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Proposed Collection; Comment Request

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Upon written request, copies available from: Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of Filings and Information Services, Washington, DC 20549.

Extension: Rule 154 [17 CFR 230.154]; SEC File No. 270-438; OMB Control No. 3235-0495.

Notice is hereby given that, pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”) is soliciting comments on the collections of information summarized below. The Commission plans to submit these existing collections of information to the Office of Management and Budget for extension and approval.

The federal securities laws generally prohibit an issuer, underwriter, or dealer from delivering a security for sale unless a prospectus meeting certain requirements accompanies or precedes the security. Rule 154 [17 CFR 230.154] under the Securities Act of 1933 [15 U.S.C. 77a] (the “Securities Act”) permits, under certain circumstances, delivery of a single prospectus to investors who purchase securities from the same issuer and share the same address (“householding”) to satisfy the applicable prospectus delivery requirements.[1] The purpose of rule 154 is to reduce the amount of duplicative prospectuses delivered to investors sharing the same address.

Under rule 154, a prospectus is considered delivered to all investors at a shared address, for purposes of the federal securities laws, if the person relying on the rule delivers the prospectus to the shared address and the investors consent to the delivery of a single prospectus. The rule applies to prospectuses and prospectus supplements. Currently, the rule permits householding of all prospectuses by an issuer, underwriter, or dealer relying on the rule if, in addition to the other conditions set forth in the rule, the issuer, underwriter, or dealer has obtained from each investor written or implied consent to householding.[2] The rule requires issuers, underwriters, or dealers that wish to household prospectuses with implied consent to send a notice to each investor stating that the investors in the household will receive one prospectus in the future unless the investors provide contrary instructions. In addition, at least once a year, issuers, underwriters, or dealers, relying on rule 154 for the householding of prospectuses, must explain to investors who have provided written or implied consent how they can revoke their consent. Preparing and sending the initial notice and the annual explanation of the right to revoke are collections of information.

The rule allows issuers, underwriters, or dealers to household prospectuses and prospectus supplements if certain conditions are met. Among the conditions with which a person relying on the rule must comply are providing notice to each investor that only one prospectus will be sent to the household and, in the case of issuers that are open-end mutual funds, providing to each investor who consents to householding an annual explanation of the right to revoke consent to the delivery of a single prospectus to multiple investors sharing an address. The purpose of the notice and annual explanation requirements of the rule is to ensure that investors who wish to receive individual copies of shareholder reports are able to do so.

Although rule 154 is not limited to investment companies, the Commission believes that it is used mainly by open-end mutual funds and by broker-dealers that deliver prospectuses for open-end mutual funds. The Commission is unable to estimate the number of issuers other than mutual funds that rely on the rule.

The Commission estimates that there are approximately 3,114 open-end mutual funds, approximately 200 of which engage in direct marketing and therefore deliver their own prospectuses. The Commission estimates that each direct-marketed mutual fund will spend an average of 20 hours per year complying with the notice requirement of the rule, for a total of 4,000 hours. The Commission estimates that each direct-marketed fund will also spend 1 hour complying with the explanation of the right to revoke requirement of the rule, for a total of 200 hours. The Commission estimates that there are approximately 300 broker-dealers that carry customer accounts and, therefore, may be required to deliver mutual fund prospectuses. The Commission estimates that each affected broker-dealer will spend, on average, approximately 20 hours complying with the notice requirement of the rule, for a total of 6,000 hours. Each broker-dealer will also spend 1 hour complying with the annual explanation of the right to revoke requirement, for a total of 300 hours. Therefore, the total number of respondents for rule 154 is 500 (200 mutual funds plus 300 broker-dealers), and the estimated total hour burden is 10,500 hours (4,200 hours for mutual funds plus 6,300 hours for broker-dealers).

The estimate of average burden hours is made solely for the purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act, and is not derived from a comprehensive or even a representative survey or study of the costs of Commission rules and forms.

Written comments are invited on: (a) Whether the collections of information are necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information has practical utility; (b) the Start Printed Page 2167accuracy of the Commission's estimate of the burden of the collections of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collections of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. The Commission will consider comments and suggestions submitted in writing within 60 days after this publication.

Please direct your written comments to Kenneth A. Fogash, Acting Associate Executive Director/CIO, Office of Information Technology, Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 5th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20549.

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Dated: January 6, 2004.

J. Lynn Taylor,

Assistant Secretary.

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1.  The Securities Act requires the delivery of prospectuses to investors who buy securities from an issuer or from underwriters or dealers who participate in a registered distribution of securities. See Securities Act sections 2(a)(10), 4(1), 4(3), 5(b) [15 U.S.C. 77b(a)(10), 77d(1), 77d(3), 77e(b); see also rule 174 under the Securities Act [17 CFR 230.174] (regarding the prospectus delivery obligation of dealers); rule 15c2-8 under the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 [17 CFR 240.15c2-8] (prospectus delivery obligations of brokers and dealers).

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2.  Rule 154 permits the householding of prospectuses that are delivered electronically to investors only if delivery is made to a shared electronic address and the investors give written consent to householding. Implied consent is not permitted in such a situation. See rule 154(b)(4).

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[FR Doc. 04-802 Filed 1-13-04; 8:45 am]