SEC Extends Ark, Global X ETF Deadlines as Government Shutdown Looms

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission moved earlier than required to extend a couple of deadlines in the pile of spot bitcoin ETF applications awaiting responses.

AccessTimeIconSep 26, 2023 at 10:44 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 5:06 p.m. UTC
  • As Congress nears a cliff on its budget negotiations and the federal agencies prepare for the worst, the Securities and Exchange Commission pushed off a couple of its deadlines to respond to ETF applications.
  • The SEC has formally postponed its responses to the applications of spot bitcoin ETF listings for Ark 21 Shares and Global X.

The efforts from Ark 21Shares and Global X to list spot bitcoin exchange traded funds (ETFs) must now officially wait longer for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to either approve or reject or deny their applications as the agency moved to extend deadlines Tuesday.

As the federal government braces for a potential shutdown brought about by a budget impasse in Congress, the securities regulator extended its next deadlines for the two applications well before the interim deadlines arrived. The SEC has a total of 240 days to make a final decision on any application after it starts reviewing, but there are a number of potential time marks during that period in which it has to do certain things or extend the time it’s allowed.

Ark Investment Management and 21Shares, which have been seeking an ETF approval since 2021, filed for their first potential bitcoin ETF again earlier this year after a second effort was rebuffed by the SEC. The formal deadline for an SEC response is now set at Jan. 10.

Global X, which filed last month to become the ninth active spot-bitcoin application in the SEC’s hands, now has until Nov. 21 to await its response. If approved, the fund would grant investors "exposure to bitcoin with important protections that are not always available to investors that invest directly in bitcoin," lawyers said in the filing.

The regulator has rejected spot bitcoin ETF products, citing potential market manipulation and inadequate investor protections against, but a federal court ruling last month said the agency had been “arbitrary and capricious” in its ETF decisions and must reconsider its position.

These deadlines were expected, as the SEC has traditionally taken the full 240 days to make a final decision. However, the threat of a looming shutdown seems to have pushed its interim decision up to Tuesday. Normally, the SEC waits until a few days prior to the deadline. In 2019, during the last shutdown, the SEC asked an applicant to withdraw its filing entirely.

In the Tuesday filings, the SEC said that it “finds it appropriate to designate a longer period within which to take action,” giving the regulator “sufficient time to consider” its decision.

Earlier on Tuesday, a bipartisan group of members of the House Financial Services Committee sent a letter to SEC Chair Gary Gensler, calling for immediate approvals of the pending spot ETF applicationsz after the agency’s court loss.

Edited by Nikhilesh De.


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Jesse Hamilton

Jesse Hamilton is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for global policy and regulation. He doesn't hold any crypto.