MSRB Reports, Volume 19 Number 1, February 1999

Attention! Attention!

Disclosure Obligations of Brokers, Dealers and Municipal Securities Dealers in Connection with New Issue Municipal Securities Under Rule G-32
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Notice

The Board is publishing a notice regarding the disclosure obligations of brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers in connection with new issue municipal securities under rule G-32.

Questions about this notice may be directed to Ernesto A. Lanza, Associate General Counsel.

            In July 1998, the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") approved two sets of amendments to rule G-32, on disclosures in connection with new issues. The first set of amendments permits brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers ("dealers") that sell new issue variable rate demand obligations qualifying for the exemption provided under subparagraph (d)(1)(iii) of Securities Exchange Act Rule 15c2-12 to deliver the preliminary official statement, rather than the final official statement, to customers by settlement.1  The second set of amendments strengthens the rule’s existing requirements regarding dissemination of official statements to dealers purchasing new issue municipal securities and incorporates a longstanding Board interpretation regarding disclosure to customers of initial offering prices in negotiated underwritings.2 In view of these recent amendments and the continuing concerns of the Board and the enforcement agencies that some dealers may have inadequate procedures in place to ensure compliance with rule G-32,3 the Board is publishing this notice to review the requirements of the rule and to emphasize the importance of full and timely compliance.

Purpose and Structure of Rule G-32

            Rule G-32 is designed to ensure that a customer who purchases new issue municipal securities is provided with all available information relevant to his or her investment decision by settlement of the transaction. The rule obligates all dealers selling new issue municipal securities to provide to their customers purchasing the securities certain disclosure materials by settlement. To effectuate this primary obligation, the rule further obligates all dealers that sell new issue municipal securities to other dealers, as well as the managing or sole underwriter for such securities, to provide to such purchasing dealers these disclosure materials so as to permit the purchasing dealers to comply with their primary delivery obligations to their own customers. Finally, the rule provides that a dealer that prepares an official statement in final form on behalf of an issuer while serving in the capacity of financial advisor to such issuer must make the official statement available to the underwriters promptly after the issuer approves its distribution. Compliance with each prong of the rule is crucial to ensure that the primary purpose of the rule is fulfilled. The full text of rule G-32, as amended, appears at the end of this notice.

New Issue Municipal Securities and the Underwriting Period

            Rule G-32 applies to the sale of all new issue municipal securities. These are defined in section (c)(i) as any municipal securities (other than commercial paper4) that are sold by any dealer during the issue’s underwriting period. Once the underwriting period has ended for an issue of municipal securities, the requirements of rule G-32 no longer apply to transactions in such municipal securities.

            The underwriting period for an issue of municipal securities begins with the first submission to the underwriters of an order from a potential customer to purchase the securities or the purchase by the underwriters of the securities from the issuer (i.e., the execution of the purchase contract in a negotiated sale or the award of the securities in a competitive sale), whichever occurs first. The underwriting period ends upon delivery by the issuer of the securities to the underwriters (i.e., the bond closing) if the underwriters no longer retain an unsold balance at such time. If, however, the issue is not sold out by the bond closing, the underwriting period continues until the underwriters no longer retain an unsold balance; provided that, in the case of an issue underwritten by a sole underwriter, if the bond closing has occurred and the underwriter retains an unsold balance 21 calendar days after the first submission of an order, the underwriting period nonetheless ends after such 21st day.5

Delivery Obligations to Customers

            A dealer selling new issue municipal securities to a customer is required to deliver (not merely send) certain information to such customer prior to settlement of the transaction. The Board has previously noted that the required information will be presumed to have been delivered to the customer if it was sent at least three business days prior to settlement.6

            Official Statements. With only two exceptions, a dealer violates section (a) of rule G-32 if it sells, either as principal or agent, a new issue municipal security to a customer but fails to deliver an official statement in final form7 to such customer by no later than settlement of that transaction. Dealers should note that this obligation differs from the obligation imposed by SEC Rule 15c2-12(b)(4) in that rule G-32 mandates that any dealer selling new issue municipal securities (not just participating underwriters of the offering) must deliver (not just send) the official statement to the customer by settlement, regardless of whether the customer has requested a copy of the official statement.8

            The first exception under rule G-32 arises where the issuer is not preparing an official statement in final form. In that case, the dealer must deliver to the customer by no later than settlement a written notice that an official statement in final form is not being prepared, together with a copy of a preliminary official statement, if one has been prepared.9 This exception is not available in cases where the official statement in final form is in the process of being prepared but is not yet available at the time that a dealer wishes to settle a transaction with a customer. Thus, in such a case, a dealer would violate rule G-32(a) by settling a customer transaction without delivery of the official statement in final form, even if a preliminary official statement is delivered by settlement and the official statement in final form is delivered to the customer as soon as it becomes available.

            The second exception applies solely to municipal securities issued in a primary offering that qualifies for the exemption set forth in SEC Rule 15c2-12(d)(1)(iii) ("Exempt VRDOs")10, but only if an official statement in final form is being prepared.11 This exception permits a dealer to deliver a preliminary official statement to a customer by settlement in substitution for the official statement in final form so long as (1) the dealer provides written notice to the customer by settlement that the official statement in final form will be sent within one business day following its receipt by the dealer and (2) the dealer sends the official statement in final form to the customer within one business day of its receipt.12 The Board believes, however, that if the official statement in final form is available in sufficient time to permit delivery to the customer by settlement, it would be in the dealer’s best interest to make such delivery by settlement, as it would be required to do for any other new issue municipal securities. This would permit the dealer to satisfy its delivery obligation with a single delivery of the official statement in final form, rather than two separate deliveries of the preliminary and final official statements, thereby reducing the dealer’s compliance burden.13

            Additional Disclosures for Negotiated Underwritings. Where the underwriters have purchased an issue of municipal securities from the issuer in a negotiated sale, any dealer (not just syndicate or selling group members) selling such securities to a customer during the underwriting period is required to deliver to such customer prior to settlement, in addition to the official statement, information concerning (A) the underwriting spread;14 (B) the amount of any fee received by such dealer as agent for the issuer in the distribution of the securities, if applicable;15 and (C) the initial offering price for each maturity in the issue, including the initial offering price of maturities that are not reoffered.16 The obligation to make these further disclosures may be satisfied by inclusion by the issuer of such information in the official statement in final form and the delivery of such official statement to the customer by settlement. However, should the issuer elect not to include any such information in the official statement or if an official statement that includes this information is not delivered to the customer by settlement, a dealer selling such securities during the underwriting period must nevertheless provide such information in writing to the customer by settlement (for example, in a confirmation or other writing delivered to the customer by settlement). For example, if a dealer delivers a preliminary official statement to a customer at settlement for a new issue Exempt VRDO and any of the required disclosure information is left blank or is noted as preliminary and subject to change (with the expectation of the information being completed or finalized in the official statement in final form to be delivered after settlement), then disclosure of such information would be required in a separate writing delivered at or prior to settlement.

DELIVERY OBLIGATIONS TO PURCHASING DEALERS

            Dealers selling new issue municipal securities to other dealers, and dealers serving as managing or sole underwriters for such new issues, are also required to deliver the official statement and the additional disclosures for negotiated underwritings, if applicable, to dealers purchasing such securities during the underwriting period.

            Obligations of Selling Dealers. If a dealer sells a new issue municipal security to another dealer, the selling dealer is obligated under rule G-32(a) to send to the purchasing dealer, upon request, (i) the official statement in final form (or if no official statement in final form is being prepared, a written notice to that effect, together with a copy of a preliminary official statement, if one has been prepared) and (ii) if the underwriters originally purchased the securities from the issuer in a negotiated sale, the additional disclosures described above required in connection with a negotiated underwriting. The official statement and the additional disclosures related to negotiated underwritings, if applicable, must be sent by the selling dealer to the purchasing dealer within one business day of the purchasing dealer’s request, provided that, if the official statement in final form is being prepared but has not yet been received from the issuer or its agent, then the official statement in final form and the additional disclosures must be sent no later than the business day following such receipt.17 These items must be sent by first class mail or other equally prompt means, unless the purchasing dealer arranges some other method of delivery and pays or agrees to pay for such alternate delivery method. This obligation applies with respect to all requests to a selling dealer made by a dealer purchasing new issue municipal securities from such selling dealer during the underwriting period, even where the selling dealer did not participate as a syndicate or selling group member for the underwriting of the new issue municipal securities.

            Obligations of Managing and Sole Underwriters. If an official statement in final form is prepared in connection with an issue of municipal securities, the dealer serving as managing underwriter or sole underwriter for such issue is obligated under rule G-32(b)(i) to send to any dealer purchasing such securities during the underwriting period, upon request, (i) one copy of the official statement in final form plus one additional copy per $100,000 par value purchased by such purchasing dealer for resale to customers and (ii) if the underwriters originally purchased the securities from the issuer in a negotiated sale, the required additional disclosures. Managing and sole underwriters also are required to provide purchasing dealers, upon request, with instructions on how to order copies of the official statement in final form from the printer. The official statement and the additional disclosures related to negotiated underwritings, if applicable, must be sent by the managing or sole underwriter to the purchasing dealer within one business day of the purchasing dealer’s request, provided that, if the official statement in final form is being prepared but has not yet been received from the issuer or its agent,18 then the official statement in final form and the additional disclosures must be sent no later than the business day following such receipt. These items must be sent by first class mail or other equally prompt means, unless the purchasing dealer arranges some other method of delivery and pays or agrees to pay for such alternate delivery method. This obligation applies with respect to all requests to the managing or sole underwriter made by purchasing dealers during the underwriting period, even where the managing or sole underwriter did not sell the new issue municipal securities to the purchasing dealer.

            Obligations of Dealers Acting as Financial Advisors. Rule G-32(b)(ii) provides that, if a dealer that acts as financial advisor to an issuer prepares an official statement in final form on behalf of such issuer, such dealer must make that official statement available to the managing or sole underwriter promptly after the issuer approves distribution of the official statement in final form. This provision is designed to ensure that, once the official statement is completed and approved by the issuer for distribution, dealers acting as financial advisors will be obligated to commence the dissemination process promptly.19

            Implications for Inter-Dealer Dissemination. The provisions of rule G-32 relating to dissemination among dealers of official statements and the additional disclosures related to negotiated underwritings is designed to ensure that a dealer selling a new issue municipal security to a customer has a reliable and timely source for obtaining such items for delivery to the customer by settlement. In the case of a syndicate member that purchases a new issue municipal security in an underwriting, the rule, in conjunction with The Bond Market Association’s Standard Agreement Among Underwriters, will effectively obligate the managing underwriter to send the official statement in final form (in the required quantity) and the additional disclosures to the syndicate member within one business day of its receipt from the issuer.20 If for any reason such syndicate member needs to obtain a copy of the official statement more rapidly than by means of first class mail, it may arrange with the managing underwriter for delivery of the official statement by an alternate means so long as the requesting syndicate member covers the cost of such delivery.

            For a non-syndicate member that purchases a new issue municipal security from the syndicate or from any other dealer, both the dealer that sold the security to the non-syndicate member and the managing or sole underwriter is obligated, if requested by such non-syndicate member, to send the official statement in final form and the additional disclosures within one business day of such request. If for any reason such non-syndicate member needs to obtain a copy of the official statement more rapidly than by means of first class mail, it may arrange with the dealer that is fulfilling the request for delivery of the official statement by an alternate means so long as the requesting non-syndicate member covers the cost of such delivery. Dealers purchasing new issue municipal securities from another dealer are advised that the obligation of the selling dealer or of the managing or sole underwriter to send an official statement to such purchasing dealer only takes effect upon the request of the purchasing dealer. Therefore, unless the purchasing dealer already has a copy of the official statement or has an alternate source for receiving it and the additional disclosures, such dealer will need to take the affirmative step of requesting such items from the selling dealer or the managing or sole underwriter.

            A dealer that sells a new issue municipal security to a customer is not relieved of its obligation to deliver by settlement the official statement in final form and the additional disclosures related to negotiated underwriters because either the dealer from which it acquired the security or the managing or sole underwriter for the issue fails to fulfill its obligation to send these items to such dealer upon request. Such dealer may need to obtain the official statement in final form from other available sources. Such other sources of official statements include, but are not limited to, the nationally recognized municipal securities information repositories, other information vendors, or the Board’s Municipal Securities Information Library (MSIL) system.21 Similarly, a managing or sole underwriter or a dealer selling a new issue municipal security cannot fulfill its obligation to send the official statement in final form and the additional disclosures to a purchasing dealer upon request by referring such dealer to such other sources of official statements.

RECORDKEEPING

            Rule G-8(a)(xiii) requires that each dealer make and keep a record of all deliveries of official statements and of the additional disclosures related to negotiated underwritings made to purchasers of new issue municipal securities.22 Although the rule does not obligate a dealer to maintain such records in any given manner, such records must provide an adequate basis for the audit of such information. To this end, NASD Regulation, Inc. has noted:

Some firms establish a file containing a copy of the customer’s new issue municipal purchase confirmation and/or a mailing label to demonstrate compliance with Rule G-8. However, NASD Regulation does not view this approach as adequately demonstrating compliance with MSRB Rule G-8. Instead, an adequate record of the delivery of new issue municipal securities disclosure information should, at a minimum, contain the following:

At times, a firm assigns the new issue municipal securities disclosure function to a third party vendor. As a result, the member [dealer] does not maintain "a record of delivery" of the new issue disclosure. Nevertheless, from a regulatory perspective, the firm remains fully responsible for disclosure. When firms have assigned the new issue disclosure function to a third party, NASD Regulation expects that the compliance review process will include, at a minimum, periodic test to assure that the new issue disclosures are being made at or before settlement.23

            Dealers should consult with the applicable enforcement agency regarding the adequacy of their recordkeeping under rule G-8(a)(xiii).

November 19, 1998

 

TEXT OF RULE

Rule G-32. Disclosures in Connection with New Issues

            (a) Disclosure Requirements. No broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer shall sell, whether as principal or agent, any new issue municipal securities to a customer unless such broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer delivers to the customer no later than the settlement of the transaction:

            (i) a copy of the official statement in final form prepared by or on behalf of the issuer or, if an official statement in final form is not being prepared by or on behalf of the issuer, a written notice to that effect together with a copy of an official statement in preliminary form, if any; provided, however, that if an official statement in final form is being prepared for new issue municipal securities issued in a primary offering that qualifies for the exemption set forth in paragraph (iii) of section (d)(1) of Securities Exchange Act Rule 15c2-12, a broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer may sell such new issue municipal securities to a customer if such broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer:

            (A) delivers to the customer no later than the settlement of the transaction a copy of an official statement in preliminary form, if any, and written notice that the official statement in final form will be sent to the customer within one business day following receipt thereof by the broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer, and

            (B) sends to the customer a copy of the official statement in final form, by first class mail or other equally prompt means, no later than the business day following receipt thereof by the broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer; and

            (ii) in connection with a negotiated sale of new issue municipal securities, the following information concerning the underwriting arrangements:

            (A) the underwriting spread;

            (B) the amount of any fee received by the broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer as agent for the issuer in the distribution of the securities;

            (C) the initial offering price for each maturity in the issue that is offered or to be offered in whole or in part by the underwriters, including maturities that are not reoffered.

Every broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer shall send, upon request, the documents and information referred to in this section (a) to any broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer to which it sells new issue municipal securities no later than the business day following the request or, if an official statement in final form is being prepared but has not been received from the issuer or its agent, no later than the business day following such receipt. Such items shall be sent by first class mail or other equally prompt means, unless the purchasing broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer arranges some other method of delivery and pays or agrees to pay for such delivery.

(b) Responsibility of Managing Underwriters, Sole Underwriters and Financial Advisors.

            (i) Managing Underwriters and Sole Underwriters. When an official statement in final form is prepared by or on behalf of an issuer, the managing underwriter or sole underwriter, upon request, shall send to all brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers that purchase the new issue municipal securities an official statement in final form and other information required by paragraph (a)(ii) of this rule and not less than one additional official statement in final form per $100,000 par value of the new issue purchased by the broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer and sold to customers. Such items shall be sent no later than the business day following the request or, if an official statement in final form is being prepared but has not been received from the issuer or its agent, no later than the business day following such receipt. Such items shall be sent by first class mail or other equally prompt means, unless the purchasing broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer arranges some other method of delivery and pays or agrees to pay for such delivery. In addition, the managing underwriter or sole underwriter, upon request, shall provide all purchasing brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers with instructions on how to order additional copies of the official statement in final form directly from the printer.

            (ii) Financial Advisors. A broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer that, acting as financial advisor, prepares an official statement in final form on behalf of an issuer, shall make that official statement in final form available to the managing underwriter or sole underwriter promptly after the issuer approves its distribution.

          (c) Definitions.

           For purposes of this rule, the following terms have the following meanings:

            (i) The term "new issue municipal securities" shall mean municipal securities that are sold by a broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer during the issue’s underwriting period, but shall not include commercial paper.

            (ii) The term "underwriting period" shall mean:

            (A) for securities purchased from an issuer by a syndicate, the period defined in paragraph (a)(ix) of rule G-11, on sales of new issue municipal securities during the underwriting period; and

            (B) for securities purchased from an issuer by one broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer, the period commencing with the first submission to the broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer of an order for the purchase of the securities or the purchase of such securities from the issuer, whichever first occurs, and ending at such time as the following two conditions both are met: (1) the issuer delivers the securities to the broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer, and (2) the broker, dealer or municipal securities 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.

            (iii) the term "official statement" shall mean a document prepared by the issuer or its representatives setting forth, among other matters, information concerning the issuer and the proposed issue of securities. A notice of sale shall not be deemed to be an "official statement" for purposes of this rule.

            (iv) The term "primary offering" shall mean an offering defined in Securities Exchange Act Rule 15c2-12(f)(7).


ENDNOTES

1        See MSRB Reports, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Aug. 1998) at 15-17.

2        See MSRB Reports, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Aug. 1998) at 19-21.

3        See MSRB Reports, Vol. 17, No. 2 (June 1997) at 23-24; see also NASD Regulation, Inc., "Municipal Securities Update – Disclosure to Purchasers of New Issue Securities," Regulatory & Compliance Alert, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Sept. 1998) at 19-20.

4        The exception for commercial paper applies solely to true commercial paper issues (i.e., not to variable rate demand obligations with a nominal long maturity and having a so-called "commercial paper" mode).

5        See rules G-32(c)(ii) and G-11(a)(ix).

6        See MSRB Reports, Vol. 7, No. 2 (March 1987) at 12.

7        Rule G-32 defines official statement as a document prepared by the issuer or its representatives setting forth, among other matters, information concerning the issuer and the proposed issue of securities. This definition is, of necessity, broader than the definition set forth in SEC Rule 15c2-12(f)(3) for the term "final official statement" since rule G-32 applies to all issues of municipal securities (other than commercial paper issues), not just those issues subject to SEC Rule 15c2-12. However, the Board believes that, in the case of new issue municipal securities subject to SEC Rule 15c2-12, the official statement in final form for purposes of rule G-32 would be the same as the final official statement for purposes of SEC Rule 15c2-12.

8        SEC Rule 15c2-12(b)(4) provides that an underwriter participating in an offering subject to the Rule must send a copy of the final official statement to a potential customer within one business day of a request until the earlier of (i) 90 days from the end of the underwriting period or (ii) the time when the official statement is available from a nationally recognized municipal securities information repository, but in no case less than 25 days following the end of the underwriting period.

9        Since SEC Rule 15c2-12(3) provides that an underwriter participating in an offering subject to the Rule must contract with the issuer to receive final official statements, the Board expects that a final official statement will be prepared for all such offerings and therefore delivery of preliminary official statements for such issues would never satisfy the delivery obligation under rule G-32(a).

10        A primary offering qualifies for this exemption if the municipal securities are in authorized denominations of $100,000 or more and, at the option of the holder thereof, may be tendered to the issuer or its designated agent for redemption or purchase at par value or more at least as frequently as every nine months until maturity, earlier redemption or purchase by the issuer or its designated agent.

11        If an official statement in final form is not being prepared, then the first exception described above would apply.

12        See MSRB Reports, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Aug. 1998) at 15-17. If no preliminary official statement is prepared for such issue, then the dealer must still provide written notice by settlement that an official statement in final form will be sent within one business day of receipt.

13        In addition, ensuring that the official statement in final form, rather than merely the preliminary official statement, is in the possession of the customer by settlement may help to avoid potential liabilities that could result if there are any material differences between the preliminary official statement and the official statement in final form. The fact that rule G-32 permits a dealer to deliver the preliminary official statement, rather than the official statement in final form, to a customer by settlement in this specific situation does not in any way limit or reduce the dealer’s disclosure obligations under the federal securities laws, including in particular the dealer’s obligation under rule G-17 to disclose, at or before execution of a transaction, all material facts concerning the transaction which could affect the customer’s investment decision and not omit any material facts which would render other statements misleading.

14        This provision obligates a dealer to disclose the gross spread (i.e., the difference between the initial offering price and the amount paid to the issuer), expressed either in dollars or points per bond. The underwriting spread may be shown either as a total amount or as a listing of the components of the gross spread. If components of the gross spread are listed, that portion of the proceeds which represents compensation to the underwriters must be clearly identified as such. For example, the Board believes that use of the terms "underwriters’ discount" or "net to underwriters" would be acceptable but that the term "bond discount" is confusing and, therefore, inappropriate. See MSRB Reports, Vol. 7, No. 2 (March 1987) at 13.

15        If no fee is received by the dealer for acting as an agent for the issuer in the distribution of the securities, the dealer need not affirmatively state that no such fee was received but may instead omit any statement regarding such fee.

16        The initial offering price may be expressed either in terms of dollar price or yield.

17        Thus, if a purchasing dealer requests a copy of the official statement in final form from a selling dealer before the issuer has delivered the official statement to the underwriters, then the obligation of the selling dealer to send the official statement is deferred until the business day after the underwriters receive the official statement from the issuer.

18        The Board is of the view that an underwriter that prepares an official statement on behalf of an issuer would be deemed to have received the official statement from the issuer immediately upon such issuer approving the distribution of the completed official statement in final form (i.e., when the issuer releases the completed official statement for distribution).

19        The Board urges issuers that utilize the services of non-dealer financial advisors to hold such financial advisors to the same standards for prompt delivery of official statements to the underwriters.

20        The Bond Market Association’s Standard Agreement Among Underwriters provides that syndicate members must place orders for the official statement by the business day following the date of execution of the purchase contract and states that any syndicate member that fails to place such an order will be assumed to have requested the quantity required under rule G-32(b)(i). See The Bond Market Association, Agreement Among Underwriters – Instructions, Terms and Acceptance (Oct. 1, 1997) at 3. Thus, except in the rare instances where an official statement in final form is completed and available for distribution on the date of sale, syndicate members will have made or have been deemed to have made their requests for official statements by the time the managing underwriter receives the official statement from the issuer, thereby obligating the managing underwriter to send the official statement to syndicate members within one business day of receipt.

21        Municipal Securities Information Library and MSIL are registered trademarks of the Board.

22        Rule G-9(b)(x) provides that these records must be preserved for a period of not less than 3 years.

23        NASD Regulation, Inc., "Municipal Securities Update – Disclosure to Purchasers of New Issue Securities," Regulatory & Compliance Alert, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Sept. 1998) at 19-20. The views of the bank regulatory agencies regarding adequacy of any particular recordkeeping practice for the purpose of demonstrating compliance with rule G-8 may differ.

 

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