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Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Commissions and Other Charges, Advertisements and Official Statements Relating to Municipal Fund Securities

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board ("MSRB") has received various inquiries regarding commissions, disclosures (including delivery of disclosure materials to the MSRB) and advertisements relating to municipal fund securities, particularly in connection with sales of interests in so-called Section 529 college savings plans.[1] The nature of the commissions and other program fees that may exist with respect to municipal fund securities may differ significantly from such charges that typically may exist for traditional debt securities sold in the municipal securities market. In many cases, commissions and other fees may more closely resemble those charged in connection with investment company securities registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the "Investment Company Act").[2] Although commissions and fees charged by brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers ("dealers") effecting transactions in municipal fund securities are subject to MSRB rules, the nature and level of fees and charges collected by other parties in connection with such securities generally are not subject to regulation. However, under certain circumstances, a dealer selling municipal fund securities may be obligated to disclose to customers such fees and charges collected by other parties.

Amount of Dealer's Commissions or Service Charges

Rule G-30(b), on prices and commissions in agency transactions, prohibits dealers from selling municipal securities to a customer for a commission or service charge in excess of a fair and reasonable amount. In assessing the fairness and reasonableness of the commission or service charge, the rule permits the dealer to take into consideration all relevant factors, including the availability of the securities involved in the transaction, the expense of executing or filling the customer's order, the value of the services rendered by the dealer, and the amount of any other compensation received or to be received by the dealer in connection with the transaction. The MSRB has received inquiries as to whether the sales charge schedule set out in Rule 2830 of the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. ("NASD") applies to or otherwise is indicative of the levels of commissions and other fees that dealers may charge in connection with sales of municipal fund securities.

MSRB rules, not those of the NASD, apply to sales by dealers of municipal securities, including municipal fund securities. NASD Rule 2830 provides that no member firm may offer or sell shares in investment companies registered under the Investment Company Act if the sales charges are excessive. The NASD rule then sets forth various levels of aggregate sales charges to which member firms must conform, depending upon the nature of the investment company's sales charges, in order to ensure that such sales charges are not deemed excessive. The MSRB notes that the NASD derives its authority for the sales charge provisions of Rule 2830 from Section 22(b)(1) of the Investment Company Act, which expressly exempts such provisions from the limitation that Section 15A(b)(6) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the "Exchange Act") places on the NASD's ability to adopt rules that "impose any schedule or fix rates of commissions, allowances, discounts, or other fees to be charged by its members." In sharp contrast, no exemption exists from the limitations that Section 15B(b)(2)(C) of the Exchange Act places on the MSRB's ability to adopt rules that "impose any schedule or fix rates of commissions, allowances, discounts, or other fees to be charged by municipal securities brokers or municipal securities dealers."The MSRB believes that it could not, by rule or interpretation, in effect impose such a schedule for the sale of municipal fund securities.

Nonetheless, the MSRB believes that the charges permitted by the NASD under its Rule 2830 in connection with the sale of registered investment company securities may, depending upon the facts and circumstances, be a significant factor in determining whether a dealer selling municipal fund securities is charging a commission or other fee that is fair and reasonable. For example, the MSRB believes that charges for municipal fund securities transactions in excess of those permitted for comparable mutual fund shares under NASD Rule 2830 may be presumed to not meet the fair and reasonable standard under MSRB rule G-30(b), although the totality of the facts and circumstances relating to a particular transaction in municipal fund securities may rebut such presumption. Further, depending upon the specific facts and circumstances, a sales charge for a transaction in a municipal fund security that would be deemed in compliance with NASD Rule 2830 if charged in connection with a transaction in a substantially identical registered investment company security often will be in compliance with rule G-30(b).

However, the NASD schedule is not dispositive nor is it always the principal factor in determining compliance with rule G-30. The MSRB believes that the factors enunciated in rule G-30(b) and other relevant factors must be given due weight in determining whether a commission is fair and reasonable. These factors include, but are not limited to, the value of the services rendered by the dealer and the amount of any other compensation received or to be received by the dealer in connection with the transaction from other sources (such as the issuer). A dealer may not exclusively rely on the fact that its commissions fall within the NASD schedule, particularly where commission levels in the marketplace for similar municipal fund securities sold by other dealers providing similar levels of services are generally substantially lower than those charged by such dealer, taking into account any other compensation.

Disclosure of Program Fees and Charges of Other Parties

MSRB rules do not explicitly require disclosure by dealers of fees and charges received by other parties to a transaction. These can include, among other things, administrative fees of the issuer, investment adviser and other parties payable from trust assets or directly by the customer. However, depending upon the facts and circumstances, certain MSRB rules may have the practical effect of requiring some level of disclosure of such fees and charges to the extent that they are material. For example, rule G-32(a)(i) generally obligates the dealer to provide an official statement to its customer in connection with sales of municipal fund securities. Although MSRB rules do not govern the content of the disclosures included by the issuer in the official statement, the MSRB believes that an official statement prepared by an issuer of municipal fund securities that is in compliance with Exchange Act Rules 10b-5 and 15c2-12 generally would provide disclosure of any fees or other charges imposed in connection with such securities that are material to investors. The MSRB further believes that, in most respects, the disclosures provided by the issuer in the official statement would provide the dealer with the type of information it is required to disclose to customers under the MSRB's fair dealing rule, rule G-17.

Advertisements

Dealer advertisements of municipal fund securities must comply with the requirements of rule G-21.[3] This rule prohibits dealers from publishing advertisements concerning municipal securities which they know or have reason to know are materially false or misleading. The MSRB has previously stated that any use of historical yields in an advertisement would be subject to this prohibition. Thus, a dealer advertisement of municipal fund securities that refers to yield typically would require a description of the nature and significance of the yield shown in the advertisement in order to assure that such advertisement is not false or misleading. Further, depending upon the facts and circumstances, a dealer may be required to disclose information regarding a fee or other charge relating to municipal fund securities that may have a material effect on such advertised yield, to the extent that such disclosure is necessary to ensure that the advertisement is not materially false or misleading with respect to such yield.

The MSRB understands that advertisements and other sales material relating to registered investment company securities are, depending upon the nature of the advertisement, subject to the requirements of Securities Act Rule 156, on investment company sales literature, Securities Act Rule 482, on advertising by an investment company as satisfying requirements of section 10, and NASD Rule 2210, on communications with the public (including IM-2210-3, on use of rankings in investment companies advertisements and sales literature), among others. The MSRB notes that both Securities Act Rule 156(a) and NASD Rule 2210(d)(1)(A) include general standards for advertisements that are substantially the same as the standard set forth in MSRB rule G-21. As a result, the MSRB believes that a dealer advertisement of municipal fund securities that would be compliant with Securities Act Rules 156 and 482 if such securities were registered investment company securities also would be in compliance with MSRB rule G-21. Further, the MSRB believes that a dealer advertisement of municipal fund securities that would be compliant with NASD Rule 2210 and IM-2210-3 if such securities were registered investment company securities also would be in compliance with MSRB rule G-21.

Submission of Official Statements to the MSRB

Dealers selling municipal fund securities are subject to the requirement under rule G-36 that they submit copies of the official statement, together with completed Form G-36(OS), to the MSRB. In some cases, a dealer that has been engaged by an issuer of municipal fund securities to serve as its primary distributor ("primary distributor") has in turn entered into relationships with one or more other dealers to provide further channels for distribution. These other dealers may include dealers that effect transactions directly with customers ("selling dealers") or dealers that provide "wholesale" distribution services but do not effect transactions directly with customers ("intermediary dealers").

The MSRB believes that, regardless of whether a formal syndicate or similar account has been formed among a primary distributor, the selling dealers and any intermediary dealers in a multi-tiered distribution system for a particular offering of municipal fund securities, the primary distributor for such offering has the responsibility set forth in rule G-36(f) to undertake all actions required under the provisions of rule G-36 and the corresponding recordkeeping requirements under rule G-8(a)(xv). These obligations include, but are not limited to, the submission of official statements (including amendments and updates) and completed Form G-36(OS) to the MSRB on a timely basis. The MSRB further believes that any selling or intermediary dealers for such offering that might be considered underwriters of the securities may rely upon the primary distributor to undertake these actions to the same extent as if they had in fact formed an underwriting syndicate as described in rule G-36(f).


 

[1] Section 529 college savings plans are higher education savings plan trusts established by states under section 529(b) of the Internal Revenue Code as "qualified state tuition programs" through which individuals make investments for the purpose of accumulating savings for qualifying higher education costs of beneficiaries.

[2] Municipal fund securities are exempt from the registration and other provisions of the Investment Company Act.

[3] Rule G-21 defines advertisement as any material (other than listings of offerings) published or designed for use in the public, including electronic, media or any promotional literature designed for dissemination to the public, such as notices, circulars, reports, market letters, form letters, telemarketing scripts or reprints or excerpts of the foregoing. The term does not apply to official statements but does apply to abstracts or summaries of official statements, offering circulars and other similar documents prepared by dealers.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Letters
Publication date:
MSRB Interpretive Letter - Rules G-21, G-30 and G-32
Rule Number:

Differential re-offering prices. This is in response to your letter in which you ask us to provide interpretive guidance on MSRB rules G-21, G-30 and G-32 in the context of a proposed new system (the “System”) to be established by your client (the “Company”) for pricing and distribution of primary market municipal securities to retail investors. You provide a description of the System, including a discussion of incremental changes through various versions of the System. We have included below a brief summary of the MSRB’s understanding of certain key features of the System that may be relevant in responding to your questions. This should not be construed as meaning that the MSRB has “approved” the System, or even reviewed the System description which you provided, except for the limited purpose of addressing your specific questions on the three rules noted above. The MSRB expresses no views and has not considered whether the System as you describe it, or whether a broker-dealer using the System, would be in compliance with MSRB rules or other applicable law, rules or regulations, beyond the specific statements set forth herein on these three rules.

As you describe it, the System consists of an internet-based electronic primary market order matching process that will provide (1) electronic notices (“Electronic Notices”) to registered representatives at subscribing broker-dealer firms and (2) an ability to establish a range of acceptable reoffering prices for each order of primary market municipal securities. Registered representatives will provide to the System profiles (“Retail Inquiries”) that describe the features of municipal securities that the registered representative’s customers wish to purchase. The System will then automatically advise the registered representatives of the availability for purchase of a new municipal security issue that matches the Retail Inquiry by sending an Electronic Notice by fax or e-mail. The Company intends to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a broker-dealer prior to charging subscription fees for the services provided by the System. We understand that, for purposes of the System, a retail investor is characterized solely by the size of the order, rather than by the identity of an investor as a retail or institutional customer.

Municipal securities available for purchase through the System will be sold using a structure that establishes a range of acceptable retail reoffering prices. For each new issue, the underwriter and the issuer will establish a maximum and minimum yield and a maximum and minimum price to be entered into the System. For all Retail Inquiries that match the basic parameters of the issue (e.g., maturity, rating, state of issuer), the System will send an Electronic Notice to each registered representative that adjusts the price to include the least of the registered representative’s desired mark-up, the maximum mark-up established by the registered representative’s broker-dealer firm, or the maximum issue mark-up established by the underwriter. In the System’s initial stages, a registered representative may place an order for amounts up to $500,000 to purchase the securities upon receiving an Electronic Notice. You note that use of the System will permit sales of municipal securities of the same maturity and order size to different buyers at different prices.

You state that you believe that the business and operating plan for the System will be in compliance with all published MSRB rules and that broker-dealers subscribing to the System will not violate any MSRB rules by virtue of their use of the System. You request clarification regarding the applicability of certain provisions of rules G-21, G-30 and G-32 to broker-dealers using the System. As noted above, the MSRB cannot provide an “approval” of a proposed system or of its use by broker-dealers. We can, however, provide some guidance regarding your specific rule-related interpretive requests. Since the application of rules to particular factual situations is, by its nature, fundamentally dependent upon the specific facts and circumstances, you should be cognizant of the precise nature of our guidance and of the potential for seemingly small factual variances resulting in different conclusions regarding compliance with our rules.

Rule G-30, on Prices and Commissions

You ask us whether we view use of the System by broker-dealers to establish a range of reoffering prices (instead of a single reoffering price) as compliant with the requirement under rule G-30, on prices and commissions, that municipal securities prices be fair and reasonable. We cannot provide you with assurance that under all circumstances prices charged to customers by broker-dealers using the System will comply with rule G-30. However, the following discussion should provide some guidance in assessing whether broker-dealers using the System will be able to comply with rule G-30.

Rule G-30(a) provides that no broker-dealer shall sell municipal securities to a customer in a principal transaction except at a price that is fair and reasonable, taking into consideration all relevant factors.[1] The rule cites, as relevant factors, the best judgment of the broker-dealer as to the fair market value of the securities at the time of the transaction, the expense involved in effecting the transaction, the fact that the broker-dealer is entitled to a profit, and the total dollar amount of the transaction.[2] In addition, the MSRB has identified a number of other factors which might be relevant in determining the fairness and reasonableness of prices in municipal securities transactions. These additional factors include, but are not limited to, the availability of the security in the market, the price or yield of the security, the maturity of the security, and the nature of the professional’s business.[3] The MSRB firmly believes that the resulting yield to the customer is the most important factor in determining the fairness and reasonableness of a price in any given transaction. The MSRB previously has stated that such yield should be comparable to the yield on other securities of comparable quality, maturity, coupon rate, and block size then available in the market.

Although a comparative yield assessment is the most important factor in determining whether a transaction price is fair and reasonable, rule G-30 states that other facts and circumstances of a specific transaction may also enter into the final determination of whether the transaction price is fair and reasonable. Thus, rule G-30 clearly contemplates the possibility that, depending upon the facts and circumstances of two contemporaneous transactions in identical securities, both transactions may be priced in compliance with rule G-30 even though the prices are not identical. It is not possible to state a specific percentage of variance between prices on contemporaneous transactions that would create a presumption of a violation of rule G-30 with respect to the higher priced transaction since a number of different factors may be relevant to the individual transactions.[4] However, the degree to which price variances may occur without raising the presumption of a rule G-30 violation generally would parallel the level of variance in the relevant factors under rule G-30 from transaction to transaction in the same security. For example, a large difference in the par value of two transactions could potentially justify a larger price difference than would a small difference in the par value of the two transactions.

The MSRB has stated that, although rule G-30 does not specifically mention new issue offering prices which may be set by the syndicate or the issuer, compliance with rule G-30 in this context also is determined by whether the price of a municipal security is fair and reasonable, taking into account all relevant factors.[5] As noted above, a comparative yield assessment is the most important factor in determining the fairness and reasonableness of a transaction price. Although it is the ultimate responsibility of the broker-dealer effecting a transaction with a customer to ensure that the price is in compliance with rule G-30, the issuer and underwriter may help broker-dealers using the System to avoid possible violations of rule G-30 by carefully reviewing the ranges of yields and prices entered by the underwriter into the System to ensure that the net yield to customers[6] would be comparable to that of similar securities regardless of where within the established ranges a transaction is executed by a broker-dealer using the System.

Rule G-32, on Disclosures in Connection with New Issues

You provide us with a sample of proposed language to be included in the official statement for new issue municipal securities to be sold using the System. This language indicates the lowest price at which any of the securities in the new issue are offered and also indicates a range of maximum prices at which the securities are offered based on various lot sizes of the securities sold in a particular transaction. The language further states that, subject to the practices of each broker-dealer firm in the selling group, investors may have purchased the securities at prices lower than those shown in the range of maximum prices included in the official statement. Finally, the language provides a specific dollar amount representing the total compensation paid to the underwriter as representative of the selling group. You ask us whether inclusion of such language in the official statement by issuers using the System complies with rule G-32.

Rule G-32(a)(ii) provides that, in connection with new issue municipal securities purchased by the underwriter in a negotiated sale, any broker-dealer selling such securities to a customer must deliver to the customer by no later than settlement information regarding, among other things, the underwriting spread and the initial offering price for each maturity in the issue, including maturities that are not reoffered.[7] The MSRB has stated that the obligation to disclose the underwriting spread requires that the broker-dealer disclose the difference between the initial offering price of the new issue and the amount paid by the underwriter to the issuer, expressed either in dollars or points per bond.[8] The MSRB has prohibited broker-dealers from merely disclosing to customers the offering prices and amount paid to the issuer and describing how the underwriting spread can be calculated from these figures.[9] The MSRB has stated that initial offering prices may be expressed either in terms of dollar price or yield.[10]

The MSRB recognizes that disclosure of initial offering prices and underwriting spread is more complicated in circumstances where securities of the same maturity may be offered at a number of different prices, as compared to the typical situation where each maturity is stated to be offered at a single price. The MSRB believes that, under these circumstances, the initial offering prices and underwriting spread may be expressed as a range of values.

In expressing the initial offering prices as a range of values, broker-dealers must ensure that the prices at which the securities are initially offered to customers will fall within the expressed range. At the same time, the MSRB believes that the disclosure of a range of prices must not be misleading to customers. For example, a range that implies that a market may exist at prices where in fact no transactions are likely to occur could be misleading. In addition, a range that includes prices that are not fair and reasonable for purposes of rule G-30 could mislead customers with regard to what would in fact constitute a fair and reasonable price. These and other practices arising in connection with the disclosure of a range of initial offering prices could constitute violations of rule G-17[11] and would not satisfy the disclosure obligation under rule G-32. Broker-dealers are cautioned, when using a range to disclose initial offering prices, to make such range as narrow as reasonably possible in order to avoid violations of rules G-17 and G-32. For example, if broker-dealers have established discrete price ranges for specific securities within the issue (e.g., separate maturities) or for specific types of transactions (e.g., different lot sizes), they should include such discrete ranges in the disclosure made to customers. The initial offering price range must be expressed either in terms of dollar prices or yields.

In expressing the underwriting spread as a range of values, the range must be no broader than would be obtained by calculating the lowest possible spread based on all of the lowest initial offering price values and the highest possible spread based on all of the highest initial offering price values. This range should be further refined based on specific information available to the broker-dealer (e.g., minimum or maximum spreads agreed to between the issuer and the underwriter, fixed components of the gross spread, known levels of transactions at particular prices, etc.).[12] Broker-dealers may show this spread range either as a range of a total amount or as a listing of the components of the spread range. If components of the spread range are listed, that portion of the range which represents compensation to the underwriter must be clearly identified as such. The spread range must be expressed either in dollars or points per bond.

Rule G-21, on Advertising

You state that you do not believe that Electronic Notices constitute advertisements within the meaning of rule G-21, which sets forth certain requirements with respect to advertisements of municipal securities. An advertisement is defined as any material (other than listings of offerings) published or designed for use in the public, including electronic, media or any promotional literature designed for dissemination to the public, including any notice, circular, report, market letter, form letter, telemarketing script or reprint or excerpt of the foregoing. The rule covers communications that are intended to reach a broad segment of the public rather than individually tailored communications between two specific parties and communications between broker-dealers. Thus, if the use of Electronic Notices is limited in the manner you describe in your letter, it appears that such Electronic Notices would not constitute advertisements within the meaning of rule G-21. However, we express no opinion as to whether Electronic Notices might constitute advertisements if they were to be disseminated to investors.

* * * * * * * * * *

I must emphasize once again that the guidance provided in this letter cannot be considered an “approval” of the System. Further, this guidance cannot be considered to provide or imply that broker-dealers using the System will, under all circumstances, be in compliance with the rules discussed herein. Nor can this guidance be considered to provide or imply that the operation of the System or the use of the System by broker-dealers is in compliance with any other rules of the MSRB or the laws, rules or regulations of any other entity. MSRB interpretation of December 11, 2001.



[1] In the case of an agency transaction, rule G-30 prohibits a broker-dealer from selling a municipal security to a customer for a commission or service charge in excess of a fair and reasonable amount, taking into consideration all relevant factors. In addition, rule G-18, on execution of transactions, requires that a broker-dealer in an agency transaction make a reasonable effort to obtain a price for the customer that is fair and reasonable in relation to prevailing market conditions. Since we understand that broker-dealers that use the System ultimately will effect transactions with their customers on a principal basis, we do not address potential compliance issues with respect to agency transactions arising under rules G-18 and G-30.

[2] With respect to total dollar amount of a transaction, the MSRB has stated that, to the extent that institutional transactions are often larger than retail transactions, this factor may enter into the fair and reasonable pricing of retail versus institutional transactions. See Rule G-30 Interpretive Letter – Factors in pricing, November 29, 1993, MSRB Rule Book (July 1, 2001) at 163 (the “Pricing Letter”).

[3] See Rule G-30 Interpretation – Republication of September 1980 Report on Pricing, MSRB Rule Book (July 1, 2001) at 161 (the “Pricing Report”).

[4] Of course, the existence of a variance in the prices of two contemporaneous sale transactions in the same security would be less likely to raise a presumption that the higher priced transaction violates rule G-30 if the yields for both transactions are generally higher than for most other comparable securities in the market.

[5] See Pricing Letter. It is worth noting that the rules of the National Association of Securities Dealers regarding fixed-price offerings do not apply to transactions in municipal securities. The MSRB is not aware of any law or regulation which purports to require fixed-price offerings for new issue municipal securities. See Rule G-11 Interpretive Letter – Fixed-price offerings, March 16, 1984, MSRB Rule Book (July 1, 2001) at 60.

[6] The net yield to a customer is based on actual money paid by the customer, including the effect of any remuneration paid to the broker-dealer, other than certain miscellaneous transaction fees. See Rule G-15 Interpretation – Notice Concerning Flat Transaction Fees, June 13, 2001, MSRB Rule Book (July 1, 2001) at 114; Rule G-15 Interpretation – Notice Concerning Confirmation Disclosure of Miscellaneous Transaction Charges, May 14, 1990, MSRB Rule Book (July 1, 2001) at 113.

[7] This information may be disclosed in the official statement if it is delivered to the customer in a timely manner at or prior to settlement. This information may also be provided in a separate written statement.

[8] Spread may be shown as a single figure or as a listing of the components of the spread. If components are listed, the portion of the proceeds representing compensation to the underwriter must be clearly identified as such. See Rule G-32 Interpretation – Notice Regarding the Disclosure Obligations of Brokers, Dealers and Municipal Securities Dealers in Connection with New Issue Municipal Securities Under Rule G-32, MSRB Rule Book (July 1, 2001) at 166 (the “Disclosure Notice”); Rule G-32 Interpretive Letter – Disclosure of underwriting spread, March 9, 1981, MSRB Rule Book (July 1, 2001) at 173.

[9] See Disclosure Requirements for New Issue Securities: Rule G-32, MSRB Reports, Vol. 7, No. 2 (March 1987) at 11.

[10] See Disclosure Notice; Rule G-32 Interpretive Letter – Disclosures in connection with new issues, December 22, 1993, MSRB Rule Book (July 1, 2001) at 174.

[11] Rule G-17 requires broker-dealers to deal fairly with all persons and not to engage in any deceptive, dishonest or unfair practice.

[12] Of course, if the new issue has been fully sold and all initial offering prices are known at the time the disclosure information is prepared, an exact amount rather than a range should be used in disclosing the underwriting spread.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Letters
Publication date:
G-30 Differential Re-Offering Prices
Rule Number:

Rule G-30

Differential re-offering prices. This is in response to your letter in which you ask us to provide interpretive guidance on MSRB rules G-21, G-30 and G-32 in the context of a proposed new system (the "System") to be established by your client (the "Company") for pricing and distribution of primary market municipal securities to retail investors. You provide a description of the System, including a discussion of incremental changes through various versions of the System. We have included below a brief summary of the MSRB's understanding of certain key features of the System that may be relevant in responding to your questions. This should not be construed as meaning that the MSRB has "approved" the System, or even reviewed the System description which you provided, except for the limited purpose of addressing your specific questions on the three rules noted above. The MSRB expresses no views and has not considered whether the System as you describe it, or whether a broker-dealer using the System, would be in compliance with MSRB rules or other applicable law, rules or regulations, beyond the specific statements set forth herein on these three rules.

As you describe it, the System consists of an internet-based electronic primary market order matching process that will provide (1) electronic notices ("Electronic Notices") to registered representatives at subscribing broker-dealer firms and (2) an ability to establish a range of acceptable reoffering prices for each order of primary market municipal securities. Registered representatives will provide to the System profiles ("Retail Inquiries") that describe the features of municipal securities that the registered representative's customers wish to purchase. The System will then automatically advise the registered representatives of the availability for purchase of a new municipal security issue that matches the Retail Inquiry by sending an Electronic Notice by fax or e-mail. The Company intends to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a broker-dealer prior to charging subscription fees for the services provided by the System. We understand that, for purposes of the System, a retail investor is characterized solely by the size of the order, rather than by the identity of an investor as a retail or institutional customer.

Municipal securities available for purchase through the System will be sold using a structure that establishes a range of acceptable retail reoffering prices. For each new issue, the underwriter and the issuer will establish a maximum and minimum yield and a maximum and minimum price to be entered into the System. For all Retail Inquiries that match the basic parameters of the issue (e.g., maturity, rating, state of issuer), the System will send an Electronic Notice to each registered representative that adjusts the price to include the least of the registered representative's desired mark-up, the maximum mark-up established by the registered representative's broker-dealer firm, or the maximum issue mark-up established by the underwriter. In the System's initial stages, a registered representative may place an order for amounts up to $500,000 to purchase the securities upon receiving an Electronic Notice. You note that use of the System will permit sales of municipal securities of the same maturity and order size to different buyers at different prices.

You state that you believe that the business and operating plan for the System will be in compliance with all published MSRB rules and that broker-dealers subscribing to the System will not violate any MSRB rules by virtue of their use of the System. You request clarification regarding the applicability of certain provisions of rules G-21, G-30 and G-32 to broker-dealers using the System. As noted above, the MSRB cannot provide an "approval" of a proposed system or of its use by broker-dealers. We can, however, provide some guidance regarding your specific rule-related interpretive requests. Since the application of rules to particular factual situations is, by its nature, fundamentally dependent upon the specific facts and circumstances, you should be cognizant of the precise nature of our guidance and of the potential for seemingly small factual variances resulting in different conclusions regarding compliance with our rules.

Rule G-30, on Prices and Commissions

You ask us whether we view use of the System by broker-dealers to establish a range of reoffering prices (instead of a single reoffering price) as compliant with the requirement under rule G-30, on prices and commissions, that municipal securities prices be fair and reasonable. We cannot provide you with assurance that under all circumstances prices charged to customers by broker-dealers using the System will comply with rule G-30. However, the following discussion should provide some guidance in assessing whether broker-dealers using the System will be able to comply with rule G-30.

Rule G-30(a) provides that no broker-dealer shall sell municipal securities to a customer in a principal transaction except at a price that is fair and reasonable, taking into consideration all relevant factors.[1] The rule cites, as relevant factors, the best judgment of the broker-dealer as to the fair market value of the securities at the time of the transaction, the expense involved in effecting the transaction, the fact that the broker-dealer is entitled to a profit, and the total dollar amount of the transaction.[2] In addition, the MSRB has identified a number of other factors which might be relevant in determining the fairness and reasonableness of prices in municipal securities transactions. These additional factors include, but are not limited to, the availability of the security in the market, the price or yield of the security, the maturity of the security, and the nature of the professional's business.[3] The MSRB firmly believes that the resulting yield to the customer is the most important factor in determining the fairness and reasonableness of a price in any given transaction. The MSRB previously has stated that such yield should be comparable to the yield on other securities of comparable quality, maturity, coupon rate, and block size then available in the market.

Although a comparative yield assessment is the most important factor in determining whether a transaction price is fair and reasonable, rule G-30 states that other facts and circumstances of a specific transaction may also enter into the final determination of whether the transaction price is fair and reasonable. Thus, rule G-30 clearly contemplates the possibility that, depending upon the facts and circumstances of two contemporaneous transactions in identical securities, both transactions may be priced in compliance with rule G-30 even though the prices are not identical. It is not possible to state a specific percentage of variance between prices on contemporaneous transactions that would create a presumption of a violation of rule G-30 with respect to the higher priced transaction since a number of different factors may be relevant to the individual transactions.[4] However, the degree to which price variances may occur without raising the presumption of a rule G-30 violation generally would parallel the level of variance in the relevant factors under rule G-30 from transaction to transaction in the same security. For example, a large difference in the par value of two transactions could potentially justify a larger price difference than would a small difference in the par value of the two transactions.

The MSRB has stated that, although rule G-30 does not specifically mention new issue offering prices which may be set by the syndicate or the issuer, compliance with rule G-30 in this context also is determined by whether the price of a municipal security is fair and reasonable, taking into account all relevant factors.[5] As noted above, a comparative yield assessment is the most important factor in determining the fairness and reasonableness of a transaction price. Although it is the ultimate responsibility of the broker-dealer effecting a transaction with a customer to ensure that the price is in compliance with rule G-30, the issuer and underwriter may help broker-dealers using the System to avoid possible violations of rule G-30 by carefully reviewing the ranges of yields and prices entered by the underwriter into the System to ensure that the net yield to customers[6] would be comparable to that of similar securities regardless of where within the established ranges a transaction is executed by a broker-dealer using the System.

 

Rule G-32, on Disclosures in Connection with New Issues

You provide us with a sample of proposed language to be included in the official statement for new issue municipal securities to be sold using the System. This language indicates the lowest price at which any of the securities in the new issue are offered and also indicates a range of maximum prices at which the securities are offered based on various lot sizes of the securities sold in a particular transaction. The language further states that, subject to the practices of each broker-dealer firm in the selling group, investors may have purchased the securities at prices lower than those shown in the range of maximum prices included in the official statement. Finally, the language provides a specific dollar amount representing the total compensation paid to the underwriter as representative of the selling group. You ask us whether inclusion of such language in the official statement by issuers using the System complies with rule G-32.

Rule G-32(a)(ii) provides that, in connection with new issue municipal securities purchased by the underwriter in a negotiated sale, any broker-dealer selling such securities to a customer must deliver to the customer by no later than settlement information regarding, among other things, the underwriting spread and the initial offering price for each maturity in the issue, including maturities that are not reoffered.[7] The MSRB has stated that the obligation to disclose the underwriting spread requires that the broker-dealer disclose the difference between the initial offering price of the new issue and the amount paid by the underwriter to the issuer, expressed either in dollars or points per bond.[8] The MSRB has prohibited broker-dealers from merely disclosing to customers the offering prices and amount paid to the issuer and describing how the underwriting spread can be calculated from these figures.[9] The MSRB has stated that initial offering prices may be expressed either in terms of dollar price or yield.[10]

The MSRB recognizes that disclosure of initial offering prices and underwriting spread is more complicated in circumstances where securities of the same maturity may be offered at a number of different prices, as compared to the typical situation where each maturity is stated to be offered at a single price. The MSRB believes that, under these circumstances, the initial offering prices and underwriting spread may be expressed as a range of values.

In expressing the initial offering prices as a range of values, broker-dealers must ensure that the prices at which the securities are initially offered to customers will fall within the expressed range. At the same time, the MSRB believes that the disclosure of a range of prices must not be misleading to customers. For example, a range that implies that a market may exist at prices where in fact no transactions are likely to occur could be misleading. In addition, a range that includes prices that are not fair and reasonable for purposes of rule G-30 could mislead customers with regard to what would in fact constitute a fair and reasonable price. These and other practices arising in connection with the disclosure of a range of initial offering prices could constitute violations of rule G-17[11] and would not satisfy the disclosure obligation under rule G-32. Broker-dealers are cautioned, when using a range to disclose initial offering prices, to make such range as narrow as reasonably possible in order to avoid violations of rules G-17 and G-32. For example, if broker-dealers have established discrete price ranges for specific securities within the issue (e.g., separate maturities) or for specific types of transactions (e.g., different lot sizes), they should include such discrete ranges in the disclosure made to customers. The initial offering price range must be expressed either in terms of dollar prices or yields.

In expressing the underwriting spread as a range of values, the range must be no broader than would be obtained by calculating the lowest possible spread based on all of the lowest initial offering price values and the highest possible spread based on all of the highest initial offering price values. This range should be further refined based on specific information available to the broker-dealer (e.g., minimum or maximum spreads agreed to between the issuer and the underwriter, fixed components of the gross spread, known levels of transactions at particular prices, etc.).[12] Broker-dealers may show this spread range either as a range of a total amount or as a listing of the components of the spread range. If components of the spread range are listed, that portion of the range which represents compensation to the underwriter must be clearly identified as such. The spread range must be expressed either in dollars or points per bond.

Rule G-21, on Advertising

You state that you do not believe that Electronic Notices constitute advertisements within the meaning of rule G-21, which sets forth certain requirements with respect to advertisements of municipal securities. An advertisement is defined as any material (other than listings of offerings) published or designed for use in the public, including electronic, media or any promotional literature designed for dissemination to the public, including any notice, circular, report, market letter, form letter, telemarketing script or reprint or excerpt of the foregoing. The rule covers communications that are intended to reach a broad segment of the public rather than individually tailored communications between two specific parties and communications between broker-dealers. Thus, if the use of Electronic Notices is limited in the manner you describe in your letter, it appears that such Electronic Notices would not constitute advertisements within the meaning of rule G-21. However, we express no opinion as to whether Electronic Notices might constitute advertisements if they were to be disseminated to investors.

 

* * * * * * * * * *

 

I must emphasize once again that the guidance provided in this letter cannot be considered an "approval" of the System. Further, this guidance cannot be considered to provide or imply that broker-dealers using the System will, under all circumstances, be in compliance with the rules discussed herein. Nor can this guidance be considered to provide or imply that the operation of the System or the use of the System by broker-dealers is in compliance with any other rules of the MSRB or the laws, rules or regulations of any other entity. MSRB interpretation of December 11, 2001.

__________

 

[1] In the case of an agency transaction, rule G-30 prohibits a broker-dealer from selling a municipal security to a customer for a commission or service charge in excess of a fair and reasonable amount, taking into consideration all relevant factors. In addition, rule G-18, on execution of transactions, requires that a broker-dealer in an agency transaction make a reasonable effort to obtain a price for the customer that is fair and reasonable in relation to prevailing market conditions. Since we understand that broker-dealers that use the System ultimately will effect transactions with their customers on a principal basis, we do not address potential compliance issues with respect to agency transactions arising under rules G-18 and G-30.

[2] With respect to total dollar amount of a transaction, the MSRB has stated that, to the extent that institutional transactions are often larger than retail transactions, this factor may enter into the fair and reasonable pricing of retail versus institutional transactions. See Rule G-30 Interpretive Letter - Factors in pricing, November 29, 1993, MSRB Rule Book (July 1, 2001) at 163 (the "Pricing Letter").

[3] See Rule G-30 Interpretation - Republication of September 1980 Report on Pricing, MSRB Rule Book (July 1, 2001) at 161 (the "Pricing Report").

[4] Of course, the existence of a variance in the prices of two contemporaneous sale transactions in the same security would be less likely to raise a presumption that the higher priced transaction violates rule G-30 if the yields for both transactions are generally higher than for most other comparable securities in the market.

[5]  See Pricing Letter. It is worth noting that the rules of the National Association of Securities Dealers regarding fixed-price offerings do not apply to transactions in municipal securities. The MSRB is not aware of any law or regulation which purports to require fixed-price offerings for new issue municipal securities. See Rule G-11 Interpretive Letter - Fixed-price offerings, March 16, 1984, MSRB Rule Book (July 1, 2001) at 60.

[6] The net yield to a customer is based on actual money paid by the customer, including the effect of any remuneration paid to the broker-dealer, other than certain miscellaneous transaction fees. See Rule G-15 Interpretation - Notice Concerning Flat Transaction Fees, June 13, 2001, MSRB Rule Book (July 1, 2001) at 114; Rule G-15 Interpretation - Notice Concerning Confirmation Disclosure of Miscellaneous Transaction Charges, May 14, 1990, MSRB Rule Book (July 1, 2001) at 113.

[7] This information may be disclosed in the official statement if it is delivered to the customer in a timely manner at or prior to settlement. This information may also be provided in a separate written statement.

[8] Spread may be shown as a single figure or as a listing of the components of the spread. If components are listed, the portion of the proceeds representing compensation to the underwriter must be clearly identified as such. See Rule G-32 Interpretation - Notice Regarding the Disclosure Obligations of Brokers, Dealers and Municipal Securities Dealers in Connection with New Issue Municipal Securities Under Rule G-32, MSRB Rule Book (July 1, 2001) at 166 (the "Disclosure Notice"); Rule G-32 Interpretive Letter - Disclosure of underwriting spread, March 9, 1981, MSRB Rule Book (July 1, 2001) at 173.

[9] See Disclosure Requirements for New Issue Securities: Rule G-32, MSRB Reports, Vol. 7, No. 2 (March 1987) at 11.

[10] See Disclosure Notice; Rule G-32 Interpretive Letter - Disclosures in connection with new issues, December 22, 1993, MSRB Rule Book (July 1, 2001) at 174.

[11] Rule G-17 requires broker-dealers to deal fairly with all persons and not to engage in any deceptive, dishonest or unfair practice.

[12] Of course, if the new issue has been fully sold and all initial offering prices are known at the time the disclosure information is prepared, an exact amount rather than a range should be used in disclosing the underwriting spread.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Activities by Dealers and Municipal Finance Professionals During Transition Periods for Elected Issuer Officials
Rule Number:

Rule G-37

The MSRB has received inquiries on the applicability of rule G-37 to certain activities by dealers and municipal finance professionals relating to the transition period during which an issuer official has won an election but has not yet taken office.  The definition of “contribution” in rule G-37(g)(i) includes any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made for transition or inaugural expenses incurred by the successful candidate.

The MSRB stated in a Question and Answer Notice dated May 24, 1994 (Q&A number 24) that rule G-37 is not intended to prohibit or restrict municipal finance professionals from engaging in personal volunteer work; however, if the municipal finance professional uses the dealer’s resources (e.g., a political position paper prepared by dealer personnel) or incurs expenses in the conduct of such volunteer work (e.g., hosting a reception), then the value of such resources or expenses would constitute a contribution.  In addition, personal expenses incurred by the municipal finance professional in the conduct of such volunteer work, which expenses are purely incidental to such work and unreimbursed by the dealer (e.g., cab fares and personal meals), would not constitute a contribution.  In a Question and Answer Notice dated August 18, 1994 (Q&A number 3), the MSRB stated that an employee of a dealer generally can donate his or her time to an issuer official’s campaign without this being viewed as a contribution by the dealer to the official, as long as the employee is volunteering his or her time during non-work hours, or is using previously accrued vacation time or the dealer is not otherwise paying the employee’s salary (e.g., an unpaid leave of absence).  Thus, rule G-37 does not prohibit a municipal finance professional from serving on an issuer official’s transition team or performing other transition-related activities; however, as noted above, the use of dealer resources in connection with such activity would be considered a contribution by the dealer to the issuer official thereby resulting in the dealer being prohibited from engaging in municipal securities business with the issuer for two years.

The MSRB also recognizes that dealers and their municipal finance professionals may solicit issuer officials for municipal securities business during the transition period prior to these officials taking office.  In the course of making such solicitations, dealers may sometimes prepare and present materials such as financing plans and economic development studies.  The provision of these types of materials to an issuer official during the transition period would not constitute contributions under rule G-37 if performed as part of a solicitation for municipal securities business.

Finally, in a Question and Answer Notice dated September 9, 1997 (Q&A number 1), the MSRB addressed whether a municipal finance professional who is entitled to vote for an issuer official may make contributions to pay for such official’s transition or inaugural expenses without causing a prohibition on municipal securities business with the issuer.  If a municipal finance professional contributed $250 to the general election of an issuer official, the municipal finance professional would not be able to make any contributions to pay for transition or inaugural expenses without causing a prohibition on municipal securities business with the issuer.  If a municipal finance professional made no contributions to an issuer official prior to the election, then the municipal finance professional may, if entitled to vote for the candidate, contribute up to $250 to pay for transition or inaugural expenses and payment of debt incurred in connection with the election without causing a prohibition on municipal securities business.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Flat Transaction Fees
Rule Number:

Rule G-15

The MSRB has received inquiries regarding an interpretation of rule G-15(a) from dealers who offer automated execution of transactions and charge a small, flat "transaction fee" per transaction.  These dealers asked whether a $15.00 flat fee qualifies as a miscellaneous transaction charge. 

Rule G-15(a) sets out confirmation requirements for transactions with customers and specifies that dealers include a yield on the confirmation.  In computing yield, G-15(a)(i)(A)(5)(c)(iii) states that such "computations shall take into account ... commissions charged to the customer ... but shall not take into account incidental transaction fees or miscellaneous charges, provided, however, that ... such fees or charges [are] indicated on the confirmation."  

In a May 14, 1990 Notice Concerning Confirmation Disclosure of Miscellaneous Transaction Charges[1], the MSRB reminded dealers that clear disclosure of the nature and amount of miscellaneous fees is required.  The notice stated that these fees should not be incorporated into the stated yield because they are small and do not significantly affect a customer's return on investment, as shown in the yield.  The notice also stated that miscellaneous fees differ from commissions because they are flat amounts, and, unlike the common practice used in computing commissions for agency transactions, are not related to the par value of the transaction. 

The dealers who contacted the MSRB will charge a flat transaction fee of $15.00 for trades executed through an automated trading system.  Since this fee is relatively small and unrelated to the par value of the transaction, the MSRB believes that the transaction fee should be considered a miscellaneous transaction fee.  Therefore the fee would not have to be incorporated into the stated yield, but would need to be separately disclosed on the confirmation.


 

[1] See Rule G-15 Interpretation - Notice Concerning Confirmation Disclosure of Miscellaneous Transaction Charges, May 14, 1990, MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2001) at 108.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
The Application of Rules G-8, G-12 and G-14 to Specific Electronic Trading Systems

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (the “MSRB”) understands that, over time, the advent of new trading systems will present novel situations in applying MSRB uniform practice rules. The MSRB is prepared to provide interpretative guidance in these situations as they arise, and, if necessary, implement formal rule interpretations or rule changes to provide clarity or prevent unintended results in novel situations. The MSRB has been asked to provide guidance on the application of certain of its rules to transactions effected on a proposed electronic trading system with features similar to those described below.

 

Description of System

 

 

The system is an electronic trading system offering a variety of trading services and operated by an entity registered as a dealer under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The system is qualified as an alternative trading system under Regulation ATS. Trading in the system is limited to brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers (“dealers”). Purchase and sale contracts are created in the system through various types of electronic communications via the system, including acceptance of priced offers, a bid-wanted process, and through negotiation by system participants with each other. System rules govern how the bid/offer process is conducted and otherwise govern how contracts are formed between buyers and sellers.

 

 

 

 

Participants are, or may be, anonymous during the bid/offer/negotiation process. After a sales contract is formed, the system immediately sends an electronic communication to the buyer and seller, noting the transaction details as well as the identity of the contra-party. The transaction is then sent by the buyer and seller to a registered securities clearing agency for comparison and is settled without involvement of the system operator.

 

 

 

 

The system operator does not take a position in the securities traded on the system, even for clearance purposes. Dealers trading on the system are required by system rules to clear and settle transactions directly with each other even though the parties do not know each other at the time the sale contract is formed. If a dealer using the system does not wish to do business with another specific contra-party using the system, it may direct the system operator to adjust the system so that contracts with that contra-party cannot be formed through the system.

 

 

 

Application of Certain Uniform Practice Rules to System

 

 

It appears to the MSRB that the dealer operating the system is effecting agency transactions for dealer clients.[1] The system operator does not have a role in clearing the transactions and is not taking principal positions in the securities being traded. However, the system operator is participating in the transactions at key points by providing anonymity to buyers and sellers during the formation of contracts and by setting system rules for the formation of contracts. Consequently, all MSRB rules generally applicable to inter-dealer transactions would apply except to the extent that such rules explicitly, or by context, are limited to principal transactions.

 

 

 

Automated Comparison

 

One issue raised by the description of the system above is the planned method of clearance and settlement. Rule G-12(f)(i) requires that inter-dealer transactions be compared in an automated comparison system operated by a clearing corporation registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The purpose of rule G-12(f)(i) is to facilitate clearance and settlement of inter-dealer transactions. In this case, the system operator: (i) electronically communicates the transaction details to the buyer and seller; (ii) requires the buyer and seller to compare the transaction directly with each other in a registered securities clearing corporation; and (iii) is not otherwise involved in clearing or settling the transaction. The MSRB believes that under these circumstances, it is unnecessary for the system operator to obtain a separate comparison of its agency transactions with the buyer and seller.

 

 

Although automated comparison is not required between the system operator and the buyer and seller, the transaction details sent to each party by the system must conform to the information requirements for inter-dealer confirmations contained in rule G-12(c). Since system participants implicitly agree to receive this information in electronic form by participating in the system, a paper confirmation is not necessary. Also, the system operator may have an agreement with its participants that participants are not required to confirm the transactions back to the system operator, which normally would be required by rule G-12(c).

 

 

 

 

The system operator, which is subject to Regulation ATS, will be governed by the recordkeeping requirements of Regulation ATS for purposes of transaction records, including municipal securities transactions. However, the system operator also must comply with any applicable recordkeeping requirements in rule G-8(f), which relate to records specific to effecting municipal securities transactions. With respect to recordkeeping by dealers using the system, the specific procedures associated with this system require that transactions be recorded as principal transactions directly between buyer and seller, with notations of the fact that the transactions were effected through the system.

 

 

 

Transaction Reporting

 

 

Rule G-14 requires inter-dealer transactions to be reported to the MSRB for the purposes of price transparency, market surveillance and fee assessment. The mechanism for reporting inter-dealer transactions is through National Securities Clearing Corporation (“NSCC”). In the system described above, the buyer and seller clear and settle transactions directly as principals with each other, and without the involvement of the dealer operating the system. The buyer and seller therefore will report transactions directly to NSCC. No transaction or pricing information will be lost if the system operator does not report the transaction. Consequently, it is not necessary for the system operator separately to report the transactions to the MSRB.

 

 

 

 

March 26, 2001

 

 

 

[1]            This situation can be contrasted with the typical broker’s broker operation in which the broker’s broker effects riskless principal transactions for dealer clients. The nature of the transactions as either agency or principal is governed for purposes of MSRB rules by whether a principal position is taken with respect to the security. “Riskless principal” transactions in this context are considered to be principal transactions in which a dealer has a firm order on one side at the time it executes a matching transaction on the contra-side. For purposes of the uniform practice rules, the MSRB considers broker’s broker transactions to be riskless principal transactions even though the broker’s broker may be acting for one party and may have agency or fiduciary obligations toward that party.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
The Application of Rules G-8 and G-9 to Electronic Recordkeeping
Rule Number:

Rule G-8, Rule G-9

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (the “MSRB”) has received requests for interpretive guidance regarding the maintenance in electronic form of records under rule G-8, on books and records, and rule G-9, on preservation of records. As the MSRB has previously noted, rules G-8 and G-9 provide significant flexibility to brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers (“dealers”) concerning the manner in which their records are to be maintained, recognizing that various recordkeeping systems could provide a complete and accurate record of a dealer’s municipal securities activities.[1] Part of the reason for providing this flexibility was that a variety of enforcement agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, NASD Regulation, Inc. and the banking regulatory agencies, all may inspect dealer records.

 

Rule G-8(b) does not specify that a dealer is required to maintain its books and records in a specific manner so long as the information required to be shown by the rule is clearly and accurately reflected and provides an adequate basis for the audit of such information. Further, rule G-9(e) allows records to be retained electronically provided that the dealer has adequate facilities for ready retrieval and inspection of any such record and for production of easily readable facsimile copies.

 

The MSRB previously has recognized that efficiencies would be obtained by the replacement of paper files with electronic data bases and filing systems and stated that it generally allows records to be retained in that form.[2] In noting that increased automation would likely lead to elimination of most physical records, the MSRB has stated that electronic trading tickets and automated customer account information satisfy the recordkeeping requirements of rule G-8 so long as such information is maintained in compliance with rule G-9(e). The MSRB believes that this position also applies with respect to the other recordkeeping requirements of rule G-8 so long as such information is maintained in compliance with rule G-9(e) and the appropriate enforcement agency is satisfied that such manner of record creation and retention provides an adequate basis for the audit of the information to be maintained. In particular, the MSRB believes that a dealer that meets the requirements of Rule 17a-4(f) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 with respect to maintenance and preservation of required books and records in the formats described therein would presumptively meet the requirements of rule G-9(e).

 

March 26, 2001

 

[1]               See Rule G-8 Interpretation – Interpretive Notice on Recordkeeping, July 29, 1977, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2001) at 42.

[2]               See Rule G-8 Interpretive Letters – Use of electronic signatures, MSRB interpretation of February 27, 1989, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2001) at 47.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Application of Rules G-8, G-12 and G-14 to Specific Electronic Trading Systems
Rule Number:

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (the “MSRB”) understands that, over time, the advent of new trading systems will present novel situations in applying MSRB uniform practice rules. The MSRB is prepared to provide interpretative guidance in these situations as they arise, and, if necessary, implement formal rule interpretations or rule changes to provide clarity or prevent unintended results in novel situations. The MSRB has been asked to provide guidance on the application of certain of its rules to transactions effected on a proposed electronic trading system with features similar to those described below.

Description of System

The system is an electronic trading system offering a variety of trading services and operated by an entity registered as a dealer under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The system is qualified as an alternative trading system under Regulation ATS. Trading in the system is limited to brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers (“dealers”). Purchase and sale contracts are created in the system through various types of electronic communications via the system, including acceptance of priced offers, a bid-wanted process, and through negotiation by system participants with each other. System rules govern how the bid/offer process is conducted and otherwise govern how contracts are formed between buyers and sellers.

Participants are, or may be, anonymous during the bid/offer/negotiation process. After a sales contract is formed, the system immediately sends an electronic communication to the buyer and seller, noting the transaction details as well as the identity of the contra-party. The transaction is then sent by the buyer and seller to a registered securities clearing agency for comparison and is settled without involvement of the system operator.

The system operator does not take a position in the securities traded on the system, even for clearance purposes.  Dealers trading on the system are required by system rules to clear and settle transactions directly with each other even though the parties do not know each other at the time the sale contract is formed. If a dealer using the system does not wish to do business with another specific contra-party using the system, it may direct the system operator to adjust the system so that contracts with that contra-party cannot be formed through the system.

Application of Certain Uniform Practice Rules to System

It appears to the MSRB that the dealer operating the system is effecting agency transactions for dealer clients.[1]  The system operator does not have a role in clearing the transactions and is not taking principal positions in the securities being traded. However, the system operator is participating in the transactions at key points by providing anonymity to buyers and sellers during the formation of contracts and by setting system rules for the formation of contracts. Consequently, all MSRB rules generally applicable to inter-dealer transactions would apply except to the extent that such rules explicitly, or by context, are limited to principal transactions.

Automated Comparison

One issue raised by the description of the system above is the planned method of clearance and settlement. Rule G-12(f)(i) requires that inter-dealer transactions be compared in an automated comparison system operated by a clearing corporation registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The purpose of rule G-12(f)(i) is to facilitate clearance and settlement of inter-dealer transactions. In this case, the system operator: (i) electronically communicates the transaction details to the buyer and seller; (ii) requires the buyer and seller to compare the transaction directly with each other in a registered securities clearing corporation; and (iii) is not otherwise involved in clearing or settling the transaction. The MSRB believes that under these circumstances, it is unnecessary for the system operator to obtain a separate comparison of its agency transactions with the buyer and seller.

Although automated comparison is not required between the system operator and the buyer and seller, the transaction details sent to each party by the system must conform to the information requirements for inter-dealer confirmations contained in rule G-12(c).  Since system participants implicitly agree to receive this information in electronic form by participating in the system, a paper confirmation is not necessary. Also, the system operator may have an agreement with its participants that participants are not required to confirm the transactions back to the system operator, which normally would be required by rule G-12(c).

The system operator, which is subject to Regulation ATS, will be governed by the recordkeeping requirements of Regulation ATS for purposes of transaction records, including municipal securities transactions. However, the system operator also must comply with any applicable recordkeeping requirements in rule G-8(f), which relate to records specific to effecting municipal securities transactions. With respect to recordkeeping by dealers using the system, the specific procedures associated with this system require that transactions be recorded as principal transactions directly between buyer and seller, with notations of the fact that the transactions were effected through the system.

Transaction Reporting

Rule G-14 requires inter-dealer transactions to be reported to the MSRB for the purposes of price transparency, market surveillance and fee assessment. The mechanism for reporting inter-dealer transactions is through National Securities Clearing Corporation (“NSCC”). In the system described above, the buyer and seller clear and settle transactions directly as principals with each other, and without the involvement of the dealer operating the system. The buyer and seller therefore will report transactions directly to NSCC. No transaction or pricing information will be lost if the system operator does not report the transaction. Consequently, it is not necessary for the system operator separately to report the transactions to the MSRB.


[1] This situation can be contrasted with the typical broker’s broker operation in which the broker’s broker effects riskless principal transactions for dealer clients. The nature of the transactions as either agency or principal is governed for purposes of MSRB rules by whether a principal position is taken with respect to the security. “Riskless principal” transactions in this context are considered to be principal transactions in which a dealer has a firm order on one side at the time it executes a matching transaction on the contraside. For purposes of the uniform practice rules, the MSRB considers broker’s broker transactions to be riskless principal transactions even though the broker’s broker may be acting for one party and may have agency or fiduciary obligations toward that party.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
The Application of Rules G-32 and G-36 to New Issue Offerings Through Auction Procedures
Rule Number:

Rule G-32

The MSRB published a notice regarding Interpretation on the Application of Rules G-32 and G-36 to New Issue Offerings Through Auction Procedures.

 

Traditionally, brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers (“dealers”) have underwritten new issue municipal securities through syndicates in which one dealer serves as the managing underwriter. In some cases, a single dealer may serve as the sole underwriter for a new issue. Typically, these underwritings are effected on an “all-or-none” basis, meaning that the underwriters bid on the entire new issue. In addition, new issues are occasionally sold to two or more underwriters that have not formed a syndicate but instead each underwriter has purchased a separate portion of the new issue (in effect, each underwriter serving as the sole underwriter for its respective portion of the new issue).

In the primary market in recent years, some issuers have issued their new offerings through an electronic “auction” process that permits the taking of bids from both dealers and investors directly. In some cases, these bids may be taken on other than an all-or-none basis, with bidders making separate bids on each maturity of a new issue. The issuer may engage a dealer as an auction agent to conduct the auction process on its behalf. In addition, to effectuate the transfer of the securities from the issuer to the winning bidders and for certain other purposes connected with the auction process, the issuer may engage a dealer to serve in the role of settlement agent or in some other intermediary role.

Although the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (the “MSRB”) has not examined all forms that these auction agent, settlement agent or other intermediary roles (collectively referred to as “dealer-intermediaries”) may take, it believes that in most cases such dealer-intermediary is effecting a transaction between the issuer and each of the winning bidders. The MSRB also believes that in many cases such dealer-intermediary may be acting as an underwriter, as such term is defined in Rule 15c2-12(f)(8) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”).[1] A dealer-intermediary that is effecting transactions in connection with such an auction process has certain obligations under rule G-32. If it is also an underwriter with respect to an offering, it has certain additional obligations under rules G-32 and G-36.

Application of Rule G-32, on Disclosures in Connection with New Issues 

Rule G-32(a) generally requires that any dealer (i.e., not just the underwriter) selling municipal securities to a customer during the issue’s underwriting period must deliver the official statement in final form, if any, to the customer by settlement of the transaction. Any dealer selling a new issue municipal security to another dealer is obligated under rule G-32(b) to send such official statement to the purchasing dealer within one business day of request. In addition, under rule G-32(c), the managing or sole underwriter for new issue municipal securities is obligated to send to any dealer purchasing such securities (regardless of whether the securities were purchased from such managing or sole underwriter or from another dealer), within one business day of request, one official statement plus one additional copy per $100,000 par value of the new issue municipal securities sold by such dealer to customers. Where multiple underwriters underwrite a new issue without forming an underwriting syndicate, each underwriter is considered a sole underwriter for purposes of rule G-32 and therefore each must undertake the official statement delivery obligation described in the preceding sentence.

If a dealer-intermediary is involved in an auction or similar process of primary offering of municipal securities in which all or a portion of the securities are sold directly to investors that have placed winning bids with the issuer, the dealer-intermediary is obligated under rule G-32(a) to deliver an official statement to such investors by settlement of their purchases. If all or a portion of the securities are sold to other dealers that have placed winning bids with the issuer, the dealer-intermediary is obligated under rule G-32(b) to send an official statement to such purchasing dealers within one business day of a request. Further, to the extent that the dealer-intermediary is an underwriter, such dealer-intermediary typically would have the obligations of a sole underwriter under rule G-32(c) to distribute the official statement to any other dealer that subsequently purchases the securities during the underwriting period and requests a copy. Any dealer that has placed a winning bid in a new issue auction would have the same distribution responsibility under rule G-32(c), to the extent that it is acting as an underwriter.

The MSRB views rule G-32 as permitting one or more dealer-intermediaries involved in an auction process to enter into an agreement with one or more other dealers that have purchased securities through a winning bid in which the parties agree that one such dealer (i.e., a dealer-intermediary or one of the winning bidders) will serve in the role of managing underwriter for purposes of rule G-32. In such a case, such single dealer (rather than all dealers individually) would have the responsibility for distribution of official statements to the marketplace typically undertaken by a managing or sole underwriter under rule G-32(c).[2] Such an agreement may be entered into by less than all dealers that have purchased securities through the auction process. All dealers that agree to delegate this duty to a single dealer may rely on such delegation to the same extent as if they had in fact formed an underwriting syndicate.

Application of Rule G-36, on Delivery of Official Statements, Advance Refunding Documents and Forms G-36(OS) and G-36(ARD) to the MSRB

Rule G-36 requires that the managing or sole underwriter for most primary offerings send the official statement and Form G-36(OS) to the MSRB within certain time frames set forth in the rule. In addition, if the new issue is an advance refunding and an advance refunding document has been prepared, the advance refunding document and Form G-36(ARD) also must be sent to the MSRB by the managing or sole underwriter. Where multiple underwriters underwrite an offering without forming an underwriting syndicate, the MSRB has stated that each underwriter would have the role of sole underwriter for purposes of rule G-36 and therefore each would have a separate obligation to send official statements, advance refunding documents and Forms G-36(OS) and G-36(ARD) to the MSRB.[3]

To the extent that the dealer-intermediary in an auction or similar process of primary offering of municipal securities is an underwriter for purposes of the Exchange Act, such dealer-intermediary would have obligations under rule G-36. If all or a portion of the securities are sold directly to investors that have placed winning bids with the issuer, the dealer-intermediary would be obligated to send the official statement and Form G-36(OS) (as well as any applicable advance refunding document and Form G-36(ARD)) to the MSRB with respect to the issue or portion thereof purchased by investors. If all or a portion of the securities are sold to other dealers that have placed winning bids with the issuer, the dealer-intermediary and each of the purchasing dealers (to the extent that they are underwriters for purposes of the Exchange Act) also typically would be separately obligated to send such documents to the MSRB with respect to the issue or portion thereof purchased by dealers.

To avoid duplicative filings under rule G-36, the MSRB believes that one or more dealer-intermediaries involved in an auction process may enter into an agreement with one or more other dealers that have purchased securities through a winning bid in which the parties agree that one such dealer (i.e., a dealer-intermediary or one of the winning bidders) will serve in the role of managing underwriter for purposes of rule G-36. In such a case, such single dealer (rather than all dealers individually) would have the responsibility for sending the official statement, advance refunding document and Forms G-36(OS) and G-36(ARD) to the MSRB.[4] Such an agreement may be entered into by less than all dealers that have purchased securities. All dealers that agree to delegate this duty to a single dealer may rely on such delegation to the same extent as if they had in fact formed an underwriting syndicate.

March 26, 2001


[1] Questions regarding whether an entity acting in an intermediary role is effecting a transaction or whether a dealer acting in such an intermediary role for a particular primary offering of municipal securities would constitute an underwriter should be addressed to staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

 

[2] Each dealer that is party to this agreement would be required to inform any dealer seeking copies of the official statement from such dealer under rule G-32(c) of the identity of the dealer that has by agreement undertaken this obligation or, in the alternative, may fulfill the request for official statements. In either case, the dealer would be required to act promptly so as either to permit the dealer undertaking the distribution obligation to fulfill its duty in a timely manner or to provide the official statement itself in the time required by the rule. Such agreement would not affect the obligation of a dealer that sells new issue securities to another dealer to provide a copy of the official statement to such dealer upon request as required under rule G-32(b), nor would it affect the obligation to deliver official statements to customers as required under rule G-32(a).

[3] See Rule G-36 Interpretive Letter – Multiple underwriters, MSRB interpretation of January 30, 1998, MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2001) at 189.

[4] The dealer designated to act as managing underwriter for purposes of rule G-36 would be billed the full amount of any applicable underwriting assessment due under rule A-13, on underwriting and transaction assessments. Such dealer would be permitted, in turn, to bill each other dealer that is party to the agreement for its share of the assessment.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
The Application of Rules G-8 and G-9 to Electronic Recordkeeping
Rule Number:

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (the “MSRB”) has received requests for interpretive guidance regarding the maintenance in electronic form of records under rule G-8, on books and records, and rule G-9, on preservation of records. As the MSRB has previously noted, rules G-8 and G-9 provide significant flexibility to brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers (“dealers”) concerning the manner in which their records are to be maintained, recognizing that various recordkeeping systems could provide a complete and accurate record of a dealer’s municipal securities activities.[1]  Part of the reason for providing this flexibility was that a variety of enforcement agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, NASD Regulation, Inc. and the banking regulatory agencies, all may inspect dealer records.

Rule G-8(b) does not specify that a dealer is required to maintain its books and records in a specific manner so long as the information required to be shown by the rule is clearly and accurately reflected and provides an adequate basis for the audit of such information. Further, rule G-9(e) allows records to be retained electronically provided that the dealer has adequate facilities for ready retrieval and inspection of any such record and for production of easily readable facsimile copies.

The MSRB previously has recognized that efficiencies would be obtained by the replacement of paper files with electronic data bases and filing systems and stated that it generally allows records to be retained in that form.[2]  In noting that increased automation would likely lead to elimination of most physical records, the MSRB has stated that electronic trading tickets and automated customer account information satisfy the recordkeeping requirements of rule G-8 so long as such information is maintained in compliance with rule G-9(e). The MSRB believes that this position also applies with respect to the other recordkeeping requirements of rule G-8 so long as such information is maintained in compliance with rule G-9(e) and the appropriate enforcement agency is satisfied that such manner of record creation and retention provides an adequate basis for the audit of the information to be maintained. In particular, the MSRB believes that a dealer that meets the requirements of rule 17a-4(f) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 with respect to maintenance and preservation of required books and records in the formats described therein would presumptively meet the requirements of rule G-9(e).

[1] See Rule G-8 Interpretation – Interpretive Notice on Recordkeeping, July 29, 1977, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2001) at 42.

[2] See Rule G-8 Interpretive Letters – Use of electronic signatures, MSRB interpretation of February 27, 1989, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2001) at 47.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Locked-In Transactions
Rule Number:

Rule G-12, Rule G-14

The Securities and Exchange Commission has approved the National Securities Clearing Corporation's ("NSCC") proposed rule change (SR-NSCC-00-13) regarding the submission of trade data for comparison of fixed income inter-dealer transactions.[1]  NSCC proposes to offer its members the ability to submit their fixed income transaction information "locked-in" through Qualified Special Representatives ("QSR") for trades executed via an Alternative Trading System ("ATS").  Locked-in QSR trade data submission currently is only available for transactions in equity securities.  The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board ("MSRB") is publishing this notice to clarify the requirements of MSRB rules G-12(f) and G-14 as they pertain to the submission of locked-in transactions.   

To accomplish a locked-in QSR submission, NSCC members on each side of a trade must have executed, or clear for a firm that executed, their trade through an ATS and previously authorized a specific NSCC-authorized QSR to submit locked-in trades to NSCC on their behalf.  The locked-in transaction records are not compared in the traditional manner through the two-sided NSCC comparison process.  Instead, the QSR itself takes responsibility to ensure that the trade data is correct and the parties have agreed to the trade according to the stated terms.  Once NSCC receives a locked-in trade, it treats it as compared so that the transaction can proceed to netting or other automated settlement procedures. 

MSRB rule G-12(f) on inter-dealer comparison and rule G-14 on Transaction Reporting Procedures each refer to the NSCC comparison process for inter-dealer transactions in municipal securities.  These rules require dealers to submit their inter-dealer trade data to NSCC for purposes of comparison and for forwarding to the MSRB for trade-reporting purposes.  Questions may arise as to whether the submission of trade data already locked-in by a QSR complies with these rules.  

NSCC's proposal requires that a QSR must obtain authorization to submit locked-in transactions both from NSCC as well as from the NSCC members who wish to use the QSR for locked-in trade submission.  Given this fact, and the fact that both rules G-12(f) and G-14 specifically contemplate the use of intermediaries in submitting data to NSCC and to the MSRB, locked-in trades submitted under NSCC's program will comply both with rule G-12(f) and rule G-14.


[1] See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 43949 (Feb. 9, 2001), 66 FR 10765 (Feb. 16, 2001)

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Sales of Municipal Fund Securities in the Primary Market

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (the “Board”) has learned that sales of certain interests in trust funds held by state or local governmental entities may be effected by or through brokers, dealers or municipal securities dealers (“dealers”). In particular, the Board has reviewed two types of state or local gov-ernmental programs in which dealers may effect transactions in such interests: pooled investment funds under trusts established by state or local governmental entities (“local government pools”) [1] and higher education savings plan trusts established by states (“higher education trusts”).[2] In response to a request of the Board, staff of the Division of Market Regulation of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) has stated that “at least some interests in local government pools and higher education trusts may be, depending on the facts and circumstances, ‘municipal securities’ for purposes of the [Securities] Exchange Act [of 1934].” [3] Any such interests that may, in fact, constitute municipal securities are referred to herein as “municipal fund securities.” To the extent that dealers effect transactions in municipal fund securi-ties, such transactions are subject to the jurisdiction of the Board pursuant to Section 15B of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”).

With respect to the applicability to municipal fund securities of Exchange Act Rule 15c2-12, relating to municipal securities disclosure, staff of the SEC’s Division of Market Regulation has stated:

[W]e note that Rule 15c2-12(f)(7) under the Exchange Act defines a “primary  offering” as including an offering of municipal securities directly or indirectly by or on behalf of an issuer of such securities. Based upon an analysis of programs that have been brought to our attention, it appears that interests in local government pools or higher education trusts generally are offered only by direct purchase from the issuer. Accordingly, we would view those interests as having been sold in a “primary offering” as that term is defined in Rule 15c2-12. If a dealer is acting as an “underwriter” (as defined in Rule 15c2-12(f)(8)) in connection with that primary offering, the dealer may be subject to the requirements of Rule 15c2-12. [4]

Rule 15c2-12(f)(8) defines an underwriter as “any person who has purchased from an issuer of municipal securities with a view to, or offers or sells for an issuer of municipal securities in connection with, the offering of any municipal security, or participates or has a direct or indirect participation in any such undertaking, or participates or has a participation in the direct or indirect underwriting of any such undertaking.” [5]

Consistent with SEC staff’s view regarding the sale in primary offerings of municipal fund securities, dealers acting as underwriters in primary offerings of municipal fund securities generally would be subject to the requirements of rule G-36, on delivery of official statements, advance refunding documents and Forms G-36(OS) and G-36(ARD) to Board or its designee. Thus, unless such primary offering falls within one of the stated exemptions in Rule 15c2-12, the Board expects that the dealer would receive a final official statement from the issuer or its agent under its contractual agreement entered into pursuant to Rule 15c2-12(b)(3). [6] Such final official statement should be received from the issuer in sufficient time for the dealer to send it, together with Form G-36(OS), to the Board within one business day of receipt but no later than 10 business days after any final agreement to purchase, offer, or sell the municipal fund securities, as required under rule G-36(b)(i). [7]  “Final official statement,” as used in rule G-36(b)(i), has the same meaning as in Rule 15c2-12(f)(3), which states, in relevant part:

The term final official statement means a document or set of documents prepared by an issuer of municipal securities or its representatives that is complete as of the date delivered to the Participating Underwriter(s) and that sets forth information concerning the terms of the proposed issue of securi- ties; information, including financial information or operating data, concerning such issuers of municipal securities and those other entities, enterprises, funds, accounts, and other persons material to an evaluation of the Offering; and a description of the undertakings to be provided pursuant to paragraph (b)(5)(i), paragraph (d)(2)(ii), and paragraph (d)(2)(iii) of this section, if applicable, and of any instances in the previous five years in which each person specified pursuant to paragraph (b)(5)(ii) of this section failed to comply, in all material respects, with any previous undertakings in a written contract or agreement specified in paragraph (b)(5)(i) of this section. [8]

The Board understands that issuers of municipal fund securities typically issue and deliver the securities continuously as customers make purchases, rather than issuing and delivering a single issue on a specified date. As used in Board rules, the term “underwriting period” with respect to an offering involving a single dealer (i.e., not involving an underwriting syndicate) is defined as the period (A) commencing with the first submission to the dealer of an order for the purchase of the securities or the purchase of the securities from the issuer, whichever first occurs, and (B) ending at such time as the following two conditions both are met: (1) the issuer delivers the securities to the dealer, and (2) the dealer no longer retains an unsold balance of the securities purchased from the issuer or 21 calendar days elapse after the date of the first submission of an order for the securities, whichever first occurs. [9] Since an offering consisting of securities issued and de-livered on a continuous basis would not, by its very nature, ever meet the first condition for the termination of the underwriting period, such offering would continuously remain in its underwriting period. [10] Further, since rule G-36(d) requires a dealer that has previously provided an official statement to the Board to send any amendments to the official statement made by the issuer during the underwriting period, such dealer would remain obligated to send to the Board any amendments made to the official statement during such continuous underwriting period. However, in view of the increased possibility that an issuer may change the dealer that participates in the sale of its securities during such a continuous underwriting period, the Board has determined that rule G-36(d) would require that the dealer that is at the time of an amendment then serving as underwriter for securities that are still in the underwriting period send the amendment to the Board, regardless of whether that dealer or another dealer sent the original official statement to the Board.

In addition, municipal fund securities sold in a primary offering would constitute new issue municipal securities for purposes of rule G-32, on disclosures in connection with new issues, so long as the securities remain in their underwriting period. Rule G-32 generally requires that a dealer selling a new issue municipal security to a customer must deliver the official statement in final form to the customer by settlement of such transaction. Thus, a dealer effecting transactions in municipal fund securities that are sold during a continuous underwriting period would be required to deliver to the customer the official statement by settlement of each such transaction. However, in the case of a customer purchasing such securities who is a repeat purchaser, no new delivery of the official statement would be required so long as the customer has previously received it in connection with a prior purchase and the official statement has not been changed from the one previously delivered to that customer. [11]

Certain other implications arise under Board rules as a result of the status, in the view of SEC staff, of sales of municipal fund securities as primary offerings. For example, dealers are reminded that the definition of “municipal securities business” under rule G-37, on political contributions and prohibitions on municipal securities business, and rule G-38, on consultants, includes the purchase of a primary offering from the issuer on other than a competitive bid basis or the offer or sale of a primary offering on behalf of any issuer. Thus, a dealer’s transactions in municipal fund securities may affect such dealer’s obligations under rules G-37 and G-38. In addition, rule G-23, on activities of financial advisors, applies to a dealer’s financial advisory or consultant services to an issuer with respect to a new issue of municipal securities.

[1]The Board understands that local government pools are established by state or local governmental entities as trusts that serve as vehicles for the pooled investment of public moneys of participating governmental entities. Participants purchase interests in the trust and trust assets are invested in a manner consistent with the trust’s stated investment objectives. Investors generally do not have a right to control investment of trust assets. See generally National Association of State Treasurers, Special Report: Local Government Investment Pools (July 1995); Standard & Poor’s Fund Services, Local Government Investment Pools (May 1999).

[2] The Board understands that higher education trusts generally are established by states under section 529(b) of the Internal Revenue Code as “qualified state tuition programs” through which individuals make investments for the purpose of accumulating savings for qualifying higher education costs of beneficiaries. Individuals purchase interests in the trust and trust assets are invested in a manner consistent with the trust’s stated investment objectives. Investors do not have a right to control investment of trust assets. See generally College Savings Plans Network, Special Report on State and College Savings Plans (1998).

[3] Letter dated February 26, 1999 from Catherine McGuire, Chief Counsel, Division of Market Regulation, SEC, to Diane G. Klinke, General Counsel of the Board, in response to letter dated June 2, 1998 from Diane G. Klinke to Catherine McGuire, published as Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, SEC No-Action Letter, Wash. Serv. Bur. (CCH) File  No.032299033 (Feb. 26, 1999) (the “SEC Letter”).

[4] SEC Letter.

[5] The definition of underwriter excludes any person whose interest is limited to a commission, concession, or allowance from an underwriter or dealer not in excess of the usual and customary distributors’ or sellers’ commission, concession, or allowance.

[6] Section (b)(3) of Rule 15c2-12 requires that a dealer serving as a Participating Underwriter in connection with a primary offering subject to the Rule contract with an issuer of municipal securities or its designated agent to receive copies of a final official statement at the time and in the quantities set forth in the Rule.

[7] If a primary offering of municipal fund securities is exempt from Rule 15c2-12 (other than as a result of being a limited offering as described in section (d)(1)(i) of the Rule) and an official statement in final form has been prepared by the issuer, then the dealer would be expected to send the official statement in final form, together with Form G-36(OS), to the Board under rule G-36(c)(i).

[8] Dealers seeking guidance as to whether a particular document or set of documents constitutes a final official statement for purposes of rule G-36(b)(i) should consult with SEC staff to determine whether such document or set of documents constitutes a final official statement for purposes of Rule 15c2-12.

[9] See rule G-32(c)(ii)(B). If approved by the SEC, the proposed rule change will redesignate this section as rule G-32(d)(ii)(B).

[10] Similarly, an offering involving an underwriting syndicate and consisting of securities issued and delivered on a continuous basis also would remain in its underwriting period under the definition thereof set forth in rule G-11(a)(ix).

[11] This is equally true for other forms of municipal securities for which a customer has already received an official statement in connection with an earlier purchase and who proceeds to make a second purchase of the same securities during the underwriting period. Furthermore, in the case of a repeat purchaser of municipal securities for which no official statement in final form is being prepared, no new delivery of the written notice to that effect or of any official statement in preliminary form would be required so long as the customer has previously received it in connection with a prior purchase. However, if an official statement in final form is subsequently prepared, the customer’s next purchase would trigger the delivery requirement with respect to such official statement. Also, if an official statement which has previously been delivered is subsequently amended during the underwriting period, the customer’s next purchase would trigger the delivery requirement with respect to such amendment.