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Fairness Opinions

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.