SEC to Consider MSRB Proposal to Turn EMMA Into A Comprehensive Source of Municipal Bond Information

Date: July 29, 2008

Contacts:        Ernesto A. Lanza, Senior Associate General Counsel
                      (703) 797-6600

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

 The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board Would Add Financial and Disclosure
Information to the Electronic Municipal Market Access System

Washington, D.C. – The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board today asked the Securities and Exchange Commission for permission to collect annual financial information and notices of material events from municipal bond issuers and make the data available to the investing public. If approved, the MSRB’s request would be the first time comprehensive financial documents and related disclosure documents (such as notices of default, rating downgrades and other material events) about municipal issuers would be freely available from a single source. Currently, bond issuers submit such disclosures to repositories that primarily resell the information, creating significant barriers for retail investors to access information about municipal bonds in an efficient and economical manner. 

If the SEC approves the request, the MSRB would make ongoing financial and other disclosures by municipal bond issuers available online and free to the public on EMMA, the Electronic Municipal Market Access system (  EMMA is an electronic research tool that already provides official statements for municipal bonds as well as real-time trade data for the municipal market.  Adding annual financial and other continuing disclosure information from issuers to EMMA would create the first-ever free, centralized database for the municipal market.

“The centralized collection and dissemination by the MSRB of ongoing financial documents will allow fair and equal access to information about municipal issuers and their bonds,” said MSRB Chair Frank Chin.  “EMMA will give investors an efficient and easy way to get key data about issuers as soon as it becomes available.”

SEC Chairman Christopher Cox added, “One-stop, immediate - and free - access to disclosure documents for municipal bonds is a giant step forward for bond investors. Even better, EMMA will soon become a complete public repository for all kinds of municipal bond data, providing both increased transparency and stronger protection for investors,” Cox said.

In addition to approving the MSRB’s request, the SEC would need to amend its rule on municipal securities disclosure to name the MSRB as the single recipient of continuing disclosure documents.  The SEC is expected to propose that change at its open meeting on July 30.

Subject to the necessary approvals, EMMA, which the MSRB launched on a pilot basis in March 2008, would be expanded to include continuing disclosure documents by early 2009.

The SEC’s proposed amendment and the MSRB’s proposal to expand EMMA to include continuing disclosure will be published for comment in the Federal Register.

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.