Rule G-23 Activities of Financial Advisors

GUIDANCE ON THE PROHIBITION ON UNDERWRITING ISSUES OF MUNICIPAL SECURITIES FOR WHICH A FINANCIAL ADVISORY RELATIONSHIP EXISTS UNDER RULE G-23 - November 27, 2011

MSRB Rule G-23 establishes certain basic requirements applicable to a broker, dealer, or municipal securities dealer (“dealer”) acting as a financial advisor with respect to the issuance of municipal securities.  MSRB Rule G-23(d) provides that a dealer that has a financial advisory relationship with respect to the issuance of municipal securities is precluded from acquiring all or any portion of such issue, directly or indirectly, from the issuer as principal, either alone or as a participant in a syndicate or other similar account formed for that purpose.  A dealer is also precluded from arranging the placement of an issue with respect to which it has a financial advisory relationship.  This notice refers to both of these activities as “underwritings” and provides interpretive guidance on when a dealer may be precluded by Rule G-23(d) from underwriting an issue of municipal securities due to having served as financial advisor with respect to that issue.  Rule G-23 is solely a conflicts rule.  Accordingly, this notice does not address whether provision of the advice permitted by Rule G-23 would cause the dealer to be considered a “municipal advisor” under the Exchange Act and the rules promulgated thereunder.

Rule G-23(b) provides, among other things, that a financial advisory relationship shall be deemed to exist for purposes of Rule G-23 when a dealer renders or enters into an agreement to provide financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to the issuance of municipal securities, including advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms, and other similar matters concerning such issue or issues.  Rule G-23(b) also provides, however, that a financial advisory relationship shall not be deemed to exist when, in the course of acting as an underwriter and not as a financial advisor, a dealer provides advice to an issuer, including advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms, and other similar matters concerning the issuance of municipal securities.

Although Rule G-23(c) requires a financial advisory relationship to be evidenced by a writing, a financial advisory relationship will be deemed to exist whenever a dealer renders the types of advice provided for in Rule G-23(b), regardless of the existence of a written agreement.  However, a dealer that clearly identifies itself in writing as an underwriter and not as a financial advisor from the earliest stages of its relationship with the issuer with respect to that issue (e.g., in a response to a request for proposals or in promotional materials provided to an issuer) will be considered to be “acting as an underwriter” under Rule G-23(b) with respect to that issue.  The writing must make clear that the primary role of an underwriter is to purchase, or arrange for the placement of, securities in an arm’s-length commercial transaction between the issuer and the underwriter and that the underwriter has financial and other interests that differ from those of the issuer.  The dealer must not engage in a course of conduct that is inconsistent with an arm’s-length relationship with the issuer in connection with such issue of municipal securities or the dealer will be deemed to be a financial advisor with respect to that issue and precluded from underwriting that issue by Rule G-23(d).  Thus, a dealer providing advice to an issuer with respect to the issuance of municipal securities (including the structure, timing, and terms of the issue and other similar matters, when integrally related to the issue being underwritten) will not be viewed as a financial advisor for purposes of Rule G-23, if such advice is rendered in its capacity as underwriter for such issue.  In addition to engaging in underwriting activities, it shall not be a violation of Rule G-23(d) for a dealer that states that it is acting as an underwriter with respect to the issuance of municipal securities to provide advice with respect to the investment of the proceeds of the issue, municipal derivatives integrally related to the issue, or other similar matters concerning the issue.


FINANCIAL ADVISORY RELATIONSHIP: PRIVATE PLACEMENTS - October 5, 1999

Financial advisory relationship: private placements. This is in response to your letter in which you seek clarification on certain matters related to rules G-23, on activities of financial advisors, and G-37, on political contributions and prohibitions on municipal securities business.

You ask when it is "necessary in the process of commencing preliminary work with a potential financial advisory client to enter into a formal written financial advisory contract." Rule G-23(c) states that "[e]ach financial advisory relationship shall be evidenced by a writing entered into prior to, upon or promptly after the inception of the financial advisory relationship (or promptly after the creation or selection of the issuer if the issuer does not exist or has not been determined at the time the relationship commences)." Rule G-23(b) states that "...a financial advisory relationship shall be deemed to exist when a broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer renders or enters into an agreement to render financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to a new issue or issues of municipal securities, including advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms and other similar matters concerning such issue or issues, for a fee or other compensation or in expectation of such compensation for the rendering of such services."

You ask whether you are to advise the Board by means of reporting on Form G-37/G-38 or by any other means when you commence work on subsequent financing transactions with an issuer with which your firm has an ongoing financial advisory contract. The Instructions for Completing and Filing Form G-37/G-38 provide a guideline to use in determining when to report financial advisory services on Form G-37/G-38.[1] Pursuant to these Instructions, dealers should indicate financial advisory services when an agreement is reached to provide the services. In addition, the Instructions note that dealers also should indicate financial advisory services during a reporting period when the settlement date for a new issue on which the dealer acted as financial advisor occurred during such period. There are no other requirements for reporting financial advisory services to the Board.

Finally, you ask whether rules G-23 or G-37 contain requirements concerning private placement activities. The term "municipal securities business" is defined in rule G-37 to include "the offer or sale of a primary offering of municipal securities on behalf of any issuer ( e.g. , private placement)..." The Instructions for Completing and Filing Form G-37/G-38 provide that private placements should be indicated at least by the settlement date if within the reporting period.

With respect to rule G-23, section (d) of the rule states that no dealer that has a financial advisory relationship with respect to a new issue of municipal securities shall acquire as principal either alone or as a participant in a syndicate or other similar account formed for the purpose of purchasing, directly or indirectly, from the issuer all or any portion of such issue, or act as agent for the issuer in arranging the placement of such issue, unless various actions are taken.[2] In addition, rule G-23(g) states that each dealer subject to the provisions of sections (d), (e) or (f) of rule G-23 shall maintain a copy of the written disclosures, acknowledgments and consents required by these sections in a separate file and in accordance with the provisions of rule G-9, on preservation of records. Finally, rule G-23(h) states that, if a dealer acquires new issue municipal securities or participates in a syndicate or other account that acquires new issue municipal securities in accordance with section (d) of rule G-23, such dealer shall disclose the existence of the financial advisory relationship in writing to each customer who purchases such securities from such dealer, at or before the completion of the transaction with the customer. MSRB interpretation of October 5, 1999.


Fairness opinions - January 10, 1997

Fairness opinions. This is in response to your letter concerning the retention of your firm by issuers to render a fairness opinion on the pricing associated with certain negotiated issues of general obligation municipal securities issued by [state deleted] governmental units. You ask whether the rendering of these fairness opinions on the pricing of municipal securities issues is a financial advisory activity which must be disclosed on Form G-37/G-38 as municipal securities business.

Rule G-23, on activities of financial advisors, states in paragraph (b) that a financial advisory relationship shall be deemed to exist when

a broker, dealer, or municipal securities dealer renders or enters into an agreement to render financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to a new issue or issues of municipal securities, including advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms and other similar matters concerning such issue or issues, for a fee or other compensation or in expectation of such compensation for the rendering of such services. [Emphasis added]

Thus, the activity your firm performs on behalf of issuers of municipal securities pursuant to an agreement (i.e. , rendering advice with respect to the terms of a new issue) establishes that a financial advisory relationship exists between your firm and these issuers.

Rule G-37, on political contributions and prohibitions on municipal securities business, requires dealers to report municipal securities business to the Board on Form G-37/G-38. The definition of "municipal securities business" contained in rule G-37(g)(viii) includes

the provision of financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to a primary offering of municipal securities in which the dealer was chosen to provide such services on other than a competitive bid basis.

Pursuant to the information contained in your letter, your firm should submit a Form G-37/G-38 during each quarter in which the firm reaches an agreement to provide the financial advisory services you described. If your firm has an on-going financial advisory arrangement with an issuer, your firm would need to list each new issue in which your firm acted as financial advisor during the quarter in which the new issue settled. I have enclosed for your information a copy of the Rule G-37 and Rule G-38 Handbook which includes instructions for completing and filing Form G-37/G-38. MSRB interpretation of January 10, 1997.


Issuer consent: financial advisor participation in underwriting - April 10, 1984

Issuer consent: financial advisor participation in underwriting. This responds to your letter of March 6, 1984, regarding the application of rule G-23, concerning the activities of financial advisors to the following activities of [name deleted] (the "Company").

Your letter states that the Company serves as a financial advisor to a number of municipal entities with respect to the issuance and delivery of bonds. In the majority of circumstances in which bonds are to be marketed through a competitive bidding process, the Company is requested by the issuer either to bid for the bonds independently for its own account or as a participant with others in a syndicate organized to submit a bid. You state that the Company’s customary financial advisory contract, in almost all instances, specifically reserves to the Company the right to bid independently or in a syndicate with others for any bonds marketed through a competitive bid.

However, to further accommodate these circumstances, you state that it is the Company’s practice to include in the official statement on any bond issue subject to competitive bids specific language, such as:

The Company is employed as Financial Advisor to the City in connection with the issuance of the Bonds. The Financial Advisor’s fee for services rendered with respect to the sale of the Bond is contingent upon the issuance and delivery of the Bonds. The Company may submit a bid for the Bonds, either independently or as a member of a syndicate organized to submit a bid for the Bonds.

In the notice of sale, the following language is included:

The Company, the City’s Financial Advisor, reserves the right to bid on the Bonds.

You add that these two documents, the official statement and the notice of sale, must be approved by formal resolution of the governing authority of the issuer, such as a city council or a board of directors, before bids are requested or on the date of sale. You ask whether the above language printed in the official statement and the notice of sale, which is approved by formal resolution of the governing authority of the issuer, constitutes compliance with rule G-23(d)(ii).

Rule G-23, concerning the activities of financial advisors, is designed to minimize the prima facie conflict of interest that exists when a municipal securities professional acts as both financial advisor and underwriter with respect to the same issue. Specifically, rule G-23(d)(ii) provides that a municipal securities dealer which is acting as a financial advisor may not acquire or participate in the distribution of a new issue unless,

if such issue is to be sold by the issuer at competitive bid, the issuer has expressly consented in writing prior to the bid to such acquisition or participation.

Compliance with the rule’s requirement that an issuer expressly consent in writing to the financial advisor’s participation in the underwriting cannot be inferred from its approval of the official statement and notice of sale. These documents are designed primarily to describe the new issue and a passing reference to the advisor’s possible participation in the underwriting of the bond issue cannot be construed as express approval of such activity since it is not clear that the issuer is provided with a sufficient opportunity to determine whether it is in its best interests to allow its financial advisor to participate in the competitive bidding.

While the Board does not mandate the form of the issuer’s consent, it understands that financial advisory contracts often may include consent language applicable to a specific new issue. Alternatively, financial advisors may obtain the consent of an issuer by means of a separate document. However, a financial advisory contract that reserves to the financial advisor the right to bid for any of the issuer’s bonds marketed through a competitive bid does not satisfy the requirements of rule G-23(d)(ii). The Board has stated that such "blanket consents" do not afford an issuer a sufficient opportunity to consider whether, under the particular circumstances of an offering, the financial advisor’s potential conflict of interest is sufficient to warrant not consenting to the financial advisor’s participation in the sale. MSRB interpretation of April 10, 1984.


Financial advisory relationship: potential underwriter - September 7, 1983

Financial advisory relationship: potential underwriter. This responds to your letter of July 20, 1983, requesting our view on the applicability of Board rule G-23 to the following situation:

Your firm, a registered municipal securities dealer, along with an architectural firm and a construction firm, plans to present to a municipality a proposal to design, build and finance a criminal justice facility. If the municipality shows interest, the team members will suggest that the municipality engage them to put together a specific, customized proposal for review. If the municipality accepts this proposal, the team will ask the municipality to execute a contract covering the additional services. This contract will provide for compensation to be paid to the firm in connection with the creation of a financing proposal. This proposal could encompass such issues as those set forth in Rule G-23(b). Further, it is the intent of the team members that a project may ultimately be brought to fruition by all or any one of the team members. Therefore, the firm may make the final financing proposal but fail to be retained by the municipality to actually finance the construction. In this event, the other two team members will proceed and the municipality will obtain another underwriter. However, it will be the firm's intent throughout the negotiation phase to ultimately be retained as the municipality's underwriter.

You express concern whether the above facts create a financial advisory relationship under rule G-23(b). Board rule G-23(b), concerning activities of financial advisors, provides that a financial advisory relationship shall be deemed to exist:

"when a broker, dealer, or municipal securities dealer renders or enters into an agreement to render financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to a new issue or issues of municipal securities,..."

The rule provides, however, that a financial advisory relationship shall not be deemed to exist

"when, in the course of acting as an underwriter , a municipal securities dealer renders advice to an issuer, including advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms and other similar matters concerning a new issue of municipal securities." [Emphasis added]

It does not appear that your firm would be rendering advice to the municipality "in the course of acting as an underwriter." In the beginning of the firm's relationship with the municipality, it is acting as a financial advisor, and being compensated as such. No underwriting agreement has been executed with the municipality. Therefore, based upon the representations in your letter, it appears that the firm's activities would be subject to the requirements of rule G-23. MSRB interpretation of September 7, 1983.


NOTICE ON APPLICATION OF BOARD RULES TO FINANCIAL ADVISORY SERVICES RENDERED TO CORPORATE OBLIGORS ON INDUSTRIAL DEVELEPMONT BONDS - May 23, 1983

In a recent letter to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission has taken the position that private placements of industrial development bonds ("IDBs") constitute transactions in municipal securities as defined in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board has received a number of inquiries concerning this letter. The Board is publishing this notice for the purposes of: (1) reviewing the application of its rules to private placements of municipal securities and (2) expressing its views concerning whether certain Board rules apply to financial advisory services rendered by municipal securities dealers and brokers to corporate obligors on IDBs.

A. Private Placements of IDBs

The Board’s rules apply, of course, to all transactions in municipal securities, including securities which are IDBs. The SEC letter dealt in particular with the activities of commercial banks. That letter pointed out that if a commercial bank has a registered municipal securities dealer department, under Board rule G-1, which defines the term "separately identifiable department or division of a bank," any private placement activities of the bank in securities which are IDBs must be conducted as a part of the registered dealer department. The Board urges all bank dealers which have registered as a separately identifiable department or division to review their organizations and assure that all departments or units which engage in the private placement of IDBs are designated on the bank’s Form MSD registration and other applicable bank records as part of its separately identifiable department or division. The Board also notes that such activities must be under the supervision of a person designated by the bank’s board of directors as responsible for these activities. In addition, under Board rule G-3, concerning professional qualifications, persons who are engaged in privately placing municipal securities must be qualified as municipal securities representatives and be supervised with respect to that activity by a qualified municipal securities principal.

B. Financial Advisory Services Rendered to Corporate Obligors on IDBs

Board rules G-1 and G-3 provide that rendering "financial advisory or consultant services for issuers" is an activity to which those rules are applicable (emphasis added). Similarly, Board rule G-23, on the activities of financial advisors, applies to brokers, dealers, and municipal securities dealers who agree to render "financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer" (emphasis added). Clearly these rules are applicable to financial advisory services rendered to state or local governments and their agencies, as well as to municipal corporations. In the Board’s view, however, rules G-1, G-3, and G-23 do not apply to financial advisory services which are provided to corporate obligors in connection with proposed IDB financings.

The Board wishes to emphasize that the scope of its definition of financial advisory services is limited to "advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms, and other similar matters" concerning a proposed issue.[1] If persons providing such advice to the corporate obligor on an IDB issue also participate in negotiations with prospective purchasers or are otherwise engaged in effecting placement of the issue, then, as indicated above, rules G-1 and G-3 would apply to their activities.

[Excerpts of the Commission letter follow:]

This is in response to your letter of December 1, 1981, requesting our views concerning certain activities by commercial banks in connection with industrial development bonds ("IDBs").[2] Specifically, you asked (1) whether the private placement activities of banks in IDBs involve transactions in municipal securities, (2) whether involvement in such activities alone would require such banks to register with the Commission under Section 15B of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the "Exchange Act") as municipal securities dealers, (3) whether a bank that had registered a separately identifiable department or division with the Commission as a municipal securities dealer would be required to conduct such activities through such separately identifiable department or division, and (4) if such bank activities are required to be conducted in the separately identifiable department or division, whether the advisory services provided by those banks to the corporate obligor on an IDB should be regarded as advisory services provided to an issuer of municipal securities in connection with the issuance of municipal securities. Pursuant to your letter and subsequent telephone conversations, we understand the following facts to be typical of the activities in question.

A commercial bank offers private placement and financial advisory services to corporate entities on a regular and continuous basis. From time to time the bank recommends to the corporate entity that IDBs be used to raise capital. The bank advises the corporate entity regarding the terms and timing of the proposed IDB issuance, prepares the Direct Placement Memorandum describing the terms of the IDB, and contacts potential purchasers of the IDB. Such purchasers then make independent reviews of the corporate entity’s financial status. The bank then obtains comments from the potential buyers and relays such comments to the corporate entity. The bank might also assist the corporate entity in subsequent negotiations with the purchasers. An industrial development authority nominally issues the IDB on behalf of the corporate entity which becomes the economic obligor on the issue.

The bank engages in these activities in order to assist the corporate obligor in the sale of the IDBs. In return for its services, the bank receives from the corporate entity either a fixed fee or a percentage of the proceeds of the sale. The bank does not purchase any of the IDBs. The bank could, however, supply "bridge loans" to the corporate entity pending receipt of the proceeds of the IDB sale. In addition, the bank might provide investors with a letter of credit committing the bank to pay any interest or principal not paid by the corporate issuer. The bank might also act as trustee or paying agent for the nominal issuer of the IDB, for which the bank would receive a set fee.

IDBs AS MUNICIPAL SECURITIES

Section 3(a)(10) of the Exchange Act defines a "security" as, among other things, "any note… bond, debenture… investment contract, …or in general, any instrument commonly known as a ‘security’… " Section 3(a)(29) of the Exchange Act defines "municipal securities" to include any security which is an industrial development bond as defined in Section 103(b)(2) of the Code the interest on which is tax-exempt under Sections 103(b)(4) or 103(b)(6) of the Code. In our opinion, the private placement activities you have described involve transactions in municipal securities as defined in the Exchange Act.[3]

REGISTRATION AS MUNICIPAL SECURITIES DEALER

Section 15B(a) of the Exchange Act makes it unlawful for any municipal securities dealer to use the mails or any instrumentality of interstate commerce to "effect any transaction in, or to induce or attempt to induce the purchase or sale of, any municipal security unless such municipal securities dealer is registered" with the Commission. Section 3(a)(30) of the Exchange Act defines "municipal securities dealer" to include a bank or a separately identifiable department or division of a bank if that bank is engaged in the business of buying and selling municipal securities for its own account other than in a fiduciary capacity, through a broker or otherwise. Banks that engage solely in private placement activities in IDBs as described by you would not be required to register as municipal securities dealers since they do not appear to be engaged in the business of buying and selling municipal securities for their own accounts, but rather appear to be acting as brokers. Section 3(a)(4) of the Exchange Act defines the term broker as "any person engaged in the business of effecting transactions in securities for the account of others, but does not include a bank." Since they are excluded from the definition of broker, banks that act solely as brokers need not register under the Exchange Act.[4]

INCLUSION IN SEPARATELY IDENTIFIABLE DEPARTMENT OR DIVISION

Section 15B(b)(2)(H) of the Exchange Act authorizes the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (the "MSRB") to make rules defining the term "separately identifiable department or division" ("SID") of a bank as used in Section 3(a)(30) of the Exchange Act. MSRB rule G-1 defines the SID as "that unit of the bank which conducts all the activities of the bank relating to the conduct of business as a municipal securities dealer…" The rule defines municipal securities dealer activities to include "sales of municipal securities" and "financial advisory and consultant services for issuers in connection with the issuance of municipal securities." Therefore, those banks that have registered an SID with the Commission also must conduct the private placement activities within the SID in accordance with MSRB rules…

Based upon the facts and representations set forth in your letter, it would appear that the private placement activities of banks involving IDBs, as described in your example, constitute transactions in municipal securities that, if done alone, would not require a bank to register with the Commission as a municipal securities dealer. However, such activities, when conducted by a bank municipal securities dealer that had registered a separately identifiable department or division, would be treated as municipal securities dealer activities and, therefore, would be required to be conducted in the bank’s dealer department…


[1] Rule G-23(b).

[2] You have represented that the IDBs involved would be primarily those defined in Section 103(b)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (the "Code"), the interest on which is tax-exempt under Sections 103(b)(4) and 103(b)(6) of the Code.

[3]This determination is based on an analysis of the specific facts as described by you. Different facts and circumstances could result in a transaction involving municipal debt instruments being treated as loan participations not subject to the federal securities laws. Such determinations can only be made on a case by case basis after a thorough examination of the context of the transaction.

[4] See letter dated February 17, 1977, from Anne E. Chafer, Attorney, Securities and Exchange Commission, to Bruce F. Golden and letter dated January 11, 1982, from Thomas G. Lovett, Attorney, Securities and Exchange Commission, to Harriet E. Munrett regarding Citytrust of Bridgeport, Connecticut.


Financial advisory relationship: mortgage-related services - April 12, 1982

Financial advisory relationship: mortgage-related services. This is in response to your letter of March 26, 1982 requesting an opinion regarding whether Board rule G-23 concerning the activities of financial advisors applies to certain activities of [name deleted] (the "Company").

Your letter states that the Company, a mortgage banker and wholly-owned subsidiary of [name deleted] (the "Bank"), identifies "proposed real estate development projects which it believes are economically feasible" and attempts to "arrange for the financing of such projects ..." You note that a common means of financing such projects involves the issuance and sale of tax-exempt obligations, with the proceeds of the sale being made available by the issuing entity to a mortgage approved by the Federal Housing Administration ("FHA"), which in turn provides financing secured by the FHA mortgage. You indicate that the services the Company performs in such instances include "... making the initial determination as to whether the contemplated project meets FHA criteria, negotiating with the developer regarding financing terms and conditions relating to the mortgage, contacting the issuer regarding its interest in issuing the bonds for the project, and, in certain cases where the issuer is not familiar or experienced in the area, assisting the issuer in understanding the rules and regulations of the FHA or the Development of Housing and Urban Development ..." You add that "the Company may also act as servicer of the construction loans which entails processing FHA insurance request forms, disbursing funds for completed work, etc." You state that "the Company does not provide financial advice to issuers regarding the structuring of the bond issues, or receive any fees, directly or indirectly, from issuers." You emphasize that any advice regarding the structuring of the actual bond issues is provided by the issuers’ "staffs, financial advisors, bond counsel, or the underwriters of the issues." Your specific question concerns whether rule G-23 applies where the Company acts as mortgage banker and the Bank underwrites the bonds.

As you know, rule G-23(b) states that "... a financial advisory relationship shall be deemed to exist when a broker, dealer, or municipal securities dealer renders or enters into an agreement to render financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to a new issue or issues of municipal securities, including advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms and other similar matters concerning such issue or issues for a fee or other compensation ..." Based upon the representations contained in your letter, it would appear that the Company does not render financial advisory services to issuers with respect to new issues of municipal securities. Since the activities which you state the Company performs in the ordinary course of its mortgage banking business do not constitute financial advisory activities for the purposes of rule G-23, the rule would not apply to those financings where the Bank serves as underwriter and the Company performs its mortgage banking functions, as described. MSRB interpretation of April 12, 1982.


Blanket consent - July 30, 1981

Blanket consent. This is in response to your April 7, 1981, letter asking whether, consistent with rule G-23(d)(ii), a municipal securities dealer acting as a financial advisor to an issuer may obtain from the issuer prospective approval to participate in any and all new issues the issuer may sell on a competitive basis at some future date.

Rule G-23(d)(ii) provides that a municipal securities dealer which is acting as a financial advisor may not acquire or participate in the distribution of a new issue unless

if such issue is to be sold by the issuer at competitive bid the issuer has consented in writing to such acquisition or participation.

The rule is designed to minimize the "prima facie" conflict of interest that exists when a municipal securities professional acts as both financial advisor and underwriter with respect to the same issue. Rule G-23(d) speaks in terms of "a new issue" and the implication is that consent should be obtained on an issue-by-issue basis.

The Board believes that such a reading of the rule is consistent with the rule’s rationale—that an issuer should have an opportunity to consider whether, under the particular circumstances of an offering, the financial advisor’s potential conflict of interest is sufficient to warrant not consenting to its participation in the sale. The Board has concluded that an unrestricted consent would not afford an issuer such an opportunity and, accordingly, has determined that such a consent would not satisfy the requirements of rule G-23(d)(ii). MSRB interpretation of July 30, 1981.


Financial advisory relationship: identity of issuer - March 31, 1981

Financial advisory relationship: identity of issuer. This is in response to your letter of February 27, 1981, asking whether a dealer bank which is retained by the Board of Water Governors of a water utility owned by City X to provide advice regarding the structure, timing, and terms of a new issue of mortgage revenue bonds to be issued by City X has entered into a financial advisory agreement for purposes of rule G-23. You note that the bonds would be sold at a competitive underwriting and payable from the revenues of the water utility.

Under rule G-23, a financial advisory relationship is deemed to exist when a broker, dealer, or municipal securities dealer renders or enters into an agreement to render financial advisory services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to a new issue or issues of municipal securities. Based solely upon the facts contained in your letter, it appears that the Board of Water Commissioners is a political subdivision of City X. It further appears that the Board of Water Governors entered into the financial advisory agreement for the specific purpose of obtaining advice regarding the new issue of bonds on behalf of the City. Thus, the fact that City X, rather than the Board of Water Governors, actually will issue the bonds would not itself support a conclusion that the financial advisory agreement is not subject to the provisions of rule G-23. MSRB interpretation of March 13, 1981.


Financial advisory relationship: blanket agreement - January 5, 1981

Financial advisory relationship: blanket agreement. I refer to your letter of December 4, 1980 and a subsequent conversation regarding the application of rule G-23(d) to the participation by your client, a municipal securities dealer, in the underwriting of securities to be issued by the County referred to in your letter (the "County").

Rule G-23(d) provides in pertinent part that no municipal securities dealer "that has a financial advisory relationship with respect to a new issue of municipal securities shall acquire as principal ... from the issuer all or any portion of such issue ..." unless the dealer complies with certain specified provisions of the rule. You indicate that your client has a financial advisory agreement with the County which provides that your client will furnish financial advisory services from time to time at the County’s request. You state, however, that your client was not requested to furnish financial advisory services with respect to the particular issue of securities which the County now proposes to sell and was selected by the County after responding to an advertisement for underwriters. You request our concurrence in your opinion that a financial advisory relationship with respect to the proposed new issue does not exist.

For purposes of the rule, a financial advisory relationship is deemed to exist when a "municipal securities dealer renders or enters into an agreement to render financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to a new issue or issues of municipal securities ..." (emphasis added). Therefore, where a dealer has entered into a blanket agreement to render financial advisory services, a financial advisory relationship with respect to a particular issue of securities may be presumed to exist despite the fact that the municipal securities dealer does not furnish any financial advice concerning such issue. Whether or not your client has a financial advisory relationship with respect to the proposed new issue referred to in your letter is a factual question which we are not in a position to resolve. Therefore, we are unable to concur in your opinion. MSRB interpretation of January 5, 1981.