MSRB Holds Quarterly Board Meeting July 16-18, 2008

Date: July 18, 2008

Contacts:         Lynnette Kelly Hotchkiss, Executive Director
                       (703) 797-6600

                       Jennifer A. Galloway, Chief Communications Officer
                       (703) 797-6600

MSRB Holds Quarterly Board Meeting;
Approves Market Transparency Measures

Beaver Creek , CO - The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) held its quarterly meeting July 16-18 and approved several measures to improve transparency of the municipal bond market.  The Board also evaluated expansion of MSRB's electronic database for retail investors, clarified several requirements for municipal bond dealers and elected new Board members.

In an effort to improve access to municipal market data, the Board approved a plan to increase transparency on auction rate securities and variable rate demand obligations. The plan includes development of a system to collect and disseminate critical market information on these securities.  The MSRB will implement a phased-in system that prioritizes both disclosure of ARS documents describing auction- and rate-setting procedures, and ARS and VRDO interest-rate data.  The Board set a goal of first-quarter 2009 for implementation of this first phase.  When completed, the system will include additional market data about these securities. 

"This measure reflects market and regulatory support for increasing available data on classes of municipal securities that have not been fully transparent," said MSRB Chair Frank Chin. "We have taken a phased-in approach to give market participants time to accommodate new requirements."

In rule action, the Board reviewed comments received on its notice asking whether Rule G-14 on transaction reporting should require that all transactions with dealer proprietary desks be reported as customer transactions.  The Board deferred a decision, pending additional discussions.

The Board also reviewed operation and expansion of the EMMA system (Electronic Municipal Market Access), created by the MSRB in March 2008. EMMA provides free public access to real-time trade data and primary market data, and was envisioned to eventually include additional information.  

The Board discussed the next phase of EMMA that would implement an all-electronic system for disseminating official statements, commonly referred to as "access equals delivery" and reviewed the third phase whereby EMMA would accept and disseminate secondary market information, called continuing disclosure documents.  Both phases are subject to approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Board will also clarify Rule G-15 regarding customer confirmation requirements. Dealers will now be able to meet the G-15 requirement with electronic confirmations sent using Omgeo LLC's Trade Suite Service.  Also, those dealers with an exemption from the "trade-by-trade" confirmation requirements of the SEC will have a similar exemption under MSRB Rule G-15.

In administrative actions, the Board also voted to prohibit two individuals from the same broker-dealer or bank from serving on the Board simultaneously, and to limit representation of a single firm on the Board to no more than six consecutive years. As it does at every July Board meeting, the Board named a new chair and vice-chair, and approved five new Board members.  Five current Board members will complete their three-year term on Sept. 30, 2008, and the new members will assume their duties on Oct. 1, 2008.  The new Board officers and members will be announced at a later date.

New staff members Jennifer Galloway, chief communication officer, and Marcelo Vieira, director of research, outline goals and initiatives for their departments to the Board.  These are new staff positions created to further the Board's strategic goals of enhancing external communication and developing market information products.

The MSRB protects investors, state and local governments and other municipal entities, and the public interest by promoting a fair and efficient municipal securities market. The MSRB fulfills this mission by regulating the municipal securities firms, banks and municipal advisors that engage in municipal securities and advisory activities. To further protect market participants, the MSRB provides market transparency through its Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA®) website, the official repository for information on all municipal bonds. The MSRB also serves as an objective resource on the municipal market, conducts extensive education and outreach to market stakeholders, and provides market leadership on key issues. The MSRB is a self-regulatory organization governed by a 21-member board of directors that has a majority of public members, in addition to representatives of regulated entities. The MSRB is overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Congress.