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Letters of Credit

Letters of credit. This is in response to your April 9, 1981, letter asking whether Board rule G-22, regarding control relationships, and G-23, regarding financial advisory agreements, would apply if a bank’s issuance of a letter of credit were contingent upon its being named underwriter or manager for the issue, or if a bank issuing a letter of credit retained authority to require an issuer, in effect, to call the securities.

Rule G-22 provides that

a control relationship with respect to a municipal security shall be deemed to exist if a broker, dealer, or municipal securities dealer (or a bank or other person of which the broker, dealer, or municipal securities dealer is a department or division) controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with the issuer of the security or a person other than the issuer who is obligated, directly or indirectly, with respect to debt service on the security.

The existence of a control relationship is a question of fact to be determined from the entire situation. Most recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission suggested that, for purposes of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, a registered broker-dealer would be deemed to be controlled by a person or entity who, among other things, has the ability to direct or cause the direction of management or the policies of the broker-dealer. Based upon the above, it is questionable whether a bank that conditions the issuance of a letter of credit upon being named an underwriter or upon a tie-in deposit arrangement should be deemed to control the issuer. Similarly, it does not appear that a bank that retains discretion under a letter of credit to cause the trustee to call the whole issue has a control relationship with the issuer.

You also ask whether under Board rule G-23 a financial advisory relationship is created if a bank conditions the issuance of a letter of credit upon being named an underwriter or upon obtaining a tie-in deposit arrangement. Under rule G-23, a financial advisory relationship is deemed to exist when a municipal securities professional provides, or enters into an agreement to provide, financial advisory services to, or on behalf of, an issuer with respect to a new issue of securities regarding such matters as the structure, timing or terms of the issue, in return for compensation or for the expectation of compensation. It does not appear that rule G-23 would apply in your example since the bank is not providing financial advisory or consulting services with respect to the structure, timing or other substantive terms of the issue. MSRB interpretation of July 27, 1981.