Low

   

High

   

Low

 

First Quarter

  $ 15.16     $ 13.17     $ 17.61     $ 14.84  

Second Quarter

    17.87       14.20       16.89       15.03  

Third Quarter

    19.60       17.62       14.99       13.56  

Fourth Quarter

    17.87       14.91       15.42       13.06  

  

Holders

 

The number of Shareholders of record of the Trust as of December 31, 2016 was approximately 353,281.

 

Dividends

 

The Trust did not declare any cash distributions to Shareholders during the fiscal years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015. The Trust has no obligation to make periodic distributions to Shareholders. 

 

Use of Proceeds from Registered Securities

 

Not applicable.

 

Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuers and Affiliated Purchaser

 

37,250,000 Shares (745 Baskets) were redeemed during the fourth quarter of the year ended December 31, 2016. 

 

Period

 

Total Number of Shares
Redeemed

   

Average Ounces of
Silver Paid Per Share

 

10/01/16 to 10/31/16

    9,000,000       0.9490  

11/01/16 to 11/30/16

    18,750,000       0.9487  

12/01/16 to 12/31/16

    9,500,000       0.9483  

Total

    37,250,000       0.9487  

 

 

Item 6. Selected Financial Data.

 

The following table summarizes the relevant December 31, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012 financial data for the Trust and should be read in conjunction with the Trust’s financial statements, schedules and notes related thereto which are included in this report. The Trust commenced operations on April 21, 2006.

 

   

December 31,

 
   

2016(a)

   

2015(a)

   

2014(a)

   

2013

   

2012

 

Total gain (loss) on silver

                      (1,914,969,905 )     438,795,864  

Net realized loss on silver

    (111,239,707 )     (212,155,884 )     (78,450,102 )            

Net income (loss)

    682,782,768       (699,232,160 )     (1,233,639,459 )     (1,954,787,818 )     390,139,861  

Net income (loss) per Share

    1.91       (2.07 )     (3.57 )     (5.65 )     1.21  

Net cash flows

                             

Total assets

    5,543,495,441       4,393,860,514       5,263,139,743       6,243,467,246       8,135,002,600  

 


(a)

Effective January 1, 2014, the Trust qualified as an investment company solely for accounting purposes and not for any other purpose.

 

 

 

The following table summarizes the relevant quarterly financial data for each of the four quarters of 2016 for the Trust and should be read in conjunction with the Trust’s financial statements, schedules and notes related thereto which are included in this report.

 

   

Three Months Ended (Unaudited)

 
   

March 31,

   

June 30,

   

September 30,

   

December 31,

 
   

2016

   

2016

   

2016

   

2016

 

Net realized gain (loss) on silver

    (53,100,397 )     (24,933,962 )     4,383,020       (37,588,368 )

Net income (loss)

    481,774,179       995,839,504       311,697,420       (1,106,528,335 )

Net income (loss) per Share

    1.45       2.82       0.84       (2.98 )

Net cash flows

                       

Total assets

    5,115,057,457       6,123,883,995       7,011,280,036       5,543,495,441  

   

 

Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

 

This information should be read in conjunction with the financial statements and notes to financial statements included with this report. The discussion and analysis that follows may contain statements that relate to future events or future performance. In some cases, such forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as “may,” “should,” “could,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. Except as required by applicable disclosure laws, neither the Sponsor, nor any other person assumes responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of any forward-looking statements. Neither the Trust nor the Sponsor is under a duty to update any of the forward-looking statements to conform such statements to actual results or to a change in the Sponsor’s expectations or predictions.

 

Introduction

 

The Trust is a grantor trust formed under the laws of the State of New York. The Trust does not have any officers, directors, or employees, and is administered by the Trustee acting as trustee pursuant to the Second Amended and Restated Depositary Trust Agreement (the “Trust Agreement”) between the Trustee and the Sponsor. The Trust issues Shares representing fractional undivided beneficial interests in its net assets. The assets of the Trust consist primarily of silver bullion held by a custodian as an agent of the Trust responsible only to the Trustee.

 

The Trust is a passive investment vehicle and the objective of the Trust is for the value of each Share to approximately reflect the price of silver. The Trust does not engage in any activities designed to obtain a profit from, or ameliorate losses caused by, changes in the price of silver.

 

The Trust issues and redeems Shares only in exchange for silver, only in Baskets of 50,000 Shares or integral multiples thereof, and only in transactions with Authorized Participants.

 

Shares of the Trust trade on NYSE Arca under the symbol “SLV.”

 

Valuation of Silver; Computation of Net Asset Value

 

On each business day, as soon as practicable after 4:00 p.m. (New York time), the Trustee evaluates the silver held by the Trust and determines the net asset value of the Trust and the NAV. The Trustee values the silver held by the Trust on the basis of that day’s announced LBMA Silver Price. Having valued the silver held by the Trust, the Trustee adds other assets of the Trust then subtracts all accrued fees, expenses and other liabilities of the Trust. The result is the net asset value of the Trust. The Trustee computes the NAV by dividing the net asset value of the Trust by the number of Shares outstanding on the date the computation is made. Prior to August 15, 2014, the Trustee valued the silver held by the Trust using the London Fix.

 

Liquidity

 

The Trust is not aware of any trends, demands, conditions or events that are reasonably likely to result in material changes to its liquidity needs. In exchange for a fee, the Sponsor has agreed to assume most of the expenses incurred by the Trust. As a result, the only ordinary expense of the Trust during the period covered by this report was the Sponsor’s fee. The Trust’s only source of liquidity is its sales of silver.

 

Critical Accounting Policies

 

The financial statements and accompanying notes are prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. The preparation of these financial statements relies on estimates and assumptions that impact the Trust’s financial position and results of operations. These estimates and assumptions affect the Trust’s application of accounting policies. Below we describe the valuation of silver bullion, a critical accounting policy that we believe is important to understanding our results of operations and financial position. In addition, please refer to Note 2 to the financial statements included in this report for further discussion of the Trust’s accounting policies.

 

Valuation of Silver Bullion

 

Fair value of the silver bullion is based on the LBMA Silver Price.

 

 

 

There are other indicators of the value of silver bullion that are available that could be different than that chosen by the Trust. The LBMA Silver Price is used by the Trust because it is commonly used by the U.S. silver market as an indicator of the value of silver and is permitted to be used under the Trust Agreement. The use of an indicator of the value of silver bullion other than the LBMA Silver Price could result in materially different fair value pricing of the silver in the Trust, and as such, could result in different lower of cost or market adjustments or in different redemption value adjustments of the outstanding redeemable capital Shares.

 

The following chart shows the daily London Fix or LBMA Silver Price, as applicable, for the period from December 2011 through December 2016(a):

 

 

 


(a)

The London Fix was discontinued on August 15, 2014 and was subsequently replaced by the LBMA Silver Price from that date onward, as reflected in the chart.

 

Results of Operations

 

The Year Ended December 31, 2016

 

The Trust’s net asset value grew from $4,391,943,604 at December 31, 2015 to $5,541,130,643 at December 31, 2016, a 26.17% increase for the year. The increase in the Trust’s net asset value resulted primarily from increase in the price of silver, which rose 17.51% from $13.82 at December 31, 2015 to $16.24 (the LBMA Silver Price at December 31, 2016). The increase in the Trust’s net asset value was also affected by an increase in the number of outstanding Shares, which rose from 333,550,000 Shares at December 31, 2015 to 359,900,000 Shares at December 31, 2016, a consequence of 102,750,000 Shares (2,055 Baskets) being created and 76,400,000 Shares (1,528 Baskets) being redeemed during the year.

 

The 16.93% increase in the Trust’s NAV from $13.17 at December 31, 2015 to $15.40 at December 31, 2016 is directly related to the 17.51% increase in the price of silver.

 

The Trust’s NAV increased slightly less than the price of silver on a percentage basis due to the Sponsor’s fees, which were $29,148,568 for the year, or 0.50% of the Trust’s average weighted assets of $5,832,956,742 during the year. The NAV of $19.68 on August 2, 2016 was the highest during the year, compared with a low during the year of $12.93 on January 28, 2016.

 

 

Net increase in net assets resulting from operations for the year ended December 31, 2016 was $682,782,768, resulting from an unrealized gain on investment in silver bullion of $823,171,043, partially offset by a net investment loss of $29,148,568, a net realized loss of $2,513,184 from investment in silver bullion sold to pay expenses and a net realized loss of $108,726,523 on silver bullion distributed for the redemption of Shares. Other than the Sponsor’s fees of $29,148,568, the Trust had no expenses during the year ended December 31, 2016.

 

The Year Ended December 31, 2015

 

The Trust’s net asset value fell from $5,260,801,879 at December 31, 2014 to $4,391,943,604 at December 31, 2015, a 16.52% decrease for the year. The decrease in the Trust’s net asset value resulted primarily from a decrease in the price of silver, which fell 13.46% from $15.97 at December 31, 2014 to $13.82 (the LBMA Silver Price at December 31, 2015). The decrease in the Trust’s net asset value was also affected by a decrease in the number of outstanding Shares, which fell from 344,000,000 Shares at December 31, 2014 to 333,550,000 Shares at December 31, 2015, a consequence of 57,150,000 Shares (1,143 Baskets) being created and 67,600,000 Shares (1,352 Baskets) being redeemed during the year.

 

The 13.87% decline in the Trust’s NAV from $15.29 at December 31, 2014 to $13.17 at December 31, 2015 is directly related to the 13.46% decrease in the price of silver.

 

The Trust’s NAV decreased slightly more than the price of silver on a percentage basis due to the Sponsor’s fees, which were $25,294,785 for the year, or 0.50% of the Trust’s average weighted assets of $5,056,528,843 during the year. The NAV of $17.45 on January 23, 2015 was the highest during the year, compared with a low during the year of $13.07 on December 14, 2015. 

 

Net decrease in net assets resulting from operations for the year ended December 31, 2015 was $699,232,160, resulting from a net investment loss of $25,294,785, a net realized loss of $5,703,341 from investment in silver bullion sold to pay expenses, a net realized loss of $206,452,543 on silver bullion distributed for the redemption of Shares and an unrealized loss on investment in silver bullion of $461,781,491. Other than the Sponsor’s fees of $25,294,785, the Trust had no expenses during the year ended December 31, 2015.

 

The Year Ended December 31, 2014

 

The Trust’s net asset value fell from $6,240,747,397 at December 31, 2013 to $5,260,801,879 at December 31, 2014, a 15.70% decrease for the year. The decrease in the Trust’s net asset value resulted primarily from a decrease in the price of silver, which fell 18.10% from $19.50 (the London Fix at December 31, 2013) to $15.97 (the LBMA Silver Price at December 31, 2014). The decrease in the Trust’s net asset value was partially offset by an increase in the number of outstanding Shares, which rose from 332,500,000 Shares at December 31, 2013 to 344,000,000 Shares at December 31, 2014, a consequence of 74,950,000 Shares (1,499 Baskets) being created and 63,450,000 Shares (1,269 Baskets) being redeemed during the year.

 

The 18.54% decline in the Trust’s NAV from $18.77 at December 31, 2013 to $15.29 at December 31, 2014 is directly related to the 18.10% decrease in the price of silver.

 

The Trust’s NAV decreased slightly more than the price of silver on a percentage basis due to the Sponsor’s fees, which were $31,579,407 for the year, or 0.50% of the Trust’s average weighted assets of $6,313,220,546 during the year. The NAV of $21.21 on February 24, 2014 was the highest during the year, compared with a low during the year of $14.64 on November 6, 2014.

 

Net decrease in net assets resulting from operations for the year ended December 31, 2014 was $1,233,639,459, resulting from a net investment loss of $31,579,407, a net realized loss of $1,055,702 from investment in silver bullion sold to pay expenses, a net realized loss of $77,394,400 on silver bullion distributed for the redemption of Shares and an unrealized loss on investment in silver bullion of $1,123,609,950. Other than the Sponsor’s fees of $31,579,407, the Trust had no expenses during the year ended December 31, 2014.

  

  

Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk.

 

Not applicable.

 

 

  

Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.

 

The following tables show the Trust’s quarterly financial information for 2016 and 2015.

 

   

Three Months Ended (Unaudited)

 
   

March 31,

   

June 30,

   

September 30,

   

December 31,

 
   

2016

   

2016

   

2016

   

2016

 
Expenses                                

Sponsor’s fees

  $ 5,844,914     $ 6,989,492     $ 8,678,646     $ 7,635,516  

Total expenses

    5,844,914       6,989,492       8,678,646       7,635,516  

Net investment loss

    (5,844,914 )     (6,989,492 )     (8,678,646 )     (7,635,516 )
Net Realized and Unrealized Gain (Loss)                                

Net realized gain (loss) from silver bullion sold to pay expenses

    (1,703,192 )     (931,717 )     406,942       (285,217 )

Net realized gain (loss) from silver bullion distributed for the redemption of Shares

    (51,397,205 )     (24,002,245 )     3,976,078       (37,303,151 )

Net change in unrealized appreciation/depreciation on investment in silver bullion

    540,719,490       1,027,762,958       315,993,046       (1,061,304,451 )

Net realized and unrealized gain (loss)

    487,619,093       1,002,828,996       320,376,066       (1,098,892,819 )
Net increase (decrease) in net assets resulting from operations   $ 481,774,179     $ 995,839,504     $ 311,697,420     $ (1,106,528,335 )
Net increase (decrease) in net assets per Share   $ 1.45     $ 2.82     $ 0.84     $ (2.98 )

 

 

   

Three Months Ended (Unaudited)

 
   

March 31,

   

June 30,

   

September 30,

   

December 31,

 
   

2015

   

2015

   

2015

   

2015

 
Expenses                                

Sponsor’s fees

  $ 6,656,496     $ 6,618,586     $ 6,112,652     $ 5,907,051  

Total expenses

    6,656,496       6,618,586       6,112,652       5,907,051  

Net investment loss

    (6,656,496 )     (6,618,586 )     (6,112,652 )     (5,907,051 )
Net Realized and Unrealized Gain (Loss)                                

Net realized loss from silver bullion sold to pay expenses

    (1,169,264 )     (1,143,142 )     (1,712,921 )     (1,678,014 )

Net realized loss from silver bullion distributed for the redemption of Shares

    (42,040,607 )     (43,727,100 )     (51,847,823 )     (68,837,013 )(a)

Net change in unrealized appreciation/depreciation on investment in silver bullion

    256,233,177       (242,511,257 )     (288,300,118 )     (187,203,293 )(a)

Net realized and unrealized gain (loss)

    213,023,306       (287,381,499 )     (341,860,862 )     (257,718,320 )
Net increase (decrease) in net assets resulting from operations   $ 206,366,810     $ (294,000,085 )   $ (347,973,514 )   $ (263,625,371 )
Net increase (decrease) in net assets per Share   $ 0.61     $ (0.87 )   $ (1.02 )   $ (0.79 )

 


(a)

In the quarter ended December 31, 2015, the Trust recorded a $14.7 million out-of-period adjustment increasing “Net realized loss from silver bullion distributed for the redemption of Shares” with a corresponding decrease to “Net change in unrealized appreciation/depreciation on investment in silver bullion.” The adjustment related to an accounting entry error that occurred during the quarter ended June 30, 2015. There was no impact to “Net realized and unrealized loss”, “Net Income (Loss)” or “Net Asset Value.” Management has evaluated the impact of this out-of-period adjustment to the previously issued financial statements and determined that the error did not result in a material misstatement to the previously issued quarterly financial statements.

 

 

See Index to Financial Statements on page F-1 for a list of the financial statements being filed herein.

 

 

Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure.

 

There have been no changes in accountants and no disagreements with accountants during the year ended December 31, 2016.

 

 

Item 9A. Controls and Procedures.

 

The duly authorized officers of the Sponsor performing functions equivalent to those a principal executive officer and principal financial officer of the Trust would perform if the Trust had any officers, and with the participation of the Trustee, have evaluated the effectiveness of the Trust’s disclosure controls and procedures, and have concluded that the disclosure controls and procedures of the Trust were effective as of the end of the period covered by this report to provide reasonable assurance that information required to be disclosed in the reports that the Trust files or submits under the Exchange Act is recorded, processed, summarized and reported, within the time periods specified in the applicable rules and forms, and that it is accumulated and communicated to the duly authorized officers of the Sponsor performing functions equivalent to those a principal executive officer and principal financial officer of the Trust would perform if the Trust had any officers, as appropriate to allow timely decisions regarding required disclosure.

 

There are inherent limitations to the effectiveness of any system of disclosure controls and procedures, including the possibility of human error and the circumvention or overriding of the controls and procedures.

 

 

 

Management’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting

 

The Sponsor’s management is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting, as defined in Exchange Act Rules 13a-15(f) and 15d-15(f). The Trust’s internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. Internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that: (1) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the Trust’s assets; (2) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and that the Trust’s receipts and expenditures are being made only in accordance with appropriate authorizations and (3) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use or disposition of the Trust’s assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.

 

Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become ineffective because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.

 

The principal executive officer and principal financial officer of the Sponsor assessed the effectiveness of the Trust’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2016. Their assessment included an evaluation of the design of the Trust’s internal control over financial reporting and testing of the operational effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting. In making its assessment, the Sponsor’s management has utilized the criteria set forth by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) in its report entitled Internal Control – Integrated Framework (2013). Based on their assessment and those criteria, the principal executive officer and principal financial officer of the Sponsor concluded that the Trust maintained effective internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2016.

 

The effectiveness of the Trust’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2016 has been audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, the independent registered public accounting firm that audited and reported on the financial statements included in this Form 10-K, as stated in their report which is included herein.

 

Changes in Internal Control over Financial Reporting

 

There were no changes in the Trust’s internal control over financial reporting that occurred during the Trust’s fourth fiscal quarter of the period covered by this report that have materially affected, or are reasonably likely to materially affect, the Trust’s internal control over financial reporting.

 

 

Item 9B. Other Information.

 

Not applicable.

 

 

 

PART III

 

Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance.

 

The Trust does not have any directors, officers or employees. The following persons, in their respective capacities as directors or executive officers of the Sponsor, perform certain functions with respect to the Trust that, if the Trust had directors or executive officers, would typically be performed by them.

 

Paul Lohrey is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Sponsor and Jack Gee is the Chief Financial Officer of the Sponsor.

 

The Sponsor is managed by a Board of Trustees composed of Philip Jensen, Peter Landini, Kimun Lee, Jack Gee and Paul Lohrey.

 

Paul Lohrey, CFA, 54, became a principal of the Sponsor in April 2014 and has served as its President and Chief Executive Officer since November 2015. Mr. Lohrey joined BlackRock as a Managing Director in June 2010. Prior to joining BlackRock, Mr. Lohrey served as Chief Investment Officer, Europe for The Vanguard Group, an asset management firm, from October 2008 to May 2010. He also held various positions in equity and fixed income portfolio management while at Vanguard from August 1994. Mr. Lohrey earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Duke University in 1984 and an MBA in finance from the University of Chicago in 1986.

 

Jack Gee, 57, became a principal of the Sponsor in September 2011 and serves as its Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Gee served as Director of US Fund Administration of BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. from September 2004 to January 2010. Since January 2010, Mr. Gee has served as Managing Director of BlackRock. Prior to joining BlackRock, Mr. Gee served as Chief Financial Officer to several investment management firms and began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Mr. Gee earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting from the California State University in 1982.

 

Philip Jensen, 58, became a principal of the Sponsor in September 2009 and is Chairman of the Sponsor’s audit committee. Since June 2001, Mr. Jensen has served as Partner and Chief Financial Officer of Paul Capital Partners, an investment firm focusing on the secondary private equity and healthcare market. Mr. Jensen received his Bachelor of Science from San Francisco State University and is a certified public accountant.

 

Peter Landini, 65, became a principal of the Sponsor in September 2009 and is a member of the Sponsor’s audit committee. In January 2003, Mr. Landini joined RBP Investment Advisors, Inc., a financial planning consultancy firm, for which he presently serves as Partner and Wealth Manager. Mr. Landini received his Bachelor of Science in accounting from Santa Clara University and an MBA in finance from Golden Gate University. Mr. Landini is a certified financial planner and is a member of the Financial Planning Association.

 

Kimun Lee, 70, became a principal of the Sponsor in September 2009 and is a member of the Sponsor’s audit committee. Mr. Lee is a California-registered investment adviser and has conducted his consulting business under the name Resources Consolidated since January 1980. Since September 2010, Mr. Lee has served as a member of the board of directors of Firsthand Technology Value Fund, Inc., a mutual fund company. Since April 2013, Mr. Lee has served as a member of the board of directors of Firsthand Funds, a mutual fund company. Since April 2014, Mr. Lee has served as a member of the board of trustees of FundX Investment Trust, a mutual fund company. Until January 2005, Mr. Lee also served as a member of the board of directors of Fremont Mutual Funds, Inc., a mutual fund company. Mr. Lee received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of the Pacific and an MBA from University of Nevada, Reno. He also completed the executive education program on corporate governance at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

 

 

Item 11. Executive Compensation.

 

The Trust has no employees, officers or directors. The Trust is managed by the Sponsor and pays the Sponsor the Sponsor’s fee. For the year ended December 31, 2016, the Trust has incurred a Sponsor’s fees of $29,148,568.

 

 

Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters.

 

Securities Authorized for Issuance under Equity Compensation Plans

 

Not applicable.

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management

 

Not applicable.

 

 

  

Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence.

 

See Item 11 above.

 

 

Item 14. Principal Accounting Fees and Services.

 

Audit and Non-Audit Fees

 

The table below summarizes the fees for services performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015.

 

   

2016

   

2015

 

Audit fees

  $ 101,800     $ 63,900  

Audit-related fees (a)

    250       250  

Tax fees

           

All other fees

           
    $ 102,050     $ 64,150  

 


(a)

Amount represents certain review of the regulatory filings.

 

Approval of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm Services and Fees

 

The audit committee of the Board of Trustees of the Sponsor approved, prior to the commencement of the engagement, the engagement of and compensation to be paid to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as auditors of the Trust.

 

None of the hours expended on PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s engagement to audit the Trust’s financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2016 were attributable to work performed by persons other than the principal accountant’s full-time, permanent employees.

 

 

  

PART IV

 

Item 15. Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules.

 

Financial Statements

 

See Index to Financial Statements on Page F-1 for a list of the financial statements being filed as part of this report.

 

Financial Statement Schedules

 

Schedules have been omitted since they are either not required, not applicable, or the information has otherwise been included.

 

Exhibits

 

The following documents are filed herewith or incorporated herein and made a part of this Annual Report:

 

Exhibit No.

 

Description

4.1

 

Second Amended and Restated Depositary Trust Agreement is incorporated by reference to Exhibit 4.1 filed with the registrant’s Current Report on Form 8-K on December 22, 2016

     

4.2

 

Standard Terms for Authorized Participant Agreements is incorporated by reference to Exhibit 4.2 filed with the registrant’s Current Report on Form 8-K on December 22, 2016

     

10.1

 

First Amended and Restated Custodian Agreement is incorporated by reference to Exhibit 10.1 filed with the registrant’s Current Report on Form 8-K on December 22, 2016

     

10.2

 

Sub-license Agreement is incorporated by reference to Exhibit 10.2 filed with Registration Statement No. 333-156506 on December 30, 2008

     

23.1

 

Consent of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

     

31.1

 

Certification by Principal Executive Officer Pursuant to Section 302 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

     

31.2

 

Certification by Principal Financial Officer Pursuant to Section 302 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

     

32.1

 

Certification by Principal Executive Officer Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 1350, as Adopted Pursuant to Section 906 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

     

32.2

 

Certification by Principal Financial Officer Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 1350, as Adopted Pursuant to Section 906 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

     

101.INS

 

XBRL Instance Document

     

101.SCH

 

XBRL Taxonomy Extension Schema Document

     

101.CAL

 

XBRL Taxonomy Extension Calculation Linkbase Document

     

101.DEF

 

XBRL Taxonomy Extension Definition Linkbase Document

     

101.LAB

 

XBRL Taxonomy Extension Label Linkbase Document

     

101.PRE

 

XBRL Taxonomy Extension Presentation Linkbase Document

 

 

Item 16. Form 10-K Summary

 

None.

 

 

iShares Silver Trust

Financial Statements

Index

 

 

Page

   

Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

F-2

   

Statements of Assets and Liabilities at December 31, 2016 and 2015

F-3

   

Statements of Operations for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014

F-4

   

Statements of Changes in Net Assets for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014

F-5

   

Statements of Cash Flows for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014

F-6

   

Schedules of Investments at December 31, 2016 and 2015

F-7

   

Notes to Financial Statements

F-8

 

 

  

 

REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

 

To the Sponsor, Trustees and Shareholders of

iShares Silver Trust:

 

In our opinion, the accompanying statements of assets and liabilities, including the schedules of investments, and the related statements of operations, of changes in net assets and cash flows present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of iShares Silver Trust (the “Trust”) at December 31, 2016 and 2015, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2016 in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. Also in our opinion, the Trust maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2016, based on criteria established in Internal Control  Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO). The Sponsor’s management is responsible for these financial statements, for maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting and for its assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting, included in Management’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting appearing under Item 9A. Our responsibility is to express opinions on these financial statements and on the Trust’s internal control over financial reporting based on our integrated audits. We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audits to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement and whether effective internal control over financial reporting was maintained in all material respects. Our audits of the financial statements included examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements, assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, and evaluating the overall financial statement presentation. Our audit of internal control over financial reporting included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, assessing the risk that a material weakness exists, and testing and evaluating the design and operating effectiveness of internal control based on the assessed risk. Our audits also included performing such other procedures as we considered necessary in the circumstances. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinions.

 

A trust’s internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. A trust’s internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (i) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the trust; (ii) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the trust are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and trustees of the trust; and (iii) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the trust’s assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.

 

Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.

 

 

/s/ PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

 

San Francisco, California

February 24, 2017

 

  

iShares Silver Trust

Statements of Assets and Liabilities

At December 31, 2016 and 2015

 

   

December 31,

 
   

2016

   

2015

 

Assets

               

Investment in silver bullion, at fair value(a)

  $ 5,543,495,441     $ 4,393,860,514  

Total Assets

    5,543,495,441       4,393,860,514  
                 

Liabilities

               

Sponsor’s fees payable

    2,364,798       1,916,910  

Total Liabilities

    2,364,798       1,916,910  
                 

Commitments and contingent liabilities (Note 6)

           
                 

Net Assets

  $ 5,541,130,643     $ 4,391,943,604  
                 

Shares issued and outstanding(b)

    359,900,000       333,550,000  

Net asset value per Share (Note 2C)

  $ 15.40     $ 13.17  


(a)

Cost of investment in silver bullion: $6,305,715,839 and $5,979,251,955, respectively.

(b)

No par value, unlimited amount authorized.

  

 

See notes to financial statements.

 

 

  

iShares Silver Trust

Statements of Operations

For the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014

 

   

Years Ended December 31,

 
   

2016

   

2015

   

2014

 
Expenses                        

Sponsor’s fees

  $ 29,148,568     $ 25,294,785     $ 31,579,407  

Total expenses

    29,148,568       25,294,785       31,579,407  

Net investment loss

    (29,148,568 )     (25,294,785 )     (31,579,407 )
                         
Net Realized and Unrealized Gain (Loss)                        
Net realized loss from:                        

Silver bullion sold to pay expenses

    (2,513,184 )     (5,703,341 )     (1,055,702 )

Silver bullion distributed for the redemption of Shares

    (108,726,523 )     (206,452,543 )     (77,394,400 )

Net realized loss

    (111,239,707 )     (212,155,884 )     (78,450,102 )

Net change in unrealized appreciation/depreciation

    823,171,043       (461,781,491 )     (1,123,609,950 )

Net realized and unrealized gain (loss)

    711,931,336       (673,937,375 )     (1,202,060,052 )
                         

Net increase (decrease) in net assets resulting from operations

  $ 682,782,768     $ (699,232,160 )   $ (1,233,639,459 )
                         

Net increase (decrease) in net assets per Share

  $ 1.91     $ (2.07 )   $ (3.57 )

 

  

See notes to financial statements.

 

 

  

iShares Silver Trust

Statements of Changes in Net Assets

For the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014

 

   

Years Ended December 31,

 
   

2016

   

2015

   

2014

 

Net Assets, Beginning of Year

  $ 4,391,943,604     $ 5,260,801,879     $ 6,240,747,397  
                         
Operations:                        

Net investment loss

    (29,148,568 )     (25,294,785 )     (31,579,407 )

Net realized loss

    (111,239,707 )     (212,155,884 )     (78,450,102 )

Net change in unrealized appreciation/depreciation

    823,171,043       (461,781,491 )     (1,123,609,950 )

Net increase (decrease) in net assets resulting from operations

    682,782,768       (699,232,160 )     (1,233,639,459 )
                         
                         
Capital Share Transactions:                        

Contributions for Shares issued

    1,702,628,324       859,468,037       1,361,917,040  

Distributions for Shares redeemed

    (1,236,224,053 )     (1,029,094,152 )     (1,108,223,099 )

Net increase (decrease) in net assets from capital share transactions

    466,404,271       (169,626,115 )     253,693,941  
                         

Increase (decrease) in net assets

    1,149,187,039       (868,858,275 )     (979,945,518 )
                         

Net Assets, End of Year

  $ 5,541,130,643     $ 4,391,943,604     $ 5,260,801,879  
                         
Shares issued and redeemed                        

Shares issued

    102,750,000       57,150,000       74,950,000  

Shares redeemed

    (76,400,000 )     (67,600,000 )     (63,450,000 )

Net increase (decrease) in Shares issued and outstanding

    26,350,000       (10,450,000 )     11,500,000  

 

 

See notes to financial statements.

 

 

 

iShares Silver Trust

Statements of Cash Flows

For the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014

 

    Years Ended December 31,  
   

2016

   

2015

   

2014

 

Cash Flows from Operating Activities

                       

Proceeds from silver bullion sold to pay expenses

  $ 28,700,680     $ 25,715,739     $ 31,961,392  

Expenses – Sponsor’s fees paid

    (28,700,680 )     (25,715,739 )     (31,961,392 )

Net cash provided by operating activities

                 

Increase (decrease) in cash

                 

Cash, beginning of year

                 

Cash, end of year

  $     $     $  
                         

Reconciliation of Net Increase (Decrease) in Net Assets Resulting from Operations to Net Cash Provided by (Used in) Operating Activities

                       

Net increase (decrease) in net assets resulting from operations

  $ 682,782,768     $ (699,232,160 )   $ (1,233,639,459 )

Adjustments to reconcile net increase (decrease) in net assets resulting from operations to net cash provided by (used in) operating activities:

                       

Proceeds from silver bullion sold to pay expenses

    28,700,680       25,715,739       31,961,392  

Net realized loss

    111,239,707       212,155,884       78,450,102  

Net change in unrealized appreciation/depreciation

    (823,171,043 )     461,781,491       1,123,609,950  
Change in operating assets and liabilities:                        

Sponsor’s fees payable

    447,888       (420,954 )     (381,985 )

Net cash provided by (used in) operating activities

  $     $     $  
                         

Supplemental disclosure of non-cash information:

                       

Silver bullion contributed for Shares issued

  $ 1,702,628,324     $ 859,468,037     $ 1,361,917,040  

Silver bullion distributed for Shares redeemed

  $ (1,236,224,053 )   $ (1,029,094,152 )   $ (1,108,223,099 )

 

 

See notes to financial statements.

 

 

 

iShares Silver Trust

Schedules of Investments

At December 31, 2016 and 2015

 

December 31, 2016

 

Description

 

Ounces

   

Cost

   

Fair Value

 

Silver bullion

    341,348,242     $ 6,305,715,839     $ 5,543,495,441  
                         

Total Investment – 100.04%

                    5,543,495,441  

Less Liabilities – (0.04)%

                    (2,364,798 )

Net Assets – 100.00%

                  $ 5,541,130,643  

 

 

December 31, 2015

 

Description

 

Ounces

   

Cost

   

Fair Value

 

Silver bullion

    317,934,907     $ 5,979,251,955     $ 4,393,860,514  
                         

Total Investment – 100.04%

                    4,393,860,514  

Less Liabilities – (0.04)%

                    (1,916,910 )

Net Assets – 100.00%

                  $ 4,391,943,604  

 

 

See notes to financial statements.

 

 

 

iShares Silver Trust

Notes to Financial Statements

December 31, 2016

  

1 - Organization

 

The iShares Silver Trust (the “Trust”) was organized on April 21, 2006 as a New York trust. The trustee is The Bank of New York Mellon (the “Trustee”), which is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Trust. The Trust’s sponsor is iShares Delaware Trust Sponsor LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (the “Sponsor”). The Trust is governed by the Second Amended and Restated Depositary Trust Agreement (the “Trust Agreement”) executed by the Trustee and the Sponsor as of December 22, 2016. The Trust issues units of beneficial interest (or “Shares”) representing fractional undivided beneficial interests in its net assets.

 

The Trust seeks to reflect generally the performance of the price of silver. The Trust seeks to reflect such performance before payment of the Trust’s expenses and liabilities. The Trust is designed to provide a vehicle for investors to make an investment similar to an investment in silver.

 

Effective January 1, 2014, the Trust qualified as an investment company solely for accounting purposes and not for any other purpose and follows the accounting and reporting guidance under the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) Accounting Standards Codification Topic 946, Financial Services - Investment Companies, but is not registered and is not required to be registered, as an investment company under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended.

 

2 - Significant Accounting Policies

 

A.

Basis of Accounting

 

The following significant accounting policies are consistently followed by the Trust in the preparation of its financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (“U.S. GAAP”). The preparation of financial statements in conformity with U.S. GAAP requires management to make certain estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and disclosures of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenue and expenses during the reporting period. Actual results could differ from those estimates.

 

Certain statements and captions in the financial statements for the prior years have been changed to conform to the current financial statement presentation.

 

B.

Silver Bullion

 

JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A., London branch (the “Custodian”), is responsible for the safekeeping of silver bullion owned by the Trust.

 

Fair value of the silver bullion is based on the price per ounce of silver determined by the CME Group Inc. at approximately 12:00 p.m. (London time) and announced by Thomson Reuters shortly thereafter on each day that the London silver market is open for business (“LBMA Silver Price”).  

 

Gain or loss on sales of silver bullion is calculated on a trade date basis using the average cost method.

 

The following tables summarize activity in silver bullion for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014:

 

December 31, 2016

 

Ounces

   

Average
Cost

   

Fair
Value

   

Realized
Gain (Loss)

 

Beginning balance

    317,934,907     $ 5,979,251,955     $ 4,393,860,514     $  

Silver bullion contributed

    97,670,323       1,702,628,324       1,702,628,324        

Silver bullion distributed

    (72,574,751 )     (1,344,950,576 )     (1,236,224,053 )     (108,726,523 )

Silver bullion sold to pay expenses

    (1,682,237 )     (31,213,864 )     (28,700,680 )     (2,513,184 )

Net realized loss

                (111,239,707 )      

Net change in unrealized appreciation/depreciation

                823,171,043        

Ending balance

    341,348,242     $ 6,305,715,839     $ 5,543,495,441     $ (111,239,707 )

 

 

December 31, 2015

 

Ounces

   

Average
Cost

   

Fair
Value

   

Realized
Gain (Loss)

 

Beginning balance

    329,564,167     $ 6,386,749,693     $ 5,263,139,743     $  

Silver bullion contributed

    54,595,743       859,468,037       859,468,037        

Silver bullion distributed

    (64,583,531 )     (1,235,546,695 )     (1,029,094,152 )     (206,452,543 )

Silver bullion sold to pay expenses

    (1,641,472 )     (31,419,080 )     (25,715,739 )     (5,703,341 )

Net realized loss

                (212,155,884 )      

Net change in unrealized appreciation/depreciation

                (461,781,491 )      

Ending balance

    317,934,907     $ 5,979,251,955     $ 4,393,860,514     $ (212,155,884 )

 

 

 

 

December 31, 2014

 

Ounces

   

Average
Cost

   

Fair
Value

   

Realized
Gain (Loss)

 

Beginning balance

    320,177,793     $ 6,243,467,246     $ 6,243,467,246     $  

Silver bullion contributed

    71,956,096       1,361,917,040       1,361,917,040        

Silver bullion distributed

    (60,877,972 )     (1,185,617,499 )     (1,108,223,099 )     (77,394,400 )

Silver bullion sold to pay expenses

    (1,691,750 )     (33,017,094 )     (31,961,392 )     (1,055,702 )

Net realized loss

                (78,450,102 )      

Net change in unrealized appreciation/depreciation

                (1,123,609,950 )      

Ending balance

    329,564,167     $ 6,386,749,693     $ 5,263,139,743     $ (78,450,102 )

  

 

C.

Calculation of Net Asset Value

 

On each business day, as soon as practicable after 4:00 p.m. (New York time), the net asset value of the Trust is obtained by subtracting all accrued fees, expenses and other liabilities of the Trust from the fair value of the silver and other assets held by the Trust. The Trustee computes the NAV by dividing the net asset value of the Trust by the number of Shares outstanding on the date the computation is made.

 

D.

Offering of the Shares

 

Trust Shares are issued and redeemed continuously in aggregations of 50,000 Shares in exchange for silver bullion rather than cash. Individual investors cannot purchase or redeem Shares in direct transactions with the Trust. The Trust only transacts with registered broker-dealers that are eligible to settle securities transactions through the book-entry facilities of the Depository Trust Company and that have entered into a contractual arrangement with the Trust and the Sponsor governing, among other matters, the creation and redemption of Shares (such broker-dealers, the “Authorized Participants”). Holders of Shares of the Trust may redeem their Shares at any time acting through an Authorized Participant and in the prescribed aggregations of 50,000 Shares; provided, that redemptions of Shares may be suspended during any period while regular trading on NYSE Arca, Inc. (“NYSE Arca”) is suspended or restricted, or in which an emergency exists as a result of which delivery, disposal or evaluation of silver is not reasonably practicable.

 

The per Share amount of silver exchanged for a purchase or redemption represents the per Share amount of silver held by the Trust, after giving effect to its liabilities. The Trustee calculates the silver amount in respect of any liabilities of the Trust daily using the LBMA Silver Price. Prior to August 15, 2014, the Trustee used the London Fix to calculate the silver amount in respect of any liabilities.

 

When silver bullion is exchanged in settlement of a redemption, it is considered a sale of silver bullion for accounting purposes.

 

Share activities for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014 were as follows:

 

   

December 31,

 
   

2016

   

2015

   

2014

 
   

Shares

   

Amount

   

Shares

   

Amount

   

Shares

   

Amount

 

Shares issued

    102,750,000     $ 1,702,628,324       57,150,000     $ 859,468,000       74,950,000     $ 1,361,917,000  

Shares redeemed

    (76,400,000 )     (1,236,224,053 )     (67,600,000 )     (1,029,094,000 )     (63,450,000 )     (1,108,223,000 )

Net increase (decrease)

    26,350,000     $ 466,404,271       (10,450,000 )   $ (169,626,000 )     11,500,000     $ 253,694,000  

 

  

E.

Federal Income Taxes

 

The Trust is treated as a grantor trust for federal income tax purposes and, therefore, no provision for federal income taxes is required. Any interest, expenses, gains and losses are passed through to the holders of Shares of the Trust.

 

The Sponsor has reviewed the tax positions as of December 31, 2016 and has determined that no provision for income tax is required in the Trust’s financial statements.

 

3 - Trust Expenses

 

The Trust pays to the Sponsor a Sponsor’s fee that accrues daily at an annualized rate equal to 0.50% of the net asset value of the Trust, paid monthly in arrears. The Sponsor has agreed to assume the following administrative and marketing expenses incurred by the Trust: the Trustee’s fee, the Custodian’s fee, NYSE Arca listing fees, SEC registration fees, printing and mailing costs, audit fees and expenses, and up to $100,000 per annum in legal fees and expenses.

 

4 - Related Parties

 

The Sponsor and the Trustee are considered to be related parties to the Trust. The Trustee’s fee is paid by the Sponsor and is not a separate expense of the Trust.

 

 

 
F-9 

Table of Contents
 

 

5 - Indemnification

 

The Trust Agreement provides that the Sponsor and its shareholders, directors, officers, employees, affiliates (as such term is defined under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended) and subsidiaries shall be indemnified from the Trust and held harmless against any loss, liability, or expense arising out of or in connection with the performance of their obligations under the Trust Agreement or any actions taken in accordance with the provisions of the Trust Agreement and incurred without their (1) negligence, bad faith or willful misconduct or (2) reckless disregard of their obligations and duties under the Trust Agreement.

  

The Trust has agreed to indemnify the Custodian for any loss incurred in connection with the custodian agreement, other than losses due to the Custodian’s negligence, fraud or willful default.

 

6 - Commitments and Contingent Liabilities

 

In the normal course of business, the Trust may enter into contracts with service providers that contain general indemnification clauses. The Trust’s maximum exposure under these arrangements is unknown as this would involve future claims that may be made against the Trust that have not yet occurred.

 

7 - Concentration Risk

 

Substantially all of the Trust’s assets are holdings of silver bullion, which creates a concentration risk associated with fluctuations in the price of silver. Accordingly, a decline in the price of silver will have an adverse effect on the value of the Shares of the Trust. Factors that may have the effect of causing a decline in the price of silver include a change in economic conditions (such as a recession), an increase in the hedging activities of silver producers, and changes in the attitude of speculators, investors and other market participants towards silver.

 

8 - Financial Highlights

 

The following financial highlights relate to investment performance and operations for a Share outstanding for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014. 

 

   

December 31,

 
   

2016

   

2015

   

2014

 

Net asset value per Share, beginning of year

  $ 13.17     $ 15.29     $ 18.77  
                         

Net investment loss(a)

    (0.08 )     (0.07 )     (0.09 )

Net realized and unrealized gain (loss)(b)

    2.31       (2.05 )     (3.39 )

Net increase (decrease) in net assets from operations

    2.23       (2.12 )     (3.48 )

Net asset value per Share, end of year

  $ 15.40     $ 13.17     $ 15.29  
                         

Total return, at net asset value(c)

    16.93

%

    (13.87

)%

    (18.54

)%

                         

Ratio to average net assets:

                       

Net investment loss

    (0.50

)%

    (0.50

)%

    (0.50

)%

Expenses

    0.50

%

    0.50

%

    0.50

%

  


(a)

Based on average Shares outstanding during the period.

(b)

The amounts reported for a Share outstanding may not accord with the change in aggregate gains and losses on investment for the period due to the timing of Trust Share transactions in relation to the fluctuating fair values of the Trust’s underlying investment.

(c)

Based on the change in net asset value of a Share during the period.

  

9 - Investment Valuation

 

U.S. GAAP defines fair value as the price the Trust would receive to sell an asset or pay to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date. The Trust’s policy is to value its investment at fair value.

 

Various inputs are used in determining the fair value of assets and liabilities. Inputs may be based on independent market data (“observable inputs”) or they may be internally developed (“unobservable inputs”). These inputs are categorized into a disclosure hierarchy consisting of three broad levels for financial reporting purposes. The level of a value determined for an asset or liability within the fair value hierarchy is based on the lowest level of any input that is significant to the fair value measurement in its entirety. The three levels of the fair value hierarchy are as follows:

 

 

Level 1 –

Unadjusted quoted prices in active markets for identical assets or liabilities;

     
  Level 2 – Inputs other than quoted prices included within Level 1 that are observable for the asset or liability either directly or indirectly, including quoted prices for similar assets or liabilities in active markets, quoted prices for identical or similar assets or liabilities in markets that are not considered to be active, inputs other than quoted prices that are observable for the asset or liability, and inputs that are derived principally from or corroborated by observable market data by correlation or other means; and
     
  Level 3 – Unobservable inputs that are unobservable for the asset or liability, including the Trust’s assumptions used in determining the fair value of investments.

 

At December 31, 2016 and December 31, 2015, the value of the silver bullion held by the Trust is categorized as Level 1. 

 
F-10

Table of Contents
 

  

SIGNATURES

 

Pursuant to the requirements of Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the registrant has duly caused this report to be signed on its behalf by the undersigned in the capacities* indicated thereunto duly authorized.

 

iShares Delaware Trust Sponsor LLC,

Sponsor of the iShares Silver Trust (registrant)

 

/s/ Paul Lohrey

 

Paul Lohrey

 

Director, President and Chief Executive Officer

 

(Principal executive officer)

 

 

Date:

February 24, 2017

 

 

Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, this report has been signed below by the following persons on behalf of the registrant and in the capacities* and on the dates indicated.

 

/s/ Paul Lohrey

 

Paul Lohrey

 

Director, President and Chief Executive Officer

 

(Principal executive officer)  

 

Date: February 24, 2017

 

 

/s/ Jack Gee  
Jack Gee  
Director and Chief Financial Officer  
(Principal financial and accounting officer)  

 

Date: February 24, 2017

 

 

/s/ Philip Jensen  
Philip Jensen  
Director  

 

Date: February 24, 2017

 

 

/s/ Peter Landini  
Peter Landini  
Director  

 

Date: February 24, 2017

 

 

/s/ Kimun Lee  
Kimun Lee  
Director  

 

Date: February 24, 2017

 


*

The registrant is a trust and the persons are signing in their respective capacities as officers or directors of iShares Delaware Trust Sponsor LLC, the Sponsor of the registrant.

 

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