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Financial Advisory Relationship: Potential Underwriter

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.