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Securities Law

MSRB Changes Bid-to-Cover Ratios

WASHINGTON — The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board has changed how it calculates "bid to cover" ratios for auction-rate securities, an effort aimed at making the data more indicative of investor demand.

The new ratio, unlike the old, does not take into account bids placed during auctions by "program dealers," the board said in a release Monday.

Such dealers often bid on their own securities in an effort to keep the auctions from failing. Bid-to-cover ratios measure the dollar amount of bids against the dollar amount of bonds offered.

The new ratios, which the board said it has been working on for months, are similar to those calculated for U.S. Treasury auction results, the board said.

"The MSRB has worked to offer investors a more meaningful and understandable calculation of bid-to-cover ratios for auction-rate securities," MSRB executive director Lynnette Kelly said in the release. "The MSRB also encourages ARS investors to look at the underlying data available on the EMMA website for more detailed information."

The change comes less than two weeks after Saber Partners LLC., led by Chief Executive Officer Joseph Fichera, issued a release calling the board's ratios "inaccurate" and "potentially misleading" to investors.

Fichera, whose firm's clients include major corporations and municipal issuers, said the old number failed to distinguish between demand from individual investors and broker dealers bidding for proprietary accounts.

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On behalf of Saber Partners, LLC.
Posted by t7733m683 | Monday, December 10 2012 at 9:04PM ET
The credit goes to Ernie Lanza at the MSRB. Until he got involved nothing was going to happen. Whether it is LIBOR, SIFMA or an ARS bid-to-cover number, investors, broker-dealers and issuers need to have confidence that the information they are given is accurate and useful. The ARS market may still be broken, but It is never too late for market integrity for the regulator to get the rules right. Thank you Mr. Lanza. Hopefully other regulators will follow the MSRB lead.
Posted by t7733m683 | Monday, December 10 2012 at 9:03PM ET
Hooray for Joe Fichera, one of the people who is paying attention and promoting responsible conduct!
Posted by Charles S | Monday, December 10 2012 at 1:51PM ET
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