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Archived Interpretive Guidance

Archived Interpretive Guidance

1. Notice of Interpretation Concerning Priority of Orders for New Issue Securities – December 22, 1987


This interpretive notice was revoked on October 12, 2010. See Interpretation on Priority of Orders for Securities in a Primary Offering under Rule G-17 (October 12, 2010) and MSRB Notice 2021-02 for additional information.

The Board is concerned about reports that senior syndicate managers may not always be mindful of principles of fair dealing in allocations of new issue securities. In particular, the Board believes that the principles of fair dealing require that customer orders should receive priority over similar dealer or certain dealer-related account [1] orders, to the extent that this is feasible and consistent with the orderly distribution of new issue securities.

Rule G-11(e) requires syndicates to establish priority provisions and, if such priority provisions may be changed, to specify the procedure for making changes. The rule also permits a syndicate to allow the senior manager, on a case-by-case basis, to allocate securities in a manner other than in accordance with the priority provisions if the senior manager determines in its discretion that it is in the best interests of the syndicate. Senior managers must furnish this information, in writing, to the syndicate members. Syndicate members must promptly furnish this information, in writing, to others upon request. This requirement was adopted to allow prospective purchasers to frame their orders to the syndicate in a manner that would enhance their ability to obtain securities since the syndicate’s allocation procedures would be known.

The Board understands that senior managers must balance a number of competing interests in allocating new issue securities. In addition, a senior manager must be able quickly to determine when it is appropriate to allocate away from the priority provisions and must be prepared to justify its actions to the syndicate and perhaps to the issuer. While it does not appear necessary or appropriate at this time to restrict the ability of syndicates to permit managers to allocate securities in a manner different from the priority provisions, the Board believes senior managers should ensure that all allocations, even those away from the priority provisions, are fair and reasonable and consistent with principles of fair dealing under rule G-17. [2] Thus, in the Board’s view, customer orders should have priority over similar dealer orders or certain dealer-related account orders to the extent that this is feasible and consistent with the orderly distribution of new issue securities. Moreover, the Board suggests that syndicate members alert their customers to the priority provisions adopted by the syndicate so that their customers are able to place their orders in a manner that increases the possibility of being allocated securities.

[1] A dealer-related account includes a municipal securities investment portfolio, arbitrage account or secondary trading account of a syndicate member, a municipal securities investment trust sponsored by a syndicate member, or an accumulation account established in connection with such a municipal securities investment trust.

[2] Rule G-17 provides that:

[i]n the conduct of its municipal securities business, each broker, dealer, and municipal securities dealer shall deal fairly with all persons and shall not engage in any deceptive, dishonest or unfair practice.


2. Use of formulas: annual interest securities - June 6, 1983

 This interpretive notice was rescinded on July 18, 2016. See MSRB Notice 2016-08 and MSRB Notice 2021-02 for additional information.

I am writing in response to your letter of June 1, 1983 regarding the appropriate method of calculating yield and dollar price on periodic-interest municipal securities which pay interest on an annual, rather than the more customary semi-annual, basis. You note in your letter that Board rule G-33 requires the use for purposes of computations of yield and dollar price on such securities of a formula which presumes semi-annual payment of interest (i.e., that formula set forth in subparagraph (b)(i)(B)(2) of the rule). You suggest that the rule should be amended to require the use of a formula that recognizes the annual interest payment cycle on the securities.

As I indicated to you in our previous telephone conversation on this subject, the industry has traditionally disregarded the unusual nature of the interest payment cycle on these securities when computing yields and dollar prices on them, and has followed the practice of using the standard formula for computing yield and dollar price on a security paying interest on a semi-annual basis for these purposes. As a result of this traditional practice, all of the calculators presently available for use by industry members when computing yields and dollar prices have been designed in accordance with the assumption that all periodic-interest municipal securities pay interest on a semi-annual basis; these calculator models cannot be used to compute yields and dollar prices on such securities on any other basis. Therefore, the adoption of a requirement that yields and dollar prices on securities which pay interest on an annual basis be computed by means of a formula which recognizes the annual nature of the interest payment cycle, such as you suggest, would render all of the existing calculator models obsolete, and require that all industry members incur the cost of purchasing new calculator equipment capable of performing such computations (equipment which does not, to my knowledge, exist as of yet).

It is because of the substantial compliance expense that would have been imposed on the industry that the Board declined to adopt a requirement such as you suggest at the time rule G-33 was promulgated, even though it recognized that the requirement that was adopted mandated the use of a formula that would produce slightly less accurate results. MSRB interpretation of June 6, 1983.