Original Issue Discount, Zero Coupon Securities: Disclosure of, Pricing to Call Feature
Original issue discount, zero coupon securities: disclosure of, pricing to call feature. I am writing in response to your inquiry in our recent telephone conversation regarding the application of Board rules to the recent original issue discount on "zero coupon" new issues of municipal securities. In particular, you indicated that these types of securities are often subject to somewhat unusual call provisions, and you inquired as to the application to these types of securities of Board rules concerning the disclosure of call provisions and the use of such call provisions in dollar price and yield computations.
Subsequent to our conversation, I obtained several examples of these call provisions, which were provided to the Board in connection with your inquiry. In the first of these examples, involving an original issue discount security, the call provision commences ten years after issuance, with the redemption price initially set at 90 and increasing by 2 points every three years, reaching a redemption price of 100 twenty-five years after issuance. In the second example, involving a "zero coupon" security, the call provision commences ten years after issuance; the redemption price is based on the compound accreted value of the security (plus a stated redemption premium for the first five years of the call provision), with certain of the securities initially redeemable at an approximate dollar price of 18.
As you know, the call provisions on "zero coupon" and original issue discount securities are one of the special characteristics of such securities, but are not, by any means, the sole special characteristic. The Board is of the view that municipal securities brokers and dealers selling such securities are obliged, under Board rule G-17 as well as under the anti-fraud rules under the Securities Exchange Act, to disclose to customers all material information regarding such special characteristics. As the Board stated in its April 27, 1982 "Notice Concerning 'Zero Coupon' and 'Stepped Coupon' Securities,"
persons selling such securities to the public have an obligation to adequately disclose the special characteristics of such securities so as to comply with the Board's fair practice rules.
Therefore, in selling an original issue discount or "zero coupon" security to a customer, a dealer would be obliged to disclose, among other matters, any material information with respect to the call provisions of such securities.
I note also that Rule G-15 requires customer confirmations of transactions in callable securities to indicate that the securities are "callable," and to contain a legend stating, in part, that information concerning the call provisions of such securities will be made available upon the customer's request. Customer confirmations of transactions in callable original issue discount or "zero coupon" securities would have to contain such a legend, in addition to the designation "callable," and the details of the call provisions of such securities would have to be provided to the customer in writing upon the customer's request.
The requirement under rules G-12 and G-15 for the computation of dollar price and (under rule G-15) yield to a call or option feature would apply to a transaction in an original issue discount or "zero coupon" security. Therefore, if the dollar price to the call on a transaction in such securities is lower than the price to maturity, such dollar price should be used. In the case of customer confirmations, if the yield to call on a transaction in such securities is lower, such yield must be shown. As you noted in our conversation, in view of the redemption price structure of the call provisions on such securities, the price or yield to call on a particular transaction might be lower than the price or yield to maturity, even though the transaction is effected at a price below par. Since heretofore the industry has been accustomed to call provisions at prices at or above par, industry members may wish to pay particular attention to the processing of transactions in original issue discount or "zero coupon" securities with these unusual types of call provisions, to ensure that the dollar price or yield of such transactions is not inadvertently overstated due to a failure to check the price or yield to call. MSRB interpretation of June 30, 1982.