Back to top

Disclosure of Pricing: Calculating the Dollar Price of Partially Prerefunded Bonds

Disclosure of pricing: calculating the dollar price of partially prerefunded bonds. This is in response to your March 21, 1986 letter concerning the application of Board rules to the description of municipal securities provided at or prior to the time of trade and the application of rules G-12(c) and G-15(a) on calculating the dollar price of partially prerefunded bonds with mandatory sinking fund calls.

You describe an issue, due 10/1/13. Mandatory sinking fund calls for this issue begin 10/1/05 and end 10/1/13. Recently, a partial refunding took place which prerefunds the 2011, 2012 and 2013 mandatory sinking fund requirements totalling $11,195,000 (which is 43.6% of the issue) to 10/1/94 at 102. The certificate numbers for the partial prerefunding will not be chosen until 30 days prior to the prerefunded date. Thus, a large percentage of the bonds are prerefunded and all the bonds will be redeemed by 10/1/10 because the 2011, 2012, and 2013 maturities no longer exist.

You note that the bonds should be described as partially prerefunded to 10/1/94 with a 10/1/10 maturity. Also, you state that the price of these securities should be calculated to the cheapest call, in this case, the partial prerefunded date of 10/1/94 at 102. You add that there is a 9½ point difference in price between calculating to maturity and to the partially prerefunded date.

You note that the descriptions you have seen on various brokers' wires do not accurately describe these securities and a purchaser of these bonds would not know what they bought if the purchase was based on current descriptions. You ask the Board to address the description and calculation problems posed by this issue.

Your letter was referred to a Committee of the Board which has responsibility for interpreting the Board's fair practice rules. That Committee has authorized this response.

Board rule G-17 provides that

In 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.

In regard to inter-dealer transactions, the items of information that professionals must exchange at or prior to the time of trade are governed by principles of contract law and essentially are those items necessary adequately to describe the security that is the subject of the contract. As a general matter, these items of information do not encompass all material facts, but should be sufficient to distinguish the security from other similar issues. The Board has interpreted rule G-17 to require dealers to treat other dealers fairly and to hold them to the prevailing ethical standards of the industry. [1] The rule also prohibits dealers from knowingly misdescribing securities to another dealer. [2]

Board rules G-12(c) and G-15(a) require that

where a transaction is effected on a yield basis, the dollar price shall be calculated to the lowest of price to call, price to par option, or price to maturity ...

In addition, for customer confirmations, rule G-15(a) requires that

for transactions effected on the basis of dollar price, ... the lowest of the resulting yield to call, yield to par option, or yield to maturity shall be shown....

These provisions also require, in cases in which the resulting dollar price or yield shown on the confirmation is calculated to call or par option, that this must be stated and the call or option date and price used in the calculation must be shown. The Board has determined that, for purposes of making this computation, only "in-whole" calls should be used. [3] This requirement reflects the longstanding practice of the municipal securities industry that a price calculated to an "in-part" call, for example, a partial prerefunding date, is not adequate because, depending on the probability of the call provision being exercised and the portion of the issue subject to the call provision, the effective yield based on the price to a partial prerefunding date may not bear any relation to the likely return on the investment.

These provisions of Rules G-12(c) and G-15(a) apply, however, only when the parties have not specified that the bonds are priced to a specific call date. In some circumstances, the parties to a particular transaction may agree that the transaction is effected on the basis of a yield to a particular date, e.g., a partial prerefunding date, and that the dollar price will be computed in this fashion. If that is the case, the yield to this agreed upon date must be included on confirmations as the yield at which the transaction was effected and the resulting dollar price computed to that date, together with a statement that it is a "yield to [date]." In an August 1979 interpretive notice on pricing of callable securities, the Board stated that, under rule G-30, a dealer pricing securities sold to a customer on the basis of a yield to a specified call feature should take into account the possibility that the call feature may not be exercised. [4]

Accordingly, the price to be paid by the customer should reflect this possibility, and the resulting yield to maturity should bear a reasonable relationship to yields on securities of similar quality and maturity. Failure to price securities in such a manner may constitute a violation of rule G-30 since the price may not be "fair and reasonable" in the event the call feature is not exercised. The Board also noted that the fact that a customer in these circumstances may realize a yield in excess of the yield at which the transaction was effected does not relieve a municipal securities dealer of its responsibilities under rule G-30.

Accordingly, the calculation of the dollar price of a transaction in the securities you describe, unless the parties have agreed otherwise, should be made to the lowest of price to the first in-whole call, par option, or maturity. While the partial prerefunding effectively redeems the issue by 10/1/10, the stated maturity of the bond is 10/1/13 and, subject to the parties agreeing to price to 10/1/10, the stated maturity date should be used. MSRB interpretation of May 15, 1986.

[1] In addition, the Board has interpreted this rule to require that, in connection with the purchase from or sale of a municipal security to a customer, at or before execution of the transaction, a dealer must disclose all material facts concerning the transaction which could affect the customer's investment decision, including a complete description of the security, and not omit any material facts which would render other statements misleading.

[2] While the Board does not have any specific disclosure requirements applicable to dealers at the time of trade, a dealer is free to disclose any unique aspect of an issue. For example, in the issue described above, a dealer may decide to disclose the "effective" maturity date of 2010, as well as the stated maturity date of 2013.

[3] See [Rule G-15 Interpretation - Notice Concerning Pricing to Call], December 10, 1980 ... at ¶ 3571.

[4] See [Rule G-30 Interpretation - Interpretive Notice on Pricing of Callable Securities] August 10, 1979 ... at ¶ 3646.