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Notice

Self-Regulatory Organizations; Notice of Filing and Order Granting Accelerated Approval of a Proposed Rule Change by the American Stock Exchange LLC Relating to the Listing and Trading of Notes Linked to the Performance of the Standard and Poor's 500 Index

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Start Preamble August 26, 2004.

Pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”),[1] and Rule 19b-4 thereunder,[2] notice is hereby given that on August 4, 2004, the American Stock Exchange LLC (“Amex” or “Exchange”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) the proposed rule change as described in Items I and II below, which Items have been prepared by the Exchange. The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rule change from interested persons and is approving the proposal on an accelerated basis.

I. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Terms of Substance of the Proposed Rule Change

The Exchange proposes to list and trade notes, the performance of which is linked to the Standard and Poor's 500 Index (“S&P 500” or “Index”).

The text of the proposed rule change is available at the Office of the Secretary, the Amex and at the Commission.

II. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change

In its filing with the Commission, the Amex included statements concerning the purpose of, and basis for, the proposed rule change and discussed any comments it received on the proposed rule change. The text of these statements may be examined at the places specified in Item III below. The Amex has prepared summaries, set forth in Sections A, B, and C below, of the most significant aspects of such statements.

A. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and the Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change

1. Purpose

Under Section 107A of the Amex Company Guide (“Company Guide”), the Exchange may approve for listing and trading securities which cannot be readily categorized under the listing criteria for common and preferred stocks, bonds, debentures, or warrants.[3] The Amex proposes to list for trading under Section 107A of the Company Guide notes issued by Citigroup, linked to the performance of the S&P 500 (the “S&P 500 Notes” or “Notes”).[4] The S&P 500 is determined, calculated and maintained solely by S&P.[5] At maturity Start Printed Page 53752the Notes will provide for a multiplier of any positive performance of the S&P 500 during such term subject to a maximum payment amount or ceiling to be determined at the time of issuance (the “Capped Value”). The Capped Value is expected to be $11.65 per Note.[6]

The S&P 500 Notes will conform to the initial listing guidelines under Section 107A [7] and continued listing guidelines under Sections 1001-1003 [8] of the Company Guide. The Notes are senior non-convertible debt securities of Citigroup. The Notes will have a term of at least one (1) but no more than ten (10) years.[9] Citigroup will issue the Notes in denominations of whole units (a “Unit”), with each Unit representing a single Note. The original public offering price will be $10 per Unit and the size of the initial issuance will be $3,400,000. The Notes will entitle the owner at maturity to receive an amount based upon the percentage change of the S&P 500. The Notes will not have a minimum principal amount that will be repaid, and accordingly, payment on the Notes prior to or at maturity may be less than the original issue price of the Notes.[10] The Notes are also not callable by the issuer, Citigroup, or redeemable by the holder.

The cash payment that a holder or investor of a Note will be entitled to receive (the “Redemption Amount”) will depend on the relation of the level of the S&P 500 at the close of the market on a single business day (the “Valuation Date”) shortly prior to maturity of the Notes (the “Final Level”) and the closing value of the Index on the date the Notes are priced for initial sale to the public (the “Initial Level”). The Final Level will be set three days prior to the maturity date of February 28, 2006.[11] If there is a “market disruption event” [12] when determining the Final Level of the Index, the Final Level maybe deferred up to two (2) business days if deemed appropriate by the calculation agent.

If the percentage change of the Index is positive (i.e., the Final Level is greater than the Initial Level), the Redemption Amount per Unit will equal:

If the ending value of the S&P 500 exceeds its starting value, the Participation Rate is 300% of the percent increase in the Final Level of the S&P 500, which will be subject to the Capped Value of 5.5% of the appreciation of the S&P 500 or $1.65. Therefore, at maturity, the payment cannot exceed $11.65 per Note.

If the percentage change of the Index is zero or negative (i.e., the Final Level is less than or equal to the Initial Level), the Redemption Amount per Unit will equal:

Thus, if the Final Level of the S&P 500 is less than the Initial Level, an investor would receive less than his initial $10 per share investment. However, the Notes are not leveraged in the downside; the return would be directly proportional to the decline in the S&P 500.

The Notes are cash-settled in U.S. dollars and do not give the holder any Start Printed Page 53753right to receive a portfolio security, dividend payments or any other ownership right or interest in the portfolio or index of securities comprising the S&P 500. The Notes are designed for investors who want to participate in or gain enhanced upside exposure to the S&P 500, subject to the Capped Value, and who are willing to forego principal protection and market interest payments on the Notes during such term. The Commission has previously approved the listing of securities and related options linked to the performance of the S&P 500 Index.[13]

As of August 2, 2004, the market capitalization of the securities included in the S&P 500 ranged from a high of $347.9 billion to a low of $613.9 million. The average daily trading volume for these same securities for the last six (6) months ranged from a high of 26.020 million shares to a low of 119,000 shares. The Index value will be disseminated at least once every fifteen (15) seconds throughout the trading day.

The Exchange notes that S&P has announced a change to its methodology so that Index weightings are based on the “public float” of a component stocks and not those shares of stock that are not publicly traded.[14]

Because the Notes are issued in $10 denominations, the Amex's existing equity floor trading rules will apply to the trading of the Notes. First, pursuant to Amex Rule 411, the Exchange will impose a duty of due diligence on its members and member firms to learn the essential facts relating to every customer prior to trading the Notes.[15] Second, the Notes will be subject to the equity margin rules of the Exchange.[16] Third, the Exchange will, prior to trading the Notes, distribute a circular to the membership providing guidance with regard to member firm compliance responsibilities (including suitability recommendations) when handling transactions in the Notes and highlighting the special risks and characteristics of the Notes. With respect to suitability recommendations and risks, the Exchange will require members, member organizations and employees thereof recommending a transaction in the Notes: (1) To determine that such transaction is suitable for the customer, and (2) to have a reasonable basis for believing that the customer can evaluate the special characteristics of, and is able to bear the financial risks of such transaction. In addition, Citigroup will deliver a prospectus in connection with initial sales of the Notes.

The Exchange represents that its surveillance procedures are adequate to properly monitor the trading of the Notes. Specifically, the Amex will rely on its existing surveillance procedures governing equities, which have been deemed adequate under the Act. In addition, the Exchange also has a general policy which prohibits the distribution of material, non-public information by its employees.

2. Statutory Basis

The Exchange believes that the proposed rule change is consistent with Section 6 of the Act [17] in general and furthers the objectives of Section 6(b)(5) [18] in particular in that it is designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, to promote just and equitable principles of trade, remove impediments to and perfect the mechanism of a free and open market and a national market system, and, in general, protect investors and the public interest.

B. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Burden on Competition

The Exchange does not believe that the proposed rule change will impose any burden on competition.

C. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Comments on the Proposed Rule Change Received From Members, Participants or Others

The Exchange did not receive any written comments on the proposed rule change.

III. Solicitation of Comments

Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views, and arguments concerning the foregoing, including whether the proposed rule change is consistent with the Act. Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:

Electronic Comments

Paper Comments

  • Send paper comments in triplicate to Jonathan G. Katz, Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 Fifth Street, NW., Washington, DC 20549-0609. All submissions should refer to SR-Amex-2004-64. This file number should be included on the subject line if e-mail is used. To help the Commission process and review your comments more efficiently, please use only one method. The Commission will post all comments on the Commissions Internet Web site http://www.sec.gov/​rules/​sro.shtml. Copies of the submission, all subsequent amendments, all written statements with respect to the proposed rule change that are filed with the Commission, and all written communications relating to the proposed rule change between the Commission and any person, other than those that may be withheld from the public in accordance with the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552, will be available for inspection and copying in the Commission's Public Reference Section, 450 Fifth Street, NW., Washington, DC 20549. Copies of such filing also will be available for inspection and copying at the principal office of the Amex. All comments received will be posted without change; the Commission does not edit personal identifying information from submissions. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. All submissions should refer to SR-Amex-2004-64 and should be submitted on or before September 23, 2004.Start Printed Page 53754

IV. Commission's Findings and Order Granting Accelerated Approval of Proposed Rule Change

After careful consideration, the Commission finds that the proposed rule change is consistent with the requirements of the Act and the rules and regulations thereunder applicable to a national securities exchange, and, in particular, with the requirements of Section 6(b)(5) of the Act.[19] The Commission has approved the listing of securities with a structure similar to that of the Notes.[20] Accordingly, the Commission finds that the listing and trading of the Notes based on the Index is consistent with the Act and will promote just and equitable principles of trade, foster cooperation and coordination with persons engaged in regulating, clearing, settling, processing information with respect to, and facilitating transactions securities, and, in general, protect investors and the public interest consistent with Section 6(b)(5) of the Act.[21]

The Notes will provide investors who are willing to forego market interest payments during the term of the Notes with a means to participate or gain exposure to the Index, subject to the Capped Value. The Notes are non-convertible debt securities whose price will be derived and based upon the Initial Level. The Commission notes that the Notes will not have a minimum principal investment amount that will be repaid, and payment on the Notes prior to or at maturity may be less than the original issue price of the Notes. At maturity, if the Final Value of the S&P 500 is greater than the Initial Value, the performance of the Note is leveraged on the “upside.” In other words, the investor will receive, for each $10 principal amount, a payment equal to $10 plus 300% of the percent increase in the value of the S&P 500, subject to the Capped Value of approximately $1.65 or 5.5% of the issue price. However, if the S&P 500 declines from the Initial Value, then the investors will receive proportionately less than the original issue price of the Notes. The return on the notes, however, is not leveraged on the downside.

Thus, the Notes are non-principal protected instruments, but are not leveraged on the downside. The level of risk involved in the purchase or sale of the Notes is similar to the risk involved in the purchase or sale of traditional common stock. Because the final level of return of the Notes is derivatively priced and based upon the performance of an index of securities; because the Notes are debt instruments that do not guarantee a return of principal; and because investors' potential return is limited by the Capped Value, if the value of the Index has increased over the term of such Note, there are several issues regarding the trading of this type of product. However, for the reasons discussed below, the Commission believes the Exchange's proposal adequately addresses the concerns raised by this type of product.

The Commission notes that the protections of Amex Rule 107A were designed to address the concerns attendant on the trading of hybrid securities like the Notes. In particular, by imposing the hybrid listing standards, suitability, disclosure and compliance requirements noted above, the Commission believes that Amex has addressed adequately the potential problems that could arise from the hybrid nature of the Notes. The Commission notes that Amex will distribute a circular to its membership calling attention to the specific risks associated with the Notes. The Commission also notes that Citigroup will deliver a prospectus in connection with the initial sales of the notes. In addition, the Commission notes that Amex will incorporate and rely upon its existing surveillance procedures governing equities which have been deemed adequate under the Act.

In approving the product, the Commission recognizes that the Index is a capitalization-weighted index [22] of 500 companies listed on Nasdaq, the NYSE, and the Amex. The Exchange represents that the Index will be determined, calculated, and maintained by S&P. As of August 2, 2004, the market capitalization of the securities included in the S&P 500 ranged from a high of $347.9 billion to a low of $613.9 million. The average daily trading volume for these same securities for the last six (6) months ranged from a high of 26.020 million shares to a low of 119,000 shares.

Given the large trading volume and capitalization of the compositions of the stocks underlying the Index, the Commission believes that the listing and trading of the Notes that are linked to the Index should not unduly impact the market for the underlying securities comprising the Index or raise manipulative concerns.[23] As discussed more fully above, the underlying stocks comprising the Index are well-capitalized, highly liquid stocks. Moreover, the issuers of the underlying securities comprising the Index are subject to reporting requirements under the Act, and all of the component stocks are either listed or traded on, or traded through the facilities of, U.S. securities markets. Additionally, the Amex's surveillance procedures will serve to deter as well as detect any potential manipulation.

Furthermore, the Commission notes that the Notes are depending upon the individual credit of the Issuer, Citigroup. To some extent this credit risk is minimized by the Exchange's listing standards in Section 107A of the Company Guide which provide the only issuers satisfying substantial asset and equity requirements may issue securities such as the Notes. In addition, the Exchange's “Other Securities” listing standards further require that the Notes have a market value of at least $4 million.[24] In any event, financial information regarding Citigroup in addition to the information on the 500 common stocks comprising the Index will be publicly available.[25]

The Commission also has a systemic concern, however, that a broker-dealer such as Citigroup, or a subsidiary providing a hedge for the issuer will incur position exposure. However, as the Commission has concluded in previous approval orders for other hybrid instruments issued by broker-dealers,[26] the Commission believes that this concern is minimal given the size of the Notes issuance in relation to the net worth of Citigroup.

Start Printed Page 53755

Finally, the Commission notes that the value of the Index will be disseminated at least once every fifteen seconds throughout the trading day. The Commission believes that providing access to the value of the Index at least once every fifteen seconds throughout the trading day is extremely important and will provide benefits to investors in the product.

The Commission finds good cause for approving the proposed rule change prior to the 30th day after the date of publication of the notice of filing thereof in the Federal Register. The Exchange has requested accelerated approval because this product is similar to several other instruments currently listed and traded on the Amex.[27] The Commission believes that the Notes will provide investors with an additional investment choice and that accelerated approval of the proposal will allow investors to begin trading the Notes promptly. Additionally, the Notes will be listed pursuant to Amex's existing hybrid security listing standards as described above. Therefore, the Commission finds good cause, consistent with Section 19(b)(2) of the Act,[28] to approve the proposal on an accelerated basis.

V. Conclusion

It is therefore ordered, pursuant to Section 19(b)(2) of the Act,[29] that the proposed rule change (SR-Amex-2004-64) is hereby approved on an accelerated basis.

Start Signature

For the Commission by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.[30]

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

3.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 27753 (March 1, 1990), 55 FR 8626 (March 8, 1990) (order approving File No. SR-Amex-89-29).

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4.  Citigroup Global Markets Holdings, Inc. (“Citigroup”) and Standard & Poor's, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. (“S&P”) have entered into a non-exclusive license agreement providing for the use of the S&P 500 by Citigroup and certain affiliates and subsidiaries in connection with certain securities including these Notes. S&P is not responsible for and will not participate in the issuance and creation of the Notes.

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5.  The S&P 500 Index is a broad-based stock index which provides an indication of the performance of the U.S. equity market. The Index is a capitalization-weighted index reflecting the total market value of 500 widely-held component stocks relative to a particular base period. The Index is computed by dividing the total market value of the 500 stocks by an Index divisor. The Index Divisor keeps the Index comparable over time to its base period of 1941-1943 and is the reference point for all maintenance adjustments. The securities included in the Index are listed on the Amex, New York Stock Exchange, Inc. (“NYSE”) or traded through NASDAQ. The Index reflects the price of the common stocks of 500 companies without taking into account the value of the dividend paid on such stocks. The Index Value is disseminated once every fifteen seconds through numerous data providers. Telephone conference between Jeffrey Burns, Associate General Counsel, Amex, and Florence Harmon, Senior Special Counsel, Division of Market Regulation (“Division”), Commission on August 26, 2004 (pertaining to dissemination of Index Value).

On March 1, 2004 S&P announced that it intends to shift its major indexes, such as the S&P 500, to a “float-adjusted” market capitalization index. In the “float adjusted” market capitalization index, the value of the index will be calculated by multiplying the public float of each component by the price per share of the component. The result is then divided by the divisor. Accordingly, a “float-adjusted” market capitalization index will exclude those blocks of stocks that do not publicly trade from determining the weight for a stock in the index. The transition from a market capitalization weighted index to a “float-adjusted” capitalization weighted index will be implemented over an 18 month period. In September 2004, S&P will publish procedures and float adjustment factors, and begin calculation of provisional float adjusted indexes. At that time, S&P will start calculating a provisional index alongside the regular index, although there will still be only one official set of index values. In March 2005, the non-provisional index values will then shift to partial float adjustment, using float adjustment factors that represent half of the total adjustment, based on the information published in September 2004. In September 2005, the shift to float adjustment will be completed so that official index values will be fully float-adjusted, and the provisional indexes will be discontinued.

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6.  See prospectus supplement, dated August 23, 2004.

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7.  The initial listing standards for the Notes require: (1) A minimum public distribution of one million units; (2) a minimum of 400 shareholders; (3) a market value of at least $4 million; and (4) a term of at least one year. In addition, the listing guidelines provide that the issuer has assets in excess of $100 million, stockholder's equity of at least $10 million, and pre-tax income of at least $750,000 in the last fiscal year or in two of the three prior fiscal years. In the case of an issuer which is unable to satisfy the earning criteria stated in Section 101 of the Company Guide, the Exchange will require the issuer to have the following: (1) Assets in excess of $200 million and stockholders' equity of at least $10 million; or (2) assets in excess of $100 million and stockholders' equity of at least $20 million.

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8.  The Exchange's continued listing guidelines are set forth in Sections 1001 through 1003 of Part 10 to the Exchange's Company Guide. Section 1002(b) of the Company Guide states that the Exchange will consider removing from listing any security where, in the opinion of the Exchange, it appears that the extent of public distribution or aggregate market value has become so reduced to make further dealings on the Exchange inadvisable. With respect to continued listing guidelines for distribution of the Notes, the Exchange will rely, in part, on the guidelines for bonds in Section 1003(b)(iv). Section 1003(b)(iv)(A) provides that the Exchange will normally consider suspending dealings in, or removing from the list, a security if the aggregate market value or the principal amount of bonds publicly held is less than $400,000.

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9.  The term of the Notes is expected to be 11/2 years and will be disclosed in the prospectus supplement dated August 23, 2004.

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10.  A negative return of the S&P 500 will reduce the redemption amount at maturity with the potential that the holder of the Note could lose his entire investment amount.

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11.  Telephone conference between Jeffrey Burns, Associate General Counsel, Amex, and Florence Harmon, Senior Special Counsel, Division of Market Regulation (“Division”), Commission on August 26, 2004 (pertaining to dissemination of Index Value).

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12.  A “market disruption event” is defined as (i) the occurrence of a suspension, absence or material limitation of trading of 20% or more of the component stocks of the Index on the primary market for more than two hours of trading or during the one-half hour period preceding the close of the principal trading session on such primary market; (ii) a breakdown or failure in the price and trade reporting systems of any primary market as a result of which the reported trading prices for 20% or more of the component stocks of the Index during the last one-half hour preceding the close of the principal trading session on such primary market are materially inaccurate; and (iii) the suspension, material limitation or absence of trading on any major securities market for trading in options contracts, future contracts or any options on such futures contracts related to the Index for more than two hours of trading or during the one-half hour period preceding the close of the principal trading session on such market, and (iv) a determination by Citigroup that any event described in clauses (i)-(iii) above materially interfered with the ability of Citigroup or any of its affiliates to unwind or adjust all or a material portion of the hedge position with respect to the Notes.

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13.  See Securities Exchange Act Release Nos. 50019 (July 14, 2004), 69 FR 43635 (July 21, 2004) (approving the listing and trading of Morgan Stanley PLUS Notes); 48486 (September 11, 2003), 68 FR 54758 (September 18, 2003) (approving the listing and trading of CSFB Contingent Principal Protection Notes on the S&P 500); 48152 (July 10, 2003), 68 FR 42435 (July 17, 2003) (approving the listing and trading of a UBS Partial Protection Note linked to the S&P 500); 47983 (June 4, 2003), 68 FR 35032 (June 11, 2003) (approving the listing and trading of a CSFB Accelerated Return Notes linked to S&P 500); 47911 (May 22, 2003), 68 FR 32558 (May 30, 2003) (approving the listing and trading of notes (Wachovia TEES) linked to the S&P 500); 31591 (December 18, 1992), 57 FR 60253 (December 18, 1992) (approving the listing and trading of Portfolio Depositary Receipts based on the S&P 500 Index); 30394 (February 21, 1992), 57 FR 7409 (March 2, 1992) (approving the listing and trading of a unit investment trust linked to the S&P 500 Index) (SPDR); 27382 (October 26, 1989), 54 FR 45834 (October 31, 1989) (approving the listing and trading of Exchange Stock Portfolios based on the value of the S&P 500 Index); and 19907 (June 24, 1983), 48 FR 30814 (July 5, 1983) (approving the listing and trading of options on the S&P 500 Index).

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14.  See supra note 5. S&P Press Release dated March 1, 2004 available at http://www.standardandpoors.com.

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15.  Amex Rule 411 requires that every member, member firm or member corporation use due diligence to learn the essential facts, relative to every customer and to every order or account accepted.

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16.  See Amex Rule 462 and Section 107B of the Company Guide.

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20.  See supra note 11.

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21.  15 U.S.C. 78f(b)(5). In approving this rule, the Commission notes that it has considered the proposed rule's impact on efficiency, competition, and capital formation. 15 U.S.C. 78c(f).

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22.  See supra note 5.

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23.  The issuer Citigroup disclosed in the prospectus that the original issue price of the notes includes commissions (and the secondary market prices are likely to exclude commissions) and Citigroup's costs of hedging its obligations under the notes. These costs could increase the initial value of the Notes, thus affecting the payment investors receive at maturity. The commission expects such hedging activity to be conducted in accordance with applicable regulatory requirements.

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24.  See Company Guide Section 107A.

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25.  The Commission notes that the 500 component stocks that comprise the Index are reporting companies under the Act, and the Notes will be registered under Section 12 of the Act.

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26.  See Securities Exchange Act Release Nos. 44913 (October 9, 2001), 66 FR 52469 (October 15, 2001) (order approving the listing and trading of notes whose return is based on the performance of the Nasdaq-100 Index) (File No. SR-NASD-2001-73); 44483 (June 27, 2001), 66 FR 35677 (July 6, 2001) (order approving the listing and trading of notes whose return is based on a portfolio of 20 securities selected from the Amex Institutional Index) (File No. SR-Amex-2001-40); and 37744 (September 27, 1996), 61 FR 52480 (October 7, 1996) (order approving the listing and trading of notes whose return is based on a weighted portfolio of healthcare/biotechnology industry securities) (File No. SR-Amex-96-27).

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27.  See Securities Exchange Act Release Nos. 50019 (July 14, 2004), 69 FR 43635 (July 21, 2004) (approving the listing and trading of Morgan Stanley PLUS Notes); 48486 (September 11, 2003), 68 FR 54758 (September 18, 2003) (approving the listing and trading of CSFB Contingent Principal Protection Notes on the S&P 500); 48152 (July 10, 2003), 68 FR 42435 (July 17, 2003) (approving the listing and trading of a UBS Partial Protection Note linked to the S&P 500); 47983 (June 4, 2003), 68 FR 35032 (June 11, 2003) (approving the listing and trading of a CSFB Accelerated Return Notes linked to S&P 500); 47911 (May 22, 2003), 68 FR 32558 (May 30, 2003) (approving the listing and trading of notes (Wachovia TEES) linked to the S&P 500).

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28.  15 U.S.C. 78f(b)(5) and 78s(b)(2).

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29.  15 U.S.C. 78 o-3(b)(6) and 78s(b)(2).

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[FR Doc. E4-2039 Filed 9-1-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P