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MSRB Asks SEC to Expand Public Information on ARS, VRDOs

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The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) filed on Friday, July 9, a proposal with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that amends an earlier filing to expand information that is publicly available about variable rate demand obligations (VRDOs) and auction rate securities (ARS).

If approved, the MSRB said it would collect and disseminate on its Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) Web site “critical information about the current status of these securities and documents that provide descriptive information, including bank liquidity agreements for variable rate demand obligations and bidding information for auction rate securities. The additional disclosures would allow more transparency for investors to evaluate critical information about the level of dealer support and underlying liquidity of the auction.”

MSRB Executive Director Lynnette Kelly Hotchkiss said in a statement that MSRB was “moving forward with our plan to put this information into the hands of investors.” Making bidding information available for auction rate securities, she continued, “allows investors to better understand liquidity and depth of the market. Liquidity facility documents provide key information about the support available for variable rate securities. Together this data will provide unparalleled transparency to the municipal market.”

According to the MSRB, sellers would also be required to report to EMMA in a consistent fashion, “auction rate securities (ARS) bidding information–including data on whether an auction succeeds through market bids or through dealer support–as well as documents defining interest rate setting mechanisms and auction procedures.” All information provided by dealers, MSRB said, would be made available on the EMMA Web site, which already provides free public access to interest rate information for VRDOs and ARS.