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Bank Dealers, Dealers, Municipal Advisors
1. Arrow Partners: Letter from Steven Rubenstein dated May 16, 2014
2. Association of Registration Management: Letter from Michele Van Tassel, President, dated May 16, 2014
3. Bond Dealers of America: Letter from Michael Nicholas, Chief Executive Officer, dated May 16, 2014
4. Cedar Partners Ltd: Letter from Christy Ping, Director/Chief Compliance Officer, dated May 16, 2014
5. Central States Capital Markets: E-mail from Mark Detter dated April 17, 2014
6. CFA Institute: Letter from Inigo Bengoechea, Director, and Dan Larocco, Manager, dated April 25, 2014
7. Compass Securities Corporation: Letter from John R. Ahern, President
8. Dixworks LLC: E-mail from Dennis Dix, Jr. dated April 11, 2014
9. Fitzgibbon Toigo Associates, LLC: E-mail from Brian X. Fitzgibbon dated May 16, 2014
10. Fortress Group, Inc.: Letter from Bruce A. Williamson, Managing Director and Chief Compliance Officer, dated May 16, 2014
11. Frank Taylor: E-mail dated March 19, 2014
12. George K. Baum & Company: Letter from Guy E. Yandel, EVP Public Finance, Dana L. Bjornson, EVP and Chief Compliance Officer, and Andrew F. Sears, SVP and General Counsel, dated May 16, 2014
13. Government Credit Corporation: E-mail from Joseph Mooney dated March 18, 2014
14. Hamersley Partners, LLC: Letter from Andrew Phillips, Principal and CCO, dated May 16, 2014
15. IMMS LLC: E-mail from John Daly dated May 16, 2014
16. Investment Company Institute: Letter from Tamara K. Salmon, Senior Associate Counsel, dated May 8, 2014
17. Jorge Rosso: E-mail dated April 3, 2014
18. Monahan & Roth, LLC: Letter from Lisa Roth, President, dated May 16, 2014
19. MVision Private Equity Advisers USA LLC: Letter from Victoria Sherliker, General Counsel, dated May 16, 2014
20. National Association of Independent Public Finance Advisors: Letter from Jeanine Rodgers Caruso, President, dated May 16, 2014
21. New Albany Capital Partners, LLC: Letter from Rick Wayman dated May 14, 2014
22. Oyster River Capital LP: Letter from Richard A. Murphy dated May 16, 2014
23. Perkins Fund Marketing LLC: Letter from Gilman C. Perkins, Principal and Managing Member, dated May 16, 2014
24. Raftelis Financial Consultants, Inc.: Letter from Alexis F. Warmath, Vice President, and Christopher P.N. Woodcock, President, Woodcock & Associates, Inc., dated May 16, 2014
25. Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association: Letter from Leslie M. Norwood, Managing Director and Associate General Counsel, dated May 16, 2014
26. Sonja Sullivan: E-mail dated May 16, 2014
27. Stacy Havener: E-mail dated May 16, 2014
28. Stonehaven: Letter from Steven Jafarzadeh, Managing Director and Partner, dated May 16, 2014
29. Tessera Capital Partners: Letter from Donna DiMaria, CEO/CCO, dated May 16, 2014
30. Third Party Marketers Association: Letter from Donna DiMaria, Chairman of the Board of Directors, dated May 16, 2014
31. Tibor Partners Inc.: E-mail from William Johnston dated March 18, 2014
32. Timothy D. Wasson: Letter
33. Yuba Group: Letter from Linda Fan, Managing Partner, dated April 28, 2014
34. Zions First National Bank: Letter from W. David Hemingway, Executive Vice President, dated May 16, 2014
35. Zions First National Bank: Letter from James G. Livingston, Senior Vice President, dated May 16, 2014
Inclusion of IDB-Related Activities
Inclusion of IDB-related activities. This responds to your letter of June 14, 1983 concerning your request for an interpretation of Board rule G-1, which defines a "separately identifiable department or division" of a bank. In particular, you request our advice concerning whether certain activities engaged in by your Corporate Finance Division (the "Division") should be considered "municipal securities dealer activities" for purposes of the rule. Your letter and a subsequent telephone conversation set forth the following facts:
The Division acts as financial advisor to certain corporate customers of the Bank. Some of these customers wish to raise money through the issuance of IDBs. In order to assist these corporations in the placement of the IDBs, the Division contacts from one to ten institutional investors and provides them with information regarding the terms of the proposed financing and basic facts about the corporation. If the investor expresses interest in the financing, a confidential memorandum describing the financing, prepared by the corporation with the assistance of the Division, is sent.
During negotiations between the corporation and the investor, the Division may act as a liaison between the two parties in the communication of comments on the financing documents. According to the bank, the Division is not an agent of the corporation and is not authorized to act on behalf of the corporation in accepting any terms or conditions associated with the proposed financing. For its services, the Division usually receives a percentage of the total dollar amount of securities issued, with a minimum contingent on the successful completion of the deal. While the bank has established a separately identifiable division pursuant to rule G-1, the Division is not part of it.
Your inquiry was discussed by the Board at its July meeting. The Board is of the view that the activities of the Division, as described, constitute the sales of municipal securities for purposes of the definition of municipal securities dealer activities in Board rule G-1. Therefore, these activities should be conducted in the bank's registered separately identifiable department by persons qualified under the Board's professional qualifications rules. MSRB interpretation of July 26, 1983.
Application of Board Rules to Financial Advisory Services Rendered to Corporate Obligors on Industrial Development Bonds
In a recent letter to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission has taken the position that private placements of industrial development bonds ("IDBs") constitute transactions in municipal securities as defined in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board has received a number of inquiries concerning this letter. The Board is publishing this notice for the purposes of: (1) reviewing the application of its rules to private placements of municipal securities and (2) expressing its views concerning whether certain Board rules apply to financial advisory services rendered by municipal securities dealers and brokers to corporate obligors on IDBs.
A. Private Placements of IDBs
The Board’s rules apply, of course, to all transactions in municipal securities, including securities which are IDBs. The SEC letter dealt in particular with the activities of commercial banks. That letter pointed out that if a commercial bank has a registered municipal securities dealer department, under Board rule G-1, which defines the term "separately identifiable department or division of a bank," any private placement activities of the bank in securities which are IDBs must be conducted as a part of the registered dealer department. The Board urges all bank dealers which have registered as a separately identifiable department or division to review their organizations and assure that all departments or units which engage in the private placement of IDBs are designated on the bank’s Form MSD registration and other applicable bank records as part of its separately identifiable department or division. The Board also notes that such activities must be under the supervision of a person designated by the bank’s board of directors as responsible for these activities. In addition, under Board rule G-3, concerning professional qualifications, persons who are engaged in privately placing municipal securities must be qualified as municipal securities representatives and be supervised with respect to that activity by a qualified municipal securities principal.
B. Financial Advisory Services Rendered to Corporate Obligors on IDBs
Board rules G-1 and G-3 provide that rendering "financial advisory or consultant services for issuers" is an activity to which those rules are applicable (emphasis added). Similarly, Board rule G-23, on the activities of financial advisors, applies to brokers, dealers, and municipal securities dealers who agree to render "financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer" (emphasis added). Clearly these rules are applicable to financial advisory services rendered to state or local governments and their agencies, as well as to municipal corporations. In the Board’s view, however, rules G-1, G-3, and G-23 do not apply to financial advisory services which are provided to corporate obligors in connection with proposed IDB financings.
The Board wishes to emphasize that the scope of its definition of financial advisory services is limited to "advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms, and other similar matters" concerning a proposed issue. If persons providing such advice to the corporate obligor on an IDB issue also participate in negotiations with prospective purchasers or are otherwise engaged in effecting placement of the issue, then, as indicated above, rules G-1 and G-3 would apply to their activities.
[Excerpts of the Commission letter follow:]
This is in response to your letter of December 1, 1981, requesting our views concerning certain activities by commercial banks in connection with industrial development bonds ("IDBs"). Specifically, you asked (1) whether the private placement activities of banks in IDBs involve transactions in municipal securities, (2) whether involvement in such activities alone would require such banks to register with the Commission under Section 15B of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the "Exchange Act") as municipal securities dealers, (3) whether a bank that had registered a separately identifiable department or division with the Commission as a municipal securities dealer would be required to conduct such activities through such separately identifiable department or division, and (4) if such bank activities are required to be conducted in the separately identifiable department or division, whether the advisory services provided by those banks to the corporate obligor on an IDB should be regarded as advisory services provided to an issuer of municipal securities in connection with the issuance of municipal securities. Pursuant to your letter and subsequent telephone conversations, we understand the following facts to be typical of the activities in question.
A commercial bank offers private placement and financial advisory services to corporate entities on a regular and continuous basis. From time to time the bank recommends to the corporate entity that IDBs be used to raise capital. The bank advises the corporate entity regarding the terms and timing of the proposed IDB issuance, prepares the Direct Placement Memorandum describing the terms of the IDB, and contacts potential purchasers of the IDB. Such purchasers then make independent reviews of the corporate entity’s financial status. The bank then obtains comments from the potential buyers and relays such comments to the corporate entity. The bank might also assist the corporate entity in subsequent negotiations with the purchasers. An industrial development authority nominally issues the IDB on behalf of the corporate entity which becomes the economic obligor on the issue.
The bank engages in these activities in order to assist the corporate obligor in the sale of the IDBs. In return for its services, the bank receives from the corporate entity either a fixed fee or a percentage of the proceeds of the sale. The bank does not purchase any of the IDBs. The bank could, however, supply "bridge loans" to the corporate entity pending receipt of the proceeds of the IDB sale. In addition, the bank might provide investors with a letter of credit committing the bank to pay any interest or principal not paid by the corporate issuer. The bank might also act as trustee or paying agent for the nominal issuer of the IDB, for which the bank would receive a set fee.
IDBs AS MUNICIPAL SECURITIES
Section 3(a)(10) of the Exchange Act defines a "security" as, among other things, "any note… bond, debenture… investment contract, …or in general, any instrument commonly known as a ‘security’… " Section 3(a)(29) of the Exchange Act defines "municipal securities" to include any security which is an industrial development bond as defined in Section 103(b)(2) of the Code the interest on which is tax-exempt under Sections 103(b)(4) or 103(b)(6) of the Code. In our opinion, the private placement activities you have described involve transactions in municipal securities as defined in the Exchange Act.
REGISTRATION AS MUNICIPAL SECURITIES DEALER
Section 15B(a) of the Exchange Act makes it unlawful for any municipal securities dealer to use the mails or any instrumentality of interstate commerce to "effect any transaction in, or to induce or attempt to induce the purchase or sale of, any municipal security unless such municipal securities dealer is registered" with the Commission. Section 3(a)(30) of the Exchange Act defines "municipal securities dealer" to include a bank or a separately identifiable department or division of a bank if that bank is engaged in the business of buying and selling municipal securities for its own account other than in a fiduciary capacity, through a broker or otherwise. Banks that engage solely in private placement activities in IDBs as described by you would not be required to register as municipal securities dealers since they do not appear to be engaged in the business of buying and selling municipal securities for their own accounts, but rather appear to be acting as brokers. Section 3(a)(4) of the Exchange Act defines the term broker as "any person engaged in the business of effecting transactions in securities for the account of others, but does not include a bank." Since they are excluded from the definition of broker, banks that act solely as brokers need not register under the Exchange Act.
INCLUSION IN SEPARATELY IDENTIFIABLE DEPARTMENT OR DIVISION
Section 15B(b)(2)(H) of the Exchange Act authorizes the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (the "MSRB") to make rules defining the term "separately identifiable department or division" ("SID") of a bank as used in Section 3(a)(30) of the Exchange Act. MSRB rule G-1 defines the SID as "that unit of the bank which conducts all the activities of the bank relating to the conduct of business as a municipal securities dealer…" The rule defines municipal securities dealer activities to include "sales of municipal securities" and "financial advisory and consultant services for issuers in connection with the issuance of municipal securities." Therefore, those banks that have registered an SID with the Commission also must conduct the private placement activities within the SID in accordance with MSRB rules…
Based upon the facts and representations set forth in your letter, it would appear that the private placement activities of banks involving IDBs, as described in your example, constitute transactions in municipal securities that, if done alone, would not require a bank to register with the Commission as a municipal securities dealer. However, such activities, when conducted by a bank municipal securities dealer that had registered a separately identifiable department or division, would be treated as municipal securities dealer activities and, therefore, would be required to be conducted in the bank’s dealer department…
 Rule G-23(b).
 You have represented that the IDBs involved would be primarily those defined in Section 103(b)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (the "Code"), the interest on which is tax-exempt under Sections 103(b)(4) and 103(b)(6) of the Code.
This determination is based on an analysis of the specific facts as described by you. Different facts and circumstances could result in a transaction involving municipal debt instruments being treated as loan participations not subject to the federal securities laws. Such determinations can only be made on a case by case basis after a thorough examination of the context of the transaction.
 See letter dated February 17, 1977, from Anne E. Chafer, Attorney, Securities and Exchange Commission, to Bruce F. Golden and letter dated January 11, 1982, from Thomas G. Lovett, Attorney, Securities and Exchange Commission, to Harriet E. Munrett regarding Citytrust of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Portfolio Credit Analyst
Portfolio credit analyst. This will acknowledge with thanks receipt of your letter dated May 2, 1978 concerning the status of persons occupying the position of portfolio credit analyst at your bank. Your letter, as well as our telephone conversations prior and subsequent to the letter, raise two questions concerning the status of such persons under Board rules. First, are the functions of a portfolio credit analyst subject to the requirements of rule G-1, which defines a separately identifiable dealer department or division of a bank? Second, must a portfolio credit analyst qualify as a municipal securities representative or municipal securities principal under Board rule G-3?
Although we recognize that the primary purpose of the portfolio credit analyst, as set forth in the material you furnished to me, is to review your bank's investment portfolio, a function not subject to Board regulation, to the extent that the analyst provides research advice and analysis in connection with your bank's underwriting, trading or sales activities, the analyst must be included within the municipal securities dealer department for purposes of rule G-1, and is subject to the qualification requirements of rule G-3.
Under Board rule G-1, a separately identifiable department or division of a bank is that unit of the bank which conducts all of the municipal securities dealer activities of the bank. Section (b) of the rule defines municipal securities dealer activities to include research with respect to municipal securities to the extent such research relates to underwriting, trading, sales or financial advisory and consultant services performed by the bank. Thus, we think it clear that for purposes of rule G-1, persons functioning as portfolio credit analysts who render research in connection with underwriting, trading or sales activities at your bank must be included within the separately identifiable department or division of the bank for purposes of rule G-1. This is consistent with the underlying purpose of rule G-1 to assure that all of the functions performed at the bank relating to the business of the bank as a municipal securities dealer are appropriately identified for purposes of supervision, inspection and enforcement.
Under rule G-3(a)(iii)[*] a municipal securities representative is defined as a person associated with a municipal securities broker or municipal securities dealer who performs certain functions similar to those defined as municipal securities dealer activities in rule G-1. The position of portfolio credit analyst as described in your letter and accompanying material appears to fit the definition of municipal securities representative to the extent that persons occupying such position perform research in connection with the bank's underwriting, trading or sales activities. Under rule G-3(e)[†], municipal securities representatives are required to qualify in accordance with Board rules. A similar result would obtain with respect to qualification as a municipal securities principal, if the portfolio credit analyst functions in a supervisory capacity. MSRB interpretation of June 8, 1978.
[*] [Currently codified at rule G-3(a)(i)]
[†] [Currently codified at rule G-3(a)(ii)]
Separately Identifiable Department or Division of a Bank
Separately identifiable department or division of a bank. This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of November 12, 1975, in which you request, on behalf of the Dealer Bank Association, an interpretative opinion with respect to the rule of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (the "Board") defining the term "separately identifiable department or division of a bank," as used in section 3(a)(30) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "Act"). Such rule was originally numbered rule 4 of the Board and became effective on October 15, 1975. The rule is presently numbered rule G-1 of the Board.
In your letter you pose a series of questions concerning rule G-1, as follows:
- A bank has an operations department that performs processing and clearance activities, and maintains records, with respect to the bank's underwriting, trading and sales of municipal securities, as well as with respect to certain other bank activities. Can this bank have a "separately identifiable department or division" as defined in rule G-1?
- In a bank with numerous branches, an employee or officer in a branch will on occasion accept or solicit an order from a customer for municipal securities. Does this preclude a finding that the bank has a "separately identifiable department or division"?
- Mr. X is a senior vice president of a bank. He is not a director. Mr. X's only relationship to the bank's municipal securities dealer activities is that he is a member of a management committee within the bank that determines the amount of the bank's funds that will be made available for the bank's municipal securities dealer activities, as well as for other bank activities. The bank has a separately identifiable department or division that otherwise meets the requirements of rule G-1. Is Mr. X a person who must be designated by the board of directors of the bank under rule G-1(a)(1)?
- A bank has a corporate trust department that, among other things, serves as paying agent for certain municipal securities and performs clearing functions in municipal securities, in addition to the processing and clearance activities performed in connection with the bank's underwriting, trading and sales of municipal securities. Are the persons in the bank's corporate trust department who engage solely in activities that do not relate to the underwriting, trading and sales of municipal securities by the bank performing municipal securities dealer activities?
With respect to question (1) above, paragraph (d) of rule G-1 contemplates that the municipal securities dealer activities of a bank, as such activities are defined in paragraph (b) of the rule, may be conducted in more than one organizational or operational unit of the bank, for example, underwriting, trading and sales activities in the bond department, and processing and clearance activities in the operations department of the bank. Under the rule, all such units can be aggregated to constitute a separately identifiable department or division within the meaning of section 3(a)(30) of the Act, provided that each such unit is identifiable and under the direct supervision of an officer designated by the board of directors of the bank as responsible for the day-to-day conduct of the bank's municipal securities dealer activities. The officer so designated need not be the same for all such units. For example, the senior officer of the bank's bond department may be designated as responsible for the municipal securities dealer activities conducted by that department, while the senior officer of the bank's operations department may be designated as responsible for the municipal securities dealer activities conducted by that department. In addition, the records of each such unit relating to municipal securities dealer activities must be separately maintained or separately extractable so as to permit independent examination of such records and enforcement of applicable provisions of the Act, the rules and regulations of the Commission thereunder and the rules of the Board. Finally, each such unit comprising the separately identifiable department or division may be engaged in activities other than those relating to municipal securities dealer activities. For example, the bond department may also engage in activities relating to United States government obligations, while the operations department may perform processing and clearance functions for departments of the bank other than the bond department.
With respect to question (2) above, paragraph (d) of rule G-1 also contemplates that the municipal securities dealer activities of a bank may be conducted at more than one geographic location. However, in order for such a bank to have a separately identifiable department or division, the branch employees who accept or solicit orders for municipal securities must, with respect to acceptance or solicitation of such orders, be affiliated with one of the identifiable units of the bank comprising such department or division and must, with respect to acceptance or solicitation of such orders, be responsible to an officer designated by the board of directors of the bank as responsible for the day-to-day conduct of the bank's municipal securities dealer activities. Further, the bank's records relating to the transactions effected by such branch employees must meet the criteria of paragraph (a) of rule G-1 with respect to separate maintenance and accessibility.
With respect to question (3) above, paragraph (c) of rule G-1 recognizes that senior officers of a bank may make determinations affecting bank policy as a whole which have an indirect effect on the municipal securities dealer activities of the bank. For example, determinations with respect to the deployment of the bank's funds may affect the size of the bank's inventory of municipal securities or volume of underwriting. Ordinarily such determinations would not directly relate to the day-to-day conduct of the bank's municipal securities dealer activities and senior officers making such determinations need not be designated by the board of directors of the bank as responsible for the conduct of such activities. However, if the determinations of senior officers have a direct and immediate impact on the day-to-day conduct of the bank's municipal securities dealer activities, whether by reason of the scope of such determinations, the frequency with which such determinations are made, or by reason of other factors, such officers may be considered to be directly engaged in the conduct of the bank's municipal securities dealer activities and required to be designated by the board of directors of the bank as responsible for the day-to-day conduct of such activities.
With respect to question (4) above, the regulatory focus of section 15B(b)(2)(H) of the Act is on the dealer activities of a bank. Accordingly, subparagraph (b)(2) of rule G-1 was intended to relate to such dealer activities, and not to describe other activities of the bank which might involve municipal securities. Employees of a bank's corporate trust department who perform clearance and other functions with respect to municipal securities, but which do not relate to the underwriting, trading and sales activities of the bank, do not perform municipal securities dealer activities within the meaning of rule G-1.
This opinion is rendered on behalf of the Board, pursuant to authority delegated by the Board. Copies of this opinion are being sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the bank regulatory agencies and the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. MSRB interpretation of November 17, 1975.